The Smyrna ChurchIf you’ve been on the Our Georgia Roots journey since its inception, sometime in 1998/99, you know I sought Ailey, my 4th Grandmother Catie’s Sister for a very long time before discovering her in 2010 via the 1870 Warrenton Census married as Ailey DAWSON, and then eventually being connected to Ailey’s descendant Gwen and my DAWSON/DORSEY/JONES family in 2011.

Even longer than seeking Ailey, I’ve sought to understood how it came to be a family not known for selling slaves (CODY) somehow allowed a 10 year old Catie to leave Warren County Georgia in 1859, to accompany Rev. James Madison DICKEY as he traveled to Wilkes County to oversee the reconstruction of The Smyrna Church.

Did Minister Dickey purchase Catie or was she loaned by her CODY owner? Where did Catie go, once Reverend DICKEY left Wilkes in 1862 — still 3 years before Emancipation? How did Minister DICKEY cross paths with Catie’s owner anyway? What was their connection?

So no one could have been more surprised than me when recently working on the Ailey & Catie post, the Sisters began whispering in my ear. Subtle thoughts yes, but clear as a bell — “you know Madison Derrelle CODY didn’t own Catie, it was Robert Donnelson CODY. That’s the connection you’ve been missing with the minister. Go back to Pierce’s narrative, it’s there…”

Just like that, in the middle of editing their images, a stream of thought that in 14 years of research has NEVER flowed from me!

Now ask me why I’d never considered the possibility my Catherine “Kate/Cate”, might have been named after her mistress – Catherine “Kate” BRANTLEY CODY —  Robert CODY’S wife? Or why when I knew my 5th Grandfather Elbert CODY and family were owned by the Hardshell Baptist CODY, I didn’t look to see if Catie could have been there too? Or even why the traveling missionaries talked about at length in Pierce CODY’s (Catie & Ailey’s Brother) WPA slave narrative never connected in my mind to the traveling missionary Catie went to Wilkes County with — John M. DICKEY?

I don’t know! But when their images came together, so did this new flow of thinking and a purse of fresh clues to chase!

Once again, The Smyrna Church, James Madison DICKEY, and CODY ownership take a front seat in my research effort. This will be the first AAGSAR Genealogy Challenge I work to solve!

Funny how when my now 13 year old Justis saw this image of the Smyrna Church yesterday morning, he didn’t remember walking the land with me and Mama many years ago in Wilkes County in July of 2002. He didn’t remember the old cemetery or how surreal the experience for us — 3 generations of Catie’s children!

And he certainly didn’t recall how the locked door of an empty church opened, to allow Catie’s descendants to view the Slave Gallery that had been constructed for her and other slaves to worship apart from the congregation.

What An Experience!As things seem to happen often lately, it came as no surprise to me while not looking for — or remembering I even had it — I *stumbled upon* a print out of my July 16, 2002 post to the Afrigenas community forum, about the day’s events ~ What An Experience!

Just as I was lamenting with Liv via Facebook about allowing the Our Georgia Roots site to lapse in 2011, along with all history contained on my self-hosted WordPress server, the Ancestors remind me of how diligent I’ve been in documenting their stories, and as long as I follow their lead, NOTHING is really lost.

The old Our Georgia Roots is gone. However the Internet, keywords and good ole’ fashioned research preservation skills still work things out for me!:)

Yep, I’m revisiting The Smyrna Church mystery because sometimes the answers we seek, are hiding in plain site.

Stay tuned!:)


(Note – if you’re a DICKEY/CODY descendant visiting OGR by way of my recent post, please contact me with any information that can aid in resolving this family mystery. We, Catie’s family have waited long enough. It is time.)