17 April 2018
Stars Fell on Alabama
Week 16 (April 16-22): Storms
When Stars Fell on Alabama
By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018
The family story passed down in one branch of my Autry/Autrey/Awtrey family is that our ancestor, Absalom, died at age 98 on the night the “stars fell on Alabama.”
Thanks to the Internet today, it is fairly easy to find information about this meteor storm, which astronomers estimate bombarded earth’s atmosphere with more than 30,000 meteors an hour on November 12-13, 1833. It was seen in Alabama and much of the rest of the United States. The sky was literally filled with fireworks and must have been a storm few forgot.
“This storm was an unusually active display of Leonid meteors, specks of debris from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, often as small as grains of sand, that briefly streak across the sky as they burn up in the atmosphere.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stars_Fell_on_Alabama)
It’s a great story, but we have several Absaloms, and it was not my Absalom Autry/Autrey/Awtrey who died in Alabama the night the stars fell, although mine died in 1833, but it was in Henry County, Georgia and it was in March.
The Family Bible of Isaac Awtrey and Araminta Bankston, who married in 1800, has Absalom recorded as dying March ___1833 in his 83rd year of his age and also recorded is: Lucy (Isaac's mother) Awtrey died 12 Nov. 1818 in her ___ year of her age. The probate of Absalom’s estate was handled by his son, Isaac, in January 1834 in Henry County, Georgia.
In the 1830 U.S. census of Henry County, Georgia, Isaac Awtrey is listed and in his household is a male 80-90 years of age, which would fit his father, Absalom, who was born 7 June 1750 on the Tar River in North Carolina—probably in Anson County (per his Revolutionary War pension application that was applied for 21 January 1833).
There is another Absalom Autry/Autrey/Awtrey living in Saint Clair County, Alabama in 1830 who is listed in the age bracket of 80-90. He probably is the same one who obtained land there in 1823 (U.S. General Land Office Records, 1776-2015) and deeded same land to this three sons — Enoch, James and George — “for love and affection” on 26 May 1824.
Whether he is the one who died the night stars fell on Alabama, I do not know, but I know when and where my Absalom Awtrey died in 1833.