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!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Dream A Little Dream Of Me: Those Two Ronnie's

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper, I love you
Birds singin' in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me

I sat singing those words of the song over and over again. A song I had not heard in a very long time sung by The Mama’s and The Papa’s with Mama Cass Elliott. 

Dream a little dream of me.

Why am I singing these words over and over throwing in a hum or two?  (I can’t get that tune out of my head)

In all actuality, the question already had the answer

Ronnie: James and Jessie Daviss Boggess son

My cousin is named Ronnie. His mother and my father were brother and sister from Navasota in Grimes County Texas. 
While at work he passed out and was taken to the hospital. After initial testing he was air lifted to another hospital where they have an excellent Trauma Center.

The doctors did all they could do. They placed him in a semi coma state which included life support.  The determination was made that Ronnie would not get any better and the family needed to gather and make a decision.

Several days later my cousin called and told me that night a decision was made to disconnect the machine the next afternoon. 

That Night: The Dream

I was watering my front lawn when I looked up and saw my brother Ronnie walking up the sidewalk. He stopped to talk and in the process told me that he had just left seeing our sister June and was on his way to see our mama. He was looking young, tall and handsome like he did in his younger days. 

I told him that mama was over that way, and I pointed to the right in an upward position. I also told him that John, June's ex husband was up there too.

Ronnie, in a very loud voice said "WOW"

That's when I awakened and sat straight up. 

I swear, that dream tripped me out because my sister June, my mom and John were all deceased. I did not see them in the dream nor was there a mention of my other two brothers who also were deceased and gone on to Glory.

As I was thinking how weird this dream was, I came to the conclusion that it was all about cousin Ronnie and that the thought process was given to me just before I retired for bed and it just stuck.

I looked up at the clock and wondered if cousin Ronnie was having trouble and quietly thought about the doctors taking him off the life support machine.  Since I had not received a phone call I dismissed the troubling thought out of my head. 

Later that morning I told my daughter about my dream and what I thought the dream may have meant. She said since I had dreamed about her uncle mabe I should look for him as I had so often done.

Ronnie: Frank and Zepher Dones-Burks Williams son

My brother Ronnie was the one brother that was somewhere out there in the elements. A wandering soul who never stayed anywhere stable. All his wanderings came about later in life and we as his family never understood when or why his life took a turn. After all we were all raised the same and very much loved by our mother who doted over us.

Oh we expressed our concerns to each other but the truth of the matter lay only within the confines of him. 
We just knew that our love for him never wavered and wished that he would show up one day. 

Over the years I regularly looked for Ronnie on the Social Security Index and figured that as long as his name did not come up he was alive and hopefully taking care of himself. 

It was about eight years that we had not seen Ronnie. One day, he showed up. I called my brother Bruce who drove down that week-end to see him.  We were elated and knew for sure now that he was alive.

Ronnie stayed around for several months. He lived with me for awhile and then moved in a trailor in the back of a car wash that his nephew and some other guys operated. 

Ronnie was a very witty person. Full of funny comments and very intelligent. Then at times he could be troubling. This meant that the rules in place at the car wash had to be adheared to. In Ronnie's eyes he told his nephew Anthony that they had too many rules. 

He packed up his blanket and walked away. That was in the summer of 2010.

I took my daughters advice, turned on the computer then googled the Social Security Death Index. I entered his name and hit enter.

Screaming at me as if coming out of the page I saw his name, date of birth and date of death!!!

I could not describe how I felt. I was numb and in a state of total shock. 
December 24, 20011 leaped out at me. My brother has been deceased since 20011. How could I have not known this. I always check the index. Not only that, I put my phone number and address in various places in his wallet just in case.

I told my daughter what I had found and through her tears she called Anthony.

Perhaps we did have too many rules for his liking and he figured my dream would do to show his exit.

Perhaps, just perhaps Ronnie and cousin Ronnie are rooming together. (After all, Cousin Ronnie came into the world in December and brother Ronnie left this world in December.)

Perhaps the good Lord picked the same day for two families who are intwined to know how blessed they are to have had those Ronnie's in their lives.

Sweet dreams, till sunbeams find you
Gotta keep dreaming, leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams, whatever they be
You gotta make me a promise
You'll dream a little dream of me

Ronnie Evans Boggess and Ronald Louis Williams know that you were loved, that you are still loved, and will always be loved.

Rest in Perfect Peace you two.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A December Letter To Mama: Missing You

                                                                                                                                   Missing You:   
 It's been tough here. I sure miss you and I also miss all those family members and friends that you surely have run across. 

