Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 - Here WE Come!

As the year 2009 comes to a close, I find myself in almost continuous reflection about the state of my genealogy research. One thing that I’ve realized is that 2009 has truly been a year of transition for me with respect to my work. Though passionate from the start, it has been during this last 12 months that I’ve become truly driven in my quest to uncover the mysteries of my family history. This drive, which was once simply innate, has now become one with inherent expectations and shared support from others; my extended family members, who now receive a monthly (electronic) newsletter from me, updating them on the progress of my work, and from my blog-family, a support system of like-minded individuals that I never even dreamed was out there. I now feel accountable to both parties as I continue my quest to learn as much as I can about my family history, and to bring my findings into the light of the 21st Century.
My research journey has been filled with highs and lows. Not one, not two, but ALL of my family lines, paternal and maternal are hidden in the darkness of obscurity, and all for different reasons. Beyond my two grandmothers, I knew nothing of my ancestors before I started this work, and once I began asking questions, I quickly found that either my relatives didn’t know the answers, or if they did, they didn’t want to share them. Because of this, every discovery, for me, is truly a triumph, and is never taken lightly.

I, like many of my genea-friends, truly believe that my ancestors want me to find them, so the time I’ve spent in quiet libraries, dusty court-house basements, sterile file rooms (Register of Deeds), prowling through cemeteries, interviewing relatives, building websites, blogging, and putting in thousands of hours of online research has all been for and about those YARBOROUGHS, GREENS, DUNSTANS, HAWKINSES HILLS, BROWNS, and other individuals, yet unknown, who came before me and made me, ME.

In honor of those ancestors, I submit the following genea-goals for the year 2010.

1. To discover the parental roots of my great-great grandfather, Calvin YARBOROUGH, and his wife, Precilla SHAW. I’ve recently received less than encouraging results from the DNA testing, that lead me to believe that I may never be able to find Calvin’s actual parents, and that perhaps he never even knew them himself. It’s beginning to look more and more like ours might have been one of those unfortunate families whose children were separated from the parents, or perhaps who were parented by some “stranger”. More will come on this in 2010…
I’d also like to find out more about Calvin and Precilla’s lives as members of the Franklin County/Louisburg community, and specifically Calvin’s involvement as a trustee at Saint Paul’s Presbyterian Church.

2. To verify the actual name and origin of my gg-grandmother, Anna GREEN, and to find something – anything that corroborates the family stories about her relationship with my gg-grandfather, Nathaniel HAWKINS. I’d also like to find out when and where she died.

3. To find mention of Nathaniel HAWKINS (and hopefully his relationship with Anna) in the family papers at UNC Library. Also, to learn more about his work as a slave trader, and perhaps to find out how he and Anna ended up together. I would also like to find evidence of his cause of death in 1879 and locate his grave.

4. To secure the remaining funding from my GREEN relatives so that we can do the DNA testing that will prove us descendants of Nathaniel Hawkins.

5. To obtain the death certificate for William GREEN, who moved to New York and lived as White. I’d like to find out if he had any children, and if so, to attempt to discover and contact any descendants who may be alive today.

6. To discover the whereabouts of my maternal grandfather, Daniel Webster HILL, who abandoned his wife and family when my mother was just four years old, and was never heard from again.

7. To begin to learn more about my maternal ancestors, Walter and Minerva BROWN, who originated in Littleton, NC, but migrated to Norfolk, VA. I’ve done no more than pull census info on them and their families, since most of my work has been focused on my paternal side for the past 13 years.

8. To better organize my existing research, and to begin the tedious job of going back through it and properly sourcing everything that I already have.

9. To give back to the genealogy community by sharing more of my findings and continuing to volunteer as a keyer for various projects. I also hope to index the hundreds of funeral programs that I found at my aunt’s house in Louisburg, for the NC GenWeb, and then convince her to donate them to either the county library or the State Archives.

Yes, these are lofty goals, but it never hurts to dream big! So, 2010, here I come – and I’m bringing my ancestors with me!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Calendar: Fruitcake - Friend or Foe?


This will be short, but just seeing the word, "fruitcake" dredges up memories for me that make me want to gag and barf! For some ungodly reason, my parents used to try to force my brother and me to eat this ghastly invention (lol) a couple of times each year, which I'm assuming now were probably around the holidays. Some of the memories of the struggles this instigated are too unpleasant to even recount, but as usual, Arthur and I found our way around having to sit at the table all night until we'd eaten it. All I'll say is this -- when my parents finally decided to get a new kitchen table, and turned the old one upside down to move it, I know they got a very "fruity" surprise!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Nicest Thing!

A while back we were encouraged to post about the nicest thing another blogger had done for us. At the time, I didn't submit a post - not because I haven't been the recipient of any kind gestures her in the blogosphere, because I have - but simply because at that time, I was having a hard time recalling each and every incident of kindness that had been shown me, and I didn't want to slight anyone by just posting about what I could recall. However, today another blogger has gone the extra mile for me, by reaching out to assist me in overcoming a technical difficulty that I just happened to mention in a comment I made on her blog, so I've decided to thank her, publicly!

A few days ago, I visited Before My Time. I don't remember how or why I came across this blog, but while there, I noticed that the writer, "TK", was using Blogger, and that her wonderful video tributes to her Auntie Marceline were posted directly on her blog, something I had tried every which way (except the right way...lol) to do a couple of weeks ago when I posted my Sentimental Sunday - A Musical Tribute. Well, just as a result of my mentioning that I'd tried to do that, TK went out on an limb and sent me a private email with her phone number and an offer to explain to me just how she'd done it. She even offered to make the long distance call herself, if I wanted to send her my number. Wasn't that nice?

I received this email from TK earlier today, just as I was about to go out, so I wrote back and told her I'd give it one more try later in the day, and if it didn't work, I'd call her. So, that's exactly what I did. Needless to say, my attempts to post the video still didn't work, so I called TK, and within just a few quick minutes, she'd walked me through the necessary steps, and the video was on my blog!

The solution was a simple one, but it was one of those things you just had to "know" how to do. :) So, KUDOS, to TK for being a great new blog-friend, and THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

(And just to show off my new skills, here it is again!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - On The Farm

That's my daddy, Arthur P. Yarborough (behind the cow) and his first-cousin, George R. Greene. My dad lived with George's family during his teen years in Nash County, NC.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sentimental Sunday - Holiday Blues

Here I am with my (ex)husband and daughters on one of our holiday visits to my Aunt Sue, in NC.

I know I've been a bit quiet lately. I've had a lot of my mind, and have conjoured up several potential posts there, but none have made it to the blog because I've realized that I'm not quite ready to divulge the entirety of my holiday-time misery - yet.

All my life I wanted a FAMILY. From the earliest years that I can remember - when I was about 4 or 5 - I used to question my parents about why we didn't have cousins and why I didn't have a sister (lol). As I got older, and noticed other families sharing the holidays with their relatives and having gatherings with tons of people who were all related to them, I began to realize that something was different about my family. Yes, I did know my two grandmothers, and my parents' siblings (each had a brother and a sister), but that was it. But, except for my paternal grandmother, with whom I had a close relationship, there didn't seem to be any ties that bound our little family of six to these other people. I constantly badgered my parents about this, even having full-out tantrums a couple of times because I wanted so much to experience the fun and joy that I noticed others enjoying when they were with their families. Not only that, but it was almost like my neighborhood friends belonged to some kind of secret society or something. I mean, why was it that whenever their cousins were over, they couldn't have company, or they didn't need me to play with anymore?

Anyway, to get to the point, one of my primary goals as a mother was to make sure that my children grew up in an environment rich with family, and steeped with traditions of togetherness and sharing that would stick with them forever. I began this quest before I ever even became a mother by reaching out to my siblings, aunts, and uncles from the time I was a teenager, traveling to visit with them and trying to make them a part of my life. When I did become a mother, I made sure that my children knew them, or knew of them. Their pictures were always displayed in our home, and we made sure to visit with those who lived nearby and make phone calls to those far away, on a regular basis, especially on the holidays. I guess I was trying to at least give my children a "sense" of family, if nothing else.

