Create your great today for tomorrow

How to tips

Live your best lives and record your stories. We have a limited amount of time in this earth realm. How are you preparing to leave lasting legacies? Keep in mind our future generations. Namaste.


You are here to change the world. Future generations will reap the harvest of your good works. Shine and shine brightly — excerpt Daily Thoughts from the Hill daily_thoughts_from_the_hill@hillsideinternational.org.

How to preserve great legacies

  • Create a print, audio and/or video gratitude journal and strive to record your successes, victories, small wonders and more in it each day. If you already have a gratitude, continue to record.
  • If you have or are creating a print gratitude journal, add photos and if possible, audio and video evidence of the good you are enjoying.
  • On those so-called “sad” or “bad” days, dig deep and find at least one object, person or situation that brought sunshine to your lives.
  • Consider presenting excerpts from your gratitude journal in a family or friends setting such as a reunion, holiday or just because.
  • Consider where you will place your gratitude journal so that future generations may view it. Online ancestry sites and other technology-based cloud storage locations are worth exploring.


Freebie Friday: Historical mapping

I was moved by a newspaper columnist’s description of the great flood in the 1940s that invaded my hometown, Omaha, Nebraska and neighboring city, Council Bluffs, Iowa. What led me to this article was an active conversation I was having with my parents about a time when the entire community pulled together to help one another.

My Dad and his buddies were drafted to help build structures to help fend off the water disaster that paralyzed the area for several weeks.

As I listened to their separate remembrances, I was scanning the flooded areas via today’s Internet. There were empty spaces where houses and businesses once stood, while stronger structures remaining upon the soggy grounds.

What was my fantastic tool to locate the historical Iowa and Nebraska? It’s the Freebie Friday “My Genealogy Hound.” It’s a great website with more than 2,100 historic county maps from throughout the United States. I’ve found it helpful when I was researching my ancestors in Georgia. I wanted to see where my paternal family lived in Helena, Arkansas in 1919, and our (Good Genes Genealogy team) maternal relatives’ homes and businesses in Springfield, Missouri between 1900 and 1945.

Some maps don’t allow the researcher to drill down and find every old road that I was seeking. Yet, most of the county maps give me a great sense of the areas.

There’s at least one county map for every county in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Only partial lists exist for the remaining U.S. states. Within all states, more county maps are regularly added.

Enjoy your genealogy geography hunting!


Aunt Ancestor Still Leading me on Genealogy Journey

Paternal Aunt Beverly Ann Wead Blackburn Jones

On this annual day of Epiphany, it is also the birth of my most cheriished ancestor. Today, Jan. 6, 2022, would have been my Paternal Aunt Beverly Ann Wead Blackburn Jones’ 85th birthday. She transitioned in 1973 at the age of 36. I was 15 years old. It was the first family death that left an indelible mark upon my life.

My father’s baby sister, my mother’s best friend, my dear ancestor Aunt Beverly, has taught me so much over the nearly 49 years since her transition. Many of our ancestors have that ability to guide us through our genealogy journeys. My advice: Let them.

Aunt Bev’s Grave Marker in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Omaha, Nebraska

Aunt Beverly is more than the grave marker of her birth and death dates. She was a standout scholar, athlete and civic citizen that began in her high school years. She continued with similar activities in college and added accomplishments that included journalist, sorority member and U.S. Senate recognized achiever. She was twice married, had three children during her first marriage, owned businesses and hosted many recreational and entertainment activities for children and teenagers in our hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

The summary of Aunt Beverly’s life from our family tree on ancestry.com’s website

When I wrote about my dear Aunt Beverly a year ago, I did not have the family details that I have since retrieved. Thanks to Aunt Beverly, I offer the following genealogy tips that lead to more discoveries in our ancestry searches:

  • Update ancestor’s information. Review the ancestor’s information for updates that are often added through online sources. I found new information relevant to Aunt Beverly’s ancestry data. A closer look at the 1940 U.S. Census data for Aunt Beverly’s/my Dad’s family showed that their Dad/my grandfather completed one year of high school.
  • Review linked ancestor’s information. While reviewing your ancestor, follow her or his lineage for the same purpose of online updates. I found new and rich updates about my ancestors who are Aunt Beverly’s father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-grandmother’s information.
  • Resist the tendency to keep your original research. Often, we don’t want to release our early research about our ancestors after we find new documents that provide validity. For instance, my great-great grandmother’s birth year and location were incorrect on my family tree. Documents were recently released that gave accurate results based on Fannie Robinson Wade’s recently found birth certificate from 1841.

4. Verify new information. Using my paternal great-great grandmother’s data, I verified her birth year by reviewing the 1880 U.S. Census for her age at that time. I also found two other trees that included Fannie Robinson Wade as part of their research. The reconciled birth year information appears to be accurate.

5. Select a routine day or date to review and update ancestral information. I use my ancestors’ birthdays, marriage anniversaries, holidays and death anniversaries to pause and review existing information for updates. With Aunt Beverly, I review her life’s story on her birthday and in June of each year.

The how-tos that I presented can be expanded by each researcher reading this WordPress blog and social media post. Share your ideas to help others and the Good Genes Genealogy team to gain new research techniques.

