A Soldier’s Story

My great-grandparents, James David and Sarah Ella (Harp) Lupo. In all probability, my great-grandfather had no memory of his father, who died in the Civil War at age 25, when my great-grandfather was three.

Note: This essay is reprinted from The Cheese Toast Project available from online bookstores, and in Kindle format from Amazon.com. An earlier draft appeared on this blog 5 August 2014.

On the freezing morning of Sunday, 29 November 1863, Union soldiers defending Fort Sanders in Knoxville, Tennessee leveled their rifles at advancing Confederate soldiers and fired, killing or wounding more than eight hundred, and thus set in motion a chain of events that would lead to my birth, not quite a century later. One of the Confederate soldiers who died was Nathaniel G. Lupo, my great-great-grandfather. Nathaniel may have died from a single shot, a barrage of bullets, or a mortar blast. He may have been tripping over the baling wire that had been strung between tree stumps to slow down any assault, attempting to scale the frozen wall of the fort with a stand of colors, or struggling in the ditch surrounding the fort, while, above him, Union gunners rained down bullets on him and his comrades. The exact circumstances of his final moments have been lost to history, though one can be certain they were chaotic, and undoubtedly horrifying, with death and devastation surrounding him on all sides. The poorly planned assault on Fort Sanders, carried out by troops serving in the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia under James Longstreet, lasted approximately twenty minutes and gained absolutely nothing for the Confederate cause. The only certainty is that Nathaniel’s death altered the course of his family, affecting every generation since, including my own.

I know very little about my great-great-grandfather. While I have vague memories of my grandfather, who died when I was ten, and knew my great-uncle reasonably well, my interest in the history of our family had not yet manifested itself, and by the time I started asking questions, neither of them, nor my great-aunt, were around to supply any answers. My father claimed to know very little about his ancestors, but if I asked him specific questions, such as whether or not his great-grandfather fought and died in the Civil War, he usually knew the answer. The Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, compiled by Lillian Henderson, lists four Lupos who fought in the war for Georgia, two brothers, one close cousin, and one distant cousin.

What I know of Nathaniel mainly comes from the few official records he left behind. Given his age on the census, he appears to have been born around 1835, most likely in Houston County, Georgia. He appears on the 1850 census, living in the household of Robert D. Sinclair, a physician and large land owner in Dooly County, Georgia. On 2 November 1854, he married Sarah Amanda Cone, and by 1860, Nathaniel, his father David, wife Amanda, and uncle Giles, and their families, had moved to Jackson County, Florida. A letter from David Lupo, dated 1 April 1860, mentions Nathaniel, and reports the activity surrounding their farm. Nathaniel and Amanda had three children listed in their household in 1860, Nancy T, age 5, William, age 3, and my great-grandfather, James David, who was about eight months old. There is a story in my family, told to me by one of my older cousins, that Nathaniel was a fiddle player, which would be interesting, considering his ancestors were as well, but I have no other information with which to confirm or refute this.

In 1861, Nathaniel and his family, returned to Dooly County, where on 22 June 1861, he enlisted for service in the Georgia Volunteer Infantry. His company, dubbed “The Dooly Light Infantry” and headed by Captain Joseph Armstrong, was sent to Cobb County for training, and later to Virginia, where they became Company I in the 18th Georgia Regiment, which was initially part of John Bell Hood’s “Texas” brigade. In 1864, Hood would be the general who surrendered Atlanta to Sherman, but in 1861-62 the youthful Hood was just establishing his reputation for being a fierce and reckless commander. His Texas brigade, including the 18th Georgia, was responsible for breaking the Union line at Gaines Mill, and turning the tide in the Seven Days campaign, where Lee drove McClellan from Virginia. The battle-hardened 18th Georgia was later transferred to Thomas R. R. Cobb’s Georgia brigade (later led by William Tatum Wofford), where they continued to be a part of the shock troops, first in, and last out, in many of the battles in which they participated. The 18th Georgia played a decisive role at Second Manassas, fought at Antietam, the bloodiest single day in American history, and was stationed behind the Stone Wall on Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg, which was an absolute bloodbath for Union troops attempting to take the position. The First Corps under James Longstreet, including the 18th Georgia, which was heavily engaged in the Peach Orchard, participated during the second day’s fighting at Gettysburg. Records show that shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, Nathaniel was admitted to the hospital in Virginia, but the cause isn’t given.

