After years of searching in the woods, Kenneth Kitchens found his roots in an unlikely place. A friend of Mr. Kitchens recognized his great-great-grandfather's name in an article in The Augusta Chronicle recently and told Mr. Kitchens about it. The article said United Daughters of the Confederacy material from the Civil War era had been discovered in the Adamson Library of the Augusta Genealogical Society.
The material included information on a disbanded chapter of the UDC from Thomson, with one of the members listed as Alice Brinkley Dozier, granddaughter of Joe House Brinkley. According to a letter from Mr. Brinkley that was found in the box, he served in the Semmes' Brigade with Stokes Ivey. Mr. Ivey is Mr. Kitchens' great-great-grandfather.
"Do you know how long I have walked through woods and cemeteries looking for graves and writing the names down?" Mr. Kitchens said to officers of the genealogical society as they showed him the papers.
Mr. Kitchens, who lives in Martinez but is formerly of Thomson and still works at Pool Heating and Air in Thomson, said he has searched through woods, cemeteries and libraries for the past five years to find information about his great-great-grandfather Ivey, who served in the Civil War. Mr. Kitchens is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Chapter 158, and said he takes pictures of Civil War era gravesites and records the information of everyone in the various units of Georgia.
Mr. Kitchens had with him a framed copy of Mr. Ivey's obituary from the Warrenton Clipper and notebooks full of information.
"I've been finding all the little stuff that I could about him. But, I've got nothing like what they've got," he said, referring to the Augusta Genealogical Society's discovery.
Although he was excited to see the letters mentioning his great-great-grandfather and records of his service, there was one document that excited Mr. Kitchens more than any. In fact, none of the historians present had ever seen one before. It was Mr. Ivey's signed surrender from the Confederacy, dated May 23, 1865.
"You just don't know what this means to me," Mr. Kitchens said, obviously overcome with sentiment.
Maxine Maloney, president of the Augusta Genealogical Society, said one of the society's librarians recognized the Ivey surname and connected it with another box of information already in the library's vault.
"We started putting it together, and it just sort of dominoed after that," she said, adding that Ivey family members from Virginia and Florida had donated to the collection.
Mr. Kitchens brought along his mother, Charlsie Ivey Kitchens, to see the family documents. Ms. Kitchens said she was happy to see the papers, but they didn't excite her as much as they did her son. "He likes his dead people more than I do," she said with a smile. "For awhile, every time we would go by a cemetery, we'd say 'I wonder if Ken's been in that one?'"
Mr. Kitchens called other family members to tell about the surrender document.
"This is a great success story of reuniting families with their documents," Ms. Maloney said. "That's what we are all about -- making family connections."