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The Search For Richard Day Sr

Reginald Finley Sr, A Day descendant tells of his journey to discover Richard Day and then later his other Day kin.

It all began when my son Reggie Finley Jr told me that he wanted to meet his family. He was aware that he had immediate cousins, my wife's brother's offspring, but he wanted to know if he had more cousins and he wanted to meet them also. I didn't think it would be much trouble.. I mean.. I only have like one aunt and two uncles and one cousin so.. easy! er..Right? However, like a bolt of lightning it hit me. "That's impossible." I immediately saw the Tree of Life in my mind's eye. The logic was inescapable. We all come from a common ancestor, whose offspring branch off like a tree. My family could not be alone.

I began to ask questions about my family's origins and I was immediately inundated with more answers than I could have imagined. I gathered so much information that I decided to create a website to store the data and to recall it at will. So began familyoriginstree.com. Soon however, I was faced with dead-ends and mysteries. Mysteries that needed to be cracked. I never quit and I am not comfortable with "not knowing". I set out to find the answers to the many growing mysteries.

The Day family was a new one for me. I never heard anything about the fact that I am really a Day. My Dad, Algernon C. Finley Sr, informed me that his mother was Rosa Bertha Billings and that his father was Algernon C. Day. That he was really a Jr but his mom remarried and changed their surnames to Finley. If she only knew the amazing story of the Days that I have come to discover, she might have hesitated.

My aunt, Cynthia Finley sent me an old Photo of who was allegedly, Richard Day Sr. Richard Day
Richard Day
Richard Day

Richard Day Sr. c.1905

The pic tells quite a story. Hard working, free and proud. A short note with the photo read, "Richard Day, Cook Station, grandfather of Algernon and Daniel Day." I suspect the photo is early 1900.

I set out to find this location.

I looked for a Cook Station near Mount Meigs but couldn't find an actual Cook Station. I did however happen by a Cook Station Grill and Grocery on the corner of Wares and Cook Station Rd. It's really a red and white gas station area called, The PitStop, which is more conspicuous. I called the place (334) 277-3277, and spoke with a Mr. Dozier. Sure enough, His family bought that land in 1937 and indeed, down the street from his store was a Cook RailRoad Station. A white Day family worked there for a time. The major export was lumber until World War II, then they started hauling gravel. They hauled lumber and gravel all the way to Atlanta, GA. Mr. Dozier states that they moved the actual station and converted it to a house. They no longer use the house for much of anything these days. I suspect that this is the actual house/station that Richard Day is standing next to in the photo. Richard Day Jr with his wife Mandy and son Pless are seen on the 1930 Census along with Mr. Jimmy Dozier's father and grandparents. Mr. Dozier invited us to visit. We would eventually take him up on his offer.

I immediately began scouring the internet searching census reports, forums, family sites... anything I could get my eyes on to find out about my Day relatives. From 1900 to 1930, in Mount Meigs, Alabama, I discovered only a handful of Days and most of them didn't seem to be related. However, there was some commonality in the names. Evidence seemed to point to the idea that my Richard Day and this Thomas Day fella were brothers. However.. no official documents were found that confirmed my theory. I added Thomas as kin anyway however. It simply made sense that my Richard Day would name his son after someone in his family. And Thomas Day was the only other Day around.

In November 2007 aunt Cynthia and I drive down and visited the Cook Station property. Mr Dozier showed us the old Cook Station ledger book and the actual Station..

Looks like the Doziers knocked out a window and placed a doorway there.

I think we found where some of the Days worked, at least seasonally.

Nathaniel Harris, a 96 year old man, lives on the property near the tracks. He claims he remembers Richard Day Sr and Jr. But didn't have much to say about them.

Cynthia brought down a 1917 photo of Thomas Day and Gertrude Ford. A shock to me as I had no idea she even possessed such a treasure. We showed it to Nathan. He claims he also remembers them but gave no detail.

While in Mount Meigs we attempted to make contact with some Ford relatives and Day relatives. Carolyn Harris provided me with tons of Ford relatives contact info. Unfortunately, many on the Ford side just wasn't as excited with me as I was with them. Probably because I simply don't have any information that's concrete yet on the Ford side. I began to worry that our Mount Meigs trip would be a bust. Turns out, something "magical" happened.

