Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Merry Christmas in Heaven, Mom

Two years ago, in the wee hours of Christmas morning, my mom left this Earth to be with Jesus. I miss her so much!
My daughters and I paid a visit to her grave on Christmas Eve, and adorned it in holiday style.

Merry Christmas in heaven, Mom!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

John Wesley Green

I was looking something up about my great-grandfather, John Wesley Green, and I realized that today marks exactly 88 years since his death on December 6, 1927 so I decided to do a post about him. I wish so much that I had a picture to share, but I've never seen his likeness. I'm still hoping and praying that perhaps someone will discover a (verified) picture of him, and share it with me. :)
Here's a little about John Wesley Green. 
John Wesley GREEN was born in July 1864 , to Nathaniel Hawkins (white) and Anna Green (mulatto). He married Susan Georgiana DUNSTON on January 23, 1886, Franklin County (Louisburg), NC. John and Susan lived Franklin and Wake Counties, and had six children over 18 years. He was a barber, who owned his own business (possibly with a partner). He died on December 6, 1927, in Louisburg, at the age of 63, and was buried there in the Louisburg City Cemetery, or what we know today as "The Cemetery on the Hill".
I'm including a few of the documents I've have uncovered over the years, which have helped me to learn more about my great-grandfather, and to further my research. The first is from a 1925 publication, put out by the Masons, called, "Proceedings of the Fifty Fifth Communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge F.A.A.M". It shows John as a dues-paid member of the lodge. (This document was an enlightening find for me, because it also shows my grandfather, Calvin R. Yarborough, and his brother, Eugene, as members of the lodge. It allowed me to see that there was a relationship between my grandmother's father, and her husband, Calvin. I wondered if maybe Grandpa John introduced the two of them, since my grandfather had been widowed, and was raising three children alone. It's just a hunch, but it does seem likely, since they were "brothers" and my grandmother was already 28 years old when they married, indicating that perhaps her father was afraid she was going to become an "old maid".)

The next document is the marriage application and license for John Green and Susan Dunston. The application was made on January 23, 1886, and they were married two days later, on the 25th. As is typical of these documents, there are errors in spelling, etc., but it is rich in genealogical information, and helped to confirm parentage and ages for both of my great-grandparents, early in my research. (The NB Hawkins is an error: It should be NM Hawkins.)

The third document is from the 1899-1900 Raleigh City Directory. It shows John W Green (colored) of "Green & Matthews" living at 9 McKee Dr. I haven't yet confirmed that this is my ancestor, but I believe it to be. I just haven't ever heard the Matthews name, in connection with him, nor did I know of him having a partner. I'll be doing more work on this. :)

The last document I'll attach here is Grandpa John's 1927 Death Certificate, showing that he died at home (my grandmother's house in Louisburg) of "cerebritis", which is an infection of the brain that leads to deadly inflammation. Thanks to the letters from John's son, WL to his wife, Georgia (which were shared with me by my cousin, Kelly), we know that Grandpa John was losing his ability to care for himself in the period before his death, and that he may have been having trouble recognizing his family members. When I was reading the letters, I thought it sounded like Alzheimer's; but this document gives a more direct diagnosis,although it probably wasn't clinically determined, since the doctor states that he'd only attended to John Green on the day of his death. Also, although we can't always read too much into these documents (because there is almost always human error), it struck me that William didn't know, or maybe wasn't able to recall the name of John's father, Nathaniel Hawkins, who would have been his own grandfather. This let me see that (sadly) the trend of not sharing family history/stories started from the beginning in our family.

I will close with this picture of the only three children of John and Susan's children who lived to adulthood. I've been told that John Green was a stocky man with white hair and blue eyes, and that he looked like a white man; however, until we see pictures of him, or of Susan, we can only try to imagine what they may have looked like, as we gaze at the faces of these three, Anna (my grandmother), William, and Mabel.

Thanks for reading!  As always, I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and ideas. Please do share this post with your networks. Perhaps someone will read it who knows something about my people! :)


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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Where Have All the Readers Gone?

Wow! I cannot believe it's been almost 8 months since my last post! I have GOT to do better!

I know what the problem is, though -- it's FACEBOOK. See, once upon a time, I used to share my research discoveries, and other genealogy-related musings, here, or on my less personal, "Genea-Related" blog. For years, I felt a sense of kinship and belonging within a large, supportive group of genealogy bloggers. But, then, two things kinda happened at about the same time, and those concurrent events seemed to work together to lure me (and perhaps many others) from posting (regularly) to our blogs.

