If it seems like years pass between my journeys into the ancestral homelands, well, that’s because it’s true. My first trip “back home” was in 2005 when I went to Upson County, Georgia. My second trip was in 2007 to Kansas City. Now, I’m headed for Rockdale, Texas! I leave tomorrow at noon.
Rockdale is a town in Milam County in central Texas. It’s about 60 miles northeast of Austin. The 2010 census counted 5,596 persons in Rockdale, an increase of about 3% over the year 2000. In the 20th century, Rockdale was the site of major operations of the Alcoa company. Most of those operations were ceased in 2008. Major potions of the Alcoa facilities were sold off.
Rockdale owes its existence in large measure to the International-Great Northern Railway, which in the 1870s chose a route through the area instead of through nearby Cameron.
In 1884, my great-great-grandmother, Matilda Manson, moved to Rockdale from Upson County, Georgia, accompanied by her son Otis and a white man named George Preston Birdsong. In Rockdale, Otis met and married Bettie Sanford, one of four daughters of Billie Sanford and Emily Sanford. The family stayed in Rockdale until the 1940’s when Otis and Bettie’s then-living children left for Midland.
Although my grandfather was born in Rockdale and I still have cousins in the vicinty, my father has never been there, nor have I.
I will spend some time at the Texas State Library and Archives in Austin; and some time at the Milam County clerk’s office in Cameron. I expect to meet family members in the area whom I’ve never met. I hope to come back with my Flip-pal card filled with photos and documents.
It will be a bit strange meeting in person people I “know” so well from pieces of paper. But here I go!
There will be regular updates here, of course!
October 6, 2012 Saturday at 7:31 pm