Archive for » April, 2010 «

After reading all the wonderful posts submitted for the 2nd Edition of the CoAAG, I am even more thrilled with the participation we received for this carnival.  

Thanks to everyone who submitted a story about their grandmother.  A special thank you to all those who took the time to read the stories and memories, and then leave a comment to the author; I know each one appreciates your support. It was a wonderful CoAAG.  I know our grandmothers are smiling.

Until next time,

Host, 2nd Edition, CoAAG

This past Friday me, my brother Bernard, and my sister/friend/cousin Luckie of headed to Greene County and Washington-Wilkes County on a research road trip.  My paternal grandmother, Fannie Mae LAWRENCE, her mother Lessie BREWER, her mother Fannie BREWER, and her mother Eliza ASKEW all have roots in Greene Co. So does my great grandfather, George LAWRENCE, and his parents James LAWRENCE and Pleasant LITTLE. The thought of exploring the area these ancestors once called home was extremely exciting, and my spirits were high on just the anticipation of that. The beautiful weather held the promise of good things to come.

The night before the trip, Luckie and I had one last phone conversation going over our plans for the next day.  Luckie’s home ground is Washington-Wilkes, so she was excited to be returning after a long absence.  You can read Luckie post; for a view of our trip as only Luckie can tell it. I wasn’t feeling too much apprehension knowing I would be in the company of this seasoned researcher.  Luckie’s advice – connect with the locals; once they know you have family from the area, they are more than happy to talk and share information.

Now, you have to know me, but this is way, way out of my comfort zone.  This Luckie knows all too well, but she was having none of it, and was not buying my “That’s just not me” and “I’m not comfortable approaching strangers” excuses.  After a few more words of encouragement and warnings of missed opportunities, she left me to my thoughts. Friday morning before leaving, I grabbed my Brewer and Lawrence folders, and printed out death certificates for Fannie Brewer and her son Green Brewer.  According to their death certificates, both were buried in “Hudson Grove Cemetery”.  I thought maybe we could find the cemetery and possibly locate their graves.

Riding around exploring downtown Greensboro was indeed a treat. The small town country look and feel was just what I’d hoped to see. I felt a tingle of something that told me the ancestors were stirring. “Oh, look Reid’s Beauty Shop. I’ve got the REID/REED surname in my tree.” Luckie said “You want to stop and see if they know your folks.”  I said, “No, but let’s get a picture.”  Was that a missed opportunity for a family connection? Maybe it was. 

Earlier, we had passed a small group of elderly men chatting in a parking lot, but passed without stopping. After striking out at the Greene County Historical Society and the local History Museum, we headed back to that group of men. Luckie introduced us, and we asked if any of them knew of Hudson Grove Cemetery. Yes, they did but, it would not be easy for us to find.  One of the gentlemen, Minister Marshall BAUGH, offered to ride with us as a guide, if we “trusted him”. We did. It just felt right.

The Greene County countryside was beautiful; wide open fields and lots of cows. I was hypnotized by the view, and filled with anticipation. Were we really going to the burial place of my Greene County ancestors? Minister Baugh talked all the way in true southern minister-style as we traveled the winding road. Turning onto the dirt road to the church, we were finally there. He was right; we never would have found it by ourselves. It was deep in the country.

The cemetery was located behind the church. Luckie and Bernard jumped out to explore while Minister Baugh and I sat in the car and talked. He told me the actual name of the church was Hutchinson Grove A.M.E. and it currently had only one member; he wasn’t sure if services were still held there-maybe once a month or so.

The cemetery is Hutchinson Grove Cemetery, not Hudson Grove as indicated on the two death certificates. It showed signs of neglect, but was fairly well kept.  I watched anxiously as Luckie and Bernard explored, and before long was lost in thought. The ring of my cell phone broke the silence of my daydreaming. It was Bernard screaming that he had found a headstone for “LESSIE LAWRENCE!” The excitement in his voice spoke volumes.  Not only that, he continued, there were other BREWERS there as well. We guessed it must have been a family plot.  There was no Fannie or Green for the death certificates I had printed out earlier, but still what an incredible find!

Lessie (BREWER) LAWRENCE was our paternal great grandmother. That’s her picture below, and below that the photo of her headstone. We did not come equipped with a spray bottle of water to clean the dirt from the headstone, but it is still very easy to read. 