In my opinion, the BIG thing that happened was that more and more genealogy groups began to pop up on Facebook. These groups started off with broad-topic ranges, but over time, the groups became more and more specific in scope - categorized in a variety of ways, by ethnicity, location, social/civic involvement, military service, and/or DNA-focused interests. As these groups grew larger in membership, I noticed a decline in the number of comments on, and visits to my blogs. Instead, people drifted over to the instantaneous feedback that Facebook allows, along with its ability for users to engage in "conversation" with each other about, and directly under each post. At first, I was reluctant to join in. After all, I'd been on Facebook since 2007, when I'd joined during my youngest's first year of college, just so I could see some pictures shed wanted to show me. At that time, very few "people my age" were even on FB, but over the next couple of years, my "real" friends began to join, and the site began to serve as a place for sharing pictures and daily happenings with my family and friends.
As time went on, I began to miss the feedback I'd been used to getting when I would post to my blogs. Comments became sparse, to none, and I guess I started feeling like no one was reading. (I know that the purpose isn't supposed to be to entertain others, but we all need a little support, and the feedback was invaluable.) Anyway, I eventually began to poke around in some of the Facebook
groups, and soon, the old,"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" adage won out. So, I dove in, joining groups for the NC counties from which my ancestors hailed, groups for African ancestry, for genealogical societies to which I belonged, and MORE! I began to notice that those people who were still posting on blogs, would publish the links to their posts on Facebook, and all of the commenting was being done there, instead of on the blogs. I became so active, so fast, that genea-matters began to totally consume my feed, and I was hardly ever seeing posts from my original friends. Not only that, I became a bit self-conscious about my hundreds of new "friends" being privy to my personal life, etc., so I decided it best to create a separate Facebook profile, just for genealogy. And, that was all she wrote! :)

The second factor which led to a slowdown in blog-posting, and surely contributed to the decrease in number of readers and commentary, was the demise of the very popular, Google Reader. The majority of us in the blogosphere seemed to have used this platform to organize and deliver the posts of the weblogs we each followed. When Google announced that its Reader was being discontinued, several options were given for new readers to which users could transfer. I chose Feedly; but it just hasn't been the same, and the transfer did not work, 100%. My guess is that this is true for many, and that's probably why we've all lost readers. Also, the interface is quite different, and in order to comment, one must click out of the program, to go,directly to the blog site, and then come back. I also find it frustrating that only small sections of posts open at one time.

So, why am I writing about all of this? Well, honestly, I hadn't planned to. I came here to write a post
about finding my dad's Marine Corps dog tags, but when I saw how long it had been since I'd posted,
I decided to "say something", and it turned into this post.  I'm still going to write that one; and I will share it (and this one) on Facebook (lol), but I'd like to ask just ONE favor of everyone who's actually ready this. Please ma'am, please sir: Just leave me one tiny comment here on the blog. I'd really like to get an idea of who is still even reading, so that I can make some decisions about how I'd like to go forth with my writing. Oh, I am going to renew my commitment to writing, the only question is, "What will my platform be?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Not So Mysterious Monday - William A Green

1/5/2015 - UPDATE!!!!!
I've learned a lot more about the illusive William Green since writing about him in 2009, but today has been a banner day because I've positively identified a PICTURE of William!  Here he is!
Sargent William Adam Green
(October 1874 - February 21, 1940)
 I've actually had a picture of this picture for a few years, and I've long suspected that it could have been William. However, the first time I saw it, and took a shot of it, the military insignia wasn't as clear.  As a matter of fact, the "3" above the crossed rifles, didn't show up on that first picture, at all. So, for a few years, I've had that picture but didn't realize that there was such a clear identifier on it!

Yesterday, I returned to the home of my cousin, H, in Louisburg, NC, where this picture, along with several others of the white-looking ancestral members of my family, hangs in a private room, which few people even know about.  I convinced my aged and ailing cousin to allow me to go back into the room (escorted by his wife) to compare a picture of another mystery ancestor, to a baby picture that I remembered being in there.  He obliged my request, and so, while in there, I quickly took new photos of each of the pictures in the little room. All of the pictures are framed, and most are hanging on the wall.  The ones that aren't are sitting atop an antique piano, which belonged to the home's original owner.

When I returned home from my trip, and looked over my pictures, I immediately noticed that the military-looking insignia was much clearer than it had been in the first shot, and that the was a unmistakable number "3" above the crossing of the two rifles.  I began to get excited, because I knew that I'd found William Green, some years ago, in the THIRD NC Volunteer Battalion, during the Spanish-American War! Could this be him?  But, what was on the little medal under the guns?  I studied it and studied it, trying to determine if it had the letter H on it, since that was William's company.  But, all the blowing up and starting at it couldn't clarify that part of the picture. So, what did I do?  I turned to the genealogy community on Facebook! :)  Posting the picture and query instigated lots of discussion.  In the end, although no one could  make out what was under the rifles, everyone agreed that the rest of the insignia definitely represented the Third NC Battalion.  Because there was no one else in my ancestral family who served in the SAW, and no one else who would have have been age-eligible and who would fit the physical description of the young man in the picture, I knew I had William!
Close-up of insignia