When we first arrived in Mount Meigs we met with Mary Ella Marshall. If I recall correctly, she is the President of a Mount Meigs Historical society. She introduced us to a Tommy Trimble. She told us that Tommy would probably know more about the location of black cemeteries in Mount Meigs. We all met at the Mount Meigs Post Office. We followed Mary and Tommy to what locals call the Lucas cemetery, off Atlanta HWY. At this point, Tommy asked us what families are we looking for. "Day and Ford!" we exclaimed. Tommy, taken aback, said, "Well, I have Days in my family, in fact, my grandmother was a Day. I asked her what was her name, she said Gussie Day." I acknowledged that sounded familiar. I mentioned that I have a Jordan Day was in the tree, she said Jordan Day was familiar to her. She mentioned Thomas Day and I mentioned I have many Thomas Days in my tree. I said, "Thomas Married Lula right?" She said, "No.. her name is Lue." I said, "Close enough" and gave her a big hug. "We are cousins!". I simply couldn't believe that our first Day in town we possibly found a living Day relative. We had no prior Day contacts and thought we'd only meet Ford descendants while in Mount Meigs. Not Days. Who knew?

Tommy invited us back to her house and that is when it was finally 100% certain. Her mother's Bible had Thomas listed at the top of the chain in their family tree. There was a section for siblings under Thomas' name. There was only one name under Brothers, "Richard". I almost fainted. There it was, the first recorded proof that Richard Day Sr and Thomas Day were brothers. A whole new side has opened up. Tommy called ahead to warn folks of my Grand Inquisition. She eventually gave me the numbers to all of the Thomas Day kin she knew.

The one Ford lead we did manage to get in contact with was Alma Bowen. To our surprise she knew a Day descendant as well. Mamie and Samuel Day. Mamie came up to Alma's shop, "Robes and Gowns" and sure enough.. we were cousins too. Mamie is also a Thomas Day descendant.

Again, my Thomas Robert Day was named after Richard's brother, Thomas Day, husband to Lula (Lue)Glover. My
Thomas Day and Gertrude Ford married Dec 17, 1911. Carolyn Harris is a Ford descendant that I bumped into on Ancestry.com's message board. She obtained a copy of Thomas and Gertrude's Marriage certificate from Montgomery's Probate court. We are still tracking down the mystery of who Gertrude is but we are getting closer. My suspicion is that she is an illegitimate daughter of Tucker Ford. She died while my grandfather and great-uncle were very young. I discovered an Alabama death mention on Ancestry that says she died in Birmingham. Which is very consistent with a recent WWI Draft registration card I found for Thomas Day. He was working for Tennessee Coal Railroad in Birmingham, 1917, and Gertie was still alive. The Death Record says Gertrude died May 08 1919. Which is consistent with the census data showing her children living with relatives and right next door to Richard and Rachael Day, their grandparents.

Cousin Arthur Harris says he remembers "Uncle Dick" and a few of his children. He in particular remembers that Richard (Uncle Dick) had a Jr, and Henrietta. He remembers her most because she visited so often. He said that many of Dick's kids moved to Birmingham. This led me to discover that Henrietta married Armstead Handy. They lived in Mount Meigs but later moved to Birmingham. This is consistent with the fact that Richard Day Jr and family were there too. I am still researching their descendants. Who knows what other Days moved to Birmingham.

Arthur says that when Richard Day Sr died. His daughter, Henrietta Handy came down to retrieve him and buried him in Birmingham. Arthur says Dick lived well into his 90's, outliving his wife Rachael with over 40 years of marriage.

On November 23, 2007 I received two Death Certificates from the Alabama Dept of Vital Statistics. One for Richard Day and one for Gertrude Ford.

On Richard Day's we discovered that sure enough, that Henrietta Handy was indeed Richard's daughter. Unfortunately, she couldn't remember Dick's parent's names. Richard was buried in Virginia Mines Cemetery, behind Valley Creek Cemetery in Hueytown, Alabama, formerly a part of Bessemer. She reported that Richard was about 63. Dick was much older than that. Most likely he died in at 90.

On Gertrude Ford's I was shocked to discovered that her parents were George and Sweetie Collins. Could she have been adopted?

The story continues......

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