 

The inscription reads:

Every joy to us is dead

Since mother is not here

Along with Lessie, there were 11 other headstones. After consulting my family tree, and searching records on Ancestry, I can confirm that 9 of those are BREWER descendants-no doubt about it. There are two surnames, HUTCHINSON and SMITH that are not familiar to me. They are most likely family I have yet to discover.  I suspect that this may have been the Brewer family church. The Hutchinson surname, which is also the name of the church, opens another avenue of family history to pursue. I am anxious to get started on that journey.

It was a beautiful day, and a wonderful trip.  Minister Baugh was as nice as can be, and the epitome of small town, southern hospitality. We were blessed to meet him. We will definitely be returning very soon.

The next time you take a research trip to an ancestral hometown, stop and strike up a conversation with some of the locals and tell them who your folks are. As I learned on this trip, you never know who you might meet or what you might find.  You might just be ~ Touched by the Ancestors!

2nd Edition, Carnival of African American Genealogy ~ Grandma’s Hand: Grandmothers and Their Influence On The Family

It’s Grandmothers Day at the Carnival of African American Genealogy.  The theme for this 2nd Edition of the CoAAG is Grandma’s Hand: Grandmothers and Their Influence On The Family. We invited you to tell your stories and share memories of your grandmother.  The stories we received pulled at our emotions and warmed our hearts.  They reflect the heart and soul that is in every grandmother.  Grandmothers are the cornerstone and foundations of our families; not just African American families, but all families.  Your stories and memories reflect the truth of that statement.

An array of grandmothers has shown up for this very special event, and the spotlight is shining on them.  A gallery of beautiful images starts this event followed by stories full of love and special memories.  We hope you enjoy this special CoAAG.  It’s all about our Grandmothers.  We are here to honor them.

The and are needed.

Vicky Daviss-Mitchell presents posted at . Vicky makes us laugh, cry, and smile with memories of her grandmother, Essie Dean Taylor.

Felicia Mathis presents Carnival of African American Genealogy: posted at Felicia shares memories of a summer in Chicago with her grandmother Lily.  Felicia’s Grandma Lily always said… “What’s done in the dark, will eventually come to light.”

Luckie Daniels presents posted at .  Luckie shares heartwarming memories of her great grandmother Annie.  Luckie’s Grandma Annie always said… “A cow will need his tail to fan flies for more than one summer.”  Meaning: Don’t worry if someone does you wrong, they will need you again!

Angela Walton-Raji presents posted at .  Angela honors her grandmothers with memories of quilts, sassafras tea, and “play pretties”.

Renate Sanders presents posted at .  Renate takes us on a sentimental journey with tributes to her grandmothers.

Mavis Jones presents posted at .  Mavis takes us on a last visit with her “Little Grandmother” Mary Magdalene Pierce Hosch.

Leslie Ann presents posted at .  Leslie Ann shares memories of her Grandma Piggott, on what would have been her 99th birthday.

Gini Webb presents posted at . Gini shares a beautiful tribute to her Oma who recently passed away in Germany at age ninety-six.  Gini holds dear loving memories and keepsakes from her dear sweet Oma.

Luckie Daniels presents posted at .  Luckie shares the poem written by her brother for their great grandmother’s 100th birthday.

Felicia Mathis presents posted at .  Felicia honors the memory of her NaNa- Odessa Amos.

Drusilla Par aka “Professor Dru” presents posted at .  Professor Dru writes about her memories of homemade biscuits made by her maternal grandmother.

Mavis Jones presents posted at .  Mavis shares special memories of her Grandmother Jones.

Kathleen Brandt presents posted at .  Kathleen shares memories of her grandmother and the beautiful quilt made with pieces from her grandmother’s dresses.

Joann presents posted at .  Joann shares loving and beautiful memories of time spent with her grandmother Ruth – shopping and “French Fryers”- “Great Day!”

Sandra Taliaferro presents Carnival of African American Genealogy, 2nd Edition: Grandma’s Hand ~ Julia Ann (GATES) MIDDLEBROOKS MINTER posted at I Never Knew My Father.  Come with me to Woodbury, GA as I share memories of my maternal grandmother.