So, there you have it! I am now able to look into the eyes of the youngest son of my great-great grandparents, Nathaniel Hawkins and Anna Green, whom I've never seen photos of.  Looking at William allows me to look at the two of them - or at least to imagine what they may have looked like. I see William, and I think about what it must have been like for him to have served in this particular military unit - an all black battalion, which was subjected to the worst kind of racism, in and around their camps. I imagine for William, looking WHITE in this segregated regiment must have presented a multitude of additional challenges, both from within, and from outside of the "protective" walls of his encampments. I wonder, for William, what it was like to (presumably) for the first time in his life be immersed in an all-black world, especially since even the officers in this regiment were black?  I wonder if he got bullied? I wonder if he got called, "white-boy" - if he was beat up, or teased for his appearance?  I wonder if he was the only one in his company who was like this? I do know that he mustered in as a Sargent, and that was probably due to the color of his skin. But, why wasn't he one of the "officers"?

In William's eyes, I imagine I see the painfully-gained, growing wisdom of a young man, who has had his first venture into a harsh world, away from his family. I feel as though I see the contemplative wheels a-turning, and he considers his next move(s), knowing that he will never see himself the same way he may have before he enlisted, and understanding in even greater depth than before, the juxtaposition he would face as a white-looking black man in the Jim Crow south.  And, for the first time since I learned of William Adam Green, who moved to New York, not too long after this picture was made, and lived out his life "passing" as white - I understood, and I forgave him.

August 9, 2009 (Updated on 1/5/2015)
Last week's mystery was about my gg grandmother, Anna Green. Today I'll introduce her son, William. William Green was born in 1873 1874 in Franklin County, NC. He was the fourth of Anna's mulatto children, whose father was Nathaniel M. Hawkins. (See last week's Mysterious Monday for the back story) I know very little about William, except that he looked white, and that he left NC at an early age and moved to New York, where he lived as a White man. According to my 90 (now 95) year-old cousin, Florine, he married a white woman, who she thinks may have been Jewish. It is unclear as to whether or not this woman ever knew William's ethnicity before his death, but Florine recalls that she actually came to Louisburg at some point afterward, said some choice words and dumped off a bunch of pictures and such - which have since disappeared. William's wife was actually Irish. I don't know anymore about the whole "coming to Louisburg thing, but something seems to have happened once either she (Margaret), or someone else in her family discovered William's ethnicity, because apparently they "outted" other family members who were also passing in NY, causing them to lose their jobs, and more.

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

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

2. William died in New YorkWilliam died on February 21, 1940, in the Bronx, NY. He is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester County, New York.  His niece, Ruby Green, was the informant on his death certificate.  William's wife, Margaret Boyle, had long predeceased him, having passed in 1929.  I have not found evidence of them having any children, but I'm told that they may have had a son.  

3. William's sister, Betty, also lived in New York and was passing for White. She was a "hairdresser to the rich folk", according to Cousin Florine, until William's wife found out that they were Black and went and told everyone. Then she lost all her clients. Florine says she lived in the Riverdale section of NY. Bettie married Roy Miller, a postal worker. According to Florine, my cousin H, and my cousin Virginia, Betty was also Doris Duke's personal stylist, and "traveled with her everywhere she went".  I do have a picture of Betty relaxing on a ship deck, and others of her wearing furs, so perhaps this is true. I tried to verify this a few years ago, but I'd gotten the name wrong, and ended up writing to Doris DAY's people, instead of Doris DUKE's. A followup is on my to-do list. :)

William names his father as Nathaniel Green on the fs.org document. Our oral history gives the name Hawkins. (What the heck - that's the name. Nathaniel HAWKINS.) Well, this goes to show what a short time it's been since I discovered and uncovered my Hawkins ancestry!  There's no further conflict on this.  William's father was Nathaniel Hawkins.

1. Did William ever have any children, either by Sally Lou, or by his white wife? If so, what happened to them, and how can I find them? The whole Sally Lou thing is still a mystery, although I have a few suspicions. However, I don't find her anywhere else, in Louisburg, where it says she was from, or in NY. Florine insists that William had a child, but I'm thinking that if that child was in Louisburg, we'd know about him/her, so I don't know.

2. What was William's wife's name? (the white one) William married Margaret Boyle before 1918, in NY.  I had a source for this, but can't find it, right now.  Margaret was born in Ireland, in 1876, to parents John Boyle and Bridget Nolan.  She immigrated (with her parents) to the United States in 1907.

3. Where is William buried?  William is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Westchester, NY

4. Did William maintain any type of communication with his mother, Anna? (Was she even still living, when he left NC?)

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

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


*The picture of William A Green is the explicit property of this writer, and should not be copied without my permission.  You may, though, feel free to share this post, in its entirety. :)

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