Monday, November 6, 2017

A Detested Ancestor - Philemon Benjamin Hawkins

I'm writing this post because I posted a newspaper obituary for one of my HAWKINS ancestors in one of my Facebook groups, this evening, and I mentioned that I was doing so, despite my disdain for this person. Of course, that led to a reader asking me to explain why I felt that way, so rather than give a long answer on FB, I decided to write this post.

Image result for squiggly lineWhen I began to research my GREEN line, many years ago, I heard about my 2x great-grandmother, Anna Green, for the first time. Most of what I initially learned of her came by way of interviews with my older cousins, Florine Green Edgerton and the late Harold Bruce Green, who were first cousins and had been told a few tidbits about Anna by their (shared) grandmother, Mary Helen "Pidgie" Green.  There weren't many stories, but the one they both insisted upon, which was corroborated by another cousin, Dr. Virginia Green Edwards, was that Anna, a woman of mixed blood, had been in a long term relationship with a white man, whose name they thought was HAWKINS (it was), and that this man "loved" and took care of Anna and their 6 children, putting them up in nice home on his property. However, they also relayed to me that, when the Hawkins man died, "his father came and put Anna and the children off of the property", leaving them with nothing.

Well, my early research led me to discover that the father of Anna's children was Nathaniel Hawkins (my 2x great-grandfather), and that he died in 1879, the same year that the last of Anna's children was born. What I also discovered, though, was that Nathaniel's father, Philemon, had actually died in 1856, twenty-three years before Nathaniel's death. So, that meant there was no way he could have put Anna and the children off of the property. I informed my older cousins of this truth, and though they were disappointed to learn that the story they thought they'd been told couldn't have possibly been true, they accepted this as fact.

As most of us know, there is almost always at least a grain of truth to every instance of family lore, so I tucked this story away in my mind, but never completely forgot it. My research continued, and as the years went on I uncovered more and more details about the lives of my ancestral Hawkins family, as well as the descendants of Nathaniel and Anna, who all carried the surname, "Green" (since Anna and Nathaniel could not marry).

Eventually, my work led me to the estate records for Nathaniel, who'd died intestate. The Administrator for his estate was his first cousin, Philemon Benjamin Hawkins, a prominent attorney and legislative representative, who was married to his first cousin (Nathaniel's sister), Fannie Martin Hawkins. During years of researching the Hawkins family, I'd read several newspaper accounts about this scoundrel Philemon B., some of which revealed him to be of less than admirable character. (To be fair, there were a few that were more positive, too.) From these articles, I developed a sense that he vehemently disliked blacks, but would use them, in a heartbeat, if it were advantageous to him in some way. Here's an example of one such article:

                      Click on article to enlarge.
                          Phil B Hawkins re slavery

As I read through the many pages of Nathaniel's estate files, and saw the rogue way he seemed to be handling some of the affairs, it suddenly hit me, one day. THIS is probably the man who put Anna and the children out of their home! It had to be Philemon B.! So, the family story was true, there'd just been a mix-up of the relationship (cousin/brother-in-law, not father) and which Philemon it was, given that Administrator of Nathaniel's estate, had the same name as his father! It all made total sense, now!
This is said to be a photo of Philemon B. Hawkins.

So, as far as I'm concerned, this is the face of the man who stripped my great-great grandmother and her children of their home and security. I am still seeking documentary evidence of my suppositions, but, given that Philemon B. was in control of Nathaniel's assets, and that (of course) there is no mention of Anna and/or his children, anywhere, it only makes sense that he used his position on the estate, along with his power in the county to get rid of any evidence of their existence in Nathaniel's life, which is probably a contributing factor to why I am able to find so little about them, now. Furthermore, it appears that when Nathaniel's mother, Jacobina Sherrod Hawkins, died a few years later, Philemon (with the support of his wife, Fanny) did some dirt on her estate, also. But, that's another story....

This is not the clipping I posted on FB. 
(Click to enlarge.)
Death of PB Hawkins

Philemon and his cousin/wife had two children, Bettie Lane and William J. William also died in 1891, shortly after his father. Bettie, who married Walter Blair Boyd, and lived in Warren County, NC. It doesn't appear that the couple had any children; therefore, Bettie's death in 1926 brought to an end the lineage of Philemon Benjamin Hawkins.

