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My Own Valentine

In honor of Valentine’s day, let me share my own Valentine, my ancestor and 2nd-great-grandfather, Valentine Lawhorn. 

Valentine Lawhorn was born about 1830 in North Carolina, and by the 1870 census, lived in Craven County, North Carolina.  I have not yet uncovered any information about who his parents may have been, and even trying to figure out potential slaveowners has been to date a challenge in my research.  I’ve not been able to locate any white Lawhorn families in the area, though I have seen a few McLawhorns. 

Valentine was married to Harriet (born about 1843) and as far as I can tell, they had 5 children.   For this side of my family, we do have an early Bible with listings of births, deaths, and marriages and there is one reference to Valentine in the bible – for his son Wright who was a preacher


Valentine’s son Samuel Becton Lawhorn is my direct ancestor, the father of my grandfather, William Hew Lawhorn. 

Valentine passed away some time before 1900 as by then, his wife Harriet is listed as a widow and lives with her son Wright. I have no information about where Valentine may be buried either, but one day I hope to learn more about this family. 

Valentine’s name continues to be passed along in the family; his son Samuel named a son Valentine and my great-uncle named gave one of his sons the middle name of Valentine.

In Memory of Aunt Hazel

On Monday, February 2, 2009, my great-aunt, Mrs. Hazel Koonce Harper, of Kinston, North Carolina passed away.  She was 94 years old.  I only have vague memories of meeting her, but I did have a chance to speak with her a couple of years ago about her family and she provided me with valuable information that I had not previously known. 

Hazel was born August 24th, 1914 in Craven County, North Carolina, the daughter of my great-grandparents, Barfield Koonce and Josephine Holloway Koonce.  Hazel’s youngest brother William was my paternal grandfather.  Here is Hazel and the family in the 1920 census (Township 3, Craven County) where she was at the time the youngest enumerated


Hazel was the mother of 10 children and her online obituary at the Kinston Free Press newspaper indicates that she had 52 grandchildren.  

My thoughts are with the family today as she is interred at St. John’s AME Zion Church in Fort Barnwell, the final resting place of her maternal grandmother, Polly Hood Holloway and aunt Priscilla Holloway Smith.

Update 2/14/09– Aunt Hazel was not interred at St. John’s AME, but instead at Oak Hill Cemetery.


Wordless Wednesday: I Loved This Dress

Another not so wordless post for Wordless Wednesday


Who:  Me 🙂

What:  Showing off my favorite dress – I LOVED THIS DRESS!

Where:  Roswell suberb outside of Atlanta, Georgia where we were living at the time.

When: Late spring 1989, end of my 9th grade year

Why:  Evening choir concert for my choir at school. I was at home waiting for a classmate to pick me up. My mother couldn’t take me becuase her car was acting up at the time, so I was going to be there by myself.  Well, much to my joy, while performing, I looked in the audience and Mommy was there! I was so happy.  On the way home though, the car did almost threaten to turn itself off. 🙂

More info than you care about:  this same dress was worn by actress Malinda Williams in the 1999 movie, The Wood.  The kids were at a school dance and I tripped out when I saw they had this dress for her!

New Look for Genealogy Site

At the beginning of this year, I updated the theme on this blog. Now I have just finished updating the look for my main genealogy site as well. I use TNG: The Next Generation for my site and find it to be a perfect match for what I need in a genealogy program.

Up until this week, there were only 7 choices to select from for your site theme, unless you wanted to take that task on yourself. I don’t know CSS very well, and have not wanted to try and merge the site into a content management system just yet, so this was my old theme. This week, a new theme was offered and I just finished applying it to my site. I actually think it goes very well with my current blog theme.


You can click on the picture above to go to my site. 

With this new theme, there were only a few things I tweaked in order to customize it. I changed the words across the top “Our Genealogy Site” to be hyperlink to the front page;  I customized the image that runs across the top with pictures from our own family; I like the Random Photo feature — the interesting thing is that I have so many genealogies (both family, non-family, and special projects), that a visitor may find themselves wonderign questions such as “What in the world does Commodore Vanderbilt have to do with Taneya?  (explanation here);  I put my same custom links on the front page. When I visit other TNG pages, I often find myself wanting to know explicitly, that person’s tree and many times I don’t see that. So, it was important to me to put my specific tree on the front page.  Then, I use the other links as starting points whenever I’m working on some of the other genealogies.  It’s much easier to have the direct link than use the search or surname browse and then go to their specific tree.  And, I added a graphic to lead over here to the Genealogy Blog that I created at


This and a trip to the state archives yesterday is as much genealogy as I’ve done this weekend; too busy playing Dance Dance Revolution!

Does It Get Any Better Than This?

Does it get any better than discovering there is (well, in my case, was) a genalogical society for your surname?  


