Saturday, December 10, 2011

Aunt Ponnie And Me; Altus Okla Made Three

When I was a kid I used to listen to the poem starting with T'was The Night Before Christmas And All Through The House

Well let me tell you this was not the night before Christmas!!!!!

It was March and the night before the big Western dance at the Wm H Patterson Elks Lodge and I just got stood up!

Thinking fast, should I pick up the telephone and call or should I forget it.

I wanted to clear out my mind. No need in saying any bad words because that would make me more angry. I had never ever been stood up before.

The worse thing that I could remember happening to me was when that little boy who lived three doors down from us at the Lackland Air Force Base asked me to be his girlfriend. The next day after I said ok, he took my umbrella and broke it. I think he also quit me but I was so busy crying about my broken umbrella that I did not hear him.

The first thing would be is to stop looking at the clock. It seemed like all I heard was tic, tic tic, tic tic tic. Then, I need to get away from that dog-gone window. No reason to keep looking, Its not going to change anything one bit.Tic, tic, tic,tic, tic tic tic.

(I don't know what sound is worse the constant ticking or the buzzing of a fly that circles and circles all around your ear.)

My Aunt Ponnie used to say all the time,''Honey, haven't you heard that a watch pot never boils" I could hear her saying that now as I backed away from the window. I suddenly realized that my date was no longer important. That the realization should be on a person who had more of an impact on my life and that was Aunt Ponnie.

Although our time together was short, it was very meaningful to me. She kept me from being lonely when I missed my family back home, and she loved me as if I were her own.

Pauline was born November 30th 1899 to Joe and Nancy Cryor Mitchell in Hempstead County Arkansas. She grew up with two brothers Floyd and Wardell.

Here are two census records that reflect her and her family.

The first is a 1900 Census in Saline County Arkansas

The View:

Here is the 1910 census that depicts the brothers Floyd and Wardell Mitchell

The View:

Somewhere along the way Wardell ended up in Kansas City Kansas/Missouri area and Pauline and Floyd ended up in Altus Oklahoma. That's where I met her.

We spent hours and hours talking and laughing. Everyone called her Aunt Ponnie.
One thing about Aunt Ponnie was that she sure spoke her mind and 99.9 percent of the time it was the truth. She had her hands full with her grandson's Lawrence and Melvin who were just coming into their teens. Melvin was the outgoing one and Lawrence was more reserved.

I had driven down from Phoenix one year and stayed with them for about a month. I was on my way to Dallas but took a different route so that I could see them and also my Uncle Wright Cuney "Prof" Davis.

Every morning for about two weeks after getting up, I would go outside. The first thing that I saw was my car. It had been egged!

I was so upset. Number one because my car was egged and number two the paint on my car was being ruined. The boys Melvin and Lawrence and I tried to be look-outs for the culprits but to no avail.

Leave it to Aunt Ponnie, she found a way.

One night when everyone went to bed Aunt Ponnie got up, went to the refrigerator, took out all the eggs and carefully numbered them. She placed them back in the container upside down.

Well lo and behold the next morning, my car was egged. She called me and the boys in the living-room and told Melvin to get the eggs out of the refrigerator, and one by one read off the numbers. One number was missing.

Melvin confessed, saying that he was just playing pranks on me. All I could say was he had better be glad that he was not my child at that moment.

I think Melvin could not go out and play for about two days because he was put on punishment.
I asked Aunt Ponnie how she knew that it was Melvin. Well she said, " When it was lawrence's time to be the look-out, the next morning, no eggs!! When it was Melvin's turn, eggs !! That told me that one plus one equals two, so I got out the crayon."

Aunt Ponnie had a house with about four bedrooms. She rented out two of the rooms. One was to a soldier who was stationed at Altus Air Force base. His job on the base was a cook. So when he bought different things home from the base it was a welcome relief to Aunt Ponnie. There were big bags of flour and sugar, all kinds of fruits and veggies, spices and sweets.

One day I went over to her house and Aunt Ponnie was not really feeling that good. She was sitting on the couch and was a little out of breath. That did not stop her from puffing on those Pall Malls though. She asked me if I could finish cooking for her because her roomers would be home soon and that meals was a part of her contract with them.

Aunt Ponnie told me to look up under the cabinet and take out that big can of parsley that her roomer had bought home from the base and sprinkle some on the meat she was going to prepare.