This column is reprinted from WeadWriteAwayandGenealogy

Author: Learning family histories

Our genealogy traces our family from western and central Africa and western Europe. Our ancestors entered the United States at the Virginia and Georgia Ports. First cousins Mark Owen and Ann Lineve Wead (it is protocol to use the maiden names of females in genealogy searches) are responsible for writing this blog. Although Ann has been involved in genealogy research while searching for certain ancestors since the age of 10, the cousins began deeper research of their families during the COVID-19 Pandemic Year of 2020. Devoting as much as 6 hours some evenings to the methodical training and research of genealogy, the cousins completed the year 2020 by earning genealogy certificates. Join us. @goodgenesgenealogy on wordpress and fb, twitter Sign up for our blog and enjoy the journey. View all posts by Learning family histories


Barking up the tree: How to create a “real” family tree

One of my facebook genealogy page colleagues gifted her children with their individual family trees. Now that the winter holidays are over, this idea is perfect for 2022 family reunions.

My colleague said the most often asked question is where to purchase the tree stand? She offered this bestchoiceporducts site.

Here is the back of one of the branches for you to consider how to list your ancestors.

How to make this happen for your family? Be creative by using this example as your foundation of an idea that brings new meaning to our genealogy phrase, “family tree.”

Happy New Year!


It’s Freebie Friday!

Check out the ancestry.com Library edition for free forms and charts

Check out the ancestry.com Library edition for free forms and charts

I did a double take when I was searching for genealogy information via ancestry.com on my local public library’s website. The free Ancestry.com site courtesy of my favorite library, DeKalb County Public Library, has different offerings than my private, subscription-based ancestry.com account.

That’s the first freebie: Use your public library card to log into your local branch’s website and search for ancestry.com. Once in the site, select the “charts and forms” tab and click on to access it.

screenshot record

The second freebie is found in the ancestry.com charts and forms tab. You may wish to download any or all six of the forms and charts. The forms and charts are great tools to help the novice and seasoned genealogy researchers to organize family documents.

The charts and forms from ancestry. com are also exclusively offered on library sites. That’s a bonus for having a library card.

Hurry! Ancestry.com’s Library editions may be ending soon, according to the company’s website.


How to name your family tree

My ancestry.com family tree is appropriately named: “Bartee Douthy Duncan Fisher Kimbrough Owen Parker Shaw Thompson Wead Weed Wilks Wilkes Family Tree.”

Below is a photo of the Wilkes family and friends in front of their home in Springfield, Missouri. It is estimated that this photo was taken in 1925.

To gain the best results from building your family tree on any ancestry website, list the top surnames. As you build your family tree, remember the surnames and always use the maiden names of your female ancestors in genealogy searches.

In my early years of researching my family, I included my female ancestors’ married names in family genealogy searches. It limited my information collection. Now that I have replaced the married names with maiden names, the family searches are much more successful.

How do you find the maiden names? Check marriage certificates and licenses, marriage announcements and bonds for the correct maiden names of relatives. For instance, as shown below, I located the maiden name of Florida L. Fisher on the marriage license certifying the union with our cousin, Herbert Gerald Parker.

If marriage documents are tough to find, ask your oldest family members to help remember the maiden names. When I used my maternal Great- Great-Grandmother’s Melissa C. Gray Wilkes’ maiden name, I easily located her parents and her grandparents. The Gray surname was the key to finding her parents, grandparents and siblings.

Great-Great-Grandmother Melissa Gray Wilkes (1871 – 1934) is viewed below:

Happy family searches. Build your family trees with maiden names linked to the strong surnames.


HoHo Helpful hints for family tree

It’s Freebie Friday!

For many of us, it is a challenge to learn of our grandparents and their parents. Think about the challenge of locating 10 generations of grandparents, or stated another way, your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents!

While the Good Genes Genealogy cousins are only halfway there with our maternal grandparents, we, like you, will keep trying to reach the 10th generation of relatives.

Notice the fourth and fifth great-grandfathers. The fourth great-grandfather fought a battle in Georgia during the Revolutionary War to keep the British invasion at bay.

Here’s some solid advice from us and colleagues who are genealogy buffs:

  • Decide on your purpose for your family tree. Some prefer to build family tree to only link direct lineage. Others build trees for family history purposes. Both types of family trees are valuable.
  • Now begin with yourself to begin your family tree, hence the top of the Christmas tree shaped family tree that is displayed in this blog.
  • Fill in as much as you know about your grandparents and their parents, if possible.
  • Use death and birth certificates, if available, to verify each grandparents’ parents.
  • DNA results remain a huge help in filling in the names of grandparents, siblings, cousins and other relatives.
  • Do not ignore individuals that keep appearing on your ancestry lines that do not appear to be blood relatives. Their records are equally important to locate ancestors as those “nonblood” individuals may share other family relationships.
  • If grandparents have been married more than once, you have the choice to add each marriage, or directly link your blood lines to the married grandparents. It’s tricky, yet family tree-building technology is now allowing for some flexibility.
  • Build in lots of genealogy research time to achieve whatever goals you have for building family trees this holiday season.

Have fun, relax, share memories and ask great questions of your relatives to build your tree.

Happy Holidays!


What better gift than the gift of family genealogy?

I was busy preparing my holiday cards when my thoughts turned to gift-giving. What is the greatest genealogy gift that I could give to my family? The answer: Ancestral research findings.

Guess what? I, too, received the greatest gift.

I poured through our family ancestry records and discovered great finds via newspapers.com. I attached the newspaper clippings to my family members’ trees and also printed some records to share as part of my gift giving.

The clipping below was part of my gift to Cousin-by-marriage Florida L. Fisher Parker a year ago during the holiday season. She was overjoyed to see this clipping, her marriage license and other related documents that I uncovered through electronic methods. My discoveries also prompted Florida sharing funny and tearful memories about that great day in her life.

