I’m back…

…hopefully for good.

It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything. But, I haven’t abandoned the blog. I’ve been busy trying to manage a lot of tasks.

Anywho…last month on the 20th, I went to the Black Family History Day in Morrow GA. That was a 5 hour drive for me, but it was my first genealogy related trip since starting my research in 2007. I can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed it! There were so many African American people that were knee deep into their research. Me, on the other hand, I’m only about toenail deep in comparison. It was at the NARA in Morrow, GA and they gave excellent presentations regarding resources to use when researching your ancestors. Many resources I didn’t know about. Especially since I’m just getting started with my hands on research and doing less internet research. Also, I was able to meet Melvin J. Collier. Melvin is one of my friends on Facebook and I was extremely delighted when he instantly recognized me. He’s the author of Mississippi to Africa, A Journey of Discovery and I got a copy of my book signed. One day, I could be worth some money 😉

I highly recommend this book researching their African American ancestors. Melvin shows you in his book how he traced his ancestors and the tools he used specifically to get the information. I’m half way thru the book and I’m jealous of the pictures he has of his ancestors!!! I’m only 2 years in, but I haven’t turned up treasures that he has.

The following weekend, Feb 27th, I went to Elizabeth City, NC. My father, daughter and myself left Thursday morning for our 9 hour drive. I was excited on the way up. My plan was to spend all day Friday at the county clerks office researching my ancestor, Buenna Spence. Friday came and my dad dropped me off at the county clerks office. However, I made a rookie mistake. I didn’t make sure they had the book I needed before I left. I did call and made sure that I could access their records and hours of operations. But, when I got there, the book I needed, 1922 court records, was sent out to archives. DARNIT!!! I didn’t let myself get upset. I just got to know the other dusty records they had on hand. And they have a lot!!! This was my first time doing research in a courthouse and I just wanted to look at everything. I viewed wills from 1800. I was loving every bit of it. I didn’t find anything about my ancestors because I was just ‘looking’. I didn’t know what I was looking for since my original mission was squashed. But, I made a decision that I’ll go back for an entire week. That way, I’ll have more time to do what I need to do.

The most important part of the trip was sitting and taking to my grandmother and grand uncle about stories they heard and people they know from around town. My grand uncle has a lot of stories because he would sit and listen to his mother when she told them about family. Not many of the other siblings, my grandmother included, listened to their mom when she talked about ‘olden days’. But my uncle did. I need to get back there and sit with him and pick his brain.

Last but not least, I think I know exactly where the Millpond Burial Ground is. This is a picture of a spooky old house that I would need to past in order to get to the field where the cemetery allegedly is located..(that was a long sentence). I got was so excited to be able to see the house that’s on the map in person! We also went to Gallop Cemetery on Blindman Road. Thursday and Friday in Elizabeth City were cold but dry days. However, Saturday, the day we went to look at cemeteries, it rained!! It was freezing! But, I had my tail outside taking pictures of headstones…in the cold and wet. Nothing but adrenaline was pushing me at that point. I’ve never been in a cemetery before, so I don’t know proper cemetery etiquette when it comes to the dead. So, I just said, ‘Sorry’, if I stepped on any graves.

I didn’t recognize any names on the headstones in my family tree. But I took pictures of all of them. My cuz, Tina, is researching her dad’s side of the family and several of these names are in her tree. I plan on posting the pictures to Find A Grave once I get some time.

Research here I come…

Today, I officially started researching my family tree again. Thanks to Ancestry.com. They sent me the upgrade to my FTM 2008 for free. So now I have FTM 2009 on my laptop. This makes researching my family tree much easier.

Today, I’m researching Buena Spence. Buena is an ancestor that has an interesting story to tell. She did something that caused her mom to be called as a witness to her trial. Not only that, there is a possibility that she had children that did not belong to her husband. I know, I know. You’re saying that these family secrets should be left buried. Well, I DISAGREE!!! Everyone wants to know the true story, but few will ask those question.

Before my family reunion last year, an aunt of mine sent me obituaries for various family members. She sent me one for I. Joseph Williams. While researching him, I found no connection to my family. I called my aunt and she told me that he was her first cousin on her dad’s side. He was his sisters son. I had his birth certificate in hand and I told her that it didn’t make sense. His mother is listed as a non-Spence. She couldn’t tell me which sister because she didn’t know. I just thought that she was mistaken and put the obituary to the side.

Well, a few weeks before the reunion, I got a ‘wild hair’ and it was bugging me to find out who this person was. I talked to several other family members and they led me in the direction of I. Joseph’s daughter. I tracked her down and just asked her “How are you related to the Spence family?”.

She told me the most interesting story.

