Saturday, February 21, 2015

Blk History Nominee: C Vivian Stringer

I heard somewhere that thinking may be dangerous. 
I try my best to think good thoughts especially centered around my old neighborhood and friends. 

I was also thinking about Black History Month and who I would like to highlight.

It is so strange how names connect to one another and I suppose these two names happened for a reason.

Behind the Capitol home-girls:

                Given name Vivian

                Surname Stringer

The last name and/or the first name have been left off to protect the innocent or the guilty depending on all who may have come in contact with us behind the capitol.

In fact our neighborhood was what we affectionately called “Behind the Capitol”.

For the purpose of this blog I will remain vigilant and use given and surname.

Thinking back we have all had some good times growing up.  I have soft spots in my heart for both of the families of these two ladies.

First name Vivian always had an infectious laugh and sense of humor while surname Stringer and I ran on the same track team at school.

We were pretty good too.

In fact our school record stood for many years in the Murphy School District.

First name Vivian I saw a couple of years ago at a church outing, but it has been years and years since I have seen Surname Stringer.
I was born on the 16th day of March, in some year in the 1900’s.

So, in honor of these two ladies and myself, I put together my Black History Month nominee.

                C Vivian Stringer

Vivian was born March 16, 1948 in Edborn Pennsylvania to parents Thelma and Buddy Stoner. 

She went on to excel in all types of sports from basketball to Field Hockey. 

Vivian even participated in Cheer when she was not playing sports. (Philadelphia Tribune exerpt)

Not only is she a talented coach she is an accomplished musician as well with her talent in playing the piano.

In college at Slippery Rock State she earned her Master of Science Degree in Education. 

She has coached at schools such as Cheney State all the way to Rutgers.

Quoting her she stated:

“Nothing touches me more than a person who has convictions and doesn't just go the way the wind blows” 

I salute you Mrs. C. Vivian Stringer for being one of the classiest and winningest coaches in women’s basketball.

I also salute you for your work habits to excel and your ability to encompass those around you to excel.

Your strength and convictions when standing up for your players in the don imus (notice no capitalization) debacle, along with being true to yourself did not escape me and millions of others.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Meeting: A New Journey Begins


The drive was easy.

It seemed like it took only one or two hours and not the regular four. As we crossed over the Hoover Dam on this new route we could see no water.  This route shortchanged me. I wanted to point to the water below so that my grandson could see what I had seen on so many trips to Nevada in the past. I wanted to hear him say those oooh's and aww's at his first time view.

Oh well, no matter because I had other things on my mind.

We were headed to Vegas. The next day we will venture to Henderson Nevada where we will meet my daughter’s aunt and her children’s great-aunt they had never met before.

I later learned that two uncles would be driving from California, which heightened the excitement.  

Of course I know that the children would have loved for their father and grandfather to have been in on the meeting but fate is fate and we make the best of what we have.

The check in at the hotel was not left up to me but the walk from the parking area to the hotel was. Sheesh, my legs thought it would never make it. The only place to park was in the back of the hotel and the rooms were in the front.

Finally after I reached the elevator and rode up to the 19th floor, the arrow pointing to the rooms looked like it reached back to Arizona.

Huffing and puffing, we made it to the room, put the bags away and Tyler said, “let’s go eat” !

I made the mistake of not asking them to bring me a doggie bag back, so down the hallway and elevator I went.

I just love my kids, they are in such good shape and waited for me as I trudged along. I could see in their faces how happy they were. J J J


We arrived at the house, rang the doorbell and waited for the door to open. We rang the doorbell again and no answer.

We decided to go back and sit in the car.

My daughter called her new found cousin Tanya on the phone. The message came on and said the mailbox was full.   I think the next thing was to text which she did.  No answer.
Were we at the right home? We checked the address again, and even tried calling again. I asked my daughter if she may have gotten the address wrong. She checked her messages and re-read the address that Tanya her cousin had sent to her.
And then suddenly two cars turned the corner, drove up to the house and parked!

