Shortly after my grandfather passed away in 1998, I realized I missed the opportunity to talk in depth with him about our family history. I had so many things that I wanted to ask him and lots of unanswered questions. When I asked his brother what he knew about my great great grandparents, he told me that neither him nor his siblings and relatives ever asked about them. He said, "We never bothered to ask, and never thought to ask until it was too late." It took many years and lots of research, but before he passed away in 2008, I was able to give my great uncle the answers he longed to know about our ancestors.
One of those ancestors was my fourth great grandfather Amos Brantley. He was a Revolutionary War soldier who was a private in the company commanded by Captain Bacott of the regiment commanded by Colonel Archibald Lytles in the North Carolina line from 1782 to 1783. He died March 26, 1828 at age 70 in Hancock County Georgia. For many years, there had been an unsolved mystery in regards to the headstone on his grave. There are the initials T.R.B.1937 at the bottom, which for many years was a piece of the puzzle that many descendants of Amos couldn't solve.
If you think about it, that's what family research is all about. Putting the puzzle pieces together. A few years ago, a gentleman named William "Bill" Jones from Jacksonville, Florida contacted me after reading an article I had written and posted online about my ancestors including Amos Brantley. Bill informed me that his family owned the land on which Amos is buried in Hancock County Georgia. He later met me and guided me to the grave located far back in the woods behind the old Brantley / Waller family home. Surrounded by nothing but wilderness and quiet, I knelt down beside the grave. I was grateful, honored and proud to be in the (presence) of my fourth great grandfather, especially after researching his lineage. I had been waiting for that moment for many years and to actually be there was one of the proudest feelings I've ever had.
Prior to our visit, Bill was contacted by Nancy Etheridge Lasley of Chehalis, Washington. She found a query Bill posted online questioning the initials T.R.B. 1937 as well. In her words she, "happened to stumble on Bill's pondering about who was T. R. B. on Amos Brantley's grave." As it turns out, T.R.B. was Thomas Ryal Brantley, her great grandfather. He was son of Thomas Jefferson Brantley and Almirah Jane Middlebrooks Brantley, and thus Amos Brantley's grandson. Thomas Ryal married Cora Lee Jackson and together they had one child, Mae Alma Brantley. Mae Alma married Floyd Pirkle Etheridge Sr. and had one child, Floyd Pirkle Etheridge Jr. Nancy's father was Thomas Ryal's only grandchild and she was his only great grandchild.
In 1937, with the assistance of the Hancock DAR chapter, Thomas Ryal had a headstone and concrete slab placed over the graves of Amos Brantley and wife Susan Watts exactly 109 years after Amos was buried. Happy to know that his grandfather, "fought to gain this grand old United States of America," Thomas Ryal w