Sunday, January 16, 2011

Roots Television - Where Have I Been?

At this moment, I'm just sitting here shaking my head.  Where have I been?  I've been seeing fellow bloggers and tweeters making mention of Roots Television for as long as I've been a member of this community, but for some reason, I have never clicked on one of the links to this amazing resource for genealogists and family historians!  That is, never before today. 

I've just viewed two segments of the "Ancestors Series", and I'm just amazed at how well-done these videos are, and how well they explain the feelings and experiences that I've had as an African-American researcher.  For me, the videos didn't offer a lot of new information, but I can see where they would be of great help to a beginning researcher.  I can image that once I watch some of the other segments on the site, I will certainly find information that will help me, too. 

So now, with my "tail between my legs", I'd like to take this opportunity to share the first two segments of the "Ancestors Series" on Roots Television with my readers.  I plan to include these in my next "Family News" email update - the newsletter that I send out to my family members, each month.  I think that if they will take the time to view these videos, many of my relatives will gain a better understanding of the work I'm doing, and the critical role that they can play in helping to enhance the research!
If you are a "newbie", don't miss this opportunity to expose yourself to a fabulous source of guidance for the African-American genealogy researcher!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Jacobina Sherrod Hawkins

My third-great grandmother, Jacobina/Jacobine Sherrod Hawkins, wife of Philemon; mother of Archibald, Madison, Lucy, Nathaniel (my gg-gf), Fannie, Mary, and Benjamin. Her grave is located in Oakwood Cemetery, Louisburg, NC.  Photo Source: http://www.findagrave.com/ (Memorial# 41496203)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mysterious Monday - Diagnosis: Pellagra

This Mysterious Monday is not about a picture.  Instead, it's about a disease, and the startling finding I've made of it in my family history  The name of the disease is Pellagra.  You can read all about it, here and here.

I have written before about my great-grandfather, Calvin Yarborough, Sr.  This post is about the wife of his son, and namesake - my grandfather, Calvin Yarborough, Jr.  My grandfather died decades before I was born, but it was a desire to know more about him and my grandmother, Anna, that actually started me on my genealogy quest 15 years ago.  Calvin was married twice - first to Toynetta Littlejohn, and then to my grandmother, Anna Green.  It is Calvin's first wife, Toynetta, who is the subject of this post.

For many years, I've tried to find evidence of Toynetta's death, so that I could get a better sense of the timeline between my grandfather's two marriages, and of what life may have been like for him and his three oldest children.  Until last week, I could never find a death certificate for Toynetta, despite my searches on the Internet, as well as visits to the Franklin County Register of Deeds office, where the death certificates are housed.  In my research, I'd found that several members of Toynetta's birth family, the Littlejohns, had died of tuberculosis in the first decade of the 1900's, as had some of my Yarborough ancestors, so I've been assuming all this time that it was this same disease that took her from my grandfather, especially considering that Calvin, himself, was later consumed by it.  But, thanks to a surprise finding of Toynetta's death certificate (when I wasn't even looking for it), I know differently.  Toynetta did not have tuberculosis.  She died of pellagra.

Pellagra, for those who don't know, is a vitamin deficiency disease, which is characterized by the "4 D's": diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, and death.  In the early 1900's there was an epidemic of this disease in the southern states.  Apparently, the disease appeared in 1902, and peaked in 1915-16.  Toynetta died of it in May, 1914.

Ancestry.com. North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

What is most interesting to me about this, and what presents the mystery, are the circumstances as presented by Toynetta's death certificate.  I've learned from reading about Pellagra, that its victims were isolated in hospital settings, away from the general population, so I guess this is how Toynetta ended up in St. Agnes' in Raleigh.  I'm aware that this was the Colored, or Negro hospital for decades.  But, still, it surprises me that Toynetta somehow ended up there from Louisburg, a town about 30 miles from Raleigh.

Toynetta is listed as single, though she was definitely a married woman.  The hospital seems to have no information on her.  It almost seems as if perhaps she went there on her own, or was left on their doorstep.  Where was Calvin?  Why wasn't he (or anyone) there to provide information about her to the hospital?  Surely, she was demented from the disease by the time she arrived there, just four days before her death, but why didn't anyone know anything about her?

Toynetta's body was returned to Louisburg for burial, but this was handled by a company out of Raleigh.  Why didn't the undertaker from Louisburg (Blount) who was handling most of my family's (and the Littlejohn's) handle the arrangements?

Toynetta Littlejohn Yarborough was born in 1884, and died May 3, 1914, apparently demented and alone.  She was survived by her husband, Calvin Yarborough, Jr., and four children, Vida (7), Priscilla (6), Felix (4), and Fredrick (9 mths).  Her son Felix, who turned 5 the month after she died, followed her to the grave in September, 1914.

My grandfather remained a widower for an unusally long (for that time) five years after Toynetta's death, until he married my grandmother, Anna, in 1919.  I can only imagine the sorrow he must have carried in his heart after losing his wife, and his young son in the same year.  I hope to learn more about the circumstances surrounding Toynetta's illness and subsequent death, as well as Calvin's life as a single father, who ended up courting, and marrying my grandmother-to-be.

Source information:  Information about the disease, Pellagra, was obtained for this post from the following articles:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Search Terms

It's been a while since I've participated in Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun , but after reading a few of the posts from this week's task, I was curious, so I decided to go for it. 

The "mission" (as Randy puts it) was as follows:
1) Go to your Blog Statistics website (e.g., StatCounter, Google Analytics, etc.) and find the page for "Keyword Searches" done on your blog.

2) Tell us some of the funniest or most interesting keyword searches and your reaction to them. Write your own blog post or put them in a comment to this post, or in a comment or status on Facebook.

I use the free counter provided by Sitemeter http://www.sitemeter.com/. I do not pay for the upgrade.  Perhaps if I did, there might have been a page for Keyword Searches, as Randy suggested, but I didn't see one, so I had to click through each of my hits (no big deal) to see if the person had found me by way of a keyword search, or otherwise.  I had read the instructions for the mission on Saturday, and thought I remembered what I was supposed to be doing, so I didn't look at them again before I started.  For some reason, I thought that I was supposed to look at the last ten search terms that people had used to come upon my blog, so that is what I did.  It wasn't until I'd finished that I went to Randy's site to get the exact terminology to copy and paste (above) into my post, and I then saw that I hadn't exactly followed directions!  Oh, well.  Se le vie...

Here, starting from the most recent, are the ten last search terms that landed folks on my Into the LIGHT. 

my brother arthur white
diary writing - death of brother affected me

betty howell new Norfolk

tribute to brother died

tribute to a brother

into the light blog

photos of mulatto slaves

a tribute to my brother

tribute to my brother

a tribute to my brother
Clearly, the post that I did about my brother, Arthur, A Tribute to My Brother, is generating the most hits via search terms on my blog!  I don't know why, but this really surprises me, just as it did that this post has generated the most comments of any on my blog.  I guess I was expecting to see more of my surnames pop up, or maybe the locations in which my ancestors lived.  But what I also noticed in several of the details, was that many of the searches were from overseas and/or Canada.  This made me wonder if, perhaps, people were looking for ways to pay tribute to fallen soldiers.  Just a thought, but who knows, really?  Anyway, I will just consider it an honor that, for whatever the reason, even more people than I'd anticipated are learning about the life of my brother, Arthur!