Monday, December 1, 2014

The Burning of Atlanta-- 150 years ago -- a way of life Gone With the Wind

Fifth graders at Sandhills Farm Life School
helped commemorate the burning of Atlanta
near the end of the Civil War with the annual
reading of "Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace."

When the city was burned in November of 1864,
refugees from the city gathered on the hilltop
where the Loyd homeplace still stands to see
their beloved city go up in flames.

This picture from "Gone With the Wind"
depicts the heart-wrenching event.
With great attention to detail, the railroad
cars are accurately designated as "W& A,"
for Western & Atlantic.  That railroad had 
it's zero milepost on Loyd Street, one of 
Atlanta's seven original streets, and named for
 my great-great-great grandfather James Loyd.

One bit of trivia movie-goers didn't know: the
flames in GWTW were from the burning from
an old set from the original King Kong movie.

These fifth graders are primed to listen,
learn, and become Junior Historians.

This portrait of my great grandparents,
Joseph Alford Loyd and Mary Louvinnie
Echols Loyd, is a family heirloom.  This year
I brought my great grandfather's walking cane,
made of sturdy but rare "wormy" chestnut. 

Of course my faithful companion
Chipper was dressed in appropriate
period uniform, and was as popular as ever.

The remaining fifth grade classes will
experience the book in mid-December,
wrapping up our celebration of the 
sesquicentennial of the Battles of Peachtree
Creek and Atlanta.  I dedicated this year's
reading to my father, who was born 50 years
after those battles and would have been 100
 years old this year.  What a year it has been!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fifth Graders and the Civil War Sesquicentennial

My story Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace is
based around the centennial of the Civil War,
which I recall vividly from 1961-1965. The
 sesquicentennial celebration, or 150th anniversary
 is from 2011-2015.  But the 150th remembrance
of the Battles of Peachtree Creek and Atlanta
will be this coming summer, just a few weeks
after school is out.  

That fact has made this year's reading to the fifth
graders of Farm Life School even more special
to me.  Two classes heard the book just before
Thanksgiving.  This week, the remaining three
classes gathered in the library for the final reading
of 2013.  All told, nearly 150 students took part.
I was particularly touched by a student who bought
a book for her father I had taught years ago.  Another
student bought a book yesterday, then today purchased
another for her brother I had taught.

Since new information is continually coming
to light, these students heard revelations that
I was not even aware of a year ago.  I recently
read the definitive historical book on the Battle
of Atlanta and have now ordered a 2011 book
which will tell me all about the Georgia First
Regiment in which my great-great uncle James
Loyd, Jr. enlisted in the early days of the war.

The students were an exemplary audience and
took to heart the various messages of the book.
These include:
  • Each of us is a living part of our own family history, which is well worth investigating.
  • The Civil War was a critical junction in American history which helps us understand both the past and the present.
  • Both written literature and oral literature can be quite exciting and bring the past alive for us.
  • Wisdom is a treasure worth more than silver or gold, and our parents and grandparents have much wisdom to share.

                        Below is a brief video of the students singing this song featured
                        in the book: "The Circuit-Riding Preacher."

                       The circuit-ridin’ preacher used to ride across the land
                        With a rifle on his saddle and a Bible in his hand;
                        He told the prairie people all about the Promised Land,
                        As he went riding, singing down the trail.

                        Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
                        Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

                        The circuit-ridin’ preacher traveled through the mire and mud,
                        Told about the fiery furnace and of Noah and the flood;
                        He preached the way to heaven was by water and the blood,
                        As he went riding, singing down the trail.

                        There is power, power, wonderworking power
                        In the blood, of the Lamb;
                        There is power, power, wonderworking power
                        In the precious blood of the Lamb;

                        Now his rifle may be rusty as it hangs upon the wall,
                        And his Bible, old and dusty, may be never read at all;
                        But until the resurrection, when we hear God’s trumpet call,
                        His truth is marching on.

                        Glory, glory hallelujah!  Glory, glory hallelujah!
                        Glory, glory hallelujah!  His truth is marching on.

I expect to be sharing the book with some
other groups in the spring, and look forward
to stirring some enthusiasm for the remembrance
of the Civil War's sesquicentennial.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Civil War addition to the Loyd Family Tree

One year ago, I was able to confirm that James William Loyd, pioneer citizen of Atlanta, was indeed my ancestor, my great-great-great grandfather.  I had theorized this in my book, Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace, and historical documents finally proved my case.  Through my friend and fellow genealogist Amy Caddell Sadler, I am able to supplement that find with a new treasure now.  She located the obituary of James Loyd's son, James William Loyd, jr. as it appeared in the Augusta Chronicle in 1899.