In short, Nathaniel didn’t just serve in the war, he was front and center at some of the bloodiest and most brutal fighting of the bloodiest war in America’s history. Having never served in combat myself, I cannot begin to imagine what participating in such carnage can do to a man’s psyche. Records show, in addition to the aftermath of Gettysburg, that Nathaniel spent time in hospitals following several battles, including Antietam, without the cause being reported. The 18th Georgia was among the troops who accompanied Longstreet on detached service in Tennessee and Georgia in fall and winter of 1863, though the 18th did not participate in the Battle of Chickamauga, the one battle the First Corps fought on Georgia soil. Longstreet didn’t get along very well with Braxton Bragg, who was in command of forces around Chattanooga, and left to conduct independent operations in Eastern Tennessee, which brought the First Corps to Knoxville by early November.

Surviving accounts of the battle in which Nathaniel lost his life are marred by the fact that in the aftermath of the assault, Longstreet brought charges against several of his subordinates, including Major General Lafayette McLaws, who was in command of the division which included the 18th Georgia. Longstreet accused McLaws of not providing proper equipment to carry out the assault, while McLaws pointed the finger at Longstreet for providing him with faulty reconnaissance. The main point of contention appears to center around how much of an obstacle the ditch surrounding the fort would be, and McLaws stated he was assured by Colonel E. P. Alexander, artillery commander and a military engineer, and by Longstreet himself that they had witnessed a soldier crossing the ditch without difficulty at the point where the attack was to occur. McLaws confirmed that the majority of soldiers who died were killed in the ditch. A report by opposing General Ambrose Burnside, stated that casualties were left in the ditch overnight in freezing conditions, with the wounded calling out for help, until the following morning, when Burnside proposed a truce, which Longstreet accepted, allowing the Confederates to tend to their wounded and bury their dead. Burnside reported that ninety-two bodies were turned over to the Confederates. Nathaniel was most likely among them.

I do not know if I would be here, had Nathaniel lived. In all probability, I would not be, given that his death is the main event which started my family on their journey through the next century. Nathaniel’s actions, returning to Georgia, and enlisting for service, probably felt obvious to him. He may have felt he had no choice in the matter, yet every step of the way, he made the choices, up to and including where he stood in formation in preparation for the assault on the fort on 29 November. Just as I do not know the exact circumstances of his death, I also do not know what became of his body. In all likelihood, he was buried in a mass grave on the battlefield, and left behind as the army moved on. His name does not appear among those re-interred in the city cemetery after the battle, though recently, the grave of his commanding officer, Solon Z. Ruff, has been located and marked in Knoxville, by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Reports of the battle indicate Ruff died in the ditch surrounding the fort while cheering on his men, and since he was commanding Wofford’s Brigade, which included the 18th, most likely, that’s where Nathaniel died as well. Most of current day Knoxville, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, was built over top of the battlefield. In 1982, I went there with two friends to attend the World’s Fair, with no idea of the importance the city had in my family’s history. While I’m not a believer in signs, I will report that the first day we were there, it rained the entire time.

One cannot speak of Confederate ancestors without invoking the memory of the cause for which they fought. Let me be clear, I do not honor the Confederacy as a governmental entity, nor do I believe in what the politicians of the Southern states attempted to accomplish by breaking away from the Union. Secession was a horrible idea in 1860, and those in the South who invoke the specter of secession for their own political ends today, merely perpetuate the arrogance and ignorance of those who led the South to secede, leading to thousands of needless deaths in the resulting conflict.

Since the end of the war, states which made up the Confederacy have attempted, and largely succeeded, in changing public perceptions about the war, shifting the cause from slavery to states’ rights. None of this matters. We don’t need to speculate on why Georgia seceded because the people who made the decision to secede spelled out in fairly clear terms why they were doing it. Georgia’s declaration of secession gives a comprehensive outline of the animosities between slave states and non-slave states and makes it clear that those who drafted the document believed owning slaves was a Constitutionally protected right that the non-slave states had violated. Lincoln’s election was cited as a culmination of the non-slave states’ efforts to disenfranchise the slave-holding states and was listed as a direct cause of secession. The drafters of Georgia’s declaration stated that had protections for slavery not been written into the Constitution, the slave-holding states never would have ratified it. Further, the United States government’s inability to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 is mentioned as a mitigating factor. That’s about as explicit as one can get on the issue. In fact, slave-holding states had called upon the United States government to nullify laws in states such as Massachusetts which prevented slave owners from reclaiming slaves who’d run away, and granted freedom to any slave who happened to travel there with the slaveholder.

