Archives offers history in maritime records

McDonough resident, Nancy Sandberg, is looking for any records she can find, at places such as the Morrow-based National Archives at Atlanta, that will shed some light on her family tree's distant connection to the pirate known as "Blackbeard."

According to Sandberg, she is directly descended from a William Glover, who lived from 1635, to 1712, through a child he had with is first wife. By the time Glover died, he was with his second wife, Catherine Attwood, she said.

Sandberg added that after Glover died, Attwood married Tobias Knight, who was the colonial secretary of the Carolina colony, and reportedly had ties to Edward Teach, who is more widely known as "Blackbeard."

"I'm interested in the pirates of that time, because of my family's distant ties to piracy," Sandberg said. She was one of 25 people who attended a presentation on Savannah maritime history, called "Sailors, Ships and the Sea: True Stories from the Maritime Records of he National Archives at Atlanta," on Wednesday.

During the presentation, Archivist Rob Richards explained the different types of maritime records the archives has by sharing some of the stories he has discovered in the records. Richards said the maritime collection includes 3,800 cubic feet of documents stored in boxes, and another 5,000 records that are bound in books. The maritime records at the National Archives at Atlanta cover ports in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

Many of the earliest records are from the U.S. Customs Services, which was a federal agency founded in 1789 to oversee international trade, according to Richards. There are also crew and passenger lists, immigration records, and even slave ship records. "We have all kinds of records here for people to use," Richards said.

The stories he said he was able to flesh out through information he gained in the documents included that of Gazaway Lamar, who made his fortune in Savannah, in shipping. The stories also included Gazaway's son, Charles Lamar, who tried, unsuccessfully, to initiate a widespread revival of the transatlantic slave trade in the late 1850's.

Richards also told the story of William Scarborough, and his sailing/steamboat, the S.S. Savannah, which was the first steam ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1819.

It is not easy to find stories like those in the National Archives' records, however. Richards said it takes work to discover them. "You have to find them," he said. "You can do the research, and then the documents can help you flesh out the stories ... "

For Morrow resident, Stanley Blackburn, the stories he wants to see fleshed out are those of his African ancestors. He has been able to trace some of his ancestors far enough back, that he can pinpoint which ones came to the United States from unknown parts of Africa. Now, he wants to know about their transatlantic journey.

"I'm more interested to see how they came to the United States," Blackburn said. "I come here a few days a week to look through their maritime records. I haven't had any luck yet ... If it takes 10 years, that's fine with me. I'm just trying to find out about my ancestors."

The archives is located at 5780 Jonesboro Road, in Morrow. For more information about its maritime records, call (770)968-2100.