My cousin, Ret. Col. Parker and Florida on their wedding day, June 27, 1959

Florida, the widow of Ret. Col. Herbert Gerald Parker, is an enthusiast genealogist. She piqued my interest in genealogy while we all lived in Tallahassee, FL. Typically, I would visit with Florida and we would prepare documents for the family reunion. After the burial of her husband, my cousin, Herb, at Arlington National Cemetery in D.C., Florida chose to live near her daughter and family in Maryland. Distance and COVID-19 restrictions have grounded our travels and frequency of our conversations.

That’s why this year, I bundled up some new finds that are related to her deceased father, Dr. Miles Mark Fisher. During my research of her father, I discovered my greatest gifts.

  • Gift #1: I learned that Dr. Fisher was the author of several books and articles. One of his books, “The Life of Lott Cary” is out of print. It is about the life of a former slave who toiled many years to earn enough to purchase his freedom and that of his family’s. He became a member of the clergy and also ascended into other high places.
  • Gift #2: I learned that Rev. Fisher was the longtime pastor of White Rock Baptist Church, Durham, N.C. It was a church that was widely recognized nationwide and in its community for its social activism and highly touted black businessmen and civil rights leaders as congregants. He also initiated a program that held period racially integrated religious services.
  • Gift #3: I learned that Dr. Fisher was a scholar. He was on faculty at Virgina Union and Shaw University.
  • Gift #4: I learned the young scholar was one of the first “Negroes to receive the Ph.D. degree in philosophy and religion from the University of Chicago.”
  • Gift #5: The joy that the printed articles bring to Florida’s life. She doesn’t use technology, yet, she is fond of receiving information about her family.

By sharing your ancestral findings with loved ones, you are giving the greatest gift of all during this holiday season and throughout the year.


Holiday Best Buys for African American Genealogy + Bonus

Happy Holidays!

Barnes & Noble website is one of many locations to find our books

The Good Genes Genealogy Services team has been providing free and low-cost services to engaging clients throughout 2021.

To keep our services at this level, we invite you to support us by investing a few dollars into the books we published during this second health pandemic year. The bonus book is written by Dr. Ann Wead Kimbrough about her father, Dr. Rodney S. Wead, a relatively unknown and yet effective community leader.

All of the books genealogy books are written by the cousin duo, Kimbrough and Mark S. Owen. The book illustrator for all books is Veverly Byrd-Davis. Besides our publishing company, http://www.lulu.com (see bookstore, Good Genes Genealogy), our books are offered on many national book sites.


Listen Up: It’s Freebie Friday!

Free audio instead of paying the annual fees
Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

Hear, hear! Rather than dole out hard cash (or credit cards) for an annual audio subscription for books, I choose to make great use of my DeKalb County (GA) Public Library card and tune into hoopladigital.com.

Check your library for free audio book subscriptions.

That’s my best Freebie Friday tip. Sign up and listen to great books like the one I just finished:

A great book to listen to as it read by the soothing voice of Kareem Maize, who is not the author.


Freebie Friday!

Photo by Sindre Stru00f8m on Pexels.com

Free Databases at Ancestry.Com

Courtesy of http://www.searchforancestors.com/ancestryfreebies.html

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Ancestry.com Free Collection.

Ancestry.com is a premium subscription-based genealogy website with over 8 billion genealogy records, most of which are online images of original documents. In addition, Ancestry has more than 35 million user-submitted family trees, which include photographs, written stories, and scanned documents.

One of Ancestry’s best kept secrets is that they also have over 1,300 always-free databases. To view these free records, you may be asked to sign up for a free account, but the account is free, no strings attached. You do not need a free trial to view these records.

The free databases are available to search at the Ancestry site at Ancestry.com Free Index Collection.Ancestry.com Free Collection Search

First Name
Last Name
                  Any                    USA                 AL                 AK                 AZ                 AR                 CA                 CO                 CT                 DE                 DC                 FL                 GA                 HI                 ID                 IL                 IN                 IA                 KS                 KY                 LA                 ME                 MD                 MA                 MI                 MN                 MS                 MO                 MT                 NE                 NV                 NH                 NJ                 NM                 NY                 NC                 ND                 OH                 OK                 OR                 PA                 RI                 SC                 SD                 TN                 TX                 UT                 VT                 VA                 WA                 WV                 WI                 WY                 —                 CAN                 AB                 BC                 MB                 NB                 NF                 NT                 NS                 TT                 ON                 PE                 QC                 SK                 YT                  —                 INTL               

Although this database is called the Free Index, it actually includes indexes as well as images. This Free Index Search contains all the free Ancestry.com record databases but does not include the very popular Family Trees.

Below is a list of the most popular Ancestry free databases. Scroll down to see some of the the free Ancestry databases that are listed by country and state.


Harvard-Trained Lawyer Founded Hair-Lotion Maker – The Wall Street Journal

Harvard-Trained Lawyer Founded Hair-Lotion Maker TGIN (Thank God Its Natural Haircare) ://www.wsj.com/articles/harvard-trained-lawyer-founded-hair-lotion-maker-tgin-11637690757


When Robert B. Wilks and Melissa Gray married on November 29, 1888

In our family, several births, deaths and marriages took place in the month of November.

