14 Replies Latest reply on May 3, 2021 6:16 PM by Sabrina Cousins

    Seeking information on mother's side of the family

    Sabrina Cousins Newbie

      I visited Crawford County, GA today trying to find out anything on my mother's side of the family and I am having a very hard time with the information that was given to me. Can someone please help? Thanks

        • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
          Henry Rosenberg Navigator

          What is the problem and what do you want to know? If you give us names we may be able to help you find information.

            • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
              Sabrina Cousins Newbie

              Hello, and thank you.  My mother was born in Crawford County georgia around 1923 and she didn't know that much about who her dad was.  Her name is Catherine (Raines) Gresham.  I found her mother and grand mother's name on the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census.  There were other houeshold names listed on those censuses as well.  I took a trip to Crawford County ga and had the pleasure of meeting people that lived there with the same last name.  Although she has passed I would love to find out as much as I can.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Obituaries, grave sites and or churches.  Thanks

                • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                  Henry Rosenberg Navigator

                  Unfortunately it's still not enough to go on. Her mother and grandmother's names would help otherwise there is no way to confirm if what we find is your family. Also, is her maiden name her father's last name? Do you know his first name? Who was her husband? Where did they live? Where did your mother die?

                  Obviously you know about your mother. So,are you looking for information further back? I'm still not sure what information you want. Sorry if I sound like I am interrogating you but whatever information you can share will help us help you.

                    • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                      Sabrina Cousins Newbie

                      Thank you guys so much, this is my first time doing this and you guys are the best.  My mothers birth name is Catherine Raines, she wasn't sure what/who her father's first or last name is.  On the 1940 census she lived in Fayetteville Georgia with her brother by the name of Dennis Rainey (spelling changed from Raines to Rainey). He listed here and her sister (Gracie Mae)as his daughter, not sure why.  I worked backwards and found her mom Mahaly Raines (head of houshold) and grand mom Hanniah Raines on the 1920 census. On the 1910 census found Mahaly Raines (her mom) again as head of household. My mother has a social security number, but didn't have a birth certificate. She didn't really talk about her life, but said it was really hard back then. She also stated that she was sent to work on different plantations and even sold to someone in Florida to work the fields. She said due to the mistreatment she ran away and made her way back to Georgia.  So I don't know if her name was changed because in my searching it looks like she just disappeared and resurfaced in Fayetteville Georgia on the 1940 census.  I've been to the Archives in Atlanta and they even had a hard time finding anything on her also.  Mahaly died 10/3/1938 in Fulton County Georgia  and Hannah Raines died 8/27/? In Terrell County, Sasser Georgia.  There's never a Father listed, but I do have the slave holders surnames and Thomas Raines was one of them for Crawford County between 1822-1900.  Catherine Raines/Rainey married James Henry Gresham on 1/15/1951 even on the marriage license there was no information concerning her parents.  Her DOB is 7/4/1924. That's pretty much all I have, but I'm gonna keep asking for help and searching.  Again thanks for any help you can give.

                        • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                          Sabrina Cousins Newbie

                          Also my mom died in Fulton County Georgia on 5/3/1993 (Catherine  Gresham) buried at Holly Grove AME church in Fayetteville Georgia

                          • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                            Henry Rosenberg Navigator

                            I tried searching and beside the 1910 census and your mother's death info, I could find nothing,so far.

                            You said your mother was sent to work on plantations and was sold. When you said she was sold that startled and confused me. Who sold her? Her mother? Slavery was abolished but Southerners had other systems that replicated slavery. Also, I'm sure people could hire out their own family members.


                            It is possible they were share croppers in which case they may have lived on the land of their "employer". Sharecroppers were considered tenants so they would appear wherever the land they were working was located.


                            It is also possible your mother was a victim of the Convict Lease System. Under that barbaric system, people, mostly blacks, were arrested for petty crimes or sometimes no crimes, sent to jail and then their labor was leased to local farmers. This was the reality in the South in the early 1900's up until around 1950 or so. This is less likely.


                            Just so you know, I am not an employee of LOC but a volunteer transcriber so take what I say with a grain of salt. I just know that it is important to know the history of the country which can help you with discovering the history of your family.


                            Sorry I could not be more help but I will keep looking. I just wanted to give you a heads up on the history in case you want to research those angles. I hope what I wrote does not insult you or upset you. That was not my intention.


                            Take care,


                              • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                                Sabrina Cousins Newbie

                                Not upset at all and thank you. The reason I mention sold is because that's the term she used and she also mentioned that a lot of bad things happened to her. I'm the youngest of 10 kids and my mom had me around 42 years old.  My oldest sister (deceased) would have turned 70 this year so obviously they hated talking about the things they experienced coming up, so I tread very lightly when asking them a lot of questions concerning what they experienced.  So as the times were slowly changing me and a couple of my siblings escaped some of the harsh things that they endured.  They're definitely interested in the small things I managed to find because they only knew that my mom's mother's name was Haley Raines and she died giving birth. So as for Catherine (Raines) Gresham she is still a mystery even at the Georgia Archives. Again all and any info you guys come across is deeply appreciated.