She said that the woman on his birth certificate was not his real mother but she was his step mother. She said that his real mother was married when he was conceived but the man she was married to wasn’t his father. As a matter of fact, he has another brother from this union. When his real mother died, the ‘government’ came in to take the boys (she had 2 sons with this outside man) and put them in orphanages, I think. At that point, the real father stepped up and claimed them to be his children. From that point on, he and his wife at the time raised the boys.

WOW…my aunt wasn’t crazy! It seems that Buena was the bit of a wild child and has a good story to tell.

So, next week when I go to Elizabeth City, I will be spending the day at the courthouse to find the court records from 1922. I’m extremely excited!!!

Life has settled….

….a little. Life changes constantly whether you want it to or not. Since my last post, I have moved, maintaining our family database, started working on scanning pictures, maintaining the family website and generally keeping busy.

The life changing event is the move. Don’t really want to elaborate but, I believe everything happens for a reason.

Now that I seem to have a little more time on my hands, and the projects are well on their way, I can get back into my research. I took a few months off because I was feverishly trying to get our first family newsletter out (Cousin Connections) by the first of December. Mission accomplished! With the help of family members on input and editing, the newsletter went out and the feedback has been great! The next issue is scheduled for March 2009.

We also have an ISSN. For those of you who don’t know, an ISSN is a unique 8-digit number used to identify print or electronic periodical publications. The benefit of having this is, our newsletter will be available for generations to come.

I may have created enough buzz with the family that they have started looking for the cemetery off of Mill Pond road. Heard it thru the grapevine, that some family members have actually taken pictures of some headstones at other cemeteries. I’m excited and hope to see those soon.

Thanks to Wendy who tagged me. I didn’t get a chance to complete it, but I appreciate being tagged and that I was still thought of during my hiatus!!

I plan on taking a research trip in February (depending on the weather) to Elizabeth City. This will be my first one and I’m excited about doing hands on research. Maybe I can find the court records that put my 2nd great grandmother, Cora Spence, in jail.

I don’t want you to think that I disappeared. I’m still here and will be in genealogy mode full force come the beginning of the year.

Hiatus

With writing a newsletter and the holidays coming up, I hadn’t had much time for research. I also hadn’t had that urge to focus on anyone particular for a while. Maybe my ancestors are busy too. I don’t feeling them guiding me towards an ancestor, but I do feel them guiding me towards unity.

See, with my family, we have had a separation for far to long. For reasons unknown to me, Spence-Lowry family has been a bit divided. This is my own opinion. My family may not agree, however it does appear that way. So, my quest has been to try to unite my family. The 2 sisters that married 2 brothers.

Usually our family reunion consists mostly of 1 sister and brother’s family. The Bessie and Ed side. However on the Rosa and Enoch side, very few come to the reunion. I can understand why. But, I’m not going to air that on here. But, what I want for the coming years is for both sides of the family to feel connected. I don’t want one side to feel more or less important than the other. There is a reason why we call it the Spence-Lowry family. Because it’s the 2 sisters that married the 2 brothers. We are strongly connected and we should remain that way.

OMG!!!!

Oh My Genealogy!!!!!!!!

Mechie once told me to “the Ancestors are assisting us” and George Geder always ends his posts and comments with “Guided by the Ancestors”. Unless you research your family tree, you won’t understand this. However, those of us who are can feel themselves being lead in a certain direction.

Yesterday, while going thru my spreadsheet of ancestors, I stopped at Martha Lowry (B: 1899, D: 1916). She was only 16 when she died and I had already looked at her death certificate. The cause of death was unknown and the informant was James Armstrong, not her parents, which I thought was odd. Martha is the sister of the 2 sisters that married 2 brothers. However, yesterday I looked at the death certificate again and noticed something that I didn’t see before.

Place of Burial: Mill Pond Ground.

How did I miss this earlier?!?!?!?!?!?! Could this be the Hinton Burial Ground that has been eluding me for the past year?!?!

I have asked SEVERAL family members that live in Pasquotank and no one knows about the Hinton Burial Ground. However, after speaking to my dad about this one day, he did mention about a burial ground down the street from my great grandmothers house (Mill Pond Road). The same street several of my relatives have lived for YEARS! So, in recent days, I have asked several family members about burial grounds on Mill Pond Road. Low and behold, several family members remember a burial ground off a dirt road about 1 mile down the street.

I got chill bumps yesterday when I spoke with one of my cousins about it and he confirmed. If this is the Hinton Burial Ground, it’s an important piece of our family. The parents of our Spence-Lowry connection are buried here. Typing this is giving me chills!!!!!

I got chill bumps this morning when I spoke with my Cuz Tina and told me what her father said. “My father said that there is a cemetery on Mill Pond road. It’s at the end of the road.”

The hairs on my arms stood up for at least 2 minutes. I just kept thinking this must be it!!!!!