In 1888, two teenagers — Robert B. Wilkes and Melissa C. Gray — married in a simple ceremony in Greene County, Missouri. The hard-to-view document includes the signature witness of our Great-Great Grandfather’s father, Peter Wilkes. He gave permission for his 17-year-old son to marry his bride.

For our Great-Great Grandmother, the form noted that she was under the age of 21. Other records show that she, too, was 17 years old.

Their marriage remained for another 40+ years until their deaths. Their union produced 13 children; 11 lived to adulthood. The Wilkes family lived a great life in the hills of Springfield, Missouri. Most children, including our Great-Great Grandmother Edna Robinson, graduated from high school and moved away from home to the states of Nebraska, Hawaii and New York.

If you are interested in the lives of your ancestors, check out the marriage records. For those even easier to read than this one of our loved ones, you will likely learn more about the circumstances of the marriage. In this case, the only person requiring permission to marry was the groom since he was not yet the legal age of 18 years old.


#46 Free (Black) Friday: Interview Your Relatives

By planes, trains and automobiles, an estimated 54 million U.S. travelers made it families and friends this 2021 Thanksgiving season. Those numbers are nearly equal to pre-Covid 2019 levels, according to AAA, air, train and government travel trackers.

If so, don’t spend all of your time around the table of good food, or shopping until you drop. Instead, start now to preserve your precious history by recording short and even long stories of your loved ones.

Generations of family: Priceless
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

As a nearly lifelong writer (Ann) who began journaling at age 10, I learned the importance of being a good listener who captured cool stories from the annual family gatherings. Those early lessons served me well as I became an award-winning financial journalist who found that my interview skills came in handy when I became more interested in African American family genealogy.

Admittedly, it is not easy getting our family members to open up about their past. However, I have found that to get meaningful conversations started, flattery gets you everywhere. Here are my quick tips on how to glean information from your loved ones:

  1. Tell them upfront that you are interested in preserving your family’s history. If they are like my Great Cousin Madeline Wilkes, your loved ones may respond with “no one really wants to know that stuff about me.” That’s a stall. Take immediate action such as what I describe in the next step.
  2. Do what they like to do. Sit, cook, read, watch TV, walk, play cards and board games, fish, shop and generally hang out with them. In the case of Great Cousin Madeline, I took pictures of her and showed her how vibrant she looked at 90 years old. With that in motion, I moved to my next step and my recommendation for you.
  3. Have your recorder, camera and notebook handy to capture stories about their earlier holidays and hobbies. I asked her questions about her father, my great-grandmother’s brother. She loved to talk about her Dad. I got some great stories. I was able to wrap up our short conversation by reiterating and expanding my reasons for asking her a few questions. I was pleased that I advanced to the final step.
  4. Tell them why their stories are important to the families’ legacies because it ensures the younger generations learn from the older ones’ successes and any mistakes.

For more ideas on how to speak with your relatives to capture their stories, check out this great freebie checklist from Genealogy Bargains.

Happy chatting!


Celebrate Veterans Day by saluting your family history

An excerpt from our November 2021 e-book


Welcome to the fourth in a series of our e-books that highlight the unique genealogy of African Americans. Do you know how many of your ancestors were in the military? We didn’t realize until the documents were released a few years ago that revealed our African American male ancestors who served in various military assignments. Come walk with us and learn how you can find your hidden ancestors who served bravely battled in conflicts, served, and supported white male regiments to earn victories for the United States.

Turning to other conflicts, did you know that despite the numerous reports to the contrary, former African American slaves cared so deeply about their families remaining together that our ancestors searched for decades to find those separated from them? The horrific sales of individual slaves on blocks where husbands and wives, sisters and brothers and other relatives saw each other for the last time. That is until former slaves began to place editorials and advertisements in newspapers across the nation. Thankfully, there are published accounts of slave family reunion stories found in the more than 3,500 Black newspapers. To our delight, and we are sure it will be the same for you, there are tremendous love stories that emerge from the rubble of lost couples in our research.

On the topic of love stories, learn about an elite man who courted and married a former slave. They were of different races, and their 13-year marriage yielded five children worth remembering more about. Educational, political, social, and governmental structures protected and exposed the interracial couple’s life long after the husband’s death. It involves the measurement of one’s race based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s designations of one-quarter and one-eighth Black persons.

Chapter 1

Our truth is marching on: Finding and saluting our military ancestors

Each November, we celebrate our military veterans who fought world wars in the name of freedom from fascism, slavery, and more. When my (Ann’s) daughter, Jocelyn C. Kimbrough, announced to our family that she was trading her collegiate days for enlistment in the U.S. Army, we were surprised. She served with honors.

Yet, it was in her blood as of a few years later, we discovered in our ancestry research that many of our relatives served in U.S. military units. We are still clarifying records on potential relatives who may have served in conflicts ranging from the American Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Ancestry.com boasts of 760 thousand records about African Americans’ involvement in wars since the Revolutionary War. See African American – Fold3.

This chapter will highlight our great maternal uncles – the Wilks, Wilkes brothers — and their varied military service assignments to guide our reader to sources that may provide similar results.

Aloha to Earnest Gaylord Wilks’ (March 20, 1909 – Jan. 15, 1980)

The U.S. Selective Service began ordering the registration of young men in 1917. It remains a primary source of documents, aka draft cards for ancestors since the “threat of unforeseen forces,” and remains part of the directive by Presidential and Congressional orders for men between the ages of 18 and 25. Who Needs to Register | Selective Service System: Selective Service System (sss.gov). However, it is clear that the ages of men signing up for the draft were well over age 25, as shown on the draft card of my Great Uncle Earnest Wilks. His younger brother, Alvin Wilks, was 27 years old when he enlisted in military service in 1941.

