The Genealogy and George Caley

Asked about my acquaintance with George Caley…

When I was in my late 20’s (and only the first of my three children had been born), I made a couple visits to Smyrna to look for “the old Methodist cemetery” that was mentioned on the family tree blueprint my grandfather (Stephenson) gave me in 1976 (that tree had been drawn in the 1930’s). Eventually, I found the graves of the Stevensons (behind a chain link fence), and met the church janitor and secretary. They lent me the key to the gate (the janitor joked that “people are dying to get in there”), and gave me Mr. Caley’s phone number.

My next visit to Smyrna was to the Caley home. He was surprised I was so young (for a genealogist), and he had a surprise for me: Philip Gladwin Baynard, who turned out to be my fifth cousin twice removed. I gave George a copy of the tree in exchange for some info. of equal value to him, and visited with him two more times.

I happened to move to Smyrna in 1994 (and remained there until 2012). My intention had been to be a help to Mr. Caley as he grew older, but I never could find the time (I was working as a pastor and for the restaurant equipment company I still work for) and then he died.

Phil Baynard lasted a little longer, and I saw him a little more often. He gave me everything he had on the Stevenson family. My last visit to him was a little late. I learned that he had fallen in his driveway one night and died of exposure. His house was the Thomas Stevenson House on State Street in Dover.

Life goes on, and my children are all married and beginning to have children, and I am wanting to continue what I “began” in 1989. Life isn’t a hindrance to our research; the research is interesting only because life goes on. That’s what I try to tell myself anyway.

***

(George Caley was an employee of the Delaware State Archives, and the Smyrna town historian – and archivist for the Asbury Methodist Church of Smyrna which my ancestor was a co-founder of – as well as a professional genealogist. He was instrumental in saving the Allee House at Bombay Hook which is a National Wildlife Refuge. The house is a colonial remnant, and just recently federal funds were released to restore it – to give it “a second wind” as Kim Burdick put it.)

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