This is Why I Never Go To Bed

I knew it was a mistake to get back on the computer after I *said* I was going to bed.  But, I had to check the email and feed readers “one last time.”  Well, now it’s going to cause me to be up long enough to do this blog post, but I couldn’t wait because what I found was too exciting!

Last week I learned of a new resources, a new website of NC  Maps.  I only had an opportunity to briefly consult it, planning to investigate it more in-depth this week.  Well, a researcher today shared the link with the Edgecombe County mailing list and pointed out in her post that the maps allow you to see the locations of properties. She specifically shared the link to at 1905 map.

So, off I go to look at this map and was elated to see my two surnames of interest EXACTLY just like I figured they were — the Wimberly property right next to the McNair property, and those two properties just south of the Battle property! 

I’ve been posting with some frequency lately on my McNair, Wimberly, Battle connections and this is just too perfect.   My 3rd great-grandfather, Rufus Tannahill McNair was likely the slave of Dr. Augustus Harvey McNair.  Rufus married Mariah Wimberly, whose mother was the slave of Kemp Plummer Battle and whose father was probably the slave of Robert Diggs Wimberly.  

I knew from census records that the white McNair, Wimberley and Battle families lived in proximity, but to have this visual is wonderful! Admittedly, I’ve not delved into land records very much for my research – this type of discovery definitely picques my interest.  Thanks so much to the North Carolina State Archives, the Outer Banks History Center, and the University of NC @ Chapel Hill for this wonderful resource!   This is truly made my day. :-)

In Memoriam: Clifton E. Johnson Sr.

Tonight, my mother called me to inform me about the death of our cousin, Clifton E. Johnson Sr. Cousin Clif was my grandmother’s half-first cousin. Clifton represents my McNair family branch of Martin County, NC (which was one of the reasons I adopted that county for the NCGenWeb project). The closest ancestor that I share with Clifton is my 2nd great-grandfather Andrew D. McNair. Andrew was his grandfather. Clifton, born December 9, 1941, died yesterday, June 25, 2009 while on a trip to Asheville, NC.  He was the son of Charlie Mack Johnson & Wille Ann (McNair) Johnson. Clifton was an accomplished lawyer and held several “firsts” in North Carolina’s judicial system. He was the  1st black lawyer to be appointed assistant prosecutor in NC /  1st black judge to sit on the NC Court of Appeals / & the 1st black judge to attain the position of senior associate judge on the NC Court of Appeals  

Clif was once featured in Ebony magazine, and thanks to Google’s digitization efforts, I was able to quickly find the issue he was in after my mother told me that he was in it and the approximate time frame.  He was included in an article in the March 1971 issue on black judges in the South. I am next going to try and figure out how to order a back issue so we can have it in physical print.

When I was in the 6th grade, we lived about 1 mile from Clif and his family, and his daughter and I were in the same classroom.   I did not know him before that year, and only saw him once since that year (1986-1987).  However, in June of 2007 I did have an opportunity to speak with him briefly about the family history as I was working on it then.  He was a very nice man and my thoughts are with his family. 

When I called Cousin Clif, I’d called specifically to inquire if he was aware of a person whom at the time suspected was part of our family tree, Dred Wimberly.  I’d hypothesized that Dred was the brother of our shared ancestor, Mariah Wimberly McNair.  Dred too was in law, having served on the NC General Assembly and the NC Senate.  Dred was a former slave of Kemp Plummer Battle (see my recent post) and I only had circumstantial evidence to connect him to my tree, though strong evidence.   When I’d found a picture of Dred and showed it to my mother, her reaction was “He looks just like Cousin Clif! Just like him!”

Well, now that I have a few pictures of Clif, I have to say that I agree and I believe this solidifies my theory that Dred was part of our family.  Dred would be Clif’s 2nd great-uncle, but I find the resemblance striking.  Here is Dred juxtaposed with two different pictures of Clifton.

On another interesting note, Clif swore in my stepmother’s uncle, Henry E. Frye, when Henry became Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court.  Tonight my thoughts are with Clif’s family. May you rest in peace Cousin Clif with our ancestors.

Relevant news items:

True Inspiration!

A couple of days ago, I discovered a new genealogy blog – Robyn’s blog, Reclaiming Kin.  I found her through Randy’s “Best Of the Genea-Blogs” post from Sunday.  Well, yesterday she posted on using court records for research and her experience of looking at records in Edgecomebe County, NC inspired my Tombstone Tuesday post of the gravesite of Kemp Plummer Battle, a resident of Edgecombe County whom owned some of my ancestors.