He led an exciting life and retired from the military in Hawaii, where he was a community leader, and musician. Let’s begin with draft cards to learn more about your ancestors’ whereabouts.

U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 for Ernest Gaylord Wilks, Hawaii. Grand Uncle Earnest, saxophone, as a band member in Hawaii

It’s here: November 2021 Good Genes Genealogy’s Family Ties that Bind

Thank you, one and all, for encouraging us to continue publishing our monthly e-books. The latest one is just published on our Lulu Publishing website … soon it will be available on worldwide distribution. Get your copy now!


#55 Spooky stories, haunted houses and Black people

Ancestor Comedian Richard Pryor had a funny bit about Black people in horror movies. He said that Black people would enter a haunted house and hear a ghostly voice say, “hello.” Pryor said the likely answer would be “goodbye.”

Pryor’s funny gag lines were prior to the current-day horror films where Black actors are among the headliners.

In honor of Pryor, here’s a haunted story in recognition of Halloween.


#54 Check out views on “makeup” pay, respect for women

Gwen McKinney is a podcaster, writer and thinker. Check out her podcast (see it in her own words/voice) and join the conversation. FYI: German Holocaust survivors in the U.S. and abroad, receive regular reparations from that government. Also, South Africa, Canada, Austria and France provide financial restorative justice.

From Gwen:

Proud to share our latest podcast, Reparations: Beyond Acres and the Mule.  Along with the policy implications, reparations comes with the human saga.  We feature scholar/historian/civil rights champion Mary Frances Berry who shares the story of Callie House, a formerly enslaved washer woman who struck the first blow for repatriation and repair as the little-known mother of the reparations movement. We also give voice to a multigenerational chorus of sister warriors including Rosemarie Mealy, Nkechi Taifa, Robin Rue and Dreisen Heath.  True to our mission, the podcast advances narratives that unerase the truths of Black women, often maligned and marginalized in both the historical and contemporary record.  Please take a listen HERE from our website or visit whatever streaming service you prefer for Unerased Kitchen Table Talks.

We’d be thrilled if you’re so moved to help us amplify this episode.  I suggest the following tweets:

1. How can you measure the damage from 4 centuries of bondage and soul pillage? In the latest @UnerasedBWS podcast episode, we explore the human toll of reparations. Tune in, subscribe, share!

2. Will we see reparations come to fruition? Meet advocates from the National African American Reparations Commission leading the way to institute federal reparations laws in the latest @UnerasedBWS podcast episode. Tune in, subscribe, share! https://unerasedbws.com/reparations-beyond-the-acres-and-the-mule/

With praise and appreciation!



Gwen McKinney | Creator & Campaign Director
Stoking passions. Telling stories. Making change.p:(202) 841-3522a:McKinney & Associates1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036w:www.mckpr.com  e: gwen@mckpr.com

#51 Take your ancestors out to the ball game: Black baseball since 1858

It’s October and that means baseball is in full swing. Do you know how many of your ancestors were a part of Black Baseball stardom? Since 1858, the game of baseball has featured sluggers, great pitchers, fielders and speedsters who have defied the odds and have mostly gone unnoticed.

Let’s dust off the ancestral home plates and locate your family members who were the stars on playing fields long forgotten or never researched. Start with the year 1858.


#50 Freebie Friday: Historian Carter G. Woodson’s report on Free Negroes

In 1925, Historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson published a report that he stated was expensive to publish and difficult to compile. Yet, he did it.

“The aim of this report, like that on Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the
United States in 1830, is to promote the further study of a neglected aspect
of our history. As stated elsewhere, most of these free Negroes “have
been forgotten, for persons supposedly well-informed in history are surprised to learn today that about a half million, almost one-seventh of the
Negroes of this country, were free prior to the emancipation in 1865. It is
hardly believed that a considerable number of Negroes were owners of
slaves themselves, and in some cases controlled large plantations.”

As the second Black man to receive a degree from Harvard University, he also became a dean in the school. He was a journalist and well published author, including the historic, standalone read, The Mis-education of the Negro.

Read the report by clicking on the link and downloading the 50+ page document derived from the 1830 U.S. Census. You may find your ancestors in the records.

Enjoy your Freebie Friday!


#49 Begin your ancestry research — at home

I (Ann) moved back to the Atlanta area in the first months of 2020. You know the rest: The COVID-19 restrictions started and it limited my reconnections and great adventures to my favorite places with the best folk.

It’s time.

Although the health and safety precautions must be adhered to, my first local museum visit will be APEX.

If you are in D.C., it should be the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, please visit, Great Plains Black History Museum.

In the few museums listed above, strong advocates brought them into existence. My friend, Dan Moore, is the champion of the APEX Museum. Bertha Callaway is the proactive instigator of the Great Plains Museum.

To help you get to your local destination, this wikisite is helpful. If you need to add content site, please provide information so that others may benefit:

List of African American-themed museums

This is a sortable table. Click on the column you wish it sorted by.