I did so and opened the lid. Man oh man was I in for a shock. All I could smell was weed. That can was filled to the rim.

I was not a smoker of weed but being from the city I came from, I knew the smell.

I did not say a word to Aunt Ponnie. If I would have told her what she was unknowingly harboring I am sure her 65 years at that time would have been cut short by a heart attack.

Instead when the roomer soldier came home, I told him what I had found. He moved the next day. I think he may have told Aunt Ponnie that he was getting shipped out and had to leave for another assignment.

I learned several years later that he had been booted out of the service.

I moved back to Phoenix and called or wrote to Aunt Ponnie every chance I got.

One time she called me crying up a storm. She told me that someone was coming to take her refrigerator away and that she had to go to court. She begged me to come and go to the courthouse with her. Distraught, she said that she had no one else to go with her. Hating to hear that, I took time off my job, caught the bus and went back to Altus.

That following Monday we went down to the courthouse where we met with this lawyer who was in charge of her case. When he told me how much money her court case was over, I was too through. She was threatened with not only the loss of her refrigerator, but the threat that she could have her house taken away if she did not pay up.

They gave her a week or else.

She was in to them for a lousy eleven dollars. They had intimidated her with calls and threats that to her the eleven dollars seemed like eleven hundred dollars. I asked the lawyer what the total pay off was. With a smirk on his face, he told me thirty dollars which I promptly paid.

I asked him for a paid in full receipt and we left.

I know that Aunt Ponnie was relieved but she sure did try hard to get me to move back to Altus. God I loved that woman, but to live back there again, I just couldn't. Aunt Ponnie left this earth in 1979.......I drove down again for her home going celebration.

Rest In Peace Aunt Ponnie, Rest In Peace.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Big Time Texan Sticking To The Story

Curses Foiled Again Or That's My Story And I'am Sticking To It

I had barely gotten to bed . The clock read 3:45 A.M. and only one eye felt drowsy enough to let me drift off.

With a start I jumped up, looked around and saw my daughter looking at me. My first question to her was, What time is it?

I had fallen asleep on the couch and she was sitting on the love seat reading the paper and sipping coffee. I keep saying "she" but my daughter's name is Latisha.

Anyway, she told me it was 9:30 A.M, took another sip of her coffee, and looked back down again at the paper.

Since I was still groggy I asked her if she had a pen. She reached down in her purse, pulled out a pen and tossed it to me.

I wrote down 147 then headed to the little room to get ready for the rest of the day.
I didn't want to seem so excited so I casually went to the computer, turned it on and waited for the AfriGeneas chat room to open.

Wondering If I made a mistake I went back to where I had placed the note that had the number 147 on it and expanded it to 149.

Finally, Art Thomas, Angela Walton Raji, Selma, Valencia, Seventies Soulchild and a few others came in. We started talking about topics like DNA, US Colored Troops, current research finds, All roads lead to Virginia with a few laughs thrown in.

I looked at the clock. Did I see a 145? Durn-it, I may have written down the number wrong again so back to my notes. I changed my number from 147 to 145.

After chat was over, I finally relaxed and went about my business of connecting my numbers to my jumbled thoughts. My jumping up out of my sleep was because of that number 147.

There was this book that I have by Vivian Lehman and Edith Smith called No Land,Only Slaves. Volume 4 Harrison, Hunt, and Kaufman County Texas. Deeds and conveyances are in in this particular book and I look at it quite often. This book was in my dream.

In my dream I saw the book opened and thrown out in the front yard all dirty and trampled on. This was not my front yard but a yard that was like a rolling hill with really green grass. I was heart broken and upset in this dream.

Looking around and screaming out, Who stole my book, Who in the ^%$^ stole my book?

I picked up the book and saw that half of the pages were torn out and the binding was ripped out in places.

Who tore out the pages in my book, I screamed!

I don't remember what happened next except there was a person who I had never seen before said something like " they left 147, see".

I looked down at the pages of the book,and that is when I woke up.

In my nervousness all I could think of at that point was Mariah, my elusive 3rd great grandmother. My brick wall Mariah, My Texas Wind Mariah, My Harrison County Grandmother the 3rd Mariah who loves to play jokes on me.

