Thursday, May 27, 2010

Texas Tradition Arizona Style: Honoring Juneteenth

The first Juneteenth in Phoenix Arizona was celebrated in 1911. One of the attendees at that celebration was Booker T. Washington. This event was held for several years before hard economic changes took over along with the death of a minister who helped to facilitate. This caused the tradition to be put on hold and eventually die out.
Several years later, a lady by the name of Vernell Coleman started Juneteenth up again over at a school by the name of Dunbar. Eventually, the gathering was moved to Eastlake Park where the very first event was held.

Ms. Coleman was born August 28,1918 in Henderson Texas to Robert and Berta McLemore Myers.
As a Texan, she knew about the 19th of June and the significance of why it was so important for blacks who finally heard that they were granted their freedom after years of being slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation drafted on September 22,1862 was to take affect January 1st 1863. A Union General by the name of Gordon Granger and his troops did not give the news to slaves in Texas until they reached Galveston on June 19th 1865.

Ms Myers-Coleman's mission and goal was to bring that celebration back to the fore-front. And that she did!
The crowds began to grow and grow into the thousands. Booths were set up and people could sell food, companies/venues would have a booth for causes like health care, child welfare, domestic violence help, voter registration drives or anything else involving the community.

There were marches,parades,talent shows basketball tournaments and the awarding of Scholarship's to deserving students. Other awards were presented to those in the community who contributed their time working with youth or the elderly through-out the year. One was the Spirit Award of which I am very proud of.

Ms Coleman was later honored for her many years of work not only for Juneteenth but for being a tireless leader in civil rights. I am proud to have known her and several members of her family. In fact her mother Ms Bryant was one of my lifelines in taking care of my daughter Latisha and Nephew Anthony when they were toddlers.

Ms Coleman, an inductee into the Arizona Women's Hall Of Fame passed away March 27, 1990 leaving a legacy all Arizonans should be proud of.
Geraldine McDonald, another warrior took over the helm as did others in the ensuing years.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not So Wordless Wed: Still in Altus

In Altus Oklahoma during the 1st week of May,Lincoln School has their annual May Day Festivities. My uncle Prof, W. C. Daviss was the school Principal. I was spending the summer there and my Uncle had invited me to watch the activities. They had sack races,rally around the flag pole,and of course the crowning of the King and Queen.

This particular year as everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves, I heard a loud noise that sounded similar to that of a railroad train. A loud whistle sounded out in the distance. Since I was watching the sack races and people were running anyway, I really didn't notice that the entire field was empty.
Empty except for me. Not being from there how did I know what was going on.
We were staying not that far from the railroad tracks so I am sure the train sound did not phase me

Suddenly it got still and real cold. I looked towards the north and noticed a large black cloud headed in my direction. It seemed like it covered the entire northern sky. It was then that I realized that this was stranger danger dressed in a black gloomy cloud. I was the only one left on the field. I froze dead in my tracks. The huge black cloud was getting closer and closer, picking up speed and whatever was in its path.
Finally I heard my name. Vicky, Vicky. Then louder, with more force Vicky Vicky Vicky, over here Vicky.
I turned around and there stood my uncle Prof frantically flailing his arms and screaming for me to come in his direction. Needless to say, I ran like Heck to that open shop door. As soon as the door was closed the school building shook a little and then calm settled in. When the door was opened, we looked around but could see no damage.

I had witnessed my first of many tornado's and have never been so afraid in my life, nor have I been so thankful that the LORD spared our lives and gave my uncle the insight to call out my name.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Floyd Mitchell-Altus Oklahoma

Floyd Mitchell is laid to rest in Altus,Jackson County, Oklahoma at the Altus City Cemetery. He was born in Hempstead County Arkansas to the parents of Joe and Nancy Cryor Mitchell. Floyd (My favorite one and only father in law) and his wife Mary Lomax Mitchell are both buried at the same cemetery but I have been unable to find a photo of her headstone. R.I.P. Floyd and Mary Mitchell!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Monday's Sentimental

Memories are awesome aren't they? A couple of years ago my sister and I were reminiscing about my mother who passed away in 1994. One of my moms favorite sayings was That's it,That's all!. We recalled what she used to say to each one of the kids. I sat down and wrote a poem. When I need a smile, I read that poem. Today May 24,2010 would have been her 86th Birthday. I am in my "mama mood" Happy Birthday Mama!