A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter MuseumChicagoIllinois1995]
Africa Center, TheNew York City (Manhattan)New York1984[9][a]
African American Civil War Memorial MuseumWashingtonD.C.1999[13]
African-American Research Library and Cultural CenterFort LauderdaleFlorida2002[14]
African American Firefighter MuseumLos AngelesCalifornia1997[15]
African American Military History MuseumHattiesburgMississippi2000[16]
African American Multicultural MuseumScottsdaleArizona2005[17]
African American MuseumDallasTexas1974[18]
African American Museum and Library at OaklandOaklandCalifornia1994[19]
African American Museum in Cleveland, TheClevelandOhio1956[20]
African American Museum in PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaPennsylvania1976[21]
African American Museum of IowaCedar RapidsIowa2003[22]
African American Museum of Nassau CountyHempsteadNew York1970[23]
African American Museum of the ArtsDeLandFlorida1994[24]
African American Museum of Southern IllinoisCarbondaleIllinois1997[25]
Afro-American Historical and Cultural Society MuseumJersey CityNew Jersey1984[26]
Alabama State Black Archives Research Center and MuseumHuntsvilleAlabama1990[27]
Alexandria Black History MuseumAlexandriaVirginia1987[28][b]
America’s Black Holocaust MuseumMilwaukeeWisconsin1988[29]
Anacostia MuseumWashingtonD.C.1967[30]
Anne Spencer House and Garden MuseumLynchburgVirginia1977[31]
APEX (African American Panoramic Experience) MuseumAtlantaGeorgia1978[32]
Armstead T. Johnson High SchoolMontrossVirginia2000[33]
Backstreet Cultural MuseumNew OrleansLouisiana1999[34]
Banneker-Douglass MuseumAnnapolisMaryland1984[35]
Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and MuseumOellaMaryland1998[36]
Bertha Lee Strickland Cultural MuseumSenecaSouth Carolina2015[37]
Birmingham Civil Rights InstituteBirminghamAlabama1992[38]
Black American West Museum & Heritage CenterDenverColorado1971[39]
Black Cowboy MuseumRosenbergTexas2017[40]
Black History 101 Mobile MuseumDetroitMichigan1995[41]
Black History Museum and Cultural Center of VirginiaRichmondVirginia1988[42]
Blanchard House MuseumPunta GordaFlorida2004[43]
Bontemps African American MuseumAlexandriaLouisiana1988[44]
Booker T. Washington National MonumentHardyVirginia1956Brazos Valley African American MuseumBryanTexas2006[45]
Bronzeville Children’s MuseumChicagoIllinois1998[46]
Buffalo Soldiers National MuseumHoustonTexas2000[47]
California African American MuseumLos AngelesCalifornia1981[48]
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American HistoryDetroitMichigan1965[49]
Charlotte Hawkins Brown MuseumSedaliaNorth Carolina1987[50]
Clemson Area African American MuseumClemsonSouth Carolina2010[51]
Delta Cultural CenterHelenaArkansas1991[52]
Destination CrenshawLos AngelesCalifornia2019[53]
Dorchester Academy and MuseumMidwayGeorgia2004[54]
Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History MuseumSt. PetersburgFlorida2006[55]
DuSable Museum of African American HistoryChicagoIllinois1960[20]
Eddie Mae Herron Center and MuseumPocahontasArkansas2001[56]
Ely Educational MuseumPompano BeachFlorida2000[57]
Evansville African American MuseumEvansvilleIndiana2007[58]
Finding Our Roots African American MuseumHoumaLouisiana2017[59]
Frederick Douglass National Historic SiteWashingtonD.C.1962[60]
Freedom House MuseumAlexandriaVirginia2008[61]
Freedom Rides MuseumMontgomeryAlabama1962[62]
George Washington Carver Museum, TheTuskegeeAlabama1941[63]
George Washington Carver MuseumPhoenixArizona1980[64]
George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural CenterAustinTexas1980[65]
George Washington Carver National MonumentNewton CountyMissouri1960[66]
Great Blacks in Wax MuseumBaltimoreMaryland1983[67]
Great Plains Black History MuseumOmahaNebraska1975[68]
Griot Museum of Black History, TheSt. LouisMissouri1997[69]
Hammonds House MuseumAtlantaGeorgia1988[70]
Hampton University MuseumHamptonVirginia1988[71]
Harriet Tubman MuseumCape MayNew Jersey2020[72]
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor CenterChurch CreekMaryland2017[73]
Harvey B. Gantt CenterCharlotteNorth Carolina1974[74]
Henderson Institute Historical MuseumHendersonNorth Carolina1986[75]
Howard County Center of African American CultureColumbiaMaryland1987[76]
Idaho Black History MuseumBoiseIdaho1995[77]
International African American MuseumCharlestonSouth Carolina2019 (anticipated)[78]
International Civil Rights Center and MuseumGreensboroNorth Carolina2010[79]
Jacob Fontaine Religious MuseumAustinTexas2004[80]
Jim Crow Museum of Racist MemorabiliaBig RapidsMichigan1996[81]
John Johnson HousePhiladelphiaPennsylvania1997[82]
John E. Rogers African American Cultural CenterHartfordConnecticut1991[83]
John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History and CultureTallahasseeFlorida1996[84]
Josephine School Community MuseumBerryvilleVirginia2003[85]
Kansas African-American MuseumWichitaKansas1997[86]
L.E. Coleman African-American MuseumHalifax County, VirginiaVirginia2005[87]