Was this the clue I had been looking for? Did I finally beat her at her own game? After all, I hear others say in this genealogy arena that the ancestors will speak to you when they are ready.

I started to stick out my chest because I now know that my dream was a sign. I am so Confident thatI think that was why I was taking my time to get my book and look at page 147.

It was quiet in the house as I slowly turned the page to 147.

The first thing I noticed when I turned the page was Book T. My heart started beating faster and faster because Mariah's last name was Taylor.
As I was scouring the pages there were no Mariah's that fit the bill. It was a good thing I expanded my page numbers because I read each and every entry up to page 149. I then went back down to page 145, then 144 all the way to page 140.

Nothing,zilch,nada which means I need another plan!

Now, I am looking at Book A : Starting with every H meaning Harrison County that has the number 140 - 149 in it until I get to the last book for this county.

Book A Har 145 2 Jan 1838 Hughes, Isaac of Johnson County Ark to his sister-in-law Kerzia Mason of Pope County Ark. Gift. Buck, m, 45; Hannah,F,45* for my love and affection. Wit. Walker,William and Rogers, Jacob of Johnson Co. ARK. Justice of the Peace for Johnson Co. Ark: Powers, Thomas (* Book A, Pages 162-163 Clarksville, Johnson Co. Ark)

Now that my eyes are tired and I need to take a break, I think I will bake some muffins. I just have to remember not to eat them all up in one sitting. Yummy!!

Next time I will go buy me a pick three lottery ticket, number 147.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Help: Lady Bird's Zephyr

Not my Zepher but it sure got me to thinking about the movie The Help:

I could have been considered a part of The Help for about one week-end in my lifetime. I had been looking and looking for a job to no avail. I was desperate to find anything.
I answered an ad in the paper and interviewed for a domestic helper and got the job. I worked that Saturday morning cleaning up this lady's house when it dawned on me to listen to my inner thoughts.

I never went back.

Not that I was too proud to do that type of work but this lady's daughter who was about my age or a year or two older dropped something on the floor that she did not make an attempt to pick up and I was NOT about to go down that road.
To this day I can't remember if I got my couple dollars pay.

Zephyr Wright was born in Marshall Texas, the same place as my mother Zepher. My mother's grandfather is Joseph Taylor and Zephyr Wright worked for Claudia Taylor Johnson who also was born in Marshall Texas.

Same name those Z's but spelled differently.

They even have another common given name. Her grandmother is Maria/Mariah and my mothers great- grandmother is Maria/Mariah. (Don't think I haven't checked this Mariah out lol)
Oral history has my Taylor's tied to the above Taylor's but that is another story at another time.

I see all of these little similarities so I decided to find out more about Ms Zephyr Wright doing a little research.

Here's Lady Bird's Zephyr:

Zephyr Wright was born in Marshall but was raised by her grandparents Tom and Maria/Mariah McKenzie until she was around twelve years old. This 1920 census puts her in the grandparents home listed as grand-daughter last name Blackmon or Blackman.

This is the bottom two lines of the 1920 census that shows the grandparents:

The 2nd page is continued here: Click on image to get a better look

I still have not determined who Zephyr's mother is but this is the family in the 1910 census.

While a student at Wiley College in Marshall Texas, Zephyr was given the opportunity to work as a housekeeper and cook for Lady Bird Johnson.
Dr. Dogan the president of Wiley recommended her after Claudia let it be known that she was looking for someone to work for her.
Ms Wright knew of the Taylor's plus her aunt worked for Thomas Jefferson Taylor Claudia's father.

I am not totally sure when Ms Wright went from Housekeeper to the lone family cook but she must have been a wonderful one. Her recipe's for the White House menu's have been in various newspapers and magazines. The Johnson's did however leave the fancy cooking to a White House Chef they attained for all those State Dinner affairs.

The Johnson girls threw a surprise birthday party for Zephyr. Growing up with a person through-out one's life is cause for deep affection.

Perhaps Zephyr knew Susan Bass Clardy when they both attended the wedding of Lynda Bird Johnson and Captain Charles Robb.

Ms Clardy is one of the links to Ms Angela Walton Raji.
see: as Angela tells her story of those in her family who was The Help.

