I’ve always been respectful of Ancestors — both their flawed [once human] nature and their personal journeys. I’ve never written to deliberately expose an Ancestor’s faults or failures. I’ve recognized there are some stories appropriate for the Internet, and others not.
I have though always vested in telling the truth and not “interpreting” history to make myself or other family members more comfortable. I stick to the facts of what I know and learn, leaving interpretation — and judgement — to the reader.
I have reservations/conflicts writing today about the CODY family that owned many of my Warren County Georgia Ancestors — including my 4th Grandmother Catie and her Sister Ailey.
So know this documentation isn’t about vengeance — slave owning CODY Ancestors have had to answer for their actions themselves.
Today’s post is for posterity of record, so should someone in my line pick-up the work, they’ll know which questions remain and which have been answered.
I also write to make sense of it all, as much of the information I’ve learned over the past 24 hours, I’ve chased for 14+ years! A very surreal experience, I need to “see” it mapped out.
9/11: I wrote about the reunion of Sisters Ailey and Catie, separated at ages 12 and 10 years, when Catie was loaned [or possibly sold] to Rev. James Madison DICKEY as he traveled to oversee the reconstruction of the Smyrna Church in Wilkes County. As I put the 2 images of Ailey and Catie together, a very clear stream of thought chimed in — “you know Madison Derrell CODY didn’t own Catie, it was Bob CODY. That’s the connection you’ve been missing with the minister. Go back to Pierce’s narrative, it’s there…”. The Sisters were telling me, I’d missed the answer I’ve been seeking and never being the girl to question the weirdness that can accompany Ancestor Work, I obliged.
9/16: I decided to retrace details I’ve covered a million times over the course of 14 years in search of the un-turned rock I’d skipped over — Mystery of The Smyrna Church: Retracing Rev. DICKEY’S Historical Footprints which allowed for my first AAGSAR Ancestor Challenge!
9/17: The 2014 Ancestor Challenge in black and white — with everything I’ve used to get here and everything I think I need to move me further.
9/18: for once, I decided to start looking BEYOND Rev. James Madison DICKEY to explore what happened to Catie when as a Methodist missionary, he left Wilkes County in 1862. She wasn’t free, and still 3 years outside of emancipation — where did Catie go? And for whatever blessed reason, my mind settled on Rev. Freeman Franklin Reynolds who followed DICKEY as Pastor of the Smyrna Church in 1862. Yes F.F. was in the general Warrenton area but there was nothing I could find tying him to Catie OR the CODYS until…
9/18: 1850 Warrenton Slave Census of Rebecca CODY — widow of Michael and mother of none other than Catie’s 1st believed owner Madison Derelle CODY, who happens to be living in the home at age 25 years, after graduating from college who do we find living with the CODYS? Yep — the REYNOLDS!
Rebecca Cody 64
Green Cody 50
Madison D Cody 26
Rebecca Darden 51
Freeman F Reynolds 36
Elizabeth Reynolds 30
Benjamin J Reynolds 4
Anna L Cody 3
Leuciham Cody 1
And how do I know Madison just returned home from college? Here’s where it gets good and conflicted…
3 years ago, a close CODY descendant sent me a copy of Claude Carr CODY’S (son of Madison) family journal — Me & My Folks. Other than a quick scan I’d never really read it (I went on a 2 year hiatus shortly after receiving it in 2010). Now with new eyes and interest, I’m taking in page by page and revelations are overwhelming.
It’s strange reading a family journal vs. a historical accounting. The journal is intimate and loving. One minute I’m sucked in trying to paint a visual for what’s being described, and then because it’s penned by family for family, the candid manner in which my Ancestors are spoken of, makes the heat rise in my head.
As crazy as it sounds — I do feel like I’m invading the CODYS privacy, exposing “family business”. But that won’t prevent me from sharing what it reveals OR committing it to my research. I do believe attempts to wipe the family’s history clean have been made. That will not happen here.
History is what it is.
I ALWAYS believed Catie had been owned by Edmund CODY or Michael Marion CODY. You can see from this Estate of Rebecca CODY Ancestry post in 2009 I was on her path but NOT from the tie-in of the Smyrna Church and F.F. REYNOLDS, but just because she was Madison’s mother (widow of Michael) who he inherited the estate from.
The journal walks me through the lives and thoughts of this direct CODY line and sheds considerable light on why the Claude Carr CODY Special Collection at Southwestern University, containing HUNDREDS of his Father’s personal papers, was scrubbed clean without mention of their considerable Slave holdings and among other things, his involvement with Warren County’s Ku Klux Klan.
Yes, Madison Derrell CODY admitted to Claude — without guilt or shame — being active in the KKK, justified by the need to “control the ignorant negro, but recently armed with the ballot…”
Stay tuned… Part II with family quotes, explanations and pictures are on the way.
The mud, the answers and 2014SAC next steps are getting clearer! Funny how every answer just leads to more questions!:)