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The Piltdown Hoax
I never did buy the theory of evolution that the origin of man is descended from an "ape" or a one-cell animal in the sea. I knew my parents and grandparents; they were humans. Tracing the lineage back to ca 1066, each generation consisted of humans. If the human being had any relationship to the ape and evolution were true, we would see quot;evolving" apes amongst us. That theory floated around in the academic spectrum while I attended grammar school until the high school books accpted it as fact. Then, an assembly of jawbones emerged and each was labeled a descendant of the ape. For many years, people simply accepted the theory. Yet, tracing human-kind back to an ape has been rather awkward. The controversy was popular in 1868, when some ancient human skeletons were disovered in a shallow cave at Cro-Magnon near the town of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac in the Dordogne region of southwestern France. The French geologist Edouard Lartet, uncovered five archaeological layers. The human bones found in the topmost layer were assessed to be between 10,000 and 35,000 years old. Those people were presumed to have been about 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 7 inches) tall, having sturdy bodies. The forehead was straight with slight brow ridges and the face short and wide. From a study of these skeletons, an observation emerged that Cro-Magnons were the first humans to have a prominent chin while the brain was somewhat larger than the average for modern humans. The Piltdown Man, which people believed confirmed Darwinism was a paleoanthropological hoax in which bone fragments were presented as the fossilised remains of a previously unknown early human. In 1912 an amateur archaeologist came along by the name of Charles Dawson who claimed that he had discovered the "missing link" between ape and man. After finding a section of a human-like skull in Pleistocene gravel beds near Piltdown, East Sussex, Dawson contacted Arthur Smith Woodward, Keeper of Geology at the Natural History Museum. Dawson and Smith Woodward made further discoveries at the site which they connected to the same individual, including a jawbone, more skull fragments, a set of teeth and primitive tools. After Smith Woodward reconstructed the skull fragments he hypothesised that they belonged to a human ancestor from 500,000 years ago. The discovery was announced at a Geological Society meeting and was given the Latin name Eoanthropus dawsoni (Dawson's dawn-man). A "missing link" gave some credubility to Darwin's theory of evolution. Yet, the find promoted great controversy until it was exposed as a forgery in 1953. The reason is that the skull was found to have consisted of the altered mandible and some teeth of an orangutandeliberately combined with the cranium of a fully developed, though small-brained, modern human. The Piltdown hoax is prominent for two reasons: the attention it generated around the subject of human evolution, and the length of time, 45 years, that elapsed from its alleged initial discovery, was used to bolster the theory of evoluation. Also, the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel created drawings of human embryos next to developing animinal embroyos, making them virtually indistinguishable. Although Haeckel was charged with fraud by five professors at the university where he taught and convicted by a university court and his fraud exposed in "Haeckel's Frauds and Forgeries" published in 1915, for decades, the theory continued to be published in high school and college biology textbooks and taught as being true. What is amazing is that the discovery of the hoax did not altar the study of biological evoluation. Because, evolution was still being taught as scientific fact in the school system, I found it necessary to explain this hoax to my children.
Your Ancestors Left the Answer. Did you Find it?
If you did not locate a will or estate which spelled everything out for you, then next place to look is in county minute books. The reason is to search for personal notations of activities occurring in the community. Typically, the last will and testament itself was not copied into the minute book; however, frequent entries appear announcing that it was filed with the clerk. If there is a notation, that proves that one existed. Court houses kept original wills in the record room, or vault, or even the basement along with other other documents. It is nice to have both the original and the copy which the clerk made in the will book. However, most originals were lost. We reply upon the clerk's copy (in his own hand-writing, with misspelled words, etc.). Unfortunatley, later on, a fire may have destroyed the clerk's records. One is inclined to think that triviality does not cook the "meat" of the genealogy, but it does insomuch as it is the finer details which fill in the gaps. We all have questions concerning dates, places and why. Despite the fact of court houses fires and such losses, there are other means in discovering facts from family traditions. Did you notice the odd first names of some children? These usually appeared after the first child was named and were the maiden names of the mother or grandmother. Traditionally, the first child was given the name of both grandparents of the couple. After that, the names of aunts and uncles were included. Oftentimes, certain names make us suspicious that a child belongs to a particularly family. I have one family of five children where all of the boys were given family (surnames) names. After much frustration, I used those names to the families with those surnames (in the same county). The result was very interesting. One family name was a Revolutionary soldier who resided in Abbeville, S. C. in the neighborhood of my kin, later traveling to Georgia and settling in the same county. Another family name given a child (in this same family) belonged to another family from Abbeville. And those families also came to Georgia. Some states such as South Carolina are practically devoid of marriage records. That is because there was no legislation requiring that marriages be put into the public records. My conclusion was that two of my (likely) ancestors married into these families, and were probably the missing maiden names of the grandmothers. The point being that each family had its own family ties, and stories.
