- My wife and I had moved to Tallahassee in 1997 following a new job after my Orlando based company had been bought out by a California firm that decided to bring in its own management team.
- Living that close to my father's North Florida birth place combined with a Sunday newspaper article on genealogy finally got me off the stick and started researching his family.
- When I showed my finds on Dad's family to my mother, she asked me to find the identity of the Granny Jerkins who, according to my grandmother, mama looked so much like.
- The very first fellow Jerkins researcher that I met was Sam Strickland, descendant of Granny Jerkins' younger brother, and one of the founding fathers of Dothan, Alabama, William Jesse Jerkins. The family info and memorabilia passed to me by Sam led me to several newspaper articles about William J. Jerkins, one of which stated that his father, Robert Wilson Jerkns, had "come of age in Tallahassee, Florida" - where, as noted above, I was living.
The first, of course, was old Zachariah Jerkins who left 3 separate multi-page depositions about his life and his Revolutionary War service in his eventually successful attempts to obtain a government pension based on that service. But that find was quickly followed by the divorce files of his son, also named Zachariah Jerkins, the military records of son Richard S. Jerkins, and mentions of son James Jerkins. It would be another year before I knew how these folks were related to me, and more to prove that kinkship to my satisfaction, but from the very beginning, I absolutely knew in my heart that they were.
And in one final bit of serendipity I found that the land in the country south of Tallahassee, that we had bought and put our house upon, was just about a mile from the little town of Magnolia - now a totally vanished ghost town marked only by its tiny cemetery - where old Zachariah was living when counted by the 1830 U.S. Census.
|Magnolia, Florida, Francis de la Porte, Comte de Castelnau, 1837. Image courtesy of the Florida Photographic Collection. Castelnau was a French explorer and artist. Magnolia had already started its decline when this picture was painted.|