My dad is going to Pasquotank this weekend for a funeral. I’ve asked him to see if he could find this burial ground and take a picture.

If it is still there, I intend to make it my mission to get this restored.

*Update- I went back and looked at other siblings of Martha Lowry an found a sister of that was buried at Mill Pond Burial Ground also.*

**Update again-I was clicking on the Pasquotank County NC Gen Web site and then clicked on the Pasquotank County Government link. Wouldn’t you know, the county is trying to identify these unknown cemeteries!! I think I found mine.**

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Recap

My family reunion was this past weekend (22-24) and we had a great time!

Friday night was the Meet & Greet. I got to see family I hadn’t seen in many years. BUT, I met my 2nd cousin 2 times removed (see the bottom of blog for figuring that out). His grandfather, Preston Banks, and my 3rd Great Grandmother, Harriet Banks, were siblings.

I had previously researched his grandfather’s family. So, when my uncle introduced us and explained who he was, I did what most genealogists would do. I started rattling off who he’s the son, grandson, great grandson of..on both sides of his tree. I think he was pretty impressed by the fact that not only did I know about his Banks side, but I knew about his mother’s Williams side as well.

On Saturday, my fiancé and I went around town. I got some things marked off my list. I visited the FRSNNC which I am a member of and met the President, Sharon Gable. It was a pleasure meeting her b/c I have e-mailed her often for assistance with my family research. Then we went by the library to pick up a copy of an article that the genalogist made for me. It cost me a whole $.10 to get. Then we went exploring.

I wanted to see if I could find my great grandmothers house. I was going off of memory and we just started driving. After a couple of wrong turns, we found it.

The beautiful thing about this is, alot of my family stays on this one road. So all we had to do is park the car and visit with more family.

Saturday night was amazing. Going to our banquets is like going to church. My uncles, The Spence Brothers, are gospel singers in Elizabeth City and they sing at many of the churches there. Every reunion, they sing and it makes you want to get out of your seat. We also had another gospel group come and sing. I don’t have the name of them but they were outstanding. When I get their name, I’ll update the post. When I say that the guy singing “Never would have made it” sounded EXACTLY like Marvin Sapp…that is no exaggeration.

My presentation of the family tree and our history went over well. I think it sparked a lot of interest in the rest of the family by seeing how much work I’ve done over the past year. My only regret is that more of Enoch and Rosa descendents weren’t in attendance. However, I employed my daughter to collect everyone’s address, phone # and e-mail address and she did an amazing job!

Sunday was our farewell cookout. I spent most of the time visiting with family, collecting more addresses for my database and taking pictures.

This weekend I took over 150 pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a group photo. There was so much to do and so little time. Hopefully next year, that will be accomplished.

But I can say that I can’t wait to go back on a research trip! Especially since I’ve learned the city!

Annie Jones (McPherson)

This is Annie Jones. She is the daughter of William Henry McPherson (B: 1872) and Hattie E. (Bouges) McPherson (B: 1877, D: 23 May 1923). This article was in the family book my aunt made. It had no caption that indicated a connection to our Spence-Lowry family. Just that she was the sister of Zelna Hinton (McPherson).

The other day, I got one of those wonderful “I found your profile on Ancestry.com” e-mails. I love those! I don’t care if it’s about my family or the cousin’s husband’s sister’s family that is on my tree. I add everyone I find to my ancestry tree if I can connect them to someone. If a cousin got married, I add the husband and his family. You never know…this may lead to something.

And as it has, this has led someone finding additional piece of their family that they didn’t know existed (this article). The great thing is; she has the same pictures of William and Hattie McPherson that I do. Although mine are photo copies, it’s still great. That means there is a close connection between our families.

I posted this article for her. Here you go ‘cuz’.

My Calling

If you see on the lower right hand-side, I have about 20 surnames. Not all are blood lines to my tree. Most are the spouse, person on the census, or some other type of connection in my research. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to know more about them.

I believe that every black person in these counties are related me some kind of way. I’ve even found connection between my Cuz Tina’s paternal line and my family (her ancestors and mine married further up the tree-so we’re cousins a couple of times along the way)

I post all the surnames I come across because you never know who is reading. What if someone just so happens to be researching an Uncle that they knew about but didn’t really know?

I truly believe that this is my calling; connecting the dots on my tree with solid lines! And as I begin working on my presentation and try to think of what I’m going to say at my family reunion, I came across this poem that says it perfectly.

My feelings are in each family we are called to find the ancestors.
To put flesh on their bones and make them live again,
To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.
To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead,
Breathing life into all who have gone before.

We are the story tellers of the tribe.
We have been called as it were by our genes.
Those who have gone before cry out to us:
Tell our story.
So, we do.
In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.