My daughter’s Aunt Sherian kept looking as she drove up and a huge grin spread across her face. She parked, and got out of the car and started giving the best hugs. 

They all looked like Al, but boy that one brother Kenneth looked like they could have been twins.  

David, the other brother was the most talkative one. 

All he asked we tried to answer, and all we asked we tried to remember the answers; 
We needed to put into respective the road that we travelled to get here.
It was a lot to soak in but then again it was not enough time. I think we did well with what we knew.

All the rest can be learned in time if it is for us.

I instantly fell in love with them.

There is one more sister we have to meet and that’s Leslie.

There were so many similarities in the lives we had been living it is almost scary.

First off, Tanya the cousin previously lived in the same city we live in and worked at the same beauty shop where we get our hair styled;

I used to live a couple blocks away in Los Angeles from where they lived;

Sherilyn worked for the FAA briefly and so did Al;

Al was a golfing junkie and David also had that passion;

The great Aunt Mary lives in Oklahoma City and not that far from where we were for Al’s home-going service;

The other great Aunt Novella lives in the same city as my brother Bruce;

It just so happens that she was the one whose name I was obsessed with because I had never heard it before.

We looked through pictures and pictures. We now know what Al’s parents and grands look like.

Lee Edward Holmes aka Roland Lee Holmes (Father ) Creek Co Okla.

                  Charles Smith   (Grandfather ) Texas 

Laura Mae Smith Holmes (mother)Robertson County Texas

Lillie Bell Simmons Holmes (g-mother) Creek County Okla. 

Mary Smith Benson (gg-grmother) her Father John Smith(ggg-gr father)

We also have new names to add to the family tree. Names like Holmes, Smith, Benson, Johnson, Simmons, Figures, Moody and Lawrence.


We met for Brunch, and had another wonderful time eating a great mean and watching the football game.  David's wife Margo was there along with Sherians hubby Hal. There was this guy who talked with us about football and laughed at me when I said Go Cardinals!  What can I say, loyalty is one of my best virtues. 

The cousins at Brunch getting their eats on and styling.

After eating, I stayed awhile in the lounge where there were rows and rows of bandits minus one arm. Now they are sporting buttons that give you the option of choosing the one you want.  My choices were not the bandits choice I might add.

Grateful: Two cousins

Tanya and Tish you two made it happen.

I loved both of your smiles and heartfelt feelings. Stay strong and stay in touch with each other. This was an amazing story within itself and remember, we all are bound to have another story worth remembering and telling. Life is like that.

You know, there is something special in people when you can talk with ease and it seems like you have known each other for years and years instead of one or two days.

I would like to think that if I had not played a part in this journey and the clock was turned back, I would have bumped into these same people and struck up a relationship that would have lasted a lifetime. 

That is the affect that they had on me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Letter To Mitch In Heaven: Promise Kept

Dear AL

The journey is complete as promised. 

I swore I would not stop until I found the family you had been looking for.

I was all in for the task because we shared a beautiful girl and two grandchildren. 

The need to know who you were grew stronger later in life for both of us. 

You with the wanting to know your naturals and me wanting our children to know who they were and where they came from.

As you know we talked many times about finding your natural parents, brothers and or sisters if they were still alive.

Did they look like you and you like them. What would you say to them, and vice versa? 

By now I believe that you have seen your mother and father in Heaven and that there were plenty of hugs. 

No reasons for questions and answers in Heaven just good old fashion joy and praise.

Just in case in their excitement to embrace you, they may have forgotten to mention that you have two brothers, two sisters, and two aunts down here.

Two of your siblings and one aunt live in California, one sibling lives in Nevada and then one aunt lives in Oklahoma City.

All praises go to God Almighty because He was instrumental in you listening to me and took the DNA Autosomal test offered by 23&Me.

Thank you so much for letting me manage your kit. 

I especially want to thank you for downloading to Gedmatch. 

That's the service where you were able to pick up other testers who used Ancestry and from those who used FamilyTree DNA.

