The Tennessee State Archives

I have just returned from the Tennessee State Archives here in Nashville and had some great finds! I first went to the archives last weekend as I was able to steal away a few hours to go. My primary reason for going there was to do some research for my friend on her family tree as her family is from East Tennessee. I have been pleased to find death certificates and some family tree information for her and today, I even started looking for information relevant to me and Kalonji’s tree.

One thing I did find that is pertinent to Kalonji, is a list of all the cemetery transcriptions for the cemetery in Talladega where he has family buried. However, there are of course, family members missing from this list as some of his family’s stones were overgrown with thick trees, and then some don’t have headstones at all. In fact, I meant to post about this last month, but our last trip to Talladega, Kalonji started clearing away the area around their stones. The picture below is what it looks like right now, but before he started, you would not have known those stone were there the branches and leaves were so thick.


Also today, I came across a black newspaper that used to be published here in Nashville. I’ve been thinking of a project I could do to help with the genealogy cause for African-Americans in Davidson County — I’m thinking I might do some indexing of this paper.

And, in other genealogy news, I haven’t been doing all that much with my own family. I haven’t written away for more records lately, I’m waiting for the holidays to go by. The records I want are mostly birth/death certificates from places that don’t offer uncertified copies, so they will be a bit costly by the time they all add up.

Morris Wisdom — 1892-1976

I’m posting this a day early, but I wanted to do it before I forgot about it. November 13th (tomorrow) will be the anniversary of the death of Kalonji’s great-grandfather, Morris Wisdom. As I have been doing my research, I have yet to find Morris in the 1900 census, but two independent sources (his death certificate and his newspaper obituary) tell me that his parents were Margaret Wisdom (nee Meriwether) and Dick Wisdom.

Kalonji’s mother remembers her grandfather Morris and I really must interview her one day. All I really know at this point are some details. I have three different dates for his birthday – the death certificate says 8 May 1905, the Social Security Death Index says 12 May 1892 and his WWI Draft Registration Card says 12 May 1896. I’m inclined to believe that the 12 May 1896 may be the most accurate since it is the earliest recorded one so far, but I need to order his SS applicaton form to see what he reported on it. I also hope that the app form will also state who his parents are. If only I could find out more about Dick & Margaret. Just a couple of weeks ago the public library in Clarksville was kind enough to email me his newspaper obituary, so I was very glad to receive it.

I know from a coworker of mine who is from Clarksville, TN (the area where Morris is from) that the Merriweathers were a prominent white family in that area, so there are a lot of African-Americans with that last name there. I will pursue this avenue in my research to see if I can make a connection of Margaret with those Meriweathers.

Annie Moore

If you’re into genealogy, no doubt that you’ve heard the story of the uncovering of the real Annie Moore, the first immigrant to arrive through Ellis Island. When the news came out about this last month, I read some info about it, but didn’t bother to read in-depth about it all. Tonite, I have just finished watching the press conference that was given at the NY Genealogical Society and am just absolutely blown away by it all! I watched it online at the new Roots Television, a genealogy focused website that has videos, blogs, and other information. To think that after all of these years her story has been discovered and shared internationally is amazing to me. If you get a chance, you should definitely watch it.

And another cousin!

Tonite, I made contact with another cousin of mine. Her grandfather and my grandfather were brothers! I found a post that she made online a few years ago, but the email address was no longer valid. So, I asked my father if he knew the name and he and my aunt told me who she was and where she lived. I looked her up in an online directory, found her and just gave her a call! We spent a great half-hour on the phone, I learned more info about the family, and I know I have just made another great family contact. I am so happy right now :-)

Ft. Barnwell

I learned today about a new database – it’s a database of historical signposts that you see all around the place. I decided to make my first search the one for Ft. Barnwell. I remembered having seen this sign there everytime we would go visit when I was younger. And, I found it! I don’t remember seeing it when I was there last in March for my grandmother’s funeral, but looking at the picture, I know now exactly where it is — there is only one Citgo in that place :-) I used to go there all the time with my cousin when we would spend summers there.

The site gives the text of what the sign says and also some more history – this is the first paragraph from the essay that accompanied the sign..
“John Barnwell emigrated from Ireland to South Carolina in 1701. By the time of the Tuscarora War (1711-1713), he was a trusted official in the colony. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, in response to the establishment of a Swiss colony at New Bern, the Tuscarora Indians massacred settlers in that area. On September 22, 1711, over 130 colonists lay dead and even more were wounded or captured. When North Carolina called on its neighbors for aid, South Carolina sent Colonel John Barnwell. In January of 1712, he led a militia of thirty soldiers and 500 friendly Indians to attack the Tuscarora fort, Narhantes (also known as Torhunta), on the Neuse River. According to Barnwell, Fort Narhantes was the Tuscarora’s largest and most warlike village. Despite several casualties, Barnwell took the fort on January 30, 1712.”

Then, I had to look up the UNC one that I would see practically EVERY DAY while I attended library school there. This sign is on Franklin Rd.

