My Favorite Era of our Ancestors

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.


Freebie Friday!

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Free Databases at Ancestry.Com

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


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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


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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.

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
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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!

Aid for Genealogists: Frazine K. Taylor African American Research Scholarship

The Frazine K. Taylor African American Research Scholarship (application due by 1 March each year) — open to anyone committed to expanding their knowledge of African American genealogical research.

The Frazine K. Taylor African American Research Scholarship (application due 1 March each year) was established on 7 June 2018 by Deborah A. Abbott, PhD, in honor of Frazine K. Taylor upon her retirement as coordinator of the “Researching African American Ancestors” course at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. This scholarship for IGHR tuition is open to anyone committed to expanding their knowledge of African American genealogical research. Taylor proposed and organized the first biennial African American course at IGHR in 2004.

Frazine K. Taylor is a former Peace Corps volunteer and administrator who served in the Fiji Islands and traveled extensively in the South Pacific before earning her Master of Information Studies degree from Atlanta University. She has over twenty years’ experience as a librarian, archivist, lecturer, and writer and has received numerous awards during her career including Employee of the Year from the Alabama State Employee Association. She is the former Head of Reference for the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) and was an expert on Alabama records at ADAH. She is also the author of Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama: A Resource Guide published in 2008.

For IGHR 2022, this scholarship is limited to individuals who are interested in enrolling in Course 11 – Researching African American Ancestors: Courthouse Records. The scholarship will be awarded to the applicant who demonstrates a passion for African American genealogy and the ability to communicate that commitment in writing.  This scholarship covers tuition only.

Applications are due by 1 March. The winner will be notified no later than 15 May. Please include the following in your application:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Are you self-employed or working for a company as a professional genealogist?
  • Are you employed by a Library or Archive? Where employed?
  • Number of years you have been conducting genealogical research.
  • In 500 words or less (one printed page), a description of how participation in this course will benefit you.

Applications should be submitted via email to Deborah Abbott dbrhabbott@yahoo.com by 1 March and the subject line should read Taylor Scholarship.


2019 Frazine K. Taylor African American Research Scholarship Winner

FREE FRIDAY! Genealogists Volunteer to Research Any African-American Family Tree for Free

Our Uncle Alvin Wilks (Wilkes) and his HS graduation class, Springfield, Missouri, abt. 1930

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/genealogists-volunteer-research-african-american-133400056.html

#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.

#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.

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