Sunday, December 30, 2012

Prelude To A Joyful Noise

Honoring 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation was Issued:

The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free."

Easther Thornton born between 1854-1864 San Jacinto County Texas

James "Jake" Daviss born 1854 North Carolina

James Conway 1847 Texas Sally White Cooper Conway born 1862 Grimes County Texas

John Lewis born 1845 Texas,Sally Jefferson Sims Lewis born 1864 Fayette County Texas

December 31, 1862.....Anxious, singing, anxious, praying, anxious, joyful,

anxious, anxious, bells will be ringing the glad glad news, anxious, In effect,

anxious, signature still wet, anxious, midnight, anxious, thankful, anxious, tears,

anxious, GOD, anxious, new year, anxious, shouting, anxious, clapping, anxious,

slaves, anxious, free, anxious, emotional, anxious, rebirth......anxious, anxious,

anxious, anxious !!!

Hannah Johnson, mother of a Northern Black soldier, writing to President Abraham

Lincoln about the Emancipation Proclamation, July 31, 1863 stated:

" When you are dead and in Heaven, in a thousand years that action of yours will make the Angels sing your praises."

January one 1863 EMANCIPATED and FREE......JUBILEE

As the Ancestors planted their seeds,vines of hope sprouted forth new life:

With pride, I salute and tip my strands of grey hair to one of my brothers who was

chosen to benefit from one of those vines of hope. Sharing also this 150 year

Emancipation Proclamation Celebration and his day of birth together.

Wheras on January One 1948 a mother and father rushed to an air-force hospital in

Texas where they anxiously awaited the birth of their child. Reflecting on the fact

that this child would be born free and knowing that all the Williams sons and

daughters benefited from that day over 150 years ago.

January one 1948..... Anxious, water, anxious, awake, anxious, relax, anxious,

breathe, anxious, Lackland, anxious, tears, anxious, relieved, anxious, happy,

anxious, San Antonio, anxious, smile, anxious, sleepy, anxious, JESUS, anxious,

thank you, anxious, blessed, anxious, proud, anxious, soldier dad, anxious, at last,

anxious,and then along came an anxious male =

A anxious mama smiled and stroked his forehead. His anxious Daddy said, "Thats my

boy" as he stuck his chest out and anxiously handed out cigars!

This one's for you Dude minus the Blue Bell and Delaware Punch

As he poses in his favorite shirt..........

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Day Ms Ruby Lee Bates Helped Shape My Life

Its funny how you remember things in your life that happened so many years ago. I was thinking of my maternal uncles who worked for the Texas-Pacific Railroad in Marshall Texas. The railroad must have been on my mind when I woke up the next day because all I saw was Ms Ruby Lee Bates and my momma. You see I got a big time punishment and it was not even my entire fault. Or so I thought at the time. Years later I can see how I could have prevented the consequences.

My buds Gloria Parker, Jean Pete and Hazel Bowen and I got out of school early. It had to be something with grading tests or Parent - Teacher meetings scheduled for later on in the day. Now that was legit but we forgot to remind our mothers that we were getting out early. Why bother them anyway because they were hard at work and no need to have them worry about us.

I now think that Gloria, Hazel and I should have headed in different directions after school let out.

That was our first mistake. I said "our" because Gloria and Hazel lived South past 7th Ave and Watkins, and I lived north and way west in back of the Capitol. Jean was the only one of us headed in the right direction towards home. Besides Ms Pete had to have some good food that we all could partake before we headed to our perspective homes.

I remember we were laughing and talking as we headed towards Jeans house when we got to the railroad track.

Our second mistake: We thought we had skills singing....(sounded good too)
To compliment those skills we saw this railroad man working. He had this large steel like gizmo he was using to turn the track.

We decided to sing a song and tease this hard working man. "I been working on the railroad, all the live long day, I been working on the railroad just to pass the time away." We sure giggled and pointed and sang that song again...heeheehee! " Can't you hear the whistle blowing, Rise up so early in the morn"

Then we heard a voice! It was Ms Ruby Lee Bates... "Vicky, does your mother know you are here, you better get your tail on where you belong. How come you are not in school? " We were so busy laughing, giggling and singing we did not hear Ms Ruby Lee's car stop. Nor did we hear Ms Ruby Lee come up to where we were. I do remember though her arm stretched out with her finger pointed in the direction I should hurry up and take.

Needless to say, I took my rear end home and waiting for me was my momma. Ms Ruby Lee had snitched and I knew it before I even got through the door good. I had to sing for my momma that day with tears streaming down my face. I been working on the railroad, all the live long day. This time the words were not so measured and the tune was all my own, made up by me.

