Featured

#46 Understanding African American Grave Markers in Arkansas

Our family — the Wilks, Wilkes, Gray, Lee, Owen, Weed and Wead — made their homes in Arkansas during the 19th and early 20th centuries. That is where many also paid into burial insurance offered by fraternal organizations. The insurance also paid for grave markers that also came with special fraternal graphics.

See the source image
No relation, however, this is an example of the Mosaic Templars inscription on a headstone in Arkansas.

Those special insignas headstones offer huge clues to the organizations your ancestors were affiliated with such as those associated with the Good Genes Genealogy heritage. While we are offering a glimpse into the fraternal insurance-based burials in other states.

Our Arkansas ancestors

On our maternal side – Gray, Wilks, Wilkes — were in northwest Arkansas before moving across the state line into Missouri. Ann’s paternal side — Lee, Weed, Wead — were in the southeast, Arkansas Delta area. The maternal Owen family resided in Hope, Arkansas, before they and other African Americans were put on trains and buses and pushed out to northern cities. Our mothers — born with the surname Owen — are direct descendants of that migration from Hope. The father of Angeline Cecil Owen (Ann) and Lyla Janet Owen (Mark) was a young man when his father and sister landed in Kansas City, Missouri, shortly after the death of Grandfather Eugene Owen, Jr. ‘s mother, Armentha in 1925.

Not only was Great Grandmother Armentha Powers Owen buried in the “black” cemetery in Hope, Arkansas, other ancestors’ graves are in the state. To learn a little more about our relatives and other researchers of Arkansas family histories, consult the guide to cemeteries based on insurance companies and fraternal markers on graves.

heck out daily posts @goodgenesgenealogy on wordpress, fb, twitter and via goodgenesgen@gmail.com. Also check out @weadwriteandgenealogy on wordpress

Featured

#45 Gripping story of slave-to-preacher

Could John Jea be your ancestor?

This provocative story is not for the faint of heart. John Jea was born in 1773. He describes the horrors of the near starvation and awful beatings.

He was a young man from Old Callabar, a place in Nigeria, Africa.

See the source image
Calabar, formerly Old Calabar, town and port, capital of Cross River state, southeastern Nigeria. It lies along the Calabar River, 5 miles (8 km) upstream from that river’s entrance into the Cross River estuary. Source: http://www.britannica.com

The author likely came from a proud status in his country. Yet, his unasked-for slave status in the United States produced a different result that he ever imagined.

King Duke of Calabar, 1895.

Someone may be able to link their heritage to John Jea. By listing his parents and describing where he was enslaved and travels in the United States, the opportunities increase for African American family researchers to link with him.

Featured

#44 Check out this 1895 newspaper delinquent account announcement

In the same edition of the <a href=”http://<a href=”https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86791782/paper-edition-announcing-the-marriage-of/&#8221; style=”text-decoration: none;display:block;” target=”_parent”><img src=”https://img.newspapers.com/img/img?clippingId=86791782&width=700&height=669&ts=1607535806&#8243; alt=”Paper edition announcing the marriage of James A. Hoover and Emma Schwartzy, 5th great grandparents” style=”max-width:100%;”><span style=”display:block;font: 13px helvetica, sans-serif; color: #747474;padding: 4px 0;max-width: 700px;”><strong>Paper edition announcing the marriage of James A. Hoover and Emma Schwartzy, 5th great grandparents</strong> 29 Mar 1895, Fri <em>Westmoreland Recorder and the Westmoreland Signal (Westmoreland, Kansas)</em> Newspapers.com</span>Westmoreland, Kansas newspaper that announced the marriage of our fifth Great Grandparents, James A. Hoover and Emma Swarty (we believe it is Swartz), read the unique collection notice:

Check out daily posts @goodgenesgenealogy on wordpress, fb, twitter and via goodgenesgen@gmail.com. Also check out @weadwriteandgenealogy on wordpress

Featured

#43 The more you learn, the more you learn in genealogy research

Our broadcast genealogy leader is Harvard Professor, Author and forever research Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

I am marking my physical and virtual calendars to January 2022 when Dr. Gates next season of <a href=”http://<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/erpwv1pQxbs&#8221; title=”YouTube video player” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen>”Finding Your Roots” debuts. Here’s the teaser. Let’s chat during the season about his special finds.

Check out daily posts @goodgenesgenealogy on wordpress, fb, twitter and via goodgenesgen@gmail.com. Also check out @weadwriteandgenealogy on wordpress

Featured

#42 Lost? Find your ancestors using these sites

It’s Freebies Friday from your hosts, Good Genes Genealogy! Take a peak at our book, “Out of Sight…” published in February 2021 that puts you on the right path to locate your ancestors.

Go to https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/mark-s-owen-ms-and-dr-ann-lineve-wead/out-of-sight-an-introduction-to-unearthing-your-african-american-and-afro-caribbean-genealogy/ebook/product-k447kz.html

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

An excerpt from our book: There are thousands of federal, state, local and private records that offer guidance for genealogy researchers.


Archives Library Information Center (ALIC)
Listing of State Archives
Alabama
Alabama Department of Archives & History 
624 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36130
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 300100, Montgomery, AL 36130
Phone: (334) 242-4435\
Email: mark.palmer@archives.alabama.gov
Alaska
Alaska State Archives
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 110525, 141 Willoughby Avenue, Juneau, AK 99811-0525
Phone: (907) 465-2270 Fax: (907) 465-2465 E-mail: archives@alaska.gov
Arizona
State Library, Archives and Public Records 
History and Archives Division
Mailing Address: 1901 West Madison, Phoenix, AZ 85009
Phone: (602) 926-3720 Fax: (602) 256-7982 E-mail: See the Contact Form
Arkansas
Arkansas History Commission 
Mailing Address: One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 77201
Phone: (501) 682-6900 E-mail: state.archives@arkansas.gov

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California
California State Archives
Mailing Address: 1020 O Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone, Reference Desk: (916) 653-2246 Phone, General Information: (916) 653-7715 Fax: (916) 653-7363
E-mail: See the Contact Form
Colorado
Colorado State Archives
Mailing Address: 1313 Sherman Street, Room 122, Denver, CO 80203
Phone: (303) 866-2358 Toll-free, in state only: (800) 305-3442 Text: (303) 866-2229 E-mail: See the Contact Form 
Connecticut
Connecticut State Archives 
Mailing Address: Connecticut State Library, 231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106
Phone, General Information: (860) 757-6500 Phone, History and Genealogy Unit: (860) 757-6500
Text: (860) CONNREF (860 266-6733)
E-mail: See the Contact Form 
Delaware
Delaware Public Archives
Mailing Address: 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. North, Dover, DE 19901
Phone: (302) 744-5000 E-mail: See the Contact Form
Florida
State Archives of Florida 
Mailing Address: R.A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250
Phone: (850) 245-6700 TDD: (850) 245-6096 Reference Fax: (850) 488-4894 E-mail: info@dos.myflorida.com
Georgia
Georgia Archives 
Mailing Address: 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, GA 30260
Phone: (678) 364-3710 E-mail: See Ask an Archivist 
Hawaii
Hawaii State Archives
Mailing Address: Kekauluohi Building, Iolani Palace Grounds, 364 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813

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Phone: (808) 586-0329 Fax: (808) 586-0330 E-mail: archives@hawaii.gov
Idaho
Idaho State Archives
Mailing Address: Idaho State Archives, 2205 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, ID 83712
Phone, Archives: (208) 334-2620 Fax, Public Archives: 208-334-2626
Illinois
Illinois State Archives 
Mailing Address: Margaret Cross Norton Building, Capitol Complex, Springfield, IL 62756
Phone: (217) 782-4682 Fax: (217) 524-3930 E-mail: See the Reference Request Form (Illinois Residents Only)
Indiana
Indiana State Archives
Mailing Address: 6440 East 30th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46219
Phone: (317) 591-5222 Fax: (317) 591-5324 E-mail: arc@icpr.in.gov or see the Contact Form
Iowa
State Historical Society of Iowa: State Archives and Records Program
Mailing Address: State of Iowa Historical Building, 600 East Locust, Des Moines, IA 50319-0290
Phone: (515) 281-5111 E-mail: dm.library@iowa.gov
Kansas
Kansas Historical Society: State Archives 
Mailing Address: 6425 SW 6th Avenue, Topeka, KS 66615-1099
Phone: (785) 272-8681 Phone, State Archives Reference Desk: (785) 272-8681, ext. 117 E-mail: reference@kshs.org
Kentucky
Department for Libraries and Archives
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 537, Frankfort, KY 40601
Phone: (502) 564-8300 Fax: (502) 564-5773 E-mail: kdla.archives@ky.gov or see the Records Request Forms
Louisiana
Louisiana State Archives
Mailing Address: Louisiana State Archives, Louisiana Secretary of State, P.O. Box 94125, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125
Phone: (225) 922-1200 Fax: (225) 922-0433 E-mail: See the Contact Us Page

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Maine
Maine State Archives 
Mailing Address: 84 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333
Phone: (207) 287-5790 Fax: (207) 287-6035
Maryland
Maryland State Archives
Mailing Address: 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: (410) 260-6400 Toll free: (800) 235-4045
Massachusetts
Massachusetts Archives Division 
Mailing Address: Secretary of Commonwealth, Massachusetts Archives, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125
Phone: (617) 727-2816 Fax: (617)288-8429 E-mail: archives@sec.state.ma.us
Michigan
Archives of Michigan
Mailing Address: 702 W. Kalamazoo Street, Lansing, Michigan 48915
Phone: (517) 335-2576 E-mail: archives@michigan.gov
Minnesota
Minnesota State Archives 
Mailing Address: Minnesota Historical Society, 345 Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102-1906
Phone: (651) 259-3260 Fax: (651) 296-9961 E-mail: See the Contact Us Page 
Mississippi
Mississippi Department of Archives & History 
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205-0571
Phone: (601) 576-6876 Fax: (601) 576-6964 E-mail: refdesk@mdah.state.ms.us.
Missouri
Missouri State Archives
Mailing Address: 600 W. Main, P.O. Box 1747, Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: (573) 751-3280 Fax: (573) 526-7333
E-mail: archref@sos.mo.gov. Please read the guidelines before sending reference requests.

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Montana
Montana Historical Society 
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 201201, 225 North Roberts Street, Helena, MT 59620-1201
Phone, Research Center: (406) 444-2681 E-mail: mhslibrary@mt.gov or see the Online Request Form .
Nebraska
Library/Archives Division of the Nebraska State Historical Society 
Mailing Address: Library / Archives, Nebraska State Historical Society, P.O. Box 82554, 1500 “R” Street, Lincoln, NE 68501
Phone: (402) 471-4751 Fax: (402) 471-3100 E-mail: nshs.libarch@nebraska.gov
Nevada
Nevada State Library and Archives
Mailing Address: 100 North Stewart Street, Carson City, NV 89701-4285
Phone: (775) 684-3310 Toll free, in state only: (800) 922-2880 Fax: (775) 684-3311 E-mail: See the request form
New Hampshire
New Hampshire Division of Archives and Records Management
Mailing Address: 71 South Fruit Street, Concord, NH 03301
Phone: (603) 271-2236 Fax: (603) 271-2272
E-mail: archives@sos.nh.gov . For birth, death, and marriage records, contact the Division of Vital Records Administration
at http://www.sos.nh.gov/vitalrecords/.
New Jersey
New Jersey State Archives
Mailing Address, State Archives: 225 West State Street, P.O. Box 307, Trenton, NJ 08625-0307
Mailing Address, State Records Center: 2300 Stuyvesant Avenue, P.O. Box 307, Trenton, NJ 08625-0307
Phone: (609) 292-6260 Fax, Reference: (609) 292-4127 E-mail, State Archives: njarchives@sos.state.nj.us
New Mexico
State Records Center and Archives 
Mailing Address: 1205 Camino Carlos Rey, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Phone, Archives and Historical Services Division: (505) 476-7948
Fax, Archives and Historical Services Division: (505) 476-7909
E-mail: archives@state.nm.us

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New York
New York State Archives
Mailing Address: New York State Education Department, Cultural Education Center, 222 Madison Avenue, Empire State Plaza, Albany,
NY 12230
Phone, Research Assistance: (518) 474-8955 Phone, General Information: (518) 474-6926
E-mail, Research Assistance: archref@mail.nysed.gov
North Carolina
State Archives of North Carolina
Mailing Address: 4614 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4614
Phone: (919) 807-7310 Fax: (919) 733-1354 E-mail: archives@ncdcr.gov
North Dakota
State Archives
Mailing Address: 612 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58505
Phone, Reference: (701) 328-2091 E-mail: archives@nd.us
Ohio
Ohio Historical Society Archives/Library 
Mailing Address: 1982 Velma Avenue, Columbus, OH 43211
Phone: 614-297-2510 Toll free: 800-686-6124 Fax: (614) 297-2358
E-mail: reference@ohiohistory.org or see the Reference Contact Form .
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State Archives and Records Management 
Mailing Address: 200 NE 18th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Phone, Archives: (405) 522-3579 Phone, Records Center: (405) 524-4416 Fax, Archives: (405) 522-3583
Fax, Records Management: (405) 524-7567
Oregon
Oregon State Archives
Mailing Address: 800 Summer Street NE, Salem, OR 97310
Phone: (503) 373-0701 Fax: (503) 373-0953 E-mail: reference.archives@state.or.us
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State Archives

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Mailing Address: 350 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120.
Phone: (717) 783-3281 E-mail: ra-statearchives@state.pa.us
Rhode Island
State Archives
Mailing Address: 337 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 222-2353 Fax: (401) 222-3199 E-mail: statearchives@sos.ri.gov
South Carolina
Department of Archives and History
Mailing Address: 8301 Parklane Road, Columbia, SC 29223
Phone, Reference Room: (803) 896-6104 Fax, Reference Room: (803) 896-6198 E-mail: See the Genealogy Request Form
South Dakota
South Dakota State Archives
Mailing Address: 900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501
Phone: (605) 773-3804 Fax: (605) 773-6041 E-mail: archref@state.sd.us
Tennessee
Tennessee State Library and Archives
Mailing Address: 403 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2764 E-mail: reference.tsla@tn.gov
Texas
Texas State Library and Archives Commission 
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711-2927
Phone: (512) 463-5455 Email, Reference: reference.desk@tsl.state.tx.us
Utah
Utah State Archives
Mailing Address, Research Center: 300 S. Rio Grande, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Phone, Research Center: (801) 533-3535 E-mail: See the Contact Form
Vermont
Vermont State Archives and Records Administration 
Mailing Address: Office of the Secretary of State, 1078 Route 2, Middlesex, Montpelier, VT 05633-7701
Phone, Reference Room: (802) 828-2308 E-mail: archives@sec.state.vt.us. For vital records requests use vitals@sec.state.vt.us.

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Virginia
Library of Virginia
Mailing Address: 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 692-3500 E-mail: See the Contact Form
Washington
Washington State Archives
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 40238, Olympia, WA 98504-0238
Phone: (360) 586-1492 E-mail, State Archivist: archives@sos.wa.gov
E-mail, Research Requests and Information on Public Records: research@sos.wa.gov
West Virginia
West Virginia State Archives 
Mailing Address: Archives and History Library, The Cultural Center, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston, WV 25305-0300
Phone: (304) 558-0230
The West Virginia Archives will not answer e-mail research requests. All research requests must be submitted in writing.
Wisconsin
Wisconsin State Historical Society Library-Archives 
Mailing Address: Archives Reference, Wisconsin Historical Society, 816 State Street, Madison, WI 53706
Phone: (608) 264-6460 Fax: (608) 264-6472 E-mail: See the Archives Reference Request Form 
Wyoming
Wyoming State Archives 
Mailing Address: Barrett Building, 2301 Central Avenue, Cheyenne, WY 82002
Phone: (307) 777-7826 Fax: (307) 777-7044 E-mail: See the Contact Form 
Source: State Archives | National Archives

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Hidden Figures in Your Family – House Hunting

If you find your relative’s diary

Featured

#41 City Directories address ancestral gaps

There is no better resource than city directories to locate and confirm your ancestral loved ones.