Information for the essay about this sign was taken from a work written by Kemp Battle, a former university president. I’ve posted about this before, but Kemp may in fact be a slave owner of one of my ancestors. I do hope that one day I can learn if this is true or not!

Finding relatives

When I really started reading genealogy sites online, I would often see stories and accounts of people finding cousins through their online searching. Well, in the past couple of months, I’ve located some too! Just yesterday a second cousin of mine found my family site and emailed me. A few weeks ago, I found a post on Ancestry from a woman who has turned out to be like a fourth cousin of mine and I’ve posted before of another lady I’ve met online who is possibly a fifth cousin. I am so moved by this and I really am glad that I am doing my family research. It goes to show just how connected we really are to each other!

No other major things to post about. I received the death certificate for one of Kalonji’s great-great grandmothers yesterday, but it had little revealing info. She’s proven elusive to find in any census records so one day I will have to do some serious handsearching. It did have her exact birth date though! Whereas all I had was abt. 1871, the death certificate reported her birth as March 10, 1871. Tomorrow, we are taking a trip to Evansville, so I will go to the public library and copy her obituary.

Burst Bubbles

Yesterday in the mail I received some microfilmed newspaper from Talledga, AL that I ordered from the Alabama Dept of Archives. I was so excited! I ordered this particular time period in hopes of finding an obituary for Kalonji’s great-grandfather, Champ McClellan. He was a well-known preacher in Talladega and I just “knew” there would be a great write-up about him.

Well, my bubble got burst. He died in 1961. Talledaga is definitely “the south” and given the time period, I should not have been surprised. The newspaper only reported on the African-Americans in town on Wed & Thursdays. The paper had a column called “The Activities of the Colored Citizens of Talladega” specifically for that purpose. Champ’s information was there but it was all of three lines. I do learn from this however that Champ seems to have a middle name that I had not seen previously – started with the letter C. hmm…..

However, this has sparked my desire to begin indexing this newspaper as well — if only I didn’t have a full-time job!

Nothing Major

I don’t think I’ve had any major discoveries in my own family genealogy as of late. I just continue to request certificates to add to my files. The other day, I received my paternal grandfather’s death certificate. He died 1/1/76 in a car crash and all the information on there was info I already knew. His death resulted in a court proceeding, to which I have the transcript, that I hope to be able to find more records on if I can. But, that is a post for another day…

Recently, I have been working on a friend’s genealogy and that has been fun! Her family is steeped in Madison County, AL, so I’ve been fortunate to be able to find most of them pretty well in the census records. And, Madison County has an excellent website of indexes to their marriage records that has been wonderful for verifying some dates! Our next step is to start requesting certificates from there for her to add. She is just beginning her genealogy and within a matter of a couple of days I was able to find one of her 4th-Great Grandparents! She loved that!

In my indexing project of the newspaper from Plymouth, NC where my maternal grandmother is from, I just came across the news blurb of the opening of Plymouth High School. My grandmother graduated from there in 1944 and the school opened in 1889. That’s kinda cool.

An Interesting Census Find

Tonite, I was doing some searching and came across an interesting census record. So far, I have not been able to locate my ancestors, Anthony Walker & wife Martha in the 1880 census. But, I had been limiting my searching to the Washington County, NC area, where I know they lived most of their life. Well, tonite, I found an entry for what might be the family – but living in Louisiana!

This is what is in the census record

1880 Morehouse County Louisiana, 10th Ward
Anthony – Head, age 30, farm laborer, born in NC, parents born in NC
Martha – Wife, age 25, born in Ark?, parents born in NC
Martha – daughter, age 6, born in Louisia, parents born in NC/Ark
Mary – daughter, age 4, born in Louisiana, parents born in NC/Ark
Bertha – daughter, age 1, born in Louisiana, parents born in NC/Ark

This is what matches what I already know:
1) That both Anthony & Martha report being born in NC
2) Anthony’s age in this census record matches what I already knew – that he was born in 1850
3) Martha’s age (the wife) in this record matches what I already know – that she was born somewhere around 1853 or so..
4) Two of the kids names matches two names I already had – Martha & Mary

What doesn’t match
1) the daughter Martha is not our direct relative, but Mattie was born in 1897. On the 1900 census she is 3, so I know that the Martha above is not the same as our Martha. However, given the high rate of infant mortality and the apparent penchant in our family for them to reuse names of kids that previously died, maybe this was an older sister of Mattie’s that died before Mattie was born?
2) the Mary above seems to be around 10 years older than the Mary I already have for Anthony & Martha. Again, from the 1900 census, they list a daughter Mary that is 14 years old. She would not have been born in 1880. But again… possible older sister that died?
3) And, I don’t have a daughter for them named Bertha – but that too may be a child that died?

Hmm.. are these my ancestors? Off to do more research! But, if this is them – it then makes one ponder – what were they doing in Louisiana???

Update – nope, this wasn’t them