Unity Cemetery

This blog post is part of a series about my trip to Plymouth, NC for the 44th Annual McNair Family Reunion.


In my last post I wrote about visiting the home of my 3rd – great grand uncle Dred Wimberly. Well, I also wanted to stop at nearby Unity Cemetery since this is where Dred is buried.

entrance to Unity Cemetery

Unity was easy to find but my heart breaks at the condition of the cemetery. There are stones grown over, hidden by trees, cracked and broken, and even more disparaging states.  Unity Cemetery is the oldest black cemetery in Rocky Mount and definitely needs to be preserved.

a few stones in the cemetery

The only reason I know Dred is buried there is because of another genealogist who lives in the area. A few years back we’d correspondence about Dred and she was able to send pictures of his grave(waving thanks to Carole!) With my limited time, I couldn’t search for Dred’s marker as I’d ideally like, but I am eternally grateful for the pictures for he and his wife.

Dred Wimberly grave marker – photo by Stephen Hart

Grave marker for Ella Bertha Wimberly – photo by Stephen Hart

Also buried in the cemetery is one of the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Anna Easter Brown. Anna moved to Rocky Mount in 1925 and was quite active in the community.  I wonder if she knew Dred?

It was so quiet in the cemetery; very peaceful. I only wish the conditions were better. But, I am glad for the chance to see it and family research wFor the family research I would like to follow-up and find out, with the help of local genealogists, exactly where he and others in his family are buried in the cemetery. 

Visiting Dred Wimberly

This blog post is part of a series about my trip to Plymouth, NC for the 44th Annual McNair Family Reunion.


It was Saturday, May 24th and I was on my way to Plymouth for the family reunion. I was not only looking forward to being there, but also to the drive. The highway I took bypasses through several towns I wanted to see. My first stop was to go to Rocky Mount. Why Rocky Mount you ask?

My 3rd – great grandmother Mariah Wimberly McNair, had a brother named Dred and there is a NC historical marker for him. Dred served on the NC Senate in the late 19th century. Quite an accomplishment for a black person at that time!  It is my understanding that he had some prominence in the community so the marker was erected as a tribute. But not only is there a marker, but his house also stands. So, after all the research and reading I’ve done about him, I wanted to find it so that I could see it in person.

And find it I did. The house is located on Raleigh Blvd and Wake St, directly across the street from Pineview Cemetery.

There is no one living in the house but I saw signs that it is likely being renovated. I walked around back to see the backyard and nearly had a heart attack when two dogs got up from their resting spot and started barking at me! But they didn’t move from their location and they weren’t chained so I figured they just didn’t appreciate me traipsing through their territory.

This stop was quick but I am very glad I did take the time. My stop does raise a few more questions for me though – the primary one being to find out who owns the home? Do any of Dred’s descendants? I need to try and find out. Looks like I have some deed research to follow-up on!

Visit to the Newberry Library

This weekend, I had a chance to visit the Newberry Library in Chicago and I am so pleased I had the opportunity to visit!  I was in town for business purposes – to deliver a presentation for work. However, I arrived early Saturday morning so that I could take advantage of the library being open from 9-1pm.

I arrived in town at 8am and made it to the library by 9:30. Fortunately, it was only about a mile away from my hotel so it was very easy to get there. The first thing I can say is that it is a beautiful building. I love big, stately, building and Newberry Library does not disappoint.

front of the Newberry Library

painting of the Newberry Library

The check-in process was very easy, and there were nice gentlemen in the lobby to help explain all the procedures for getting checked-in and getting my reader’s card. The library has good information on the website to help prepare for the visit so there were no surprises for me throughout the process.

On my way up to the genealogy room, I did pass some gorgeous artwork, but look at this incredible family tree! It is a tree from 1880 from the Richard & Abigail Lippincott family. You can see more up-close pictures of it here.

Lippincott Family Tree, 1880

It is so detailed and absolutely amazing!

detail of the Lippincott Family Tree

Can you imagine having a family tree like that? So cool!

After getting my card, going to the 2nd floor genealogy collection and getting signed in, I was assigned a table to work at – K2.

my research table – K2

I’d done some preparation before the visit since here, most of the collection is in closed stacks and staff retrieve materials for you.  You can request 3 items pulled at a time. I requested my first three and then began browsing the reference materials they do have on open shelves.

I worked through a few items in the reference collection, that even though I have access to here at home, I don’t get to the library & state archives as often as I’d like, so having some time to look was still valuable. I then also worked with many items over the course of the morning that I don’t have regular access to and that was helpful.