That's It, That's All!

Get in the house, Shut the door
Stay in the yard,You want some more
Put that guitar down its half past one
Finish your homework cause you're not done
I love you

Pick up your clothes. Hang them up
Wash your hands, its time to sup
Say your verse, slow down when you eat
Empty the trash, wipe your feet
Bruce I love you

Do you think money grows on trees
Put that money in church, don't forget to say please
You want to run away, I will help you pack
don't forget to put the brown coat in your sack
Richard I love you

What goes on in this house stays in here
Let me make myself perfectly clear
Always carry an extra dime
You better be home from school on time
I Love you

Just so you know you should be proud
God had a way of picking you out in a crown
Never be ashamed of the color of your skin
it all begins and ends from within
Theodore I Love you

You know this hurts me more than you
Stand up straight, hold your head up high
Love will come again now don't you cry
Get your butt up and don't be slow
Off to the hospital you must go
I have another grand baby on its way
You can see that your water broke
now don't delay
Grandchildren are precious as can be
for I am the root that's the Taylor in me
Vicky I love you

From her hospital bed we heard her say
"I'm so glad you came to see about me
Can't you just stay until three"
I just want all you kids to get along
as brothers and sisters that how you belong
Especially since my time is near
for the man upstairs to take me away from here
I am the Kings kid now don't forget
God is Love, He hasn't failed me yet

I love you

Now, That's It, That's All!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Words-A-Few Wednesday: Piano Playing Dudes

Children playing a very old piano in a Texas church. I am wondering about the haze surrounding them and the image that looks like a vase with a willowy plume coming out of it. no one is holding it. Hmmmmmmm I'am just saying!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mad Monday: Flipping Switches to Altus Oklahoma

Devine records Altus black history

ALTUS—Did you know that at one time Altus had five black deputy sheriffs or that Ray Charles and B.B. King once played here?

One Altus woman, Monetta Devine, took it upon herself to record the black history of Altus in three volumes of books called “From the Black Side of Altus.”

“I wanted to do this because there was a book written about the history of Altus and not one black person was in the book,” she said. “Not one, so I said this is the time that something needs to be said about some blacks.”

Devine went to the newspaper and radio stations and asked for people to send pictures and stories of their families. She received hundreds of family portraits and told the stories that people sent stories that people who have lived here all their lives may not have known. She began the book in 1987 and completed it six years later. It was published and sold in 1994.

“People sent me photos from all over,” Devine said. “I just wish I would have had the money to have it published the way it should have been. I took the information that they gave me and I added to this information and made it something that was delightful to read. It’s some of the most hilarious stories that you ever want to read. It’s just so interesting that it will just keep you reading and reading and reading.”

In Volume One, Devine has a special section devoted to her experiences of growing up on Crain Street and how every adult looked out for each other’s children.

“You could sleep hot summer nights with your windows and doors open and you weren’t bothered at all. Some people slept on a bed at night under a tree. Crain Street persons were concerned about each other and showed that concern at all times,” she wrote.

Volume One also tells the history of early settlements of blacks in Altus starting in the 1900s. Stories were told of the first businesses in Altus that were operated by blacks and black doctors. Family stories include those about Mary Wright, the Oliver family, the Dagget family, the Crowley family and others that resided in the community.

“We had five black deputy sheriffs in 32,” Devine said. “Mr. Savage was the sheriff and Altus was a ‘Boomtown’ then. Boomtown meaning big, running, gambling, hustling. Ray Charles used to play out of Altus. B.B. King, Big Joe Turner, Mr. Melvin, who had lots of places. He had the Coconut Club. He had the Hideaway ... I at one time had a beauty shop down on Crain Street, hustling people were there. I did hair sometimes until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Volume Two of the book tells the history of black churches, which include St. John Baptist Church, Macedonia Baptist Church, New Hope Baptist Church and the Church of God and Christ. Also in the second volume, it tells the history of Lincoln School.

Volume Three ends the collection with stories of local families and monthly calendars with historical facts about blacks. Hundreds of pictures are displayed in the books. Collages of family portraits are also on some of the pages.

