Monday, March 28, 2011

Genealogy makes it a small, small world

Two weeks ago, my mom and I met down in Johnson County and did some cemetery "hopping."  We visited four cemeteries in half a day, putting flowers on family graves and looking for ancestors.  I took a lot of pictures of graves for my records and to fulfill a few Find A Grave requests.

Since then, I've been adding memorials steadily over the past couple of weeks to Find A Grave.  The memorials I've added so far have mostly been some of my Schwalls ancestors.  In between adding memorials, I also searched for obituaries and articles in historical newspapers related to this family.  In the process, I made a connection that made my mom and I laugh and possibly my father laugh from the great beyond.

We moved to Swainsboro the summer I turned 8 years old.  That fall, I started the third grade at Swainsboro Primary School.  My teacher was Mrs. Sconyers.  Now I was a hardworking student; bright and friendly enough.  Back then, at 8 years old, I was too young to cause any trouble, right?  But it seemed that Mrs. Sconyers took an immediate dislike to me.  She rode me hard, calling me out in front of the class and embarrassing me in a myriad of ways.  I could not understand it... she was probably the first adult I had ever come across who didn't like me.  It was made even more difficult by the fact that this was my first year in a new community and school, and my mom was still in Jacksonville - unable to transfer her job yet and just driving up every weekend.

Now my mother tells me that my father and Mrs. Sconyers had some sort of run-in at the beginning of that school year.  Ahhhh... that could explain some things.  Of course, I was too young to understand or to even realize this, so I was just at a loss of why my teacher gave me such a hard time.

Anyway, I made it through the year and moved to Swainsboro Elementary School and the 4th grade.  I don't remember that I ever saw Mrs. Sconyers again.  However, ironically enough, over the years, I heard from other students younger than me that Mrs. Sconyers bragged on me in her other classes.  What?!!

Anyway, back to this weekend and my Schwalls research...

My maternal great-grandmother was Mattie Schwalls.  She was the daughter of George W. Schwalls Sr. and Lincelia Claxton Schwalls.  Mattie's oldest sister was Susan Schwalls.  She married a man named James Madison Townsend, and they had children.  Susan's oldest son, Johnnie William Townsend married and had three children.  I did not know a whole lot about this family, but I had Johnnie's daughter listed as "Dortha."

During my searches on, I found Johnnie's oldest son's (also named Johnnie Townsend) obituary.  Among the survivors listed was a sister, "Mrs. Charlie Sconyers" of Swainsboro.  Hmmmm...

I continued searching and found an obituary for MR. Charlie Sconyers of Swainsboro, who used to own Sconyers Motors.  It listed him as being survived by his wife, Dorothy Townsend Sconyers.  Another hmmmm.... that name sounds familiar.  Obviously the "Dortha" I had listed was a misspelling and should be "Dorothy."

Could it be?  Nah, there are a lot of Sconyers in Swainsboro.

So I spoke with my mom tonight.  I asked her if she knew who Charlie Sconyers was.  And she said yes, the man who owned the car dealership... and his wife was my 3rd grade teacher!

So Mrs. Sconyers, the teacher who gave me such a hard time that first year in Swainsboro, was my 2nd cousin, 1x removed.

Image courtesy of

 I swear I can hear my father laughing...


  1. Wow - that is a real coincidence! I'm not sure I would be pleased, though.... You have probably been much better at putting things into context than I would.

  2. Something like that really does make you realize what a small world it is! What a great story (but too bad she wasn't nicer to you)!