As to why the individual soldiers signed up, in the absence of correspondence from them, we cannot know their specific motives, but, most likely, Nathaniel, and others like him, signed up for service because he thought his home and family were threatened by a potential invasion of the state. Nathaniel returned to Georgia, volunteered for Georgia, was trained and equipped by Georgia to fight for Georgia, and instead, he and other volunteers immediately found themselves shipped out to Virginia to protect the Confederate capital, leaving Georgia’s defenses in disarray. In a dispatch to the Confederate War Department dated 11 November 1861, Georgia’s governor, Joseph E. Brown, specifically requested return of three brigades including Wofford’s, which comprised the 18th Georgia, because of a feared invasion by enemy forces. This wasn’t a trivial matter given Georgia’s extensive coastline. Dispatches show considerable apprehension among the governor and mayors of several cities of an invasion targeting Savannah, Brunswick, or Augusta. The request was denied by the Confederate war department, as were other requests by Governor Brown. At the time, there was tension but no outright hostilities in Virginia, and the 18th Georgia had been assigned to picket duty around Richmond.

Regardless of Nathaniel’s motives in taking up arms against the United States, it is pointless to ignore or downplay that aspect of my family’s history, as it plays so great a part in it, just as my ancestors played their part in the history of this country. While I do not always agree with the decisions my ancestors made, I cannot deny those decisions played a part in the circumstances which eventually led to me being here. Had Nathaniel lived, he may have decided to take his family west, as many did in the wake of the war; or returned to Florida; or traveled elsewhere in Georgia. Records show that his death had a devastating effect on his young family. Other than her listing on a record of widows who received a salt ration in 1864, no records whatsoever have been found on his widow, Amanda, until she applied for a pension with the state of Georgia in the 1890s, and the fate of their daughter, Nancy, is unknown. Their son William shows up on the incomplete census of 1870, in Dooly County, living near the family of Nelson Moye in or near Pinehurst, Georgia, and in 1880, their son David can also be found near the Moyes in Pinehurst, living away from Nathaniel’s brothers and sisters in and around Vienna.


  1. Henderson, Lillian, Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1865, Georgia State Division of Confederate Pensions and Records, Longina & Porter 1960.
  2. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, United States War Department, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1880-1901.
  3. Georgia Declaration of Secession, Official Records of Georgia, Serial IV, Volume 1, pp. 81-85, text found online at the website for Yale University’s Law School.

Genealogy Tips and Tricks

 Piedmont Park Trees 

To trace a family, start with what is known and work backwards — parents to grandparents and so on and along the way, it’s important to note every source of information. Genealogy is all about what can be documented and it’s helpful to keep in mind that all published records are compiled by people who can make mistakes. Census takers misspelled names and recorded ages wrong; often they went by what a neighbor told them about a family rather than speaking to a representative of the family; and every researcher has dealt with the problem of handwriting. It’s often very apparent who took the job seriously versus those out to collect a paycheck. When dealing with death certificates, it’s important to pay attention to who the respondent is. If it’s a close family member, a brother, or sister, the info on parents is probably correct, but if it’s a son- or daughter-in-law, the info might not be as accurate. Sometimes, parental info is missing or may be penciled in. 

Always exercise caution when dealing with family lore. Family legends can help a researcher figure out where to look for further information, but it’s helpful to remember, most family legends are embellished. If one has the opportunity to speak to an older family member, do so, but remember he or she may only know what was handed down and might not have the full story. My maternal grandmother, for instance, was the youngest daughter in her family of ten children and did not know her grandparents well. The information she had on them came from her parents or older siblings. Also people tend to gloss over stories of family members who were considered “black sheep” or otherwise had dubious reputations. My maternal grandfather was such a figure in his family, so finding out information on him from family members was frequently difficult.