A year after my father was born, the 1936 city directory of Omaha, Nebraska provided great insight into the following:

  1. The names of my grandparents, Sampson and Daisy Wead.
  2. The occupation of my grandparents. My grandfather was a laborer at a meat packing plant. My grandmother was a housewife.
  3. The address of my grandparents.

and

4. Valued information about the other “Weads” who were my grandfather’s family members.

City directories were large paperbound books that were printed annually by most cities and towns across the United States. Unlike the U.S. Census that was published every 10 years, the city directories offered a wealth of updated information that are helpful in following physical movements of our ancestors.


Try it. Find city directories for your loved ones from libraries and other internet searches. Determine if the city directories provide you with additional information about employment, street addresses and telephone numbers that may fill in the blanks on your genealogy trees.

Featured

#39 Honor your ancestors on World Heart Day

Second Great-Grandfather, Robert B. Wilks

It may seem morbid, and it is. However, it is VERY important that we research our family ancestry to learn about health trends and episodes. As in the case of many of my paternal and maternal ancestors, their cause of death is heart-related. My 2nd Great-Grandfather succumbed to “Ch. Myocarditis” on December 20, 1932. He was 61 years old.

Second Great-Grandmother, Melissa Catherine Gray Wilks

His widow, my 2nd Great-Grandmother, Melissa Catherine Gray Wilks, passed from tis earth two years later on Nov. 23, 1934. She was 63 years old. Her results showed that her transition was due to “Myocarditis, Chronic.” They were husband and wife. The same trend existed among most of their 14 children, including my Great-Grandmother, Edna Robinson.

Mind your heart. Change your diet. Complete your physical exams. My knowledge of my relatives has helped my physicians and other health professionals in their diagnosis and recommendations for my best health. Do the same for yourself by researching family members’ death certificates and other records.

That’s how we should celebrate World Heart Day, Sept. 29, 2021.

Featured

#39 Honoring Black Women’s Suffrage Movement Strength on National Voter Registration Day 2021

Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879 – 1961) urged white and Black women to work together for the right to vote. Her efforts did not result in the equal rights for women to vote when the 1920 amendment was passed and white women were granted the right to vote.

On this day, Sept. 28, 2021, deemed the National Voter Registration Day to encourage the essential act that equalizes all of us, please honor the lives of so many great crusaders and advocates like Nannie H. Burroughs and register to vote.

Nannie H. Burroughs died a few years before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. It granted my parents and all other Black adults the opportunity to cast votes for the first time in their lives. I’ve voted my entire adult life and could not imagine what our ancestors endured to be a participant in the economic, social and educational systems in this country and yet not have a say in its governance.

Learn about your loved ones and friends who participated in the thousands of Black Right to Vote movements in the United States. There are many more Nannies whose lives are worthy to learn more about.

Featured

#38 Story of Muhammad Ali’s first attorney “lost” in the river … her contribution rolls on

The worthy search for ancestors, friends and other loved ones remains important. As newbie or veteran genealogists, the precious lives of ancestors are not always scripted with a pleasant ending. Yet, we are comforted by the achievements of so many pioneers who paved the way for us.

Such is the case of the little-known civil rights pioneer whose work as a Louisville, Kentucky prosecutor earned her a special place in history. Jones was the first attorney for the rising star boxing great Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) by writing his first contract in 1960, she participated in several civil rights marches, including the famed March on Washington in August 1963. She was appointed Louisville City Attorney in 1964 — the first woman of any race and ethnic background to hold that position.

My triumphant Sorority Sister and one of the longtime unsolved mysteries about her death that was caused when she was tossed off the Louisville Sherman Minton Bridge into the Ohio River on August 5, 1965. She was 35 years old.


Sometimes, we receive our “flowers” long after we have departed this earth. That is the case for Jones, who was the first African American female to pass the bar in Kentucky.

There are so many more factoids you should learn about this lady. Take three minutes and read all about her! Look up some of your loved ones who may be fraternity, sorority, church, temple, school, work and other socially related ancestors. You can start your research by building your family trees and searching U.S. Census records for neighbors. It is worth it.

Featured

#37 Ancestor Appreciation Day … surprises!

My ancestors come in all shapes, sizes, colors and names. I appreciate that as our history is intertwined with one another. There is no escaping our past. That is why we study genealogy and that is to honor our ancestors for “going through” to allow us to live on this earth today and in future days.

Happy Ancestor Appreciation Day!

Like many of you, I am constantly searching and unearthing — when fortunate — new findings that shed light on my ancestors. It helps to instill confidence, grace, forgiveness, charm, intellect, strategies, empathy, joy, peace, reconciliation and more in our hearts and souls as we find out more about our ancestors.

Learning of our Native American ancestry and more, is also healing.

Here are a few of my new findings about our ancestors:

  1. I am named for my (Ann’s) paternal Great-Grandmother Ann Crum Shanks Green. Her father is Alfred Crum. Alfred Crum was born in January 1869 in Alabama. He married Mary A Middleton and they had nine children together. He then married Mary Crum and they had two children together. He died on June 26, 1923, in his hometown at the age of 54.
  2. I (Ann) have 793 DNA matches through my testing a decade ago through ancestry.com. As we work through the names, relationships and more of the potential 4th cousins and closer ones, here’s an ancestry.com message that I sent to one of my “for sure” newly discovered relatives on our maternal side:

“Glad to know that my maternal great-great grandparents, Robert Brant Wilks and Melissa Catherine Gray (always use the woman’s maiden name in genealogy) are your same relatives. My great -grandmother Edna Wilks is the oldest female in the family and Lorene was her younger sister.”

3. Also, on our maternal side, John Favor, a private from Alabama, fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

4. Below the family tree, is a U.S. Census Schedule that shows John Favor, Jr. is a “free white” man. John Faver, Jr. received a signed land deed on June 8, 1820 or 1830 (the deed is hard to read) from the U.S. government. The prominent signature on the deed for the family land in Limestone, Tenn., was U.S. President Andrew Jackson. Jackson’s lingering legacy is the tragic Trail of Tears aka Indian Removal Act.

Remember when I recommended forgiveness as part of our ancestral research. I have evoked forgiveness in the transfer of land in Tennessee during the time of the deadly trek of the nations of Native Americans.


Featured

#36 Go Back: Find a piece of history by taking a piece of advice

The most valuable piece of advice that I received when I was new to the family genealogy research, was to return the search process and review the same documents that I had earlier discovered.

Just days ago, I reviewed the information on my ancestors – again – I found new information about my ancestors. My breaks can be attributed to the ancestry.com’s ThruLines™ . This service is available to everyone with completed DNA results. Some 10 years ago or so when the DNA tests were first available to females, I jumped at the chance to get my results based on my desire to locate my ancestors. It continues to pay dividends today as records are constantly updated

She is listed as my 4th great grandmother born Oct. 11, 1806, in South Carolina and who died on Feb. 20, 1892 in Saline County, Arkansas.

What’s striking is how grandma is spelled on Great-Great-Great-Great Grandmother Elizabeth Jane Hardman Hayes tombstone. Also, I love the designation of the days and moths that she lived her life. It honors the great Elizabeth J. Wade Hardman Hayes.

For a couple of years, I celebrated that I located my 4th Great Grandmother. Now there is more: I just located her father, mother, siblings and her spouses, thanks to ThruLines™.

I found my 5th Great Grandfather! – Maybe

Notice the inscription that details Robert Henly Courts Wade being among the first white settlers in DeKalb County, Georgia where he claimed his family’s homestead in 1829.

Update: Friday, Oct. 8, 2021: With ancestry.com, we are examining whether this linkage is indeed my 5th GreatGrandfather. Stay tuned as these twists and turns are natural in the genealogy search for our relatives.

Thanks to the ancestry.com additional genealogy research tool, ThruLines™, I was able to work through the hints complete with a grave marker and public trees from others researching the same man. It provided this public path to find my common ancestors who seemingly were hiding in the piles of research materials.  and private paths to my common ancestors. It is a huge help in narrowing down who is and isn’t potentially related to me. The ancestors whose profiles are not public via others who are searching for their loved ones, are only listed, yet additional information about those deemed “private” is not provided. That is still a big help as I am seeking to match names, dates, relationships, locations and other hints to gain full access to the great people who walked this earth before me.

Guess what? These ancestors are buried in a private family cemetery, Wade Cemetery, just a few miles from my current home (Ann) in DeKalb County, Georgia. I will share more in future writings.

Five generations from Robert Henly Courts Wade to Ann Lineve Wead Kimbrough

To learn more about the exciting, step-by-step findings about our maternal ancestors who are listed as “white, Mulatto, yellow and Colored,” check out the Good Genes Genealogy Services’ e-book for November 2021. In the meantime, check out, like and follow our tweets, @GoodGensGen, @goodgenesgenealogy on WordPress and fb @goodgenesgenealogy.

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Featured

#35 How to set up your family chart template

There are many free tools to help the budding family ancestry trackers to experienced genealogists set up charts and trees to affirm our heritage.

Start somewhere, even if you have one complete name of an ancestor. Our heritage aids in our current-day families’ spiritual, mental and physical health.

Featured

#34 How to research the “Grand” legacies

In honor of Grandparents Day, consider digging a little deeper to gain those important nuggets from the family tree.

Honor your ancestral grandparents by researching your family’s histories. Begin with the most sacred and lasting technique in African American, Afro Caribbean, Native American and other cultures’ and that is storytelling.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Communicate with a grandparent — whether yours or another family’s relative.
  2. Ask questions about their childhood and things that they remember.
  3. With their permission, record their words and great stories.
  4. Share their stories. Embed it in your psyche. Honor the grandparents for what they accomplished.
  5. Appreciate their lives.
Photo by Harshi Rateria on Pexels.com
SATURDAY          SEPTEMBER 11, 2021 THANK GOD FOR GRANDPARENTS 
A Daily Thought from the Hill (Hillside International Truth Center, Atlanta, GA)
Grandparents are exactly that- grand. They are known by many names. Grandmothers are called nana, grammy, big mama, or abuela, while grandfathers are called grandpa, pop-pop, granddaddy, or abeulo, to name a few. Whatever name we call our grandparents and whether we had or have a relationship with them or not, they are part of the unbroken spiral of life. Their soul is imprinted on our soul. We are one with them.       I honor, acknowledge, and celebrate my grandparents. I recognize their role in my being here to express my inner splendor. I pray for and bless all grandparents wherever they are, in spirit or in the flesh. Thank you for your ability to impart wisdom to navigate life’s lessons. For the grandparents who are challenged to show up, we shine the light of love on you. Thank you, Order, in me, through me, as me, around me, through the Christ within. And so it is.     

Children’s children are the crowns of old men; and the glory of children is their fathers.  Proverbs 17:6    
 Daily Thoughts from the HillCopyright: Hillside International Truth Center, Inc.Bishop Dr. Jack L. Bomar – Executive BishopBishop Dr. Barbara L. King – Founder
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Repost …

(From our first how-to book on researching African American genealogy)

#2 Peek: Out of Sight e-book for beginning Black genealogists

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PART I: Out of Our Gloomy Past

Slavery’s Impact Upon Black Genealogical Research

  Slavery’s far-reaching effect upon the lives of African Americans is the single-most reason why it is challenging to easily research involving our Black ancestors. Records of names, places of origin, accurate ages and other important data were not kept for slaves or if kept, are likely long ago destroyed or lost. In rare instances, some of the basic passenger information was retained by the Atlantic Ocean ship’s captain or slave holders. In the records born from slave holders, it is likely that the surnames are the same as the persons who took possession of our ancestors.

The estimates vary on when the first slaves were shipped across the Atlantic to the North and South American soil. Some reports suggest that the first slaves arrived on U.S. shores somewhere between 1525 and 1619. It is well documented that in 1619, slaves were unloaded from ships at Port Comfort, VA., near Jamestown. Between 1619 and 1866, approximately 13 million Africans were packed into ships headed for the “New World.” Of that, an estimated two million slaves perished by disease, suicides and other means, making their graves the Atlantic Ocean. That left an approximate 10.7 million Africans who survived the brutal slave ships’ conditions across the Atlantic Ocean. It is estimated 388,000 black ancestors arrived along North American shores through 1866, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (edited by Profs. David Eltis and David Richardson). The remainder of the precious “cargo” was delivered to South American and Caribbean countries.

Sometimes in the pursuit of African American ancestors, the inquiries or checklists do not take into consideration that not U.S. residents arrived on these shores with passenger lists to identify them. One case in point is found in a test that I took to a complete a genealogy course. I missed the correct answer on one question because I responded based on my African American family history.   The question on the examination was: “Which immigration records are the best sources for determining if someone’s ancestor arrived in the United States from an international country. The instructor’s answer was “Passenger lists.”  The answer choices did not include one for my ancestors. This is an example of the importance of remaining flexible and open to the workarounds and delays in retrieving records related to your family’s ancestors.

 When searching for ancestors not all potential information is included in general inquiries. Many records unique to Black, Native Americans, Afro-Caribbean ancestors are not integrated into traditional family ancestry searches. For instance, “Slave Schedules” is not included in an ancestry site query for a relative. Therefore, it is important to review all categories of detailed listings such as the Sumter County, Alabama, U.S., Circuit Court Files, 1840-1950 and Americus times-recorder NEW.  It is advisable to rely on more than one on-line genealogy site to expand the ancestral search and build family trees.


Pre- and Post-Civil War Searches

The important benchmarks that are integral to effectively and efficiently researching African American ancestry are divided in two major categories:

  1. Slave families before the Civil War.
  2. Black and African American families beginning with the 1870 Census.

Prior to the Civil War, information and data about African American ancestors is sparse and vastly different than that of others. Slaves’ surnames were often the same as their owners and not of their African-given names.  In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau developed separate listings known as “Slave Schedules” in 1850 and 1860. While not providing the names of slaves, the Slave Schedules provide the owners’ names. In many cases, the identifiers for slaves included the ages, sex and varying notations such as “deaf …dumb.”

However, after the war and beginning with the 1870 Census, the official recordkeeping involving Blacks was similar to that of U.S. Whites and immigrants. While some former slaves maintained the slave owners’ surnames given to them, others changed their last names. That is why the family Bible is so important as it was a historical recorder of the important events in the lives of freed slaves. The family Bible also served as an official legal document in the courthouse where African Americans sought official birth records. Usually, the births of our family members occurred with the help of midwives. The midwives were also principally responsible for reporting births to the respective county court houses.

Making the most of “Brick walls”

Between 1920 and 1930, my Great-Grandmother Carrie changed the spelling of our surname to “Wead” and my grandfather followed her lead when applied for his social security card in 1936.  My father, Rodney Wead, never learned why the spelling change in our surname. The Census Bureau and other government sources frequently contain errors in ages, relationships to the heads of households, racial classification, employment, literacy, name spellings, real estate and other categories involving the documentation of African American families. This e-book will offer recommendations on how to confirm the demographic data and thereby move around the “brick wall” effects. “The wall” or “the brick wall” is a phrase often used in genealogy to describe what it feels like when after several hours or even years of sorting through delicate historical information, the researcher is not able to breakthrough with accurate information about their ancestor.

You do not have to get used to the wall’s reality. Approach your research by thinking new thoughts and seek opportunities in the historical challenges to keep walls in our ways.  Combine the “old school” with new ways. See value in the centuries ago inscribed family Bibles while trusting the technology to locate grave markers and passports of your ancestors. Invest your time and resources into learning more about your ancestors for personal, professional, mental and physical health benefits. It will be worth it.

Mental, Psychological, Spiritual Walls

“Why can’t I know my birthday?” asked Frederick Douglass, born a slave around 1817.  Think about that statement by the great statesman, Douglass. It was rare for slaves and any indentured black servants to know the details of their lives. Think about how difficult it may be for you to learn the same about your ancestors.

