Fire of Home Church

Today, a fire destroyed a 147 year old church in Elizabeth City.  This church was the home church of my family for many years and possibly had records related to my family research.  It’s sad to know that information and history may have been lost thru this fire.  Many ancestors were baptized, married and laid to rest in this church.

No one was injured in this early morning fire.  However, the church building appears to be a total loss.

Fire destroyed a 147-year-old church in the Newland community of Pasquotank County early Sunday morning.
Fire officials weren’t sure what sparked the blaze that completely gutted Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church on U.S. Highway 158. The Elizabeth City Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.
Robbie Whitehead, chief of the Newland Volunteer Fire Department, said passers-by notified emergency dispatchers about the blaze about 4 a.m. Sunday.
By the time firefighters arrived a short time later, the church was fully engulfed in flames, Whitehead said.
The Newland VFD, joined by firefighters from the South Mills Volunteer Fire Department and the city of Elizabeth City, battled the flames for more than an hour, bringing the fire under control about 5:30 a.m. Approximately 50 firefighters responded, Whitehead said.
By noon Sunday, all that remained of the brick church was a smoking hulk. The church’s menu-board sign announcing Sunday services and a gold-painted bell, both of which sit in front of the church, were not damaged.
Right now, fire officials don’t have any idea how the fire started or where in the church the blaze began.
“When (a fire) becomes fully involved, it’s hard to tell that at this point, Whitehead said.
Whitehead said firefighters had spoken to several of the church’s deacons, and none had any idea how the fire might have started. Church officials told Whitehead that parts of the church were at least 147 years old.
There is nothing right now to suggest the fire had suspicious origins, Whitehead said.
“Right now the investigation is going on,” he said.
Fire investigators from the Elizabeth City Fire Marshal’s Office visited the fire scene earlier Sunday and are expected to continue their investigation today, Whitehead said.


Genealogy: The new reality show

I don’t watch much TV so I’ve missed the recent shows regarding genealogy research.  The episodes that I’ve seen of WDYTYA or Faces of America

Although, I like the concept…I’m not to gungho about sitting down and watching these 2 shows.  The fact that they’re based around celebrities.  People who may be casually interested in the genealogy.  Sure, they want to know where they come from.  But, I’m curious how many times did the sit down and open up a dusty book in the back of the Clerk of Courts, sneeze, while they painstakingly search for some sliver of info relating to their one ancestor??

I mean, sure the celebrity shows brings in the ratings.  And yes it does make for interesting TV.  We’re all curious to see if we could possibly be related to a celebrity somewhere in our tree.  But, I think it’s time to incorporate the real deal into the mix! It’s time to help the person that has been researching their trees, but due to limited resources and time, they keep hitting brick walls. 

But, the funny part is..I started writing just now and my mind took a side track.  Or the ancestors made me stop for a few minutes.  When I stopped, I visited my BF (blog friend) Luckie to see what she’s been up too.  Her very blog today is about what I was already thinking/writing.

The ancestors lead us when we begin this journey…sometimes they let us stand..sometimes they make us walk..others..we’re running!!!  Way to go Luckie!!!

Where do you research?

Being an out of town researcher, I rely heavily on online research. Although there are occassions where I’ll be able to travel to NC to do some hands on searches.  The only problem is, those occassions are few and far between.  So, where do you do most of your research online?

Personally, I also rely heavily on for all my online research.  I know that’s not the cream of the crop..but that’s where I first started.  Before I start my research again, I want to know where are the best places to go {online} to research. 

Where have I been?

I know you’re all waiting with bated breath as to where I have been in these past few months…;)
Well, first, I got married in November. Not a big wedding…not even a wedding. It was very “Hey, I’m getting married on Friday..can I take the day off?” kinda thing. Which for was PERFECT!!! I’m not the one to want a big wedding or have a big blow out. I believe in the K.I.S.S. philosophy. And it was just that..simple. What a great day!! So, married life has taking up a lot of time…with the whole newlywed syndrome. We just like to cuddle.

Second, cuddle time aside, I’ve been planning our family reunion 2010. I actually started in February of 2009 but now that we’re only 160 or so days away from the big event…I’m stressing a little bit. I’m doing most of the planning by myself. However, my dad and step mom are there for me to bounce ideas off of. With that, it’s taking up a lot of my time that I had for being online.

Third, and the biggest time consuming part, WORK! Yeah, that place I go to that pays the bills, has taken up the rest of my available time. *sigh* I used to be able to balance everything but with the changes at work, it’s been hard. I’ve had to travel and train others. Thinking that I may have time when I’m out of town for online ‘work’ was a misconception I had. So, with that, I had to take a hiatus from the things that kept my mind working. However, I’m trying to slowly get myself into it.

But, I’m still in the genealogy world. I haven’t stopped. I’m still the webmaster of the Family Research Society of Northeastern NC. Hopefully, in the coming month, I can actually get some research in.

Good Things Come . . . .

I know I’ve been gone for a long time. But, sometimes you have to take a step back from things to get a better perspective. I couldn’t focus on genealogy like I wanted too. Things were getting hectic.

I’ve been planning my family reunion which has taken most of my time and energy away from genealogy. I’m alone in the planning..and we have a large family. This is also my first time doing it. But, my ears are always open to things I need to know.

As you may (or may not know) my family has been searching for a picture of my 2nd Great Grandmother, Harriet Ann Banks since my Great Grandmother’s passing in 1998. One of her daughters removed photos from the home in an effort to get copies made. But, in the process, the pictures were lost. This has caused a rift in the family between the siblings. I swear it seems like a conversation can’t go by with out mentioning of those photos and what happened to them.