I wonder if your sons, your parent’s, your aunts and uncles are close by and are you sharing the same room in that mansion you are living in.
Mind you Mama, I am only wondering right now (smile)

For some reason my eyes drifted to a book on the table and I picked it up.

It was The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus. I turned the page to see what the word "miss" meant. 

The one thing I read and connected to was the definition that stated “to feel the absence of ”

 I can relate to that even though 1994 has been an awful long time. Not a day goes by that I feel that absence and miss that nearness of you. 

This time of year always gets extra rough for me. For a long time I did not want to participate in cooking or getting ready for the holidays but slowly but surely I am coming out of that bag.

I can only imagine how you all feel, all happy and stuff. Not really having to do anything but sing all day long and keeping your wings clean. I wonder if you learned to play the harp.  

Down here we have to get our music at several different venues like I Tunes, U Tube and Wal-Mart. I still love my Old One Hundreds and my Oldies But Goodies Rythym and Blues. 

The wings are a different story I want you to know. We either cook them ourselves or go to a place that sells them for sixty-five cents apiece. That’s too dang high if you ask me.

I am going to try and make Gumbo for Christmas. I have often said that you and your mother make the best Gumbo in the whole wide world. Your mother did beat you making it though. That lady could make gumbo with her eyes closed. Taylor has asked if I would show her how to make it. 

We often think and laugh about that time the sound of something cracking came from your bedroom. 

Because we were taught to knock before entering, we never could catch you in the act of making that sound. I remember we used to put our ear to the door and as soon as we heard that crack and crunch we would knock real fast and open the door. 

All we saw was you lying in bed reading a book with that smile on your face.

We knew what it was though…. we looked in the Gumbo pot and noticed those big snow crab legs dwindling down one by delicious one.

We saw only those little blue crabs and shrimp for tomorrow’s left over dinner.  

Funny how we could not catch you but you always caught us doing something we did not have any business doing. 

Missing You:   

Just yesterday on the news they were talking about Santa Claus and what color he was. 

Shoot I remember one year on Christmas Eve, we were told to go to bed and go to sleep because Santa was on his way. Well we were still in there giggling and talking when we heard a scratching sound coming from the window.

Me with my non scary self, opened the curtains;  and who stood there laughing and saying Ho, Ho, Ho, you kids better be sleep before I come back. Standing there with a no presents for us threat bigger than life was Santa Claus !

Talk about six kids scrambling under the covers and got quiet as a mouse, well that was us. Sleep came real quick.

We never, that I remember, thought of anything different was wrong or questioning why the change of the complexion of Santa. It was something that we did not notice.

All the Santa’s that my brothers and sisters and I saw in the NCO clubs on the Air force Base at Christmas time were white. 

The Santa that came to the window that night was black.

I think back now and believe to my soul that our parents knew that when we came of age and matured we would know the reason for his small part in our life at a young age.

We were also taught the real reason for the season and that has never wavered.  

Missing You:  

I know you remember that cactus we had disguised as a Christmas tree. 

We had that plastic cactus sitting in a pot for years on the table by the front door.

Money was scarce that year and we could not afford a real tree that we so often had. We put a Christmas bulb around that cactus, wrapped the pot with Christmas paper and was just as excited when Santa visited and left what toys he could that year. 

I know you have to remember when Bruce wrote that letter to Santa and drew a stamp on the envelope. The letter did not get very far because the mailman put it right back in the mailbox. 

That mailman could have taken that letter; I am sure he knew there was a special place in the post office for letters like that. Especially addressed to the North Pole.

I could go on and on about our Christmas stories when we were kids because they do put a smile on my face. Such happy times that I would never trade for anything.

We did not have the snowflakes to fall just before Christmas, or lakes that iced over to use as a skating rink, no chestnuts to roast over an open fire.

We did have apples and oranges, candy canes and three or four different kinds of nuts.

Oh and Mama our biggest joy was that we had you and that was enough for us. 

Love  and miss you

Your daughter Vicky

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Road May Be Rough, The Reward Great In The End : Episode 6

The last episode of the PBS Series of  Many Rivers To Cross:  A wonderful experience to blog about through my eyes. 

We the people in order to form a more perfect union

Establish Justice

Secure perfect tranquility

Do provide for the common defense

Promote the general welfare

Secure the blessings of liberty 

Do ordain and establish this constitution to the United States of America 

River of Gratitude: Into this life some rain must fall

Tears of my parents and grandparents falling like rain. 

Thunderous sounds of my ancestor's spring forth a river of resilience

Synopsis: Episode one through six:

Many trials and tribulations but we survived

Rivers crossed because of our will to survive

To God Be The Glory for He gave us the ability to survive

Cross over those bridges built with the strength of our forefathers and foremother's quest to survive