There are many more terms or single words that are triggers for deep-seeded and some surface matters that my cousin and I had not fully resolved. The same may be true for others who embark on the black genealogy path.  For some of the topics and situations we encountered during our research, Mark and I had to take a break after discovering something that was a breakthrough while also being a burden to our souls. We exhaled whenever those temporary “moments” of anxiety and questions flooded our thoughts and words such as the time we dealt with the meaning of word “property” to slave holders and traders. For instance, the reality that slaves were considered “property” by their owners meant that being bought and sold in exchange for land, cash, or another material matter, remains disheartening. It meant that slave families were ripped apart and the scars and outward behaviors would likely be passed through the generations.

Each time, we hit those bumps in the road, Mark and I successfully emerged from our unplanned research breaks with fresh outlooks and words of encouragement about our brave and smart ancestors. After all, if our ancestors had not endured the pain, suffering and the glorious moments, none of us would be on this earth. We are sharing our tribulations to help others who are deeply connected to their pasts to advance their present and future journeys.

 During your early discoveries of family ancestry, it is likely that you will find words, phrases, photographs and other documents that may trigger emotions and reactions that you may have long ago forgiven. For Mark and me, our triggers included the following words, phrases and digits:

During your early discoveries of family ancestry, it is likely that you will find words, phrases, photographs and other documents that may trigger emotions and reactions that you may have long ago forgiven. For Mark and me, our triggers included the following words, phrases and digits:

1525                                                                Land deeds                                         Slave owners

1619                                                                Lynching                                             Slave schedules

1919                                                                Middle Passage                                   Slavery                       

Branding                                                         Missing names of slaves                     Status of black women           

‘Death over foreign servitude’                        Mutilation                                           Whippings      

Fugitive                                                           Property                                 

“Gator Babies”                                                Probated wills                                    

Imprisonment                                                  “Slave for life”                                   about:blankImageUpload an image file, pick one from your media library, or add one with a URL.UploadSelect ImageInsert from URL

Illustration of slaves in chains. From Southern, N., American Antislavery Almanac (August 1838). Boston: Isaac Knapp, Publisher. https://archive.org/details/americanantislav1838chil/page/20/mode/2upabout:blankImageUpload an image file, pick one from your media library, or add one with a URL.UploadSelect ImageInsert from URL

Illustration of slaves under the overseer’s whip. From Southern, N., American Antislavery Almanac (August 1838). Boston: Isaac Knapp, Publisher. https://archive.org/details/americanantislav1838chil/page/20/mode/2up

With many more expressions and reminders of our ‘gloomy past,’ Mark and I continued our path as overcomers. We focus on the ‘the white gleam of our bright star is cast,’ as penned by James Weldon Johnson in the poem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” It was written during a time when Jim Crow replaced slavery. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, composed the song that is sung today and affectionately known as the “National Negro Anthem.”  The words to this anthem are a go-to song of comfort, faith and hope for the future. ­

Lift Every Voice and Sing

James Weldon Johnson – 1871-1938

Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

FROM SAINT PETER RELATES AN INCIDENT BY JAMES WELDON JOHNSON. COPYRIGHT © 1917, 1921, 1935 JAMES WELDON JOHNSON, RENEWED 1963 BY GRACE NAIL JOHNSON.

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How to find the hard-to-find ancestors

Was my maternal great-great grandmother a white woman or an African American slave? Based on the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Census, she was both. In the 1880 Census, she was listed as Mulatto, aged 21 and working as a chamber maid.

Was I surprised by the variations on race in the census? No and neither should you as often, African Americans were either not counted or misidentified by enumerators.

Why? How?

An estimated 4,400 U.S. Marshals and Assistant Marshals used eyeball evidence to record the race, gender and other household factors based on their government and Congressional directives in 1850 and 1860.

Beginning with the 1870 Census, the household individuals were allowed to speak for themselves regarding all of the critical data needed to complete individual records.

Check out Good Genes Genealogy Services’ October 2021 e-book for easy-to-follow tips on how you can locate your once enslaved ancestors. Become a genealogy hunter to keep alive the tireless, selfless work of our ancestors. 

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#33 Basic Genealogy Search Tips

It’s an exciting time of learn the great stories of your ancestors. Here’s how to get started:

 

My presentation will help you if you are a beginner researcher or a seasoned genealogist!


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We are our ancestors!

SATURDAY            SEPTEMBER 4, 2021  I AM AN ANCESTRAL BEING 
From Hillside International Truth Center, Atlanta, GA
Remember the delicate egg and its role in our ancestry. Photo credit: Ann Wead Kimbrough, 2017
      Every cell in your body re-presents an Ancestor. These cells are encoded with the soul-print of your ancestors. You are the embodiment of those who came before you. They came before you, and they are with you now. All eternity is in the present now. No separation. Your existence is re-presenting the past in the present moment. You are creating and shaping the future as a future ancestor. Be bold and unapologetic about it.       I am the future of my past. I am the very existence of all that was before me. I am here, right now, to carry forward the legacy, the collective soul intent of my ancestors. I rest in the now, knowing that I am right where I need to be. I am fully connected with All That Is. I belong. I am enough. I am now. Thank you, Order, in me, through me, as me, around me, through the Christ within. And so it is.      So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 
 Daily Thoughts from the HillCopyright: Hillside International Truth Center, Inc.Bishop Dr. Jack L. Bomar – Executive BishopBishop Dr. Barbara L. King – Founder
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Repost #11 Genealogy TipSheet: Don’t forget the Potter’s fields

It is a tough lick when one cannot locate a relative whom we know existed, yet is not “findable.” In genealogy research, we refer to such situations as brick walls.

One tool to help chip away at those walls are found in places that we may driven past a hundred times. In my home state of Nebraska, and especially in Omaha, I turned to the Potter’s Field to locate the individuals who are missing from all final records https://www.noiseomaha.com/news-now/2020/10/28/potters-field-historical-marker-dedication-honors-those-laid-to-rest.


The reference in the Bible to the Potter’s House https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/jeremiah-18/has many meanings. In relation to the Potter’s Field in Nebraska and in many locations around the globe, the person working pottery never abandoned a lump of clay just because of its imperfections. Instead, it worked it via a wheel or by hand to mold it into something good.

Looking for a relative who may have been forgotten? Check your local and state records as more individuals are being identified and in some cases, relocated to different burial sites.

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“And They Thought We Couldn’t Fight:”* Remembering the Nine Soldiers in a World War I Photograph

 By Ncurrie, Posted In Finding AidsMilitaryTribute/NewsWorld War I Era

Sgt Daniel Storms
HD Primas
Cpl TW Taylor
alfred manley
ralph hawkins
leon fraiter
Joe Williams
ed williams
herbert taylor

Today’s Blog is written by Barbara Lewis Burger, a retired National Archives Still Picture Senior Archivist

369th all
New York’s Colored Regiment Returns Home on Stockholm. Some of the colored men on 369th (15th N.Y.) who won the Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action. Front row, left to right: Private Eagle Eye, Ed Williams; Lamp Light, Herbert Tayl; 12 Feb, 1919 (NAID 26431282detail of photo scan

The above photograph of nine World War I soldiers of the 369th Infantry Regiment is one of several iconic photographs in the National Archives and Records Administration that document African American soldiers during the war. This particular image has been widely reproduced in print and broadcast media, and on the internet. The photograph (Local ID 165-WW-127A-8/ NAID 26431282) is from the series, American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917-1918 (NAID 533461) in the Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, Record Group 165.

The image was taken on board the USS Stockholm on February 12, 1919, as the soldiers of the 369th and other African American troops returning home following the Armistice, awaited disembarkation in New York City. The 369th’s service in the war began over one hundred years ago on April 2, 1917, when President Woodrow Wilson asked a joint session of Congress to issue a declaration of war against the German Empire. In two days, both houses had voted to support the declaration. In the spring and summer, the nine men in the photograph, eager to join the war, volunteered with the 15th Regiment Infantry (Colored) of the New York National Guard. Later that winter, within days of the United States declaring war on December 7th against Germany’s ally Austria-Hungary, the troops of the 15th Infantry set sail on the USS Pocahontas. The ship was bound for the port city of Brest, France and the soldiers were destined for their place in history.  Two months later, on March 1, 1918, the regiment was reorganized and designated the 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division.

The history of the regiment is well researched and documented, including its ill treatment and under-utilization by American forces in France. At the time, many Americans, including military leaders, believed African Americans lacked the intelligence and courage to fight. In the summer of 1918 the regiment was integrated into French forces to help replenish its forces and soon faced combat. The 369th proved the skeptics wrong and went on to achieve a remarkable combat record: they served more time in continuous combat than any other American unit — the regiment fought for 191 days on the front, the longest of any unit; never lost a man captured; never lost a foot of ground to the Germans; and was the first Allied unit to cross the Rhine River during the Allied offensive. In recognition of its bravery under fire, the French government awarded the regiment with the country’s military decoration, the Croix de Guerre. In addition, 171 men of the regiment were also presented with an individual Croix de Guerre for their valor. Several soldiers were also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The 369th was not the only black World War I regiment, nor the only one to fight valiantly, but it is perhaps the most famous. Each soldier in this photograph, who is identified in an accompanying caption, is wearing the Croix de Guerre pinned to his garment. Also visible on the left sleeves of several are two War Service Chevrons signifying a year of service in the theater of operations.

The names of the soldiers are known, but who are they? After years of being intrigued by this handsomely composed image and the demeanor of the nine brave men in it, I decided to find out as much information as I could about their lives—to discover the real people behind the faces in the photograph. I chose to confine my research to public (federal and state) records that are available through the internet. I selected to access documentation—primarily U.S. Army and New York National Guard records, and Veterans Affairs burial files—through the genealogical databases Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. Official Military Personnel Files and Department of Veterans Affairs benefit claim files are not available online and consequently were excluded from research. As may be expected, the amount of information I was able to discover varied from person to person.

My quest began with the soldier who first caught my eye. He is on the back row leaning forward, looking war-weary and tough as nails. He also appears older than the other men. As it turns out, as a sergeant, he is the highest-ranking and oldest man in the group.Sgt. Daniel Storms, Jr. (detail)

Daniel W. Storms, Jr. was about 33 years old when he enlisted on May 8, 1917, as a private in Company A of the 15th New York Regiment. He was subsequently promoted to sergeant on December 4, 1918. A few days after his return from the war, he was honorably discharged on February 24, 1919. Interestingly, his brother Joseph also served with the 369th and also returned safely to New York City on board another ship. After serving bravely, Dan Storms returned to his family and found work in New York City as a janitor and an elevator operator.

Daniel W. Storms, Jr. was born about 1885 in Stamford, Connecticut to Daniel W. Storms, Sr. and Esther (Essie) Walton (according to the sergeant’s New York City death certificate).  Prior to the war, Storms worked as a hostler and house cleaner. By 1915, he is listed in the New York State Census as living in New York City and married to Amy (spelling varies) Price, a widow with a young daughter named Hazel Price. They also lived in Stamford, Connecticut in the early 1900’s. Mrs. Storms appears to have died in 1951 and her daughter Hazel died in 1924.  Like so many in the early twentieth century, Mr. Storms contracted tuberculosis and after a year, according to his death record, succumbed to the disease on February 28, 1922. He was buried four days later in Woodland Cemetery in Stamford, Connecticut.  Daniel Storms is also one of four men in the photograph who was also honored with an individual Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action.

Far left and leaning against the railing behind Storms’s right shoulder is Henry Davis Primas, Sr.Henry Primas (detail)

He is also a recipient of an individual Croix de Guerre for bravery in action. Henry Primas enlisted on November 16, 1917, with the 15th New York and was later assigned as a private to the 369th’s Medical Detachment. That Primas graduated in 1914 with a degree in pharmacy from the University of Pittsburgh, undoubtedly was a factor in his assignment to the Medical Detachment. He was a private with Company I when he set sail on the Pocahontas.  Pvt. Primas was honorably discharged February 24, 1919. That May, Henry Primas discussed his war service at a church program in his hometown of Charleroi, Pennsylvania and was referred to as sergeant in an article in The Charleroi Mail. Online abstracts of his National Guard documents, unfortunately, do not indicate a promotion and his grade at demobilization was private. Perhaps surviving military records will provide clarification.

Primas’s mother was Annette Wilson Primas and his father, Meshach Primas, was a native of Virginia, who moved to southwestern Pennsylvania in 1875. After the war, Henry Primas returned home to his family. The following year he married Frances Jeffreys and later had a son. Mr. Primas worked as a druggist and was also retired from the U.S. Post Office Department. After suffering from heart disease for a several years, H. D. Primas died at the age of 66 of cardiac insufficiency on May 3, 1961. He was buried in Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A granite U.S. government-furnished marker imprinted with his service information was placed on his grave.  His wife, Frances Primas died five years later and their son Henry Davis Primas, Jr. died a year after his mother.  The heroism Henry Davis Primas showed in World War I has not been forgotten. His name is to be inscribed with the names of other veterans from western Pennsylvania on the Donora (Pennsylvania) Veterans Memorial.

At the other end (far right) of the back row is Corporal T. W. Taylor.Cpl. Tyler Taylor (detail)

With only first and middle name initials, identifying Cpl. Taylor required a little resourcefulness. After several futile attempts at first names — Thomas, Theodore, Tyrone, etc. — I consulted the New York Military Museum and Veterans Research Center’s online database of enlistment cards and searched all of the Taylors until I found the corporal. The physical description of the enlistee on the card also fits the person photographed.  In addition, a 1919 article (online) in The New York Age describing a dinner in honor of Corporal Tyler W. Taylor, a Croix de Guerre winner, and fellow soldiers further confirmed I had found the correct person—Cpl. Tyler William Taylor, the third recipient of an individual Croix de Guerre.

Born to Lee and Luvina Hairston Taylor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on July 5, 1895, T. W. Taylor at a young age moved to New York City with his mother and stepfather. According to the 1915 New York State Census, he was employed as a chauffeur with the Post Office.  He enlisted in the 15th New York as a cook, was promoted to private in September 1917, and made corporal in December 1918.  As had his fellow infantrymen, he served overseas from December 1917 to February 1919.  T. W. Taylor is listed on the Stockholm manifest as a member of Company B of the 369th Infantry and was honorably discharged on February 24, 1919. Just months after his return, Mr. Taylor married Idell Reeves on April 30, 1919. Their daughter Vivienne was born a year later.  Details of Taylor’s life after 1920 are less clear. He and his family are recorded in the 1925 New York State Census. The 1930 U.S. Population Census lists him as a cook on a steamship. He also appears on the 1930 U.S. Census of Merchant Seamen as a third messman on the SS Seminole (Clyde Steamship Company). T. W. Taylor and his wife divorced in 1934. I found a Tyler Taylor on the 1940 Census living in Fairfield, Connecticut and working as a butler. Even though the race of that person was recorded as white, there is a good possibility that he was T. W. Taylor. When Mr. Taylor reenlisted in with the 15th National Guard in 1947, he was described as having a light complexion with gray eyes. Tyler William Taylor lived a long life and died on February 24, 1983, in Bayonne, New Jersey at the age of 86.  Both his former wife and daughter predeceased him.

Seated next to Cpl. Taylor is Pvt. Alfred S. Manley.Pvt. Alfred Manley (detail)

His surname in the photograph caption, however, is Hanley. It soon became apparent after initial searches failed to reveal the identity of a member of the 369th with that name that the last name was probably misspelled.  The Stockholm passenger register does not list an Alfred S. “Hanley” and so I searched the manifest for an Alfred S. with a similarly spelled surname. The odds favor Pvt. Alfred S. Manley who was born in 1895 in Powhatan, Virginia.  As other African Americans had in the early 1900’s, his family migrated north. By 1910, they were living in New Jersey.  At some point, Alfred Manley must have relocated, because his enlistment records list an address in New York City. He signed on as a private with Company B of the 15th New York on July 13, 1917, at the age of 19. The passenger list for the Pocahontas lists his sister Ophelia as a contact person.  Pvt. Manley’s moniker during the war was “Kid Buck.” In the 1930 census he was recorded as a living in Newark, New Jersey and working as a chauffeur for a laundry company. Alfred S. Manley died on April 16, 1933, and is buried in Fairmount Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.  The U.S. government authorized a headstone for his gravesite that was carved with his World War I service information.