Amy Cain presents posted at .  Amy shares memories of her Grandmother Para Lee “a tough-talking, no-nonsense disciplinarian”.

Luckie Daniels presents posted at .  Luckie pulls at our heartstrings with memories of her grandmother “Anbownes”.

Dionne Ford presents posted at . Dionne shares loving memories of her great grandmother Marie- “a perfect picture of composure and grace”.

George Geder presents posted at .  George shares memories of his grandmother, Willa Lenard Hancock.

Darlene presents posted at .  Darlene shares great family memories of living with her Grandma Clara.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

CoAAG 3rd Edition ~ They Served With Honor ~ In Memoriam, African-Americans In The Military 1914-1953

Host: Amy Cain of

Military research can yield important genealogical information. Yet, many overlook this valuable resource.  Have you researched military records for your African American ancestors? In your research, what did you find out about their service?  If you have not done any research in military records, this CoAAG presents the perfect opportunity to get started.

For the 3rd Edition of the CoAAG, tell us about your African American ancestor(s) who served in the military and write a post to honor them.  If you don’t have an African American ancestor with military service, but know of one who served honorably make this an occasion to honor that person.

Submissions deadline: 12 May 2010

HOW TO SUBMIT

There are two options:

  • By Submission Form. Use the quick and easy provided by provided by Blog Carnival.
  • By Email. Send an email to the CoAAG at CoAAG2010@gmail.com.  Include your blog name, the post title and permalink URL of your carnival submission.  Make sure to put ‘They Served With Honor’ in your email subject line!

Well, that’s it for this 2nd Edition of the CoAAG. I would say we did our grandmothers proud.  Don’t you agree?  Thank you for supporting the Carnival of African-American Genealogy!  You make it possible…You keep it alive!  See you next time – Wednesday, May 19th – when the 3rd Edition of CoAAG comes to town!

All the best,

** A special “Thank You” to Luckie Daniels for the image gallery, and for her guidance through this process. Your support and assistance were invaluable.

Carnival of African American Genealogy, 2nd Edition: Grandma’s Hand ~ Julia Ann (GATES) MIDDLEBROOKS MINTER

My maternal grandmother was Julia Ann GATES.  She was born in Woodbury, Meriwether, GA, to Jack GATES and Georgia Ann THOMPSON, on 30 April 1894. She died on 4 January 1970, in Warm Springs, Meriwether, GA (a few days after the death of my father). It was strange to lose two people of such close blood kinship to me yet I never knew one, and had only a distant relationship with the other.

Initially, I thought I’d have very little to write about for this 2nd edition of the CoAAG – Grandma’s Hand; Grandmothers and Their Influence On The Family. I’m the host, and I chose the theme, yet I had no memories to pull from; no words of wisdom or gems to live by from my grandmother. I did not know my grandmother; not in the very personal way that you think of a grandmother/ granddaughter relationship.  Honestly, I am deeply saddened by that fact. I thought, “What in the world can I write about? What can I say?” I thought long, and I thought hard. Then I waited, and waited for the memories to come.  As a good friend had advised….I waited for my grandmother to speak to me, to show me how to tell her story. Then I realized I did have memories, very vivid memories of several trips down to Woodbury, GA to visit my grandmother.  In my memories of those visits are the memories of my grandmother.  So, travel with me to Woodbury, GA and meet my grandmother Julia Ann GATES…the way I remember her.

When I was young, my mom and I would take the bus from Atlanta to Woodbury to visit my grandmother.  Not often. In fact, I only remember doing that two times.  After we got off the bus in town, we had to walk the rest of the way.  I remember on the walk to my grandmother’s house we would pass a big white house that sat way back from the road on the left.  That is where my grandmother worked as a cook.  We would stop there first, and go to the back door to the kitchen where my grandmother was cooking.  We never stayed long, just a brief stop, and I always wondered why we had to hurry.  I was recently told by a cousin that the “big white house” as I called it was the hotel.  The briefness of the visit makes sense now, but it didn’t then.  It was not a long walk to my grandmother’s house, but not a short one either. After we crossed the railroad tracks, the road turned to dirt; red dirt, Georgia red clay my mom would say.  The next landmark I remember is the old white church on the right. My mother and her brothers went to school in that church. Turn right at the church; that’s what my young mind would say as we walked along; for some reason I was always afraid we would get lost. We walked; sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always with a sense of purpose…heading to my grandmother’s house.  As I think about it now, there was no feeling of happiness or excitement as you would expect on a visit to your grandmother’s.

