Monday, August 10, 2009

Mysterious Monday

It's Monday again. :) I've been thinking about whether or not I'd post another mystery today, since I didn't get any comments or suggestions on my first one last Monday, but I've decided that since my blog is still young, and I only have few followers, I'll keep at it for now.



Last week's mystery was about my gg grandmother, Anna Green. Today I'll introduce her son, William. William Green was born in 1873 in Franklin County, NC. He was the fourth of Anna's mulatto children. (See last week's Mysterious Monday for the back story) I know very little about William, except that he looked white, and that he left NC at an early age and moved to New York, where he lived as a White man. According to my 90 year old cousin, Florine, he married a white woman, who she thinks may have been Jewish. It is unclear as to whether or not this woman ever knew William's ethnicity before his death, but Florine recalls that she actually came to Louisburg at some point afterward, said some choice words and dumped off a bunch of pictures and such - which have since disappeared.


Florine tells a story of going with her aunt, William's sister, to New York for his funeral, but not being able to attend because she was too brown and would have given away the "secret". (Interesting, because Florine is very light, but not light enough to pass.) So, she stayed at the house - which I'm assuming was her Aunt Bettie's (Elizabeth's) house, who was also living in New York and passing for White. This was sometime in the 1930's.

What I know for sure:... (Not much!)
1. William's middle name was Adam. Now, this is complicated, but I have a Family Group Record from familysearch.org that shows William's 1904 marriage in Manhattan. This marriage was to Sally Lou Johnson, who was also from Louisburg. but the (Florine says this is not the white woman, but a first wife, and I'm guessing she was Black.) On this document, William lists his parents as Anna Perkins and Nathaniel Green. If this is my William, which I believe it is, this document corroborates the oral history that Anna was originally a Perkins before she came to Louisburg. Nathaniel also matches the first name of the person I was told was Wm's white father, but I have a different surname. I'm assuming that William may have been guessing at this, because his father died when he was six and he was just probably assuming that his mother got her last name (Green) from him, but she didn't. They were never married. The other thing about this document is that I can no longer find it or pull it up on familysearch.org! Thank goodness I printed it out when I orginally saw it, but it's a mystery as to why it no longer seems to be there.

2. William died in New York.

3. William's sister, Bettie, also lived in New York and was passing for White. She was a "hairdresser to the rich folk", according to Florine, until William's wife found out that they were Black and went and told everyone. Then she lost all her clients. Florine says she lived in the Riverdale section of NY. Bettie married Roy Miller, a postal worker.

Conflicts:

William names his father as Nathaniel Green on the fs.org document. Our oral history gives the name Hawkins. (What the heck - that's the name. Nathaniel HAWKINS.)

Questions:

1. Did William ever have any children, either by Sally Lou, or by his white wife? If so, what happened to them, and how can I find them?

2. What was William's wife's name? (the white one)

3. Where is William buried?

4. Did William maintain any type of communication with his mother, Anna?

5. Did Anna ever visit William in New York? Could she have gone to live with him? (Perhaps as a servant? Remember, Anna disappears from my census findings after 1880.)


Today's mystery question: How can I find out more about William Green?

4 comments:

milestgg said...

Have you considered that William may have changed his surname after his marriage to Sally? Do you have other posibilities for another surname? Check funeral homes in the area where he died if you know that for any William "?" who died around the time. This is one thick brick wall; it's gonna take some diggin' to get through it.
BTW, if you subscribe to the APG-Listyou should post your question there. Elizabeth Shown Mills usually responds to similar post andshe always has excellent insight and ideas for further research.

Good Luck!
Sandra Taliaferro
AKA-milestgg

Nadasue said...

Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, it's occured to me that he may have possibly changed his surname, but I don't think it's likely because I think my cousin Florine would've known that. What is more likely though, is that he may have used a different spelling, say Greene, or Grene, but I don't know that for sure either. William is too common a first name for me to do any kinds of broad searches without any other information, but I did find a couple of death certificates in Manhattan for around the time he died that match his birth year, so I'm planning to order those.
Can you point me to the APG-List? I'm not sure what that is.
Yes, this is a THICK ONE! Thanks for your support! :)

Jennifer said...

Hi, Nadasue! Just wanted to let you know that I enjoy Mysterious Monday very much.

milestgg said...

Nadasue,

It is the Association of Professional genealogist mail list. APG@rootsweb.com