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AfriGeneas Brick Wall Forum

A Lone Ralston in Savannah

One of my current brick walls concerns my wife's great-grandfather, George Ralston. Where did he come from--besides "Georgia"? Who were his parents? How did he end up with a family of Laphams and Debois/"Debross"?

George first appears in the 1870 federal census for Savannah, GA, as a three-year old in the household of Frederick Lapham:

Frederick Lapham 42
Georgia Debois 40
Sarah Debois 20
William Debois 18
Frederick Debois 13
Addie Debois 11
George Debois 8
Herman Debois 4
George Rottslin 3
Martha Debois 75
Edward Wade 54

George appears again in the same household in the 1880 census, although the names are muddled differently:

Fredrick Lapin 60
Georgia Debross 50
Adlade Debross 21
George Debross 19
Herman Debross 14
George Ralston 13

In this census, George and Herman Debross are identified as "sons", presumably of Frederick and Georgia, because Frederick "Lapin"/Lapham was born in Maine and both George and Herman's father is identified as having been born in Maine. (Their mother is identified as having been born in Georgia, which matches Georgia Debross.)

But George Ralston simply has a line drawn through the familial affiliation box, suggesting that the census taker didn't inquire, didn't understand, or chose not to record how George was connected to the household. He is identified as Georgia-born, but his parents are, like George and Herman Debross, identified as having been from Maine and Georgia, whereas other census reports show him as having both parents from Georgia.

The possibility also remains that George simply wasn't connected to the Laphams/Debois/Debross family by blood at all, although I'm for some reason reluctant to accept that possibility yet.

No 1890 federal census of course, but we did find a marriage license for George Ralston and Valeria "Valley" Howard in 1892 at the St. Stephen's Episcopal Chapel on Troup Square.

In the 1900 census, George and Valeria "Rolston" have a family in Savannah:

George Rolston 33
Valeria Rolston 26
George Rolston 7
Myrtle Rolston 2

By 1910, Valeria and the two children have gone--moved in 1906 to NYC where she had Charlestonian relatives--and George remains in Savannah:

William Fontaine 33
Sarah Lapham 55
George Ralston 43
Marry Fontaine 23
Harman Lapham 2

William Fontaine is listed as the head of this household and George Ralston is identified as "brother". (In the 1880 census, there is a family of Fontains just two entries up from the Laphams on the page, although the "Mary Fontain" listed there is nearly 20 years older than the one listed here as the sister of William Fontaine.)

According to the records at Laurel Grove Cemetery, George Ralston of Savannah passed away in 1916 and is buried in Laurel Grove South. We have found no death certificate in either the Savannah municipal records or the Georgia state records.

So who was our George Ralston?


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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