John F. Fitzgerald was born September 29, 1849 in Forsyth County, Georgia. He was the oldest son of William R. Fitzgerald and Beersheba (Bashiba) Mitchell. His younger brother was William Andrew "W.A." Fitzgerald, my great grandfather.
John's name was listed by W.A. in a handwritten note showing family names, births and deaths. This note was kept in the old Fitzgerald family Bible which I now own.
John's father William R. went to the Gold Rush in California in 1851 and died there in Grass Valley in the summer of 1852. Later, John's mother Beersheba remarried to a man named Edmond Wright. They moved the family to Polk County, Tennessee for a few years during the Civil War. During this time, the Fitzgerald sons John and W.A. may have lived with other people as they are not listed on the 1870 census showing the Wrights in Polk County, TN. In later years, W.A. wrote that his step-father Edmond was cruel and that W.A. left home at an early age.
I have found John F. and W.A.'s names in military records showing they joined the U.S. Cavalry in 1873. W.A. wrote a history of his time in the Cavalry. I assume that John may have gone to the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri along with his brother and some other local boys from their home territory of Georgia. Jefferson Barracks was the initial training base for the Cavalry.
The next clue I have on John's whereabouts is a Homestead document from Montgomery County, Arkansas. Mt. Ida is the county seat of Montgomery County. One of John and Alweldie's sons, Frank James Lee Fitzgerald, indicated on his World War I Draft Registration card that he was born in the Ida Mountains, Arkansas.
John and W.A. had an aunt, their mother's sister Artimissia "Artie" Mitchell-Holcomb, who lived just a few miles from Mt. Ida. Artie and her husband Asa Chandler Holcomb lived in Point Cedar, Garland County, Arkansas and later in Clark County, Arkansas which is nearby.
It seems that the Fitzgeralds and their kinfolks the Mitchells, Holcombs, Boyds and Wrights moved back and forth between Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. There is a triangle on the map where these three states adjoin that seems to be where these family groups settled. McCurtain and Jackson Counties in Oklahoma, Johnson and Camp Counties in Texas, and Clark, Montgomery, Garland and Hot Spring Counties in Arkansas were the main home sites.
John and Alweldie (aka Ellen and Weldie) settled in Alvarado, Johnson County, Texas where John was a blacksmith. The old Chisholm Trail ran through Alvarado so it can be surmised that John had a busy time taking care of horses and wagon teams of those who traveled on the Old Chisholm Trail.
Alweldie had some other Mitchell kinfolks who lived in Alvarado and Venus, Texas: their surnames were Boyd and Mitchell.
John McW. "Mack" Fitzgerald was the oldest son of John F. and Alweldie. He was deaf.
I spoke on the phone with Mack's adopted daughter Lillian Fitzgerald Beard on April 17, 2006. She told me that Mack had attended the Arkansas School for the Deaf and then "traveled all over the world". I don't know if that meant that he literally left the USA and went to other countries or if he just explored America. He eventually returned to Texas where he met Octavia Bridges whom he married in November 1901 in Johnson County, Texas. Octavia was also deaf. She had attended the Alabama School for the Deaf in Talledega, Alabama.
Mack and Octavia lived in Fort Worth, Texas. Mack was shown on a census having the occupation of meat cutter for Swift and Co.
They were in the second half of their 20s when they married. They were "given" a child to adopt. Her name was Lillian. Lillian told me that Octavia's mother didn't want Lillian and Mack to raise a child. She didn't feel they were capable because they were deaf. However, Octavia persisted and Lillian remained with the family.
Lillian learned to use sign language and interpreted for her parents. Lillian said her Uncle Frank Fitzgerald was also deaf. He lived with the family for a period of time. Lillian said Mack and Frank had a younger sister who was born deaf but she died when she was a child. She doesn't remember the girl's name.
Lillian later grew up to be active in training others in sign language and interpreting for the deaf. At about age 15, Lillian began a deaf ministry which led to the founding of Woodhaven Baptist Deaf Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Later, as a result of her enthusiasm and persistence, ministries for the deaf were established across Texas, America and in many foreign countries. When Lillian was about 90 years old, she went on a mission trip to the Chezk Republic where she was very well received.
Lillian told me that her mother Octavia had a special classmate at the School for the Deaf in Alabama. Her name was Helen Keller, the famous woman who was deaf, mute and blind but who overcase these obstacles to inspire people all around the world and to lead the way in establishing schools and rights for the deaf. Lillian said she had met Helen Keller when she was a child.
Lillian also said that the Fitzgeralds parents had learned only basic sign language.
Lillian married Louis Beard who was an engineer. Lillian is shown on the 1930 census as working as a bookkeeper for the Power Company in Fort Worth. In 2006, she has been a widow for many years. In April 2006, she was living independently in a seniors complex in Kingwood, Texas. She was 97 years old at the time we spoke on the phone and very alert and a delight to converse with.
John "Mack" had three other brothers and a sister: Frank James Lee, Charles Ervin, George Grover and Maggie Dosier Fitzgerald.
Frank married a woman named Ella and they had a son named Roy Sanderson Fitzgerald. They were living in Altus, Jackson County, Oklahoma when the 1910 census was taken.
Charles Ervin Fitzgerald married Lee Adams. They had Willie, Cecil, Troy and Clifford. They lived in Altus, Jackson County, Oklahoma at the 1920 census.
George Grover Fitzgerald married a woman named Mattie. They had a son named George Grover Jr. and a daughter named Polly. If there were additional children, I'm not aware of it. Grover had a pest extermination business in Houston.
Maggie Dosier Fitzgerald married Jackson Waite James in Johnson County, Texas. They had 13 children: Dewey, Lillian, Herbert, May, Mamie, Finis, Eludy, Fredda, Tennie, Jesse, Bertha, Sidney and John.
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