I wasn’t there to do any specific type of search, I was generally just looking up some information & material I can use on the genweb sites, so at least I didn’t feel pressured. It was nice just to be among the beautiful research setting and have a few hours to take in my surroundings.  The staff at the library were all helpful and I can see why the Newberry Library is so well-regarded.

looking around the research room

the Chicago-related materials

I have some leads to follow-up on now which will probably take me awhile; and that’s fine by me. :-)

If you have ever been to the Newberry Library or are planning to go, I’d love to hear from you!

Best Mother’s Day Present Ever – A Family Reunion Trip!

My husband is giving me the BEST Mother’s Day present ever this year — he is sending me to Plymouth, NC so I can attend a family reunion that I’ve been wanting to attend for many years now.

Plymouth, located in Washington County, NC – is the hometown of my late maternal grandmother, Alice McNair Robinson. Her McNair family is pretty large, and this year marks their 44th Annual Reunion. In my genealogy journey these past 9 years, I’ve very much felt my interest in family history came in large part from Alice as she ALWAYS connected with her family wherever she went. I’ve been fortunate to connect with so many of my McNair relatives over the years that I am very much looking forward to meeting more in person.

My sister has a 1990 McNair Family Reunion t-shirt; maybe now I’ll get my own. :-)

I now have to start actively planning where I want to visit while I am in town. I want to make sure I see areas around town where my grandmother would have experienced, and also visit a couple neighboring towns. The reunion is held over Memorial Day Weekend and I should have at least one extra day to visit around.  I also want to make solid plans for capturing as much family history as I can from everyone attending.

Let the planning begin!!

 

Incorporating Genealogy in College Coursework

These past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to engage in a rather interesting experiment. The hubby teaches at a local HBCU and in his course, Introduction to Africana Studies, we had the students do a family tree assignment.  It was so interesting!

Specifically, it was the first time I’ve ever put together an “official” instruction on completing your family tree and getting started in genealogy research.  My goals for the classes were to keep it simple though. My outline was as follows:

  • Each student registered for a FamilySearch account (perfect platform b/c it’s free!)
  • I asked them to complete a basic 4-generation pedigree on paper first
  • then, document their family in FamilySearch Family Tree & submit a screenshot of the portrait view of their tree
  • and an important component of the process was for them to interview family members

One slide from my PPT presentation; shows where to go to build your tree on FamilySearch

Overall, many of the students reported the assignment was a rewarding experience. I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to read their reports about the exercise and how it helped them appreciate their families more.  Many students reported how excited their parents, grandparents, etc. were that they were asking. It made me smile on the inside each time. :-)

Of course, there were students who had more difficult experiences, such as not being close enough on one side of their family to be privy to any information and that was heartbreaking at times. But, all in all, even they did what the could and chose to focus on the part of their tree where they could do more.

Now that we are at the end of this exercise, there are more families now documented in Family Tree now ready for others to find and build upon. And, most importantly, perhaps one of them will truly be inspired to continue what they started.  Just trying to do my part!

Getting Organized in FamilySearch Family Tree

Almost exactly one year ago, I posted about my initial excitement around being able to use FamilySearch’s Family Tree site. Here we are a year later and I am still very much a champion for the site and the model of collaborative genealogy that they are promoting. I’ve just finally gotten around to watching Ron Tanner’s 2014 RootsTech presentation about Family Tree and as usual I found it helpful and informative.  The past year has brought many changes to Family Tree and there are several upcoming features that I’m looking forward to seeing implemented.  James Tanner has a great recap on his site.  

I’m so happy with it that I’ve decided Family Tree will be a prominent part of my genealogical research preservation plan as I think about how my work and efforts will be available and shareable for others in the future.  I will actively use it to archive family photos, documents and other information. Whether it be my own family, or family of others even.  Earlier this week, my genea-colleague, George Geder, posted that he plans to use Family Tree himself moving forward to document his family history research. Kudos to him!  I do have my own website I use for documenting my family, and all the other trees I work on and I still plan to use it. However, now that Family Tree is available and it fulfills a desire I’ve had for so long for truly collaborative genealogy, I feel I must also leverage this platform.

So, this weekend, I decided to spend some time actively adding more info to my FamilySearch Family Tree profiles and make sure I had at least my direct line up to my 8 great-grandparents duly covered.  I made sure to “watch” all of their records so that I would receive notifications of any changes and I added pictures for everyone. 

My FamilySearch Family Tree Portrait Chart

Additionally, using my primary online genealogy tool, TNG: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding, I created a “source” record for Family Tree and will add it to every person for whom I have a corresponding profile. This will make it easier to track who’ve I’ve added and not added.  These are important first steps if I’m going to truly leverage Family Tree!