Thanks for reading. 

Permalink: https://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2017/11/im-writing-this-post-because-i-posted.html

Friday, September 29, 2017

Tyrrell County - The Ancestors Have Done It, AGAIN!

I need to make this short (ha ha), but I just HAVE to share something that just happened. But, first, a little background. 

This past Sunday, September 24, 2017, I was the speaker at the monthly meeting of the Tyrrell County Genealogical and Historical Society. This was my second time addressing this group, this year, and I was excited to be there, and honored to have been asked back.

After my presentation, I spent quite a bit of time conversing and fellowshipping with members of the audience. Of course, the subject of my HILL and BRYANT ancestors and family came up, given that I'd shared examples from my research during my talk. While talking with one gentleman, it was confirmed that many of the Hills live in the Albemarle Church Rd. area of the county, which is something I'd been previously told by another Tyrrell County resident, who is a minister at the church many of my family members (still) attend. This is the same road on which I'd located the Hill Family Cemetery, using Google Earth, shortly after my last visit to the county. At that time, I wrote this heartfelt blog post about my discovery. (You'll want to read that first post to get the full meaning of this one.) I decided that, despite the fact that I had a long drive to Raleigh ahead of me, I just had to visit Albemarle Church Rd., with hopes of finding the cemetery, and, perhaps some family, too.

Once I'd said my goodbyes, I headed out to my car, put the street name into my GPS, and started out on what was about a 7 minute drive from the Columbia Senior Center, where the meeting had taken place, to my destination. In no time at all, there I was, taking the Travis Rd. exit (which I know well), and turning into an area that I immediately recognized, because on each of my (now 3) visits to Tyrrell County, something has made me turn down this street in my explorations. I followed the directions down the barely-inhabited county road, and, very shortly, found myself on Albemarle Church Rd. As I took in my surroundings - mostly flat fields with the occasional house - I could sense that I was getting closer and closer to my people. (But, the only thing about it was that there were no people in sight.) Eventually, I came upon the intersection of Albemarle Church Rd. and Albemarle Shore Rd., which is where (I remembered) the cemetery was supposed to be. But, there was no cemetery in site. I turned around and looked again, on both sides of the road, but still saw nothing of a burial ground.  However, as I backtracked a bit, I couldn't help but notice the oddity of four moss-covered structures - three side-by-side, and the other spaced a little apart - to my left, sitting strangely alone in an overgrown field. I stopped right in the middle of the road, and just stared for at least a minute, trying to contemplate how these (what looked like homes) had come to be left to just give way to Mother Nature like this. I sat there, immovable for a time, wondering if anyone in the homestead to my right was watching me, but not worried about cars because I was absolutely the only car on this road. And then I did it - I snapped two pictures of these overgrown buildings, partly because of how sad and bothersome it was, but also because something kept nudging me. Something kept saying..."Your ancestors lived here." I kid you not.
I was much farther from the structures than this photo indicates. I cropped the pictures when I got home, so that I could get  closer look.

Okay, so now, I can tell this isn't going to be short. So much for that.

Well, at this point I was really baffled and confused. I decided to turn right onto Albemarle Shore Rd., still looking for the cemetery, and also really wishing that someone, anyone would happen to come out of one of the sparsely scattered homes or at least drive by, so I could flag them down. I knew, for sure, that I was near my people. I just knew it.

I continued down the lonely road, still hopeful, when suddenly, I saw the most fabulous site - water! Omg, Albemarle Shore Rd. was showing me how it got its name! It runs right into (and along) the shore of the beautiful Albemarle Sound! I couldn't believe my eyes! It was so beautiful, and I was ready to pick up and move onto one of the vacant lots (For Sale!), right then and there. (But, I digress.) I rode down the short waterfront lane, wondering if the owners of these more modern, waterfront homes might also be my people. Again, there were no signs of life, so I just made my way back out to Albemarle Church Rd., back past the four houses (pausing, again, to look), and away from the little section of Scuppernong, Tyrrell County, where I was now sure my ancestors once lived.
Can't you just see ME living on this plot of land, right on the Albemarle Sound? :)

Fast forward to tonight... September 28th (going into 29th), 2017.