I got married,and during the years with my husband, it really seemed that we were creating that family-life that I'd longed for. Although we were distanced from his family in many ways, we seemed to become closer to mine, and we also had several friends whom we'd adopted as family, so our kids did have "cousins" and "aunties" and "uncles". We created and sustained a number of holiday traditions. Our children were thriving and happy, and so was I. But, in 1993, my husband decided that this was not what he wanted anymore, and he was gone. However, this did not stop me from continuing with the most of the traditions we'd created together. My famous sweet-potato casserole still was the hit of each Thanksgiving. My girls still snapped the beans and set the table. We still took our holiday light-ride. The girls still got to open one special gift on Christmas Eve (almost always new pajamas that they would sleep in that night) and I still read, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" while we all sipped on hot chocolate. Santa still came, and he (she) still sat up all night putting toys together,while munching on fresh-baked cookies that had been left out for him and his reindeer by my daughters. (Our Santa didn't drink milk, so usually there was some juice or a Coke to go along with the cookies.) And, we still took our holiday-time ride down to my father's birthplace in Louisburg, to visit with my aunt, who still lives there in the family home. Everything went on as it had before, sans the presence of a father/husband. But, for me, the dream had been busted. This wasn't the picture I'd had in my mind, and it never has been again. For a girl who'd grown up with Ward and June Cleaver and Mike and Carol Brady as my role models, my concept of "family" had been deeply disrupted.

Now, my days are spent quietly alone. Even though my daughters come home for the holidays, the preparation and aftermath tends to scream in silence without a spouse, sibling, or parent to share it with. The girls think it's silly that I wait for them to both get here (usually a day or two before Christmas) to put up the tree, but they always did it in the past, and I'm not quite ready for that to change. They put the tree up, I put the lights on, and then we decorated it together, while listening to Christmas music. That's the way it always was, and that's the way I want it to be - at least maybe until they have spouses and/or I have grandchildren.

This is not meant to be a sad story. My girls and I have had a blessed life together. However, the holidays are a challenging time for me, especially in these years since I've had my empty nest. Families are not like light bulbs. You can't just replace them when they "blow out". For whatever the reasons, most of my relatives have disconnected themselves from us since my mother became ill, choosing to go on with their lives, rather than to be a part of her care and support. Unfortunately, the timing of this coincided with the years that my daughters were graduating and leaving home, so it's left me a bit lonely, longing for the good old days, and wondering what might have been if so much hadn't changed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sentimental Sunday - A Musical Tribute

This Sentimental Sunday is extra-special because I am, for the very first time, going to post a video. Although I hadn't planned to post on this, the most emotional, and therefore, sentimental thing on my mind right now is the beautiful solo violin concert that my daughter, Natalia, gave last night, and the dedication that she made to me before playing the beautiful, Meditation (from Thais). It's been a long struggle being a single mom of not one, but two very intelligent, talented, and ACTIVE daughters, and I'm proud of the young women they've become. I don't seek recognition in any way, but whenever either of them does something to acknowledge our relationship, or to express appreciation, it blesses my heart.

So, genea-family, today it is with the greatest of SENTIMENT that I introduce you to my daughter, Natalia.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sentimental Sunday - SAS

Okay, so last week I laid claim to the creation of a new Blogging Theme - Sentimental Sunday - and then today I had a full day of BUSYNESS, and, although it was in the back of my mind all day, just didn't get around to doing the post. So, I decided to put if off til next week, but then.... I had to go and open my reader, and the first thing I saw was a Sentimental Sunday post by my genea-buddy, Luckie Daniels. So, with guilt setting in, let me get to typing before the clock strikes 12!

This Sunday, I want to honor the memory of my brother, Arthur, who was just 17 months older than I, and who passed away at the age of 23 from liver cancer. Arthur and I were like twins. We were so close in age that we did everything together. We had the same friends in the neighborhood, were just a grade apart in school, and fought like cats and dogs (lol), like all loving siblings do. :) Arthur is the only person with whom I shared my entire childhood. He knew all of my secrets, and I knew his. We shared the joys and pains of growing up in our rather dysfunctional family, and we provided that quiet, but solid support for each other through it all.
Arthur and I grew up in a time when kids made fun out of anything, and that's exactly what we did. We were Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack ("Where is the Love?) and Cowboys and Indians. We built tents on our stairway, played hide-and-seek in the house, slid down the banister when our parents weren't looking, and competed to see who could jump from the highest step - and land on their feet. But one of my most cherished memories of fun times with my brother are those of us sneaking late night snacks after everyone in the house had gone to bed. Here's how it worked:

Arthur's room and mine were on opposite sides of the staircase, but our closet walls met above the front foyer. We would set our game plan before saying goodnight, and at an appointed time, we'd each go into our closets and listen for the special knock that meant the other was there, too. It was my job to check to be sure that my parents' door was closed, since my room was next to theirs, and Arthur would make sure that neither of my older brothers were around (which they never were). When the coast was clear, we'd knock in unison, and then creep out of our rooms to meet at the top of the stairs. One of us would go to the bathroom (so as to be able to flush the toilet for noise) while the other crept quietly down the steps to get our snack, which one of us had usually conveniently hidden in one of a few places downstairs. (Our favorite spot was the big wooden Dutch shoes that sat very close to the staircase in the dining room.) With the lookout standing just inside the bathroom door at the top of the stairs, the other would creep quietly back up, pass over the shared snack, and we'd each retreat back to our closets to eat it!

I can't quite figure out why Arthur and I had to go to these ends just to have a snack, but for us, the thrill of the adventure was worth it. Sometimes, I think my parents had to know what we were up to, but I guess as long as we weren't bothering them, they just let us have our fun!

My brother has been gone now for 25 years, but I think of him and miss him dearly every single day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My First Award!

Wow... an award? For ME? That was my first reaction upon receiving the message from my genea-friend, Sandra, over at
I Never Knew My Father! I've noticed numerous awards on the pages of other bloggers, but I never knew how they got them, and I certainly didn't anticipate that I'd be the recipient of one anytime soon. But, thanks to one very faithful and supportive reader, I am! Thanks, Sandra! I am so honored that you chose me for the Kreativ Blogger award!

So, this award comes with a task (but a fun one). :) The winner has to list seven things about themselves, and then pass the award on to seven other bloggers. So, here goes!

1. I grew up in a neighborhood that had several very large families, with 6 or more children. Though there were only four of us, we had the biggest house. The other families seemed (were) so much closer than ours, and I was always jealous of that. I grew up believing that small houses = close families, and was determined to never live in a big house.

2. I never planned to have a career outside the home. When I was growing up, my goals were to be a wife and a mother. I saw those roles as the two most important in the world (and still do) and had hoped to make it my business to be the best at both of them. (The wife thing didn't work out, but I've done well as a mother!)

3. Now, if you put #1 and #2 together, you might not be surprised to know that I'd imagined myself having anywhere between six and fourteen (yep, 14) children. We were going to live in a tiny house, and have a tiny car that we drove around in. Isn't that special? (LOL)

4. My favorite place to be is by the water. If I could, I'd live in a house on the beach in a year-round warm location, and live simply, spending my days writing and absorbing the beautiful sights and sounds of the ocean.

5. My life-long goal has been to travel to Africa. I want to visit Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Niger, and maybe Nairobi. While there I'd like to take a safari and visit Oprah's school. And, now that my DNA is finally being tested (via my cousin Avon), I hope to be able to visit whatever part of the continent it is determined that my ancestors came from!

6. My dream job would be to work as a dean at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

7. One of my biggest personal regrets is that I didn't stick with learning to play the piano when I was younger. I absolutely love to play, but my skill level is stuck at the point where it was when I was about nine years old. I'm reteaching myself right now, but will soon take the leap into adult piano lessons.

Wow. That was hard to do! For me it was challenging to think of seven things I wanted to share that I haven't already mentioned someplace in my blog!

Now for the fun part. Pass the award on to seven bloggers. I'm going to shorten my list by one. Here are my choices:

Reclaiming Kin (msualumni)

And.....(drumroll).... I know this might be unusual, but I'd like to encourage a brand new blogger, whose blog name is so creative (or kreativ) and has really impressed me. So, for creating a "kreativ" blog name:

Thanks again, Sandra, for this wonderful recognition, and for giving me something to do in the wee hours of the morning when, for some reason, I couldn't sleep! :)


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sentimental Sunday

Today I've been inspired by the heartfelt writings of two of my blog-friends, Luckie Daniels over at Our Georgia Roots, and Sandra Taliaferro at I Never Knew My Father. Both of these fellow researchers posted from their hearts today, and in both cases, their writings were a diversion from the usual genealogy-based subject matter. Instead, Luckie expressed her gratitude for her friends in the blogging community in her post, "So Thankful" http://ourgeorgiaroots.com/?p=1179, while Sandra shared her frustration about having "Blogger's Block" in a beautifully-written post http://ineverknewmyfather.blogspot.com/2009/11/bloggers-block.html (which showed that she can write, even when she isn't trying)!

