Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A New Find... My 4th Great Grandmother Mariah Hounshell...
I know I've said it time and time again, but our Ancestors WANT to be remembered and found.  So much so that they sometimes fall in your lap!
Several weeks ago, I was playing around on Facebook when I get this message from this wonderful woman (Sasha Mitchell) that tells me we are DNA cousins.  I get those pretty frequently, so I try to keep my Ancestry.com open so that I can rattle off surnames as necessary to those that happen to reach out.
Well as we chat comparing Virginia relatives, she is chatting with another friend that recognizes the surname HOUNSHELL, in which case Sasha passes on the following link: http://www.afrigeneas.com/forumd/index.cgi/md/read/id/3705/sbj/hutzel-slaves/

Which pops up the message board for Afrigeneas which has this message regarding the HUTZEL SLAVES...  As I begin to read, I really don't recognize much about it until I get to Mariah's son's name of ANDERSON.  Anderson Hounshell - my 3rd Great Grandfather. 
She also sent me to this link as well on Genealogy.com http://genforum.genealogy.com/hounshell/messages/86.html

I found Anderson on the 1870 and 1880 censuses living in Pulaski, Virginia, but couldn't find anything prior to that because I assumed he was a slave and we know that 1870 is generally the first census where African American's were listed by name (if they were slaves prior to the 1870 census).  I couldn't find anything else on Anderson as there were no others around with that same surname, so I didn't know his mother's name or siblings only that he was the father of my 2nd great grandmother Martha.  I did find a marriage certificate of his marriage to Elenora Hendricks in 1869. 
I did find the surname HOUNSHELL in Wythe, Virginia - but those Hounshells were White.  Well... that doesn't make them NOT family!  And a big mistake on my part for not digging in deeper.

So now I'm hunting for the book Hutzel Heritage, because based on the above, they are family as well.  The book is no longer in print and actually obtaining a copy is like searching for a needle in a haystack - which I will gladly do.  :)

I know I have been terrible with my blogging and I need to keep at it, I actually enjoy it - but other things always seem to pile up on me and it always falls to the background.  So I think what I will do is make myself a promise to at least try once a month and end it with my "lesson(s)" for that particular blog entry - so here goes:

  1. Don't discount Facebook.  True, I was bouncing around doing things on Facebook that was not necessarily geared towards Genealogy - but I've had many breakthroughs that way.  So instead of feeling guilty, I'm going to embrace it.  I've found cousins and info and my family actually likes the Family Groups that I have created - so Facebook is a GOOD thing.
  2. Maybe if I had dug a bit deeper into those White Hounshells, I could have found the above info much earlier.  The thing is, with surnames I've learned that doesn't always mean that there is a connection and I have spent numerous hours researching surnames to come up empty handed.  But just the ONE time I decide to forget digging into that surname, its family members, etc - is the one I missed. 
  3. Message Boards are the next best thing since sliced bread.  I've always had luck with them and will be more diligent with using them for my research.
  4. Number one lesson and gift?!?  I now know who my 4th Great Grandmother is!  So now I know I need to find out more about her children, where they all ended up and I'm so grateful she had a son named ANDERSON, who had a daughter named MARTHA, who had a son named WILLIAM HART, who had a son named JOHN THOMAS, who had that wonderful woman I call Mom, LOIS MAXINE.
Until next time!  Happy research!

- Felicia

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Happy New Year - It's All About Connections!

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know it has been awhile.  I haven't totally been out of the loop of genealogy; although I have to admit I haven't been as active as I have in the past.  Well that is the keyword:  PAST.  I am back!  Yayy!!! 

I am setting my calendar to do more volunteering in genealogy.  Believe it or not it actually helps! I'm up against so many brick walls it is not even funny! But I find that when I help others I get more creative in research and then apply it to my own research and believe it or not, it does tend to help! I visit records I'm not familiar with from various states, which creates triggers on where I should be looking in my own research.  Taking a look at family make-ups, name variations and even handwriting! All of these help with my research, simply by helping someone with theirs.  

I've also been using Facebook to connect with cousins out there (mainly the ones I do not know).  I find that when you open yourself up personally to these cousins and they see your likes, dislikes, crazy comments, family pics -  you become more engaged with their lives and them yours.  

I also created two Facebook Groups for my family lines.  I've named them, "I AM ADDISON" and "I AM THOMAS" (don't kill me for creativity, lol).  I invited cousins and people that are in my friends list that have the surname or have some relation to that surname.  Then I had them add people from their friends list.  I am proud to say that "I AM ADDISON" is booming, "I AM THOMAS" is not as lively, but by this year's trip to Louisiana in April, I hope to remedy that situation.  

In my family groups I share my research.  I post pictures and/or documents.  I share stories of these ancestors or my vision of what their story may hold.  I find that sometimes when I stare at a picture or a record and read various things, I can imagine their story, yes even that helps with research.  

When I invite people, I have them introduce themselves and advising who their parents names are and their grandparents, and great grands (if they know).  This helps me by knowing where to place them on the family tree. I also invite others to post stories and pictures of their families and especially the old pictures (a sure way to get pictures I have never seen.). 

I've even invite other African-American's with the last name of Addison (since it seems that every Addison I come across there is a link in relation).  Sometimes you can't find the direct link, but it answers questions on who you are and aren't related to and you help another family in their research.  

You see where I'm going with this... help, help, help... Give and you shall receive!