In my research, I’ve noted a number of individuals who have a particular surname because their mothers never married their fathers. There’s a record in Georgia where two boys, previously identified as Lupo had their surnames changed to Watson, apparently after their father acknowledged them. If there’s an unmarried older daughter in a household with very young children, headed by parents too old to have been the mother or father of the youngest children, it’s possible that daughter was the mother of some of the younger children, or that they’re the offspring of a deceased son, though they’re all identified as siblings. Census records prior to 1880 did not list relationships, making it difficult to sort out extended families, and illegitimate children were stigmatized in society, often necessitating considerable subterfuge to conceal them. People are often very proud of their heritage and can be extremely protective of their ancestors and the stories they’ve been told about them and don’t take it well when the facts sometimes don’t agree with family lore.

The important thing is to document as much as possible. If family legend states an ancestor was born in Kentucky, but the individual is found in Alabama on the census at three months old, that casts doubt on the Kentucky story. People were very mobile, though, so such legends can’t be ruled out entirely. I found a family recorded twice on the 1870 census, once in Missouri and a few weeks later in Mississippi. Digitized records have been a big help, particularly since I’ve not had the time to conduct direct research. Without indexed census records on Ancestry, I might never have found that family in 1870.

Always be on the lookout for similar names. A common problem in genealogy is skipping a generation, which can happen in instances where names tend to run in a family. In the Lupos there are lots of men named David, William, John, and James, and frequently there aren’t estate records to spell out who is whom. Many confuse Phillip Lupo, who made out his will in 1668 in Isle of Wight County, Virginia with the man by that name living in Elizabeth City colony in 1621, but a closer look at the records reveals two individuals who were father and son.

Part of genealogy is collecting names and part is analyzing the info to sort out how everyone is connected. I started working on my family’s history in the late-80s and spent a lot of time collecting names without fully understanding how everyone fit together. After it became less convenient to visit facilities for hands-on research, I started analyzing what I had, and more of the story began to take shape. I was fortunate to be in touch with other researchers with whom I could share ideas and compare notes, and who had access to resources I didn’t. I was researching numerous lines at the time, so I had a lot on my plate.

It took me three or four years of research to have a reasonable picture of the Lupo family but eight to ten years to actually sort out how most of the Lupos are connected and I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Here, it’s very important to recheck a source, such as a website, that’s likely to be updated regularly. Much of the information on the Lupo family found on the Internet, comes from the lupo.org site I maintain and often I can tell at which point someone got their info from which version was published at the time. There’s a page set up for another family I research which gives life dates for an ancestor that are greatly out of sync with the actual record. This brings up a final point. A researcher should not be afraid to disagree with an authoritative source, provided the researcher has records to support his or her view of the family’s history. It’s often via disagreements that new evidence comes to light and new insights into a family are developed. In any event, it makes for a much more lively discussion.

The Carvings on Stone Mountain, #7

Cedonia & Brice Browder 8-1916

In 1920, closest to the date of the carving, Cedonia F. Browder, age twelve and her brother Brice, age eight, are found in the household of George M. Browder, age thirty-one, and his wife Dell A. age thirty-four. Both Cedonia and Brice are identified as “Meyer” instead of Browder and there’s another individual in the house called Durling F. Meyer, age seventeen, listed as a “step-son”. Ten years earlier, on the 1910 census, Frances Browder is the only child listed in George’s household, with wife Ada, age twenty. Durling is listed in the household of Fred H. Meyer in 1910 with his mother, Della, so it appears Ada died and George remarried, and the census taker mistakenly listed Cedonia and her brother as step-children.

In 1920, the family is living in Montgomery, Alabama and George is listed as an assistant manager in produce, not a profession that lends itself to carving names on a mountain nearly two hundred miles away. George, Ada and Frances are listed in Montgomery in 1910 as well, and the census tells us their address was 312 Goode Street. Since Cedonia would have been eight in 1916 and Brice four, it’s likely their father did the carving, in all probability during a family vacation.

George is listed in a directory from Montgomery, AL in 1915, as a ship clerk and his wife is identified as Ada F. Browder, so he must have married Della later, meaning Brice and Cedonia had the same mother. The directory listing has them on Early Street, which is where they are living in 1920.