I connected so immediately with what was written in both of these posts, that I ended up responding with comments that almost sounded like posts themselves, so I decided that I just had to share these writings with my readers. So, head on over to Luckie and Sandra's pages to see what they are talking about. If you don't follow their blogs already, I guarantee you, you'll be swept in by their writings and adding them to your feed in no time at all!

Meanwhile, the ancestors are nudging me to create a new blogging theme because of all of this. I will call it, "Sentimental Sunday" (if you haven't guessed that already). Starting next week, I'd like to encourage everyone to share a sentimental story or memory of an ancestor or family member, or if you'd like, use Sunday as an opportunity to share your feelings about the blogosphere, and the effect it's had on your life and your research! Happy blogging everyone, and have a great week!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A New Name for Just Thinking...!

Ever since the week I created my blog, I knew that I'd eventually have to change its name, but, as with most of the things I do, I've waited for just the right moniker to come to me. Yesterday, as I was driving to work, it did just that.

When I first began to blog, I'd thought it was going to be more like a diary - revealing more of my everyday thoughts, feelings, and life-experiences. And though there's been some of that, I quickly realized that a genealogy blog was to be just that - a web-log about GENEALOGY. As time (and posts) went on, I knew that I wanted Just Thinking... to have title that would be more reflective of my research experience, but as I've said, I had to wait for it to come to me.

During the past couple of weeks, I've been somewhat frustrated with my research. I've been going through that phase of feeling that I'll never discover anything new, and, although I've made several new contacts, everyone seems to have the same information that I already have! I'm at that point (again) where there's just not much more that I can do on the Internet, so a research trip is necessary, but this not a good time for me to take one. Work is crazy, life is hard, and I'M JUST FRUSTRATED!

On top of that, the problems that I have with my very disjointed, dysfunctional, and disengaged (living) family have been heavily pressing on my psyche. As I try to work to uncover the SECRETS of my family's past, the more I realize that without the help of my relatives, I'll probably never be privy to many of the little nuggets of family lore that I need to give me a direction to go in. Unfortunately, the few relatives who seem to even have a minute interest in what I'm doing, know even less about the family than I do! But all of this aside, there are people in my family, both young(er) and old who know things; and no matter what I do or say, I just can't break through the shield of protection that they have up around the details of our past. Even in my immediate family, where I am the youngest child, with siblings who are over a decade older, there are issues that prevent us from communicating on any level about anything such as this. Deep in my own thoughts, I'm admitting aloud something that I've realized for a long time. Mine is not one of the great, sprawling, well-connected families where everyone loves each other and stands together as one. And, this didn't just happen. My research has proven that. But, the question is WHY? WHY did Calvin and Precilla's eleven children go their separate ways - in some cases living just doors away from each other on the same street in Louisburg, but not sharing their lives? WHY did the descendants of Anna Green split off into two separate groups - one, Greens, the other Greenes - whose family lines don't even know (or seemingly acknowledge) each other? WHY did my Dunstan ancestors disappear from Franklin County and WHY doesn't anyone in my family know any of them, or where they went? And, WHY did Nathaniel Hawkins disappear into oblivion, having the details of his life seemingly erased, and leaving nothing to his six children? I have so many questions about all of these things, and in many cases, have begun to discover some answers, and as I do, it is my intention to continue to bring those answers out of the darkness and INTO THE LIGHT.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

DNA Testing- You Only Swipe Once!

This post is all about seeking the advice/suggestions of my readers on how to use a one-time donation towards DNA testing. That whole area causes me confusion, no matter how much I read up on it. It seems that there are so many options for how to go about it. Please offer your ideas on how I should spend. (My budget is between 100 and 130 dollars)

The testing will be for my Yarborough DNA. I have no males left in my immediate Yarborough line (sadly), but a male cousin (who made the donation) has offered to do the test. For this family line, by main goal would be to try to determine our African origin, and just to see what genetic links we have to who, in general. The oldest known male in this line is my great-great grandfather, Calvin (b. 1839), who was enslaved. We have no idea who his parents were (yet), so therefore I'm not sure if he was "pure" Black or the product of the slave owner. There is a Yarborough DNA group, but according to my research, Calvin became a Yarborough slave through the marriage of his female owner, so I really have no reason to believe that we have Yarborough blood. Because of that, I'm thinking that it would be a waste of the money to use my one swipe of my cousin's saliva (lol) in that study.

Please readers, if you will, tell me which DNA test would be best for this situation, and why. Thanks so much!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Contemplating Grandpa

This is a picture of my then nine year old daughter (now 21) when she saw my dad's headstone for the first time. (I'm not sure what that is in her mouth, but I think it might have been gum and she was about to blow a bubble.) My dad used to call her his "cute little skinny girl". If you look at those legs, you can see why! :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Negative Fours

This post is rather random, but I was doing some thinking a couple of days ago about Daniel Webster Hill, my maternal grandfather, who abandoned his wife and two children when my mother was only FOUR years old, never to be seen or heard from again. As I pondered this (as I often do) I realized that both of my parents had "lost" their fathers when they were FOUR, since that was my dad's age when he lost his father (Calvin Yarborough, Sr.). It occurred to me that this similarity may have even been a connector for my parents when they met and began dating (perhaps along with the fact that they were both single parents of sons just a year apart)!

As I continued along this line of contemplation, it occurred to me that perhaps the omen of my own marital experience had been passed down to me by my ancestors. You see, my husband also left our home, abandoning our daughter when she was only FOUR. Suddenly, I began to consciously realize how much my own experience as a single parent seemed to mimic that of so many of my female ancestors, a thought I've had before, but never had I seen/thought/acknowledged the FOUR factor.

From here, I began to think about how many of the women in my family line have ended up parenting and then growing old alone. I've realized this before, and often think of how fortunate some of my cousins are who do not descend from the exact same line as I. Those cousins have grown up in two-parent homes, with stable extended families whose members have lived long, healthy lives. They've not known what it is to lose a parent, grandparent, or sibling in their younger years, as I have, and this vastly differentiates the way they and their families view and experience life from the way I do. I won't expound upon this right now, but will in a future post. But anyway, as my reflections went in this direction, I began to realize that many of the the events that have shaped my life occurred with relation to the number FOUR.

Check this out.
My mother's father left her when she was FOUR.
My father's father died when he was FOUR.
My husband abandoned our family when our daughter was FOUR.
My father died on October FOURTH.
My brother (Arthur Yarborough, Jr.) died in the FOURTH month (April) in 1984.
I moved my oldest daughter away from her father (we were not married) when she was FOUR.
My maternal grandmother was married FOUR times.
There were FOUR children in our family, and just to add a smile - we grew up in a FOUR bedroom house! :)

There were a few more that I thought of that day, but of course I didn't write them down and now they aren't coming to me. But, anyway, such has been the power of "FOUR" in my life! What do you think?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Calvin Yarborough - TEACHER

Ummm... I was just taking a look at my dashboard trying to figure how to do something, and I noticed this post, which was written on October 11th, said, "Draft". I have no idea why I never posted this. (I thought I had.) But anyway, here it is, a month later. Perhaps the ancestors knew I'd need to relive the excitement of the moment I experienced this wonderful find!

Just when I was starting to get the feeling that I wasn't going to find anything new in my research, I decided to do a google search using one of the alternate spellings of my Yarborough surname (Yarboro) and adding the word, "teacher" to see if I could come up with anything about my GG grandfather, Calvin Yarborough, and I did!

You may recall that Calvin is listed the 1870 Census (the first post-slavery census) as a "Farmer and Retired Teacher". This has always intrigued me - knowing that my formerly-enslaved ancestor had been a teacher of some type and was already retired from it just a few years after emancipation. Although several of Calvin's children and grandchildren became teachers, there've been no family stories that indicated that this all began with our patriarch. Indeed, if not for the discovery I made in my research, my family would not know of this today!