Pvt. Ralph Hawkins, nicknamed “Kid Hawk,” is pictured at the far right in the front row, is fourth of the 369th soldiers who was also awarded an individual Croix de Guerre.Pvt. Ralph Hawkins (detail)

His medal included a bronze star (for heroism mentioned in dispatches at the regiment level).  Ralph Ernest Hawkins, who was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was nineteen when he enlisted in the 15th New York National Guard and was assigned as a private in Company C. He also sailed to Europe on the Pocahontas and served two years abroad. He was promoted to corporal in 1918 and demoted to private two months later. Pvt. Hawkins was honorably discharged from the 369th on February 24, 1919.  His father Frederick Hawkins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is listed on ship manifests as his next-of-kin. Ralph Hawkins reenlisted in the New York National Guard in April 1919 and October 1922. Unfortunately, I was unable to discover much about Mr. Hawkins’s personal life before and after World War I. He apparently married Anita Gross in 1920 and soon had four children. The 1940 Census indicates that he was working as a laborer with the Works Progress Administration, but seemingly living apart from his family.  In 1942 Ralph Hawkins registered for the World War II draft. There is also a possibility that he was a patient in 1944 at a veteran’s hospital in Castle Point, New York. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania death records confirm that his parents lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and that his father Frederick died in 1936.  The death certificate for Ralph Hawkins indicates that he died in Philadelphia on January 8, 1951, and was to be buried in Merion Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Anita Hawkins died in 1975 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  Nonetheless, more conclusive facts could lead to a more complete personal history of Pvt. Ralph Hawkins.

Next to Ralph Hawkins is Pvt. Leon E. Fraiter who was born November 11, 1892, in Charleston, South Carolina to Benjamin Fraiter and Ella Scott Fraiter.Pvt. Leon Fraiter (detail)

By 1911, the family, according to Episcopal Diocese church records, was residing in New York City. No further information was located until his enlistment in the National Guard in August 1917. Curiously, his National Guard enlistment records indicate he was 18 years old, putting into question his birthdate. Leon Fraiter was assigned to Company K of the 15th New York. Eventually he was transferred to Company A of the 369th, where he remained until his honorable discharge in 1919. The manifests for the Pocahontas and the Stockholm list his parents, who evidently had returned to South Carolina, as contactsA few years after the war, Mr. Fraiter married Amy Wilkinson in 1924 in New York City.  Six years later he was recorded on the 1930 U.S. Population Census as having two sons and working as a salesman in a jewelry store.  His wife, sadly, died in 1937. Leon Fraiter was not found in online public records until almost four decades later following his death on December 9, 1974. Pvt. Fraiter was buried in Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.  A photograph of Leon Fraiter in later years is attached to a family tree on Ancestry.com.

Third from the left on the back row is Pvt. Joe Williams, who was nicknamed “Kid Woney.”Pvt. Joe Williams (detail)

Identifying an individual with such commonly found given and surnames raised questions. First of all, is Joe the soldier’s given name, a diminutive, a nickname or a middle name? The passenger list for the Stockholm does include a “Joe Williams,” but his name is crossed out with a note that he was transferred to a hospital ship. I found only one other Pvt. Joseph Williams on the ship manifest and in National Guard muster roll abstracts for the 15th New York. That Joseph Williams served in the 369th with Company C and was slightly wounded in action on or about November 10, 1918. His National Guard records indicate that he was born in Savannah, Georgia, circa 1896. The Stockholm manifest lists his mother Mrs. Anna Williams of Savannah, Georgia (another common name and no street address was given) as the contact person. The Georgia-born Pvt. Joseph Williams appears to be the most likely person in the photograph. With multiple men with the same name, however, living in New York City, Savannah, and Philadelphia, I was unable to pinpoint the exact person. Additional evidence, such as military service records, may provide information about Pvt. Joseph Williams’s life before and after the war.

Finding Pvt. Ed Williams, who is pictured in the front at the far left, proved even more challenging.Pvt. Ed Williams (detail)

In trying to identify him I encountered the same problems I had with Joe Williams, but by many times. I counted five Pvt. Edward Williamses and two Edgar Williamses on the Stockholm manifest. Of those seven, only three were members of the 369th.  Two of the three were Headquarters staff.  One of the Edward Williams’ with the Headquarters staff fortuitously filed an application in 1919 for a Seaman’s Certificate of American Citizenship in which he indicated that he was 33 years old. He also submitted a photograph of himself.  His facial features, however, do not appear similar to the person in the group photograph. The second Headquarters serviceman, Pvt. Edward Williams, appears in the National Guard records as a 19-year old resident of New York City, who enlisted at Fort Slocum, New York. He was assigned to the Company K and later the Headquarters Staff of the 15th Infantry and sailed to France on the Pocahontas in December 1917. He named a friend as the contact person. Unfortunately, those two bits of information were not enough to enable me to distinguish him from other men with the same name.

The remaining Ed Williams is identified as a private in Company C.  Since the group photograph is composed of members of Companies B and C, I think there is a very good possibility that Edward Williams in Company C is the person pictured. He also shipped out in 1917 from Hoboken, New Jersey on the Pocahontas. According to the New York State National Guard abstracts, Pvt. Williams was severely wounded on September 30, 1918.  That date coincides with the period the 369th was engaged in fierce fighting in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and captured a key railroad unit near Séchault, France.

Edward Williams of Company C was born on February 5, 1898, in Charlotte, North Carolina to Love and Lucy Hall Williams. Upon his return from the war, Mr. Williams married Essie Blythe in Greenville County, South Carolina and found employment there. By 1940, he and his family were living in New York City. He died in Brooklyn, New York on April 21, 1993, at the age of 95. A photograph of an older Mr. Edward Williams is included in a family tree on Ancestry.com. Although the photograph shows a mature man, there is some similarity in facial features. As with Joe Williams, additional information may offer confirmation that he is the soldier in the photograph known as “Eagle Eye.”

The ninth soldier in the group is Pvt. Herbert Taylor, who is second from the left on the front row.Pvt. Herbert Taylor (detail)

As might be expected, many people with the same name or variations of it served in World War I. Only one such named person, though, who was assigned to the 369th regiment, sailed to the Western Front in December 1917 on the Pocahontas, and returned February 1919 on the Stockholm was found. Pvt. Herbert “Lamp Light” Taylor served with Company B and was slightly wounded on September 29, 1918, possibly during the battle for Séchault, France.  Both ship passenger lists record his mother, Mable Taylor, living in Newark, New Jersey, as next of kin.

Little additional information, however, was found about Pvt. Herbert Taylor. New York’s National Guard service records do offer snippets of information, including a birth date and place — December 15, 1896, in Newark, New Jersey. Census data for 1930 and a World War II draft registration card reference a Herbert Taylor with the same birth date and place living in New York City. With so many people with the same name, corroborating information is necessary to confirm that references pertain to the former soldier. Supporting documents, however, do indicate that Mr. Taylor reenlisted in 1941 in the 15th regiment for a two-year period and that he was living in New York City working as a laborer. Pvt. Herbert Taylor of the 369th Infantry died December 6, 1984, and was laid to rest in Long Island, New York at Calverton National Cemetery.

It is appropriate that 100 years after tens of thousands of African Americans enlisted to fight in the Great War that nine of those proud and brave soldiers are remembered in today’s blog.  And so, on Veterans Day 2017, let us join in remembering, honoring and thanking these men, and all of our veterans, for their service and sacrifices.

165-WW-127A-008

* From the title of a Victory Loan Poster by artist Clyde Forsythe, circa 1918

Selected Sources for further research:

Lists of Incoming Passengers, 1917-1938NAID: 6234465. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

Lists of Outgoing Passengers, 1917-1938NAID: 6234477. RG 92. The National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Records of the Selective Service System, RG 163. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. M1509

Fourth Registration Draft Cards. Records of the Selective Service System, RG 147. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Various Census Records. Records of the Bureau of the Census, RG 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

New York Guard Service Cards and Enlistment Records, 1906–1918, 1940–1948. Series B2000. Microfilm, 61 reels. New York State, Division of Military and Naval Affairs. New York State Archives, Albany, NY.

New York State National Guard, National Guard Enlistment Cards, 1923–1940. New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, Saratoga Springs, NY.

Abstracts of National Guard Service in World War I, 1917–1919. New York State Adjutant General’s Office. Series 13721. New York State Archives, Albany, NY.

15th New York National Guard Enlistment Records. New York Heritage Digital Collections.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem Death File.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  National Cemetery Administration, Nationwide Gravesite Locator

U.S. Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File.

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#32 My recommended great reads: African American history

My bookshelf is stocked with a great variety of good reads. They are loosely categorized by subject areas that include “Health and Healing,” “African American History, ” “International and Domestic Finance/Business,” “Black Authors,” “Book Publishing,” and “Media and Journalism” and “Other.” I also have personal journals that date back a few decades.

Over the years, I have amassed hundreds of books from my days as a college professor and dean and from purchases and gifts from countless friends and family who know that I love reading and growing.

As I perused my shelves, my frayed books are those in the “African American History” and “Black Authors” categories. I love history and ancestral truths that have inspired me over the years. I have shelves, baskets for books, closets and tables full of varying books and magazines that suit my interests. The sample shelves from my stacks of books are what I wish to share in this blog.


I offer that reading transforms lives. Reading truths about our ancestral journeys — with appropriate citations such as the extensive ones offered by Dr. Lerone Bennett — uplift the downtrodden. By providing clarity in one’s life about what our ancestors overcame and how they invented so many food dishes, everyday products, expressed themselves with eloquence and grace, fought for and defended human rights, and worked tirelessly to build institutions that we take for granted … keeps me inspired.

Another top row sample of the second half of my book shelves in my home office.

What’s on your shelves? Please share and tell us about your favorite African American books.

Keep reading.

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#31 We are looking for you!

The African American families in the post-slavery, Reconstruction years

See informationwanted.org
“Eliza Jane Elam searching for Eliza Jane Owens,” Lost Friends Ad, Southwestern Christian Advocate (New Orleans, LA), January 25, 1883, Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery, accessed August 23, 2021, http://informationwanted.org/items/show/1904.

The “Lost Friends Ad’ in a New Orleans newspaper in 1883 by a lady described with two names — Eliza Jane Elam and Eliza Owens — showed the dedication of former slaves who sought their loved ones some 20 years after the end of slavery.

It was also a dangerous, Reconstruction Period, as former enslavers were conversely placing ads in newspapers for their so-called “runaway slaves.” The end of slavery meant that the free labor and horrific labor period ended for persons who considered slaves their property.

Despite the danger of having former enslavers finding them or loved ones, nearly 1,000 ads were placed primarily in African American-owned newspapers across the United States in search of “lost” persons who were separated from them during and after slavery. Thanks to a free website sponsored by Villanova University, African American and Afro Caribbean families are still locating their “lost” ancestors because of the detail found in the ads that include the enslaver names, plantation locations and who slaves were sold to.

Also, a “must see” is the stage production that depicts the enactments of hundreds of “Lost Friends” ads that were generously posted in mostly African American newspapers for little to no costs to those seeking loved ones. There is also a social media presence on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Former slaves also often listed their contact information and asked church ministers to make announcements on Sunday mornings.

The desperate hunt for mothers, fathers, children and other relatives, also yielded positive results as explained in the second half of the newspaper article found below.

My favorite reunion story on the site is from the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Best love story of all the “lost” and “found” slave families on the website.

Transcription

Mr. Editor — I wish to inquire
for my relatives — my mother, sis-
ters and brothers. My mother’s
name was Annie Straan; she be-
longed to Billie Straan. We were
first brought from Butt’s county,
Georgia, and from there to Ala-
bama; from there to Mississippi,
and from there to East Texas, Jas-
per County. Our owner, Billie
Straan, got in debt in Alabama,
and run away with us to Texas, be-
cause his property was to be levied
on. The sheriff came to Texas for
us, and took my mother and five
children back, but Martha and
Maria remained out here with our
old owner, Billie Straan. The
sheriff was Billie Straan’s brother,
Sam Straan. My brothers are
named Columbus and Richard;
sisters are Hannah, Betsy, Matilda,
Amanda and Martha Maria. Sis-
ter Hannah is the oldest and
Amanda next. Hannah was left
in Alabama. When last heard
from they were all still in Alabama.
Sister Martha Maria is dead. I
heard indirectly from them a few
years ago, but nothing definite
enough to give satisfaction. Sam
Straan, my owner’s brother, that
carried my mother and five chil-
dren back to Alabama, I heard,
got shipwrecked while on his way
back to Texas after Martha Maria
and myself. I am alone here in
Texas, with no relative except two
of my deceased sister’s children.
Aunt Mary is dead; also old Billie
Straan. My name was formerly
Amanda Straan, but is now Amanda
Whitfield. I wish to know if any
are yet living in Alabama, Louis-
iana or Georgia, for I am very
anxious to hear from some of my
people. This is the second letter I
have written, but have never had
an answer. Aunt Mary Straan’s
two daughters, Caroline and Har-
riett, are still living and anxious
to hear from any of our people. Aunt
Mary Straan is a fellow servant of
my mother, Annie Straan. Ad-
dress in care of the M. E. Church,
Amanda Whitfield, Columbus,
Texas.”


Your assignment: Go to the free website and search for loved ones based on their recommendations. Also, teachers are provided with lots of material on how to teach and research family histories among post-Civil War slaves.

Be sure to read more about this special genealogy resource in the upcoming, October 2021 e-book produced by Good Genes Genealogy Services.

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I Learn from My Experiences

As genealogists on all levels — beginners who are researching family histories to the veterans/professionals — we have to learn from our ancestors’ experiences. In your reading of this wonderful meditation from the Hillside International Truth Center , replace the words “past experiences” and “past” and “experiences” with the word s “ancestral history … healing.”

FRIDAY, AUGUST 20, 2021
       Our past experiences provide opportunities for us to learn and grow. Yet, we often push them away to the farthest part of our minds. We focus so much energy on trying to forget the past, that we draw those experiences back into our life. In Truth, we know that what we focus on, we draw to us.
       I stop denying my past experiences. I learn from these experiences. And with God’s guidance, I allow them to assist me in creating more harmonious experiences. My experiences do not have control over me. I have control over them.
I appreciate the lessons from my past. I do not allow them to hold me hostage. I use them to reconnect with Source energy. I learn the lesson. And I move on to other experiences that are aligned with my new spiritual awareness. Thank you, Will, in me, through me, as me, around me, through the Christ within. And so it is. For thou art my strength and my refuge;
therefore for thy name’s sake comfort me and guide me.

Psalm 31:3
 
 Daily Thoughts from the HillCopyright: Hillside International Truth Center, Inc.Bishop Dr. Jack L. Bomar – Executive BishopBishop Dr. Barbara L. King – Founder
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#30 African American man is first to “Compromise” in the South

 

This is part two of the blogs about the Great Compromises in September 1850 and 1895 that impacted African Americans.

“To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are—cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.”

(Address of Booker T. Washington…opening of the Cotton States and International Exposition.” Atlanta, Ga., September 18, 1895. African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection. Rare Book & Special Collections Division)

It was one of the hottest days under the Atlanta, Georgia sun when a tall, bony man introduced as “Professor Booker T. Washington” entered the front of the platform and looked out over a packed audience of whites and Blacks who were awaiting the opening of the market exchanges. It was September 18, 1895, in the segregated South. The long-anticipated Cotton States and International Exposition opened for the purpose to showcase Southern agricultural and mechanical products to global countries. Washington was introduced – a man born a slave on a Virginia plantation. He was poised to make history that day as the first African American to speak to an audience of different races in a Southern location.   (Today in History – September 18 | Library of Congress (loc.gov)

Washington was described by a correspondent of the New York World   as “straight as a Sioux chief, high forehead, heavy jaws … strong, determined … piercing eyes, and a commanding manner…” who captured the spotlight with his speech that is known as the “Atlanta Compromise.”

http://1895 Cotton States Exposition Poster (usg.edu)

Transcribed Excerpts from Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Exposition Speech, September 18, 1895:

… A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal: “Water, water; we die of thirst!” The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” A second time the signal, “Water, water; send us water!” ran up from the distressed vessel and was answered: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” And a third and fourth signal for water was answered: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River. To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are” — cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded. Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection, it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man’s chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. Our greatest danger is, that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful,” extorted the founding President of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.