Well, last night Robyn emailed me stating that she had information to share regarding Kemp.  We spoke on the phone last night and it turned out that she had a great discovery!  The name Kemp P. Battle sounded familiar to her, so she went through some of her files and sent me a wonderful document.

Last year, while visiting the North Carolina State Archives, she’d transcribed some labor contract records from the Freedmen’s Bureau (M1909, Roll #56) which included some records of former slaves of Kemp’s.  The labor contracts were for work in the two years following the Civil War and Robyn explained that some were very formal, others were very casual.  In some cases, family clusters were maintained.

Among the transcription was my 4th great-grandfather, Allen Wimberly! Here is the list she provided:

Joe Battle, Henderson Dorsey, Jason Spicer, Jim Lawrence, York Lawrence, Jim McNear, Allan Wimberly, Alfred Wimberly, Joe Wimberly, Haywood Battle, Lewis Battle, Redding Battle, Norfolk Battle, Isabella Battle, Hardy Battle, Orph Battle, Jason Battle, Sarah Battle, Jerry Battle, Norfleet Dancy, & Illiad Dancey.

In addition to my own Allen Wimberly, some of these names I have seen previously in census records and county cohabitation records. I am not sure how they may connect with my own family, but I certainly need to continue to put these pieces together.  I also note the name “Jim McNear” which may be a variant of my McNair surname — Allen’s daughter Mariah married Rufus McNair; and Rufus I suspect to be a slave of Dr. Augustus Harvey McNair.

I am very excited about this and during the course of our conversation, Robyn stressed the need to take advantage of local Family History Centers for access to records. While I’ve known I need to do this, I have not managed to follow-through with actually ordering any records.  There are two locations in my county and they both are about 45 minutes away from me, but I’m going to have to just go!  So, one of them is open the 3rd Saturday of each month, so I hereby resolve to take a field trip this Saturday to go and place an order for at least two films.

Here is my 1st list of film to work through.  It may take me several months since I will probably order only two at a time, but at least I have some identified right?

Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County): Original wills Ausley, Joseph – Bryan, Thoma Film #1548856
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County): Original wills Killibrew, John I. – Middleton, S. O. Film #1571217
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County): Estate records 1748-1917 Barnes, Archelaus – Battle, Joe Film #2069673
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County):  Estate records 1748-1917 Battle, John – Bell, Bythel Film #2069674
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County): Estate records 1748-1917 Law, William – Mayberry, Charles Film #2070395
Wills, 1663-1978; estate papers, 1748-1917 (Edgecombe County):  Estate records 1748-1917 Williams, Henry – Winstead, Richard Film #2070963
Will records and index, 1760-1964, with a few marriages (Jones County, NC): Index to wills 1779-1964 Film #386902
Will records and index, 1760-1964, with a few marriages (Jones County, NC): Wills 1760-1842 Film #19228
Will records and index, 1760-1964, with a few marriages (Jones County, NC): Wills 1778-1868 Film #19238 Items 1-3
Pre-1914 cemetery inscription survey, Columbus Co. (NC) Film #882937 Item 11
Pre-1914 cemetery inscription survey, Martin Co. (NC) Film #882938 Item 25
Civil actions concerning slaves and free persons of color (Craven County, North Carolina), 1775-1885 No Film # in record
Craven County, North Carolina, pre-Civil War slave related papers, including petitions for freedom, 1775-1861 Film 2299351 Item 2

This will be quite intersting. Thank you Robyn for an exciting discovery and for inspiration!

Saturday Night Fun This Week

I’m feeling all inspired again with my genealogy blogging! I’ve gotten some great thoughts from reading others’ blogs. For this post, I’m taking Randy up on his last Saturday Night Fun quest, Where Were They in 1909?

The task was as follows:

1) Which of your ancestors were alive in 1909?

2) Tell us where your ancestral families were living in 1909. What country, state, county, city/town, etc. Who was in the family at the time? Use the 1910 census as “close enough.”

3) Have you found each of these families in the 1910 census?

Here is a brief synopsis of my ancesestral families and what they were up to in1909. To keep it simple, I’m going to go three generations back to my great-grandparents.

Barfield & Josephine (Holloway) Koonce - my father’s paternal grandparents were both alive and living in Craven County, North Carolina.  The family was from this area.  In 1909 they had been married for about six years and had two children, son Hampton and daughter Minnie.  The third child that appears in their 1910 census record would not be born until early in 1910.