Doing the google search led me right away to this link: http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/report1869/menu.html This is the 1869-70 Report to the Superintendent of NC Schools. In it there are reports from each NC county, which were completed by a person or persons appointed to a committee. My gg grandfather is mentioned in the report as a teacher of a school two miles outside of Louisburg. So, here I have it - corroborating REAL evidence of my great-grandfather, a former slave, as a SCHOOLTEACHER just after slavery! I'm so excited and proud! You go, Calvin Yarborough, Sr.!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Nomination for Just Thinking!

Thank you so much to whoever nominated Just Thinking for Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs contest! Congrats, also, to all of the other nominees. I hope this contest brings recognition and more visitors to everyone's blogs! The editorial staff of Family Tree Magazine will be selecting winning blogs from the various categories for an article scheduled to be published in the May 2010 issue. Blogs were nominated by readers in September. The voting is now open , and will continue through November 5th, to determine the blogs that will make the cut. Just Thinking can be found in the Personal/Family Category, in which you can vote for up to 12 (twelve!) deserving blogs. Several of my favorites are there also (a few of which I nominated:). Please take the time to visit and vote for the blogs that have inspired you! Thanks!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Childhood Memories - Sundays

My dad, Arthur P. Yarborough posing in front of our second station wagon, probably around 1970 or so.
This post is an effort to combine Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun http://www.geneamusings.comandcom%20the/which asks us to recall a favorite childhood memory, with the Afrigeneas http://www.afrigeneas.com/forum/index.cgi?md=read;id=81412 challenge to either recall memories of Mom in the kitchen, or Sunday memories.

I can only recall a very few occasions in my childhood when my entire family (mom, dad, 3 older brothers, and me) were all together in one place, but for at least a few years (before my two oldest brothers were grown and gone) it did happen. It was on Sunday afternoons that the six of us would pack into our family station wagon, armed with fried chicken, bread, potato chips, and fruit and head off to my very favorite place (Louisburg, NC) to see my very favorite person (my Grandma Yarborough). The drive was about three hours long back then, along a succession of winding country roads. Rolling along through Virginia's peanut country, we sang songs, played car games, ate, and of course did our fair share of fussing and fighting. No matter how many times we took this same trip, passing the same landmarks, cotton and tobacco fields, outhouses, country stores and horse and cow-filled pastures, (complete with weathered and broken-down barns), all of these things were pointed to out to us as if we were seeing them for the first time. To this day, as I travel many of these same roads to visit my aunt and do my research, I still hear the words inside my head, "Look at the horses!" or "Do you see the cows?" (And sometimes, even in the car alone, I actually catch myself saying them!)

As we made our way to my father's birthplace, there were some stressful moments, too. Back then, all of the roads we traveled were two-lane highways, meaning one lane of traffic going each way. There were no medians between these opposite-facing lanes, and for me (the baby of the family) my father's frequent efforts to pass were the source of much distress. Every time my dad would put the pedal to the medal to pass someone, I would SCREAM at the top of my lungs! It was terrifying to me to see the traffic coming at us in the other direction, and I never believed that my father was going to make it around the car, or sometimes CARS in front of us to get back into our lane on time! I would scream and cry, and beg my dad not to pass, but all this resulted in was everyone in the family getting mad and fussing at me. Oh, and you'd better believe that the station wagon was pulled over many times, so that my dad could select just the right switch off of a roadside tree and use it to teach me to stop hollering and crying in his ear while he was driving! (It didn't really work though.)

One other little thing that I remember about these trips is our roadside pit-stops to use the restroom. Well, let me rephrase that.... to relieve ourselves. You see, we never, ever stopped at a place to use restroom facilities. Instead, when we had to "go", my father would simply pull over on the side of the road. The boys would go to the nearest tree and quickly take care of their business, but for me, it was a squat inside of the open car door, and a wipe with a napkin...lol, provided by my watchful mother (who, by the way, I don't EVER remember doing this herself). There was a certain church up on a hill on our last stretch of highway that had a big oak tree in front of it, and we always seemed to stop there for this purpose. I still pass that church when I go down to Louisburg, and I always remember its connection to my childhood trips. It seems odd that we would do this at a church, but for some reason, we did. One little side note about this: I feel pretty sure that, given the times (60's) we didnt' stop at a gas station to use the restroom because of the racial climate. Neither of my parents or older brothers ever said this to me, but as I look back on it now, I'd be willing to bet that this was my father's way of avoiding conflict, and maybe, just maybe my parents felt we were more protected by stopping on the grounds of a church.

Everyone's excitement always grew as we got into North Carolina and began to see the red, clay dirt - first just little patches here and there, just slightly orangish in color, but then increasingly larger pads of it, brillantly and unmistakably RED. We knew that we were getting closer to our destination as the color of the soil deeped its hue. Then, would come that final landmark that would cause my brother Arthur and I to sit straight up and abandon any argument we might have been having. Once we saw the Dairy Queen at the intersection of what I now know is Routes 561 and 39, we knew that we were just about 2 minutes away from our grandma's house! We both loved her so much, but at that moment it was her always-waiting candy cabinet that we had on our minds. Once we got to her house, and all the greetings and hugs were done, my grandma would give us the signal that we could go to that wonderful place where we'd always find a special treat that had been placed there just for us. My grandma never forgot to do this. Never. Oh, how I loved her, and she loved ME!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Elizabeth T Neal Yarborough

One in a succession of owners of my great-grandfather, Calvin Yarborough.
(Thanks to Luckie at http://ourgeorgiaroots.com/?p=1022 for inspiring this post.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Did I just run into the elusive William A Green?

Although I've already posted today, I just had to come back to share my surprise and excitement over what I believe to be a completely unexpected siting of my dear, elusive ancestor, William Adam Green. I was doing a search on http://www.genealogybank.com/ to see if anyone was blogging about my Dunstan/Dunston ancestors, when I was led to this link: http://www.ncgenweb.us/ncspam/3ncsa.htm . I got there and discovered that it was a page about the 3rd NC Volunteer Infantry - from the Spanish-American War. (Please visit the page if you'd like to read the history of this regiment, and peruse the long list of names of it's members.)
Anyway, I was carefully scrolling down the list, searching for the name William Dunston, when lo and behold, there was the name, William A. Green, and sure enough, he was from Louisburg! I couldn't believe my eyes! Here's what I saw:

Green, William A.: Of Louisburg, North Carolina. Enlisted on June 23rd, 1898; mustered into service as a Sergeant on July 14th, 1898, at Fort Macon, North Carolina; mustered out of service with the Company on February 4th, 1899, at Macon, Georgia.

Could this be? Could this really be my William? Within seconds, I came to a decided conclusion. Yes. This had to be him. After all, I've not been able to account for him during the space of years between the 1880 Census, and his 1904 marriage in New York. In 1898, William would have been 25 years old - a likely age to enter into service, if he hadn't already. It also fits in that he was out by 1899, and had time to fall in love with a girl from Louisburg (Sally Lou Johnson), who he married in New York, where he'd gone to live by 1904. So, now I have a new project. I'll need to find his enlistment records to verify his parents' names (Anna and Nathaniel) and date of birth, and hopefully get additional information about, and maybe even pictures of this regiment! Whoo-hoo!

Saturday Night (well, Sunday morning) Genealogy Fun

Randy over at Genea-Musings has his Saturday night challenge up. Here are the instructions:
How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."
Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person?
Tell us three facts about that person with the "roulette number."
Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.
If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then spin the wheel again - pick your mother, or yourself, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

Here's mine:
My father was born in 1924, and would have been 85 if he were still living. Therefore, my roulette number is 21, and that lands on my great-great grandmother, Anna Green, who has been the subject of many a post on my blog! Here though, are three facts about Anna:

1. Family lore says that Anna was originally a Perkins, who ran away "because the white man wouldn't leave her alone" and ended up in Franklin County. It is unknown as to how or why she took the name, "Green".
2. Anna became involved with Nathaniel Hawkins, a slave trader. He provided her a house and fathered her six children before he died in 1879.
3. Anna was put out of the house and off of the Hawkins property after Nathaniel's death. I have not been able to locate Anna in the census after 1880, and I am unsure of when or where she died.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - Bible Flowers

These flowers are pressed between the pages of the Yarborough Family bible, which I believe originally belonged to my great-grandparents, Calvin and Precilla Yarborough. Of course, the bible is a treasure in itself, but there's just something special about these flowers, knowing that they were once held in the hands of one of my ancestors. I have no idea how old they are, or what special occasion they are a memento from, but I've chosen to leave them in place in the bible, just as they are, and I love just looking at them and trying imagine the occasion they represent.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

C is for Calvin - Where it all began #A-ZChallenge

Original post -9/13/09  Updated and re-posted - 4/3/17 for the A-Z Challenge

My great-grandfather, Calvin, was born enslaved in 1839. He belonged to the NEAL family, a slave of Chloe Crudup Perry Neal, whose husband, John, died shortly before Calvin was born. The Neals were from Franklin County, NC, but members of the family, including John and Chloe, expanded westward to lands in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. Slaves, as well as many of the family members moved between these properties throughout their lives. After John Neal died in Tennessee, his wife, Chloe, returned to her family (the Perrys of Cascine Plantation), bringing all of their human chattel with her.