When Washington finished, it was reported that loud cheers and applause complimented his remarks.

http://Alabama Hall, Tuskegee Institute, Ala. c1906. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division

Washington’s critics viewed the orator and educator’s remarks as controversial since his more than 10-minute speech advised African Americans to accept their unequal positions in society, disengage in political matters, and use their God-given talents and brawn to achieve economic freedom. He was vocal against protesting. He was known to have dined with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who sought his advice on race issues along with President William Howard Taft.

Washington was considered the most important Negro of his time, and it was not limited to racial lines. Honorary degrees were bestowed upon him by Dartmouth College and Harvard University. Washington wrote 14 books, including the widely popular, Up From Slavery, and he remained an advocate of industrial education until his death at the age of 59 in 1915.  He believed in “separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” 

Washington’s words spoken during the Cotton States Exposition were remembered mainly as a concession to the tensions at a fever pitch between Whites and Blacks in the Southern states.

The Uncompromised DuBois response

The man who was the first African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University, W.E.B. DuBois, was the so-called black elite who vehemently opposed Washington’s views.  He rejected the segregated Jim Crow-era beliefs such as African Americans’ focus on social and political rights would be achieved by being quiet and not causing any public protests.

http://Portrait of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. Carl Van Vechten, photographer, July 18, 1946. Van Vechten Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

DuBois passionately challenged Washington’s beliefs and words. DuBois espoused immediate political and intellectual empowerment. In 1905, DuBois organized an “anti-Bookerite” movement. Four years later, DuBois’ and his followers joined White liberals and formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The NAACP battled racial injustice through the legal system. He says it lowers expectations for African Americans.

He did not believe that African Americans should be told by Washington that they are inferior.  DuBois believed the opposite, and he put forth his “Talented Tenth” idea that was adopted by many organizations and universities, including Atlanta University.

http://The new south reformers day 3 show (slideshare.net)

In the next Good Genes Genealogy Services’ September 2021 e-book, read the combined Parts One and Two about the great “Compromises” impacting African Americans. Both occurred in September.

Your assignment: How do you view today’s differences among leaders within the same political parties, ethnic groups, and other organizations? What are the pros and cons raised in the continuing great debate between DuBois and Washington?

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Historical 1918 pandemic reports, advice, treatments and hope for our ancestors

This report from Chicago, Illinois by health officials in 1918 reads like a one that could have been written in 2021. The upshot is that we should learn from our ancestors.

Meanwhile, similar messages were urgently distributed that are similar to those of 2020-21.

An image of a Red Cross nurse published in Illustrated Current News. 1918.
An image of a Red Cross nurse published in Illustrated Current News. 1918.Credit…National Library of Medicine
Another similar health heed
Newspaper Ads on the Spanish Flu Echo Coronavirus Messaging | Time

Consider the following in the current pandemics
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Yet, in Kansas City, hope against hope was expressed. An article in the Kansas City Star newspaper in December 1918 expressed hopefulness about the “influenza serum” after Congress allocated $1 million to push it out to help save U.S. residents.

Hope in Missouri

Hope against hope years later …

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I Move in the Direction of My Soul’s Purpose

SATURDAY, AUGUST 7, 2021

Looking forward … Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com
     

 For this moment, consider the possibility that you chose to come forth into physical existence at this time. Now ask yourself what you are here to create, to do, to experience. Pause and ask yourself, “What does my soul want? What am I here to do and learn?” If we begin by directing our energy in the direction of questions that move us in the direction of our soul’s purpose, we begin to move in that direction.
       I know that I came here to help, to create, and to expand my own consciousness. Knowing this provides me a sense of direction. Today, during my meditation I begin to ask questions of myself. I ask the questions that nudge me and remind me to move in the direction of my soul’s purpose. I am willing and excited to discover my soul’s purpose. Thank you, Will, in me, through me, as me, around me, through the Christ within. And so it is.

My brethren, I do not consider that I have reached the goal;
but this one thing I do know, forgetting those things which are behind,
I strive for those things which are before me.

Philippians 3:13

 
 Daily Thoughts from the HillCopyright: Hillside International Truth Center, Inc.Bishop Dr. Jack L. Bomar – Executive BishopBishop Dr. Barbara L. King – Founder
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#29 The Great September U.S. Compromises (Part One)

On September 18 and 20, 1850, history recorded two distinct “compromises” that impacted African American lives. Part One, we will look at what life became in the area now known as Washington, D.C., once Congress came together and compromised on legislation.

The ‘give and take” of 1850

The 20th of September marked the signing of a bill that affected an area now known as the District of Columbia: It abolished the slave trade. It was part of the U.S. package known as the Compromise of 1850. It was fashioned by Sen. Henry Clay, a 70+ legislator dubbed the “Great Pacificator” by his colleagues. His aim was to get Congressional members to ‘give and take’ in five different compromises, with one resulting in the freeing of slaves in the nation’s capital. Meanwhile, the fugitive slave law was strengthened nationwide.

There were numerous congressional bills introduced in Congress in January 1850. By September, it was narrowed to five separate bills. Each bill was separately voted upon by Congress. Elimination of the slave trade in D.C. also included the welcoming of California as a free state in the U.S. and settling the border dispute between Mexico and Texas. It also gave the law enforcement authorities the right to capture slaves and suffer economic penalties if the slaves escaped while under the marshals and sheriffs’ jurisdictions. Eventually, this bill’s purpose would fall apart.

The United States Congress abolished the slave trade in the District of Columbia on September 20, 1850, as part of the legislative package called the Compromise of 1850. Since the founding of the District of Columbia in 1800, enslaved people had lived and worked in the nation’s capital. By the mid-nineteenth century, laws regulating slavery in the district were considerably more lenient than slave codes in the South. Still, slavery continued to exist in Washington until April 16, 1862. President Lincoln signed legislation freeing the 3,000 African Americans bound by the District’s slave code on that day. (The Slavery Code of the District of Columbia… Washington: L. Towers, 1862. Slaves and the Courts, 1740 to 1860. Law Library)

While Antebellum Washington was a thriving community for free Blacks, whereby 1860, they outnumbered the enslaved Blacks by four to one. The former slaves who could migrate to the District of Columbia did so. Meanwhile, former slaves who were granted their freedom by plantation owners were not given the flexibility to live their lives outside of the states approving the new status. It was home to a thriving community of free blacks.

Certificate of Freedom of Harriet Bolling, Petersburg, Virginia, 1851. Free Blacks in the Antebellum Period. The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship. Carter G. Woodson Collection. Manuscript Division

Harriet Bolling is an example of a Mulatto woman who was granted her freedom in Virginia by James Bolling. Yet, her freedom restricted her movements to the Commonwealth of Virginia, where she remained in Petersburg.

“Free Southern blacks continued to live under the shadow of slavery, unable to travel or assemble as freely as those in the North. It was also more difficult for them to organize and sustain churches, schools, or fraternal orders such as the Masons,” according to the Library of Congress.

Part Two: African American man is “first” to Compromise in the South

The following blog will review another September “Compromise about noted educator Booker T. Washington’s classic address at an Atlanta convention in September 1895.

In the next Good Genes Genealogy Services’ September 2021 e-book, read the combined Parts One and Two about the great “Compromises” impacting African Americans. Both occurred in September.

Your assignment: The global community has been required to adhere to certain restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. How did you react when your everyday travel was restricted and asked to wear masks in public? How do you imagine the African American slaves responded to their lifetime restrictions?

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#28 Linking fruit trees to family trees

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska and Chicago, Illinois, I am used to frequent ribbing about the Midwestern “foreign land.” It was while I was attending Clark College (now CAU, a HBCU) in Atlanta, Georgia, that I first became the subject of great humor about my Midwestern upbringing. It helped that my maiden surname is “Wead” (pronounced “Weed”) and for many of my Southern classmates, very little was known about the Black folk who lived in the Great Plains.

African Americans were integral to the forging of new territories in the great West. My family and hundreds of thousand of African American still live in every region west of the United States’ Mississippi River.


Branching out with new e-book series

African American foragers used their nature instinctive skills to survive their tough homestead ventures during post-Civil War’s harsh Reconstruction period. Mark Owen and I, are Midwestern natives. As the authors of a new book series that highlights our our self-publishing book site, Lulu.com. https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/ann-wead-kimbrough-and-mark-owen/august-first-is-the-first-black-holiday-for-black-people/ebook/product-zv5pgd.html?page=1&pageSize=4.

One of the book chapters is about Nicodemus, Kansas, the first Black and only existing town west of the Mississippi that was settled by African American homesteaders who trekked from Kentucky during Reconstruction to establish a new life. It was tough and they were gritty. If it weren’t for the Native Americans sharing their food and other nearby townspeople doing the same, and the new homesteaders utilizing their foraging abilities to pull honey from trees and find berries in bushes, the first settlers would have starved. I also wrote about Nicodemus and other forgotten Black towns in the West in my other blog. See Blog #25.


I love this NYT piece because it provides excellent sources who speak on the often neglected topics of everything from slaves’ inherent knowledge of wilderness to today’s harrassing and ignorant facts regarding those of us who will stop along the side of a road if we see a special bush that may be a healthy product when properly picked and cooked. There were a couple of stories over the last year that showcased the little-known relationships African Americans have with nature. There are African American outdoors enthusiasts who are hoping to break down barriers that exist about hikng, for instance.

While hiking in Indiana and in New York’s Central Park, violent and harassing incidents captured global headlines based on ignorance from the inflictors.


I especially appreciated the NYT references to the enslaved ancestors locating honey from trees and harvesting all sorts of berries and other healthy products from trees, limbs, bushes and from the earth.

Camp Lessons for Life

I was an early African American forager. I grew up as the only one in my household who went to every available that featured the great outdoors camp that my parents could afford. I recall taking our daily showers in stalls that allowed for the minor snakes and other creatures to share in the rustic settings. The campfire stores, especially the ones with scary outcomes in the stars-lit skies, were my favorites. I remember the silly and yet lasting chants such as those for catching ones’ elbows on the large dining hall’s long wooden tables. Here’s the chant:

"Ann ... Ann ... strong and able ... get your elbows off the table. This is not a horse's stall, but a first-class dining hall! 'Round the tables you must go, you must go, you must go. 'Round the tables you must go, you were naughty."

It was all in good fun and I learned valuable lessonson how to live with kids from diverse backgroounds. We celebrated our differences by sharing in all sorts of activities. It was the early “rope courses” and other skils and trust-building experiences I had as an adult member of teams ranging from the Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee to Harvard University’s Graduate Education certificate program

Black Girl in the Black Hills

I also recall riding the horses along the ridges of the South Dakota Black Hills, however, this wonderful path is no longer open to the public. It was probably not safe when I was riding on it in the late 1960s, yet it was worth it. It was beautiful to see all views of the Black Hills along the former horse trails.


Homework: Utilize the NYT article and my blog as motivation to research your family’s ancestries about the early foragers. Happy trails!

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#27 Cleaning up: The 1881 Atlanta Washerwomen’s demands

One hundred and 40 years ago under the hot Atlanta sun, a group of African American women formed an assocaition and staged a major labor organizing effort that was leadng toward a general strike. Such a strike would have shut down Atlanta’s business and political establishments, according to reports in the Atlanta Constitution newspaper and the Magazine of History.

Beginning in July 1881, a group of African American women formed an association, Washing Society, and grew its membership from 20 to 3,000 women. About 98 percent of the members were African American domestic washers. They received wages of $4 to $8 monthly for an unlimited amount of laundry from their clients. The Washing Society sought a rate of $1 for every dozen pounds. It was a uniform rate of pay for what the Washing Society women felt was fair and a living wage to keep up with the growing demand of work.

Atlanta Constitution newspaper article, July 1881

Their well organized work stoppage campaign attracted newspaper attention across the country. Some 25 states and the area now known as the District of Columbia, provided coverage of the single city strike.

Article appeared in the Record Union newspaper, Sacramento, Calif.

From the Times and News paper in Eufaula, Ala.

By the end of their work stoppage, here is what the women endured and achieved:

July 21
  • Washing Society begins its recruitment tactics.
  • Door-to-door recruitment of washing women.
July 26
  • Atlanta City Council announces it will tax all women belonging to an association.
July 29
August 3
  • A letter signed by five (5) Washing organizations, comprised of 486 women wrote to the Mayor of Atlanta, Jim English. They agreed to pay the $25 and $50 licenses that were proposed by the Mayor and Atlanta City Council and in its letter stated “then we will have full control of the city’s washing at our own prices, as the city has control of our husbands’ work at their prices. Don’t forget this. We hope to hear from your council Tuesday morning. We mean business this week or no washing.”
August 16
  • Atlanta City Council approved a resolution for a $25 tax for the washing women to continue their work.

Their demands were met and the ladies went back to work.

Want to learn more?

Read more about the Atlanta washerwomen and other Labor Day stories in the September 2021 e-book, available on Amazon, Nook and other platforms.

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#26 LYNCHINGS AND LIES: LEST US NOT FORGET THE RED SUMMER OF 1919

I grew up in a city where rage, lies, and fears led to the savage killing of a disabled African American man who was accused of accosting a “Karen.” It was 1919. I never knew the story growing up in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

https://history.nebraska.gov/blog/omaha-and-red-summer-1919

A century before the death of George Floyd in 2020, all hell broke out across the United States. Poet Claude McKay put it this way in 1919:

If We Must Die

If we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe;
Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men, we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Source: https://poets.org/poem/if-we-must-die


Highly esteemed poet McKay’s poem called for African Americans to fight back against the tides against them by whites. It was the first time slavery-free African Americans fought back against oppressors, according to historians. James Weldon Johnson, a civil rights activist, author, and field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, coined it “Red Summer.” W.E.B. Dubois said in 1919, African Americans returned from fighting for the freedoms of their country to return fighting.

Black veterans newly home from World War I were often confronted and killed during the summer of 1919. Source https://i.redd.it/c7c6ot7s42e31.jpg :

Black soldiers caught hell in relatively unknown places across the U.S., such as Bisbee, Arizona, known as “The Battle of Brewery Gulch,” on July 3, 1919. ” It is recorded as follows:

“During the Red Summer of 1919, white mobs repeatedly targeted Black World War I veterans and servicemen.

On July 3, 1919, active members of the Army’s segregated 10th Cavalry Regiment (“Buffalo Soldiers”) were in Bisbee, Arizona, to participate in the town’s Independence Day parade. In the early 20th century, Bisbee was a mining town with a history of racial stratification and unrest. The white residents actively discriminated against Arizona’s Mexican, Chinese, and African American laboring communities. It was a “sundown town” for Chinese Americans, and Black laborers had limited employment options.

With tensions high and discrimination rampant, it is not surprising that a fight broke out between a white policeman and a handful of Black soldiers in Brewery Gulch. According to a New York Times report about the violence in Bisbee, local white law enforcement “planned deliberately to aggravate the Negro troops so that they would furnish an excuse for police and deputy sheriffs to shoot them down.”

http://Brewery Gulch in the mining city of Bisbee, Arizona, 1919. Source: Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum.

Add to the anxious times in the United States due to a slumping economy and fears of many white residents in the South who saw the emptying of their workforce during the Great Migration. Meanwhile, scarier and violent white residents met the new African American immigrants in the North with fears of taking jobs and integrating neighborhoods.”


Yet, I never knew about such heinous crimes in 1919 in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Neither did my parents while they were growing up in the city nearby the Missouri River. My Dad, a college history major, learned of the horrors many years later. Perhaps my grandparents were aware since the paternal and maternal ancestors were making their way from the racially charged South to the Great Plains of Nebraska when the “Red Summer” was in full effect.

