Meeting my grandfather: Search for ancestors in North Carolina

grandfather - man with 2 horses

I know that this is not the best picture but it is one of my favorites.  It’s a picture of my maternal grandfather given to me by my aunt.  I have only seen this and one other picture of him.

The picture sparks so many questions.  My grandfather David Beam Hart died the year I was born so I never knew him.  HIs nickname was Buddy and he and my grandmother Alda were the parents of 12.  My grandmother lived a long life and I have many fond memories of her.

Grandpa (I guess that’s what I would have called him) worked on the railroad.  For the longest time I misunderstood what working on the railroad meant.  I had seen the movie “10000 Black Men Named George” and had imagined him working on the train as a porter which would have been hard enough.   Later I learned that he and a lot of others actually worked on the tracks – a hard and extremely dangerous job.  These men helped make the railroad industry possible.  Many gave their lives.  Also he was a resident of Rutherford County, NC.  Rural North Carolina was not a safe place to be an African-American in the early 1900s.  Knowing this I have since become fascinated by the history of southern railroads and early life in Rutherford County, NC.

Here’s a picture though that no one knows much about.  How old is it?  Are those his horses?  Where is he?  It is even not clear enough to really show how he looks.

A lot of my time has been spent doing genealogy and some questions like who his brothers and sisters were have been answered.  I even found his draft registration card.  On that card I was delighted to find out that I was born on his birthday.  This date varies from what is stated on some other records but I will go with the draft registration date of course.  The search for more information about Buddy Hart continues.

Published by Lonnie

Lonnie Dawkins is a fine arts photographer in the Washington, DC area. His focus is portraits, portfolios, and events.

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