I got a private message from another Tyrrell County descendant, Deborah Fries, asking how my talk had gone on Sunday, and if I'd met any of my relatives. After responding that the talk went very well, but, no, I hadn't met any Hills or Bryants (sigh), our conversation turned to my failed attempt to the find the Hill Family Cemetery. I made reference to the blog post I'd written after my last talk, where I'd shared the Google Earth view of the cemetery, and I decided to put a link to it in our conversation, so she could refer to it. And.that's.when.it.happened....

As soon as I opened the March 23, 2017 blog post (which, coincidentally would have been my mother's birthday, and this is her family line...hmmm), I saw it.... and I knew, right away why I'd felt so connected when I sat in the middle of Albemarle Church Rd. on Sunday. You see, there in the Google Earth image were the four structures, as perfectly lined up as there were in my photos, right where they should be - almost exactly across from the turn on to Albemarle Shore Rd., just to the left and forward of where I'd sat in the middle of the road. And, that space between the three houses and the one that sat apart? Well, that space is where the HILL FAMILY CEMETERY is.

Take a look.
The black arrow is pointing to the cemetery, which is in the space between the 3 houses and the 1.  
The red dot shows where I was sitting in the middle of the road. You can see that there was someone's home to my right.
The green arrow is pointing down Albemarle Shore Rd. Just about a quarter mile down is the water!
(Click to enlarge.)

And, here's my best effort at a side by side. (No street view is available.)

So, there you have it! I'm so excited! I know for sure, now, that I've found my Hill family! This is where they lived, and in between those houses is where some of them are buried. I've also checked whitepages.com, and I've confirmed that there are still many, many HILL families on Albemarle Church Rd., and they will soon be hearing from their cousin, Renate!

Well, it's taken almost 2 hours to write this post, so I've calmed down, a bit, but I'm still excited, and can't wait to meet my Hill relatives, when I next visit Albemarle Church Road; and to my gen-friend, Deborah Fries, thanks for making me look!


The photos included in this post are the property of it's author, Renate Yarborough Sanders, and should not be used without my permission.

Permalink to this post: https://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2017/09/tyrrell-county-ancestors-have-done-it.html

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sad, Sad Saturday - Death of Walter Davis

This won't be a long post. Right now, I don't even have enough words to express the jolt of sadness I'm feeling this morning after reading this very descriptive article about the death of my maternal great-grandfather, Walter Davis; but I must honor him right this minute, by sharing (what I know of) his story, here on my blog.

Walter Davis was born July 16, 1875, in Brunswick County, Virginia to parents Lewis Davis and Dolly Ann Crutchfield. He spent his childhood in Warren County, NC (which is the only place I'd known the family to live until recently discovering his tie to Virginia). In 1895, 20-year-old Walter married Minerva Brown, and by 1900, the couple (still residing in Littleton, Warren County) had given birth to two children, Samuel (1896) and my grandmother, Mary (1897). By 1910 the family was living in Norfolk, Virginia, where Lewis was a Foreman (Coal Trimmer)* at the coal piers, located in the same Lambert's Point section of the city where the family home stands to this day. Sadly, little Samuel is no longer with the family and is presumed to have passed away.

Just about a year ago, I obtained this photo of my great-grandfather, Walter, who I'd never seen a confirmed photo of, before that point.
Walter Davis
I'd been told by my mother and her siblings that their grandfather had died in a tragic accident at the coal piers where he worked, but I never knew the of the gory details that are included in the following article. At the time of this tragedy, my mother would have only been 15 months old. Her brother, Howell, was 3. Their sister, Jane, wasn't yet born. My great-grandparents, my grandparents, and my mother and uncle all shared a home in Lambert's Point, so this loss had to have hit the entire family very hard, although it gives me comfort to know that my great-grandmother, Minerva, was not alone during this horrible time. However, what makes this even more dismal is that, 12 years earlier, my grandmother, Mary, had lost her first husband in just as tragic an accident at the same location that had now claimed the life of her father. I wrote about that calamity in my post, "Sentimental Sunday - My Grandmother's Loss".

