Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Am Who I Am: I Am Ancestors A Plenty

Across the ocean I really began with many hearts beating. 

I am who I am, but who am I? 

This journey has taken me through many census pages looking and seeking parts of me that came to America many years ago.

There were two changes in my life that started me on my Daviss Journey.

The first one started one day in June 1961.

I was sitting on Agneda Taylor Hodge's front porch in Altus Oklahoma.  She was the sister of my brothers wife Gwen. 

I spotted this man walking on the grounds of Lincoln High School located next door.
His back was to me but his walk looked oh so familiar.
In fact he had that cool walk just like my brother Theodore and his frame, head and all, resembled his.

I asked Agneda if she knew who he was. She said it was Prof Davis, the school principal.

My ears perked up; Prof Davis, how does he spell his name? Heck if she said Daviss with that extra S then he had to be a part of me. One "S" she said, but now that I think about it, he does kind of look like your brother. 

Agneda used the terminology Prof instead of Professor. That made me think that she must think well of this man Prof or was that a term used in a small town where everyone knows everyone.

I can’t remember if the sail went out of my boat but I did dismiss the connection because all I knew was that I had Two S’s in my Daviss.

A couple days later this lady came over who was a teacher at the school. We got into a conversation and she told me her name was Mrs Jones, but just call her G.G. like the rest of them. (another sign of familiarity) but knowing my age and manners, I stuck to Mrs Jones. 
Prof Davis name came up and I told her what I told Agneda, about him walking like my brother.

Well this teacher asked me what my parents names were and where were they from?  Of course I said Theodore with two S’s on the Davis and that he lived in Denver Colorado.
She told me that Prof had a brother named Ted who lived in Denver. She was not sure if his real name was Theodore nor if he was known as one S or two but she would find out from Prof.

Thinking to myself, my Denver dad is a two S kind of guy.

The next day there was a knock on the door and bless my heart, there stood that man who was walking on the school house grounds with a picture album in his hand.  He came in the house, opened the book and said to me. Is this your father?
Staring back at me was a photo from long ago that was a duplicate of the very one in an album I had. 

That man had a big grin on his face. He was my father’s brother! Wright Cuney Daviss, son of James Penn and Betty Owens Daviss.

Prof Davis was actually Prof Daviss! Wow, I got a good hug out of that one and I returned the favor and hugged him back.

A two S Daviss carrying a one S name. 

That revelation blew me away but it also put in the back of my mind if I was related to other one S Davis somewhere in this here universe. (that is another story for later).

The second journey was after I moved to Dallas.

Again there was a knock on the door. This time it was a young lady in a white hat cocked to the side, and standing next to her was a nice looking gentleman.

The young lady said, Are you Vicky?
Yessssss, that’s me as I looked at them out of the side of one eye.  Rolling around in my  mind I was thinking, what in the heck do they want with me?

The young lady said, I’m your cousin. I’m Erma Jewell and our fathers are brothers. My father is John Pierce Daviss, and this is my husband Richard Lewis.

Erma Jewell and I got to be quite close after that.
I would drive down to Conroe Texas and visit Uncle John, Aunt Harriett along with Cousin Erma.

I learned that Erma Jewell and Richard called each other Buddy. I thought that was the cutest thing.

On one visit I drove down, trailed her to Navasota and Piedmont where they were having a Homecoming Celebration at Little Flock Baptist Church.
It was then I met  my aunts Jessie (Miss), Elena and Jimmie, Uncles Spencer, Harry, Owens and Uncle Zeke. 

I also did a double take when I saw my aunt/cousin Romona Burks Daviss, whom I had not seen in years when I lived in Los Angeles.

She was visiting her sister Cammie. My mom, grandfather, and the rest of my siblings went over to cousin Cammie's for dinner. 

At the time I had no idea that she was married to my uncle Harry. I just knew we were cousins on the Burks side.

I wanted to know more about my family.

I was too late to meet a grandmother or grandfather on that side.
I am told though that I had been here on numerous occasions as a baby, that Aunt Jimmie had kept me quite often, and my brother Theodore even lived there and went to a school by the name of Carver in Navasota. 

What got me was Aunt Elena; When I walked over to meet and tell her who I was, she already knew. She told me that she had thought about me every day for 26 years...26 years! Why, that was exactly how old I was.  

So here I am: Who for the life of me am I

Who were these people that I spring from? Where did they live, what did they do for a living. 

They had to be strong people

They prayed for their children, they farmed the land, they taught their children in school and they helped bring life into the neighbor women who were about to give birth. 

Louis Cooper registered to vote in 1867.  He was the husband of Mary White He had to be a strong man to even register and so close to the end of slavery.

I am Louis Cooper

On the 1880 census Mary White Cooper who was the grandmother of James Penn Daviss, was a widow. Her husband Louis passed away and left her to work for shares in order to eat and feed the rest of the children.