Now I know what it means when they say it takes a village. Ms Ruby Lee and my mom were good friends and that was a record that stood til the end of their time on earth. You see, Ms Ruby Lee Bates moved back to Texas from Arizona. Her and my mom would keep up with each other by telephone. Several years later I also moved to Dallas and would visit her from time to time. I still remember that good ole roast she cooked that day I went to see her. I think that was the last time I visited because I moved back to Arizona shortly after.

I had run into her son Vernon Jr from time to time in Dallas but her daughters Ruby Lee and Jessie Mae I lost contact with. I got curious and decided to look around and research I see where they got their names.

It was from both their paternal line and maternal lines. Vernon Jr was named after his dad Vernon and Jessie Mae was named after her dads mother Jessie Mae who was the wife of Ford Bates.
Here is the 1920 census record from Ancestry (click to enlarge)

Ruby Lee as we see was named after her mother Ruby Lee Record daughter of Mose and Addie Bell Washom/Mosely Record.

According to a delayed birth record her mother Addie was born in Navasota Texas the home of my father and his parents. Did I say record! That was Ms Ruby Lee Bates maiden name.....Record (One thing we do have to remember is how we connect our research even though the spelling on the records may be unclear.)

The AR Dictionary states that the meaning of record is to recall to mind, to remember, to recollect, to meditate.

I did all of those things as I reflected that long ago memory. As I delve into my genealogy research I always record or make a record of what I find.
Little did I know that Ms Ruby Lee Record Bates would cause me to meditate (with a little help from my mom) on decisions I make throughout my life.

R.I.P. Ms Ruby Lee along with your daughters Ruby Lee and Jessie Mae

In Rememberance of those who share names in a historical perspective I honor

R.I.P. Civil Rights Legend Daisy Lee Gatson Bates of the Little Rock Nine

R.I.P Mr Eugene Record former member of the Chilites recording group and writer of songs like "Have You Seen Her" and "OH Girl"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Front Porch Hallelujah!

“The Ancestors Told; the Elders Listened; We Pass It On”

My grandmother Essie Dean Taylor was fiesty but silent when it came to her family. In her mind family consisted of those left behind so long ago in Marshall Texas.

For several years my kids and I would drive to Los Angeles from Arizona where my grandmother lived, take her to the store and load up on groceries.

The last couple of times we drove down, we tried to get her to come back with us. We could see things were changing with her mental stability.

I received a call from my brother Bruce expressing some concerns so the kids and I hopped in the car and drove down.

Our store trip ended up as a family kidnapping.

When my grandmother realized that she had been in the car way to long, that the landscape had changed from lots of freeways to cacti she became furious. The only thing I took from her house was her Bible, the picture of her father and a little yellow duck that she liked so well. Everything else, I left for others to take care of.

Yes grandmother I kidnapped you and I am glad I did.

Those days and nights of worrying eased more than you ever know. All the weight you had lost now began to hug your body because you had someone to look after you.
The onset of Dementia was somehow not as it had seemed when we visited you those days in California. You had always been a very humorous person with a wit that had your grandchildren laughing up a storm.

My regret is that my mother, your daughter did not live to see you here with us. You unknownly asked me often how was Zepher Lee doing. I always answered you with a smile and said she was resting. I know that she would have been very proud because she had always asked you to move to Arizona with her. Her daily long distance calls with you would have been changed to a person to person chat.

Once here and settled, I remember sitting on the front porch with my grandmother asking all sorts of questions. Oh how she hated that! Her mind was telling me that it was none of my business and that I was too nosey. Her family was her business and hers alone, and then she would clam up. How was I going to thread that needle and find out my family history that I so desperately had been seeking since the early 1990's.

On one of those last "sitting" on the porch days, I said to her something like I wonder what your daddy's mother looked like. She looked up and said, "You mean my grandma Mariah" I thought I would jump for joy.

Halleluja,Halleluja I silently thought. After all those years of asking, I finally got a name.

With a quiet voice I said to her, what about your grandfather, was he a nice man? Her reply was that her step grandfather was lawrence. She mentioned her father Joseph's funeral and two cousins.

I was too afraid to get up and get a pencil.

The names she mentioned was Hallie, her husband Willie and another cousin Millie. They drove down from Louisiana she said. She laughed out loud because Willie was afraid of Hallie and towered over him.

Then I made my mistake......I asked if Lawrence is your step-grandfather, what was your daddy's fathers real name?