Just looking at Walter Davis in this photo, I sense that he was a hard-working, very determined, and perhaps serious-minded man. I can't help but wonder if there is something more to this story. Didn't he hear the bell ringing? Did he not get off the tracks on purpose for some reason? Could someone have pushed him onto the tracks?

My heart is truly aching this morning after reading this article. (Click to enlarge.)


Walter Davis, I say your name. 
May you forever rest in peace.

Your great-granddaughter,

Thanks for reading.

* A coal trimmer or trimmer is a position within the engineering department of a coal-fired ship which involves all coal handling tasks starting with the loading of coal into the ship and ending with the delivery of the coal to the stoker. 

Coal trimmer definition  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_trimmer)

HOLD FINAL RITES FOR ACCIDENT VICTIM. (1935, Jul 06). New Journal and Guide (1916-2003) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/567336517?accountid=44788

Permalink to this post: http://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2017/05/sad-sad-saturday-death-of-walter-davis.html

Sunday, April 16, 2017

H is for HAWKINS - #AtoZChallenge

I have fallen behind on the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, but I'm going to stick with it until I get it done. At this point, and will all I have on my plate right now, that will probably be sometime in May but I will get through the alphabet!

H is for HAWKINS

In my 20+ years of doing genealogy research I've discovered many family lines of which I had no prior knowledge. One of those - and perhaps the most surprising - was my European HAWKINS line, which began with the uniting of my 2x great grandparents, Anna Green and Nathaniel Hawkins. Here follows a research timeline of the life of my great-great grandfather, Nathaniel.

Timeline for Nathaniel Macon Hawkins
Created by Renate Sanders (gg-granddaughter)

1830  - Nathaniel is born to parents Philemon and Jacobina (Sherrod) Hawkins in Louisburg, Franklin County, NC.

1840 - Age 9 - At home with parents in Franklin County.

1850 - Age 20 - Nathaniel lives at home with his parents and 6 siblings; Arch (22), Madison (21), Lucy (19), Fanny (17), Mary (12), Benjamin (10). Nathaniel’s father, Philemon, is enumerated as “Hotel Keeper”. Nathaniel is a “farmer”. (None of his siblings are noted to have jobs, which is interesting. Also, I wonder where the farm was?) Others listed are most likely boarding in the hotel, and at least some of them appears to work there. They are:
Sidney Jeffries (Clerk), Samuel Perry (physician), Edward Lawrence (Surgeon Dentist), Lanu?z Wynn (17), Edward Ratley (table servant)

1856 - July 2nd - Nathaniel’s father, Philemon, dies.

1860 - Nathaniel lives in Louisburg with his now-widowed mother and 3 siblings, Fanny, Mary, and Benjamin. His occupation is given as “Negro Trader”. His mother, Jacobine, is now the Hotel Keeper.
Nathaniel owns real estate valued at$625, but has a personal estate valued at $8140. Jacobine’s property is valued at $12,050, and personal estate at $4000. Nathaniel’s brother, Madison (a farmer), and his wife, Truxilla, live on the next property.

The 1860 Slave Schedule shows Nathaniel as owning only one slave - a 15 year old female. (I presume this to be Anna Green who will become the mother of Nathaniel’s children.) The young woman is enumerated in Franklinton, and appears to reside on some type of property with slaves of other owners. (Perhaps a work-farm of some type?)

1863 - Emancipation Proclamation

1864 - John Wesley Green is born to Anna and Nathaniel. This is my great-grandfather.

1865 - Emancipation of Slaves

1868 - Elizabeth “Bettie” Green is born to Anna and Nathaniel

1870 - Nathaniel (enumerated as “Nat”), remains single and lives alone in a neighborhood surrounded by blacks. (Anna and the children are listed in a different household, several pages away.) His occupation is now listed as, “trader”. His real estate is now valued at $4850, and his personal estate at $1200. (Family lore says that Nathaniel “put Anna and the children up” in a nice two-story home, which his family kicked her out of after his death, so perhaps that house is a part of that real estate which is being accounted for here.)

1871 - Annie B Green is born to Anna and Nathaniel.

1873 - William Adam Green is born to Anna and Nathaniel.

