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