Devine’s family history is told in the books. She was born in 1933 to Purthy and Beatrice Devine. She is the youngest of two siblings, a brother, Lonnie Allen and a sister, Jeanie Jackson. She graduated from Lincoln High School as salutatorian in 1950. She attended Langston University after she received a scholarship from the VFW Post Ladies Auxiliary with the help of O.B. Grimmit. She also attended Texas Southern University, Western Oklahoma State College and Eastern Oklahoma State College. She was married to Master Sgt. Herman Roberts. They had one child, Dr. Robbie Steward. She later married Climon Quarles. The couple had three children, Tina Quarles-McKinnis, Lonnie Quarles and Whitney Quarles. She and Quarles were married for 23 years.

Devine says that the books could not have been done without the efforts of Jodean McGuffin Martin, Phyllis Paul Williams and Jean Wilson. She would also like to thank the people that sent pictures and stories. The books are available to read at the Altus Public Library in the genealogy section, but cannot be checked out. Not all of the histories of black families in Altus are told because information was not sent in. She says that she feels it is very important for families to read about the history of Altus.

“People will find stories that they have never heard of before,” Devine said. “The stories are comical and sad. There are stories of white and black families. It will benefit them to take the time to read them.”

This article was found in the Altus Times about four years ago. The book can be found in the Altus Library. My interest stems from in Altus Oklahoma because of Floyd and Mary Lomax Mitchell and their son Alford Mitchell. Also Pauline Mitchell Martin. These are my daughter's line.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blessed Miracles: Delightful Donald's

This little fella sure changed everything. He was tumbling along all warm and cozy, a kick here and a kick there when his mother, my daughter, went for her regular prenatal checkup.
I was wondering why it was taking so long for her to come out of the waiting room. I had already read all the books that was placed along the tables and racks.

Finally the door opened and a the nurse came and told me that they were sending her straight to the hospital via ambulance.
They were concerned about her blood pressure being extremely high and it needed to get under control and fast.
In fact so fast that the hospital she was supposed to go to when it was time to deliver was not an option. They sent her to the closest one that was near her clinic.

Decisions had to be made. My daughter had to deliver in order to bring her pressure down and the little man was only about seven months in the womb and no where near ready to face the challenges in the world. The doctor needed to accelerate little mans lungs in order for him to make his entrance.

On October 20th, 2002 Tyler Donald did just that without a whimper. Was he too tiny to cry? I don't know but he was among the living and for that I was grateful. His dad Victor, grand-dad Alford and me were all in the delivery room as our little miracle was gently whisked away to the confines of an incubator.
There was plenty of room in the incubator because he was the size of my hand. Taylor, his sister was upset that she was not allowed to see the delivery. It was however for her own good because of the uncertainty of her mothers condition.

My daughter Latisha got out of the hospital after about a two week stay. Her blood pressure was finally back to normal and she could hardly wait to do the baby to breast technique that mothers do to make them feel as if they are in the womb. She would place him to her bare chest for a limited time because he needed to get back into the incubator.

When Tyler was able to come home, he came weighing four lbs attached to a heart monitor that would sound off when his rhythm was off. He was also on plenty of oxygen to help him with his breathing.

Seven years later, all is well. He has a squeegie (the kids correct me when I say that instead of saying Inhaler) and a breathing machine at home in case he needs it. He is no longer on oxygen and the trips to the hospital late at night have ceased.

His sister Taylor who is ten years older than him are kinda like joined at the hip.
She is like my mama opinionated. Smart as a whip too. I claim naming her after the Taylor family name, no matter what her mother says.
Their mother and I jockey for position but that's alright. We know how it is when the power of God's goodness gave my daughter two miracles: Two beautiful children to love unconditionally.
And me as the grandmother, what else could they ask for!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Follow Friday: Tumbleweeds!!

Thinking back to when I was young, tumbleweeds were all over the place. Later in life the tumbleweeds disappeared and was replaced with parking lots, housing developments and 7 Eleven stores. Now in the last few years and the economy has changed, those housing developments are littered with For Sale and Forclosure signs. Alas, the tumbleweeds are also back.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: There Were Six

Who could resist a warm smile, a hand to hold and a hug that is so consoling when need be and as spontaneous as you wanted it to be.

Who could resist that tug of your heart when your mother told you that you were special and that you are loved.

Who could resist being told that you looked very pretty when you knew that you yourself did not think so.

Who could resist taking a swipe of cake batter from a big wooden spoon and being asked your opinion as to whether it was good or not, knowing that each time it was the best you ever tasted.