                      • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                        Lisha Penn Pioneer

                        Dear Ms. Cousins,


                        Thanks for posting your request on History Hub!


                        We suggest that you search NARA’s website for tips on how to begin your genealogical research and Census Resources for tips on how to access census records that may are digitized in the National Archives Catalog or available on our partners’ websites as well as how to view them for free at a NARA facility. NARA has census schedules on microfilm dating from 1790 to 1930 but data from recent censuses are not available after 1940 due to the 72-year restriction on access to the Census. Most researchers find it helpful to begin with the 1940 Census and work backwards to locate people in earlier generations.


                        The Georgia Department of Public Health Vital Records Office maintains birth and death records filed from 1919 to the present. Some counties may have pre-1919 birth, death, marriage, or divorce records in their files. The Crawford County Historical Society may have background information that is useful. We also suggest that you review websites for Georgia Births and Christenings and Crawford County Genealogy.


                        We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!


                        1 person found this helpful
                        • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                          Alice Lane Pioneer

                          Hi Sabrina,


                          This is information about your mother's social security card found on ancestry.  Ancestry is a pay site but you can get a couple weeks free to begin.



                          The following is a website to get an application for a Social Security Card....https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ss5doc.htm



                          You must present your birth certificate. If one exists, you must submit it. If a birth certificate does not exist, we may be able to accept your:

                          • Religious record made before the age of 5 showing your date of birth;
                          • U.S. hospital record of your birth; or
                          • U.S. passport.

                          Your mother would have had to show one of the above to get a social security card.


                          Also, did she have a driver's license?


                          You can get a copy of your mother's original Social Security Application by filling out forms at the following website https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-711.pdf.....there is a fee for this service.




                          The following website has a list of 10 databases for slave genealogy research. https://www.thoughtco.com/great-databases-for-slave-genealogy-1421640


                          Best Wishes

                          Good Luck in your search.

                          Alice Lane

                          Volunteer Researcher

                            • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                              Susannah Brooks Pioneer

                              This is the information that Catherine gave when she applied for a Social Security number.  It came from the Social Security Applications & Claims Index on Ancestry.com

                              Name: Catherine Grasham

                              [Catherine Gresham]

                              [Catherine White]

                              Gender: Female

                              Race: Black

                              Birth Date: 4 Jul 1925

                              Birth Place: Fayetteville-Talladega Springs, Georgia


                              Death Date: 24 May 1993

                              Father: Collin White

                              Mother:  Haley Raines

                              Notes: Dec 1959: Name listed as CATHERINE GRASHAM; 02 May 1978: Name listed as CATHERINE GRESHAM


                              The important bit of information on this form was that she said her father was Collin White.

                                • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                                  Sabrina Cousins Newbie

                                  Thanks Susannah and Alice, I really appreciate all your help.  I did download the Social Security form and apply for a copy of the application.  I'm having to ask my older siblings for any info. they remember my mom telling them about any of her brothers and sisters.  I do remember the name Gresham being spelled different ways as time passed.  It started out Grissom, Grishom, and Gresham, when looking up info on my dad's side (Gresham).  I also tried finding Catherine White a while back and nothing that I was familiar with came back. Years ago I also played around with the different birth years from 1923-1925 because my dad said my mom wasn't quite sure of the year of her birth but she was sure of July 4th.  The date of death is correct, as well as the social security#.  We only knew of her mother's name as Haley Raines and I found out on the 1910-1920 census it was Mahaly or Mahaley. I remember her saying her father's name was Collin White but could never find anything on him.  I'm wondering who filled out the application because my mother couldn't read or write.  She only went to the fourth grade and used to mark an X for her signature and one of us would sign her name.  She never had a driver's license but could drive.  My sister also stated that she was married to a man (1st husband) name Russell (Babe) Johnson/Clayton County GA but it was short lived so my oldest sister had a different dad from the rest.  She married James Henry Gresham in January 1951 in Fayetteville, GA.  I have a copy of that marriage license and application but there's no parents listed on it.  The info on the social security application was entered in 1959 I'm guessing by my dad, and the info found on it in 1978 had to be one of my oldest siblings.  Now here's where me and my siblings become dumbfounded.  We've heard of Talladega Alabama and Fayetteville GA but never Fayetteville-Talladega Springs, Georgia.  Another weird thing is that her niece had a dad name Collin White listed on her death certificate.  My sister remembers an uncle by the name of Collin which would have been Catherine's brother and not her dad unless there was a Collin Sr. and he had a son name Collin Jr. I'm gonna keep searching and combing through the information that I have and try to make some sense out of the names, dates and places.  Thank you in advance for all your help you guys are a Godsend.

