Following is the obituary/death notice for my Great Grandfather, William Albert Ledford, Sr. I was able to find it on microfilm this past weekend when I visited the downtown library in Tampa, Florida! Of course, there is a genealogy success story to go along with it which I will share:
My Great Grandfather, William "Willie" Albert Ledford, was born 1-25-1892 in Manchester, Meriwether County, GA. He was the son of William Thaddeous Ledford.
Willie Ledford married my Great Grandmother, Johnnie Mae Taylor, around 1913, probably in Meriwether Co., GA.
Johnnie Mae Taylor Ledford was born on 4-3-1891 in Meriwether Co., GA She was the daughter of Josiah Cumbee Taylor and Lennie Viola Skinner Taylor. The J. C. Taylor family was in the 1920 Chambers County (Fairfax), AL census. Also living with them at this time was my Great Grandmother, Johnnie Mae Taylor Ledford, and her 2 daughters.
Willie and Johnnie Mae Ledford had 2 children:
1) Willie Mae Ledford, b. 1-13-1914, d. 1-24-1968 (My grandmother) She married my grandfather, C. L. KEMPSON. They had 2 children, including my father, Terry Joe Kempson, b. 10-16-1936, d. 11-21-2001
2) Verna Clyde Ledford, b. 10-20-1917, d. 8- 24-1979. She married Jesse Lassetter.
Both of these children lived and died in Coweta County, GA
One day, in 1917, when my grandmother (Willie Mae) was about 3 1/2 years old, and while her mother, Johnnie Mae, was still pregnant with "Aunt Verna", William Albert Ledford left the house and never returned. He was never heard from again. Several of the family members, including my father, tried to find him through out the years with no success. My great grandmother passed away in 1952, my grandmother, Willie Mae Kempson Shierling, passed away in 1968, her sister, Verna Lassetter, passed away in 1979, and my father, Terry Joe Kempson, passed away in 2001. None of them ever knew what happened to their husband, father & grandfather.
Thanks to Ancestry.com I found his draft registration card. I then found him in the 1920 & 1930 census in Hillsborough County, FL (Tampa area) I recently found (on the internet) that he had died in Tampa, FL in 1955.
My cousin called me this past Thursday night to see if I would ride with her to Tampa (leaving in less than 12 hours!!) because she had a nursing class to attend. She didn't want to go by herself. Of course I said YES!...telling her of my own selfish intent of "diggin' up bones"...which I did.
I went to the library in downtown Tampa and searched the newspaper on microfilm. The attached obituary is what I found.
I learned that my Great Grandfather had married another lady by the name of Lelia V. Hooper around 1920. They had 3 children.
Lelia passed away in 1987; the oldest child, William Albert "Pat" Ledford, Jr. passed away in 1998. The 2nd child, a daughter, is about 81 years old & still living (just North of Tampa).
The 3rd child, a son, is about 71 years old and living in the Tampa area.
I got back home at about Midnight on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning I was able to find a phone number for the youngest son. I called the number. A lady answered the phone. As I began to inquire about my grandfather (Willie Ledford), she said I should speak to her husband. She put him on the phone.
I began to explain to him that my hobby (aka "My Obsession") is genealogy....that I had found that my Great Grandfather had moved to the Tampa area from Georgia around 1917. I then began to try to explain to this man that my grandmother was his half sister!!!!!! He was a wee bit confused to begin with. His family had never known that he had been married previously, and had 2 other children!
He did remember as a child going to visit his fathers brothers and sisters in Manchester, GA, but never was it mentioned that he also had another wife and 2 children.
My newly found, half 2nd uncle (?) said he was going to call his sister to give her the news. He said he would tell her to sit down and take a deep breath before delivering the news to her!
He said, "Well, I've never RECEIVED a phone call like THIS before!", to which I replied, "Well, I've never MADE a phone call like THIS before!"
I promised him that I would mail him all of the information I had collected, as he does not do computers.
He has pictures and I have pictures which we will surely exchange!
This is one of the most rewarding moments in my 7 year genealogy history. I only wish I could share it with my father....
NOTE: 1 1/2 years ago I learned that I had a congenital condition called Klippel-Feil Syndrome (KFS). My father also had it, although he was not officially diagnosed prior to his death in 2001. It seems to be hereditary in our case, although not always.
KFS causes congenital fusion of the cervical spine, along with other anomalies of the musculoskeletal system and other organs. According to information that has been relayed to me, my grandmother and her sister also had problemswith their spine. It will be interesting to find out if the "Other Ledford Family" has a history of this syndrome!
OBITUARY/DEATH NOTICE: Tampa Morning Tribune, Friday, December 16, 1955
DRAFT BOARD MEMBER DIES IN ACCIDENT
William Albert Ledford, Sr., of Seffner, a member of Tampa's Local Draft Board No. 32, was killed in an automobile accident last night.
Ledford died at a Tampa hospital after he was thrown from a car when it collided with another at Wheeler and Kingsway roads near Seffner. He was 63 years old.
Highway Patrolman, Heywood Jones said Mr. Ledford was a passenger in a car driven by William Kermit Lewis, 60, of 1011 East Flora St., and the crash followed Lewis' failure to yield right of way at the intersection.
Lewis, who suffered back and rib injuries, was charged by the trooper with failure to yield the right of way.
OTHER DRIVER INJURED
The driver of the other auto involved, Melvin Brady Harris, 18, of Brandon, suffered severe cuts and bruises in the accident, when his car overturned in the collision.
Both cars were a total loss, Trooper Jones reported. He estimated damages at $1,400.
Before moving to Seffner, 30 years ago, Mr. Ledford had been associated with the Tampa Union Station as baggage and ticket agent. He was a member of the Seffner Baptist Church, past master and treasurer of Brandon Lodge No. 114, F.&A.M., Plant City Chapter No. 16, R.A.M., Commandery No. 6, Tyler Council No. 4, R.N.S.M. and Lindsey Chapter No. 15, O.E.S.
He was a veteran of the first World War and a member of the American Legion. In recent years his interest has been devoted to farming and citrus growing.
Survivors are his widow, Mrs. Lelia Ledford, Seffner; a daughter, Mrs. C. C. Holley, Tampa; two sons, William A. Ledford, Jr., and James D. Ledford, Seffner. Arrangements will be announced by B. Marion Reed Co., Funeral Home.
OBITUARY: Tampa Morning Tribune, Saturday, December 17, 1955
Tampa Morning Tribune, Sunday, December 18, 1955
LEDFORD, WILLIAM ALBERT - Funeral services for William Albert Ledford, 63, of Seffner, a resident for 27 years, will be held Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock at Seffner Baptist Church. The Rev. Josh Long, pastor, and The Rev. O. O. Sedgewick, retired, will officiate. Brandon Lodge No. 114 F & AM, will conduct Masonic services at the graveside in Seffner Cemetery. Active pallbearers are Nick Nuccio, F. B. Akard, Garvin Blanton, T. J. Pearson, O. O. McCrory, G. C. Myers, V. H. Wright and J. T. Lester. Honorary will be all the friends of Mr. Ledford. Arrangements are in charge of B. Marion Reed Company Funeral Home