Virginia (Jenny) Bates Meadows-Sauls is the great-great-granddaughter of Charlton and Nancy O’Kelly Bates, the great-granddaughter of Thomas F. Bates and Sarah Elizabeth Ward Bates. Jenny's great-grandparents on her father's side were Savannah Bates-Smith and Alexander Newton Smith and Lemuel Bates and Lillie Margaret Smith-Bates. Their son, J.B. Bates, and his wife Lois Christine Sims Bates are her parents.
Yvonne M. Perry is a sixth-generation descendant of Charlton and Nancy Bates. Yvonne's mother is Doris Lillian Jackson-Mauldin, who is the daughter of Martha Louella Bates-Jackson and Fred A. Jackson. Martha's parents were Lem and Lillie Bates. Lem was the son of Thomas F. Bates and Sarah Elizabeth Ward-Bates. Lillie's parents were Savannah Bates-Smith and Alexander Newton Smith. Lem and Lillie were cousins.
Yvonne and Jenny are second cousins. Jenny's dad and Yvonne's grandmother are siblings.
If you’ve ever tried to do research a family genealogy or write a book you know that either one is a daunting task in itself. Now try doing both tasks and you’ll understand why this is almost impossible without collaboration from multiple family members. The authors of this book are Jenny Bates Meadows-Sauls and Yvonne Mauldin (McCurley) Perry, but the contributors of the information contained in this book are too numerous to count. I hope we have not missed thanking anyone in the acknowledgments.
As a child, Jenny was part of the share-cropping Bates family in Cherokee County during the 1940s. As an adult, she spent years researching her roots on Ancestry.com to verify the information that had been passed down verbally to her. She did most of the phone calls, emails, and in-person visits to gather personal stories and data from cousins who span many generations and branches of the Bates family tree.
When Jenny and Yvonne connected on Facebook in 2012, it was inevitable that they should join hands and hearts to tell this family’s story. Both authors will tell their portion of the story. We’ll begin by introducing ourselves.
Jenny Bates Meadows-Sauls
My name is Virginia (Jenny) Bates Meadows-Sauls. I am the great-great-granddaughter of Carlton and Nancy O’Kelly Bates, which makes me the great-granddaughter of Thomas F. and Sarah Elizabeth Ward Bates. My grandparents were Lemuel and Lillie Margaret Smith Bates. Their son, J.B. (a.k.a. Jay), and his wife of 48 years, Lois Christine Sims Bates, are my parents. They were married on October 8, 1932 by an old preacher named Reverend R. O. Ellis, who lived on Arnold Mill Road in Woodstock, Georgia.
Growing up in the 1940s and ’50s, I remember many of the stories that my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, my older sister Sarah, and our relatives told me. Additionally, I wrote about what I have seen, heard, and experienced with these angels. They are still with us as we sensed their presence and help with research on this project. I would awaken during the night with a hunch I had to follow the next day. While looking for clues on that lead, some other information we needed would pop up. And, not only were the ancestors helpful, some liked to play pranks.
For example, I went out to my car at 6:30 one winter morning headed to work when I found all the windows on my car rolled down. They were not down when I came in the day before. My husband parked his car right beside me the prior evening and if he had seen my car windows down he would have said something. One would need the key to the door lock and the ignition in order to raise or lower the windows. The first thing I thought was “Who did this?” Then I said, “Good morning, whoever you are.” I rolled them back up and heated the car to dry everything. I got to work with a slightly wet butt, from the damp seat.
That’s not the only time I encountered the spirits of our ancestors. While visiting the Little Union Cemetery one day with my sister, we were nearly back to the church yard when we spotted the tombstone of Mag Fitzgerald buried next to her husband, who died young. After I snapped a photo, I started to step away from the grave when something invisible grabbed hold of my right foot and would not let go. I fell face down, rolling around and trying to get up. Sarah helped me get up. At first, I thought I was tangled in the leaves or caught in a vine, but when we raked back the leaves, there was nothing but smooth cut grass underneath. We know Mag was a gentle and kind soul. Maybe she just wanted to get our attention. Perhaps Mag was trying to tell us that she was the angel who came to escort little Lillie Margaret (the infant daughter of Buster and Mildred) to heaven the night she died. Another night that same February, I was sitting at my computer, thrilled at what I was finding when suddenly the radio in my bedroom blasted on. I accused my husband of messing with it, but found him asleep in his chair. The alarm that I have set to go off at 5 o’clock every morning was still set. I turned the radio off and knew that the ancestors really were helping me with this research. I give them the thanks and credit they deserve.
Since the day I was born, I have witnessed heavenly angels working in my life. I’ve watched as loved ones passed from this life to the next. As a result, I look at death as stepping out of this body where the soul has dwelled and into a beautiful paradise in the spirit world. What leaves us when we die—our consciousness or soul—has to go somewhere. There we have a new form and we meet up with our loved ones. I believe there is a heaven; my mother and my little girl each saw it before they died.
God has blessed me in ways that words cannot describe since I took the path that my daughter Melanie mapped out for me before she passed July 9, 1978. I am very close to my daughter Jane and my three grandchildren. I hope I have helped them in some way to be who they are today, and I hope that their lives are better by having Mawma and Papa Bill there for them.