William Lawhorn Jr. - In 1909, my father’s maternal grandfather was not yet born! He was born August of 1910, so his parents, Sam & Cora (Cox) Lawhorn were close to his arrival as their 3rd child.  His parents were also living in Craven County, NC and I have located them in the 1910 census. His future wife, Pearlie Kilpatrick, was not born until 1912.  I’ve found her too in 1910.

Lewis “Christopher Columbus” Robinson & Lucinda (Lennon) Robinson – my mother’s paternal grandparents have thus far eluded me in the 1910 census.  I periodically search for them, but I’m not sure where to look for them! They were both from the Columbus County area of North Carolina, but by 1920 they’d moved to New York.  I do not know for certain when they were married, but their oldest child, Ethel,  was born in 1908 in Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina.   Their next child was not born for another 5 years. I have located a man that fits his description (age, race, state of birth) in the 1910 census living in Trenton, NY as a hired man, but I’m not sure if this is really him or not.  If it is him, I suspect perhaps Lucinda may have been living with family with their young daughter? In any case, I’ve still got some searching to do.

Abraham Lincoln McNair- In 1909, my mother’s maternal grandfather was a 13 year-old boy living  in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina with his father and five siblings.  His mom, Gracy (Bullock) McNair seems to have passed by 1909 and soon after, his father would remarry.  His future wife, Martha Jane Walker, was 12 years old, living in the same town, with her own parents, Anthony Walker and Martha Jane Baker and 4 other siblings.  I have located both of them in the 1910 census.

So, of my 8 great-grandparents, only two were not yet born in 1909.  I obviously have work to do tracking Lewis & Lucinda down in 1910.  Very interesting to reflect on this.  Thanks Randy!

My Visit to Pearl Harbor

From Hawaii 2009

I’ve just returned home from a 4 day visit to the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. I was there for a business trip, the annual gathering of the Medical Library Association. It has been busy and interesting and on Monday I had a chance to do something I had been looking forward to for months – I visited Pearl Harbor.

My desire to visit Pearl Harbor is very emotionally driven.  Though I did not have anyone in my family perish that day, my great-uncle, Lorenza McNair, served in the US Navy during this time and was at Pearl Harbor just days before the attack and would serve on ships fighting in the Pacific Campaign for many months to follow.  I’ve blogged some before about his military time, but this visit was a chance for me to revisit what I know about his service and I’ve decided to do a more timeline based approach so I can visualize his experience better.

On December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked, my uncle was two days away on the USS Portland, which had left Pearl Harbor as part of a carrier fleet en route to Midway Islands.  During our visit, we watched a short documentary before going over to the Arizona memorial and at one point the narrator refers to the USS Portland having been out en route to Midway and I nearly started crying when they said that because it was such a clear reference to where Lorenza was at the time.

Following the attack, Lorenza would stay on the USS Portland, eventually transferring to the USS Neosho. The USS Neosho was one of the ships docked in the line of ships when the USS Arizona was sunken; Neosho was about 5 or 6 ships away from the USS Arizona.  Neosho sustained damage, but was repaired and sent back out.   Both the USS Portland & the USS Neosho were near each other in the waters at the time, and Lorenzo was transferred to Neosho.  He transferred on May 6th, 1942.   On May 7, 1942 the Neosho was attached and lost 80% of the crew.  My uncle was one of 123 men rescued afterwards.

After the attack, I noted in Lorenza’s records a gap of a few months and I’d wondered where he had been.  Then, in re-reading my earlier blog post about his military experience, I realized that in the newspaper article about him that my grandmother had a copy of, it mentions that he was home on furlough after the attack, so that explains the gap in his service records.  After his furlough, Lorezna was stationed at NAS San Diego and stayed there for 2 months before going to the USS Enterprise.

Lorenza was on the USS Enterprise from October 8, 1942-  until at least September 30, 1943.  The USS Enterprise saw a lot of activity during the war and is the most decorated ship of WWII.  While on this ship, Lorenza participated in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, and the Battle of Rennell Island.

For it’s service, on May 27, 1943, Lorenza and the rest of the USS Enterprise crew received the Presidential Unit Citation, a citation given for heroic action during Japanese crew in the Pacific.  Lorenza’s ship sunk or damaged 35 Japanese vessels and shot down 185 Japanese aircraft.