The family appears to have moved to Miami, Dade County, FL by 1930. Both Cedonia, spelled Sedonia, and Brice are still in the household. George is listed as a farmer, “working on his own account” and they’re listed in the 48th Ward at 3352 S.W. 4th Street. The Florida Death Index lists George’s date of death as 1948. A Social Security claim lists his date of birth as 20 August 1888 and his date of death as 7 December 1948.

In 1940, Cedonia, listed as “Cadora Wright” is in the household, but the census says that in 1935, she was living in New York City. On a Florida state census from 1935, however, Cedonia is listed in Dade County with her husband, Chauncey Wright. There’s a record from 1940 where Cedonia Browder divorced Chauncey Davis Wright in Dade County, FL. F. Cedonia Browder married Chauncey D. Wright in Dade County in 1930 and in 1956, Frances Cedonia Browder married William D. Black in Dade County. She does not have a profession listed in 1940, but in 1930 she’s listed as a saleswoman at a candy store. The Florida Death Index lists her date of birth as 9 September 1907. She died in Dade County, FL on 4 May 1990, at age eighty-two. On the Florida Death Index, she’s listed as Francis Cedonia Browder.

A passenger listing from Texas shows George Brice Browder, age 48 arriving in San Antonio, TX on 12 July 1959 on American Airlines. His birth date is listed as 21 May 1911 and his place of birth is Montgomery, AL. He lists his residence as 1812 Lynnhave Road, Ft. Worth, TX, and he was arriving from Mexico. In 1940, George Browder, age twenty-eight, is listed as a lodger in the home of James A. Smith in La Grange, Cook County, IL. His place of birth is listed as Alabama and he’s divorced. His occupation is plant maintenence.

George B. Browder married Pauline T. Martin in Miami, in 1947. A city directory from Fort Worth shows him still at Lynhaven Road in 1958 and his wife is listed as Pauline. City directories show him in Forth Worth as late as 1969. The Social Security Death Index lists his date of death as January, 1984 in Fort Worth. The Texas Death Index lists the date as 16 January 1984 in Tarrant County.

I was unable to find an obituary or Find a Grave listing for Cedonia or Brice.

The Carvings on Stone Mountain, #6

Alice Campbell, 1912

Alice Campbell Stone MountainThis carving is located near the top of the rails to the left as one is ascending the mountain, underneath one of the rock formations.

Alice Campbell, age 21, is listed in the household of her father, William P. Campbell in Stone Mountain on the 1910 census. In the same household is her older brother, Fulton E. Campbell, who’s listed as a laborer and the industry as granite cutter, so it’s likely he worked in the quarry at Stone Mountain and did the carving. Other records at Ancestry list Alice’s date of birth as 9 April 1890. On 5 January 1913, Alice married Andrew Nash in Fulton County.

Alice and Fulton’s parents were William Parks and Amanda Jane (Cash) Campbell, who were married in DeKalb County, GA on 26 October 1876, and both of whom are buried at Rehoboth Cemetery in Tucker. William Parks Campbell was listed as a butcher or the owner of a meat market on the census from 1900 to 1920. In 1930, he’s listed as a farmer, and his industry is listed as truck farm.

I have not found a burial record for Alice Campbell Nash or Andrew Nash. There’s a Social Security claim for Alice Campbell Nash dated May, 1937 and this is the latest record I found on her.

Fulton Earnest Campbell can be found in his father’s household on the 1880, and 1900 through 1930 census and in 1910 and 1930 he’s listed as a stone cutter or granite cutter. In 1920, he appears to be working for his father, as his profession is salesman in a meat market. His World War I draft card lists his date of birth as 17 October 1877, and provides the description that he has brown eyes and black hair, and is tall and stout. He lists his profession as a butcher. The Georgia Death Index lists his date of death as 7 December 1958.

Bruce L. Karr & Joan P. Karr, Undated, and Bruce Karr, Undated

Bruce L Karr & Jean P Karr Stone MountainThese are relatively recent carvings. I didn’t note the exact location of them other than they’re along the walk-up trail. My memory is that the carving for the couple is near where the Cherokee Trail intersects the walk-up trail, in an area without much tree cover.