I never knew that the streets that I walked on in downtown Omaha, Nebraska – my hometown – in front of the Douglas County Courthouse were the scene of unspeakable deadly anger in 1919. I learned of the Red Summer during my college years. Somehow, the Red Summer facts unfolding to me as a college coed did not include Chicago or Omaha. It was 20 years later when I learned the horrific truth about the unlawful burning of a man’s body in front of an enraged white male mob. The crime committed by the 41-year-old rheumatism man who could not harm a fly: Allegedly assaulting a white woman.

Background on this Omaha story is that two years earlier, the meatpacking plant in Omaha brought African Americans as strikebreakers. The white men who worked at the plant remained angered by the strike-busting tactic by the owners of the meatpacking plant.

Some of the crowd grinned while watching the burning of Will Brown’s body; Omaha, Nebraska, Sept. 28, 1919, Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society, RG2281-69.

This series of racially disgusting tirades began in the spring in Georgia and continued through the summer and into October, ending with the most violent acts in Elaine and Helena, Arkansas.  That area in the Arkansas Delta was where my ancestors lived. My grandfather, Samuel Luster Weed (later Wead), was 15 years old during the Red Summer, and he witnessed the infliction of horrors upon his family and neighbors. Somehow, his mother, Corrie Lee Weed, could get her children – especially her five sons – out of southeast Arkansas. Her husband, my great-grandfather, apparently was not as fortunate. Lost in the rubble of the riots, he remains one of the “brick wall” ancestors.

In all, more than 30 U.S. cities housed the race riots born from small, questionable activities to human rights freedoms. Cities included  Charleston, South CarolinaLongview, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bisbee, ArizonaWashington, D.C.ChicagoKnoxville, TennesseeOmaha, Nebraska; and Elaine, Arkansas. More than 100 African Americans were lynched and killed in other ways. Two years later, Tulsa, Oklahoma, was one of the worst attempts to eradicate African Americans simply because they were considered prosperous.

Stringing together the stories and tragedies of the summer of 1919 has prompted thousands of media stories, numerous books, and articles in search of documenting and analyzing the war zones across the country.

Source: Chicago History Museum
Source: Unknown
The Good Guys

Hate is often colored by skin tone. Blacks can hate whites as much as whites hate their counterpart. Yet, there are always glimpses of a heartfelt and hearty word and works by people who fought against lynching, hate, and widespread discrimination against African Americans before 1919 and during Red Summer. Yet, some civility existed, as the photo below illustrates:

Couple moving during the 1919 Chicago Race Riots.
Photograph by Jun Fujita, courtesy of Chicago History Museum, ICHi-65492

A century before, on June 3, 1813, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary entered into its official record, “Petition from the citizens of New Jersey praying for Congress to make the act of lynching a crime against the United States.”

This document was signed by several men of New Jersey. Source: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/306656

Your assignment

Your assignment: Sort through history books, statues, and historic sites in your hometown or nearby locations. Find out how and why racial riots occurred, and write about your findings.

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#25 Black Pioneer Settlers Move from Kentucky Green to Plains’ Grass: How the first and only remaining black town west of the Mississippi was developed

http://A ca. 1885 view of Nicodemus, Kansas, shows the original First Baptist Church and the Williams General Merchandise store. From Kansas State Historical Society, in NPS Cultural Landscape Report


A lot was going on in 1877 for African Americans in the U.S. South. It was enough to drive them West in search of the promised land.

For blacks in the Georgetown, Kentucky area, their Sunday morning worship services were interrupted by real estate speculators. They offered an opportunity to move west to establish homesteads in northwestern Kansas. Each African American family would pay $5, own 160 acres, and remain for at least five years to make good on their agreement.

http://Handbill encouraging African American pioneer settlers to come to Kansas. Courtesy of Kansas State University, Minorities Collection, in NPS Cultural Landscape Report

The beginnings of Nicodemus

In July 1877, approximately 300 pioneer African Americans completed their 5-day train rides out of the forested land of Kentucky and landed in the open plains of Kansas. They disembarked in Ellis, Kansas, and walked for two days to arrive in an unsettled land where only ground pits existed. There were no homes, no seeds to plant for crops, and they would have starved to death if it were not for the Native Americans and nearby townspeople who provided wild game for food. The Kentuckians traded their sharecroppers’ life and shanty homes for dugout homes in the post-slavery years.

It was also the year of the Compromise of 1877, the non-written agreement by Congress resulting in a trade for a presidential seat to remove federal troops from the South. That granted home rule for Southern states, and it ushered in the era of Jim Crow to keep blacks under control akin to centuries for slavery.

The following spring, in March 1878, about 150 African Americans also arrived in Nicodemus. Some were horrified at what they viewed since settler’s homes were not yet built. Many persons left, yet those who remained began their building and sowing seeds for the future.

The third and final African American settlers arrive in Nicodemus

In 1879, a new group of African Americans arrived, and they became known as the Exodusters to Nicodemus. They were part of the Great Migration of African Americans to the West and North. Among the 1879 Nicodemus pioneer settlers were the Sayers family. About 90 years later, a famous Sayers descendant of Nicodemus (although born in a hospital in Wichita, Kansas), Gayle, joined the National Football League’s Chicago Bears. Sayers, whose family’s surname is listed among the original 1879 pioneer settlers, grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. He was among the several professional athletes who had roots in Nicodemus. Sayers became the youngest person inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, earning multiple high honors for his football skills at Kansas State University and the NFL. He transitioned in 2020 at the age of 77.

AP File Photo

Nicodemus descendant and Kansas running back Gale Sayers is pictured in this file photo from 1962.


African Americans claim new towns: Westward Ho!

There were many African American towns established in the West in the post-slavery era yet are long forgotten. There’s the town of Blackdown in New Mexico, nearby Roswell, established by African American settlers in the early 1900s.  Boley, Oklahoma, was based around the same turn of the century, and it grew to become the largest city for African Americans. It met with the usual demise of economic downtown and terrorism by racist strategies. Today, only a highway sign and granite market exist as reminders of Dearfield, Colo., founded in 1910 as an all-black town near Denver. It thrived as a farm town with the amenities of the city during its heyday. Women and children were integral to its success, according to historians. A little-known town was established in the state north of Nebraska that provides a rich and unusual history of its settlement.

. An entrepreneurial woman is shown here at the Dearfield Service Station, ca. 1930-1939. Courtesy of University of Northern Colorado

Nicodemus Annual Celebration

The Nicodemus story is rich in culture, oral and physical history and festivities. Every year the end of July and through early August, the Nicodemus descendants and friends return to the sparsely populated town to honor its historical existence.

To learn more about Nicodemus and other once Western towns known for their African American-dominated population, check out Good Genes Genealogy’s inaugural monthly e-book, set to debut by August 1, 2021. Stay tuned.

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#24 Your ancestors in college

A recent weekend webinar about slave history in the physical building of the University of Georgia in Athens, supports the extended research that traces African Americans’ involvement on campuses across the nation.

Even worse in Athens, UGA’s Baldwin Hall just completed its unearthing and findings of the bones of former slaves who were buried beneath the campus building. The Athens community leaders are also revealing a troubling legacy of low literacy rates among African Americans.

https://slavery.ehistory.org/baldwin-hall/baldwin-controversy-news

A recent article about the University of Delaware’s findings regarding its New Jersey campus including the school’s 1950 stance against allowing African Americans their justified attendance. The students had to sue to attend the University of Delaware. The University of Delaware is not alone. Several universities are engaged in directed, meaningful research and results projects regarding its slave histories. These same institutions are creating architectural memorials of its enslaved histories such as the University of Virginia as shown below.

Like me, many researchers rejoice when we locate our ancestors who attended colleges during post-slavery and during Jim Crow. Yet, as much attention should be directed to researching the ties African Americans and Afro Caribbeans have to universities and colleges through enslaved conditions. It may require that enslavers are researched first to link African American ancestors to the slave labor that was lent to building these institutions.

Your assignment: Hit the books at colleges and universities where African American ancestors lived. You will go to the head of the class based on your findings.

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#17 Did you know about the little-known African American community that formed in Weed, California?

June 7, 2021, is the 14-year aniversary of Weed Union Elementary School teacher James Langford’s retirement. Langford is significant to Weed’s African American heritage because he insisted on that history being taught in the schools. He also wrote a thesis about the 1920s migration and related progress in the small northern California city. Langford arrived in Weed, California about a half-century after the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the Western states, particularly California.

Weed, California with Mt. Shasta in the background


Langford also co-wrote and produced a documentary about Weed’s African American community. https://vimeo.com/31221465

The documentary’s promotion: “From the Quarters to Lincoln Heights tells the story of how a large African-American population in the small northern California towns of Weed, Mc Cloud, Mt Shasta and Dunsmuir came to root themselves in such an unlikely place. Migrating from the southern US in the 1920’s they came to work in some of the world’s largest lumber mills. The film explores how these unique communities of African Americans thrived in these multi-racial rural towns. This film presents this little known history, revealing the early inter-racial relationships that existed in Northern California.”


From BlackPast website

In the following article, James Langford, the first black teacher in Weed, briefly describes the history of the African American community there.  Langford, who graduated from California State University at San Francisco with an elementary teaching credential in the spring of 1974, began teaching at the Weed Union Elementary School on August 28, 1974.  He retired on June 7, 2007,  after thirty-three years.

It was June, 1923, when five young Black men set out in a Model T Ford from Broken Bow, Oklahoma, to a small town in northern California.  They were following the sounds of promise they had heard in the words of a young hobo, recently returned from a trip to the West Coast.  He told of a better life for Black people in this burgeoning lumber town.  “He said there was a mountain right there close to Weed you’d see snow the year round.”  These are the words of Danny Piggee, describing how he first heard of Weed, the town he was to live in for the next thirty-seven years.  “Weed was a miracle for Black people for work.”

When he and his cousin, Jim Hopkins, and their three companions  reached Weed at noon on June 19, 1923, after fourteen and a half days on the road, they ate dinner, went to the hiring office of Weed Lumber Company, then to the Weed Hospital for health checks, and started work the next morning.  A common laborer in the Weed mill was paid $3.60 for eight hours.  Piggee went to work taking down lumber on the yard with D. Grant, one of his Oklahoma companions, as his partner.  Because Grant had previous experience in this contract work, Piggee made over $5.00 the first day he worked.  As he thought to himself at the time, “Boy, I oughta been here for years back.”  In describing the town of Weed as it was in 1923, he said, “You could just almost pick your jobs when I came here.  And it was a lotta, lotta Black folks here.”

One thousand African-Americans lived in Weed by the mid-1920s, when the town’s population reached over six thousand.  In 1922, R. A. Long of Long-Bell Lumber Company had assumed complete ownership of the Weed Lumber Company.  The exodus of Black lumbermen from the South, triggered by R. A. Long, had begun with Nate Henderson’s arrival in Weed in 1918, with his nephew, William Wardlow.  Henderson, from Louisiana, was hired by Long-Bell to recruit workers in the South.  Walter Sexton, the first superintendent of the Weed plant under Long-Bell Lumber Company, was responsible for recruiting the largest number of Black workers from the South.  According to Rev. E. A. Mellon and Tommy Tyler (two long-time African-American residents), Sexton came to Weed from the Long-Bell operations in Louisiana in the early 1920’s.  He knew who the most trusted workers were, and tried to recruit the “cream of the crop.”  Mr. Sexton, on behalf of Long-Bell, paid the $89.00 train fare from Louisiana to Weed.  Most of the first Blacks to come to Weed were displaced workers from Long-Bell’s operations at De Ridder and Longville, in Louisiana.  After the men had made enough money in their new jobs, they repaid the company and sent back money to Louisiana so that relatives and friends could join them in Weed.  The general manager of the Weed operation from 1918 to 1948, Mr. J. M. “Jude” White, although he was not from Long-Bell’s Southern mills, is also given credit for opening up job opportunities in Weed for Black workers.

What kind of town awaited these first African-American migrants from the South?  Gertrude Price Wardlow, who arrived in 1920 from Louisiana via Oakland, California, describes the northwest corner of the town where the Blacks settled as nothing but snow-covered hills, with one dirt street.  The houses along this street, Railroad Avenue, were the first group of houses built in Weed.  They had been moved from the original site just north of Abner Weed’s first sawmill.  A few other houses were located northwest of Railroad Avenue, but there were no other defined streets.  Because of the housing shortage, Gertrude and her husband, Andrew Price, stayed at the boarding house when they first arrived.  This boarding house, located near the corner of Railroad Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, housed the single Black men who had come to work in Weed.  Because of the crowded conditions at the boarding house, the Weed Lumber Company “gave my husband a good price” for a house so that he and Gertie could board some of the men.

When Danny Piggee arrived in 1923, there were thirty-five or forty single men staying at the boarding house, paying $1.10 a day for room and board.  It was then known as the “Berryhill Hotel,” after Dan and Ella Berryhill, who had operated it since 1921.  When the boarding house was first built, Weed Lumber Company hired Nate Henderson to run it.  In 1920, when Mrs. Wardlow arrived, a couple named Jackson, from Oroville, California, was running it.  Since the Berryhills operated it until their deaths in the late 1940’s, when their niece took over until 1953, the boarding house is simply referred to as The Berryhill.  By 1923 there were company-built houses on Dixie, Texas, and Alabama Avenues.  Tent Street came into existence in 1924 when over-crowding prompted the company to bring in tents as temporary dwellings for Black families.  These tents were brought in from Tennant.  In the words of Mrs. Wardlow, “people started putting foundations around [the tents] and this ‘n’ that until they lived in them.”

Throughout the 1920s, as African-American families continued to arrive in Weed, they built houses on land leased from the company.  Long-Bell Lumber Company managed Weed as a residentially segregated, company-owned town.  And the first African-Americans to arrive from the South, accustomed to segregation since birth, occupied their designated corner of the town, known as “The Quarters.”  Willie Wardlow (Gertrude’s second husband), in a 1966 interview, recalls: “We used to see a For Rent sign, and when we asked, you know what they’d tell us?  They’d say, ‘We only rent to Americans.’ “ [The nearby town of McCloud had a similar demographic make-up.  According to an article in the 1997 Siskiyou Pioneer by Ray Ebbe, “McCloud, shortly after World War 1, had a population of over 500 colored people.”  The McCloud River Lumber Company, known as Mother McCloud owned the town.]

Some changes in this picture began after International Paper Company, based in New York City, bought out Long-Bell Lumber Company in 1956.  IP was not interested in running Weed as a company town.  They elected to sell the houses to the residents at a reasonable cost.  Soon after the city was incorporated in 1961, a group of concerned citizens from the African-American community met to change the name of their residential section from “The Quarters” to “Lincoln Heights,” and to rename those streets originally named after Southern states.

The national Civil Rights movement inevitably found its way to Weed. Amidst such racial upheaval, Weed’s NAACP chapter became quite active. Between 1955 and 1958, local Black residents staged sit-ins at Weed’s segregated eating establishments. The Log Cabin Hotel had a sign on the premises reading “We cater to whites only.”  The Weed Mercantile soda fountain and the Weed Theater fountain were among targeted sit-ins.  All establishments eventually complied with desegregation.

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) organized a chapter in Weed on June 5, 1966.  That summer CORE members staged boycotts at Weed’s Safeway store, Harold Chaney’s Weed Mercantile, Medo-Bel Creamery, and United California Bank.  The object of these demonstrations was an economic one—to have these local employers hire Blacks in a capacity other than clean-up.  A year after the 1966 summer campaigns, CORE leaders held a convention at the Mt. Shasta Baptist Church social hall and the Black Hawk Tavern, concluding that only token integration had been achieved.  Its tenure may have been short, its tangible accomplishments few, but the deep-seated desire that Siskiyou County residents settle down to a great deal of soul-searching was undoubtedly  accomplished by the confrontation tactics of CORE.  The protests were justified and progress definitely came from the risks that were taken.