Wow, was I surprised when a match came up that revealed you had two matches. One was a 1st cousin male and the other one was just as close and also a male. They had to be a father and son or durn near close to it. Right under them was your daughter and both grandchildren.  I almost fell out of my chair! 

I could not wait to send an email to the gentleman who tested through Ancestry.

After a few questions, we realized that his mother and your mother are SISTERS!

I could just hug the 1st cousin tester because he was the soul who was sent to start the happiness to rolling. 
His name is Richard Ivey, son of Mary Smith Ivey.

He then set it up for my daughter and me to chat with his mom.  We were all overwhelmed and happy and talked for a good twenty minutes. 

It was especially crushing to know that they lived in the same city for years as you.

We were also in Oklahoma City for the home-going service.  So close yet so far

My thoughts were of you as your aunt and I talked.

She gave me some new names that are leafs to your family tree.
Names like Benson, lawrence, Figures and a few others.

I also need to give a shout out to a dear friend by the name of Jeannine who guided me with the Benson clue over two years ago but I could not make that connection.  

Also another shout out goes to Willie A Heard for taking me visually through many youthful trips he and Al had during their childhood and beyond. For that I am eternally grateful.

I am over the moon with excitement.

I started this journey with you in late 1991 or early 1992.

A friend that I worked with named Carrie Moos asked if I wanted to go to the LDS Research Center with her in hopes we could gain some headway in both of our searches.

Remember when I sent you that 1930 census with your parent Lee Edward Holmes in Bristow Oklahoma with his parents William and Lilliebelle mentioned. Also listed were sons William and Dorris and a daughter Novella. 

I found nothing for Laura Mae Smith and mumbled to myself that I would come back to the Center again.

That was the day I was forever hooked.

In my heart I knew that this was not going to be a piece of cake but I also knew that I could unselfishly help others along the way when I got to a brick wall with my research.

So now after all these years we are here at this junction

I wish you could have still been here to express your joy but other plans had already been made.

I know you had questions and sometimes life sends us in other directions.

I feel that the direction you were sent to hear those answers, were passed on to me through that fork in the road we came to in life’s journey.  

I talked to your sister and I have a feeling we will get along great. She lives in Henderson right outside of Vegas and that may be an indication that I may be up for a drive every now and then.

My prayer is that my daughter, her kids and her other siblings will be able to meet all their family.

I know you loved the game of golf, and from what my Uncle Prof aka WC Daviss in Altus Oklahoma told me is that he was your teacher and you were a good student on the green.

In this case I would say that you got a Bogey on this one. 

Your family has been found!

Or should I have said that it is par for the course because we got it like that.


It’s been a long time coming as I count the years of search
Always wondering what it may be worth
The countless looking through records
Talking on the phone
Hearing faceless people with promises
Kept Secrets that could have been shared
Instead a cry of not knowing was carried to a grave

Let the truth be known for it was silence
That hurt the most
Pain you did not bear
Messing up more than one person’s thought and perception

And it did not have to be that way
Healing could have come early
Like the shutters on a window
When open
The light comes shining through
Fewer tears
Wasted years

I have said it before and then again
It’s in the blood baby, as simple as that
Made from the foundation
An XX and a XY found

I see you in faces now three boys and one girl
Paternal and maternal you should have known
Not your fault, not too late

Maybe now up there on the other side of heaven’s door
Down here those that are left hug
With all their might, try and make up
What should have been

Rest In Perfect Peace Alford for you are surrounded by many who love you. The parents who raised you, the ones now found: And, as an added bonus, those of us who are left here on earth loved you immensely then and we love you still

 P. S. Ok Now I can stop the crying.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I Know Why The Caged Ants Sting!

I think I mentioned several years ago in a blog I wrote as well as telling others about my trip to Marshall Texas; My cousins Lorraine, Bernadine and Carol drove me up from Houston to go to St John’s Baptist Church Cemetery and for that I am eternally grateful. We had a fun ride, and the weather was really nice. 

