He’s Been to Florida Before

This is a photo of the envelope that my uncle Stanley (1950-2010) sent to my grandmother back in 1984.

This letter is notable because Stanley was a “wanderer.”  He would leave New York and go travel and the family would never really know where he was at.   His return address here is “On the Road” and interestingly, in Florida.  He would eventually settle in Florida,  living there near my mom.

Vacation Day 2 – Nashville Public Library

The genealogy vacation extravaganza continues! Today I spent my time at the Nashville Public Library in their Nashville Room.  I came to realized I’d seriously underappreciated the resources in the Nashville Room for I learned today much more about their holdings.  As with yesterday, everything I gathered today will eventually go to the TNGenWeb & NCGenWeb projects to aid others doing family history research.

The reason I went to NPL was to capture digital images off of a couple of microfilm rolls I ordered years ago from the NC State Library & Archives.   In the past I’d paid to have two rolls scanned by a professional microfilm company, but I keep trying out different ways to do it myself.  Our public library has two microfilm machines hooked up to computers and this makes scanning quite easy to do.

I captured key information from:

  • Roanoke Beacon of Plymouth, NC from April – June of 1890.  This is a weekly paper.
  • Kinston Free Press of Kinston, NC from a couple of weeks in January 1910 and a couple of weeks in Aug/Sep 1910.  This is a daily paper.

One of my recreational blogs is Black Nashville History & Genealogy.  Most of the info for the site comes from the Nashville Globe, an African-American newspaper that ran in the early-mid 1900s.   Today, I captured:

  • Nashville Globe-Independent — death notices & obituaries from Jan – Jun 1960.

Then, I discovered that the public library has quite a number of yearbooks.  I’ve been in yearbook deluge lately so I had to continue and look at those.  I even had to take a picture.

yearbooks at the Nashville Public Library

Today I captured the senior class listings for:

  • Vanderbilt University – 1896, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905,
  • Ward Seminary for Young Women -  a girl’s high school.  I got the names of the 1902 seniors.
  • University of Tennessee – 1897, 1914, 1915 – these are all online already having been digitized by the University of Tennessee, but I took a few pictures anyway
  • Hume Fogg High School – 1919, 1921

I also learned that the Nashville Metro Archives has a large yearbook collection so I will need to plan a visit there one day to look at them.  Another very productive day! Unfortunately, tomorrow I need to run errands so no genealogy for me, but these past couple of days have been stellar.  I now need to start my genealogy project Works-In-Progress List so I can keep track of my status with each of these.

Ward Seminary For Young Women - 1902

Library of Congress Visit

This weekend I traveled to Washington D.C. for a professional conference. My trip was short, but I did get to spend most of the day Friday at the Library of Congress (LOC). I’ve been to LOC before as a visitor/tourist, so I didn’t feel compelled to take many pictures. I’d not been as a user of their collection however.

I’d not prepared for the trip, other than spending a few minutes reading the website, so, I did not have clear cut goals. Because of this, I decided to focus more on seeing what I could find of value for the NCGenWeb project rather than my own personal research.

Upon getting to the library, I went first to get my Reader Identification Card. Good for two years, the card is used to gain entry into the numerous reading rooms and request books from the closed library stacks.

The process for obtaining the card was straightfoward and easy so I was done in less than half an hour. After getting the card I then took the underground tunnel from the Madison Building over to the Jefferson Building to go to the Local History & Genealogy Room.

This is the view from my position in the research room looking towards the front.  The reference desk is hidden behind the atlas. You see those TV screens? They have cameras so they can see what’s going on in all parts of the room.  There is free wireless access which I loved having available!

My first order of business was to request books from the closed stacks.  I knew that this would take approximately 50 minutes for them to be retrieved so I jumped online, identified some books of interest, and then made the request using the paper slips they make available in the room. There is no limit to the number of books you can request to have pulled at one time.

After filling out many of these slips, when I handed them in, I asked the staff person if there were any plans to allow requests to be submitted electronically.  At that time, he gave me instructions on how to do just that! I only wished the staff person who gave me the room orientation had told me this beforehand.