May 22, 1838
Lumpkin County
Georgia, USA                  
Mar. 27, 1899
Fulton County
Georgia, USA


Former City Marshal and Pioneer Citizen of Atlanta,


Captain Loyd's Career Has Been Long, Eventful and Interesting -- He Was One of the Members of the Original Gate City Guard.
Atlanta, March 27.--(Special)--Captain James W. Loyd died of paralysis at his home, 59 Courtland avenue, at *:20 o'clock this morning.
His death was not unexpected. He had been sinking since 10 o'clock Saturday morning, lingering in an unconscious state until he passed away.
At his bedside when he died was his brother, Mr. John Loyd, his youngest sister, Mrs. Ella Haynes, his niece, Miss Emeline Haynes, his cousin, Mrs. William Collins, his nephew, Mr. David Haynes, his cousin Mr. John C. Campbell and several other close friends.

Captain Loyd had been a great sufferer, but no man ever bore his sufferings more uncomplainingly or with greater fortitude than he. His health had been failing for more than a year. Over a year ago he had a serious attack, from which he never fully recovered. He was a victim of neuralgia and within a few months after the serious attack above mentioned he became gradually paralyzed. A few weeks ago he was seized with paralysis of the throat, which was followed by paralysis of the optic nerve.
Two weeks ago he lost his eyesight and began to grow weaker daily until the dread summons came.

He is survived by Mrs. Judge William M. Wilson, his eldest sister, Mr. John W. Loyd, his only brother, and Mrs. Ella Haynes, his youngest sister, who together with a number of relatives are left to mourn his passing.

He was generous, big-hearted, and whole-souled. He lived for his friends, and there never was a sacrifice too great which he did not cheerfully make for them.

One of his friends said today: "Generosity was the key note of his life, the crowning feature of his character. He lived squarely up to it. He never turned a deaf ear to the appeal of the lowliest for help--and there are numberless instances in which his unfaltering kindness was shown not only to those with whom he had slight acquaintance, but to strangers in need.

The tenacity with which Captain Loyd held on to life was remarkable. Even when Dr. Abner Calhoun told him that he would never recover his eyesight and Dr. James F. Alexander informed him that he was beyond the power of medical skill, Hope still beamed in his bosom. He did not give up, but calmly and with beautiful patience clung to the hope that he would one day regain his health.

The body of Captain Loyd was removed to the residence of his sister, Mrs. Ella Haynes, 334 Woodward avenue, this morning.  From her home the funeral will take place tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.
The Rev. Clement A. Evans will conduct the funeral services, and the funeral will be at Oakland cemetery.


Capt. James W. Loyd was born in Lumpkin county on the 22nd of May, 1838, and was therefore 61 years of age at the time of his death. His father, James Loyd, removed to Cobb county, and later, in 1844, settled in Marthasville, while Captain Loyd, his eldest child, was a child. Marthasville, the first name of Atlanta, was then a straggling hamlet. The father, Mr. James Loyd, went into business with Mr. James Collins, the firm being Loyd & Collins. They opened the first store on the spot on which Atlanta now stands. It was located on the road which afterward became Loyd street, taking its name from the father of Captain James W. Loyd.
Captain Loyd grew to manhood in Atlanta and has lived here all his life.

He was one of the original members of the famous Gate City Guard, and entered the service of the Confederate states in that company, which formed one of the best companies in the First Georgia regiment.
The old Gate City Guard was made up of the flower of the young manhood of Atlanta, and was among the first commands to answer the call to arms.
That company had no braver, gallanter member than James W. Loyd. He was with it at Laurel Hill, and served through the terrible campaign in the Virginia mountains.


Toward the close of the war he was transferred to the western army and became a courier and guide to Gen. Joseph F. Johnston when he took command of the army at *****. He served with General Johnston during his famous retreat and until he was relieved of his command on Peachtree Creek by President Davis.

After the war Captain Loyd returned to his home in Atlanta. With hundreds of others he put his shoulder to the wheel and aided in the upbuilding of this city which had been burned by Sherman. He loved Atlanta and was ever ready to lend a helping hand to push her forward. He became a prominent and influential factor in local politics, ever ready to help his friends in their campaigns for office.

In 1883 he succeeded Mr. Cap Joyner as city marshal. He held this position for three terms, and made the best marshal Atlanta ever had. His administration was extremely judicious, and at the same time very liberal, and won to him scores of friends. A more unselfish official and one more devoted to the interests of the people never held office in Atlanta.