Bruce Lynnwood Karr was born 30 June 1939 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and died 27 January 2015 in Blairsville, GA. There is a public record at Ancestry showing him with a Stone Mountain address in 1993, and his obituary at Find a Grave lists that he served in the Navy. In 1940, he’s found on the census in the home of his grandfather, John Husband with his parents Harold M. Karr and Ada Karr. The carvings are undated, but given the year of his birth, they were probably done in the 1980s or 1990s. Since he’s contemporary and has a rather extensive obituary posted at Find a Grave, I’ll direct people to that, rather than reprint it here. I could not find information on Jean P. Karr, and this is not his widow’s name in the obituary.

Bruce Karr Stone Mountain

Like a Rolling Stone: Pharris Matthew Stribling, 1901-1950


Pharris Matthew Stribling, 1901-1950

My grandfather, Pharris Matthew Stribling, could have been the inspiration behind the song, Papa was a Rolling Stone. I’m not certain of his exact birthdate, but I believe he was born sometime around February or March of 1901, in Lincolnton, Lincoln County, Georgia, the second child and oldest son of Charles and Emily (Flanigan) Stribling. He had three younger brothers, Wendell, Tom, and Charles, and two younger sisters, Marie, and Emilee, in addition to his older sister, Sue.


From left, Marie, Sue holding Tom, Pharris, and Wendell, from around 1910.


When he was fifteen or sixteen, he ran away from home, lied about his age, and attempted to enlist for service in World War I. On his application, he lists his age as eighteen years and three months, which would put his month of birth in March, providing he wasn’t misrepresenting this as well. He made it as a far as Fort McPhearson in Atlanta, before being discharged for filing a fraudulent application. At twenty-one, he left home again and headed to Florida, where he married Edith Irene Baguley Peacock, a widow who was nearly ten years his senior. Edith worked for the DeLand Daily News in Daytona Beach, Florida, and, according to my great aunt Emilee, played and taught piano and knew linotype, a skill she taught my grandfather, which became his lifelong profession.

Not one to settle down, my grandfather headed to West Virginia, where he met my grandmother, Freda Juergens in Sutton around 1928. He may have been working for the Braxton Country Democrat. At the time, he was still married to his first wife, and had to travel back to Florida to divorce her so he could marry my grandmother. There was some urgency in his timing — my grandparents married 9 March 1929 and my mother was born 16 September of that year.

As might be expected, the marriage wasn’t very solid. The 1930 census lists my mother with my grandmother at the home of her parents in Sutton, West Virginia, while my grandfather is listed as a border in Martinsburg, a considerable distance away. My grandmother told me Pharris would take my mother to work with him, and use his lower desk drawer as a makeshift bassinet for her. She also told me that as the marriage was breaking up, he tried to run off with my mother, but didn’t get very far. One of my aunts told me that his sister Sue tried to get him to bring my mother down to Georgia so his father could see her before he died in 1931, but Pharris refused. His sister never forgave him.


Charles and Emily (Flanigan) Striblng.

In the divorce petition filed by my grandmother around 1933, she cited abandonment as the cause and was awarded full custody of my mother. I’m not sure where my grandfather had gone, but one of my cousins has told me his uncle Pharris visited his family in South Carolina rather frequently around that time, and would sometimes be with a woman named Ann, who may or may not have been his wife. A city directory from 1936 has him listed in Anderson, South Carolina, which matches the time and place my cousin recalled. No spouse is listed with him.

In 1940, the census finds him living in a hotel or rooming house in Mobile, Alabama. It also lists his education as high school, fourth year. Mobile was apparently just a stopover for him since the next record on him is a World War II enlistment record from Dallas, Texas dated 27 August 1942. His rank is given as private, enlisted man, with one year of college and his skill is reported as compositor or typesetter. He records his marital status as separated without dependents. According to the form, he was just under six feet tall and weighed two hundred and fifteen pounds.

While living in Texas, he worked at the Dallas Morning News, which is probably what he was doing in 1942. He does not appear to have been deployed overseas. After the war, presumably in Dallas, he met and married Marjorie Hartsfield, who he remained married to for the remainder of his life. Marjorie is said to have worked in some capacity at one of the internment camps in Texas, though I have been unable to track down details on when and where she worked or what she did there. In civilian life, she’d been a teacher. Like Edith Peacock, Marjorie was older than her husband.

