Phelps family continues research with visit

Published 12:00am Saturday, October 27, 2012

In today’s column, the account of the Cadenhead brothers, Kenneth and Ellis, and their wives’ visit to Andalusia will be continued in the words of Kenneth. In last week’s story, the results of their research before the visit were presented.

Trip to Andalusia

Ellis and I had searched the Internet independently the days prior to the trip, and we were encouraged that at least we could locate the house on Railroad Avenue (Ellis said he thought he would recognize the house!), go to the courthouse and to the cemetery.

A telephone call to the Parks and Recreation Department put me in touch with Allen Bracewell. He told me to phone him on his cell phone when we reached River Falls and he would meet us at the mall. This was the beginning of our feeling of the hospitality extended in the city. Allen met us and led us to Andalusia Memorial Cemetery where he showed us the graves of John W. and Effie Phelps. Additionally there was another grave, Cpl. Lonzie L. Phelps, which at the time we could not identify. Through further investigation, we learned that he was a son. His death date was Dec. 30, 1945, so we wondered if perhaps it were the result of an injury in World War II. Further information is necessary to confirm this notion. Allen further showed us the kindness of giving us more information about the city. We were particularly impressed when he indicated that if we got lost, just to phone him and he would help us further!

After lunch, we decided to go to the Loango area just to see what the community was like. We knew that he and his family were in this area beginning in 1910, and we had hoped that Linda Scott would be able to help us locate his farm. This was not possible; however, we did have a “feel” for the area.

Using the Railroad Avenue address, we then sought the house where the Phelps were living when Ellis visited in the early 1950s. Allen said the houses in that area of town were still standing. Comparing the features in the photograph with those of the current house made us sure it was the correct house. I had erroneously copied the address from a 1957 City Directory as 33 Railroad Avenue, but we discovered that the correct address was 133.

We next decided to go to the courthouse to search tax records that might help us locate the farm property. Janice Hart, revenue commissioner, greeted us very warmly. She did not sound very encouraging, but she said she would ask one of her staff members to go with us to the basement where the records were kept. It so happened that she knew Arthur, one of John W. and Effie’s sons. We asked her to look at the photographs to see if she could identify any of the people. Unfortunately, she could not identify any of them.

It was rather disturbing to see the condition of the old records in the basement of the courthouse. There was no order to the records, and it was clear that they were simply stored there with no effort to organize them. The staff member apologized for the condition of the records and helped us search in a random way. We found a record for property belonging to Arthur (Section 14, Township 4, Range 14 – 120 acres). We did not locate the property on a map, but we believed it was in the Loango area where John W.’s property was located. We were unsuccessful in locating any records for other property in Beat 6 for Phelps during the earlier period. It occurred to me that some voluntary help, possibly high school or college government classes, could be invited to help organize the records in a way that would be beneficial to researchers. When I write to Janice Hart to thank her for her assistance, I perhaps will offer this suggestion. This completed our search in Andalusia.

Looking Further and Serendipity

Using what we had found on our visit to Andalusia and contacts with others, we continued the search after we returned to our respective homes. We were puzzled because we could not find Wynelle in the Phelps family. Ellis’ skillful searching the Internet brought good results from the 1940 Census. He found that she was listed in the James L. (Leaman) household and was 8 years of age. This was confirmed in a later email from Betty Kendrick. There was another sister, Effie, and two brothers, Morris and Gordon. He further was able to find that Gordon, who was 3 years old in 1940, was now living in Bay Minette. Using the White Pages on the Internet, he found a mailing address. After he gave me this information, I wrote a letter to Gordon. We now wait for a reply, hoping that we can find more about Wynelle.

Following what Ellis had found, I pursued the James L. Phelps family further on Ancestry.com. It was such a surprise to find a photograph of our father, with two other men. Someone had posted the photograph on Ancestry.com, and it was made on one of the visits when Ellis, Anne, Mother and Daddy went to Andalusia in the early 1950s.

Building on what Ellis found, I searched further and found a photograph that illustrated a “small world” story. I saw a picture that was familiar to me. Upon examining it more carefully, I realized that it was a photograph of Dan Golden, the original of which hangs in the living room of our son, Mark Cadenhead, and his wife, Dody. Returning to the webpage, I discovered that Effie Golden Phelps was Dan Golden’s granddaughter! In conversation with Dody, I learned that Dan Golden is Dody’s great great great grandfather.

The Andalusia adventure was a very pleasant and profitable one. It provided more information for Ellis, his name linking him in a special way with another branch of our family. It also allowed us to learn more about the Phelps family. Once such a search is begun, it does not end. As I observed Ellis at the graves of John W. and Effie Golden Phelps, I also realized that what we did helps to illustrate one aspect of immortality. It underscored an important belief of mine: Nothing [no one] dies that [who] is remembered.

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The above completes Kenneth Cadenhead’s narrative of their research and trip to Andalusia to learn more about their Phelps family heritage. He has experienced valuable family history as well as informed potential researchers of the available resources and how to effectively access them. Appreciation is expressed to him for sharing this with our readers.

Anyone who might have additional Phelps genealogy to share may contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.

 

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