Unselfishness, indeed, was a capital feature of Captain Loyd's character. It endeared him to the people. He was a man who literally lived for others. Generous to a fault, he thought not of self, but only of helping the helpless, of giving to the needy. There was not a moment during his life that he would not have made almost any sacrifice to serve a friend, not a moment that he would not have divided his last dollar with the needy.

--He died as he had lived, a brave, true man--

And he will sleep in Oakland sincerely lamented by thousands who knew his great heart and loved him.

Mar 28, 1899, Augusta Chronicle (Augusta,GA)

This map depicts early battles that James Loyd
with the Georgia First Regiment (Ramsey's) would
have fought in the opening months of the war.

My comments:  I am thrilled to finally learn of a Loyd ancestor who actively served in the Civil War, and apparently with distinction.  From other sources I have learned that James Loyd enlisted on March 18, 1861 and served with Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee during the first land battles of the war in present day West Virginia.  This was even before the more widely known Battle of Bull Run.  Serving later under General Joseph F. Johnston in the Atlanta campaign, my ancestor had the privilege of being commanded by three of the South's top generals of the entire war.  When I informed my brother of these facts he reminded me that when we were boys I always liked playing the role of "scout" or "spy."  It seems it was a family trait.

Another note of interest.  I was at first confused by James Loyd jr.'s birth in Lumpkin County.  A look at a Georgia map shows that Dahlonega, site of America's first gold rush, is the largest town in the region.  This fits with the following likely scenario:

James Loyd, sr., my great-great-great grandfather was the deed holder of the 202 acre Loyd Homeplace lot.  Apparently his first wife had died sometime after 1830, when they had two children, a boy and a girl.  The boy, Jabez M. Loyd, was born in 1820.  Gold was first discovered in Dahlonega in 1828, but continued to be panned and mined right up until the California gold rush of 1849.  I theorize that James Loyd, who had remarried to Mildred Collins, moved to the gold country about 1837.  Jabez would have been 18 when his half-brother James Loyd, jr. was born in 1838.  Since it is known that James Loyd, sr. opened the Loyd-Collins Store in 1844, it is likely the family had returned to the DeKalb County farm sometime before then.  With the father being 42 years old, and perhaps having some capital from the gold rush, he left his son Jabez to run the farm (at age 24) and relocated to the railroad town of Marthasville (to become Atlanta) just a few miles away, where his new family would grow and prosper.  The Loyd Homeplace would remain in his name until his death in 1862.

Some of this is fact, some of it I surmise.  But while more investigation remains, I am confident that my speculation is reasonable, and certainly has as much merit as my theory just a few years ago that James Loyd was my ancestor.  Wouldn't it be interesting to know that there is more to the "Loyd Treasure" than I had ever imagined?  Time will tell.  In any event, with each group reading of Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace, I seem to have new "riches" to share.  And for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

150 Years After the Battle of Atlanta, SFL Fifth Graders Relive the Story

Fifth graders in Mrs. McFadyen and Mrs. Cioccolanti's classes continued a Farm Life tradition with a two oral reading of Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace by Ken Loyd, the author.  The students listened with unswerving attention to learn of Buddy and Ken's adventures at Mama Loyd's house on an Easter vacation week fifty years ago.

Three other classes are scheduled to hear the book before Christmas holidays. This year's reading is particularly meaningful, because in the summer of 2014, the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the Battle of Peachtree Creek and the Battle of Atlanta will be observed.

Mrs. McFadyen introduced me to the classes as a "real author."  I'm happy to say that any student who wishes can claim that same title, simply by writing!  I was 53 years old before the idea for this book began to form in my mind.  But I had been a writer long before that, with my interest being sparked by elementary teachers who put great emphasis on this skill.  I hope students will not only be inspired to write about something important to them, but perhaps also to investigate their own family history.

An important new bit of information could finally be confirmed for this class.  A bit of unknown Loyd history has been, "Who was Jabez Loyd's father?"  One year ago, a chance visit to the DeKalb Historical Society gave me a glimpse of a county map a scholar had put together showing who owned all the land lots in 1860.  Just as I had theorized, the Loyd Homeplace in 1860 was not in the name of Jabez Loyd, but in the name of his father-- James Loyd.  James Loyd was likely the one who built the house on the hill, then a few years later left it to his son Jabez, and moved to Atlanta (though in 1844 it was still "Marthasville"). There he ran a store for several years, and then the Washington Hall Hotel.  He is mentioned many times in an 1800's book Pioneer Citizens of Atlanta.  One of the original seven streets of Atlanta was named for him:  Loyd Street.  