Ms Wright had much influence on Lyndon Baines Johnson. So much so that he used her knowledge when making a point to leaders of great distinction. (Rockford Register) 1966

Excerpts from Leonard H. Marks, director of the U.S. Information Agency during the Johnson administration.
He tells this story about how she may have influenced his work on civil rights reform.

"Many say that Lyndon, because he came from the South, didn't believe in civil rights. Lady Bird had two people as hired help, Zephyr and Sammy Wright. Zephyr was the maid and cook, and Sammy was the chauffeur.

At one of the luncheons I attended before Johnson became president, Zephyr was serving when Lyndon told her that she and Sammy should get ready to drive to Austin. The family would join them later.
She said, "Senator, I'm not going to do it." There was silence.

She said, "When Sammy and I drive to Texas and I have to go to the bathroom, like Lady Bird or the girls, I am not allowed to go to the bathroom. I have to find a bush and squat.
When it comes time to eat, we can't go into restaurants. We have to eat out of a brown bag.
And at night, Sammy sleeps in the front of the car with the steering wheel around his neck, while I sleep in the back. We are not going to do it again."

LBJ put down his napkin and walked out of the room.

Later, when Johnson became president and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law Zephyr was there. Johnson motioned to her, gave her the pen that he used to sign the bill.
He said, "You deserve this more than anybody else."

Ms Wright passed away April 25th 1988 in Washington DC.
According to the Washington Post April 28th article Her husband, Sammie Wright, died in 1969. The post listed survivors that included two half brothers, James and Willie Black, both of Fort WorthTexas and two half sisters, Mary Yancy of Houston and Virginia Clemons of Dallas.

RIP Ms Zephyr Wright, You were more than just the HELP, you were a friend to those you helped and loved.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mariah and Me Present: My First Presentation

Presentation! What did they mean presentation? I don't know nothing bout birth'n no presentation!!!

A presentation at the Arizona Black Family Genealogy and Historical Society Meeting, you must be kidding me!

Later though I gave in and made a promise to Leafshaker my genealogy bud that I would do my best to comply. I didn't want to flub when one of Arizona's premier researchers was watching me.

The topic had to do with blogging and highlighted with the research technique I used to find and document a Clark family in Logan County Oklahoma.

I swear ggg- grandmother Mariah it had nothing to do with you.

My friend Angela sent me some information to guide me on my way and get started on the blogging side. I stayed up half the day and night trying to put the information in my own vernacular.

But noooo Mariah, you would not let me save it to my computer.

Every time I hit the save button, and went back all my changes I made did not take. After about 5 hours continuously I finally got it saved it to Power Point.

Now I can finally put my presentation on a CD. Smiling, I looked to my left and realized that the drawer/doors to the CD copier was broken.

This one I am not blaming on you Mariah because Tyler your 5th great grand-son had one of his CD's break off inside and we could not get it out.

We neglected to have the drawer replaced and now I really need it. I should have remembered and followed that saying "never put off tomorrow what you can do today."

My next trip was to go and buy a memory stick. I got one on sale at Fry's for nine dollars, bought it home and the durn thing would not even load up down or around.

Not to be undone, I went to Staples and got another brand that I was more familar with. I put it in the USB port and a dog-gone message came up saying "try again later." Heck it was already late!

I know it had to be you Mariah. I have felt you late at night in my presence before, and I know for a fact that you don't want to be found yet.

Time for me to take a break so I headed to the kitchen looking in every cabinet for that bottle of wine from five Christmases ago. You had been in that cabinet hadn't you? I am not getting smart with you, but its awful funny that I could not find that bottle that had your surname Taylor on it. Mighty Strange I must say.

Time was ticking: I started to type and my thumb on my right hand froze up like I had just been in the World Thumb Wrestling Championship and lost.

It was time for me to call a back-up now. I hurried up and got on the phone and called my friend Lil Leaf and asked if I could send my PP presentation to her and put it on a CD.

Yes, she said and with a sigh of relief I hit the send button.

Why thirty minutes later did she call me and say that she could not open it?

It was now around 9:30 at night and I was scheduled for the next day. Our only solution was to send her the slides one by one through the email.

I got my other unwelcomed call around 10 P.M.

As the old folks used to say after almost pulling out my hair, I took to my bed!

Armed with nothing on Saturday I went to the meeting with good intentions. My only solution was to go to my Mariah's Zepher site and read from my last Blog.

