When I do ancestry research, I love to list everything I know about someone and then begin to piece together a life story. Meet my grandfather Charlie. I know his name and I look into the stern face that stares back at me in his photos. I am filled with emotions and unasked questions that will never have answers.
Who was the man we call Charles Venson Driskell?
He always signed his name C.V. His wife called him Charlie. His daughters called him Papa, but I never heard them say a kind word about him.
What I do know:
- Charlie was born in Forsyth County, Georgia on Sunday, January 19, 1879.
- He was third in the birth order of five sons. One sister died in childhood. His youngest sister lived until she was 94.
- He did not go beyond the 7th grade in school.
- He is recorded on census records for the years 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940.
- His daughter, Doyce, and his cousin, Cleburne, stated he left Forsyth Co. because of a family disagreement.
- He migrated to Borden Springs, Cleburne Co., Alabama. For years I thought my grandfather just “ended up” traveling from Georgia to Alabama. But after researching the whole family line from David Beecham Driskell, I realize several Driskell families had moved to Cleburne Co. and Calhoun Co. years before.
- By 1900 Charlie and Ezzie were married and living next door to Anderson and Susan Wheeler, Ezzie’s grandparents.
- They moved back to Forsyth Co. about 1903 and there their six children were born. Two had died in infancy in Alabama. Two sons and two daughters grew to adulthood.
- His WW I Draft Registration in 1918 records his height and build as medium; his eyes were blue and his hair was dark.
- Charlie sought employment with the Georgia and Alabama Roads Department. He was away from home most of the year. He sent his wife postcards with short messages. The vintage cards we still have are treasured memories for his youngest granddaughter.
- The family moved to Athens, Clarke Co., Georgia in 1921 after a good harvest on their farm. The money was put into an Athens bank, but on October 29, 1929, they lost everything in the Stock Market Crash. The Depression times forced Charlie to stay in Athens for work. He purchased a small grocery store across the street from their home on Dubose Avenue.
- His youngest daughter had memories of him occasionally running whiskey. An older granddaughter remembers he had been drinking on the day the family received the news that his wife, Ezzie, was dying from cancer. He kept drinking.
- In 1947, he married Luvenia, a woman who just wanted his money. A year later she left him and again he lost everything he had saved. Not long after that Charlie suffered a crippling stroke.
- My only connection with him is the story that he would ride in his wheelchair with me in his lap.
- He died on my first birthday, July 6, 1950.
What I do not know:
· What made him seem to be so harsh, when his brothers and sisters were such happy people?
· Where did his parents find his middle name of Venson?
· What was the disagreement that caused him as a young man to leave Forsyth County?
· When did he leave and who did he live with in Alabama?
Only one granddaughter remains who knew him. The rest of us have no memories. Sixty years later I have many, many questions and am reminded there will never be answers.
But Charles Venson Driskell is an important part of my heritage. He is a name on census family records and in an old family Bible. He is a framed picture in my hallway. But most importantly, he is a grandfather who held me in his lap and loved me.
Ruth Lampkin Packard, youngest granddaughter
Be prepared for the next post about Charlie! After I had written this post, I discovered a poem about my grandfather. It was written by his oldest son and namesake, Charles M. Driskell and was read at my grandfather’s funeral. I was in tears because for the first time ever…there are kind words about this man!