Koonce

Photos with the Ancestors

During the July 4th weekend, I was so fortunate to be able to visit eastern NC again to visit my father’s hometown, Fort Barnwell and my maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plymouth, NC.

My visit to Fort Barnwell was my first time back since my paternal grandmother, Cora Lawhorn Koonce, passed away in 2006. So, I visited the Mitchell Family Cemetery where my Koonce family is buried and visited her graveside for the first time. Since Kaleya was with me, she had to take the requisite pictures with her family. She may not appreciate it now, but it is my hope that when she is older, she will be able to cherish the fact that she has visited the town where her grandfather grew up.

panorama view of Mitchell Cemetery

Kaleya with her 2nd great-grandparents, Josephine Holloway & Barfield Koonce

I also went to the Alum Springs Church cemetery so that I could take pictures of Cora’s side of the family – namely, my 4th great-grandmother’s headstone, Mima Gooding Kilpatrick.

My cemetery visits were short – I had only 30 minutes and then needed to head to the Kilpatrick Family Reunion, but I am so very glad that I had a chance to do this.

Just a couple of days prior, while driving on my way to the Outer Banks, I stopped in Plymouth, the hometown of my grandmother Alice McNair Robinson.  Her parents’ home, the home of Abraham & Mattie (Walker) McNair. The house, at 502 Wilson Street, is in very poor condition, but because it is there, I took Kaleya by and told her that her 2nd great-grandparents lived there.

in front of Abraham & Mattie’s home

I also took her around to the back porch b/c I have a photo of myself as a youngster on the back porch.

at the back porch

We then went over to the McNair Family Cemetery where Abraham & Mattie are buried, as well as our McNair ancestral couple, Rufus Tannahill & Mariah (Wimberly) McNair.

at Abraham & Mattie’s graveside

at the grave of Rufus & Mariah McNair

I told her there would be a quiz later – let’s see how long she remembers the details :-)

Photos of my Grandfather!

I am completely ecstatic tonight! Over the weekend, my father visited his stepmother (whom he had not seen in over 20 years) and got some pictures of his father!  My grandfather, William Koonce Sr.,  passed away in 1976 when I was six months old, so I never knew him.  And, until tonight, I’d only seen about 3-4 pictures of him. So, I was so happy to see this pictures tonight!!!  This has absolutely made my week. 

Granddaddy & M

Granddaddy & M.

Isariah – I Know Your Lineage

Tonight, the 23andMe results have come back for a relative of mine – a gentleman for whom I am his 3rd cousin once removed.   At this point in time, his Relative Finder results are not back but his daughter and I spoke this evening about his results and we learned some interesting things!

Of particular interest for me was his mtDNA.  His maternal lineage is L3e2a1b. It is through this line that we are connected for he is the son of a female descendant of my 3rd great-grandmother, Isariah Wood.    Isariah is a paternal ancestor of mine, so I don’t have her mtDNA.  I am so pleased to know her lineage now!

However, this is a perfect example of needing a capacity as I described in an earlier post of being able to tag DNA sequences to specific individuals in a more shareable fashion than what we currently have with 23andMe.  Furthermore, tomorrow his Relative Finder matches should come in so I am particularly interested to see where we will match DNA.  Oh, the anticipation is killing me!  :-)

Note: Read my other blog posts on mine and my family’s 23andMe results.

 

She’s My Aunt Too!

I can’t believe I’m only getting around to posting this, but last week I had a great connection on my Koonce ancestry.  I was contacted by a distant cousin after she saw my great-grandfather, Barfield Koonce, on my tree on Ancestry.com.  She sent me a message and we were able to speak the same night (I’ll refer to her as KM).  We were both so excited to find each other!

It turns out that she and I share ancestry from Isariah/Mariah Koonce (b. 1839  – 1919?) of Craven County, North Carolina.   I am descended from Isariah’s daughter Caroline, who was Barfield’s mom.  MK is descended from a sister of Caroline’s whom I never knew about — her name was Fannie.   MK had been home over the Thanksgiving holidays visiting her great-aunt Mary Koonce and Mary shared with her handwritten notes she’d done about the family tree.

Mary’s list is not quite in family tree format, but the names of my family members are on it. When I started telling MK how I’d come to verify that Caroline was Barfield’s mom – namely by working on information shared with me by a cousin that Barfield had a sister named Agnes, MK replied that yes, Agnes was on her great-aunt’s list!

Here’s a snapshot of Mary’s notes:

my Barfield is there, his mom Caroline, along with his sister Agnes  – and then Isariah is there too as the mother of Fannie.  It was so much to take in!

From MK, via her aunt, I learned that Isariah’s father was white and that the slave master had taught daughter Fannie to read and write.  There are other family stories as well that she shared, including some suspicion that even though Isariah married James Koonce, James may not have been Fannie & Caroline’s birth father.  What?? You mean I’m not a Koonce after all?  I can’t wait to further explore these areas of potential research with MK… utterly amazing!