LaVilla MuseumJacksonvilleFlorida1999[88]
Legacy Museum, TheMontgomeryAlabama2018[89]
Legacy Museum of African American HistoryLynchburgVirginia2000[90]
Lewis H. Latimer HouseNew York City (Queens)New York2004[91]
Lincolnville Museum and Cultural CenterSt. AugustineFlorida2005[92]
Louis Armstrong HouseNew York City (Queens)New York2003[93]
Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site Visitors CenterAtlantaGeorgia1996[94]
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic SiteWashingtonD.C.1979[95]
Mary McLeod Bethune HomeDaytona BeachFlorida1956[96][c]
Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage MuseumNew Smyrna BeachFlorida1999[97]
Mayme A. Clayton Library and MuseumCulver CityCalifornia2010[98]
McLemore House African-American MuseumFranklinTennessee2002[99]
Mississippi Civil Rights MuseumJacksonMississippi2017[100][101]
MoCADANew York City (Brooklyn)New York1999[102]
Mosaic Templars Cultural CenterLittle RockArkansas2008[103]
Muhammad Ali CenterLouisvilleKentucky2005[104]
Museum of African American History & Abiel Smith SchoolBostonMassachusetts1964[105]
Museum of the African DiasporaSan FranciscoCalifornia2005[106]
Nash House MuseumBuffaloNew York2003[107]
Natchez Museum of African American History and CultureNatchezMississippi1991[108]
National African American Archives and MuseumMobileAlabama1992[citation needed]
National Afro-American Museum and Cultural CenterWilberforceOhio1987[109]
National Center for Civil and Human RightsAtlantaGeorgia2014[100]
National Center of Afro-American ArtistsRoxburyMassachusetts1969[110]
National Civil Rights MuseumMemphisTennessee1991[111]
National Museum of African American History and CultureWashingtonD.C.2016[112]
National Museum of African American MusicNashvilleTennessee2013[d]
National Underground Railroad Freedom CenterCincinnatiOhio2004[114]
National Voting Rights MuseumSelmaAlabama1991[115]
Negro Leagues Baseball MuseumKansas CityMissouri1990[116]
New Orleans African American MuseumNew OrleansLouisiana1988[117]
Newsome House Museum and Cultural CenterNewport NewsVirginia1991[118]
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage CenterNiagara FallsNew York2018[119]
Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage MuseumMonroeLouisiana1994[120]
Northwest African American MuseumSeattleWashington2008[121]
Odell S. Williams Now And Then African-American MuseumBaton RougeLouisiana2001[122]
Old Dillard MuseumFort LauderdaleFlorida1995[123]
Omenala Griot Afrocentric Teaching MuseumAtlantaGeorgia1992[124]
Oran Z’s Black Facts and Wax MuseumLos AngelesCalifornia2000[125]
Paul R. Jones Collection of African American ArtNewarkDelaware2004[126]
Philadelphia Doll MuseumPhiladelphiaPennsylvania1988[127]
Poindexter Village Museum and Cultural CenterColumbusOhioPlanned[128]
Pope House MuseumRaleighNorth Carolina2011[129]
Portsmouth Colored Community Library MuseumPortsmouthVirginia2013[130]
Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural CenterNorth BrentwoodMaryland2010[131]
Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights MuseumSavannahGeorgia1996[132]
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & CultureBaltimoreMaryland2005[133]
River Road African American MuseumDonaldsonvilleLouisiana1994[134]
Rosa Parks MuseumMontgomeryAlabama2000[135]
Rural African American MuseumOpelousasLouisiana2018[136]
Sandy Ground Historical MuseumNew York City (Staten Island)New York1994[137]
Scott Joplin House State Historic SiteSt. LouisMissouri1983Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural CenterScottsboroAlabama2010[138]
Slave Haven Underground Railroad MuseumMemphisTennessee1997[139]
Slave Mart MuseumCharlestonSouth Carolina1938[140]
Smith-Robertson Museum and Cultural CenterJacksonMississippi1984[141]
Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and MuseumTallahasseeFlorida1976[142]
Spady Cultural Heritage MuseumDelray BeachFlorida2001[143]
Spelman College Museum of Fine ArtAtlantaGeorgia1996[144]
Springfield and Central Illinois African-American History MuseumSpringfieldIllinois2012[145]
Studio Museum in HarlemNew York City (Manhattan)New York1968[146]
Swift MuseumRogersvilleTennessee2008[147]
Tangipahoa African American Heritage MuseumHammondLouisiana2005[citation needed]
Taylor House Museum of Historic FrenchtownTallahasseeFlorida2011[148]
Tubman African American MuseumMaconGeorgia1981[149]
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic SiteTuskegeeAlabama2008[150]
Tuskegee Airmen National MuseumDetroitMichigan1987[151]
Underground Railroad Museum at Belmont MansionPhiladelphiaPennsylvania2007[152]
Weeksville Heritage CenterNew York City (Brooklyn)New York2005[153]
Wells’ Built MuseumOrlandoFlorida2001[154]
Whitney PlantationSt. John the Baptist ParishLouisiana2014[155]
Willam V. Banks Broadcast MuseumDetroitMichigan2017[156]
Zion Union Heritage MuseumHyannisMassachusetts2008[157]
Zora Neale Hurston Museum of Fine ArtsEatonvilleFlorida2017[158]