I had identified the area where my great grandfather’s grave was supposed to be.  Right in back of the church near the fence I was told.  I went through the fence and walked to the other side of the cemetery until I spotted a headstone. Aha, as I bent over, this had to be it!  Faintly I saw Joseph Taylor etched in the stone.

I took out my camera and took a picture.

I looked over to the next headstone and wondered if that was my great grandmother Francis. The headstones were so faded and I had nothing to clean them with. They looked like old moldy grass and other elements over time.
I looked over to my left and saw two broken stones. 

Gosh, have I stumbled upon Mariah’s grave?????

I was swelling with emotion and stood there for a bit until I felt a tingling. Hmmm maybe in my excitement I was tingling from head to toe.
Then it hit me. I looked down and saw a dirt mound. Then another mound and what looked like a million ants. 

Now on to my ant drama!

They were everywhere………………Everywhere on both feet, all through my toes and traveling up my calves.

My feet were covered! I started to jump, stomp, slap and run……

Did I cuss? Oh yeah I did. You should have seen me, heard me and prayed for me. 

Those ants tore me up!!!

I guess I ran out of there so fast that the stings did not have time to turn into a hospital visit. My cousins I know felt sorry for me underneath their giggles.

Time to head out but I promised myself I would be back one day armed with boots, ant spray and something to clean the headstones with. 

When I left Texas I looked at the picture I had taken of the headstone. It was fuzzy and I could not make out the writing on it. I expanded the picture to see if I could get a glimpse but still nada.  I was rather sad and promised myself again that I would come back to Texas and take another picture.

Speed up the years:  The Ladies

A couple friends and I have a unique bond even though we are miles and miles apart. I was thinking about how the three of us are looking for our ancestors and jokingly we figure they are hiding out together and don’t want to be found. 

I have only found my elusive Mariah in the 1900 and 1910 census; Cecelia is looking for her Mozelle and Shelley, her Nellie.

I was thinking how we have been searching and searching and jotted down a few words that turned into a full blown half Ode, half poem and half plea.

Here is a short excerpt:

ODE A’LA Mariah, Mozelle and Nellie:

 Forget about setting music to this ode
The songs that are sung are pages we unfold
Gently taking care looking line by line
The rhymes we are settling for
Are taking its time
Mariah and Mozelle are Texan born we think
But are they?

No singing about the Yellow Rose
Nellie is on the run
Having fun
Catching up with Mariah and Mozelle
Down by the old Mill Stream

Or so it seems

The next day, I got an email from Lynda, my long time Mentor. I latched on to her years and years ago whether she approved or not. Her help and advice to me has been immeasurable.

Her email started, “I was just browsing some records in Harrison County and found a tombstone”   Whoa now wait a minute, a tombstone! Then a follow up email with Oops, I forgot the link!

When I clicked on that link I almost spilled every tear in the universe and made my own private ocean.

There plain as day was my elusive Mariah's tombstone. 

Mariah Taylor, wife of Lawrence Taylor
Born Dec 18, 1854
Died Jan 29, 1916

and also the tombstone of her husband Lawrence.

Lawrence Taylor
Illegible birth date and day of death
Year 1923 

Ok now I have Joseph my great grandfather’s tombstone. All I need is my great grandmothers.

So the first thing I did after composing myself is to look for Frances Dickerson Taylor and I would be complete.

I found it with a write up that I had written somewhere else but had not put it on this site. I had never ever seen this tombstone!

But my Jesus that was alright with me.

Looking on the page was another picture. Now wait a minute, there was another tombstone right next to hers. Who in the world could it be?

I tried several other Taylor’s until I clicked on Joseph’s name and there plain as day was the same tombstone as the other picture, along with a single one.

My great grandfather’s tombstone!

Holy Smokes, wait a second. Whose tombstone was that I have for Joseph? I swear when I took that picture years ago and clicked that camera it said Joseph Taylor.
That’s when I got attacked by the ants. I was in the wrong freaking spot.