Who could resist staring at the lady you called mom, mommie,or momma. Thinking how beautiful she was and how proud she made you feel.

Who could resist that laughter and the sound of a song that was sung while she snapped her fingers.

Who could resist knowing that she was your mama and you were her child.

Who could resist those tears that fell when her grown son ran out the room knowing she was on her way to another place better than this one.

Who could resist when she told the weakest one to go get that son because she knew in the end that weak one would become strong.

There are six who could not resist coming into the life of a wonderful person. A person who doted on them, who loved being around them, who protected and nutured them.

There were six who learned spiritual guidance through words and deeds. That it was as confidential as a mother's prayer.

There were six who knew that a Mother's Day celebration is just as meaningful today as it was yesterday.

There were six who knew without a doubt that they were loved.

There were six!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

African American Genealogy Carnival: They Served With Honor: In Memoriam African Americans in the Military 1914-1953


Upper left: Corporal Owens C Daviss U.S Army WW 11 served in France: Son of James Penn and Betty Owens Daviss.

Upper Right: Carpenter Mate 11 Henry/Harry E Daviss U.S. Navy WW11 served in British West Indies and beyond: Son of James Penn and Gertrude Sims Daviss.

Center: Sgt Spencer Daviss US Army WW11 and Korean Conflict served also in India: Son of James Penn and Gertrude Sims Daviss.

Lower Left: PFC Isaiah T Daviss US Army WW11 served in Africa Italy and France: Son of James Penn and Gertrude Sims Daviss.

Lower right: PFC Theodore R Daviss US Army WW11 served in England and the Pacific: Son of James Penn and Gertrude Sims Daviss.

And on the right is S-Sgt James Parker Daviss WW11: son of James Penn and Gertrude Sims Daviss.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: AZ State March on Capitol

The March to the Arizona State Capitol re: Imigration Reform reminds me of myself over twenty years ago when we marched to the same capitol for the Martin Luther King Holiday. The Holiday was rescinded by Evan Mechum. He was as he should have been Impeached!!

Thats me to the left of my friend Joanne who is in the middle.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Water From the Well to the House

This well located on my Daviss grandparents property in Navasota Texas bought years of cool refreshing water.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mondays Madness: Teshan Young, A Texas Turmoil For Me

I first became interested in Ms Young and her family when I saw that there was a Ida Dickerson listed in the household on the Harrison County Texas Census. I went on a search looking for who this Ida was because my great grandfather Charlie Dickerson/Dixon had a daughter named Ida. So the best way to do that was to see if I could follow the Youngs in case this would lead to a tie.
The next thing I came across was a Texas Slave Narrative where I found Ms Young. Here is a snip-it of that narrative:

Teshan Young , 86, was born a slave to Easkner Scott , who owned a plantation in Harrison County, Texas, and had over one hundred slaves, Teshaw married Moses Young in 1867 and lived near her old home until 1916, when she moved to Fort Worth. She lives in a negro settlement on the catskirts of Stop Six, a suburb of Fort Worth.

The rest of the narrative can be found listed here:,%20Thesan.html

I then went in searching again and found a Death Certificate for Ms Young. The cause of her death caused my heart to sink. She died in a house fire!

I am now trying to find a newspaper article that may give more insite to what may have caused the fire and perhaps have some mention of the great aunt Ida Dickerson Anderson.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Surname Saturday: JP's and JD's Taylor and Daviss

Joseph Paul Daviss and James D "Jake" Daviss
The Maternal and Paternal side of it all.

Joseph Paul Taylor, the handsome man on the left is from Marshall Texas.
He is the father of my maternal grandmother Essie Dean Taylor, and son of Mariah Taylor and step-father Lawrence Taylor. According to several sources he was born btw 1865-1867 in Jonesville, Harrison County Texas. Known as JP, he passed away in Kaufman County Texas in 1951.
He is buried in Marshall Texas at the St. Johns Baptist Church Cemetery.

James D "Jake" Daviss, the handsome man on the right was born in North Carolina around 1856. The city and county is unknown. He is the father of my paternal grandfather James Penn Daviss and the son of Hubbard and Elizabeth Davis (oral history). When and how James D Daviss came to Texas has not been established but his footprints stretch from numerous counties as a doctor. James D passed away in Houston Texas in 1921 and was buried at the historically black Evergreen Cemetery.