My grandmother’s house was not far down the road across from an endless field of what I called “white stuff” that was actually cotton. My mom said everybody in our family had picked cotton in that field.  It was many years later before I could digest the meaning and significance of that bit of family history.  My grandmother’s house was just three rooms. It seemed pretty small when compared to the endless fields of cotton and corn that stretched for miles on either side. I think they called it a shotgun house, because, I was told, you could stand at the front door and shoot straight through the house and out the back door. I guess that was true because from the front door you could look straight down a short hallway to the back door, and outside if the door was open.  Silly me, I kept asking “where was the shotgun?”

Once inside, I felt warm and comfortable, a little scared, but safe.  Was that the comfort of a grandmother?  The feeling I long for today, but can’t quite grasp.  There was a bedroom to the right with a beautiful pink bedspread that had lots of flowers; it was shiny, and felt like silk. (I think my grandmother gave me that bedspread, and I still have it somewhere; got to find it).  I remember pictures, and other stuff…I wonder what happened to all of it.  

To the left was another bigger room with two beds; one along the wall to the right as you entered the door, and another bigger one across from that by the window. That’s where we all slept; in that room with the big fireplace, and lamps that used kerosene. Seems there was also a lot of stuff in that room too; pictures, papers maybe, little things collected during a life of living life.  What happened to all my grandmother’s stuff after she died? I wish I had some of it to help me remember her. 

The room had an iron railed headboard, and seems I just sank right down in the middle of the bed because it was “a feather mattress” my grandma said.  You could feel the memories in that room; decades of my family history.  My mom said that once there was a tornado and after it was over the roof was gone, and her brother’s head was trapped between two of those rails in that headboard. (That would be my uncle – Alexander “AJ” MIDDLEBROOKS.)  That was sooooo funny to me, and we laughed and laughed…me, my mom, and my grandma.  But, after that I was scared to sleep in that bed. Just in case there was another tornado, you understand, right?  But, I finally did fall asleep; sunk down in the middle of the feather mattress with my mom and grandma close by, the warmth of the fire from the fireplace, and the kerosene lamp that bathed the room in a soft golden glow.

The kitchen had iron stove, a table, and another bed along the back near the door.  There was always food, and the stove was warm from cooking. I woke up to the smell of country ham and fresh biscuits with homemade preserves for breakfast. It must have been my grandma who did all that…taking care of me and my mama on our visit just like grandmothers do. My grandmother sometimes brought food home from the hotel but, if not she always made me fried chicken, biscuits and apple pie.  I never actually saw her cooking it, but it was always there still warm and fresh.

In the back down a long path was an outhouse.  Oh boy, do I remember that. Now, thinking back I know this was the main reason I was so apprehensive on these visits. There was no way I could hold “it” till we got back to Atlanta, but also nooooooo way I was going out there.  So my grandmother made “other arrangements” for me.  I will always remember that she told my mom, “Lillian, that girl don’t have to go out there if she don’t want to.”  AND I DID NOT!! Every time I think about that I laugh and laugh; it’s pretty funny now, but it sure wasn’t funny then.

Yes, I remember all those things about my grandmother; they are the things that made her who she was and is to me.

I remember that my grandmother came home late, and left out early the next morning going back to work. I remember her being tired and talking about her legs aching, and not being able to do that work much longer. I remember her being sick and in the hospital; diabetes and something about her legs…bad veins and blood clots. I remember my mama going to her funeral without me. I remember feeling sad, but not shedding a tear.

I remember all these “things” about my grandmother, but I don’t remember feeling her in my heart…not until today.

This is one of my favorite photos.  That’s me looking all “prim and proper” as my mom would say. It was taken on Easter Sunday at a park in downtown Atlanta. I think I was about 7 or 8 years old. I loved to dress up for Easter, and get my hair done in lots of babydoll curls. It was always a happy day for me. I hope you have happy Easter memories too.

Happy Easter!