In November of 1943 Lorenza moved to the USS Hornet where he would stay for the next 13 months.  The USS Hornet left Pearl Harbor in March of 1944; Lorenzo was on it then, and during the time period he was on the ship, his records show 27 carrier strikes in which the ship participated.  After leaving the ship in December of ’44, Lorenzo was transferred to NAS San Diego again and eventually moved to Shoemaker, CA where he separated from the Navy in December of 1945.

From Hawaii 2009

Thoughts of Lorenza were very much with me as I toured the USS Arizona Memorial. I wonder if Lorenza knew any of the people that perished during the Pearl Harbor attack?  I am glad that I had the opportunity to visit and be on the same ground that Lorenza had been.   I’ve blogged more specifically about my time at the memorial and other info about my trip on my main blog.

Rest in Peace Aunt Lossie

One of my ancestors, my 2nd great-grandfather Andrew D. McNair, had two sets of children.  With his first wife, Gracy Bullock, he had 5 children between 1894-1906.  Gracy died between 1906-1910 and Andrew remarried to a woman named Bennie Slade.  With Bennie he would have 5 more children between 1915-1923.   Lossie Viola McNair Mason was Andrew’s youngest child, born in November of 1923 and I learned from a family member last week that she passed shortly before Christmas. 

I never met Lossie, but I am sad to learn of her passing and plan to reach out to her family sometime over the next few weeks.

Music Mondays: For the Beauty of the Earth

I’m starting a new blog meme for myself – Music Mondays.  Music is very important for me, so I thought it would be interesting to document various songs and their association with various events in the family through music. 

For my first music monday post, I’d like to share a song that was sung at my maternal grandmother’s high school graduation.  She graduated from the Plymouth Colored High School in Plymouth, NC in May of 1944.  I am fortunate to have her graduation program and listed on the program the song For the Beauty of the Earth.  I found this YouTube video of it being sung by children. It’s a pretty song.

Our Family and WWII

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a couple of years now as it was one of the most interesting history lessons I had early on when I started doing my genealogy in 2006.

December 7th marks the anniversary of Pearl Harbor and my great-uncle,  Lorenza McNair (1921-2005), was in the military during this time of war.  I’d always heard from my mother that after he returned, he told the family that if they had any questions about what happened, they’d better ask then because he was never going to talk about it again.  To the best of my mother’ s knowledge, he never did.

Lorenza McNair

Lorenza’ s military records show that he was a crew member on the USS Neosho when it was attacked during the Battle at the Coral Sea on May 7, 1942.   This is the last picture taken of it after it was bombed; 80% of the crew were killed during the attack and my uncle was one of 123 people rescued when the ship was found 4 days later; he was wounded in action.   This picture comes from a very thorough account of the ship and it’s activities from a man named Del whose uncle was also one of the rescued.

You can read more about the intense action of that day on Del’s website. He also has a video interview of his father and his uncle with his uncle describing some of what happened that day. This was very moving for me to watch as my own uncle was part of it too.   There’s been a book written about the USS Enterprise that I should read – The Big “E” by Edward Stafford.

Lorenza’s next military service was then on the USS Enterprise, which he joined in October 1942.  The USS Enterprise was the US ship with the most battle stars during WWII.  While he was on the USS Enterprise he was also involved in several more battles:

In November 1943, Lorenza then transferred to the USS Hornet. The Hornet deployed in 1944 and began it’s career with a series of raids against Japanese bases in the Caroline islands; Lorenza’s records show he was on the ship during this time.

According to my grandmother,  her brother was the 1st black man from Plymouth to join the Navy.  There was a newspaper write-up about him that I have, but it does not have the date on it.  One of my future research tasks is to see if I can find out when this was published.  However, the article gets the order of his ship service wrong, having him listed as being on the Hornet first and then the Enterprise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After I learned all of this, I realize it is no wonder Lorenza did not want to talk about his service.  This was certainly a traumatic experience.  I think our family was truly lucky that he did return home after the war.

I’ve added information about Lorenza to his Footnote Page.

Happy Birthday Grandma

Yesterday, October 16th,  was my daughter’s birthday. She turned 4! She was born on my maternal grandmother’s birthday and she has the middle name of Kalonji’s paternal grandmother.

My mother told me she went to the nursing home yesterday to help grandma celebrate her birthday. She turned 84 yesterday.  Happy Birthday grandma!

So, as a tribute to grandma (albeit a day late), let me post a poem that she loved. My mother went to the nursing home a couple of years ago and while there recited the first line and grandma recited a few more lines after.  It freaked my mother out b/c this after Grandma’s Alzheimer’s set in.

It Couldn’t Be Done by Edward Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.