29 March 2018

Ye Olde Homestead


Week 13: Homestead

 Ye Olde Homestead

 By Myra Vanderpool Gormley ©2018

It is good to have “rich and/or famous” relatives. They leave such magnificent genealogical trails to follow. Along the way, one sometimes finds a few crumbs of information about the lives of our lesser renowned families.

Dr. Elijah Lewis Connally
Dr. Elijah L. Connally (1837-1930) is a double first cousin 3 times removed — to be technical. We are related through our Connally and Peacock lines of Atlanta, Georgia. He married Mary Virginia Brown (1850-1927) in 1874. She was the daughter of four-term Governor Joseph E. Brown (1821-1894) and Elizabeth Grisham (1826-1896). He served as an assistant surgeon officer in the Confederate Army.

"I have often heard him [Elijah Lewis Connally] tell of the heavy shell fire in Pensacola, Florida, from the Yankee ships sent to destroy the forts and the entrance of Pensacola Bay, Nov. 22-23, 1861, he was in battle at Fortress McRae. Later he served in Mobile, Alabama; Fort Gaines, Fort Morgan, Spring Hill and Macon, Georgia. In May 1864 he was made Chief Medical Examiner of the Second Georgia Congressional District. In 1865 he was transferred to Macon, Georgia, where he was when the war ended.

“When the news came that Sherman was at the gates of Atlanta, horror and fear went through every heart. My father obtained leave of absence to come home to tell his people that they must not stay in the track of a ruthless army, in which there were many low-class soldiers. Sherman had said ‘War is hell’ and Sherman knew because he made it so. My father said his mother protested and he told her it would never do to subject nine girls, the little boys and the servants to the dangers of an invading horde of enemy troops.” . . .

". . . he was able to secure several large army wagons, which he was allowed to put to the use of his family to refugee away from the plantation at East Point, six miles south of Atlanta. The big wagons were brought to the farm house and were loaded with as much as they could possibly carry.

One of the uncles told me that at the time there were 12 or 14 fine horses on the plantation. As many provisions as possible were packed, then my father, the last thing, put his mother up on the best saddle horse and lifted the baby, Cora, 10 months old, into her lap. My grandmother wept and said, "Son, I do not to go. I will never see my home again." (Spalding, Mary Connally, 1943; Battle of Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia, Atlanta Historical Society).

In addition to standard genealogical material about this family, such as that found in censuses, marriages and cemetery records, there is a written history (quoted above) by one of his daughters. Civil War and World War I military records (Dr. Connally’s son, Captain Joseph Brown Connally, served during the latter, and died from gassing), city directories, passport applications, ship passenger lists, newspaper articles and pictures provide rich details about him and his family’s life.

In 1887, Dr. Connally acquired a large two-story home, that when originally built by John J. Thrasher, was surrounded by a 300-acre plantation. The house survived the Civil War, although it had a battle scar — the marking of a spent cannon ball on its north wall. In August 1864, the house had been the headquarters of General John B. Hood, commander-in-chief of all the Confederate forces in and around Atlanta. (Garrett, Franklin M., 1969, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of its People and Events, volume I, Athens, Georgia, University of Georgia Press.)

Dr. Connally and his family lived in this house from 1887 until 1930. He graciously, albeit inadvertently, provided me with the narrative for today’s topic. His lovely home in Atlanta on Ashby Street was called The Homestead.

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