Happy Birthday Ella

Today would have been my aunt Ella’s 50th birthday. She was born May 22, 1957 in Lenoir County, North Carolina and was my father’s youngest sister. I have very fond and clear memories of Ella, she died when I was 9 years old, in 1984. She had one daughter, my cousin Aiesha.

One of the clearest things I remember about Ella was that she taught me how to count to 49 in Spanish (b/c I never could seem to remember the word for fifty)! Just last November, my aunt told me the story behind Ella’s middle name. Apparently, it was supposed to be Evonne, but when their father went to do the birth certificate, he messed it up and she ended up with the name Levon. However, everyone called her Evonne anyway.

Philadelphia

My blogging is light these days. I’m in Philadelphia right now on business, so I’m not having much time to do anything genealogical. I continue to kind of work on my co-worker’s tree, though I’m starting to get back to my own research.

One thing I do want to do this week is look more closely at FamilyLink.com. This is a web 2.0 for genealogy site that looks highly promising and I am excited about it’s possibilities. Several blog posts have been made lately about it, and the parent company, World Vital Records, has been announcing several partnerships of late that are tempting me to reconsider that site as one I may wish to subscribe to. We’ll see.

Found Him!

Today my mother received the SS5 form for her aunt Ethel. It’s been two months in the waiting, but we were happy to get it. We learned from it that apparently, Ethel was born in North Carolina, and not New York as we’d thought. I now have to try and see if it is possible she had a birth certificate (though this is before NC started birth certificates).

Then, inspired by this, I decided to search for my grandfather’s family in the 1930 census. I had not been able to find them with previous searching. And I found them! I tried a different searching strategy and good thing – the family is listed as Robertson instead of Robinson. Also, my great-grandmother is listed as Lucille instead of her name of Lucinda. But, it’s the right family. Her husband had died by now and she was raising the kids on her own. My grandfather Herman was 4 years old.

I’m so glad I found them! From this record, we learned a few extra details as well. It seems one of my grandfather’s brothers, John, was given their father’s name as his middle name, so he was John Louis Robinson. I don’t know much about John Louis except that family tradition has it he died as a teenager and was in the Navy. His job as listed on the census is “Advertiser” – wonder what that means?

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.

Somerset Place

I have just learned some very interesting history of Washington County, North Carolina (a county where I am focusing part of my genealogy research).

I was looking at the 1860 slave schedules and found an entry for a Josiah Collins who owned 328 slaves and had 37 slave houses! This immediately piqued my interest and a quick search revealed that Collins owned Somerset Place, apparently, the third largest plantation in the state of North Carolina during the antebellum period.

Apparently, the site manager has done extensive research and written a couple of books about it. There is also an organization for slave descendants. I will have to keep my eye on this just in case I come across any slaves that may have been part of that plantation. The Official Website is at http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/somerset/somerset.htm.

A few resources for extra reading…
1. Generations of Somerset Place by Dorothy Spruill Redford
2. Somerset Homecoming: Recovering a Lost Heritage – by Dorothy Spruill Redford
3. “Re-interpreting America’s History – African American History” by Kendra Hamilton
4. “Somerset Place – A Colossal Slave-Built Plantation” – by Bridgette A. Lacy

Genealogy Society Blogs

Randy has started a new blog for his genealogical society. I think this is such a wonderful idea and wish more societies would do so! I think it has fabulous potential for encouraging more online collaboration.

For my own genealogy, I am getting a bit discouraged with the Koonce family research. As I look through and document the wills and notices I’m reading, I see that there are very little and infrequent mentions of slave names. I am beginning to wonder if I’ll ever truly be able to connect my ancestors with any of theirs. However, I know I am only touching the tip of the iceberg with the county documents that are available, so I will continue to keep on looking.

Oh – and I love this!! I found out from a post on the Columbus Public Library blog that African-American Lives is having a casting call – they are soliciting applications for people to submit their genealogy research challenges as they are going to select a few (don’t remember how many) to have their genealogy researched as part of the next show. This is absolutely fabulous and I plan to apply. However, I’m a bit torn whether to submit Kalonji & I as a couple, or submit us separately? Hmm… will have to think about that one. However, I’d encourage people to submit. It’s great hearing the stories from the celebrities, but I know us “regular” people have good stories too! I hope this is made an ongoing series/process.

Various Genealogy Things

Over the past week, I have done various genealogy activities:

  • I indexed notices from three issues of the Free Press newspaper of Kinston (Lenoir County), North Carolina and four issues of the Roanoke Beacon Newspaper 0f Plymouth (Washington County), North Carolina. Found some very interesting notices too and decided to submit a few items from other parts of the state to some USGENWEB county pages, since I don’t include them in my database. Who knows whom it may help one day?
  • I worked on the family tree of my stepmother. After finding one of her elusive ancestors in a couple of census records (though, I still can’t find him in a couple more), I decided to call her aunt and ask a few questions. She gave me some great family stories.
  • I scanned in some certificates that I have in a pile from having ordered them, but not scanned or filed them. I still have many more, but I know I’ll slowly make my way through them.

Most of this activity has been focused during the past two days. During the week, I hadn’t really done too much b/c I’m trying to get a routine going with exercising and so I end up doing other things. I’m overall happy with how much I’ve gotten done this week.

Tonite, I am starting to put together the Koonce Family Tree. As I do this, I’m staring to question why I am interested in the one particular Koonce group that I am – there are so many! I’m going to have to write up my theory so I can document my reasoning/hypotheses. This is definitely going to be complicated.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to just get as much of these trees done as I can so that my next trip to the TN State Archives will be just as fruitful as my last trip!

Contributing to Genealogy Newsletters

So far, the only genealogy society that I am a member of is the Washington County Genealogy Society of North Carolina. This is the county that my maternal grandmother is from. I have been a member for a little over a year now and have enjoyed the ability to network with other genealogists there.

As I was working on the newspaper indexing, I came across a blurb that caught my interest and it prompted me to suggest an article for their quarterly newsletter. I wrote a short article about how patents can be a neat glimpse into the life of a person. A quick online search yielded few other posts or information about the genealogical merits of patents, but I did find a post by one of my fellow genealogy bloggers about a patent he found for one of his ancestors.

In fact, I did some searching in RootsWeb for another Plymouth, NC resident that had a patent and sent it to the person who was responsible for the gedcom. He was very kind and appreciated that I had sent it to him, as he had not been aware of it. I’ll wait until it is officially published before posting it here, but I expect it to be out in the next three months!