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I’m trying to puzzle out the story of my paternal great-great-grandfather based on a smattering of tantalizing facts. He seems to have led an eventful life in interesting times, and I’d like to know more about him.

The ancestor of whom I speak is John Hubbard Sherrod, M.D. He was born in 1830 in Emanuel County, Georgia, midway between Macon and Savannah.

His connection to the present-day Smiths: Dr. Sherrod’s daughter Martha married a Smith from the next county. Their son was my Savannah grandfather.

This is what I’ve learned about Dr. Sherrod so far…

Family notes say he probably was born in Norristown, Georgia, the son of Mrs. Elizabeth Sherrod, who was born in 1792, maiden name unknown. Nothing so far about his father or any siblings.

In 1851, at age 21, Dr. Sherrod married Elizabeth Moxley of nearby Jefferson County. By the time the Civil War started, John and Elizabeth had three daughters, Martha, Elizabeth, and Susan, born in 1854, 1857, and 1861, respectively.

When and where Sherrod earned a medical degree, I don’t know. Nor do I have information about earlier Sherrods and Moxleys. Considering his profession, I assume the families were fairly prosperous, but were they merchants? Farmers? Owners of vast cotton plantations? All unknown.

When the Civil War began, Sherrod served as a first lieutenant and Adjutant (second in command) of Company C, 38th Georgia Infantry, CSA. According to military records, the unit completed its training in April 1862, at which time Lt. Sherrod tendered his resignation. Whether he joined another unit or simply went home, I haven’t discovered yet.

I do know that he survived the war, and in 1867, he was appointed judge of Emanuel County civil court. He and Elizabeth also had two more children, John and Margaret, born in 1869 and 1871.

During the Reconstruction years, the history of the Sherrod family becomes fuzzier. Elizabeth died of unknown causes, and Dr. Sherrod remarried.

His second wife was Sudie Dunn, also from Emanuel County. The Dunns seem to have been as numerous thereabouts as Sherrods and Smiths.

John and Sudie Sherrod had at least three children: Charlie, Joe, and Jessie. Charlie was born in 1886, when Dr. Sherrod was 56.

Dr. Sherrod continued to practice medicine in Emanuel County, and/or made a living in some other way, for two more decades. Finding out how long he served as a judge is on my to-do list.

John Sherrod died in 1903 at age 73. After some Googling, I located his grave at a small Methodist church cemetery a few miles south of the Emanuel County line in Treutlen County. Last month, I drove down to pay my respects.

Neither wife, I discovered, is buried with him. I haven’t located the graves of either Elizabeth or Sudie, nor have I uncovered more information about them.

However, buried next to Dr. Sherrod are his daughter Elizabeth (by his first wife), his son Charlie (by his second wife), and various other Sherrods and Dunns whose connections are unknown. The head of the family surrounded by his flock, as it were.

Dr. Sherrod’s gravestone is six feet tall and fairly elaborate and imposing, as you might expect for a small-town prominent citizen. A separate granite marker with details about his CSA military service sits in front of the headstone.

I was surprised to find a small Confederate flag, a new one, flying next to his grave. It could have been placed by local Confederate history buffs, or it could have been placed by his descendants in the area. Odds are, quite a few of Dr. Sherrod’s relatives, and my own, live in those parts.

The best parts of Dr. Sherrod’s story, I suspect, are still out there — the War, his life afterward, his medical practice, his family. Maybe I’ll get lucky and ferret out more pieces of the puzzle.

Plenty of mysteries, clues, and threads of evidence are there, waiting to consume my spare time.

Sherrod-1

The grave of John Hubbard Sherrod (left) is surrounded by those of assorted Sherrods and other relatives at Midway UMC Cemetery in northern Treutlen County.

Sherrod-2

Dr. Sherrod’s monument prominently features the Masonic letter G with square and compass. The marble CSA marker at the base was placed sometime after his burial. The crisp, new Confederate flag was unexpected.

Sherrod-3

Martha Roseanna Sherrod Smith (1854-1939), my great-grandmother, was the oldest child of John Hubbard Sherrod. In 1875, she married John Wesley Smith (1845-1918), also a Confederate veteran. Their son was my paternal grandfather, Walter Anthony Smith (1881-1950). To the family, Martha was “Granny Smith.”

 

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More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

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— In 2006, a 37-year-old Scottish man suffered an epic hangover that stands as the worst ever recorded. Over a four-day period, the man drank 60 pints of beer. Following a non-stop, four-week headache and steady loss of vision, the man went to an emergency room for help. It took six months of blood-thinning treatment to get rid of the headache and restore the man’s vision.

