Nine years ago I started this blog, Finding Eliza to tell the story of my family and my search for their stories. I had no idea how much I would learn, nor the connections I would be able to make.
This past year has been a very productive one for me and the blog. I discovered that over forty of my paternal grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage’s letters written from 1903 – 1905 were for sale online. By the time I tracked them down, they were in the Special Collections of the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. I was able to purchase copies of them for a reasonable price and blogged all of them with additional contextualizing materials. A list of those posts is at this link Pearl Reed’s Letters.
I worked with Roxanne Patmore of the Historical Society of Long Beach to find information that would help to tell the story of Amanda Cleage, from the Cleage plantation in Athens, Tennessee. After exchanging information, we finally decided to order Amanda’s and her husband Abram’s Civil War Pension file. There was so much information, so many answers to questions our questions.
It was amazing and led me to order the pension files of all the Cleages who served with the United States Colored Troops. So far I have blogged one of the files completely, that of Katie Cleage and her fight to get her pension. Because it was a contentious case with many people testifying and Katie answering, it gave me a real picture of life on Alexander Cleage’s plantation. Katie Cleage Civil War Pension File. I will be blogging more of those pension files this year.
While checking through the pension files of other members of the same regiment of the United States Colored Troops that the Cleages were in, I noticed my great grandmother Celia Rice Cleage Sherman’s 2nd husband’s name – W.R. Sherman. Looking more closely, I discovered that this was the file of my great grandmother’s mother’s widow’s pension file. Her name was Susan Rice Ragan and I had not known her name before. By finding her, I found the names of her other children and parts of their stories. I blogged some of these findings in this years A-Z Challenge and I plan to share more during the coming year.
I also published several posts about my grandmother’s brother, George Reed, sharing his Will. probate records and letters relating to the case which showed the strained relationships between various family members.
There are so many connections and so many stories waiting to be found and shared that I don’t even suspect today! Here is a link to my very first blog post 9 years ago. Who Was Eliza?