Pick me! Pick me!

I submitted my application to the African-American Lives Casting Call. The last step was to send a photo of myself and I did that yesterday. By Friday, applicants are supposed to know if they’ve made the next step – they will select a handful to submit video entries. Keep your fingers crossed. I would love to see a genea-blogger get this – it doesn’t even have to be me :-) They received over 2,000 applications.

My genealogy research last week was practically non-existant. I had gotten sick and then work was so busy that I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to it. Well, that changed late last week. I received an email from a lady who is working on a family in East Tennessee that I am compiling for a friend. Our email exchanges have been great and she’s put me in touch with other researchers too. Having so much fun working on someone else’s family tree has got to be a crime!

More Information from the State Archives

After visiting the Tennessee State Library and Archives again today, I have more information to help me in figuring out the trees for the white families I’m researching. Some of the goodies:

While there, I also looked through the Heritage Books for Martin County, Craven County and Lenoir County. Made copies of a few key pages. However, I have to say that overall, I am quite disappointed with these series of books. They seem to have been mostly done by local genealogy societies in the 80’s and 90’s? My disapppointment with them is the true lack of adequate representation of black familes. Is it b/c the societies decided not to pursue as many black families? Is it because they tried and didn’t get participation from black families? For the Craven County book, the church section did not include black churches! (at least not the two that my families have been going to for the past 70 years. I am truly dismayed. Not sure what to do about it yet….

More on my Ambitious Goal

I have posted earlier how I would love to create a community genealogy site. Well, I started one – specifically, for Washington County,NC. What has been interesting though is I really feel I am getting a very deep sense of history for the county. As I’ve been doing the newspaper transcriptions, I have seen many names, some popping up more frequently than others. As I’m going through published resources and creating trees, it’s been really neat to see the families of these names I’ve seen come to life. Very cool.

I’m going to the state archives today. I am going to some more lookups for the MacNair/McNair family of Edgecombe County, NC as well as other tasks. Will post later.

The Search Continues

I have been completely obsessed the past few days! But, I have to say, I am rather happy with where I stand with my searches thus far and I have more information to help me build up the family trees of the Wimberly and McNair families.

On Saturday night, I discovered the existence of a book written by a cousin to Robert Diggs Wimberly. The book is called Recollections of a Lifetime, and it was written in 1902 by Mary Katherine Killebrew. The book was republished in the 70’s by a person from this area of TN, so there was a copy of it at the Nashville Public Library. Mary Katherine’s father was Robert Diggs Wimberly’s brother. Robert was born in TN, so, their father had moved here in the late 1700’s and Robert moved to NC (where his father was from). Mary Katherine’s father stayed here, thus, she grew up in TN. The information in the book confirmed relationships for me, so I was very pleased to find them. I know now Robert’s family tree fairly well on his father’s side. I now need to start working in earnest on his mother’s side. I have put up the tree so far (I still have a lot of people to add) on my site.

Then, two nights ago, as I was searching for more information about the McNair’s, I found a book online in Ancestry.com written in 1928 called McNair, McNear, and McNeir Genealogies. It has 5 generations worth of the McNair family I’m researching! This book confirmed the grandfather of the McNair I was most interested in, Augustus Harvey McNair, and it had a ton of additional information about the family. Fascinating!

So, I do believe thoroughly understanding each one’s tree will help me once I get back into the county records. For example, I had a false lead earlier this week but now that I know the family tree, things are more clear.

Augustus’s brother, Hugh, reports having 7 slaves in the 1860 census. On the slave schedule, slaves numbers 5,6 and 7 had names next to them. One of the names was R Tannahill and there is a note that this person is from Virginia. I was beginning to get excited when I saw this b/c my ancestor is Rufus Tannahill! and, the age of the slave was about ten years off, but I was willing to accept it as him anyway. However, as I reflected more on the list, I realized that R Tannahill was indeed the slaveowner – it just happens that this slave was with Hugh McNair during the census. Slaves #6 and 7 on that list also have other slaveowner names other than Hugh. Each slavowner listed R Tannahill of Virginia, EB McNair of NC and another McNair of Virginia, are all family members of Hugh’s – R Tannahill is his nephew, Robert Tannahill (who in 1860 lived in Petersburg, Virginia), E B McNair is Hugh’s mother. I’m not sure who the third one is.
Alas, of course it was not going to be that easy!

But, as I look at the 1860 slave schedule for Robert Wimberly, I notice right away that he is enumerated right after Augustus’ brother, E.D. McNair and their brother, Ralph McNair. So, I plan to really focus more on these two McNair brothers as I move forward. If Rufus was with one of them, and if Mariah was with Robert Wimberly, the proximity of the white McNair/Wimberly’s might be meaningful!

More to come as I find it.

Further support for my suspicion

As I am building the tree for Robert Diggs Wimberly (the person whom I suspect owned my ancestor Maria), I am coming across a few more clues that I think lend support to my theory.

Before starting his tree, I had the following items to lead me to believe he may have been her slave owner:

  • Maria and her husband Rufus live right next to him in the 1870 census, which indicates that Robert had a real estate value of $17,000. One of the things I learned in Beth Wilson’s lecture was that with this amount of real estate value, it tended to indicate the person owned slaves.
  • There are only two other white Wimberly’s families in Edgecombe County, NC from 1850-1870 and they are the families of Robert’s sons, George & Joseph. His son George also has a large real estate value ($15,000).
  • The 1850 and 1860 slave schedules show that between them, Robert and his son George owned around 80 slaves. They were the only Wimberly slaveholders in the county.
  • I have a hypothesis that Maria’s father’s was Allen Wimberly (I could do a separate list for that, which I probably should), but Allen was married to a Della Battle as demonstrated by county cohabitation records and the Battle Plantation was near the Wimberly lands. I still have to do research of land and property to better understand this.