I have collected stories and documented my family’s ancestry for the last ten years. I always wanted to share it, but my big old binder all in a mess was too much for anyone to grasp. It had been in a closet for five years when out of nowhere, Yvonne contacted me about our family’s history and ancestry. I was overwhelmed. I didn't even know I had a cousin with such a gift. I said, “Lord, the prayer I said some years ago, you didn't forget it! All the work I did will not go in vain. I sowed the seeds and they have finally come up. Thanks to Yvonne the harvested memories of all our ancestors can be appreciated by the future generations, and they can become aware of the angels in their lives.
I can sense angels when they are around me. I seem to recognize them as they pop into my life. I think my cousin Yvonne is one of them.
Yvonne Mauldin McCurley Perry
Jenny Bates is the daughter of Jay Bates, the brother of my grandmother, Martha Louella Bates Jackson. Jenny is my mom’s first cousin and, therefore, my second cousin. My mom is Lillian Doris Jackson Mauldin.
Jenny and I saw one another at family gatherings throughout the years and I knew her, but we did not spend any time together after I became an adult and moved out of state. In 2012, when I returned from a trip to Sedona, Arizona, Jenny and I connected in a new and much deeper way. During my time in Sedona I had a spiritual reading by a Native American grandmother who boldly told me I had Cherokee blood in my veins. I vaguely remembered my parents having mentioned that fact about our ancestry; so, when I next saw my parents and grandmother I asked for details. They identified Sarah Elizabeth Ward (called “Big Granny” in our family) as the Cherokee on my mom’s side. So, off I went on a search to find her in historical records. Since so many Native Americans intermarried with European settlers and hid their pedigree in order to survive the harsh treatment forced upon them, it is difficult to confirm ethnicity in US Censuses and other government documents. What can’t be hidden is the truth that comes from the stories shared and passed down in families.
During my research, I began to pose questions to my parents and grandmother about both sides of our family. Mom told me that Jenny had done several years of research and she personally knew Big Granny—she would be the one to fill in the missing details. When I connected with Jenny, it seems that we were an answer to one another’s prayers. I wanted to know about my ancestors and she had been praying for someone to help her publish the material she had compiled. God works in mysterious ways!
Since my grandmother Martha Louella Bates and her family lived in the city after she married my grandfather, Fred A. Jackson, I didn’t spend much time with the members of the Bates family who lived in the Hall County area, but Jenny did. She grew up in Cherokee County under the watchful eyes of her aunts and uncles and her grandparents (Lem and Lillie Bates).
I have been a writer since I was able to hold a crayon. My love of words and my ability to use the computer to work with lengthy MS Word documents allowed me to follow my heart and in 2004 publish a humorous book about my mid-life transition as the mother of teenagers. By then, I had I started my own company, Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (http://writersinthesky.com), to help other people get their writing into a well-written and formatted book that could be published. My team and I have assisted with bringing at least 100 books to the market and we have mentored many authors through the book publicity process. Yet, this genealogy is the most fun project of all the books I’ve done because of the love, support, and camaraderie I’ve enjoyed with my cousin and other family members during the process.
As I started filling in the missing pieces of the many years of research that Jenny had already done, I realized that tracing a family’s pedigree could easily become a full-time job and last a lifetime. I can’t tell you how many times Jenny and I have stayed awake at night with brain wheels turning, trying to make sense of a clue, or looking for a way around a dead end that we thought would lead us to put in another piece of the puzzle.
We know this book is not complete. There are several reasons that we could not gather all the information we needed. One, because a large percentage of the records of the federal census that was taken in the United States in 1890 were destroyed by a fire in at the Commerce Building in Washington, DC in January 1921. Only 6,160 names were recovered from the surviving fragments of a census that originally counted nearly 63 million Americans. And two, we quickly discovered that families could tell a census taker just about anything and he would write it down. If a father didn’t know his child’s birth year or full name, he might guess at it. A decade would pass and the census taker would come by again. By then, another member of the household might answer the door. Or, the resident might have forgotten the spelling and dates he gave on the last census. Therefore, something new, but similar, might appear on the next census—perhaps Mary Ann had become Polly, or 1894 was 1893, or a wife’s first name was substituted for her middle name. Enough to drive future genealogists crazy!
Even after spending more than one thousand hours on this project, Jenny and I were not able to draw enough documentation to certify that our research is infallible. Therefore, we start our story with the family that we know to be our true ancestors. Wherever there was not enough proof to make a positive identification we have noted that we are guessing about a person, their birth date, parentage or other information we provide. We are certainly open to any corrections that can be made to this study.
The main thing that drew Jenny and me together on this project was our love of angels and fascination with the afterlife. We’ve both experienced life-changing events that brought us face to face with death—hers was the death of her child and parents, and her personal encounter in which she barely escaped death. Mine was a near-death experience at age seventeen, which opened my ability to sense and sometimes see/hear spirits in other dimensions. The Bible calls this ability the gift of discerning spirits (I Corinthians 12). Along with stories from a bunch of our kinfolks, a genealogy of our family, and local history of the areas where they have lived, Jenny and I share a perspective on the angels who have guided the Bates family from generation to generation. I trust you will enjoy our journey down memory lane.