I've never seen a picture of either of my great-grandparents, so I use this Cohabitation Record to represent them.

Here follows a timeline of Calvin’s life and relevant connections, as revealed during many years of research:

1838 – John NEAL dies in Tennessee. His slaves become the property of his wife, Chloe. Presumably, Calvin’s mother was one of those slaves.

1838-39 – Chloe Neal returns to Franklin County, NC with her three children, John, Leonidas, and Elizabeth Temperance, as well as with all of the family's slaves.

1839 – March - Calvin is born in either TN or NC on a NEAL plantation – There is further support here for the confusion about Calvin being born in TN, since John NEAL and his brother, James were settled there during the 1830’s. However, John NEAL died in 1838, and his widow, Chloe, returned to Franklin County with her children (and her slaves) soon after that. If Calvin’s mother (name unknown) had been pregnant during that transition, it’s easy to see how and why perhaps someone may have told him he was born in TN, only for him to find out later that they were actually in NC at the time of his birth, or she may have even given birth to him on the way! (Evidence is beginning to lean more towards an 1840 birthdate for Calvin.)

1851 – October 14 - Chloe NEAL dies. In 1852, her slaves are divided into 3 lots, for her three children. 12 year old Calvin, valued at $620, is in the lot that goes to Elizabeth T NEAL.

1853 – November 28 - Elizabeth T. NEAL marries James H. YARBOROUGH

1855 – Feb. 6 – Birth of Herbert Neal YARBOROUGH, son of James H. and Elizabeth YARBOROUGH

1855 – April 10 – Elizabeth T. Neal YARBOROUGH dies. Her slaves (including Calvin) become the property of her husband, James H. YARBOROUGH.

1855 – July 8 – Death of infant, Herbert N. Yarborough

1859 – June 8 - James H. Yarborough marries Areta E. Johnson, oldest daughter of Wood T. Johnson.

1860 – August - James H. Yarborough dies. Calvin now becomes the property of his wife, Areta, through a division of slaves. (James and Areta had only been married for 13 months.)

1860 - December 27 – Calvin (slave) begins to cohabitate with Precilla (slave) – The cohabitation record gives Precilla’s “maiden” name as SHAW. They have left what I believe to be hints of their previous  owners’ surnames in the middle names of their oldest children. This researcher believes it possible that Precilla may have also, at some point, been an EATON, WHITE, and/or KING slave.  It’s quite possible that Calvin met Precilla when James and Areta combined their property. KING was the maiden name of Sarah SHAW, the person I believe to have possibly owned Precilla originally. I have not yet found a WHITE connection.)
For an update on my research on Precilla, click here: Finding Precilla

1862Louis (or Lewis) NEAL YARBOROUGH, Calvin and Precilla’s first child, is born. (Notice the middle name, Neal. This researcher believes that Calvin maintained an emotional (and/or perhaps more) attachment to the Neal family, into which he was born, and thus he wanted to give his son that name. Also, this is the first indicator that my great-grandparents wanted me to find and figure out some things about their/our history! I believe that all, or at least most of their 11 children were given middle names that connected Calvin and Precilla to their former owners, or perhaps maybe in some cases to people who had been kind to them. Here are the remaining children and their approximate dates of birth:

1864 - Samuel E. (believed to be Eaton)
1866 – Sarah H. (I’m not sure about the H, but the person I believe to have been Precilla’s main owner greatly influenced Precilla was Sarah H. Shaw. I’ve been in touch with some of her family members, and it seems, according to the records they have, that she was much loved by her slaves. I also am suspecting a Neal slave, named Sarah (whose husband was named, Lewis), as the possible mother of Calvin, but I have nothing to verify that – it’s just a hunch.
1867 – Thomas W. (WHITE?)
1872 – Henry KING
1874 – Quinea A.
1876 – Caroline B.
1878 – Josephine I.
1879 – Mattie Louise
1882 – Calvin Roy (my grandfather)
1884 – Eugene Carter

1863 – January 1 – Abraham Lincoln, in his EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION declares that all slaves are to be permanently freed in all areas of the Confederacy that had not already returned to federal control.

1865 – July – Final freeing of the majority of slaves under the Emancipation Proclamation.  Calvin would had at least four different owners during his life.

Post-Slavery Life:

I do not know exactly when or how Calvin and Precilla gained their freedom, so I go with the assumption that Calvin was held in bondage by Areta Yarborough (widow of James H.) until 1865. My guess is that she must have treated him relatively well, since Calvin chose to take the Yarborough surname for his family, and since he and Precilla were married under her watch. I continue to press forward to find out as much as I can about this period in Calvin’s life.

1870 – (Census) Calvin (a farmer and former school teacher), and Precilla (keeping house), are living in Louisburg. They have 3 children (Louis, Sam, and Thomas) living. A daughter, Sarah was “burned” and died that year, at age four. Addendum, added 2/5/11 - See post: Calvin Yarborough - TEACHER

1872 – Calvin is named as one of the trustees of the “Colored Presbyterian Church” in Franklin County on a Deed of Indenture between the church and J.C. Wynne (and wife). The church was buying land in Louisburg. (This is Saint Pauls United Presbyterian Church, which my aunt still belongs to. my family has had continuous membership in, until the death of my aunt in November, 2013.) My grandfather, Calvin, Jr., with the help of his brother, Sam, built his house directly across the street from this church.)

1877 – August - Calvin purchases land (for himself) in Franklin County near the grave yard on the Louisburg and Newport Road for $75.00.

1880 – (Census) Calvin, a farmer, and Precilla now have eight children living (Louis, Samuel, Thomas, Henry, Quinea, Caroline, Josephine, and Mattie). Just a few doors down lives the renowned, John H. Williamson, with whom Calvin is connected via the church, and who was a pioneer in Negro education in the Franklin County area. Calvin's circle of friends and fellow trustees included several educators, such as Williamson, Moses Hopkins, and George C. Shaw.

1888 – September 15 - Calvin is again named as a trustee on a Deed of Indenture between E.N. Dent and the Colored Presbyterian Church, this time for $100.00.

1890 – GRRRRRRRR….akdfnasdfinaksdfasdfand!!!

1896 - Apparently, Calvin was in a Union, or was a Mason or something. I have a handwritten receipt, which was in the Yarborough Family Bible at my grandparents' house, which states, "Recd of Calvin Yarborough 38.63 for a pymt for Mr. Levitt from the colored union (or mission) meeting this the 21st day of December 1896."

1900 – Calvin and Precilla, now 61 and 56, respectively, have been married for 40 years. Several of their adult children live in the home with them. Sam, Quinea, Carrie, Jacqueline, Mattie, Calvin (18), and Eugene (16) are all still single! (What was wrong with my ancestors – were they ugly or something???) Sam is a carpenter, and both Quinea and Josephine are school teachers (which probably explains why they weren’t married).

1910 – 71 year-old Calvin is now widowed. (Precilla died sometime before October of 1903, when Mattie got married.) Sam, also widowed, lives with his father, as do Quinea (Clennie in the census, which was probably for “Quennie”), Caroline, and Josephine (“Joe”), who is also widowed, although her married name (Lane) is not noted in the census. Neither Josephine, nor Quinea are still teaching. Most likely, Jo had to stop when she married, since teachers back then were require to be single. Caroline is a cook for a private family. Sam is still a carpenter, his trade until he died in 1922.

