Latest Posts

Follow-up for Lorenza

My last post on my mother’s uncle Lorenza was very well received by my family members.  Two cousins as well as Lorenza’s aunt Martha (who is 80+ years old and sends email and is online!) also commented.  Everyone seemed to really appreciate it. 

After that post, I digiscrapped a layout for him.  The layout uses a Quick Page design by Meryl Barthos.

From Kaleya — Year 2

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.

Number 1000

On Saturday night, Randy shared on his blog his experience trying to locate the 1,000th person in his database, and invited us all to do the same. Well, I thought, this should be easy enough. Well, I found them, but it was not as straightfoward as I thought!  I use TNG: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding as my software.  I have more than 3300 people in the gedcom associated with my name (i have several other gedcoms too for different research projects)

Attempt #1

TNG has a number of web-based forms that are used for data entry and reports. So, I went first to the webform for the administration of people.  The form has a field to enter search criteria, and beneath that is a table of results.

I use this form all the time. But, just now realized that the column headers are not sortable and the order which people are listed by default is not by ID, it is by name.

Attempt #2

Given the database backend of the software, the ID number of each person is included in the URL for that person’s page. For example, my great-grandfather, Barfield Koonce has a URL of  You see in the URL that personID=I26 refers to his ID number in the database. So, I thought, let me just change that to personID=1000 and after doing so I got a broken URL message.  Hmm… what’s up with that?

Attempt #3

Since TNG does use a database, I then decided to go look at the database tables themselves. I use phpMyAdmin to administer my MySQL databases on my website, so I have a lot of flexibility for querying fields, running SQL queries and sorting data.

I went specifically to the table of people, limited the results to those in my main gedcom (tree=1) and then sorted by ID number. This is when I realized that the personID numbers skip around, there is no personID=1000. It goes from 973 to 1003. I’m not sure why, but let’s try something else. Let’s look at the 1,000th record in the list, regardless of perosnID.

That person is Vincent Hutchinson. Vincent is my 2nd cousin and is related to me on my maternal grandfather’s side. I’ve never met him, but I do have a picture of him.  I don’t even have his birthdate/year. Looks like I need to contact his father again :-).  Last time I spoke to his father was about two years ago.

That was certainly an exercise.

Using Google Maps

My mother was born in 1951 and when she was born her family lived at 100 Brooklyn Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.  Here is a picture of her uncle June, with her older brother Stanley that was taken around the time he was about 10 months old; my mother was not yet born. 

One day, my mother sent me an email after she was playing around in Google Maps.  The building is still there!  We weren’t absolutely sure it was the same building until I realized the iron gate behind my uncles in this picture are in fact the same as what is there now. 

When I and my brother were born in ’75 and ’78 respectively, my parents lived at 372 167th Street in Bronx, NY.  This picture of my mother with my cousin (born in ’77) was taken in front of the building. 

Here is the Google Maps pic from now and the grocery store my mother tells me they would go to often on the 1st floor is also still there!

The picture of my mother and cousin was taken from the opposite direction as what you can see in the above Google Maps picture, but when I turn the view around, you can see the same background as what is in their picture. 

I love it! I think it’s cool that I’m able to use this technology to get a recent picture of the residences. I really need to do this for other places associated with my family.

Flickr is Great

I’ve been spending some time the past few days searching images in Flickr. There are so many great pictures that people are sharing and I’ve enjoyed looking through them.  I am searching Flickr for pictures relevant to my genealogical interest and I’ve been surprised to find as much as I have. 

Back in April of 2007, I blogged about learning of Somerset Place, a plantation owned by Josiah Collins who had more than 300 slaves. While in Flickr, I discovered someone who had a set of pictures from a visit she made to the plantation. 

You can see the rest of her Flickr set here.

Congratulations to the Heritage Trail

The newsletter for one of the genealogy societies that I belong too recently won an award, the Joe M. McLaurin Newsletter Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians, Inc. The Heritage Trail is the newsletter of the Heritage Genealogical Society, a society that covers Lenoir, Greene & Jones counties in North Carolina. My father’s family is in part from Lenoir County.

Since I joined the society, I’ve tried to get involved and have submitted entries for the newsletter. I have made two contributions so far

  • transcribed a couple of marriage notices from a 1909 issue of the Kinston Free Press for the Nov 08 issue
  • did a short write up of the Library of Congress Chronicling America historical newspaper site for the Aug 08 issue
I’m currently trying to figure out what to submit for the next issue, since I have microfilm of old issues of the newspaper, the Kinston Free Press that I use for an index and blog, I have a lot of material to choose from. I’m glad to be a part of the society!

The Resemblance Is There

On Wednesday I posted a montage of pictures and asked if anyone could see resemblance among them. I got two comments on the blog, plus I shared the picture with someone else that I know who is very good at looking at people and seeing similarities. Consensus: there are similarities and I’ve confirmed that I’m not making it up just because I want there to be :-)

The people in the picture are from L to R:

1) General William Blount McClellan
2) Champ McClellan, my husband Kalonji’s great-grandfather
3) Idora McClellan (the General’s daughter)
4) Frances McClellan, Champ’s daughter and Kalonji’s grandmother

I’ve posted before that I have suspicion that one of the General’s sons may have fathered Champ, and there were comments that Champ does favor the General.  My “offline” friend commented that she in particular saw great similarity in the shape of Frances’ face and the General’s face. 

So, more info to add as I work towards getting the DNA test. Unfortunately, we still have not had the kit done just due to trying to balance family expenses, but I have it as part of my 5 year plan to get it done and track down male McClellan descendants in order to see if one of them would be willing. 

I was inspired to do this initial post upon being contacted by a researcher who is doing thesis work on Idora.  She even sent me a picture of the Idlewild Plantation that was the home of the General and his family.  

I wonder if Champ was ever there?

I Missed It!

A couple of months ago, someone posted a comment to my Black Nashville blog to let me know that a new book had come out.  The book was the one above; the author, Sheryll Cashin,  was here speaking on campus today and I couldn’t go! I’m so disappointed.  But, there are plans to put her audio online so I’ll keep checking for it.

Sheryll Cashin is a descendant of Herschel V. Cashin (1854-1924) a lawyer from Alabama.   Her father,  John Cashin Jr., started the National Democratic Party of Alabama. The family has an interesting history and I came to learn of them from research I’d been doing for the Black Nashville blog on James Carroll Napier, a prominent former citizen of Nashville.  Herschel’s daughter Minnie went to Fisk University and she married JC’s nephew.  I haven’t finished reading this book, but what I have read has been inspiring and it’s really put a personal touch on people in her family whose names I’ve only seen on paper.

Maybe I’ll write to her to see if she’s interested in copies of some of the documents I’ve pulled together on her family/extended family.