It is up to us to find them.
What the Genealogist Should Search for in Cemeteries
A large percentage of the population was buried without tombstones at any given era of time. For the few families who purchased a plot, fenced it off and buried all the family members inside, we owe a hearty "thanks!" Sometimes, when visiting a cemetery, another family member will identify an unmarked grave, or one marked with "rocks." People who have resided in small towns all of their life seem to know who is buried where. The reason is that they had some connection with the family and, in passing, the names on stones are discernible. Barring having all of this help, one must examine each grave site, the stones or rocks, even sinking of the terrain for clues. During the 1900s small memorials upon which inscriptions do not easily survive the elements was generally placed over small children and infants. Slate tombstones easily break. One should dig around in the dirt where there are broken slate stones. The reason is that the top portion could be under the first layer or two of the dirt. Is the cemetery one which may have been the old section of a church which is still standing? A question to ask the neighbors is whether a church once stood on the site.
Glascock County Wills, Estates, Annual Returns, Vouchers, Inventories, Sales
Glascock County was created from Warren County on December 19, 1857 by an act of the General Assembly (Georgia Laws 1857, page 35). The county was named for General Thomas Glascock (1790-1841), who fought in the War of 1812 and Seminole War; served in the Georgia General Assembly and Congress. County Seat is Gibson. Early settlers: George W. Allen, Richard Beckworth, Martiller Braddy, Richard Clark, G. C. Dixon, W. T. Griffin, Henry Harris, Eli Harris, John Kent, Joel Landrum, William Marsh, California Newsome, Robert McNair, James Rabun, Isom Peebles, Henry Seals, Hiram Thigpen, Peter Usry, W. T. Underwood, Richard Walen and Larkin Wilcher.
Glascock County Records Available to Members of Georgia Pioneers
Indexes to Probate Records
- Will Bk A 1859-1937.
- Will Bk B 1932-1966.
- Annual Returns, Inventories, Sales, Vouchers, Estates, 1864 to 1869
- Annual Returns, Inventories, Sales, Vouchers, Estates, 1869 to 1881
- Annual Returns, Inventories, Sales, Vouchers, Estates, 1897 to 1906
Online Images of Wills 1859 to 1900
Testators: Allen, George W. | Barton, Martha J. | Chalker, Hodge | Cheely, John | Allen, Clark, Richard N. | Dickson, Bynam | Dixon, G. C. | Dixon, Purtiman | Glover, Seaborn | Grizzard, Thomas | Hadden, Thomas H. | Hannah, J. F. | Harden, J. D. | Harris, Henry P. | Harris, Joday | Hart, Samuel | Hattaway, John W. | Hewett, Matthew | Howell, Maberry | Kelley, Allen | Kent, John | Land, John | Landrum, Joel | Logue, Calvin | Logan, William | Newsom, Marian | Newsome, California | Nunn, James M. | Rabun, James | Seals, Henry B. | Thigpen, Hiram | Thompson, Nathaniel | Todd, Eleany | Towner, Walter | Ursy, Peter | Ursy, Peter | Ursy, R. L. | Walden, Richard | Wilcher, Jeremiah | Wilcher, Ruth | Wilcher, Larkin | Williams, James M.