I am delighted that my father lived long enough to know all these facts, and even to visit the gravesite of James Loyd, overlooking the Chattahoochee River.  This grave is within sight of the railroad bridge that General Sherman's men had to rebuild after Confederate soldiers burned it, seeking to slow his invasion.  Since James Loyd died in 1862, he was peacefully at rest in his grave when a large Union army marched past just two years later.  He would never know that Sherman's army would burn his hotel and much of the rest of Atlanta.

These unmarked graves in the Loyd-Collins Cemetery
overlooking the Chattahoochee may be the graves of
James Loyd and his wife, or possibly his friend James
Collins, who died in the same year-- 1862.
The Western and Atlantic railroad bridge is within
sight of James Loyd's grave overlooking the
Chattahoochee River.

This is the only photograph I have been able
to locate which pictures old Loyd Street in Atlanta.

Loyd Street on this map is misspelled-- "Lloyd."
The map was made by General Sherman's staff,
which wouldn't have realized their mistake.  The
map also shows the three important railroads which
converged on the city, thus making it a crucial
military target.

This photo of the burning of Atlanta looks quite real,
but it is from a scene from the classic Civil War movie
Gone With the Wind.  They tried to get every detail
correct.  Some of the railroad cars are correctly marked
W & A, for Western and Atlantic Railroad.  Others are
marked A & W, which was a shortline railroad operating
near Sanford, North Carolina.
About a third of all the students who attended the
reading of the book purchased a copy for their own.
But all students are invited to explore the bonus
features on this website, and more will be added
all the time.  Go to it, Junior Historians!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Farm Life Fifth Graders Welcome Mr. Loyd Back

Just before Thanksgiving break and again
during the first week of December, I was
privileged to do readings of Mystery at the
Loyd Homeplace with all fifth graders at my
dear old school -- Sandhills Farm Life.

What an enthusiastic and sharp bunch of
scholars this is!  Every one of them qualifies
to be a Junior Historian, as my brother Buddy
and I are referred to in the book.

The students listened with rapt attention as
many revelations unfolded over the two-day
reading.  Such findings as:
  • The Mystery House  is still standing after more than 150 years.
  • There's an old marble that was trapped in Mama Loyd's porch floor.
  • An old skeleton key gave entry to the old house, the focus of the mystery.
  • Ken's Great-grandma Loyd was a "Civil War baby," born in 1863.
  • Five children, ages 2 to 11, lived in the house when the Civil War broke out in 1861.
  • There were important reasons why General Sherman felt he must burn Atlanta.
  • An old pocket knife given to Buddy by Papa Loyd became a valuable tool.
  • It wasn't cows that lived in the old barn.  It was . . . well, I can't give away all the secrets!

Students continually impressed me with
their understanding of the history, interaction
of characters, subtle details, and hidden humor.
They helped me in a vigorous rendition of the
song "The Circuit-Riding Preacher," then gave
themselves well-earned applause.  
I had students ask me all kinds of questions
about my childhood adventures.  As I joined 
them for lunch each day I was peppered with
perceptive questions and comments, which I
gladly answered.  One student told me he wanted
to buy one book for himself and another for his
cousin, who homeschools.  And the next day, he
did just that!  Students can still order the latest 
edition of the book for $10.00, and several said
they hope to.  At this writing, 32 out of about 100
fifth graders have already purchased a copy.  That
percentage really astounded me!

This years' readers learned that there was 
truly a second Loyd mystery-- but they are 
the first ones to hear the solution.  I will soon
be writing a detailed blog post about this for
anyone who is interested, but in short:
I finally have proof that James Loyd, a pioneer
citizen of Atlanta, was actually my great-great-
great-grandfather.  I had the joy of revealing 
that to my 98 year-old father just days before
he would pass away.
Thanks to a brief passage in the Franklin Garrett's book
Atlanta and Environs, I have located James Loyd's
grave site in the Loyd - Collins cemetery overlooking
the Chattahoochee River on Atlanta's northwest side.
I was most pleased that students showed
a healthy respect for and understanding of
the importance of history, including their
own family history.  And I was pleased that
students haven't changed so much as some
people believe.  They are still seeking fun in 
learning, adventure, and new experiences.
They seemed to believe me when I said that
the treasure of what Buddy and I learned from
Mama Loyd was just as valuable, or more,
than the actual treasure we sought.
And I certainly meant it!
After packing up all my displays, I was
delighted to join a large number of students
for their first game ever of a very old game:
These are the steps where Buddy, Ken, and Caryn
played Rock School more than half a century ago
at Mama and Papa Loyd's house.
Thank you to the fifth grade teachers for
allowing me to share with your students.
Thank you students for your attention,
encouragement, and enthusiasm.
More will continually be added to this 
website, so I invite you to visit from time
to time.  Anyone interested in purchasing
a book (current price: $10.00) may simply
ask your teacher to e-mail me and I will
deliver an autographed copy inscribed to
you-- a Junior Historian!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Junior Historians abound at Greater Atlanta Christian