Calvin Yarborough, Sr. died sometime after 1910, but before 1919, when his son (my grandfather), Calvin Roy Yarborough, Jr. married my grandmother, Anna Beatrice Green. (Most likely, he died before 1913, because that was when NC began to require death certificates, and there is not one for him.) 
To date, I’ve identified close to 300 of his and Precilla’s descendants, spanning six generations. Unfortunately, out of the 20 or so cousins I’ve had contact with, none seemed to know, or have any additional information about Calvin and/or Precilla, nor has anyone shared pictures of them or either of their children with me. (I’m very blessed to have a picture of my own grandfather, Calvin, Jr., which was supplied to me by his daughter.) The search for more information continues. The ancestors want me to know…

04/03/2017 -Addendum: As I'm re-posting this almost 8 years after it was originally written, I'm very aware of the lack of source info. However, this was written before I'd learned of the importance of providing sources in our blog posts. I'm on vacation, right now, and I don't even have my regular computer with me, which has some of the documents saved on it that I would refer to for source info. To try to find all that data right now would be nearly impossible, so please excuse me. One day, I'll have to make a project out of revisiting all of my old posts and attempting to source my data.


Permalink to this post: http://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2009/09/calvin-r-yarborough-where-it-all-began.html

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vital Stats from Educational Records - Who'd Have Known?

I just wanted to share something quickly that might be of help to others out there. Today I received the four-page "record" of my great-uncle, William Lawrence Greene, from his time as a graduate student at Cornell in the 1920's. (Now before my faithful followers get too excited for me, this is not the elusive William Green who moved to NY and lived as White. This is the Wm who added the "e" to the surname, and whose descendants are the only ones in our family who use that spelling.) I ordered the documents in an attempt to determine exactly when Uncle Bill began to use the new spelling of his name, and found that he was, indeed, using it at that time.

What I hadn't anticipated was the gold mine of family information that was contained on just one of the four sheets of paper - a sheet labeled, "Vital Statistics". I'd never really thought of finding so much information about the parents of a student in that student's records, but take a look at the text of an email that I just sent out to all of my Greene cousins to share what I'd found out with them:

Hi Greene Cousins,

Just wanted to share a little information with all of you. Perhaps you may already know all of this, but I got some new-to-me tidbits (gems, really) of information today that I want to pass on.

I recently ordered William L Greene's records from the Archives Department at Cornell, in an attempt to pinpoint when he began to use the "e" on his name. I did find that at the time of his application to Cornell, he was already using the e. (I knew it was on his diploma, which is hanging at 2101, but I wanted to see if he used it before that.)

I was thrilled to also find out the following information from Uncle Bill's "Vital Statistics" sheet from Cornell.

1. The actual dates of his first child's birth and death were confirmed.
William Lawrence Greene, Jr. was born 2/9/1928 in Garysburg, N.C., and died there on 8/1/1928.

2. John W. Greene was born in Oxford. I had not previously been able to locate his place of birth.

3. WL's mother (our great-grandmother)'s middle name was Georgiana! (I'll bet that doubles the reason Uncle George got his name!) Susie Georgiana Dunstan Greene died in Rolesville, 12/4/1907. (I have been trying to find her date of death for TEN YEARS. I'd assumed she died in Franklin County, but now I know it was Wake. Those few miles make a big difference!)

4. WL lists the date of birth for his father (our great-grandfather) as July 18, 1865. I won't change this just yet on the tree, because everything I've had prior to this has been July,1864. However, it's great to have the exact day in July on which he was born (the 18th). I hope I can verify this one way or the other though, because, as the oldest child of Anna Green and Nathaniel Hawkins, it would change some things in my research to find out that their first child (John) was actually born pre-Emancipation.

5. Uncle Bill uses 927 South Main Street as his permanent address. (This was my grandmother's house - his sister, Annie.) He also lists my grandmother as his next of kin and first reference. I called Aunt Sue to tell her about all this, and when I told her that, she said that she recalled that Uncle Bill did live there for a short time, but I don't know the circumstances.

6. William and Georgia were married on June 10, 1927 in Oxford.

Well, that's all folks. Just keeping you informed about your fam-bi-ly! :)

As you can see, I racked up! I had no idea I'd find out all of that just from getting Wm's graduate application! There was more, but I only sent things that were news to me in the email. So, folks, if your ancestors attended college at any time, you might want to consider getting those records! Who knows what great information you'll find!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Another NATHANIEL siting! :)

Today I received further confirmation of Nathaniel Hawkins being my great-great grandfather. I think I have enough evidence now that I don't need to second-guess it anymore as to whether or not I have the correct name. I've received in the mail the death certificate of my great-aunt, Annie B. Green, and there on her death certificate is the given name of her father, NATHANIEL HAWKINS. So, there you have it. I now have two sources from two different locations for two different people, both of which name NATHANIEL HAWKINS as the father of Anna's children. (The first was the marriage bond for their oldest son, John W. Green, in Franklin County, NC).

Annie was the second daughter of Nathaniel Hawkins and Anna Green (although the informant on the death certificate gave the name as, Annie B. - the same as the deceased). She died in 1952 in Jacksonville, FL, where she had been living with her daughter, Jessie Patterson, and her husband, who I believe may have been a doctor. It was Jessie who served as informant on the death certificate. I've heard a few stories about Annie, all of which had one common theme -- She was MEAN! Also, according to my dear cousin, Florine, Annie looked white, and so did most of her children. I also know that several of her children did "pass" and disconnected themselves from the family back in Louisburg.

As thrilled as I am to have received this death certificate, it also raises a few questions. Annie is listed as a widow, yet I don't know of her being married, and even though it says this, there is no married name given. Also, the date of death is listed as 3-23-1952, but then the doctor says he last saw her at 3 a.m. on 3/24, so I'm not sure which is the actual date of death (although I think it's probably 3-24). The other thing is that Jessie gives her mother's date of birth as 12-20-1875, but everything I have has her born in 1871. She was 9 at the time of the 1880 Census, so I'm thinking that she was a bit older than Jessie thought she was, but I'll need to follow up on that.

Anyway, I'm more sure than ever now about Nathaniel Hawkins being my ancestor. He's still hiding from me, but I won't give up on finding out more about him, no matter how long it takes!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Okay, this will be my first time participating in Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, (http://www.geneamusings.com/). The challenge is to name your ancestors that you've met in person, even if you were too young to remember them, and to give their birth/death dates, and where they lived. For me, this is a very short list, so here goes:

Anna Beatrice Green Yarborough, my paternal grandmother. Born in Rolesville (Wake County), Jan. 18, 1891 and died Feb. 17, 1977 in Louisburg, NC.

Mary Davis Walker Hill Thomas, my maternal grandmother. (She was married 3x.) Born in Littleton, NC on Dec. 26, 1897 and died June, 1986 in Hampton, VA. She lived most of her life in Norfolk, VA.

Arthur P. Yarborough, Sr., my father. Born in Louisburg, NC on June 21, 1924 and died in Hampton, VA on Oct. 4, 1997. He was a retired army major, and lived all over the world between 1942 - 1964, but after that retired and resided in Hampton, VA until his death.

Maryanne Hill Hoggard Yarborough, my mother. Born March 23, 1934 in Norfolk, VA. She lived in Norfolk until she married my father, and has lived in Hampton, VA ever since.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to work... (sigh)

Well, folks - my summer is coming to an end. For those who don't know, I'm a teacher, and tomorrow I'll begin my 24th year. It's always tough to give up my summer, and it's become even more so since my nest has been empty and I'm no longer in need of a break from my own children (lol). But tonight, I'm feeling especially melancholy because this summer, rather than facing day upon day (and night upon night) with me, myself, and I - trudging along in this all-consuming passion of genealogy research, I've had all of you - my new blogger friends.

When I first took the leap into blogging (thanks to Luckie), I was sure that I was going to be different from everyone else; unique in my persona and in my approach to the world. I've always been "different" from most of the people around me. I've never felt understood. I don't like being alone, but I've spent a lot of my life that way, and therefore have developed a rather reclusive, somewhat introverted lifestyle, especially of-late. But since I've joined this cadre of researchers, I've begun to feel increasingly at home, like I "belong".