Pharris and Marjorie moved to Atlanta around 1948, where he was reunited with my mother, who moved there after she graduated high school in 1947. My mother stated they shared a duplex in West End and records show the address as 577 Holderness Street, S.W. My grandfather was working at the Atlanta Journal. Their reunion was short-lived, unfortunately, as my grandfather suffered a fatal heart attack during a family cookout at their home on 8 July 1950. He was forty-nine years old.

There was a rumor in my family that my grandfather had a son by his first wife. My grandmother told me of a conversation reported to her between my grandfather and a bus driver where my grandfather claimed he was going to visit his son. I was never able to learn much from my great-aunts or uncles, but I did track down the estate records of his first wife who died in 1982, and she makes no mention of any living sons or daughters and has no children listed with her on the 1930 or 1940 census.

As one might imagine, my grandfather had a rather colorful reputation among his family, though they do seem to have remained in touch with one another. My cousin recalled he liked to bet on horse races and was friends with a well-known sports writer of the time. Other than this, I rarely heard stories of him within the family and had not yet started researching my family’s past and did not think to ask about him while his brothers and sisters were still living. Consequently, the information I have on him is very spotty and mostly compiled from the few records he left behind. He died twelve years and nine months before I was born.

The Cheese Toast Project Now Available!

Cheese Toast Animated Graphic 02My collection of essays, The Cheese Toast Project (ISBN: 978-0-9848913-4-4), is now available in print at online booksellers, and in print and Kindle versions at Amazon.com.

The essays are about family, writing, music, drama, religion, politics, and history. Early drafts appeared on my blog, Raised by Wolves and have since been revised and expanded.


Coat of Arms, Ambrose Lupo and Sons

This is a graphic representation of the coat of arms issued to Ambrose Lupo (posthumously) and his sons, Peter and Joseph. Numerous copies are floating around the Internet, mistakenly identified as the Lupo family coat of arms, many with no attribution and some with erroneous information about how it originated. Here’s the actual story.


Original artwork by Keith Kennedy Tyson, Tasmania, Australia.

The graphic is taken from a scan of the original artwork produced by Keith Kennedy-Tyson from Tasmania, Australia, which is in my possession and is credited as such at the website I created for my family (lupo.org). It did not come from one of those online companies which produce dubious “family crests” or questionable family histories. It represents an actual grant of arms to a specific set of individuals, who were the forerunners of the branch of the family who settled in the United States prior to the Revolution. Keith also translated the original document I received from the British Library, with the assistance of the individuals identified below.

Accompanying the artwork, Keith provided the following text.

The Arms of Lupo as granted to Ambrose Lupo and his sons, Peter and Joseph by William Dethick, Garter King of Arms 


In Campo Caeruleo Lupam albam ingredientem hiantem lingua et unquibus sanguinolent et in supere Argt. 3 rosas rubras albis duplicatis foliis viridis cresentibus 

pro Crista superiorem albi lupi partem erectum egredientem supra capsidem pendibus tenentem rosam cum stipite et ramis proprius colorit. depicta et tortili.

Attempt at translation of the Arms: 


On a field of Azure a wolf passant Argent, langued and Armed Glues on a chief Argent three red roses duplicated in white slipped vert.


A demi wolf rampant Argent, holding with his feet a rose, slipped vert as depicted in the Arms.

About Elizabethan Grants and their contemporary portrayal: 

The closest representation I have found to copy the style from is from the 1580’s. At this time it had become a common rule that whatever the colour of the wreath the mantling was generally Gules doubled Argent. In general the wreath’s colour was still taken from the principal colour and metal of the shield. In the case of this grant it would be Azure doubled Argent. 

Elizabethan mantling looks a little weak when compared with either ancient or contemporary examples. It had also become common practice for the esquire’s/gentleman’s helmet to be garnished/out lined with gold. 

The reason for the change from a she wolf to a normal wolf is that the Heraldic Latin of the period was not noted for getting its gender right and she wolves are exceptionally rare whilst a wolf is far more probable, particularly as it would then tie in with the crest. 

Keith provided the following attribution with the artwork.

This translation was based on the work of one honours student in Classics, Assoc. Professor M. Bennett, Dept. of Hist. (a medievalist with strong interests in the early Tudor monarchs) and myself an honors grad in Hist. reading for my Masters. I also used a Latin heraldic glossary from one of my 1800’s heraldry books.