                              • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                                Grace Yuhasz Adventurer

                                The suggestion to order a copy of your mother's SS-5 form (the Application for a Social Security Card she would have filled out) is a good one.  Here is the link on how to order.


                                On that page, select "Request a copy of a deceased person’s original Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5) and/or Numident record."  Make sure you order the original application, not the Numident or abstract record.


                                Ancestry.com has a record set called  U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index.  

                                This is a computer generated synopsis of only some of what Catherine stated on her SS-5 form.  It shows she was born July 4, 1925 in Fayetteville-Talladega Springs, Georgia [Fayetteville] and that her parents were Haley Raines and Collin White.


                                You said your mother didn't have a birth certificate.  Did you mean she was never issued one, or just didn't have a copy?  It looks like Georgia started registering births at the state level in 1919 (before that it was up to the individual counties).  It might be worth contacting the state to see if they have one.  You, as an adult child, are allowed to order it.



                                I tried to find more information for you but see the difficulty you are having.  It is a bit of an uphill climb.  To add to the situation, there are at least two Hannah Raines and two Mahaly Raines in the same general area at the same time.


                                I assume these are the census records you mentioned:

                                1900  Crawford, GA     Hannah Raines; Will & John Hicks; Tom, John, Haley, Math Raines

                                1910  Crawford, GA     Mahaly as head of household, her children Collin Willis through Dennis Raines, etc, with her mother Hannah and brother Nep (?)

                                1920  Crawford, GA     Mahaly as head of household, her children Billy (McCray) through Mattie, etc, with her mother Hannah

                                1930   ?

                                1940  Fayette, GA       Dennis Rainey, wife Ruby, their 2 children, sisters Catherine & Gracie



                                Question: How much of this information are you sure about?  For example, do you recognize the names of your aunts/uncles, great-aunts/uncles, cousins, in these censuses?  What about the death dates of your grandmother and great-grandmother?  With more than one person with the same name, it would be easy to mistakenly combine them.


                                For instance:

                                The Hannah Raines that died 27 Aug 1923 in Sasser, Terrell, GA was the widow of Alex Raines (per her death certificate on FamilySearch.org).



                                On the 1910 census, an Alex and Hannah Raines lived in Redbone, Lee, GA with two children.  This may or may not be the same  Hannah that died in Sasser (more research would be needed).  If it is, then it would mean the death certificate is probably not your Hannah, since yours is in Mahaly's household in 1910.



                                I did find some possible records for some of Mahaly's sons:

                                WWII Draft Registrations for Collin Willis, Dennis Raines, William McCrary (maybe Billie McCray)


                                It would help to trace the siblings of your mother and grandmother.  It's possible there is a record from one of them that may slowly help you piece together more of the story.   You need to have as much info as you can before you try to figure out Hannah's full story.  It will help prevent errors and save you time by preventing you from going down the wrong road and then having to start over.


                                I tried to locate the family in the 1930 census.  I couldn't find any of the ones I assumed would be together, which is a bit unusual. Where was Mahaly?  Where were her children?  Where they even together?  Could Catherine and Gracie be together (as they were in 1940)?  Did they use another last name or was the name mis-transcribed?  Were they in another state (part of the Great Migration, then returned to Georgia, for instance)? Is it possible they were not enumerated (not as common as people may think)?  I tried different scenarios but had no luck.  If Catherine had any siblings born between 1920 and 1930 that you know about, you could try searching by their names.


                                It might help if you found someone who is familiar with Crawford County area records.  There may be some county record type that would help.


                                Hope this helps some.  Happy hunting!







                                  • Re: Seeking information on mother's side of the family
                                    Sabrina Cousins Newbie

                                    Hi Grace, I finally received the social security application after calling a couple of times, and thanks for your help.  They blacked out the mother/father names on the application which is what I really needed.  So trying to work from Collin White name is pretty difficult because it's a common name plus I wouldn't even know his parents or siblings.  I found Mahaley's death certificate with Hannah Raines listed as her mother which is correct but no father.  The info/names on the 1910 census: Collin, Billie, and Dennis was verified by my older siblings but they wasn't sure of the names (Annie M Dent, and Nef (rains).  I also took a trip to Talladega Springs/ Fayetteville Alabama and found out that there were surname (White) that lived there.  So there's a Fayetteville, Georgia and a Fayetteville, Alabama that I'm looking for any info. I can find.  I did find Tom Raines draft registration card, date of death- sept. 1963 and social security number.  I couldn't find the 1930 census or any info. If anyone have any more information to share I would love the help.  Thanks again and stay safe!