#48 How to write tributes to ancestors and find the pros who can help

The hundreds and perhaps thousands of special salutes to our favorite and newest ancestor, former U.S. Secretary of State and General Colin Powell, is a collective valuable lesson for all who write about our ancestors’ lives.

3 P’s for producing great obituaries

On many occasions, I (Ann) have been designated to write obituaries about my family, friends and even former work colleagues. Obituary writing is a skill and talent. It is not the time for careless regards of facts. There are professional obituary writers whose purpose is to provide professionalism to the sometimes rough passages we often read in programs and on websites during times of bereavement.

My “P’s”( for obituary writing:

  • Plan the obituaries before the relative’s or friend’s transition(s). This seems morbid, yet it is a practice that learned and demonstrated in my first journalism course taught by Nellie Dixon at Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University). I followed the same practice when I became a journalism instructor. Professional media outlets assign reporters to write obituaries about famous persons before the deaths of those individuals. It may seem sad to some to realize this occurs, yet it does.
  • Prepare your loved ones’ obituaries. As part of the planning and preparation, if possible, record, photograph and speak about your relative, friend during their active lives. I know of a professional videographer who recorded his favorite aunt. That recording on his mobile device is part of the obituary and legacy moments for the family.
  • Produce the content. Organize all materials according to themes that emerge from their lives. Write your first draft.
Seek help from those who know

When the inevitable occurs, you are ready with the necessary information. It is best to listen to family and friends who send virtual messages or whose personal visits include conversations about the deceased person(s). You may hear something that adds a new name or important life event about the loved one(s).

You may also wish to enlist the assistance of a professional such as my friend, Dr. Tony Burks.

Supes Academy Nov. 15-16 in Chicago, Ill. (Photo by Taylor Glascock)

Tony Lamair Burks II

Dr. Tony Lamair Burks II first learned the art and craft of storytelling from his four grandparents in lower Alabama. He is an award-winning education expert who coaches and trains leaders for excellence as chief learning officer of LEADright. His stories about school and life have appeared in newspapers, blogs and books around the world. He has written six books and contributed to four. He is passionate about helping others tell their stories. For over a quarter of a century, he has written, co-written and ghost-written obituaries and funeral orations. He has served as the interim director of a publishing house, and he currently leads a series of interactive workshops — Unleashing Your Untold Healing Story​ and ​Writing Your Story​ — to help others unearth and release stories that have been held deep within.

Writing tips from other pros

How to Write a Great Obituary
  • Announce the death. Start off the obituary by announcing the death of the loved one. ..
  • Provide general biographical information. Include some biographical information such as birth date, upbringing, education, marriage information, accomplishments, and work history.
  • Make it personal. To write a great obituary, it’s important to capture the spirit of the loved one who has passed.
  • Listing the family members. While you don’t have to mention every nephew and cousin by name, it’s important to write a general overview of the family members who passed away.
  • Funeral information. Provide the date, time, and location of the funeral. Also include information regarding donations, flowers, or condolences.
  • Review for mistakes. Check, check, and check again. Once you are satisfied with the finished product, pass it off to a friend or a dispassionate third party for review.

Reference: www.funeralbasics.org/write-great-obituary/

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


#47 Follow the ancestral leaders

Our ancestors understood the concept and outcomes of cooperative economics. They worked together to store up the crops and canning of goods to have for those “rainy days” or harsh winters.

The message is to take care of the collective community while caring for oneself. The usual analogy is the airlines’ safety directive to first ensure that oxygen is flowing to the lead or responsible person before helping another.

It is in this vein that we offer the opportunity for our wonderful readers and supporters to shop our affordable Good Genes Genealogy e-books and help us to help you by keeping our sites free to global community.

We plan to offer e-books that will compliment upcoming webinars, podcasts and more.


#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


#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.


#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


#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


#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 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 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
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 History Commission 
Mailing Address: One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 77201
Phone: (501) 682-6900 E-mail: state.archives@arkansas.gov


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 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 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 Public Archives
Mailing Address: 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. North, Dover, DE 19901
Phone: (302) 744-5000 E-mail: See the Contact Form
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 Archives 
Mailing Address: 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, GA 30260
Phone: (678) 364-3710 E-mail: See Ask an Archivist 
Hawaii State Archives
Mailing Address: Kekauluohi Building, Iolani Palace Grounds, 364 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813


Phone: (808) 586-0329 Fax: (808) 586-0330 E-mail: archives@hawaii.gov
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 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 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
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 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
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 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


Maine State Archives 
Mailing Address: 84 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333
Phone: (207) 287-5790 Fax: (207) 287-6035
Maryland State Archives
Mailing Address: 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: (410) 260-6400 Toll free: (800) 235-4045
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
Archives of Michigan
Mailing Address: 702 W. Kalamazoo Street, Lansing, Michigan 48915
Phone: (517) 335-2576 E-mail: archives@michigan.gov
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 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 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.


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 .
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 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


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 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 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 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 State Archives


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 State Library and Archives
Mailing Address: 403 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 741-2764 E-mail: reference.tsla@tn.gov
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 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 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.


Library of Virginia
Mailing Address: 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 692-3500 E-mail: See the Contact Form
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 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 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


Hidden Figures in Your Family – House Hunting

If you find your relative’s diary


#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.


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.


#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.


#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.


#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.


#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.


#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.



#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.


Today’s quote encourages heritage research

My past has served as the perfect fertilizer that has grown and expanded my consciousness. 

Daily Thoughts from the Hill, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 “I AM LIVING A NEW FUTURE

#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
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

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.



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. 


#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!


We are our ancestors!

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

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.


“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.


* 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.


#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.


#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.


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,

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.


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.”

       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

#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?


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 …

@pinterest is the site for the genealogy hobbyists

Join my group board, Wead Write Away Black Genealogy on Pinterest! https://pin.it/4RaHXQJ

Honorable lives today for tomorrow

Angels in ancestry

The link contains wonderful words of advice. It reminds us that we are future ancestors.

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