I've realized that those of us who enjoy this kind of work are probably a "personality-type" in ourselves. When I reflect on my childhood, I recall that I was always deeply inquisitive although I was often put off by those I was questioning. Unfortunately, I didn't have a family or community that supported this, so I often heard, "Renate, you ask too many questions!" But I was always one to probe deeply into matters, and I always wanted to to know the why of things! I also recollect that, although my family was not close (and actually was quite disfunctional), I constantly badgered my parents and other relatives about the very issue of FAMILY - always wanting us to do things together, to visit each other, and to take vacations together. I was at my happiest when I was in Louisburg (NC) at my grandmother's, partly because she loved me SO MUCH and I knew it, but also because that was the place where everyone was "cousin this" and "cousin -that". I loved the feeling that it gave me to know that these people (mostly adults) were my kin. At home, I was always the keeper of the family photo albums. I remember being very protective of them from the start. The other thing about my childhood that I recall is that I was always a problem-solver, and I always had the patience and perseverance that was necessary to work on a problem until it was resolved. When I was just very young, people started bringing me their broken watches, clocks, radios, and things like that, and I would open them up and work on them (like I knew what I was doing) until they were fixed. My favorite pasttime was putting together jigsaw puzzles. The hardwood floor in my bedroom made the perfect surface for this work, and was almost always home to a 1000 or 2000 piece puzzle! I loved to read, and I loved to write. I always (for some reason) have paid close attention to spelling, especially of people's names. I could go on and on about the traits that I've noted in my childhood self that I now realize have transferred into making me a perfect fit for the world of genealogy!

Anyway, as usual I've gone on for longer than I'd intended, just to say this: THANK YOU, my dear blog friends for filling the past 6 weeks of my summer with laughter, support, good conversation, and even (today) a little HOPE for the future. I'm sure I'll be rushing home each day to see what I've missed, and hopefully I'll be able to keep up. I tend to eat lunch alone, so I can imagine I'll be peeking in on you guys on my lunch breaks!

For now... for me... it's back.... to.... school.

May God bless and keep you all!


Wordless Wednesday

Just one of the Hawkins families that I've now discovered included their mulatto children in the household. Martha Ann Benny Hawkins is pictured here with her father, his wife, and her siblings.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eating my words (sort of) & and a "Find" for SC researchers

Great news! I got an email from my " cousin", Herb! We've begun a dialogue about our shared Hawkins ancestors, and though I don't sense that he completely trusts me (yet), we're talking, and that's a start! We've exchanged phone numbers, but I am exercising restraint in making myself wait until my vacation ends (tomorrow) before I call him. :) Herb, has sent me a document that he transcribed from the slave papers he has in his possession. (My Anna wasn't a slave, as far as I know, but still I'm glad he shared the document with me.) Both of the Nathaniels are pretty much a mystery to him also, but I'm hoping that he might have something, or be able to put me in touch with someone who might have some answers.

On a completely different note: I have some news for my blog-friends who are doing South Carolina research! Today, I visited a used bookstore and print museum here on the Outer Banks (Kill Devil Hills to be exact). It was called the Croatan Bookery, Ltd.) This place was huge, and it was filled with antigues and old books galore! I was hoping to happen upon some good historical fiction. I even asked about family bibles - and left my contact information for when they get any with genealogical information in them. I spend over an hour perusing the shelves, and just when I got to the very last section - "DIARIES", I found a book that could very well be a gold mine for the right SC researchers. The book was The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, A Southern Slaveholder. The intro and summary were quite intriguing, and I could tell that this was a winner! The diary was kept from 1841 -1864, and apparently the writer (who was also a Senator) recorded every single thing about his life during these years, up to, and including his view of things during the war, his slaves, his black offspring, and more in it. I really wanted to go on and purchase the book, but it was $28.00, and I just wasn't prepared to do so. I googled the book, and got tons of hits, but here is one link to some of the excerpts from the book. http://www.stolaf.edu/people/fitz/COURSES/secrets.htm

Another Nathaniel

This was actually written on 8/21, but I am just actually posting it now.

Okay, things are getting kind of CRAZY here! I don’t exactly know where to begin to explain the events of the last 24 hours, but to surmise, my fellow Hawkins researcher and I have continued to share back and forth via email, as well as a little bit more on the HAWKINS message board on Ancestry. Just as it seemed that the two of us had settled on agreeing to disagree on the interpretation of Philemon’s will (at least until we had further proof one way or another), boom! I get an oddly-worded message on the board from a (White) Hawkins descendant. He seemed a bit aggravated at the discussion taking place about his ancestors, so I sent him a response in hopes that we could connect, and that hopefully I could help him come to terms with the fact that he does have Blacks in his family tree!

Okay… so immediately after typing my response, I decided to pull out the documents that were sent to me two years ago by that other HAWKINS descendant and researcher, HB HAWKINS, in Eugene, OR. We ran into each other on one of the boards back in 2007, and had a couple of conversations, after which he send me hard copies of the family tree (ancestral lines for my gg grandfather, specifically noted), a nice letter, and a collage of pictures of himself and his family, so that I could “see if there is any resemblance.” (He looks a lot like my grandmother.) HB also sent me a copy of a marriage record for Nathaniel Hawkins and Patience Green, whom we had discussed extensively on the phone, as we tried to figure out if this could have been my gggf, since his wife was a Green. (This is the same Nathaniel who I’d mentioned in my earlier post, whose records I’ve been shoe-boxing in Ancestry.) I studied everything carefully at that time, and have referred to these documents a few times since then, even as recently as three days ago. But, before now, I have concentrated mostly on the page that contained the information about my NATHANIEL MACON HAWKINS, or at least who I’ve believed him to be all this time – and so did HB. However, just now, after responding to the poster on the message board, I thought about that fact that his name was “Herbert”, and I wondered if he could have been the same person as, “H.B.” So, I pulled out the envelope again, and began looking through each page for HB’s full name, but this was to no avail. Everything was just, “HB.” (I remember him telling me that he only goes by that, so it makes sense.)

Since I had the papers out, I decided to go through them again, now that I have so much more information and new questions about the HAWKINS family. First off, I found that I’ve actually had notes about the whole Philemon will thing all this time! HB had put a note on one of the pages, explaining the whole thing, even giving a bit more information than what I’d recently found out. I’m sure I’d read this two years ago, but it had no personal meaning to me at that time! The information was noted at the bottom of the page that was designated for the tree of Philemon’s first marriage to Mary Christmas, who died in 1822.
Well, (I know this is long…) while I was on this page, I noticed that there were question marks for several of the descendants’ death dates, and I knew I’d created a document where I’d copied several death notices from the Raleigh Register, so I decided to pull out my document and see if I could fill in any of the death dates. It was just as I was beginning to do this – as I was perusing the page to find question marks – that I saw it. NATHANIEL MACON HAWKINS. There was my gg grandfather’s full name, but it was on a completely different page! This Nathaniel was listed as the sixth child of Dr. Joseph Warren Hawkins and his wife, Frances “Fanny” Minter Hawkins! What - was -this?
My mind started going about 1000 mph. Another Nathaniel Macon Hawkins? How could I have missed him all this time? Well, first of all this family lived in Mississippi, not in NC. Not only that, but upon finding him (immediately) with his family in the 1850 Census, I learned that he was born in 1840 – almost ten years after my Nathaniel (but much closer in age to my gg-grandmother, Anna, who was born in 1844). So, even if this Nathaniel had ever come up in my searches, I would have discounted him, I’m sure.

My next step was to try to find out what happened to this NM Hawkins. As I typed his information into the search boxes, I couldn’t help but to think about how elusive my original Nathaniel has been all these years. How none of the Hawkins researchers I’ve connected with ever knew anything about him, except that he was born in 1831. Nobody knew what became of him, where he was buried, why he wasn’t mentioned in anyone’s wills – nothing. Was I about to discover that I’d been barking up the wrong tree all these years?

1860 – It will take a bit more work to find out where Nathaniel is, because there are several with his name in Tennessee and Alabama who fit his description.

1863 – Marriage bond with Patience Green. Nathaniel is noted as, “col.”.

1866 – Cohabitation bond acknowledged.

Now, all of this happened just before I started typing this, and as I’ve been doing so, I’ve been going back and forth trying to find more out about this Nathaniel, but oddly enough, he disappears, also. So the mystery thickens. I know that my original Nathaniel did exist, because he’s shown in the HAWKINS household in 1850 and 1860, and because I have several other documents related to his death and estate. But why is it that these two Nathaniels are so elusive? There are several other connections that I’m seeing, which are teasing my curiosity about this, but perhaps this finding will lead to nothing. But I do have to say, WILL THE REAL NATHANIEL MACON HAWKINS PLEASE STAND UP?