She looked at me, stared me down and said. "You will never make any money off of my family," and zipped her mouth closed. She never mentioned names again.

I never got another hint about our family from her again. I do suspect though that something deep happened so long ago and the family kept those things within themselves.

I did go to the 1900 Harrison County Texas census and located Mariah/Maria living several doors up from her son Joseph and his wife Frances Dickerson Taylor, my grandmothers parents.

I also found Mariah/Maria and Lawrence in the 1910 Harrison County census living in the same place. I have not found Hattie, Willie or the other cousin Millie nor any last names to go with them. No death certificates for Mariah or Lawrence. I do have a death certificate for her son Joseph but no parents are listed.

My grandmother passed away two years later at the age of 95.

If that day's talk is called an interview then I guess it was. I got names that I never knew, and started another another journey in finding my Mariah's roots. Now if she would only answer me in the way ancestors do, I would be estatic.

After all I did name my blog Mariah's Zepher after her. Halleluja!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Broken Bruised Blessed and Bassett In Grimes County Texas

Did you ever wonder how life was right after Reconstruction in Texas.

African Americans registered to vote for the first time starting in 1867.

Those horrible Black Codes that were enacted by the 1866 11th Legislature in Texas was bent on keeping African Americans under the thumb of those who still thought blacks were inferior after the Civil war.

Thus my wondering is real as to the realization that my second great grandfather Louis Cooper actually got the chance to cast his vote. Or did he?

I found where he registered on July 29th 1867 on the 1867 Voter Registration Rolls in Grimes County Texas as well as one of my great-grandfathers John Lewis.

I am assuming that they took that walk together and picked up other brave neighbors along the way.

However, I was not able to identify Louis in the 1870 census or the 1880 census both in Grimes County Texas.

With all the mayhem that was prevalent in those times I often wonder if something may have happened to him as he went to the polls.
lets not forget the poll tax the Freedmen had to pay.

I see my first cousin's gg grandfather Ben Boges aka Boggess listed on the Freedman's Assessment Roll as paying a poll tax.

Another tax is the income tax or tax where it shows what the freedmen owned and paid.

see insert

I also wonder how many men Louis Cooper knew who held office after Reconstruction.

Those were the brave men who against all odds wanted to help their families and community become whole after slavery. To have a better life as they began to
make it on their own, and to be protected by the laws that were supposed to be for everyone.

Men like A Houston Bassett.

Houston was born in 1857 in Grimes County. He was found in 1880 living in Davidson County Tennessee where he was boarding with the Clark family and going to school. I believe at this time he was attending Fisk.

Houston served as a Representative in the 20th Legislature serving Grimes County.

I know my grandparents knew him and his wife Cordelia Foster Bassett. They were next door neighbors in Grimes County, Navasota Texas. In fact my great aunt Bernice Cordelia Daviss Smith may have been named after his wife.

I would love to find out if there is a descendant connection to either one of them.

click on image to view

Ancestry 1910; Census Place: Justice Precinct 1, Grimes, Texas; Roll: T624

Houston has been cemented in the annals of history highlighted within these pages

What I also like is that this is also a verification of wife's maiden name of Foster

Houston A P Bassett descended into Heaven in Grimes County Texas and is buried in the Little Flock Cemetery. The same cemetery that my paternal ancestors are buried. May he Rest In Peace.

In this day and age although not political is another famous Bassett who undoubtedly stood on someone's shoulder. Its too bad she is not a Texan LOL

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mariah At The Wheel In Oklahoma

I am not saying that Mariah was the only one at the wheel because I know that a higher power had first dibs, but I swear she had a hand on where she wanted to take me.

Mariah knew that I was going back to Phoenix and may get on my job looking for her. I keep saying that I am done looking for her but I don't think she believes it. I had settled on the fact when I went to Utah that she did not want to be found. Everyone who knows me also know that I have a Mariah fetish so saying I am done is a big deal for me.

We were in Oklahoma City for the home going services for Al Mitchell, the father of my daughter Tish and grandfather of her two children Taylor and Tyler.
Lorie,the next door neighbor and friend helped drive the grands and I to the city and for that we are eternally grateful.

She could have chosen to be doing a million other things. My daughter had gone up earlier in the week and we knew that some of the pain would be relieved if her children were near. Lorie sensed that and shared her feelings.

We had a nice drive going, settled in at the hotel, attended the services and now it was time to drive back home. My daughter had a standby airline ticket for Monday but we thought it better to have her come back with us.