MK also shared that Mary was married to Harvey Koonce, who was related to Barfield Koonce but she wasn’t sure how.  As  I looked back over my notes, I realized that Mary’s husband Harvey “Lamb” Koonce (1920-1982), is the brother of my grandfather, William Koonce Sr. – MK’s great-Aunt Mary is my great-aunt too!   Wow.  :-)

Headstone of my great-uncle, Harvey Koonce. Buried in Mitchell Cemetery, Craven County, North Carolina

I am very much looking forward to continual correspondence and research with MK – my newly found cousin.

CoAAG Carnival: Research Connections

The topic of the first Carnival of African-American Genelaogy prompts us all to consider our individual roles in slave research. Luckie, our gracious carnival host, provides four topic areas to choose from for this initial go-round.   I have chosen to blog about the following:

As a descendant of slaves, have you been able to work with or even meet other researchers who are descendants of slave owners?

To this question I would definitely have to yell a big resounding YES!  My Koonce ancestry is the line that in many ways to which I feel most connected and I’ve researched my family back to former slaves of Jones & Craven counties North Carolina.  Though I’ve not yet found my exact slaveowner, I have narrowed it down to a few potential candidates, both white Koonce men of Jones County.   I am so connected to my Koonce name that I decided this past year to start a surname-focused blog about Koonce families.  Well, since starting the project I have been able to connect with many different Koonce researchers & families, both black & white, and one of the highlights of this whole experience was the research trip I took to a nearby city with John Paul Koonce

Taneya Koonce & John Paul Koonce

John invited me to go with him and his wife to Fayetteville, TN in April 2009 (read more on my blog post about it) and we had a great time! John is a descendant in the white Koonce lineage of which my potential slaveowners likely belonged to and for years was active in all things Koonce-genealogy related – even publishing a newsletter for a brief period of time.  He’s still involved in Koonce genealogy matters and I look to him as a wonderful resource for information.   We have worked together to locate information on various Koonce families and though there’s not been a specific connection yet to my own Koonce family, I have enjoyed the interactions nevertheless.

Additionally, I’ve had so many other encounters with white Koonce descendants and received nothing but the kindest words of encouragement and appreciation for all the efforts being made to help us understand the joint family history more thoroughly.  Slavery was not a pleasant time for our history, but hopefully, the more we all continue to make connections and bridge gaps in our collective knowledge of our ancestors.

Connections Like Wildfire

Just a quick post this time, but I’ve had so many connections come out the woodwork this week from sharing family tree information online it’s been crazy.

  • got an email from a possible cousin based on her husband’s lineage from former slaves on the Kemp P. Battle plantation in Edgecombe County, NC where my 4th great-grandparents were also slaves.  There may be a blood connection between the slaves, but we aren’t sure and so are beginning to work collaboratively on trying to figure it all out.  She found me based on a blog post I did after Robyn sent me some labor contract information
  • was contacted through Ancestry from a cousin who is descended from a sister of my 3rd great-grandfather,  Edward Kilpatrick of Craven County, NC.   I did not have any additional information for his sister Caroline, but through the cousin, I learned that she married a gentleman named Robert White and they moved to Pitt county.  More information to add to the family tree!
  • got a follow-up email related to my stepmother’s Frye ancestry.  We think we have linked her tentative 3rd great-grandfather Leonard Frye to a very large Frye family w/ ancestry going way back. more to do on that line…
  • through my genealogy site was contacted by a Koonce descendant. No relation to me, but since I collect Koonces I have part of his family tree on the site.  I will begin adding his branch to the tree later this weekend.  He is descended from Phillip H. Koonce of Shelby County, Texas.
  • was contacted by someone interested in the spouse of someone who’s tree I’ve been working on as the Picot family associated with Washington County, NC – one of my GenWeb projects.
  • my cousin emailed me tonight to call my great-uncle.  He is a brother of my maternal grandmother and is very interested in helping to figure out the origins of his Lawhorn surname.  I called him and he saw an obituary in a nearby city paper of a woman whose last name was Lawhorne and informed me as a possible lead.  He said his father told him that his father came from Georgia, but we are still working on that. It was great to talk to him too!

All of this has been in the last 4 days.  I have hardly had time to follow-up on all of these leads, but I hope to squeeze in some time this weekend.  I’ve got major projects due for school over the next couple of weeks and have a couple of activities planned on the weekend, so we’ll see.  I haven’t even watched the tonight or last week’s episodes of Faces of America yet!

SNGF: Remember When?

Tonight’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun prompts us to recall a day from when we were 12 years old.

1) Remember when you were 12 years old? On a summer day out of school? What memory do you have of fun activities?

2) Tell us about that memory (just one – you can do more later if you want to) in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook.

Instead of writing about myself however, I asked my parents to recall a day from when they were 12 years old.  Here were their responses.

My Mother : The day that she shared with me was November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated.  She was 12 years old and in the 7th grade in Brooklyn, NY.  While she doesn’t remember the whole day, she does remember her teacher calling the classroom together crying, to let them know that the President had been killed.  My mother also remembers watching the funeral on television and that the horse drawing the casket “wasn’t acting right.”