Addendum: 8/24/09 - I have not heard back from my "cousin", and apparently he's not going to be forthcoming with any family information. Makes me think about the discussion on Luckie's blog. (See OGR here: http://ourgeorgiaroots.com/?p=674&cpage=1#comment-829)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Checking in

I've been a little quiet on the blog scene lately but I wanted to check in, just in case anyone is still following me. I'll be honest - I've been a little discouraged that I didn't get many responses to my last several posts - especially the Mysterious Monday ones, so I've kind of just been doing my thing without blogging about it.

I have been following a few new leads on my Green mysteries, and I'm excited that I've finally heard back from the archivist at the Cornell University Library
http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/collections/cuhist.html, who seems to have a bit of information on my great-uncle, William L. Greene, who obtained a Masters Degree from there in 1929. I'm hoping to see his records so that I can see how he was spelling his name at that point, since it is he who changed the spelling of the surname Green, to Greene, and thus all of his descendants carry that spelling, which distinguishes his line from all the rest of Anna Green's descendants. Unfortunately, I've been going back and forth with the archivist for several days because they need "proof of death" before they will release his records to me. (He was born in 1901......, but they have him listed as a living alumnae...hmmm). I have sent her the copy of his death certificate 3 times, but she keeps telling me that her email won't receive the document. Now, it's the weekend, so I guess I'm put off til Monday, but I might have to make a trip to a fax machine to get this ball rolling!

Also, on the Hawkins front - I've been having a dialogue with a fellow researcher, which started on the Hawkins board at Ancestry, and has now moved to us exchanging private emails. This was all spurned by my finding of Nathaniel Hawkins' great-grandfather's will, in which he mentions his grandson, Philemon, who was my gg grandfather, Nathaniel's father. I was surprised and excited to learn of the possibility that this Philemon may possibly have been Mulatto himself (although if he was, I don't think it was a well-known fact, and he must not have looked it). However, this other researcher disagrees with my interpretation of the language, and does not think he was. So, we've kind of been debating this, and although I have never read anything that would have indicated this as a possibility, and I know that my new friend is probably right, I can't discount it without proof to the contrary after reading the wording of Philemon Hawkins' will. On the same day that I discovered the will, I also ran across this letter from Philemon (the possible mulatto) to his father John. http://docsouth.unc.edu/unc/unc06-70/unc06-70.html Knowing that he attended UNC makes it even less likely that he was Mulatto, I guess, but still... I need PROOF! One other thought that has occurred to me is that this John could have very well had two sons named Philemon, one being the child of his wife (and the one we all know about - Nathaniel's father), and the other being the child of the slave, Amy.

As I'm typing this, I'm having another ah-ha moment, as I realize another possibility. (Thinking out loud... well, actually on paper...lol.) There has been a Nathaniel Hawkins that I've have run across many times in my research. He was in Warren County, and he was born in 1830, just like my Nathaniel Hawkins. I have held on to his information, and even shoeboxed him in Ancestry. He was married to a Green, but her name was, Patience. The reason I've not followed up on him more, is because he was listed as BLACK. So... now I have to wonder, if my Nathaniel Hawkins' father (Philemon) was half-Black, could this be my gggf???

Anyone who is interested can read the wording in question in the book, In Full Force and Virtue: , if you own the book, or you can read it here. http://books.google.com/books?id=usSoUtSJChgC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA281#v=onepage&q=&f=false It is the last paragraph on page 281. To me, it is clear here that Philemon is stating that his grandson (and namesake) is the son of his son, John and a negro woman named, Amy. The bold print is as it already was in the the reader, so I'm assuming that was done by the author. Also, to me it doesn't sound like he's in denial about this at all, but he is writing young Philemon out of his will and his "legacy" more because of his attempt to deceitfully and underhandedly get some of his grandfather's property.
I'm thinking:
1. Why would the grandson have to underhandedly try to write his way into his grandfather's will if he weren't mulatto, or a child outside of his father's marriage? It's obvious that Philemon was generously bestowing gifts upon his children and grandchildren in the will, and this last paragraph is obviously an addition that was made after the writing of the original will. To me, that means that Phil (the grandson) probably found out that he wasn't in it and did something to try to deceitfully change that.
2. How would Matthew, the slave boy, know so much? Well, again I can argue that there was much talk amongst the slaves (in and out of the quarters). The other researcher thinks that Matthew may have been Phil's child, and if he was, maybe his nephew tried to convince him to go in on the deceitful act, since he wasn't addressed in the will either. But nevertheless, folks talk, and I believe that Philemon was probably bragging or telling of what he'd done amongst his people, and that's how Matthew found out.
3. Philemon states that his grandson would not have "both this legacy and the property described in the said deed". Legacy to me means the family name and rights, which is different from property or wealth, and here Philemon distinguishes between the two. How often do we hear of people taking away the "legacy" from their own (White) children or grandchildren?

Your comments are welcome.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I call this "Tobacco Road". This is part of the still-active tobacco farm on which some of my ancestors toiled.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Sunday Surprise - for Someone!

I can scarcely imagine what it would be like, as an African-American genealogist to run across a document containing even an iota of the wealth of information in this one, so when I found this on the Franklin County genweb site, I knew I had to post it, just in case anyone researching these families happened by my blog. This is an amazing document, and it even holds a surprise for any slave desendants of the families mentioned, so take a look, researchers. For someone, this is GOLD!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Other Side (of my family)

(Pictured to right: Manerva, Mary, and Maryanne - my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother)

I've just come in from a visit with my mother, who, unfortunately, resides in an assisted living facility due to a movement disorder (Parkinsonism?) and increasing dementia. Some visits are short and some are long. This was a long one, due to my showing her recordings of my daughter (a violinist) playing several pieces, and the fact that I had several "newsy" items to update her on.

My mother is pretty much in her "right mind". Her dementia has manifested itself mainly in her ability to take care of her ADL's, and has robbed her of most of her gross and fine motor skills. But, she can still hold a good conversation, and she knows what's up about everything and everybody. The rest of our family (except for my daughters) has basically abandoned her, and on the rare occasions they do have contact with her, they treat her as if she's not herself anymore, which doesn't help her at all. However, when my daughters and I visit her, or take her out, we treat her like the mother/grandmother she's always been, and the longer we are with her, the more of her true personality and still-intact intelligence shines through.

Anyway, this evening during our visit, I was sharing with my mother that the tenants who've lived in her rental home in Norfolk have given their move-out notice, after being in the house for about six years. This was the house that my mother grew up in, which was first owned by her grandparents, then her mother, and became hers shortly before my grandmother's death. My mother had the house renovated in the early 90's and has been renting it out ever since. But, since she been disabled, the responsibility for this property (along with everything else of hers) has become mine, so it was with a bit of a sigh of relief that I shared this news with her, adding that "now we can sell it." My mother's reaction to this was quite genuine. She sort of gasped, and teared up, and responded by quietly saying, "Yes, I guess we can." I thought it was over, so I just sat silently for a minute, but then I heard a very quiet, "I was so hoping we could keep it in the family. It means so much to me." A brief silence followed this, as I watched my mother blinking back tears, and then I responded, "I know, Ma, but it's just too much for me." This she repeated, almost in monotone, but then she added, "I know it is. You have too much on you." We went on to discuss the pros of selling the house - what she could do with the money, etc., and then it was all better. But I couldn't get this out of my mind on my drive home. Here's why:

My ancestry research has been almost soley dedicated to my paternal side. For some reason, I just feel more like I "come from" that side. And besides, my mother's side is smaller. Her siblings are still living and they seem to know who they are. Oh, and there's the other problem of my mother's father abandoning the family when my mother was four years old. No one has ever heard from or about Daniel Webster Hill again.

When we were kids, my brother, Arthur, and I used to claim that my mother's mother was HIS grandma, and my father's mother was MINE. It seemed that they loved us that way, although that probably wasn't true. But on my drive home tonight, I realized that I've really done my mother a disservice by not finding out as much as I possibly could about her roots. Yes, I located them in the census way back to my great-great grandparents back in the beginning of my research, and I've searched high and low to find out about my grandfather, but I haven't done the HALF of the work that I've done on my paternal side, and I plan to change that, beginning right now. So stay tuned because Walter and Manerva Brown Davis (my gg grandparents), Daniel and Mary Davis Hill Thomas (my grandparents), and even my mother, Mary Anne Hill Yarborough will begin to make themselves known on my blog!