At the end of October, I was privileged to
share a long-awaited presentation at Greater
Atlanta Christian School.  This was the first
time I had the opportunity to tell the story
of the Loyd Homeplace and the accompanying
stories of the Civil War and Atlanta to a group
of students who actually lived near the historical
setting of the book.

This mural about reading was an appropriate
welcome to the school.  Their emphasis on
reading and language arts is readily apparent.

The welcome by the students was even
better.  130 fifth graders, primed for today's
event by their own study of the Civil War,
quietly filled the media center.

Many gasped when I told them that the
headwaters of Peachtree Creek began just
a couple of miles from their school, and could
be followed all the way to the Loyd Homeplace
in neighboring DeKalb County.  I  told them that
in just two years, Atlantans will mark the 150th
anniversary of both the Battle of Peachtree Creek
and the Battle of Atlanta.

The children's attention was commendable
as I sought to interweave the themes of
Family, Christian Faith, and Atlanta's Civil 
War legacy.

Early on, we sang together the song
"The Circuit-Riding Preacher."  I referenced
the fact that my own Loyd ancestors set
aside a special room in their home for such
traveling preachers to reside during their
stop-overs at Prospect Methodist Church 
in Chamblee, Georgia.

I showed them on maps how the Loyd
family had lived in the area since the first
Georgia Land Lottery of 1821.  I pointed
out present-day locations of their school,
the Loyd Homeplace, Civil War railroads, 
and modern Atlanta.

The focused gazes of these students affirmed
for me, yet again, that the study of history is
a highly motivating means of leading students
to apply all their learning skills.

While there was not sufficient time to read
the book in its entirety, I chose a couple of
passages to share.  Including the one where
my grandmother, Mama Loyd, casually 
mentioned the family story of Civil War treasure!

I told about my 98 year-old father, who in
his own time had become custodian of a
wealth of history about Atlanta and our
family, just as his mother did until her
death at age 96.  I encourage students to
interview their oldest relatives about "the
way things were" and see history come alive.

And finally, we came to the mystery!
Was there really a Loyd treasure?
Was it ever found?
Why would those who hid it not retrieve it 
 once the danger of an invading army was past?

The suspense builds . . .  what secrets can
a 150 year-old house hold?

And then, the treasure!

Was the treasure silver and gold, or a 
few bills of Confederate money?

The letter from Jabez Loyd and his three
sons explains.  These sons were all just
children at the time of the Civil War.
They trusted the Lord to bring them 
through the coming tribulation --
the invasion of Atlanta, and their homeland.

But a major theme of my book is that there
 are other forms of treasure, even more precious.

...and if you look for it as for silver and search
for it as for hidden treasure, the you will 
understand the fear of the Lord and
find the knowledge of God.    Proverbs 2: 4-5

Several students purchased their own copies
of my book.  In each one I inscribed this blessing:
May your search for treasure
lead you to Life's True Riches.

Perhaps the most gratifying moment of the
day was when an exuberant young lady came
forward to tell me of her own pursuit of learning
her family's heritage and where it was leading.

These fine young students received the 
multiple messages of my book enthusiastically.
My story may be of only fleeting interest to
them.  But if it sparks a burning desire to seek out
 their own family story, and perhaps someday to
 write it out for others, my purpose will be fulfilled.

Greater Atlanta Christian School, I thank you.
I hope to make this an annual event!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

GACS Welcomes "Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace"

This Thursday afternoon I will have a long-
awaited opportunity to share a presentation
about "Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace" with
over 100 fifth graders at Greater Atlanta Christian
School.  I am so excited about this event, partly
because they will be the first school group I have
shared with who live in the vicinity where all the
action of the book took place.  In fact, the school
is located just a few miles from the headwaters of
 famed Peachtree Creek, which enters into my tale.

This photo is a black-and-white of the Loyd
Homeplace as it still appears.  I will narrate
a slideshow that details not only the Loyd
mystery, but local history pre-dating and
including the Civil War.  My emphasis will
be on the triple themes of family, faith, and
history.  I hope all students come to realize
that they, too, have a story to tell.  And I
hope someday they'll tell it, perhaps to their
own children and grandchildren.