Since she couldn’t remember much more about any particular day, this led us into a discussion about what her typical days were like at that age.  She grew up in the hustle and bustle of New York, living in the Cooper Park Projects.  Her and her brothers would take the city bus to school and her 7th grade year was the year she transitioned to junior high school.  After school, she’d go home, change, and they typically would spend the afternoon playing outside.  She did remember that she had to wear dresses at school, per school dress code. In fact, all the way through to her first job after my family moved to North Carolina she had to wear dresses, pants were never allowed.

My Father:  My father gave me flack about asking him – said he didn’t remember any particular day. So, I asked about what life was like in general.  He grew up in rural NC so back then, there was only one school black kids went to – Newbold.  He went to that school for all his school years.  He lived with his maternal grandfather, William Lawhorn.  Since my great-grandfather owned a tobacco farm, my father was one of the family members that helped work it, so Daddy would get up early before school to help, go to school, then come home and continue working until it was dark.    When my grandmother died in 2006, I had an opportunity to take a picture of the home so I can visualize exactly where Daddy grew up.

Home of William Lawhorn

Asking them this question was a nice opportunity to revive some of their childhood memories.  I also learned some other family tidbits, all the more to add to my collection of stories.

Now, what about me? I turned 12 years old in 1987 and would enter the 7th grade that year.  I attended Cochrane Middle  School in Charlotte, North Carolina.  We’d been in Charlotte a year now since my parents divorced.  This school year was particularly important for me because this was the first time I was going into a new school year already knowing other kids! My parents moved a lot and I’d been attending a different school each year.  I too have difficulty remembering any one specific day, instead I remember a series of events.

For example, one day I was outside and slipped on ice in front of a whole group of 9th graders; I was so embarrassed! My friend Leslie and I used to get picked on (well, maybe not picked on, but teased) by a 9th grade boy and he in particular would call me Raw Deal.  Why? Because I used to always wear a black jacket that said “Raw Deal” on the back.  To this day I always think of him whenever I listen to my favorite L.L. Cool J. song – “I Need Love.”  In that song, he has a line where he says “..and I know that I’ll never dish another raw deal….”   And, I also remember being in the guidance counselor’s office one day charting the courses I would need to take from 9th to 12th grade in order to prep for college. Ah, the memories!

I wish I could share pictures from my 7th grade yearbook; I only recently pulled it back out from our storage behind the house.  But, my scanner is not hooked up, so that will have to wait another day.  Also, in the course of talking to my mother we ended up talking about some other things and taking a virtual trip through Greensboro in Google Maps.  That shall be the topic of my next post!

Advent Calendar: December 1 – The Christmas Tree

I’ve never participated in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories before, so this will be fun for me this year.  I won’t be doing all the days, but I’ll do some as I can.  I am beginning to get in the Christmas spirit as I look at some of my old pictures, so this should be fun!

The theme for today, December 1 is “The Christmas Tree.” We are to discuss our family/ancestors’ Christmas tree.  Well, I honestly have no idea what my ancestors did for Christmas trees – I’ll have to ask my parents about that one, but in my own family, most of the Christmas trees we had were when I was very young.  I believe we had mostly artificial trees too..

Here is a picture of me in December 1977 at our apt in New York; I was two years old at the time.  Can I just say that I LOVED the fact that our walls were pink and the trim blue??

taneya_christmas_newyork_rev
Later in the day, we would go to my paternal grandmother’s house.   Here I am at her house, posing.

taneya_christmas_newyork1_rev1

My mother tells me that I walked in and said, “Hi! Where’s my present?”  Well, at least I said Hi first :-).  And, here is another picture from that day with my grandmother and aunt Ella.  Looks like grandma’s tree was probably an artificial one?

tk_cora_ella_rev

My thoughts on Christmas trees now? I don’t do them; I just don’t have the inclination to put a tree up, decorate it, etc.    I did try one year just for Kaleya, but the cats made it their personal playground, so that was nixed fairly quickly.  Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll come back around.

My Koonce Surname Project

This week I finally finished setting up my site for my Koonce Genealogy project! I’ve very excited.  I’ve had this site on the backburner for several months now waiting to find the time to further develop it.

The goal of the site is to serve as a repository for the research I do on Koonce families; not just my own, but any others that I research.  I’ve found myself doing research on many different Koonce lines as I’ve established relationships with other Koonce researchers.  I began to archive my research in my genealogy database so it was pretty much all online anyway.  Now that I have a site and a blog for it, I hope to be able to disseminate what I gather more widely.

Part of the impetus to create the site came when I found the Koonce Genealogical Society newsletters at the Tennessee State Library & Archives.  It was published from 1994-1997.  I contacted the publisher, John P. Koonce and he gave me permission to put them online.  Even better yet, I had the chance to meet him (and blogged about it of course) and we now stay in regular contact.

So far, the database I’ve gathered has more than 2,000 people.  That’s not a “big” database, but I’m sure it will continue to grow as I continue to research.

This has a very niche audience, but if you’re ever interested in anything Koonce, you can visit http://www.taneya-kalonji.com/koonce.  From time to time, I expect I’ll highlight some of my posts from over there here on this blog.