Someone mentioned that granny would be anxious to get back to her computer and genealogy.. That was the first mistake made. She, meaning Mariah must have heard those words...Computer and Genealogy

First off my daughter always sets her alarm because she has to get up, ready herself for work, and get Tyler ready for school. The same thing goes for Lorie the neighbor and for Taylor the college kid.

We discussed hitting the road leaving for Phoenix from Oklahoma at 8:00 o'clock Sun Morning.

That meant getting up early, having a good breakfast and be on our way. The car was filled with gas and all bags were packed except for the things needed in the morning.

Why did all three forget to set their alarm? If my sister had not called about 8:30 A.M. we would all still have been sleep. Sluggishly we did what we had to do and started on our way. My first vision was a Nana-nana-nana being whispered in my brain and thoughts; (Mariah, she's at it again I silently said)

We were headed to I 40 and we all relaxed knowing we could take the 40 West all the way to the Heber Arizona turnoff and head on home to Phoenix.

The road was so smooth. we passed Tinker AFB and pointed to the old planes that sit out front.

As we drove on, Lorie and I started to count all the casino's we wished we could stop at. We jokingly talked about taking bathroom breaks at them all and putting a nickle in the machines on the way out.

We passed signs that I had become familiar with in my genealogy circles. Signs such as Eufala Oklahoma, where i reflected on the Hutchinson's who had come from there to Phoenix.

The sign that said Muskogee turn off, was where I thought about my friends the Stevenson's who also came to Phoenix.

When I saw the sign Cherokee I thought about Angela Walton Raji and her research with the Five Civilized tribes. Ft Smith was another sign we saw, that reflected Arkansas and I again thought about Angela because that was her home town.

As we were driving along an amazing thing happened, Tyler my grandson needed to go to the bathroom. He said that he could not wait.

If there had been a tree near a house and close to the side of the road I wonder if he still could not wait.

My suspension is that he would chose the back of the tree instead of the lil house that some of us used way back in the day

As we looked for the nearest exit after crossing the beautiful lake Eufala we saw the Checota turnoff and headed to the facilities.

After we stretched, got back in the car, and headed back to the Interstate, my daughter stared at the sigh and said, "Are we headed in the wrong direction, we are supposed to be on the I 40 West not East."

Did I hear that "nana-nana" sound again in my head. You bet I did! Mariah was at work again. She had her hands on the wheel.

I suspect that she even knew that that wheel was not a wagon wheel and all the bumps in the road was not country roads with holes in them.

All those pastures with the one lone cow standing by themselves and the rest were all huddled further down had turned into cows all lumped together as a group.

Mariah more than likely planned that too.

All the lone standing oil wells had become numerous. Those should have all been sighs to let us know the direction was wrong, but noooooo, Mariah had the wheel.

Speaking of oil wells, this is a picture of grands standing in front of a working well smack dab in the middle of a grocery store parking lot.

No signs of Altus, Weatherford,or Chickasha turn-offs I was familiar with because Mariah was at the wheel; the wheel of my mind that is.

When I did not blame Mariah for all my troubles she was elusive, so now that I blame her, she is more elusive than ever.

What's a 3rd great-granddaughter to do? How can you compromise with that nana-nana sound I think I hear in the recesses of my mind? What happened to my favorite saying about not letting anyone rent space in your head?

Oh yeah, I prayed, talked, dug through, shuffled papers, let it alone, came back to it; got help from those who were not Mariah groupies and those who were; I prayed some more, left it alone again and again. Just last week I said I was done for good with my genealogy research where Mariah was my focus point. After all, I had other people I could research.

I could look into my Burks,Dickerson/Dixon's,Lester's,Griffiths Daviss/Davis,Sims or numerous other Texas ancestors. Others like Ware,White,Cooper,Jefferson,and Pierce over in Grimes and Fayette County Texas.

I could even continue reading one of my favorite books by Randolph B Campbell titled "A Southern Community in Crisis; Harrison County Texas, 1850 - 1880" that I rely on for information.

Ha, but she blew it when she took the wheel and took us 120 miles out of the way.

I am back on the chase Mariah even though I don't know your maiden name for sure. I think its Wells but verifying that is as hard as finding you in 1870 and 1880.

Just so you know that I say what I mean, I am outing you again. You were found in the 1900 and 1910 census in Harrison County Texas.

1900 Census partial lines

1910 Harrison County Census Partial lines

I could put the whole census page up but I want to single you out just like you have been trying to trick me for the last twenty plus years.

You were married to Lawrence Taylor and had one son Joseph who was the stepson to Lawrence.

Mariah, you were born between 1840 and 1854 according to the census in Texas. If I can find you in 1870 and 1880 I could narrow that down but you have the upper hand on that one. For now that is!