I found her not only on the population census but on the Agricultural census as well where it shows how many cows and mules she had and the crops she grew. Talk about a strong woman.

 I am Mary White Cooper

Louis and Mary's Children  Sallie, Lydia, Jerry, Cherry, Anna, Roxie and Eliza all grew up to have children of their own. 
They are the Zephyrs, Williams, Scott's, Nelms, Minors, Boggess, Parhams, Mathis, and numerous others who all stem from those roots. 

I am Louis and Mary's Children

Living a couple houses up was one of her daughters Sallie.  Sally was married to Ed Kinney at the time and the census shows that James and Leah were the step-children. Sally later married James Conway.

I am Sally White Cooper Conway and James Conway

James, Sallie’s son grew up and married Betty Owen daughter of Thornton and Francis Bradley Owen . They had 8 children. 5 girls and 3 boys. 

James Penn became a teacher and a preacher, and after his wife Betty Owen passed away he married Gertrude Sims Pierce.
Together they combined their children, along with Gertrude bringing Elo and Jimmie Pierce into the marriage.
James Penn and Gertrude had seven children together.  6 boys and 1 girl. 

I am each and every one of those 17 children of  the Owen and Sims Women

I am James Penn Daviss and Gertrude Sims Pierce Daviss.

I am the thoughts that filtered through their minds concerning God, Family and Education. 

Just like that old time favorite licorice candy called Good and Plenty filled to the top of the box

I am one of the children who grace this Room of Ancestors A Plenty, with twigs, limbs, and leaves. Whose visions, strength come from the Room of Ancestors A Plenty of hatched roofs, trunks, branches and roots prior to merging into one. 

Like that little wooden church in the country called little Flock Baptist Church or the old homestead of each of our fore-parents. 

Where the Rooms of Ancestors A Plenty in Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, California, Wisconsin and Michigan our blood runs deep.

It flows from one to another like the limbs on that Baobab Tree in Africa.

 I am each and every one of you: For that I am eternally grateful and I Thank God. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Love And Romance Prevails Lawrence Style

Not too long ago I connected with a neighborhood friend.

We immediately started talking about stories back in the day.  Everyone called him Junior Lawrence. You know how we do, it’s two names rolled in to one. Never mind that his first name is Herbert.

 We talked about how when the Lawrence Family first moved into the neighborhood they woke up to a cross burning in their yard. 
One other time two men drove up and tried to pull his brother Roger into a car. If it was not for one of the neighborhood men Mr. Finis Hardiman, who happened to be outside at the time, Roger would have been in deep ca ca.

Despite all this we had a very good childhood and our parents were our rock.  All the Lawrence guys, Roger, Ricky and Herbert were examples of being raised right.
I would bet that that when they all got to be grown men and had children of their own, that the example of their parents were instilled in them. 

Oh, I also meant to say that Junior was a pretty good basketball player back in the day.

Speaking of Lawrence, I ran across this article that speaks about a Dr. Laurence (sounds the same, spelled differently) who fell in love with an ex-slave by the name of Maria Evans aka Maria Laurence.
Dr. Laurence met Maria, and for over fifty years they lived together as man and wife.  
Dr. Laurence passed away in 1891 and Maria filed for his dower as his widow. The relatives are contesting the 100,000 suit. Never would Dr Laurence marry an ex-slave so the money should not go to her.

Maria was born in Adams County Mississippi in 1853 but her story was actually born when she was 17 years old. You see a young white man by the name of John Evans saw her on the auction block and was immediately smitten. He vowed to purchase her, set her free and marry her. It took him about seven years to save but by then she was sold and taken to Kentucky. After following them he finally was able to secure Maria for the sum of one thousand dollars. 

As the story goes he then took her to Cincinnati Ohio in 1848, freed and supposedly married her. They eventually made their way back to Yazoo Mississippi where they lived until 1861 then moved to New Orleans. John and Maria opened up a boarding house and eventually Dr. Laurence moved to New Orleans where he stayed in their boarding house.
John passed away in 1865.
Eventually Dr. Evans fell in love with Maria and in 1877 they ended up in Chicago as a couple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Afro American Feb 22, 1896

          Here they are in the 1880 Chicago Illinois census


             Order In The Court, Here Comes The Judge

                             St Louis Post Dispatch Nov 13, 1895
Looks like Maria Lawrence an ex-slave had evidence that was too strong to deny and she won her claim!!

Love and Romance is a powerful thing and people will go from state to state, ordeal to ordeal to show their love for one another.

      Wow, here is Prince of Love in 1870 Navasota,Texas

                     This house is full of Romance

As Al Green said on his song 'Love and Happiness"  love will make you walk away with victory and make you moan for love. Hmmmmmmmmmmm, hmmmmmm!

    Here's to Love, Romance, Happiness and Good Cheer