My Source list for Family Tree

And now that I have this done, I have a model in place as I help others add their information. For example, over the next few weeks, I am aiding Kalonji with his Intro to Africana Studies class he teaches for a local university and we’ve incorporated a family history assignment.  As I put the assignment together, I am planning to have the students register for the FamilySearch website and build a basic family tree as they work towards writing a biographical profile of one of their great-grandparents.  That’s well over 60 students to begin to engage in learning more about their past. I’m terribly excited and will post more about that experience at a later time.  

My next step is to get all of my 2nd-great grandparents similarly documented.

Have you done your chart in Family Tree yet? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

 

Come Listen to Me on AAGSAR You Got Roots?

African-American Genealogy + Technology — a formula after my own heart! Over the past several months, fellow geneablogger Luckie Daniels, has been engaged in helping others really push forward with their slave-based genealogical research through the group African-American Genealogy and Slave Ancestor Research.  One very important aspect of the groups efforts are to fully engage technology in the process — thus, participants are either blogging already, or become bloggers as a way to communicate their processes and document their family stories.  You may know by now that I am very much into using technology and I just LOVE the groups’ goals!

One more recent initiatives of the group is the creation of a new BlogTalkRadio show. Called “You Got Roots?” the radio show will help inspire and move forward the conversations around this very important work. I am so pleased to share that this Sunday, March 16th, at 6pm EST, yours truly will be a guest on the show, along with Cornell University Historian Edward E. Baptist.

Won’t you listen in and check us out? More details at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/aagsaryougotroots/2014/03/16/genealogy-people-of-color-where-are-we-on-the-journey.

 

 

New Photo of 3rd Great-Grandmother’s Sister

I just love making connections! Earlier this week, I received an email from another newly-found cousin.  Her great-grandmother, Mary Donald Allen (1858-1916) was a sister to my 3rd great-grandmother, Violetta Donald Kilpatrick (1860-1933).  My cousin Rose and I have had a chance to speak and learn more about each others families and I am so thrilled to start learning more about her branch of my family. As we exchanged information, Rose shared with me a picture her family has and I am so thrilled! This is understood to be a photo of Mary Donald Allen  – my ancestor’s sister!

There is no inscription on the back to document it is Mary, but Mary’s daughter Florence has always told the family it was a picture of her own mother. How beautiful!

Mary and Violetta’s parents – Stephen Donald and Susan Bryant Donald, are suspected to have Native-American heritage. So far, I’ve not fully-researched this potential, but it certainly is an area that could be further investigated. I am just tickled to have a copy of this picture! My own ancestor, Violetta, also had long hair like Mary and Mary’s family. So, to see this picture is just mind-blowing. 

How did Rose find me? Internet searching. Again, another testament to the importance of sharing your family trees online and for researching collateral families. 

Thank you so much Rose for this outstanding picture. 

I’m Featured in Jet Magazine!

Jet Magazine has such a long and established history in African-American culture. I’ve been reading it since I was young.  So, imagine how tickled I was when invited to be interviewed by Deanna Martin -Osuagwu for a piece she wrote about African-American genelaogy bloggers.  After answering a few questions for her, she crafted mine, and the others’, responses together into an interesting article about each of us and our motivations for blogging and sharing our family history. How cool!

Thus, I’m pleased to share a link to my synopsis in the online article. Click on the image below.

I am among some great company too! I already knew of Melvin Collier and Tim Pinnick. I have been following their work in the genealogy community for awhile now. The other person featured is Adrienne Abiodun – a children’s book author and family historian. I’ve not been familiar with her work, but I will definitely be following her now!

Thanks again Deanna! Your article has made my day. :-)

 

Cousin Connection: Lennon Family

Earlier this month I had another cousin connection that I’ve not been able to blog about until now. Gotta love the internet!

My cousin, CM, found me and contacted me through this blog. One of his great-grandfathers is named Grant Lennon. Grant was from Columbus County, North Carolina and a son of Council Lennon. One of my 2nd great-grandmothers was named Etta (short for Annette?) Lennon and she too was a daughter of a Council Lennon. I’ve not been able to “prove” it conclusively but I do believe Grant and Etta to be siblings, thus making CM a 3rd cousin to my mother. 

I will be speaking to CM more later today, but he has sent me an awesome picture – a picture of Grant with Grant’s second wife, Allie. 

Grant & Allie Lennon

This is great news and I’m looking forward to further exploring our shared connections.