*Confusion - Nov. 5, 1873 Bastardy bond implicates JJ Murphy as the father of Anna’s child. Nathaniel signs the document (presumably as a witness). On the same date, in the exact same language and handwriting, another bond implies that Nathaniel has fathered a child with Alpharetta Dent, and is signed also by JJ Murphy. Alpharetta Dent and her children live on the same land as JJ Murphy, who is single, and all of her children are mulatto, just as Anna’s are. (This researcher believes that the names were just inadvertently switched by the clerk who was filling out the paperwork. William Green named Nathaniel as his father on several documents, and all of Alpharetta Dent’s children named James Jasper Murphy as their father on marriage and death certificates.)l

1876 - Mary Helen “Pidgy” Green is born to Anna and Nathaniel

1879 - Esther Green is born to Anna and Nathaniel (Family says that Esther may not have been Nathaniel’s, because she was darker-skinned, but until proven otherwise, I will count her as his.)

Feb. 1879 - Nathaniel dies. Cause of death, as reported in newspaper obituary, was “a very severe attack of pneumonia”.
Evidentiary documents related to Nathaniel Hawkins: (Copies in my possession)

*Davis & Roads, January 4, 1865 - Promissory note to pay $585.00 for hire of negro man, Jess for the year. Signed by NM Hawkins, M. Hawkins, and PB Hawkins (Settled as part of estate on Oct. 28, 1881. Paid in full ($11.75)

*Nov. 1872 - Promissory note: Mr. Davis Spencer to Mr. Nat Hawkins for CJ Outlaw for carrying telegram at the death of Mr. Reid.

*1873 - “I CJ Outlaw paid Nat Hawkins $2.00 in money. The said Nat Hawkins was on his way to Raleigh and promised to credit my note with the same on his return.”

*1879 - 1882 - Statement of account with O.L. Ellis, M.D: Shows Nathaniel’s care and prescriptions in July 1878, and Feb. 1879. This shows 23 months interest and full payment of $9.65 by Nathaniel’s estate in 1882. On 2/24/1879, he was charged $5.00 for a consultation with Drs. Foster and Clifton. On that same date, he was billed $1.00 for “bleeding self”. (This is the same date as the charge for the burial suit. Nathaniel died that same day.

*Yarborough & Co. - Feb. 24, 1879 - Bill for burial suit ($23.50) - See below.

* Letter of Administration - Franklin County Probate Court, March 29, 1879: This document states that Nathaniel died intestate, and names Phil B. Hawkins as administrator of his estate. (This is Nathaniel’s cousin, Philemon, who married Nathaniel’s sister, Fanny.)

*Franklin County Superior Court (no date/year given) - PB Hawkins, admin of NM Hawkins against PB Hawkins and wife, Fanny Hawkins, Mary M Hawkins, BF Hawkins, Madison Hawkins and others, and BF Hawkins guardian ad litem for the infant defendants, Henry M. Hawkins, Nathaniel Williams, Hawkins Williams, and Mary G. Willaims. (This an answer to a complaint, apparently in an ongoing court case to settle Nathaniel’s estate. As yet, I’ve not located the original complaint.)

*Receipt for payment to Yarborough & Co. from estate of NM Hawkins (for burial suit) - Sept 22, 1889.

Undated Receipt: Received of PB Hawkins, admin for NM Hawkins, $5.00 in payment offer for appearing as attorney for the guardian ad litem for the infant Cris(?) Outlaw (?) in a proceeding to (??) real estate assets. BB Massenburg


Information for for this article was obtained by this researcher, Renate Y Sanders, using data from the 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870 Censuses on Ancestry.com, and via personal visits to the following:
North Carolina State Archives 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh, N.C. 27601
Franklin County Register of Deeds 113 S. Main St., Louisburg, NC 27549
Franklin County Courthouse 102 S. Main St., Louisburg, NC 27549

Permalink: http://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2017/04/h-is-for-hawkins-atozchallenge.html

Thursday, April 6, 2017

F is for FAITH and FOREVER: A Tribute To My Brother #AtoZChallenge

 This tribute was first written and posted in 2007, on the twenty-sixth anniversary of my brother's death. It's being updated and reposted as part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge on April 6, 2017.

Arthur Yarborough, Jr.