— In 1953, at age 10, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was a choirboy who sang at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

— The deepest hole ever drilled is the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia. The Kola was drilled between 1970 and 1989, and it reaches 40,230 feet (7.62 miles) into the Earth. The Kola’s purpose is to learn stuff about the Earth’s crust.

— It’s a warm spring day, and you plop down in a field of shamrocks (a plant in the genus trifolium, “tri” meaning three) in search of a four-leaf clover. Your odds of success are one in 10,000.

Clover

— During World War II, with great numbers of men in uniform, some American sports teams faced a shortage of players. Thus, in 1943, the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers combined rosters and played as the Steagles. In 1944, Pittsburgh merged temporarily with the Chicago Cardinals and played as the Car-Pitts.

—  The largest bat in the world is the flying fox bat of Australia, with a wingspan of up to six feet. The smallest is the bumblebee bat of Thailand, which is smaller than a fingernail.

— Before John Glenn became an astronaut and a U.S. Senator, he was a Marine fighter pilot. During the Korean War, he flew 90 combat missions and earned the nickname “magnet ass” for the enemy flak he attracted. For a time, Glenn’s wingman in Korea was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, who interrupted his playing career and returned to active duty in 1952-53.

— Statistics show that one-eighth of American workers, at some point in their lives, work for McDonald’s.

McDonalds

— Roy Sullivan (1912-1983), a ranger at Shenandoah National Park, survived being struck by lightning seven times, apparently an all-time record. The strikes happened between 1942 and 1977, mostly while he was on duty in the park, a storm-prone area in a storm-prone state.

Sullivan always got spooked when the weather was threatening, and often, he would try to leave the area. The lightning seemed to get him anyway. Most of the strikes set his hair on fire, so he began to carry a container of water with him at all times.

— Elvis Presley, Lenny Bruce, and Orville Redenbacher all died in the bathroom.

— In 2012, 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair conducted a poll that asked Americans who they would pick to compose a new national anthem. Bruce Springsteen came in first. Dolly Parton was second.

— In 1984, screenwriter Robert Townes was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for the film “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.” To protest the radically rewritten version of his script, Townes altered the film’s closing credits, removing his own name as screenwriter and adding “P. H. Vazak,” the name of his Hungarian sheepdog. The Academy never knew the difference.

Tarzan

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The Questions…

1. What is the fastest speed a human has ever traveled, and who set the record?

2. What common flavoring, mostly used in baking, is derived from an orchid?

3. The South American nation of Ecuador and the Central American nation of El Salvador both use the same currency? What is it?

4. The mighty Google empire was born in 1996. The first Google search engine was an array of ten 4-gig hard drives linked together in a cabinet. What did Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin use to construct the cabinet?

5. Greyhounds, the fastest dogs on earth, were brought to the United States in the mid-1800s for what specific reason?

The Answers…

1. The speed record is 24,791 miles per hour. It was set in May 1969 by astronauts Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford, and John Young when Apollo 10 reentered the Earth’s atmosphere after orbiting the Moon.

2. Vanilla. Both vanilla extract and natural vanilla flavoring come from the cured pods (incorrectly called beans) of Vanilla planifolia, an orchid native to Mexico.

3. The U.S. dollar.

4. Lego building blocks.

5. To catch jackrabbits that were eating crops and competing with livestock for food. This soon led to the sport of coursing, where greyhounds chased rabbits in an enclosed field, then later to regulated greyhound racing. Mechanical rabbits replaced the real thing in 1920.

Apollo 10

Greyhounds

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Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

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— In 2011, pro golfer Kevin Na set a PGA record, but not in a good way. On the 9th hole at the Valero Texas Open, he shot a 16, the most strokes on a par-4 hole in PGA history. He took a full 20 minutes to do it.

— The plastic caps on the ends of your shoelaces are called aglets.

— Of the 32 football teams in the NFL, all have team mascots except the Jets, Giants, Raiders, Redskins, and Packers.

— During World War I, England’s Navy Minister Winston Churchill pushed for the creation of a “land boat” that could break through enemy lines and traverse difficult terrain. The result in 1915 was Little Willie, the world’s first military tank. Little Willie carried a crew of six, but its top speed was only two miles per hour. It overheated easily and couldn’t cross trenches.

In 1916, England unveiled an improved version, the Mark I (Big Willie), which also underwhelmed. However, by 1917, England had improved the design markedly, and 400 Mark IVs were rolled out. By the end of the war, the Mark IVs had captured 8,000 enemy troops and 100 artillery pieces.

mark-iv

— The Catholic religion espouses Seven Heavenly Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins. The virtues are faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, courage, and temperance. The sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. Hard to argue with that.

— Wisconsin calls itself “America’s Dairyland,” but California passed it decades ago as the country’s leading producer of dairy products. Wisconsin still makes more cheese, so that’s something.

