The Gifts of Faith - To Julie With Love (Ch.10)
“Well, shoot Faith. All I’m finding when I Google your address is you as the current owner. Several sites show the specs of the house and property, but nothing about the history or previous owners.” Sarah chewed her bottom lip as she put the laptop on the coffee table.
“Don’t worry about it Sarah. You tried.”
“Oh, I’m not defeated yet, my friend. You know me – give me a challenge and I’m all over it! Just give me a minute; something will come to me. In the meantime, grab that bottle of wine. Maybe some fresh air will shake the cobwebs loose.”
Faith followed Sarah out the back door with the bottle of wine and two glasses in tow. After serving up a glass of wine for each of them, Faith suggested they take a walk to work out the stiffness they both felt after a hard day’s work.
The girls found themselves meandering through the gardens silently surveying the work that awaited them tomorrow. Lily followed close behind once again chasing things only she could see.
“I swear, Faith sometimes I think Lily’s on kitty crack. She’s a trip to watch!” As if on cue, Lily did a standing leap into the air, spun a 360 and took off running. Faith and Sarah laughed so hard they fell to the ground.
They didn’t bother to get up. Both stretched out on their backs looking at the stars, as they did when they were young. The pair lay there in silence watching the sparkling light show while listening to the cacophony of Nature’s night sounds.
Do you know the history of your home?
“Faith, you said your house was over a hundred years old when you bought it?” Sarah absentmindedly twirled her long blond locks as she gazed at the sky.
“Yeah, the deed said the house was built in 1910. It’s one reason I bought it. I just love the architecture and character of old homes. I don’t know why I didn’t ask about its history. I guess I was so busy getting the shop set up at the same time that I just didn’t think to ask.”
Sarah sat up to take a sip of her wine. “Whom did you buy the property from?”
“My realtor said a family by the name of McNally lived here before I purchased the house. They bought it from the daughter of the original owners in 1976. Mr. McNally died a few years later. There were no heirs when Mrs. McNally died in 2006 and the house remained vacant until I bought it”, Faith replied as she continued gazing at the gems in the sky. “I don’t know anything more than that.”
Sarah turned to face Faith. Even though it was dark, she could see the sparkle in Sarah’s eyes. Apparently, some of her mental cobwebs had indeed cleared space for her incessant curiosity. “Okay. You bought your house when? 2011?”
“Yep. Two months after I opened up Bouquets and Rainbows.”
“So, we have about 35 years accounted for. Think hard. Did your realtor say anything else about the property? Surely there were some selling features besides the acreage, the barn and the quaint cottage-style home.”
Sarah could almost hear the wheels churning in Faith’s mind. It was quite some time before she responded.
“She didn’t give me any more details and, as I said, I was so distracted at the time, I never thought to ask. But I have an idea, Sarah. Let’s check the census records for the year 1910 and see what we come up with. It’s a long shot, because I don’t know the name of the original owners, but perhaps something will jump out at us.”
“It’s as good a place as any to start, my friend.” Sarah grabbed Faith’s hand and helped her up from the velvety grass. “Let’s head back to the house. It’s getting late.”
The next day the girls were up before dawn. After a hearty breakfast, they headed out to the gardens to pick up where they left off.
At dusk, they gathered their tools and returned them to the barn; it would be another few days before they’d have the time to tackle the task of weeding and aerating the plant beds.
That night after a light dinner of salad and fresh garlic bread, Sarah brought the laptop into the kitchen. Nuzzled side by side, Sarah typed Flowery Branch Georgia Census 1910 into the Google search bar. She found a link for “Family Search” which allowed her to search for records narrowed by year and city.
The small kitchen was electrified with their excitement.
“Ready?” Sarah slowly scrolled through each screen while Faith nervously fiddled with the small aquamarine ring on her left pinkie finger. “Let me know if you see something, Faith.”
After 30 minutes of scrolling through the records, Sarah piped up: “This is crazy. There are over 20,000 records here! We’ll never get through this tonight. Let’s see if we can narrow the search.” They chose “head” under the relationship option, which resulted in over 4,000 records. “Okay, this is much more manageable. Faith, why don’t you take over the mouse while I make us some tea.”
It wasn’t long before Faith stopped scrolling. “Does anything stand out on this page, Sarah? Do you see what I see?”
There was an entry for Andrew White, Spouse Julia White, one child: Buford White.
In unison, Faith and Sarah breathed, “Julia White”.
“Sarah, I feel something when I look at this entry.” Faith was spinning the ring on her finger so intensely Sarah was afraid she’d cut herself. She intertwined her fingers with Faith’s in an effort to stop the nervous reaction and to calm her own racing heart.
“Look at this, Faith. It says Andrew was born in 1887. That would make him 23 the year this house was built. That seems about right for that era. Let’s assume Buford was born in 1910. He would be of marrying age 18 to 20 years later. Let’s check the census records for 1930 and see what we come up with. We know the original family lived in this house until 1976, so he’ll show up if this is the right family.”
At this point the girls were fired up and the adrenaline was running high. Even Lily felt the vibrancy in the room. She rubbed a constant figure eight between their legs, vying for their attention, to no avail. Faith and Sarah were completely immersed in their mission.
To their joy, the 1930 census showed Buford White as head, but no spouse was listed.
“Keep checking, Sarah. Perhaps he married late in life.”
The census records for 1940 showed the same. But there was hope; Buford was still listed. That information kept the girls digging deeper into their investigation. They hit pay dirt in 1950. Buford was now listed as having a spouse: Savannah White. Sarah kept digging until they found what they were looking for. The census records for 1956 revealed a child: Julie White.
Now they had something to go on. Faith removed the ring from her pinkie and read the inscription aloud. “To Julie with love.”
“Whoo hoo!” Sarah and Faith jumped up from the table, clasped their hands above their heads and did a happy whoo hoo dance around the kitchen table.
After catching their breath Faith announced, “Now we need to find Julie.”
“You’re oh so right, mon’amie.” Sarah was already click-clacking away at the computer.
“Oh, shit! Faith, you’re not going to believe this!”
Faith stood over Sarah’s shoulder reading what was on the screen. The silence in the room was deafening. But the screen on the laptop was anything but silent. Screaming at them in bold letters were these words:
Flowery Branch Gazette Dateline April 17, 1976
Julie White of Flowery Branch Weds Haywood Baxter, Renowned Contractor From Oakwood, Ga.
Shauna L Bowling
Refining, Defining or Rhyming
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© 2014 Shauna L Bowling