I think this is itself is already compelling, but I wanted to find out if I could actually find more information to support my hypothesis. Over the weekend, I’ve learned:

  • Rufus & Mariah had sons named Barnes and Sterling. Sterling is a Wimberly family name – Robert’s brother was named George Sterling Wimberly, and their mother had a brother named Sterling. Barnes appears to also be a family name as I now know that a relative of Robert’s mother married a Barnes who later would live on the Wimberly property in Edgecombe County. I do not yet know this exact relationship.

I can’t wait to see what else I discover and I know I’ve only scratched the surface of the available county records (another tip from Beth – scour all the available county records you can get your hands on.)

Another Trip to the State Archives

Putting theory into practice, last night, I sat down and wrote a Research Plan for tracking possible slave-owners for my 3rd great-grandmother, Mariah Wimberly McNair. I have suspicions, but I’m now trying to follow-up on those suspicions. It starts with listing all the Wimberly’s that I could locate in 1870 in Edgecombe County (and I have found one so far in the neighboring Nash County). In that list, I have only three white Wimberly families and fortunately, they are the only ones in the area and held between them, close to 100 slaves.

After documenting several aspects, I then selected a few books that I wanted to look at more closely at the State Archives. While the TN archives does not have nearly as much NC info as I’d like, they do have a substantial collection and I am home this afternoon with a whole stack of photocopies to go through more extensively! I’ll post specifics later.

And, while I was there, I met a lady (and her mother) who had emailed me just two days ago in response to some information she found about an ancestor that I had posted in my Nashville Globe Blog. Must have been predestined for us to meet!

Roots TV

Roots TV is just awesome! Today, after reading Megan’s post of the changes to the site, I decided to take a look again and see what new videos have been posted. There are several videos that I had not yet had the opportunity to view, including lectures from the AAHGS Conference this past October in Salt Lake City. Last month I saw notice of the 2007 conference that will be in Boston and I am going to try and attend, so this is neat to be able to see some of the lectures online.

The lecture that I watched was Beth Wilson’s talk on “Trails Back, Tracing Ancestors in Slavery through Census, Probate and Land Records”and it was very enjoyable. I have to say though, the librarian in me is well suited to genealogy, b/c throughout the lecture she was giving hips/tips/advice for proper methods of genealogy research, the importance of documentation, etc, which all come very natural to me. I was happy to see that I at least knew a little bit of what I was doing.

What I found most helpful about her presentation were her techniques for tracking slaves in records. As I am about to get into original county records for my own slave owner searching, I know have ideas for helping me trace people. One comment she made also had to do with the importance of sharing information with other genealogists. In her case, she had occasion to go through the records of Howard County, Missouri and realized she could help in providing access to others, so she’s transcribed and made databases of the information she’s gathered. This is exactly what I aim to do in my own genealogy research, hence the focus I have right now on newspapers. It is SO important to share.

I hope to be able to watch more videos throughout the rest of the weekend.

Obtaining Old Newspapers

In my last post, I had a comment that inquired how I obtained old newspapers. Thus far, I have ordered them from the North Carolina State Archives and State Library. They have a whole bunch of North Carolina Newspapers on microfilm as a result of the United States Newspaper Program. While they do offer interlibrary loan for the newspapers, I decided to take advantage of their microfilm duplication service – they charge $12 a reel. This is a much better option for me than interlibrary loan b/c I don’t have the time to go to the library and spend large chunks of time to look through them within a specific time frame and then return them, so it’s been easier for me to just own them and then I don’t have to return anything.

Even better, while I feel lucky to have the Nashville Public Library to be able to go to and do digital scans of the microfilm, I have recently found a service that will convert my microfilm to digital images for me. I plan to send them two reels this week and their turn around time is two days, so by the weekend, I should have enough digital newspaper images to keep me busy indexing for a couple of months. They are not cheap, but for the money I pay to the drop-in daycare that I use for Kaleya when I do go to the library, a reel costs me equivalent to two trips to the library. So, it will be WELL worth it!

Now that I know the library does microfilm duplication, they also do the same for all the county records they have on microfilm. So, next month, I plan to purchase some county records on microfim, namely, some from Jones County (see previous post).

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.

A Day In the Library

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I was in Evansville and had a chance to visit the public library there! My husband has a lot of family from that area and I was able to find quite a bit of information about his various family members by using an online database that the library has that provides information/clippings from the local area newspapers from the last 50 years or so. My mission while there was to photocopy obituaries that I had located using this online database.

And, mission was successful! I got a photocopy of the original obituaries and they held a trove of wonderful information! The public library there is only a couple years old and is quite nice. The staff were very helpful and I found my information in no time at all. It was great! And now, since being back home, I’ve identified several more obits that I’ll go back and get next time we go back.

On my family – I have not been doing much these past few weeks. I continue to write off for birth/death certificates. One of the counties I have been writing too has really annoyed me. They told me that they don’t do genealogy work as they don’t have the time and that if I send requests in the future it may take them weeks and weeks to pull the certificates. Now, true I have requested approximately 40 certificates from them over the past four months or so, but I usually send one request for about 5-10 certificates at a time. I provide exact death dates and follow all the instructions on their site, send the appropriate fees and send SASEs. So all they have to do is pull the book and photocopy the page. They don’t have to do any verification of the information I send — so how is that “genealogy” work. Is it not their job to pull certificates and make copies? I’m just really annoyed by that. If they are going to provide a service, they need to provide a service. And, what is most frustrating is that this is the county where I have a LOT of relatives and extended family from, so there are many certificates that I’d like to request. Whereas in the past they’d been sending them back to me within a couple of weeks, my latest request they have held for a month now and that only requested 4 certificates. So frustrating.