The room has 7,000+ items present so I was able to extract information from some of the North Carolina holdings while I waited for my books to be delivered.   I then spent the next few hours going through the books, taking digital pictures of pages of interest.  I took over 300 pictures with my cell phone of information that I plan to use throughout various NCGenWeb sites for other researchers.   Sweet.  Maybe next time, I can look for particular sources that may help my own individual research.

Following the Local History & Genealogy Room, I then went to the Newspapers & Current Periodicals Room.  My visit here was not as nearly productive.   First of all, the staff person didn’t seem to quite understand my vague request for a newspaper reel from the 1880s that included various NC newspapers.  I guess they are used to people seeking specific titles, but I tried to explain that from the library catalog record I knew that the reel contained multiple newspapers and I just wanted the reel.  He kept insisting that I put a specific title on the request form, but the reel contained about 20 different titles.  Eventually I jotted down one of the titles on the reel and sure enough when the reel was delivered the title was not on there but instead it read “Misc. NC newspapers”.  Yeah.

Now, I was looking forward to using their digital machines.  It is advertised on their homepage that you can bring your USB drive and download images to the microfilm reader.   In addition to all the standard types of microform readers, they have 4 ST-200 machines.

While I was initially excited, my excitement quickly waned.  I do not like this machine.  :-(

It seemed that there was not an easy way to view a readable image of an entire newspaper page nor capture a high-resolution image of an entire page.  Without being able to see the whole page at a sufficient zoom level, it was difficult to know what was on each page.   I was able to zoom in on the page, but then I’d spend a lot of time moving the plate around in order to see different parts of each page.  Cumbersome is not even the word.

I then tried the digital capture and tried to download it to my external harddrive.  Turns out, when they say download to your USB drive, they mean USB drive – it wasn’t compatible with my external harddrive.  Oh well. Not a biggie.  I used a workaround and snapped some more pictures with my phone’s camera.  I guess I could have asked for help, but I was trying to figure it out on my own.

Overall though, if I’d had more time, I’d definitely have requested more rolls of film and relied on the traditional microfilm machines.  I did spend the afternoon regretting that I’d not been interested in genealogy when I lived in DC! I lived there for a year in 1999-2000 and if I’d only have been interested I could have been spending a LOT of time at the Library of Congress.

And you know what else? I found out that the cemetery I lived next to when I did live in DC was the cemetery where F. Scott Fitzgerald was originally buried.  I remember passing that cemetery often too!

All in all, I had a great day though and am very glad I had the opportunity to go visit LOC and see friends.   For more tips on visiting LOC, check out Missy’s blog post.

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.

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!

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 10 – Christmas Gifts

In this installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, our daily prompt is “Christmas Gifts.”  Today, I’d like to share two pictures of me with some of my Christmas gifts

First, here I am in 1980 when I was 5 years old.  I remember getting this needlework set and I just loved it! I was 5 here and I do believe this was the part of my initial spark for needlework! (see my cross-stitch projects here)

taneya_christmas_1980

Me - December 1980

And, another picture of me in Christmas, 1982 when I was 7.  This was the year I got my Barbie RV too – ooh, how I loved that toy! In this particular picture, I’m holding up my Snoopy pajamas I got.

taneya_christmas1982

Me - December 1982

Then, there was the year my mother dressed up as a gift for a work holiday party.  They were having a contest for the “best gift” and needless to say, my mother won :-)

My mother - December 1996

My mother - December 1996

Advent Calendar: December 6 – Santa Claus

This is another post for my Advent of Christmas Calendar Memories.  Here on Day 6, the prompt is as follows:  Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

Me & Santa Claus at my father's company Christmas party around 1984.

Me & Santa Claus at my father's company Christmas party around 1984.

I don’t know if I’ve ever written a letter to Santa, but I do remember making lists.  I don’t feel like I have enough to really post about that specifically, so, instead I share this picture – I think it is my only one with Santa.

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.

August 15 is My Husband’s Birthday

Will all my geneablogger friends help me wish him a happy birthday! :-)


Kalonji at about 3 years old

Comment on this blog post, or, you could even send him an email directly! (kalonji at gmail dot com) – that would be funny wouldn’t it? to get random emails from geneabloggers he doesn’t even know.

I still haven’t finished my blogs about our family vacation, but I’ll try to get to it this weekend.