How many graves have I stood before now and cried?
I have lost count.

How many times have I told the ancestors
you have a wonderful family, you would be proud of us?

How many times have I walked up to a grave
and felt somehow there was love there for me?
I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts.
It goes to who I am and why I do the things I do?
It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever
to weeds and indifference and saying I can’t let this happen.
The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.

It goes to doing something about it.
It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.
How they contributed to what we are today.
It goes to respecting their hardships and losses,
their never giving in or giving up.

Their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.
It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation.
It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us
That we might be born who we are.
That we might remember them.
So we do.
With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence,
Because we are them and they are us.
So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.

It is up to that one called in the next generation,
To answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.
That is why I do my family genealogy,
And that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

[Author: Della M. Cumming ca 1943.]

Wordless Wednesdays – Follow up

I don’t know who these people are. For some reason they were in the ‘family book’ my grand aunt made for the elders.

O.k. the picture of the 2 people are top are William Henry McPherson (B: 1872) and Hattie E. (Bouges) McPherson (B: 1877, D: 23 May 1923). They married in 1895 in Pasquotank County, NC. They had 9 possibly 10 children.

  • Tem McPherson (B: 1897) – He possibly married Penelope Griffin in 1915 in Pasquotank.
  • William Ernest McPherson (B: 1899). He married Georgia Temple in 1919 in Pasquotank.
  • Lillie M. McPherson (B: 1901)
  • Mabel L. McPherson (B: 1903)
  • Flossie Luciele McPherson (B: 1923). Possibly married Mavin or Malvin Griffin in 1923 in Pasquotank.
  • Carrie McPherson (B: 1909). Possibly married Joseph T. Williams in 1926.
  • Zelna (Zelda) McPherson (B: 1914). Married Rufus Hinton
  • Naomi M. McPherson (B: 1916).
  • Ruth McPherson (B: 1919)
  • David McPherson –Possibly married Emma Griffin in 1924. This is the one I’m not sure about.

Now, in the family book we have a picture of Annie Hinton. It states she is the daughter of Henry and Hattie McPherson. I believe that Ruth and Annie maybe the same person. I don’t know who these people are and in my research, I haven’t been able to connect them to the tree. So, maybe they were close friends of the family but no one really knows.

Now the article is about 5 generations of Negro farmers. I don’t know this family either. Based on the age of Margaret L. Hinton (90) in the article, I estimate it was written around 1937. According to the 1930 & 1920, census she was born 1851. The 1910 Census states she was born 1855. 1900 Census states she was born about 1848. 1870 she was born about 1846. She died on 11 Sept 1938.

I’ve contacted the Pasquotank Library for assistance on getting a better copy of the article.

Why are these people in the family book?

Maybe someone in cyberspace is looking for this tidbit of info.

Alfred Ferebee 1875-1923

This is who I believe to be my 3rd great grand Uncle Alfred Ferebee. I believe that Alfred is the half brother of William Lowry, my 2nd great grandfather.

I found Alfred’s death certificate on Ancestry. It stated he was murdered. The wonderful people at Pasquotank Library were able to send me an article regarding his murder. This is from The Independent, Friday 28, 1923.

The wording is a little hard to read, but it says:

“No One Understands Why Alex Jones Killed This Harmless Negro Tenant”

More or less mystery surrounds the killing of Alfred Ferebee, a negro farm worker at the home of Alex Jones, a prominent Newland Township farmer on the Newland Road, about ten miles from Elizabeth City. Jones is held for a preliminary hearing Friday morning under a $25,000 bond.

Ferebee was brought to the Community Hospital in Elizabeth City last Thursday night in a semi-conscious condition as a result of a blow on his head. He was put under options and died Sunday afternoon without regaining consciousness or making a coherent statement. The autopsy revealed that he had been dealt a crushing blow on the left temple, the blow fracturing his skull from a point over the left eye to a point just behind the left ear. It was a blow that might have been struck from the side or from behind, but could not have been easily dealt face to face. Jones will plead self defense.

Wow! I can’t even believe it. I don’t know the outcome of the case against Alex Jones. But I will be looking into that when I go to Elizabeth City in August. It does go on to say.

Alfred Ferebee was one of the most dependable and respectful negroes in Newland township. He had lived at peace with his neighbors all his life according to reports gathered by this newspaper. For 21 years he had lived in a little tenant house on the grounds of the late W. Frank Williams. He stuck by Mr. Williams during his life time and when Mr. Williams died, Alfred stuck by the widow of his former employer, worked her lands and did many of her chores. He was not a robust negro and is said to have been a consumptive.

My next step is to order the marriage certificate for Alfred Ferebee and Nancy Griffin. I’m curious to see who he lists as his parents.