Twenty-six years Thirty-three years ago today, I lost my brother, Arthur.  We were only 17 months apart.  The two of us grew up together, almost like fraternal twins.  We did everything together, shared the same experiences, good and bad.  When Arthur died, he took all of the secrets of my youth with him, because he was the only person who knew and (in many cases), shared them.

 My mother, Mary Yarborough, poses with her newborn son, Arthur, Jr.

Arthur Yarborough, Jr. was born on August 23, 1960 in Bremerhaven, Germany, to our parents Arthur, Sr. and Mary Yarborough.  He was said to have been a very good-natured baby, with an even temperament and a quick and easy smile.  I remember hearing stories about how Arthur, as a baby, would always stop whatever he was doing when television commercials came on, and would watch and listen intently.  Once the commercials ended, he would resume his activity.  This was an interesting bit of family lore, since Arthur grew up to be a Mass-Media enthusiast and majored in it in college.
  Above:  Arthur as a toddler (Presumably, before I was born)
Below:  My dad, Arthur, Sr. and my brother, Arthur, Jr. in Louisburg, NC
circa 1968-69
As a boy, Arthur was involved in many community activities.  He was a Cub Scout, played Little League baseball, and enjoyed attending youth activities at our church.  In high school, Arthur was a triple-sport athlete, playing basketball, football, and baseball.  After two years at Bethel High School in our native Hampton, VA, he decided to go off to military school at Augusta Military Academy in Staunton, VA.  It was there that Arthur truly blossomed as an athlete, as well as as an ROTC officer.  He graduated from Augusta in 1978.
Arthur, the Little League's star pitcher

 Top left: Arthur's Junior picture @ AMA.  Right: QB Arthur (#10) and another player pose for their football picture at AMA.

Arthur returned home to Hampton to attend the alma mater of our mother, and our two oldest brothers, Hampton Institute (now Hampton University).  Known by the nickname, "Yang", he was very popular and well-loved by his fellow students. Arthur grew deeply involved in his major, Mass Media Arts, and became best known for his smooth jazz radio show, "Inspirations", on Hampton's radio station, WHOV.  In addition, he wrote for the school's newspaper, and anchored a 15-minute nightly broadcast on Hampton's "Newswatch 10" a weekday cable news program.  He also joined several social fraternities, including the oldest on Hampton's campus, Omega Sigma Chi.  Arthur graduated from Hampton in May, 1982, two months after discovering that he had cancer.

 Hampton Institute president, William R. Harvey, congratulates Arthur and hands him his diploma on Mother's Day, 1982

Though the news of my brother's illness was discouraging, he never let it stop him from working towards his goals.  What began as a mystery-illness, with symptoms of abdominal pain and blackouts, was first diagnosed as a hernia.  Plans were made to surgically remove the hernia while Arthur was on Spring Break during his senior year at Hampton.  However, what we thought was going to be the solution to his problems turned out to be just the beginning.  Once the hernia was removed, surgeons discovered a tumor on my brother's liver.  Primary liver cancer of unknown origin.  The fight began...

 Here, Arthur, wearing his fraternity tee-shirt, snaps a picture of himself in the mirror.  I kind of like the "halo" effect. :)
 For the next two years, my brother, with the support of my then-divorced parents, did everything he could to beat the odds.  Liver cancer was one of the toughest to beat, especially as the primary site.  Arthur tried traditional and experimental treatments.  He tried dietary changes and supplements.  He had good days and bad days.  Good weeks and bad weeks.  He underwent chemotherapy and radiation and was in and out of the hospital.  During this time, we remained in close contact, via phone and letters, but I was away in college and unable to be by his side as often as I wanted to.  Then, in June of 1982, while still living in Charlottesville, I gave birth to my first child, Natasha. and named Arthur her god-father, In the summer of 1983, decided we could stay away no longer.  I wanted my brother to know his niece, so I got a job as a teachers aide, and my daughter and I moved back to Hampton Roads, so that we could be near him and assist in his care. During that year, my brother got to know my daughter, and she, him. Though she was very young, the two of them developed a very close relationship, and she remembers him, to this day.  I praise God for my decision to move back to Hampton, because it was during that school year that my brother's health took a turn for the worse.
My brother, Arthur, with my daughter, Natasha, sometime in 1983.

