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Trying a new tactic

Today I received a group of birth and death certificates that I requested from Bladen County, North Carolina. The certificates were for the children of a man whom I suspect to be a brother of my great-grandmother, Lucinda Lennon Robinson (see previous post below). As the family structure as I have it is an educated guess based on the information I’ve culled together (and with help from a distant cousin), I have a theory of who her siblings were.

So, I’m going to try and find a living child or grandchild of this possible brother to see if I can find any connections to my great-grandmother. We’ll see if I get anywhere!

Happy Birthday Lucinda!

Today would have been my great-grandmother Lucinda’s birthday. She was born May 28, 1887. Well, 1887 is most likely the year she was born. This is the year shown in the 1900 census and in the SSDI database. However, on her death certificate, her birth year is listed as 1885. Since the 1900 census is closer to the time, I’ll go with that date.

Lucinda is my mother’s paternal grandmother and my mother remembers her well. She describes Lucinda as being a very sweet person and just the nicest person you’d ever meet! My mother thinks that she is now in life, starting to resemble her grandmother.

Lucinda had nine children. Her husband, Lewis Robinson, died when the youngest child, her only daughter, Lucinda, was about two years old. I understand from my mother that all of her children were very close to their mother Lucinda. When she died in 1969, my grandfather, her youngest son, Herman, put up such a fuss at her funeral in not wanting her to be removed, that when he died, almost 20 years later, the funeral home director remembered him.

Lucinda was from Columbus County, North Carolina, near the NC/SC state line. I know that the family lived in both NC and Georgia at some point, though, they are still elusive to me in 1910 – I have not been able to locate them. When they moved to Manhattan, by 1920, they would stay there. Lucinda lived at 159-48 Apt. 12H Harlem River Drive in Manhattan at the time of her death. She had been living here already for many years. Herman, my mother’s father, remained living in that same apartment (along with his brother Ike) until he died in 1986. I well remember visiting him here and I’m amazed that the family had lived there so long.

I still have research to do on Lucinda’s family – her parents and siblings are still somewhat of a mystery to me. Happy Birthday Lucinda!

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.


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 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

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.