Thru calling and asking around, I determined that there were 2 pictures of Harriet around. Her other daughter Rosa had a picture in her home. However she passed away in 1989 and that picture had gone missing as well. Rumors of whom it was given too and who may have it now is the only information I could get.

So, my dad called me a few weeks ago to let me know that a picture of Harriet was found. All this time it has been in a cousin’s home on her wall. Yes, we have all been looking for this picture for quite some time..and I guess no on thought to ask this cousin. I was more surprised that one of Rosa’s children didn’t have this picture. The person that had the picture was Rosa’s granddaughter.

I called her up and she told me that she no longer had the picture. . . my aunt had it. I quickly called my aunt and asked her to send me the actual picture..not a copy..the actual picture. (my family is good for making a copy of a picture..not a picture copy but a copy machine copy…not good!!!)

She quickly sent me the picture of Harriet. To my surprise, she does look a little Native American and a lot like my Great Grandmother Bessie. The features on her face and her expression look all too familiar.  Although, I never really believed the native american reference from family members before since most African Americans believe anyone with long hair had native american ancestry…I can see it now.  There may be some truth to those statements.

I intend on getting additional prints made of this photo and giving it to family groups of her descendents. There should be more than copies of this photo. Hopefully, it won’t get lost in future years.

Possible Slave Owners – Hinton

O.k. So, this morning, I’m following my friend’s advice and getting active on message boards.  I’m also, transcribing my horrible interview notes from my May 2009 interview with my 85 year old cousin on my Banks side of the family.  Lately, I’ve been so busy with work, that I haven’t even had a chance to think about genealogy let alone look anything up.  But, this morning, I was feeling productive. 

So, I pulled out the notes and remembered that she (85 yr old cousin) gave me the name of possible slave owners of my Banks line.  HINTON.  She said that’s what her father told her.  Her father being the brother of my 2nd great grandmother and the son of Caleb Banks.  So, she’s a 1st hand source. An amazing 1st hand source I should add. 

So, here I am on remembering all the things I looked at before.  Such as on the 1870 census, living with Caleb Banks and his family, was a Matilda HINTON age 20.  She’s a black woman listed as a laborer.  I saw this before, but wasn’t sure what to make of it. 

Another thing that I mentally filed away, was the fact that a few of the death certificates for my family stated the Hinton Burial Ground.  Now, maybe there’s an answer.  Maybe the reason why it statest he Hinton Burial Ground on death certificates is due to the Hintons were the slave owner.  Maybe these slave owners designated a portion of their property to bury slaves. 

Also, 2 houses down, there is a George W. HINTON.  Going to the 1860 Slave Schedules, George HINTON owned 10 slaves, ranging in age from 4 to 45.  However, none of these ages match Caleb Banks or anyone else in his household…exactly.  But, we all know that the age of an ancestor gets changed over time.  So, I can’t exclude him as a possible slave owner for this reason.  Now, I have to research George Hinton to see what I can find. 

Two houses down from George Hinton on the 1870 census, there is an E.L. Hinton.  E.L. Hinton owned 26 slaves.  As a matter of fact, various HINTONS owned a total of 73 slaves in Pasquotank county in 1860.  So, it appears that I need to concentrate my research on the Hintons in NC.

The backtracking begins….

Another thing I have to do is find out how my ancestor, Caleb Banks, came to own the 39 acres of land above.  Upon his death, the land was divided among his children.  I wasn’t able to find a record of sale to Caleb Banks in the Pasquotank Register of Deeds office.  However, I was told that there should be one howing his ownership.

Sumter County FL, Wants to Relocate Possible Historic African American Cemetery…

This cemetery is owned by the county and they want to move it so the land can be developed for other purposes.

This cemetery has relatives long forgotten. However, this doesn’t mean that those relatives should be moved from their final resting place. Especially, since this may be the oldest in Busnell, FL related to runaway slaves. The cemetery is more than likely over 100 years old and the fact that people were buried there as recent as 1956 would tell me that this little known cemetery is a family cemetery. A place where black folk have been laying their family to rest.

From my own experience, we placed our dead among family. We used the same area, same cemetery, same city to place our family members. The person buried there in 1956 would indicate to me that, those placed their before them were family. Not just a random black person.

Where is the city going to be moving the cemetery? We don’t know. But, according to the County Administrator, Bradley Arnold, they plan on placing it in a more appropriate location. What does that mean, and where is that exactly????

The sad part is, even if the development falls thru, Sumter County still plans on moving the cemetery.  What kind of foolishness is that?? Where is the new cemetery going to be located??? These bodies have been resting here for possibly more than 100 years and the county wants to simply move them for possible finanical gain.  That’s right POSSIBLE.

I hope and pray that the family members of those buried here speak out. 

Read here

and here

No joint researchers

I have been crazy busy lately at work which has left me not time to blog, let alone think about genealogy. I know sad!

But, since starting my search 2 years ago, I have come across ZERO fellow researchers.  Granted, I’m researching 2 specific counties in NC (Pasquotank and Camden) and 4 surnames: Banks, McCoy, Lowry & Spence.  Still no one.  Not one descendant from these other lines are researching the tree…that I know of.  

Why is that? Why aren’t more people, mainly African Americans, researching their roots? Is this not important??


I’ve been nominated for the Family Tree Magazine’s 40 Best Genealogy Blogs.  Now I need you to VOTE FOR ME!! LOL.

I’m nominated under the ‘Personal/Family Category’.

I can’t even believe I’ve been nominated.  WOW!!!

While work has had me busy and unable to tend to genealogy, I’m happy that I’m nominated!!!!