George Dwelle, the third-great-grandfather of my law school friend, sparked my interest in genealogy. My classmate was named after his ancestor, a prominent pastor of Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga. In Notable Black American Women
, 3 volumes, edited by Jessie Carney Smith (Gale, out of print), I stumbled across a biographical sketch of Dwelle’s daughter Georgia Rooks Dwelle. I was hooked: I yearned to learn more about this family.
George was born Jan. 26, 1833, in Columbia County, Ga., the son of a slave and a white man. In the 1917 book The History of the American Negro and His Institutions by A.B. Caldwell (reprinted by Kessinger Publications, $64.95), George identified his mother as Mary Thomas and his father as C.J. Cook, a white man from Connecticut. Mary was born about 1818 in Georgia and died between 1900 and 1910 in Augusta. Little is known about her, but it’s rumored she was living with a Dwelle family when George was born.