By the time I arrived in Weed in 1974 there were approximately 500 African Americans out of a total population of 3,600.  The 1970 census figures for Weed show a 14 percent black population, while 1980 figures show a 13 percent Black population.  This percentage compares to a nationwide Black population of 11.3 percent reported by the 1980 census.  In 1970, only 2.1 percent of Siskiyou County’s population was Black, while 1980 figures indicate a Black population of only 1.5 percent.  Census figures for the year 2000 show that Weed’s population has declined to 2,978 people with 9.3 percent Black.  In other words, Weed has maintained a vital African American community for nearly one hundred years.

Weed’s African American community has changed with the flow of forces affecting the town.  The closing of International Paper Company in 1982 had the most profound effect on the community at large.  Strong family ties and the healthy rural surroundings have surely been factors in the desire of Weed’s residents to persevere in the face of economic hardships.  My wife, Kathleen, and I raised our four children here.  They all went through the Weed school system, and have gone on to successful adult lives.  We have lived on our forested five acres on the outskirts of Weed for 29 years. Here, I am able to indulge my lifelong passion for animal husbandry.   Having taught and coached two generations of Weed’s children, I enjoy my respected status that seems to come with the title of “Mr. Langford.” It was indeed a fortunate decision I made in 1974 when I answered the call of the African American community of Weed, California, to become their first Black teacher, to live in the shadow of  Mt. Shasta…that mountain, right there close to Weed, where you see snow the year round.SUBJECTS:African American HistoryPerspectivesTERMS:20th Century (1900-1999)United States – CaliforniaGovernment-Local-Black Community

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#16 Keep digging: Special find for a young genealogist

St. Louis, Mo. TV Newsman Damon Arnold was fortunate to find fantastic info about his ancestor.

I am proud of Damon locating a mentally and physically strong former slave who became a Civil War vetetan. His fighting did not end there. Damon’s great-great-great grandfather also fought gallantly to receive his pension.

Read on and learn more. Damon is just at the tip of major findings. You, too, can find great family heirlooms in those old records. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3928137097300889&id=100003139113342

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#15 Happy Trails along the Park Service’s sites honoring African American heritage

There are several trails that have not been traveled by us due in part to the global shutdown of U.S. Park Service sites and just about every organization during the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic.

As the rolling openings are underway, it’s time to discover the 17 U.S. Park sites that honor our African American ancestors. For a hint, check out this Black Genealogy blog, https://weadwriteawaygoodgenes.com/2021/06/04/buffalo-soldiers-black-ancestors-were-the-worlds-first-park-rangers/

Have some fun while you are still at home or in anothe remote site and planning your post-COVID getaway. This grouping of pictures that I gleaned from one of my favorite websites, are just the beginning of your adventure. Try to identify the pictures below that are courtesy of the National Park Service.

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#14 Lest we forget: Digging up the facts about Decoration Day, first celebrated on May 1, 1865

Step-by-step guide on how to get to the truth and improve everyone’s ancestry facts

  • When was the first Decoration Day ceremony held? 1865 or 1868?
  • Who was present at that sacred ceremony? Three thousand black school children, northern missionaries and mutual aid societies … or … Southern white women.
  • How much pre-work was completed prior to the first Decoration Day and by whom? Graves of nearly 300 Union soliders who died at a horrific Confederate camp were dug up and relocated into single graves at a more peaceful site … or … a declaration by a U.S. General.
  • Why was a Decoration Day created? To celebrate the war dead with decorations on graves of soliders, parades and other commenorative celebrations.

There is a dual history remembrance of the very day set aside to remember our fallen comrades to war.


On May 1, 1865, following the construction of the newly built cemetery, the largest commemoration took place with a parade of nearly 10,000 people, led by a group of 3,000 Black school children. The processional led to the cemetery where everyone came together, both Black and white, and listened to the melancholy voices of the children’s choir and scripture readings. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Or did the following occur to establish the first “memorial” to our war dead?

From: https://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp

Local Observances Claim To Be First Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.”

Question #1 for genealogists: Who started the tradition of decorating graves with flowers and when?


Clubhouse at the race course where Union soldiers were held prisoner. Civil war photographs, 1861-1865, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Special thanks to Time.


Here’s what is generally known about what has become Memorial Day:

Here’s what happened at the Confederate prison camp in Charleston, S.C.: https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/may-30/. Three years after the first marking of Decoration Day, the U.S. General changed the narrative to mark it as a national holiday with traditions taken from the earlier years.

Question #2 for genealogists: Check out the facts and determine which year is the origination?


In 1865, 28 black workmen re-buried all (Black and Caucasian) Unioin soliders in individual graves. Prints and Photographs Collection, Library of Congress.

Or is this the first Decoration Day? https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/may-30/

Question #3 for our genealogists: Check out the facts and figure out how the narratives are blended so that all is true.

From Wikipedia:

“On May 11865, in Charleston, South Carolina, recently freed African-Americans held a parade of 10,000 people to honor 257 dead Union soldiers, whose remains they had reburied from a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp.”

How your family ancestry aids in merged narrative

  • Check and re-check the historical research that is present on our ancestry sites. After review, correct, adjust and all with integrity.
  • Write the established websites that I have included in this blog and others. For instance, the U.S. Government has existing information that is in direct conflict with the real Decoration Day-turned Memorial Day.
  • U.S. citizens are asked to pause at 3 p.m., Monday, May 31, 2021, for three minutes to commenorate all those who died in miitary conflict. There were many were died at some level of domestic battles that were not provoked by them.
  • Please also remember these folk, our ancestors from all creeds and ethnic backgrounds. Lest we forget Tulsa, Oklahoma; Omaha, Nebraska, ElaineU.S. citizens are asked to pause at 3 p.m., Monday, May 31, 2021, for three minutes to commenorate all those who died in miitary conflict.
  • Enjoy Memorial Day for its true value in this great nation.

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#13 How to learn off-court genealogy lessons from on-the-court play

Check out my other blog that I just posted http://weadwriteawaygoodgenes.com/2021/05/23/the-net-result-of-104-years-of-black-women-in-tennis-slowe-serve-to-turnbough/. It provides the linkage between historical and current actitivites on the tennis courts. involving black athletes.


Here’s how to transfer play into pay. In this example, the “play” is tennis. The “pay” is the pay off in historical, sometimes ancestral connections between former days and now.

Pay to Play tips:

  • Learn and study the present-day recreational and hobby activities of family members;
  • Participate in their favorite activities or show interest and become a great spectactor;
  • Become an equally great noteaker, visual recorder of your family member’s activities;
  • At the same time, begin the historical research about the same or similar activities;
  • Begin to connect the dots with the historical linkages to the present activities of your family and friends; and
  • Write your story, record your story or share your results to individuals who otherwise may not know the history as they witness the future.

Enjoy your research and publishing as much as I did when I researched the history of Black tennis in the U.S.

Photographs by Ann Lineve Wead Kimbrough, May 22, 2021

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#12 Genealogy 101 Tip: How to begin your basic, 4 generational research


One of the most often comments I receive from individuals wishing to learn more about their ancestors is something like this:

“I don’t know much or anything about my relatives on my mother’s (or father’s) side.”

“Genealogy research is too time consuming.”

I understand.

Step One

Build your tree by placing your full name (ladies: Please include your maiden name and place the married surname in parantheses) on the single line. That information is placed on the left side of this form:

Next, if you know your parents’ full names, follow the same instructions as above. Be sure to list the full names and that includes all previous marriages (if applicable) on the line

If you do not fully know either or both of your parents, and/or if you are adopted, record the information that your know.

Next, do the same for your grandparents and great-grandparents.

In all, write what you know. It will lead to questions that may or may not be answered by living relatives, friends, neighbors, clergy and other sources.

Whatever you build, do not discard it as it will serve as your foundational beginnng to a long and wonderful detective hunt for your family.

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What about the Sons and Daughters of the U.S. Middle Passage?

If you are like me and have ties to African American and/or Afro Caribbean ancestry — even a smidget — you are likely a candidate for membership in this great organization: Sons & Daughters of the United States Middle Passage.

Take the time to learn more about historical events involving our special category of ancestors. We devote at leat five hours per week to researching and learning more about Black genealogy.

Start right here with this conference. It begins Frday, May 21, 2021 at 5:45 p.m. EDT. Welcome to the annual conference!

For more information about the Friday-Saturday conference, check out its event page. Be sure to register and also consider adding a donation:

When

Friday, May 21, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
-to-
Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
Add to Calendar

Where

This is an online event. You must register to receive the link to program.  Space is limited.  Register now.

Contact

Dr. Evelyn A. McDowell 
Sons & Daughters of the U.S. Middle Passage 
email: info@sdusmp.org
info@sdusmp.org 

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2021 Annual Conference and

Annual Award Ceremony

On Friday, May 21, we will hold our 5th annual awards ceremony. We honor the work of individuals who helped us, through their service and research, remember and commemorate the estimated 10 million people who were enslaved in the United States and colonial Engish America. Our keynote speaker will be Nicka Sewell-Smith, and our networking event will follow the awards ceremony.  

On Saturday, May 22, we hold our 4th annual conference. This year we have over 18 presentations, including “ancestor poster sessions,” a networking/gaming event, and service and book awards. Nicka Swell-Smith will be our plenary speaker before we break into three breakout rooms. In those rooms, we will hear over 10 presentations throughout the day. At lunchtime, we will cook with Chef Keesha O’Galdez and hear a presentation from genealogist Andre Kerns. There will be a business meeting for members of the organization after the conference.  

Other speakers include Bernice Bennett, Ric Murphy, Rahkia Nance, Margo Lee Williams, and Yvette LaGonterie. See our conference website for complete information about events and bios of our speakers.  

More Information

Please visit our conference website for full information about the conference.

Consider a Donation

Please conside a donation to help us fullfil our mssion and to defray the cost of programing.  We are grateful for any amount.  SDUSMP is a 501(3), charitable  organization and all donations are tax-exempt.  We are a 100% volunteer organization and all of your donation goes directly into furthering our mission.  Just go to www.paypal.me/sdusmp and make your contribution.  Thank you in advance.  Register Now!

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Repost #11 Genealogy TipSheet: Don’t forget the Potter’s fields

It is a tough lick when one cannot locate a relative whom we know existed, yet is not “findable.” In genealogy research, we refer to such situations as brick walls.

One tool to help chip away at those walls are found in places that we may driven past a hundred times. In my home state of Nebraska, and especially in Omaha, I turned to the Potter’s Field to locate the individuals who are missing from all final records https://www.noiseomaha.com/news-now/2020/10/28/potters-field-historical-marker-dedication-honors-those-laid-to-rest.


The reference in the Bible to the Potter’s House https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/jeremiah-18/has many meanings. In relation to the Potter’s Field in Nebraska and in many locations around the globe, the person working pottery never abandoned a lump of clay just because of its imperfections. Instead, it worked it via a wheel or by hand to mold it into something good.

Looking for a relative who may have been forgotten? Check your local and state records as more individuals are being identified and in some cases, relocated to different burial sites.

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#9 Tribute for a new ancestor: Take note on how to write a resolution to honor a loved one

I had the honor of working with a fine man, William Durant, during my tenure as Director, Fulton County (Atlanta, GA) Government’s Information and Public Affairs Department. That was several years ago. From time to time, I wonder what became of Bill and a few other fine co-workers from various career appointments that I was fotunate to hold.

Last year, I “found” Bill. My cousin, Mark Owen, and I noticed his name and image in a newlsetter of a then-new organization we joined, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. Metro Atlanta Chapter (AAHGS) We were elated as Mark and I had wonderful memories of working with Bill.

Today, I received a sad notice that his Bill’s mother has passed. I intend to send Bill and his family a bereaement acknowledgement. What I appreiate about the anouncement is that it included a bio of his mother as presented in a proclamation by the South Carolina legislature.

How Roberta Dannelly Durant is still teaching us an important lesson

For budding or longtime genealogists, note the writing capture about the honored life of of Mrs. Durant. The resolution is a textbook example of how to present someone’s life to those who knew her and others of us who did not know this historic lady.


South Carolina General Assembly
122nd Session, 2017-2018

Download This Bill in Microsoft Word format

Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter

H. 5344

STATUS INFORMATION

House Resolution
Sponsors: Reps. Alexander and Henegan
Document Path: l:\council\bills\rm\1392cz18.docx

Introduced in the House on May 1, 2018
Adopted by the House on May 1, 2018

Summary: Roberta Dannelly Durant

HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

     Date      Body   Action Description with journal page number
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    5/1/2018  House   Introduced and adopted (House Journal-page 55)

View the latest legislative information at the website

VERSIONS OF THIS BILL

5/1/2018
(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)

A HOUSE RESOLUTION

TO RECOGNIZE AND HONOR ROBERTA DANNELLY DURANT OF FLORENCE AND TO CONGRATULATE HER AS SHE CELEBRATES SEVENTY-FIVE REMARKABLE YEARS AS A MEMBER OF ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA SORORITY, INCORPORATED.

Whereas, the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives are pleased to learn that Roberta Dannelly Durant of Florence is marking three quarters of a century as a dedicated member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA), the nation’s first sorority established by African-American women; and

Whereas, born in Bishopville the sixth of seven children, she graduated in 1940 from Mathers Academy in Camden; and

Whereas, in 1943, the young Roberta pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Beta Sigma Chapter, at what was to become South Carolina State College, from which she graduated in 1944 with a bachelor’s degree in business education; and

Whereas, as a new teacher, she taught at Carver Elementary School in Florence. During that first year in the classroom, she taught thirty third-grade students, being determined to touch each one every day. She retired after more than thirty years as an educator; and

Whereas, on March 8, 1952, Roberta Durant became one of seventeen charter members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Epsilon Chi Omega Chapter, in Florence. She has been a member of AKA for seventy-five years and is now a Diamond Member of the sorority, which she has served as president, financial secretary, and parliamentarian. In addition, she has served on a number of committees, among them the By-laws, Cotillion, Health, and Family and Friends Day committees, the latter as chair. She also has directed plays presented in the community by the sorority; and

Whereas, a woman of faith, Mrs. Durant serves her God at Cumberland United Methodist Church (UMC). Past and present service for the church includes the following: member and president of the Cumberland Organization of United Methodist Women, district treasurer of the United Methodist Women, chair of both the Cumberland UMC Finance Committee and Stewardship Committee, director of the Methodist Youth Fellowship Program, first den mother for the Cumberland Boy Scouts, Bible study coordinator, Sunday School teacher, and team leader for the Nurture/Class Leader Committee; and

Whereas, Roberta Durant believes strongly in personal involvement with her community, and her convictions have led her to serve that community, as well as the broader community of South Carolina and beyond, in several capacities. These include membership on the Florence County Disabilities & Special Needs Board, in the National Council of Negro Women and Pelican House Board for Light House Ministries, and volunteer service for the Duke Foundation. In the 1980s, she served as a member of the Election Commission for the City of Florence, and in 1981 she was one of the appellants in a court case argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals to place attorney Mordecai Johnson on the city council ballot by petition; and

Whereas, the South Carolina House of Representatives is grateful for Roberta Durant’s life of service and her remarkable legacy, and the members commend her for seventy-five years of devoted membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:

That the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives, by this resolution, recognize and honor Roberta Dannelly Durant of Florence and congratulate her as she celebrates seventy-five remarkable years as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be presented to Roberta Dannelly Durant.—-XX—-


This web page was last updated on May 31, 2018 at 4:51 PM

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Generational Love: Happy Birthday, Aunt Marjorie!

  • She is a ball of fun-fire!
  • Two weeks ago, she told me that she doesn’t like her first name — Nannie — although she is named for her grandmother, Nannie Bradley.
  • GrandAunt Marjorie said COVID-19 severly cut out her interaction with folk. She was the recreation center leader on so many activities.
  • Visiting her? I had to put on my roller skates.
  • She is the mother of Carolyn and Charles, her surviving children. Last year, her son — my cousin — Donnie and his wife died from COVID-19.