Mariah had to follow me there because the computer crashed just as I was getting ready to start.

With bated breathe I started to cold talk about my last blog entry, no power point, no slides, just those twelve pair of eyes looking my way.

Then the computer came back up. Whew!! Finally Mariah, you let me finish.
It was not what I planned but the presentation turned out okay. Thank you God.

Thank you too Mariah.

I also want to apologize for calling you by your first name. I was not raised like that and I kind of look around to the right and left to see if anyone saw me typing.

Oh one those memory sticks I bought that did not work. Well Taylor my grand-daughter came home that evening, put it in the port and the blankety- blank blank things worked on the first try.

Now quit playing with me granny number three and show yourself. (pretty please!)

Love ya!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Little Girl's Bravery: Logan County Ok 1893

Last month,a young lady by the name of Ruby came to The Black Family Genealogy and Historical meeting wanting to learn more about her family and wanted to learn more about the process of searching.

One of the comments she shared with me was oral history related to her ancestrial family who lived in Oklahoma. That family was frank and Meldia McGlory.

Ruby then mentioned that her grandmother Meldia's family had come to a horrible end but that the oral history was rather sketchy. She stated that there had been a robbery and her great grandmother's parents were killed.
Ruby in turn did not know the name of her grandmothers parents. She had also heard that her great grandmother was raised by family friends by the name of Sellers and later met and married Frank McGlory.

Here I go, nosey me again, loaded with the name of her family friend and the first name of the grandmother. I took to the 1900 census in Logan County Okla and after careful searching,there they were, Wilson Sellers and his wife Mary. In the household was Meldia Clark. (be sure and click on images for better viewing)

Another jewel was the state that this family came from. Since Tennessee was the state of birth, and the grandmother was born in 1879 I went to the 1880 census and found several Clark's. One of these families could have been Meldia's parents or other family members.

I decided to look for clues in the census by searching Meldie with her husband Peter McGlory. Perhaps then I could be able to help Ruby tie in the loose ends of the actual names of Meldia's parents.
I found Peter and Meldia in the 1920 census in Logan County Oklahoma and listed also were their children Lee and Gabriel.

The next step was to see if there may be a clue from a newspaper that was active in Oklahoma and had mentioned a family that had been murdered in Logan County or a surrounding county.

With tired eyes, I decided to continue my search the next day and shut down my computer for the night.

Just as I was about to get off I decided to look in the Guthrie Daily Leader an Oklahoma paper.

A heading caught my eye. "Negro Milligan Meets His Creator" I thought to myself hmmm this may be something to blog about in the future.

Reading on I realized this guy was the culprit in Ruby's Families massacre! Oh My Gosh!!!

The Milligan Hanging was the first legal hanging in Oklahoma. Oh, there had been plenty of hangings before then but Oklahoma was now a Territory and has been put in the books as such.

Dead,Dead Sheriff DeFord said as he pronounced his sentence on Milligan and asked if he had any last words.

Some of the other names mentioned I assume were friends who witnessed the hanging or were people involved in a church because there was numerous Reverends in attendance.

This is the story of what happened to the Clarks and Milligan's brutal role.

Clark had only been in the Deep Fork Settlement for a few weeks when his wife and child were bought to Oklahoma along with Milligan a youngster from their home town in Tennessee. Mr Clark had just built a log cabin for them to stay in.

Sometime after the ghastly deed happened a young girl came to collect money owed for her father and saw what had happened.

All for one hundred and seventy five dollars for a thief in the night.

After reading the story and finding the name Gabe and Hannah Clark, I went back to that 1880 census. Gabe could very well be Chester with wife Hannah. (that can be filed again for later.)I also went back to the 1920 census and saw that Meldia and Frank named one of her sons Gabe.

It is sad to read that a family was taken off the face of the earth because of greed
especially when they have tried to help you have a better life than what you had.

The one good thing that came out of the story was that the little girl Meldia lived to tell the story of what happened that day.

The little girl Meldia lived to grow up and have a loving husband and children.

The little girl grew up to have a great-grand daughter by the name of Ruby who wants to know her heritage and spread that heritage to others in her family.

The little girl had to endure those visions for the rest of her life but she was a brave little girl,one her ancestors must be very proud of.