How the Work Came About 

In the late 1980s, I began researching my family’s history. Since I already knew Lupo was the Italian word for “wolf,” I originally believed I’d trace back a few generations and discover my immigrant ancestor. Imagine my surprise when I found Lupos in Virginia well before the Revolution. Eventually, I ran across mention of musicians by that name, which led me to scattered references to Ambrose, Peter and Joseph, who were incorrectly identified as brothers.

Sometime around 1992, I discovered a recording by the Parley of Instruments from England, headed by Peter Holman, which included compositions by Thomas Lupo, a royal composer employed by James I and his son, Prince Charles, later Charles I. Appropriately, the recording was entitled Music for Prince Charles. The text accompanying the recording contained biographical information about the Lupos, so I wrote to Peter Holman. He replied with references which were highly beneficial in rediscovering the history of the Lupo family in England. Two of the articles were by Roger Prior, at the time a professor at Queen’s University, Belfast. I later corresponded with Dr. Prior, and he provided me with further information which was invaluable in tracing the origins of my family.

At the time, Peter Holman was working on his book, Four and Twenty Fiddlers, about the history of the violin at the English court. I and another researcher, Michael Lupo, contacted him separately about the family, and he mentioned us in a footnote on page 51. Between Peter Holman and Roger Prior, I found mention of a coat of arms issued to Ambrose Lupo and his sons.

“Lupus, Ambrose, s. of Baptist, of “Castello maiori” of Busto in Normandy, in the Republic of Malan; augmentation and crest granted ? 45 Eliz. … by W. Dethrick, Gart. Queen’s College Oxford manuscript, folio 96, copy of grant in Latin; Stowe ms. 676 fo. 138b names sons Peter and Joseph.” This was found in Grants of Arms Named in Docquets and Patents to the End of the Seventeenth Century, transcribed by Joseph Foster, Harleian Society Publications, Vol. 66, page 160. Referencing the Stowe manuscript, I wrote to the British Library and received this reproduction of the grant.


Being unable to read Elizabethan Latin, and newly acquainted with the Internet, I went on a newsgroup called rec.heraldry in June of 1993 to find someone who could help translate, and possibly provide a rendering of it. This set off a flurry of correspondence between myself and individuals mainly from Germany and Australia. Someone in Germany would comment on the translation, I’d forward the info to someone in Australia, who’d reply back with more information. It was truly a global effort.

One of the individuals with whom I corresponded was a woman in Tasmania, Australia named Elizabeth and she put me in touch with her husband, Keith, who was a graduate student in history. He asked me to send a copy of the grant and he’d take a crack at translating it. He did just that, as well as supplying me with a rendering of how the arms probably looked, which is the basis for the graphic above.

When I started my website in March of 1995, I included a family page which became the basis for the site lupo.org, which went online in 1998. I posted the graphic there, without realizing it would be distributed far and wide without attribution. Once I realized it was being used by others, I updated the image at the site to include the site name, but by then, it had been propagated throughout the Internet. Numerous individuals have it posted on Ancestry, some with links back to lupo.org, others without.

It is incorrect to refer to this as the Lupo Family Coat of Arms. The grant was to a specific family under a specific set of circumstances. Arms are the property of the individual to whom they are issued, and since these were conferred upon Ambrose and his sons, both Peter and Joseph could pass them on to their heirs. They would have been passed down in accordance with established rules of inheritance, and England, at the time, followed the rules of primogeniture, that is, in the absence of a will, the eldest surviving son inherited the father’s property. Phillip Lupo, who visited Virginia in 1621 and who was the father of Phillip who made out his will in 1668, was not the oldest son of Peter Lupo and, in fact, had two older brothers, Thomas and Albiano. Thomas remained in England, where he continued the family profession of being a court musician. The arms conferred on Peter would have been passed down to Thomas, then to his heirs. While Phillip in Isle of Wight County was his father’s oldest son, the family in the United States descends from his younger son, James, and most likely from James’ youngest son, John.

I’m posting this to both relate the story of how it came into existence and to recognize the many individuals who contributed to making it happen. I wish I could post a transcript of the discussion that went into it, but unfortunately none of that was preserved and would most likely take up too much space. I would urge anyone who has it posted to be sure to reference this post, or the family site at lupo.org where credit is given to the known individuals who helped. It was through their efforts that this important piece of family history was rediscovered.