Although Arthur was sick, he was determined to continue his quest to find employment in the media field, which he loved so much.  He completed an internship at our local CBS affiliate television station, and was being considered for an anchor position at the time of his death.  Additionally, he worked as a sports writer for the Daily Press, our local newspaper; and as a newscaster for WNIS, news/talk radio station. I give thanks to all of these companies who recognized his talent, and were willing to give him opportunities to do what he loved, despite the fact that he sometimes was too ill to work.

In March, 1984, Arthur took ill and was admitted to Riverside Hospital (now Riverside Regional Medical Center).  The doctors were pessimistic about his prognosis, and pretty much let my parents know that this was it.  But still, my brother stayed positive and hopeful.  He was in a coma for the first week or so, but once he became alert, he started talking about coming home and about wanting to get back out onto the golf course with my dad.  We were taking turns sitting with him - my mother, father, and I - and on my shifts we enjoyed reminiscing about when we were little, and he played with Natasha if she was with me.  A few times, when he was sleeping, he would seem to choke and stop breathing, but I would shake him and say, "Breathe, Arthur, breathe!", and he did.  At first, my parents and I were just quiet about the idea of him coming home, but he was so insistent, and he seemed to be doing so well, that finally the doctors agreed to let him go.  I believe the plan was for some level of in-home hospice care, although I didn't really understand what that meant at the time.  (I was only 22 years old, and I think the hospice concept was fairly new.)   My mother was so excited, and she worked hard to get his old room clean and ready for him, with a hospital bed on order, and plans to have nurses checking in.  Unfortunately, early on the morning of April 6th, the day before he was scheduled to come home, and with our father by his side, my brother, Arthur took his last breath.

Today marks the 26th  33rd year since the day my brother died.  Words can't explain how deeply the loss of my brother has affected me, and changed the course of my life.  Although I do have two other brothers, they are so much older than me, that they were both gone from home by the time I was seven years old.  So, it was just my parents, Arthur, and me for most of my life.  Arthur and I fought like any other siblings, but our love for each other was undeniable, and our paths (I'd thought), inseparable.  When he was in the hospital, I prayed and prayed, always asking God to help me to accept His Will, whatever that turned out to be.  My brother's death was, and has continued to be a lesson in FAITH for me.  I miss him so much, but I know that he is in a much better place, and that he is rejoicing now in heaven with our father, grandparents, and all of the ancestors that I'm working to learn about now. I will love and miss my brother FOREVER.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is my absolute most-favorite picture of my brother and me.  I think it says so much about us, without having to say anything at all! 

In closing, I'd like to share a poem that I wrote in 2007, on the anniversary of Arthur's death.  At that point, he'd been in heaven for as long as he was here on earth, and these are the words that came to my heart:

To Arthur
For twenty-three years you were here on this earth,
Now for twenty-three years you’ve been gone.
I know in my heart that you’re better off now,
As you rest in God’s heavenly home.
I’ll always remember the things that we shared,
The good, as well as the bad.
The ups and the downs, the smiles and the frowns,
And all of the secrets we had.
Without you, my brother,  life’s not been the same
But I’ll try not to dwell on the past.
God knew what was best when he took you with Him
To anchor on Heaven’s broadcast.
For twenty-three years you were here on this earth,
Now for twenty-three years you’ve been gone.
I’ll see you one day, when God chooses me
To rest in His heavenly home.  
                                                      With love, from Renate
                                                April, 2007

 One of those Easter Sundays.  I miss you, Arthur.

Thank you for reading.

The content and pictures included in this post are the property of Renate Y Sanders, and should not but used, copied, or embedded without the express permission of the owner.  Please contact me via email at yarsan@aol.com.  Thank you.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

E is for Elizabeth! #AtoZChallenge


I'll have to make this quick, if I'm to get it in before midnight!

E is for Elizabeth, better known as "Bettie" Green.  Bettie was my 1st cousin, 2x removed. She was the daughter of Annie Green and an unknown (to me) white mill owner in Franklin County, NC.  She was the granddaughter of Anna Green (mulatto) and Nathaniel Hawkins (white).  Therefore, Betty was what was referred to at that time as a "quadroon".