Wish Aunt Marjorie a very happy birthday by subscribing to our blog. More details to come about the online, 101 Black Family Genealogy courses.

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#8 Learning more about slavery … ancestry

We are members of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. Metro- Atlanta Chapter and one of its tremendous benefits is its notification of great events.

Check out this virtual event: April 30 and May 1, 2021 … you don’t want to miss this!

https://www.slaveryatuga.org/program

Photo by Clement Eastwood on Pexels.com
Featured

#7 Want to improve your family’s genealogy searches? Start right where you are

The not-so secret to becoming a fantastic family genealogy researcher starts with you.

The more that I pour through records in search of even the tiniest of information related to a long-lost relative, I focus on how much easier it would be if I knew more about their lives. Sadly, for those of us with brown-colored relatives, the historical documents are likely long ago destroyed, never recorded, not ever respected and typically not in the same places as our European and related counterparts.

This is often my manta. Yet, I love the payoff of good research results about my family and that of our clients.

Here are my tips on how to look ahead to building the type of information that will help future family researchers. After all, one day we will become ancestors to the ages.

What would you like for your descendants to know about you? This is your opportunity to provide the facts and other interesting information about you to preserve records that otherwise may be hard for them to locate.

I recommend the following:

  • Record your birth date, location, time, day of the week and any other factoids from your historic arrival on this earth.
  • Record all of your legal names, including nicknames. For instance, my “government name” is Ann Lineve. My nickname is “Nieve.”
  • List your parents’ and grandparents’ information that includes the aforementioned information. Make sure that your records are accurate. That is, sometimes we ask our parents questions and they may or may not know all of their birth, etc. facts. That’s where your research skills come in. Compare the results you locate with what your parents or grandparents may have for you.
  • Follow the same advice that I’ve offered (see above) involving your children, spouses, partners, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, “play Mommas and Dads” and any other close relatives.
Record your information! You will be appreciated as an ancestor.
Photo by Ann Nekr on Pexels.com
  • If you or anyone immigrated from other country, and/or lived in other countries, please include that information along with dates and other relevant information.
  • Where have you resided? List those places, including college locations and other spots, no matter the length of your stay. It helps to place this in chronological order.
  • My daughter is a U.S. Army veteran. It is helpful to list any military records and other related public service with similar dates, times and other publishable information.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • What is your religious affiitation? Has it always been what you are now recording or did you change denominations? All of this information is helpful to the future family researchers.
  • Be sure to leave behind your careers and years of service. Why did you choose the careers that define your professional work?
  • There’s helpful information about your health. Please include all commentary is included in your documents for family researchers.
  • Include as much about your life as possible. I would add that I took courses in comedy and actually performed on the Second City stage — twice!
  • Remember to physically describe yourself now and in previous years. Place photographs of yourself in records that are findable.

Thanks to technlogy, all of the offerings that I recommended could be easily filed in this manner. I encourage you to sign up for the free or paid electronic sites to help organize your information. Even with enviornmental challenges, if there is a way to print your information, do so. Place it in a safe place. It is always a great discovery when your descendants find information in your handwriting or outside of technology.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

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#5 Peek in our e-book: “Out of Sight’ for beginning Black Genealogists

PART I: Out of Our Gloomy Past

Slavery’s Impact Upon Black Genealogical Research

  Slavery’s far-reaching effect upon the lives of African Americans is the single-most reason why it is challenging to easily research involving our Black ancestors. Records of names, places of origin, accurate ages and other important data were not kept for slaves or if kept, are likely long ago destroyed or lost. In rare instances, some of the basic passenger information was retained by the Atlantic Ocean ship’s captain or slave holders. In the records born from slave holders, it is likely that the surnames are the same as the persons who took possession of our ancestors.

The estimates vary on when the first slaves were shipped across the Atlantic to the North and South American soil. Some reports suggest that the first slaves arrived on U.S. shores somewhere between 1525 and 1619. It is well documented that in 1619, slaves were unloaded from ships at Port Comfort, VA., near Jamestown. Between 1619 and 1866, approximately 13 million Africans were packed into ships headed for the “New World.” Of that, an estimated two million slaves perished by disease, suicides and other means, making their graves the Atlantic Ocean. That left an approximate 10.7 million Africans who survived the brutal slave ships’ conditions across the Atlantic Ocean. It is estimated 388,000 black ancestors arrived along North American shores through 1866, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (edited by Profs. David Eltis and David Richardson). The remainder of the precious “cargo” was delivered to South American and Caribbean countries.

Sometimes in the pursuit of African American ancestors, the inquiries or checklists do not take into consideration that not U.S. residents arrived on these shores with passenger lists to identify them. One case in point is found in a test that I took to a complete a genealogy course. I missed the correct answer on one question because I responded based on my African American family history.   The question on the examination was: “Which immigration records are the best sources for determining if someone’s ancestor arrived in the United States from an international country. The instructor’s answer was “Passenger lists.”  The answer choices did not include one for my ancestors. This is an example of the importance of remaining flexible and open to the workarounds and delays in retrieving records related to your family’s ancestors.

 When searching for ancestors not all potential information is included in general inquiries. Many records unique to Black, Native Americans, Afro-Caribbean ancestors are not integrated into traditional family ancestry searches. For instance, “Slave Schedules” is not included in an ancestry site query for a relative. Therefore, it is important to review all categories of detailed listings such as the Sumter County, Alabama, U.S., Circuit Court Files, 1840-1950 and Americus times-recorder NEW.  It is advisable to rely on more than one on-line genealogy site to expand the ancestral search and build family trees.

Pre- and Post-Civil War Searches

The important benchmarks that are integral to effectively and efficiently researching African American ancestry are divided in two major categories:

  1. Slave families before the Civil War.
  2. Black and African American families beginning with the 1870 Census.

Prior to the Civil War, information and data about African American ancestors is sparse and vastly different than that of others. Slaves’ surnames were often the same as their owners and not of their African-given names.  In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau developed separate listings known as “Slave Schedules” in 1850 and 1860. While not providing the names of slaves, the Slave Schedules provide the owners’ names. In many cases, the identifiers for slaves included the ages, sex and varying notations such as “deaf …dumb.”

However, after the war and beginning with the 1870 Census, the official recordkeeping involving Blacks was similar to that of U.S. Whites and immigrants. While some former slaves maintained the slave owners’ surnames given to them, others changed their last names. That is why the family Bible is so important as it was a historical recorder of the important events in the lives of freed slaves. The family Bible also served as an official legal document in the courthouse where African Americans sought official birth records. Usually, the births of our family members occurred with the help of midwives. The midwives were also principally responsible for reporting births to the respective county court houses.

Making the most of “Brick walls”

Between 1920 and 1930, my Great-Grandmother Carrie changed the spelling of our surname to “Wead” and my grandfather followed her lead when applied for his social security card in 1936.  My father, Rodney Wead, never learned why the spelling change in our surname. The Census Bureau and other government sources frequently contain errors in ages, relationships to the heads of households, racial classification, employment, literacy, name spellings, real estate and other categories involving the documentation of African American families. This e-book will offer recommendations on how to confirm the demographic data and thereby move around the “brick wall” effects. “The wall” or “the brick wall” is a phrase often used in genealogy to describe what it feels like when after several hours or even years of sorting through delicate historical information, the researcher is not able to breakthrough with accurate information about their ancestor.

You do not have to get used to the wall’s reality. Approach your research by thinking new thoughts and seek opportunities in the historical challenges to keep walls in our ways.  Combine the “old school” with new ways. See value in the centuries ago inscribed family Bibles while trusting the technology to locate grave markers and passports of your ancestors. Invest your time and resources into learning more about your ancestors for personal, professional, mental and physical health benefits. It will be worth it.

Mental, Psychological, Spiritual Walls

“Why can’t I know my birthday?” asked Frederick Douglass, born a slave around 1817.  Think about that statement by the great statesman, Douglass. It was rare for slaves and any indentured black servants to know the details of their lives. Think about how difficult it may be for you to learn the same about your ancestors.

There are many more terms or single words that are triggers for deep-seeded and some surface matters that my cousin and I had not fully resolved. The same may be true for others who embark on the black genealogy path.  For some of the topics and situations we encountered during our research, Mark and I had to take a break after discovering something that was a breakthrough while also being a burden to our souls. We exhaled whenever those temporary “moments” of anxiety and questions flooded our thoughts and words such as the time we dealt with the meaning of word “property” to slave holders and traders. For instance, the reality that slaves were considered “property” by their owners meant that being bought and sold in exchange for land, cash, or another material matter, remains disheartening. It meant that slave families were ripped apart and the scars and outward behaviors would likely be passed through the generations.

Each time, we hit those bumps in the road, Mark and I successfully emerged from our unplanned research breaks with fresh outlooks and words of encouragement about our brave and smart ancestors. After all, if our ancestors had not endured the pain, suffering and the glorious moments, none of us would be on this earth. We are sharing our tribulations to help others who are deeply connected to their pasts to advance their present and future journeys.

 During your early discoveries of family ancestry, it is likely that you will find words, phrases, photographs and other documents that may trigger emotions and reactions that you may have long ago forgiven. For Mark and me, our triggers included the following words, phrases and digits:

During your early discoveries of family ancestry, it is likely that you will find words, phrases, photographs and other documents that may trigger emotions and reactions that you may have long ago forgiven. For Mark and me, our triggers included the following words, phrases and digits:

1525                                                                Land deeds                                         Slave owners

1619                                                                Lynching                                             Slave schedules

1919                                                                Middle Passage                                   Slavery                       

Branding                                                         Missing names of slaves                     Status of black women           

‘Death over foreign servitude’                        Mutilation                                           Whippings      

Fugitive                                                           Property                                 

“Gator Babies”                                                Probated wills                                    

Imprisonment                                                  “Slave for life”                                   

Illustration of slaves in chains, from the August 1838 edition of the American Antislavery Alamanac.

Illustration of slaves in chains. From Southern, N., American Antislavery Almanac (August 1838). Boston: Isaac Knapp, Publisher. https://archive.org/details/americanantislav1838chil/page/20/mode/2up

Slaves under the overseer's whip, illustration from the American Antislavery Almananc, 1838.

Illustration of slaves under the overseer’s whip. From Southern, N., American Antislavery Almanac (August 1838). Boston: Isaac Knapp, Publisher. https://archive.org/details/americanantislav1838chil/page/20/mode/2up

With many more expressions and reminders of our ‘gloomy past,’ Mark and I continued our path as overcomers. We focus on the ‘the white gleam of our bright star is cast,’ as penned by James Weldon Johnson in the poem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” It was written during a time when Jim Crow replaced slavery. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson, composed the song that is sung today and affectionately known as the “National Negro Anthem.”  The words to this anthem are a go-to song of comfort, faith and hope for the future. ­

Lift Every Voice and Sing

James Weldon Johnson – 1871-1938

Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

From Saint Peter Relates an Incident by James Weldon Johnson. Copyright © 1917, 1921, 1935 James Weldon Johnson, renewed 1963 by Grace Nail Johnson.

Let’s get started.

Featured

Liggins Legacy-building in ‘this life’

Omaha, Nebraska’s Woods-Hughes-Liggins family is very special to the Owen-Wead family.

My Dad, Dr. Rodney S. Wead, https://northomahahistory.com/2019/12/11/a-biography-of-rodney-wead/considers Media Maven Cathy Hughes https://www.omahamagazine.com/2018/11/21/301576/cathy-hughes his “little sis.”

Dad and Cathy met as youthful residents in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Development “The ‘jects” https://northomahahistory.com/2015/08/20/a-history-of-the-logan-fontenelle-housing-projects/. Cathy’s Dad, William Alfred Woods, attended Creighton University and became the first African American to earn an accounting degree at the Omaha institution. https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/29/His family moved out of Logan Fontenelle for a better life for his children (4th child is Cathy), wife, Helen Jones Woods, world-renowned founder and glass ceiling breaker of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&ei=UTF-8&p=Helen+Jones+Woods&type=E211US1494G0#id=2&vid=d01749fc55514eb606b68e2a725136ec&action=click.


It is no surprise that the legacy of the Woods-Liggins-Hughes lives on. Spend 8 minutes watching this exciting video!

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CMdc94rHSuU/?igshid=1my9jvqrxqky7

Alfred Liggins, CEO, TV/RadioONE,https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/alfred-liggins-iii announced a significant project to benefit Richmond, Virginia and beyond.

The celebration of our ancestor’s history begins right now with visionary folk. I can see and feel the future in African American economic, ecological, social, educational, health and wellness, et al.

Congrats to the principal visionary of this empire, Cathy Hughes!

She remains our Omaha, Nebraska native powerhouse!

Featured

Breaking through the Ice: First Black Ice Figure Skater could not compete during tragic Jim Crow era

Honored now posthumously by Ice Skating organizations, young black women

Mabel Fairbanks

Mabel Fairbanks was born in Jacksonville, Florida in the early 1920s. Life there was subjugated by abject poverty, bigotry, and Jim Crow laws. In the early 1930s, there was a great migration north in which Fairbanks’ brothers and sisters moved to New York City. She herself followed along. There, at an early age, she was drawn to the sport of figure skating. During the cold winters of the city, she would curiously watch from afar the twirling and gliding skaters in Central Park. But it was after seeing Sonja Henie’s movie “One In A Million” that she was determined to learn to skate. She took herself to the north end of Harlem with a pair of used, oversize skates, and on small frozen ponds and rivulets, she started to teach herself to skate. In her continued desire to practice her skills on ice, she ventured out into the city to find a proper ice rink facility. Time after time she was denied entrance to skate at many of the city’s coveted rinks because of her color, but she did not let that deter her. The manager of the Gay Blades Ice Rink on West 52nd St. noted her persistence and finally let her in, only to request that she could only skate the last 30 minutes of the evening session. As a result, with her enthusiasm and dazzling spirit she caught the eye of the legendary 9 time U.S. Ladies Champion, Maribel Vinson Owen, who helped refine Fairbanks’ skating technique with tips and pointers. Fairbanks was finally shattering the race barrier in the city. Because she was not allowed to compete due to race and bigotry of the skating community in the city, Owen encouraged her to create her own shows and events. Taking that suggestion to heart, she soon was producing her own shows at the Gay Blades Ice Rink after their closing hours, as well shows in the Supper Clubs, the Apollo Theatre, and other social venues in and around Harlem. In the late 40s Fairbanks left the east coast for California. She quickly gained fame and respect first becoming the coach of the children of Hollywood’s elite — Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Ozzie and Harriet’s Ricky Nelson, and Otto Preminger. She made guest appearances on the popular KTLA TV show “Frosty Frolics.” But eventually her deep desire was to become the coach of young competitive skaters of all races with her primary focus in helping nurture and support African American figure skaters. The list of some of those talented students includes: Atoy Wilson, Richard Ewell and Michelle McCladdie, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Bobby Beauchamp, Leslie Robinson, and many others. Along with inspiring, mentoring, and knowing champions — Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi, Rudy Galindo and Debi Thomas — her coaching style helped her students to become not only great champions but also upstanding individuals. Even though she herself never stood on a podium as a champion, she took great pride and satisfaction in her students who did. And with that, her vision and goals were accomplished and fulfilled. Fairbanks coached until she was 79 years young. In 1997, Fairbanks was the first African American to be inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. In October of 2001 she was posthumously inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. Mabel Fairbanks quietly passed in Sept of 2001 in Burbank, California, leaving a bright legacy as a trailblazer and the Grand Dame of African American figure skaters.

Celebrate the life and accomplishments of Mabel Fairbanks at the 2021 Champions in Life Virtual Benefit Gala!

#40 My DNA results updates: Diversity+

My DNA results were recently updated by ancestry.com. After a decade, I love receiving the additional research.

In summary, I’m related to a diverse population:


Updated September 2021 https://www.ancestry.com/dna/origins/9DBE5BC7-21AB-45AB-BA2F-0B23BF88E3B3?o_iid=90600&o_lid=90600&o_sch=Web%20Property

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