Thomas Henry Stringer, 1869-1933, was my great grandfather (my father’s mother’s father, as I discussed a few months ago in this post [click]). Thomas was born 26 March 1869 in Statesboro, Bulloch County, Georgia, to Robert Frances Stringer (1828-1910) and Martha (Margaret) Elizabeth Sheppard (1836-1875). He is on the 1870 census with his parents living in Brier Patch, Bulloch County, Georgia. This isn’t a town, but another name for Georgia Militia District 47, which is in the southeast corner of the county, essentially south of Brooklet and east of Lower Black Creek. This picture of him is from about 1904. Unfortunately, he seems to have disappeared from the census for the next thirty years. I can’t find an 1880 census for his parents. There isn’t a surviving 1890 census record, and I can’t find Thomas in the 1900 census.
Fortunately I have a couple of other sources of information. The first is the family Bible of Thomas and Hattie Stringer (my aunt Mildred Jones Helmey has the original; the digital copies are courtesy of my cousin Michelle Winter Buhler). The second is a Spanish War Invalid Pension Application that Thomas filled out in 1924 (again the digital copy is courtesy of my cousin Michelle). The family Bible gives a basic framework, indicating that he married Hattie Mosell Williams on 21 March 1901 at Augusta, Georgia. They had five children: Essie Lee (19 March 1903), Lilian Mae (14 August 1905, also spelled “Lillie Mae”), Francis Magadelin (5 February 1907; my grandmother), Thomas Shepard (2 September 1908), and Walter Hartridge (8 August 1910). Essie Lee married Leroy “Roy” Lynn in 1919, had one daughter who died at 3 weeks of age in 1920, and died in 1935. Lillie Mae married Frank Sapp in 1921, Maggie married James Dewey Jones in 1928, Thomas married Minnie Rose Knight in 1929, and Walter married Effie Barber in 1931.
According to Thomas’s Pension Application (dated 12 May 1924), he enlisted on 29 July 1898 in Company M of the 2nd Georgia [Infantry] Volunteer Regiment, and was honorably discharged at Savannah, Georgia, on 22 November 1898. On succeeding pages of the application, dated 6 June 1924, he stated that he was born on 26 March 1869 in Statesboro, Bulloch County, Georgia, and that in July 1898 when he enlisted he lived in Bulloch County but his mailing address was Rocky Ford. Rocky Ford is across the Ogeechee River, in Screven County, so he must have been living in northeast Bulloch County, in Militia District 46 (also know as Lockhart). Further, in his pension application he states the after discharge he lived at Rocky Ford from 1899 to 1901, though at some point he travelled to Augusta, for he states that he was married to Hattie M. Williams Stringer on 21 March 1901 at North Augusta, Aiken County, South Carolina, by Louis Shillers (spelled “Schiller” in the family Bible).
After that, again referring to the pension application papers, he lived in Statesboro from 1902 to 1904, Adabelle (southwestern Bulloch County) from 1905 to 1915, 1916 to 1921 in Egypt (40 miles to the northeast, across the Ogeechee River in Effingham County), and finally outside of Manassas (in the Haw Pond district), northwest of Claxton in the newly-created Evans County from 1922 through 1924, and as later supplements indicated, until his death.
All of this disagrees somewhat with the census when it picks up again in 1910, which showed him living in Militia District 1366 of Tattnall County (which was Haw Pond district of Evans County after that was formed in 1915). According to the census he was a farm laborer, renting his house of Cobbtown Road. The 1920 census places him in Haw Pond, Evans County, again farming on rented land. According to James Sapp, the oldest surviving grandchild and the only one I know of who still remembers Thomas Stringer, the family were tenant farmers, as were many other members of the Jones and Stringer families from the end of the 19th century and through the first decades of the 20th century. So it may be that he simplified the amount of moving he did for the sake of the pension application, or that he was only living at certain farms for a season, which corresponded with the census. That would also explain why he is difficult to locate, and may not even exist, in some of the earlier censuses.
|Census images courtesy of Ancestry.com (subscription required)|
On 21 July 1921, Thomas’ beloved wife Hattie died of “apoplexy” (a term applied to any sudden loss of consciousness followed by death). Thomas struggled on, raising his younger children with the help of the older ones, though he was apparently himself in failing health. If you notice the signatures on the 1924 pension application they are those of his two sons in law, Roy Lynn and Frank Sapp. Thomas would live with Frank and Lillie Mae Sapp the rest of his life. Thomas requested an increase in his monthly pension, from $30 to $40, in 1930 “due to increased infirmity”, and requests again were made in 1931 and 1932 by his friends and relations, because he suffered increasing infirmity of body and mind, to the point of being “confused and feeble” much of the time. According to the 1930 census, he is unemployed and living with the Sapps in Militia District 1738 (Canoochee), Evans County, Georgia. (This disagrees with the location listed as Manassas, which supposedly is in Haw Pond, but the boundaries were rather fluid, and Canoochee looks to have been created out of Haw Pond, though I haven’t determined when.)
Finally, on 1 Jul 1933, at the age of 64, Thomas Henry Stringer died in Claxton. According to daddy's cousin James Sapp, Thomas went into Claxton to pick up his pension check, accompanied by his son-in-law Frank Sapp. James says that when he went into town he would usually pick up some candy for the grandchildren. He collapsed on the sidewalk after leaving the general store with the candy and was carried to a doctor's office, where he died. My father was born the following year, and thus never got the opportunity to know his maternal grandparents.
That’s about it for now.
|Thomas H & Hattie Moselle Stringer with oldest child Essie Mae (about 1904)|