— In December 1976, the British rock band Pink Floyd arranged for the construction of a 40-foot-long helium-filled balloon in the shape of a pig to use on the cover of its album Animals.

Inclement weather caused the balloon to break free of its moorings, and the pig drifted over Heathrow Airport, resulting in panic and cancelled flights. Eventually, an angry farmer reported that the balloon came down in Kent, frightening his cows.

— The average five-year-old asks about 400 questions per day.

Little girl with few paper euro banknotes

— In Hawaii, you are prohibited by law from carrying coins in your ear.

— Bohemia, a cultural region in central Europe, has been bounced around like a football for centuries. It began in the 800s as part of the Great Moravian Empire; split off as the Duchy of Bohemia; became part of the Holy Roman Empire; part of the Habsburg Monarchy; part of the Austrian Empire; part of Czechoslovakia; part of Nazi Germany; part of the Second Czechoslovak Republic; part of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia; and today, part of the Czech Republic. Stay tuned.

— Both Rogaine and Viagra were first developed as treatments for high blood pressure.

— While he was President, Ulysses Grant was ticketed several times for driving his horse-drawn carriage too fast around Washington. On one occasion, he was stopped for speeding down M Street and taken to court. He paid a $5 fine and was required to walk back to the White House.

grant-us

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The Questions…

1. What do you call the whitish area at the base of your fingernails and toenails next to the cuticle?

2. Pixar Animation Studios, winner of 26 Academy Awards, was founded in 1979, but they didn’t get into the movie business until Toy Story in 1995. Before 1995, what did Pixar do?

3. What is the middle name of actor Michael J. Fox?

4. Which world capital stands at the highest elevation? Which stands at the lowest?

5. In Edouard Manet’s 1852 painting “A Bar at the Folies Bergère,” bottles of beer are shown of a brand that is still going strong today. What brand is it?

The Answers…

1. That’s the lunula (plural lunulae), the visible part of the root of the nail. Nails are surprisingly complex, consisting of eight components, including the lunulae.

2. Pixar started out building imaging computers for government agencies and the medical industry. Then they began making computer-animated TV commercials. Their ads for Listerine (1993), Life Savers (1994), Levi Strauss (1995), and Hallmark (1997) all won a Gold Clio, the ad industry’s top award.

3. Andrew. He decided to use a middle initial to avoid confusion with another actor named Michael Fox, but he didn’t like the way A. sounded, so he picked J.

4. The highest is La Paz, Bolivia, located in the Andes Mountains at 11,913 feet above sea level. The lowest is Baku, Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea at 29 feet below sea level.

5. Bass Pale Ale, easily identified by the red triangle logo. Manet signed the painting on one of the bottles.

lunula

bass

 

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I present herewith a special Christmas trivia question.

The Question…

In the old (it came out in 1780) English Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” how many total gifts are bestowed upon the lucky lady by her true love?

The Answer…

Over the course of the Twelve Days of Christmas (the 12 days following Christmas), the lady received a total of 364 gifts. To wit:

– 12 partridges in pear trees
– 22 turtle doves
– 30 French hens
– 36 calling birds
– 40 gold rings
– 42 geese a-laying
– 42 swans a-swimming
– 40 maids a-milking
– 36 ladies dancing
– 30 lords a-leaping
– 22 pipers piping
– 12 drummers drumming

Most experts believe the song is French in origin.

Mais bien sûr, mes amis. Joyeux Noël à toi.

12-days

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The Questions…

1. Since 1957, the symbol of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has been a green, yellow, and red rooster. What is the bird’s name?

2. To whom did Herman Melville dedicate the novel Moby Dick?

3. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a star student and ultimately the valedictorian at the prestigious Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. But in one class soon after he arrived, he got a lowly C. What was the class?

4. What future U.S. president pawned his watch for $22 to buy Christmas gifts for his pregnant wife and their three children?

5. The agouti, a squirrel-like rodent found in Central and South America, eats fruit, nuts, roots, leaves, and, on occasion, eggs. It also performs a function that is critical to the survival of the rain forests. What is it?

The Answers…

1. Cornelius “Corny” Rooster.

2. He dedicated it to fellow writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, who had urged Melville to draw upon his experiences aboard a succession of whaling ships to write a novel.

3. Public Speaking.

4. Ulysses S. Grant pawned the watch in 1857, when he was a struggling Missouri farmer. He served as President from 1869 until 1877.

5. The agouti has sharp teeth and a powerful bite, capable of cracking open a Brazil nut. The only other critter that can do that is the macaw. Agoutis hoard the nuts in buried caches, many of which end up sprouting and producing new generations of Brazil nut trees.

corn-flakes

ARKive image GES078168 - Central American agouti

 

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