“God is the color of water.”
Do you know where that quote comes from? If you do, then you too have probably had the opportunity to absorb the life story of Ruth Shilsky McBride Jordan, mother of author James McBride and the topic of his best-selling book, The Color of Water. Written in 1996 the book chronicles the life of James’ mother and his story growing up as a biracial child of his Jewish mother and African-American father in New York. Their life was not always an easy one, but their story is such a compelling story and I highly recommed everyone read it!
Mrs. Jordan passed away this past Saturday, January 9th, at her home in New Jersey; she was 88 years old. She was born April 1, 1921 in Poland, moving to this country with her parents Fishel & Hudis Shilsky when she was a young girl. Her birth name was Ruchel Zylska but her family changed their name soon after moving to the states. They would settle in Suffolk, Virginia.
I read The Color of Water a little more than a year ago; compelled to read it after my stepmother’s cousin emailed me explaining that he’d learned from a relative that he was related to James McBride. Together, we worked on trying to figure out the exact relationship and because of those efforts, I have some of the family tree in my genealogy database. Ruth’s 1st husband, Andrew Dennis McBride (1907-1957) was from Montgomery County, North Carolina and turns out to be the 2nd cousin of my stepmother’s cousin. I’ve blogged about the specifics of the relationship before.
Over the past two years, I’ve made connections with a few members of the McBride family and have been working on their family genealogy off and on over time. Along with another distant cousin of theirs, we’ve made great progress in researching the McBride genealogy, back to a white man, Spratt McBride (b. abt. 1830), whom we think fathered Andrew’s apparent namesake & grandfather Andrew McBride (1860-1925). So much more remains to be done though and I hope we are able to help further as time goes on. In particular, I’ve located the death record for Ruth’s mom Hudis thanks to a database from the Italian Genealogical Group and would like to order it one day.
My thoughts are with the family as they cope with the loss of their loved one. Though I never knew her, I know that I am one of thousands out there who felt they did thanks to her son’s moving account of her life story. Rest in peace Ruth.