He Was the 7th Son

Today is my grandfather’s birthday – Herman Robinson.  He died in 1986, but had he lived he would have been 84 years old today – born February 5, 1926 to Lewis “Christopher Columbus” Robinson & Lucinda Lennon in New York, New York.

Taken in 1975 at my parents' wedding.

Herman was the 7th son of his parents; no children born in between them and his two sisters were the 1st and 8th children.   In many cultures, there is a special significance tied to the 7th son; the number 7 in general has a long history of having mystical and religious signficance.   I wonder what he would have to say about that?

Herman was a very practical man. One of the most interesting stories my mother has told me about him is that he and his father-in-law never met.  Abraham (his father-in-law), being from the South, never had any interest in going up north to New York.  Herman on the other hand, having grown up in New York, certainly never had an interest in coming down south either given the ongoing racial tensions.  My parents moved from New York in 1978 and Herman finally came down south – once – for a visit that lasted about 36 hours.  In fact, we were living in the house I recently posted about when he visited.

Happy Birthday Herman!  Now, it is also my stepmother’s birthday! For privacy reasons,  I won’t give you details, but I wanted to at least wish her a very happy birthday indeed. :-)  She’ll have to watch out though, she may be online soon enough. Her alma mater, UNC_Greensboro’s yearbooks are currently being put online by the University of North Carolina – her year looks like it will be added within the next few weeks at the rate their going!

What Color is God?

“God is the color of water.”

Do you know where that quote comes from?  If you do, then you too have probably had the opportunity to absorb the life story of Ruth Shilsky McBride Jordan, mother of author James McBride and the topic of his best-selling book, The Color of Water. Written in 1996 the book chronicles the life of James’ mother and his story growing up as a biracial child of his Jewish mother and African-American father in New York.   Their life was not always an easy one, but their story is such a compelling story and I highly recommed everyone read it!

Mrs. Jordan passed away this past Saturday, January 9th, at her home in New Jersey; she was 88 years old.  She was born April 1, 1921 in Poland, moving to this country with her parents Fishel & Hudis Shilsky when she was a young girl.  Her birth name was Ruchel Zylska but her family changed their name soon after moving to the states.  They would settle in Suffolk, Virginia.

I read The Color of Water a little more than a year ago;  compelled to read it after my stepmother’s cousin emailed me explaining that he’d learned from a relative that he was related to James McBride. Together, we worked on trying to figure out the exact relationship and because of those efforts, I have some of the family tree in my genealogy database.  Ruth’s 1st husband, Andrew Dennis McBride (1907-1957) was from Montgomery County, North Carolina and turns out to be the 2nd cousin of my stepmother’s cousin.  I’ve blogged about the specifics of the relationship before.

Over the past two years, I’ve made connections with a few members of the McBride family and have been working on their family genealogy off and on over time.  Along with another distant cousin of theirs, we’ve made great progress in researching the McBride genealogy, back to a white man, Spratt McBride (b. abt. 1830), whom we think fathered Andrew’s apparent namesake &  grandfather Andrew McBride (1860-1925).  So much more remains to be done though and I hope we are able to help further as time goes on.  In particular, I’ve located the death record for Ruth’s mom Hudis thanks to a database from the Italian Genealogical Group and would like to order it one day.

My thoughts are with the family as they cope with the loss of their loved one.  Though I never knew her, I know that I am one of thousands out there who felt they did thanks to her son’s moving account of her life story.  Rest in peace Ruth.

I Love the Tennesse State Archives!

This past week has been filled with a lot of fun hunting for relatives of my stepmother. Her family reunion was this past weekend and I connected with a few of her family members who are also into genealogy. Then, I had a chance to make a quick trip to the Tennessee State Archives and it was a VERY productive 45 minutes!

Some of what I gathered:

  • Abandoned Cemeteries of Stanly County – My stepmother is a Frye and last month, her cousin was able to find the mother of their earliest known ancestor. It turned out that the ancestor, Maggie Fry, is white. So, I’m researching her family, the Fry’s of Stanly County. In this book, I found information on the Fry family cemeteries there, but Maggie is not listed. However, other members of her family are listed. Additionally, another branch of the family, Crowell, is from this county. So, I’m beginning to track the white Crowell families in hopes of making a connection. Found some cemetery listings for Crowells.
  • Stanly County, North Carolina, Marriages – More Fry’s, Crowell’s and a couple of other surnames located. Found the marriage record of a relative of Maggie’s.
  • Kershaw County, South Carolina Cemetery Survey – two days ago, I found a post on the Ancestry Kershaw County board of someone who was willing to do lookups in this book. She provided me with information for some of the Reid’s in my stepmothers tree. So, I had to go look at the book myself after discovering TSLA had it. There are several family members listed in the book along with more clues to follow.
  • Rowan County Cemeteries – this was a multi-volume set, like 8 volumes or something like that! I only had about 5 minutes to look in it, but I struck gold! Tony’ Reid’s burial plot is listed and the book provides the names of his wife’s parents. His wife was Elizabeth “Bettie” Parker and her parents were Wiley and Lucinda Parker. Tony’s birth year as listed in the book is wrong, but that’s okay. I know from census records when he was born.
  • Marriages of Rowan County, North Carolina: 1868-1900 - Jackpot! Found out that Tony Reid and Bettie Parker were married November 15, 1871.
  • Rowan County: a Brief History – was interested in this as it had a few pages on the history of Gold Hill. Gold Hill was the community around the gold mines in Rowan County that were the first docmented gold mines in the US. Tony Reid lived in Gold Hill and in 1880 his occupation is miner and farmer, so I’m guessing he may have worked these mines.
  • Somebody Knows My Name – went back to this classic to get the marriages of Rowan County. Unfortunately, the book does not cover Cabarrus or Stanly counties. Located a couple of people of interest, but can’t be sure of anything yet.

Amazing day! Now, to start analyzing all of this…

Also, I created a database of books that I want to keep track of. I found I was having difficulty managing what books I wanted to make sure I kept note of for future lookups, where they may be located etc. Once I get it more developed, I’ll blog about it more in depth.

15 Days

Since my last post. Wow. Haven’t gone for that long of a stretch in awhile. Well, I haven’t exactly been focusing much on any genealogy these past couple of weeks. We went to Alabama a couple of weekends ago to visit Kalonji’s family and since we’ve come back, I’ve redirected my attention to my first love – cross-stitching.

However, I have a family reunion coming up this weekend – my stepmother’s family has this reunion every two years. I’ve been working on her genealogy off and on and her brother has been doing some lookups lately, so the remainder of this week, I’ll be focusing on their tree.

Interesting tree too! They actually have stories of their slave ancestors! I’ll share them later on…