Ducking as I say "Nana-nana-nana" back at you and Oh, I love you much and you can take that to the bank MARIAH!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

It Is What It Is Names And All

Okay, okay, so I made a mistake and left my computer at home. I didn't take it to Texas with me but I sure thought about it. I had put the charger in one of my bags that I packed along with the USB cord that goes with the camera. I was all set and ready to go.

I was half-way listening to the yak yak of my daughter, grandson and granddaughter as they wined " when will you have time to get on the computer, or Granny, can't you stay off the computer for one day, or " Nanta please".

All I needed at that point was a fiddle to play some sad blues song. So I unpacked my cords and kissed my computer goodbye.

I do know that If I would have had my computer It would have been a late night two fingered keyboard sonata as others were sound asleep. The sounds of tap n enter,tap n enter,tap n enter would make sweet music to my ears.

I could have down loaded all those pictures I captured with my camera to my computer. Well, all those pictures that actually came through.

I hit the off button on at least fifty pictures instead of the button you push to take the pictures. I silently wondered why the flash did not go off work and completely ignored the lack of the long pause of the pictures as they should have held and captured the pose.

When I asked my niece to show me how to go back and look in the camera at the pictures I had taken, her comment was " What Pictures?"

I could have deleted all the email that I accrued all those days I was going to be away.

I tried though to see where I could get on with out to much panic from the crew. I first looked at the computer room at the hotel but they only had two and those happened to be taken every time I walked by.

Later on that day,I looked in the room at my relatives and saw all that gorgeous equipment just waiting for me to ask if its alright if I logged on. (My inner mind could hear the sounds that I heard when we left the house for Texas so I changed my greedy thoughts.) I shook my head so loud trying to get rid of that sound that I got a headache.

I think I was having AfriGeneas, Ancestry, Heritage Quest, Facebook withdrawals. Pages like Black Family Historical Society, Our Black Ancestry, The Texas and Oklahoma Historical Pages, all at the same time cluttered my mind.

I was missing Keith Olberman, Rev Al, all my friends like Sharon Mc who posts tidbits through out the day; The Weather Channel, gobs and gobs of ancestors pictures that people post, all fighting for position in my brain.

Was hope all lost; Not yet:

My daughter bought her computer along with her because she still had home-work to do. So now I had an in. Woo hoo!!!

I could use it when she was not doing her homework. At Last! But, there is always a "but" in these situations.

Just when I was going full throttle, I heard this voice saying, "Mom, I need to do my homework now."
I felt like I was at the Casino, my machine had just started to hit and it was time to go.

As William Bendix used to say, "What a revoltin development this is."

Anyway, the next day, it was time to pack up and head back home. I was feeling pretty good even though we had this long 1100 mile stretch.

We pulled into one of the numerous rest areas and a sign caught my eye.

What!!! Why in the world would the "Internet Teasers" do this to me. Me with no
computer, durn it! Oh well, maybe it was best because I would have made up for all I missed right there in the wide open spaces surrounded by big long haul trucks, cars and three angry people. LOL

My mind then went back to Texas and wondered who may have named their child Texas, or Alabama, or Georgia. Then one of my Genie buddies Georgia Adams came to mind along with a Genie partner Art Adams. So, me being me, I did a search...

My attempt at the search begins with Adams:

The Adam surname is of English Origin thought to be from the first man Adam according to Genesis.

Texas is from the Caddo Indian word " Teyshas" meaning friends. In 1540 The Spanish explorers took it to be a tribal name and recorded it as Teyas or Tejas.

Texas Adams was living in Georgia according to the 1900 Baldwin County Census. Texas was born in Georgia, her father was born in Georgia and her mother Florida. Go figure
clink on image to enlarge
or view below

Georgia was named in honor of King George the 2nd of England.

Now Georgia Adams was Williams mother in law of. She was born around 1835 in Alabama according to the Marengo Alabama 1900 Census. Another go figure because both of her parents were born in Alabama.
Click on image to enlarge
or view below

Alabama named after the river first called Alibamu and the local Native American Tribe. Alabama was thought to be derived from two Choctaw names Alba and Amo.

Aha, now we have a 1910 Leflore County Oklahoma Census! Alabama Adams was born in Arkansas but both her parents were from Alabama. Now that's one that I can figure.
click to enlarge
or view below

Happy Searching if you have a State, County, City, Town, Village or Hamlet named after your ancestor.

My nephew Phoenix will have his namesake story to tell as he rises and makes his mark in the world.