You told me Mariah, you told me in your own unique way.  I forgive you for sic’ing the ants on me, and thanks for the nudge you gave Lynda to browse around.
Now, whose tombstone was that I was taking pictures of?

I do have a request though and I hope Mariah hears me.

Be gentle when I find you in the 1870 and 1880 Federal Census please. No more ant tricks and I promise I will only cry a small river.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scenic View: Williams And Whitfield

I remember vividly when we were younger how excited we all were to go out of town. 

Our parent’s  Frank and Zepher Williams packed a few things and headed west out Buckeye Road. 

The road was lined with huge Pecan trees and acres and acres of crops or cotton depending on the season.

After travelling so far we would come upon a large house located on the left side of the street and turn into the yard. 

The Whitfield Cousins yard!!!

 What seemed like hours back then would only take about 15 or 20 minutes now. The route in later years changed from Tollison to Glendale when they decided to hang up their hats to a more peaceful and less stressfull life. 

I personally think a stretch of Lower Buckeye Road should be named "Whitfield Road" because of the impact the Whitfield’s had on the area with their Dairy Farm.

Every time we went I always liked to go out back where they kept the cows and watched the milking process.

Don’t ask me why because I am only a little bit country. You know, like fishing and maybe throwing one or two handfuls of chicken feed to some chickens at my aunt Carmena’s in Texas.

When the season came to harvest watermelons it seemed like there were millions and millions in this young girls eyes.

We also got to taste the fresh fruit of a couple straight out of the ground.

Years later my brother Theodore, Cousin Billy, Prudy, Fulbright and others from Phoenix would go and help pick the ripe ones. I imagine this was many of the young guy’s first jobs to get pocket change.

Inside the house were two people that held the glue together; Otto and Thelma Williams Whitfield.

Aunt Thelma was the cousin to Frank. Her father Palmer and Frank’s mother Mary were sister and brother. 

As a kid we grew up calling the elder’s Aunt and Uncle but the kinship line here was cousin.

As I look back at the good times we had as kids I am reminded that we all came from somewhere and how the roads traveled all had a scenic route.

How these two met, I have no idea. I know that Aunt Thelma was the child of Palmer Williams from Cold spring Texas and Mary Erma Harrison Williams from Huntsville Texas.

Scenic Texas: The Williams Home View 

According to this census Easter was the mother of ten children with only six living at the time. Here is the exerpt for a better view.

I later learned that Otto was the child of Frank and Roxie Settles Whitfield who lived in Oklahoma but married in St. Francis County Arkansas.

They just happened to be the parents of another favorite of mine Uncle George Whitfield.  

Scenic Oklahoma: The Whitfield Home View

In the 1920 census Otto is listed as ten years old

This is the excerpt of the 2nd page showing the rest of the Whitfield family for a better view. 

Thelma Williams: The Very First View

Born to parent’s Palmer and Mary Harrison Williams.  Thelma entered the world in Galveston Texas on March 25th 1914 where she joined her other sisters Gertrude, and Bernice and her brother Garcia.

Thelma’s dad worked for the Railroad as a section chief.

By 1920 the Williams family lived in Beaumont Texas where the job still had Palmer working for the railroad and supervising others while Mary 
while Mary worked in the home.   

Further research states that Mary was the mother 13 and here are a few more certificates.

The 1923 City directory in Beaumont has them living probably on Railroad property for those that worked for them as evidenced by the address on Plum at the SW corner of the GC& SF Railway. (click to enlarge)

Scenic View: Fast Forward To The Maricopa Forty

We see here that according to the 1940 census the Whitfield’s are already living and farming in Tollison on Lower Buckeye Road.

                                 Ancestry 1940 census Maricopa County Arizona 

The Blessed Scenic Route: It’s Amazing!!!

Both the Whitfield’s Otto and Thelma are gone on to Glory. I don’t have to imagine or wonder if they are living together in the rooms of many mansions.
As long as they were together on earth,  I know they are resting in perfect peace in Heaven.

                        Sing for the Whitfield's Dotty Sing this amazing song!