Betty was born in August of 1890, in North Carolina (most likely in Franklin County). She died in New York, where she lived passing as WHITE, and is buried in Farmingdale, Suffolk County, in that state.

Bettie worked as a "hairdresser for the rich folk", according to our now 97-year old cousin, Florine, who knew her well. She was, most notably, the personal hairdresser of Doris Duke for some period of time, and is said to have traveled with her "everywhere she went". Bettie married Reginald "Roy" Alonzo Miller, and lived a lavish lifestyle. However, if the story is true, the wife of her uncle William Green (who was also passing) discovered their truth and "outted" Betty, causing her to lose her clients, and most devastatingly, her position with Ms. Duke. (None of this has been proven via research.)

This photo of Bettie, where she appears to be relaxing on the deck of a boat, provides support for the stories of her traveling with Doris Duke.

Bettie and her dog on a NY rooftop
Roy Miller, Bettie's husband
Although all of my elder cousins who knew Bettie insist that she and our other relatives who left Louisburg to live and work in New York were living as white, the one census record I've found her in enumerates her as "negro". That was in 1930, and may have been after William's wife spilled the beans. At that time, 38 year old Elizabeth, her husband, Roy, and her younger sister, Ruby (who worked as a seamstress for the wealthy, until the "reveal") lived on Convenant Avenue in Manhattan. It's easy to see how this couple could have passed for white, isn't it?

Image may contain: 1 person
This photo shows Bettie (top left) with her mother, Annie (seated left with hat and glasses. I'm not sure enough about the identity of others in the photo to name them.(I believe the younger woman sitting on the curb to probably be Bettie's sister, Jessie.) I would really like to be able to identify the location of this photo. Does anyone recognize that monument?

Thanks for reading!

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The pictures and content in this post are not to be used without the express permission of the poster, Renate Yarborough Sanders. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#AtoZChallenge - D is for DUNSTON

D is for DUNSTON!
Today is Day 4 of the A-Z Challenge, and I'm dedicating it to my DUNSTON ancestors, of Franklin County, NC. Everything I know about my Dunstons has come through my research; I've never met any of my relatives from this branch.

The Dunstons were free people of color, who are said to have descended from one Patience Dunston, who is mentioned in Paul Heinegg's book, Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. 

Because I am away from home, and from my regular computer, I'm going to cheat a little here by sharing an link to the page in Heinegg's book:  http://www.freeafricanamericans.com/Driggers_Dutchfield.htm

So, this is my line of descent from Patience DUNSTAN. I have done significant research on this line, but it mostly amounts to names and dates, with a few apprentice bonds, bastardy bonds, and military records here and there. I've met some other Dunston descendants from the area, but so far none of us are matching each other on DNA, and we have different names on our trees, so I guess not all Dunstons are connected, as we'd previously thought.

To make matters a bit confusing, I also descend from another line of Franklin County DUNSTONS! This is because my second great-grandfather, Wilson "Wills" Dunston, married another Dunston, Laura, who was the daughter of Simon Dunston and Susan REED. Here's that line:

The only photo I've ever seen of one of my direct Dunston ancestors is this one of my 3x ggrandmother, Laura Dunston. I've had it restored, but I don't have a copy of that with me (on vacation). I will update the photo on a later date. :)
Laura Dunston (June 17, 1846 - March 28, 1920)

From an article written by Maury York for the Tar River Roots publication, I have this excerpt:
"As in other areas of eastern North Carolina, most free blacks in Franklin County worked on farms, but few owned land.
Farmers in 1850 included members of the Anderson, Dunce, Dunston, Fog and Mitchell families.
Quite a few craftsmen, however, contributed to the local economy.
These included carpenters Leonidas Anderson, Henry and James Dunston, and John Fog. John Mitchell built coaches, and several members of the Dunston family worked as blacksmiths."
I've also been told that Simon Dunston was responsible for a lot of the stonework found in the city of Raleigh, NC but I haven't further researched this.
I may add more to this post, but for now that's all, folks!


Source info: 
Heinegg, Paul. Free African Americans of Maryland and Delaware from the Colonial Period to 1810. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000.

York, Maury http://www.louisburg.edu/tarrivercenter/freeblacks.html Published in the Franklin Times newspaper, August 15, 2013.

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