This is an excerpt from the front page of the Koonce To Koonce newsletter of the Koonce Genealogical Society.  I learned of the newsletter last month I think from a random internet search, and then discovered that the Tennessee State Archives has several issues.  At this point, I have not looked to see how many issues were done total, but I will find out.  Koonce’s (from my slaveowners families in Eastern NC) were some of the early settlers in Tennessee and Nashville, so I’m not surprised that TSLA would have these.  I spent quite a bit of time browsing through the issues and I photocopied two issues for beginners. Believe me, I’m going to photooopy them all eventually.   While most of the information is for the white Koonce lines, I was still fascinated.  

When I got home, I showed the newsletter to Kaleya to see if she would recognize the pattern of  the name Koonce.  I taught her that the words on my name badge for work say “Taneya Koonce”, so she looked at it and thought it also said Taneya Koonce.  Well, close enough for me! I was just happy that she recognzied the word Koonce out of context of my name badge 🙂

My First ScanFest

This weekend I participated in my first Scanfest. It was fun! Though, I did do things a little unconventionally. I did not scan anything during the actual time frame, but instead, earlier that day, I scanned in some pages I photocopied when I visited the Tennesse State Library & Archives on Saturday.  Here is an example of one of the things I scanned and posted online – it is an index of a WPA tombstone transcription book from 1938. 

Index to Blount Cemetery Records from the WPA

I’ve decided I’m on a mission to provide as many indexes as I can. The TSLA has a great collection and I feel fortunate to live close to it. I learned this week for the first time of plans for GenSeek (see here and here); I think it would be very cool to be able to submit indexes to those resources that are not available full-text online.

I also scanned in several more that I will be gradually getting online and adding to my Special Projects page by the end of the week.

Music Monday: Spooky

This past week, my cousin was in town and I was able to spend time with her – it was great! “Spooky” is her nickname and we are about 7 years apart. Her mom and my grandmother were sisters and when I was younger, my brother and I used to spend weeks at a time visiting there. She used to come visit us too. Spending time with her this past week has been awesome and it’s made me feel young again.

While she was here, she told me the origin of her nickname, which I didn’t know. Her mother chose the nickname from the popular song “Spooky” written by Daniel Ash. It was popular the year she was born. I found the song online.

Now, before you get to the song, this is the perfect day to post about Spooky being Martin Luther King’s holiday; Spooky was born the very same day he was killed – April 4th, 1968.

Here’s Spooky for your listening pleasure, as sung by Dusty Springfield (in the original, the song was about a girl – she changes it to a boy)

Driving the Train

Today, Obama took  his train ride from Philadelphia to DC.  I watched some of the footage online and while looking at it thought about my uncle.  He drives for Amtrak and has in the past driven the route that Biden would take from Delaware to DC.  He’s talked to Biden on occasion and tells our family that he is quite down to earth. 

Then, I realized I have a blog post worth doing as last year my uncle was in Locomotive magazine.  It was a special issue that came out in late 2007 I believe, and he is featured on page 9 with the following picture. 


At the time this picture was taken,  he was driving near Midway, NJ at 125 mph along the Northeast Corridor route, the route that Obama took today.  Time to put this magazine issue away with my genealogy items before I lose it again. Bad enough I had to think about where it was so I could do this post.  🙂

Funeral Service of Alberta Williams

Among my family papers file I have several items about people that I do not know, but who were known by my family members. I am sure many of us have such files too. I was looking through my files this evening and found an obituary for Alberta LaSaine Williams. Alberta was a member of my grandmother’s church in New York, the First Church of God in Christ. The officiating pastor at her funeral was Bishop F. Clemmons, co-pastor was Ithiel Clemmons. I’ve posted about Ithiel before.


Alberta lived from May 26, 1914 – March 12, 1970.  She was the daughter of Katie Lino and James LaSaine of Georgetown, Georgetown County,  South Carolina.  Alberta moved to New York in 1936 and moved to Winston Salem in 1940 where she married Herbert L. Williams and would have five children.   She moved back to New York in 1951 and joined my grandmother’s church in January of 1964.   Alberta is buried at Bethel A.M.E. Cemetery in Georgetown, SC.   There is a transcription of the cemetery on the Georgetown SCGenWeb page, but Alberta is not listed.

In typical fashion of my grandmother, her funeral program is marked up, but I share it here [click here for the full program] in case it is ever of help to potential family members.

Some background on the LaSaine family:

– in 1910, her parents James & Katie are newlyweds, having gotten married about 1909, and they have their first child, James Jr.  They live on Meeting Street.

– in 1920, Alberta is enumerated with her parents in Georgetown, SC, and siblings James Jr., Brock (??), Thaddeus, and Lydia.  Her father’s occupation is as a chauffer to a private family. They lived on  Meeting Street.

– by 1930, father James has passed, and widow Katie and kids (including Alberta) lives with son James Jr., still on Meeting Street.

It appears Alberta’s sister may still be alive, so I think I will send this to her (or maybe her family that may be living there) for them in case they would like to have the copy.   And, though this is not a Music Monday post, my grandmother noted on the program that the solo sung during her service was hymn “When They Ring These Golden Belles for You & Me.”   And though she didn’t sing it for Alberta, here is Loretta Lynn singing it

Update: I asked my mother about her and she VERY much remembers Sister Williams. She said the whole projects knew her!

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.