I loved the prompt for this week as I am a recently retired youth services/genealogy services librarian. I used to joke that with those two responsibilities, I took care of “womb to tomb” library needs!
My “At the Library” post today involves two libraries! A discovery I made about my husband’s grandfather at the genealogy library where I worked led me to another library. I knew that George Chatraw, an upstate New York native, took a vacation to Atlanta where he met and married Rosa Jones in the boarding house where they both lived at the time. Rosa was a south Georgia native with a traditional Protestant background – probably Baptist or Methodist, and George was Catholic. They were married on 30 March 1911 by Catholic priest, Robert F. Kennedy, pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church in Atlanta, with dispensation because of mixed religion.The newlywed couple immediately moved to Schenectady, New York, where George resumed his job as a machinist at the General Electric plant for a few years. Childless, they moved to Iron City in southwest Georgia where their first child, Earl, was born in 1916. A bad crop year sent them back to Schenectady where George again resumed his old job. Their second son and my husband’s father, Elmer, was born in 1918 in Schenectady. In the summer of 1921, they packed up and permanently moved back to Iron City where they later had another child, a daughter, Margie.
There was a shortage of Catholic churches in the 1920s in south Georgia. Although Catholicism may have been George’s preferred and familiar religion, apparently church attendance at any Christian church was better than none. I have not discovered whether he actually converted to Protestantism, so I need to do more research in church records in that location.
George’s son, Earl, bought a computer at age eighty and shared the family history with me by email. This is his recollection of his father’s religious activity. I have left the punctuation exactly as he wrote it.
Just west of the house and on the west side of the farm was a dirt road that crossed the railroad running north and south, on this road south of the railroad about a mile an [sic] a half was a free will Baptist church, north of the railroad on this road about a mile and a quarter was a holiness church, these churches only had a preacher once a month, Iron City methodist church that Dad was a member of had a preacher twice a month, the two Sundays that the preacher was there Dad went morning and evening. The Sunday that the other two churches had preaching, Dad went there morning and evening, if he did not have to teach Sunday school at Iron City, if Dad had to teach Sunday school at Iron City he went to evening services at the other churches, he had friends and neighbors that went to all of these churches that he loved and cared for, in those days we did not have telephones and this was the only way people could find out how their neighbors was getting along. You see Dad said that the name on the church made no difference to him because all of the people was trying to get to the same place, and it made no difference which way he went so long as he got there.
Now for my discovery at the library. While looking at the county history book Cornerstone of Georgia: Seminole County 1920-1991, I looked in the index for Chatraw. I found the name George Chatrow [sic] in the article “Memorial Quilt” on pages 127-128. The article was about a quilt that a young man had donated to the library in memory of a former history teacher who had given him the treasured quilt in her last illness. This is what the article states about the quilt. “The quilt was made by Iron City citizens in 1929 as a project for the Baptist and Methodist churches. Names of each contributor were hand-embroidered on twenty pink and black cotton broadcloth squares and lined with matching pink cloth. It was hand quilted.” Then the article lists each square number and the contributors; names were duplicated if multiple contributions were made. In squares 1, 15, and 16 was the name Geo. Chatrow. I called the Seminole County Public Library in Donalsonville, Georgia, to see if the quilt is still there, and it is framed and hanging on the wall. They so kindly agreed to email me a picture of the quilt with George’s name in one of the squares, as seen below.
We currently have in our family possessions a Bible that belonged to George Chatraw with an inscription dated 1916. We plan to pass the Bible on to a great grandson of George who is a minister.
My discovery at the genealogy library in Florida verified the story Uncle Earl told about his father’s connection and commitment to the local churches in Seminole County, Georgia.