So that is my quick summary for the beginning of this new fabulous year! So far I have the following planned for 2014: Blog more, February Black Family History Day for AAGSNC (www.aagsnc.org); April, Louisiana to bond with family and do some research.  Well I'm up to April so far! So I'm getting it in! 

Brick Walls were built to be bulldozed - if they can be built, they can be destroyed.  That is my new mantra in regard to my research.

Until next time - find your people, they are waiting!  

#GenealogyRocks #AAGSAR #BLOGFEST2014

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lois Maxine Johnson - Happy Mother's Day

Lois Maxine Johnson 1964 (striped jacket) 
I was tagged not too long ago on Facebook w/ this picture of my Mother.  I feel like a carbon copy as I look so much like her.  On Mother's Day that is both a good and a bad thing.  Good that I can see her reflection staring back at me, bad because it only reopens that wound that I know will never heal.

So I find it only fitting that it is time I write about her life.

Lois Maxine Johnson Addison
September 3, 1948 - December 31, 2000

Maxine as she was mostly called was born 3 days before Labor Day in 1948 to Ethel Elizabeth Johnson & John Thomas Mills in East Liverpool, Ohio.

My Aunt Ruth Johnson Christopher was 13 when my Mother was born and actually helped deliver her, being the one that cut the umbilical cord and I remember her telling me she knew nothing about sex or babies until that day in September.

My Mother attended elementary in East Liverpool and I remember the stories she would tell of her childhood, the games she played, the winters of East Liverpool and one of my favorite stories when her mother gave her money to catch the bus to visit her cousins in the next town, but she decided to use it to buy candy and walk along the river instead to her cousins house.  She told me she was singing, dancing, skipping eating candy and ecstatic about her choice on what to do w/ the money, until she ran into a river rat as it came out of the river it noticed her and stood on its hind legs and hissed at her. 

Now I'm not sure if you can tell from this picture, but my mother was all of 5ft on a good day.  However at that time she was approximately 8 years old and I'm sure no more than 4ft at the time.   From my research river rats standing can be about 2ft and about 20lbs.  She said they stared at each other for about 2min and then the river rat ran past her to jump in another portion of the river on the other side of the road.  After that encounter whenever she received money for a specific purpose she used it for that purpose only.

At the age of 12 she moved to Oakland, CA with her Mother and Brother Walter James Johnson.  She attended Madison Jr. High for a short time, then moving on to Havenscort Jr. High School.  She eventually moved on to Castlemont High School, but when her friend Lyndia (in the picture w/ her) transferred to Oakland High School, my mother forged some transfer papers so she too could transfer to Oakland High School as well.

My Father always told me he had the prettiest woman in Oakland.  Now I know when you are head over heels in love with someone they appear to be that way, well it seems he wasn't the only person that thought of her in that way.  My sister Kim ended up befriending a lot of children  whose parents knew my Mother while she was in school and they all said the same thing.  Physically she was pretty but her personality was beautiful.  

After graduating High School she had several jobs, the one I remember her most talking about is her being a waitress and she served Little Richard.  She said he gave her a very nice tip and he was the prettiest man she had ever seen.  She described his skin, hair and eyes - she loved skin and eyes.  Whenever she described a person to you she was very detailed in the description of those two things.

My Father was a red haired African-American, when she described him she said his skin reminded her of a brand new copper penny. 

She met my Father not too long after this picture was taken.  He was 7 years and 1 month older than her.  She liked him, but she liked being free and a teenager.  So  he courted her to the dismay of my Grandmother Ethel and Aunt.  They felt he was too old (right) and not trustworthy (not sure why).  In any case the more they fought against it, the more the two attempted at being together.

My Mother found out he was still married to his first wife, so she told him she wouldn't see him until he came back w/ a divorce.  Which he did in 1966.  A couple of years and some change later I entered this world. 

Maybe my Grandmother Ethel and Aunt Sally had a vision into the future as my parents relationship as much as it was filled with love it was volatile as well.  Did they love each other? Of course, but when goals aren't mutual and the past and dishonesty enter into a relationship - even the most beautiful and unique of relationships will suffer.

They tried to hold on though and during that stretch of trying to hold on in 1974 my sister Kimberley Dyan Addison was born.  Kim was a blessing.  Many years after reflecting on watching my parents relationship and seeing it from a child's eyes, pre-adult eyes and adult eyes, Kim was a necessity if for nothing else but myself.  She gave my mother what she wanted most, another child.  Gave me a piece of my father and grandmother (Mama) and gave my father what he called the "last button on Gable's Coat".  She was everybody's baby - everybody's.

Well the wind swept in on July 4, 1976 and fireworks were no comparison for what were going on with my parents.  Their relationship was coming to an end and from a 7 year old's vision it felt like it was World War III.  The end of life as I knew it with my parents together had run its course.

Maxine plotted and planned to make her exit a couple of days after that and took her two babies to Sapulpa, Oklahoma to stay with her one of her best friends to try to finally wash my father out of her hair. 

It didn't go as planned.  She loved him and endured a lot of pain and heartache while in Oklahoma.  Some things you simply cannot let go of, but she was a survivor, took care of her babies and eventually made it back to California, this time Southern.

We moved in with my Aunt Sally which was an experience in itself.  She filed for divorce and tried to get back to some form of normal for not only her kids, but herself.  Yet as life has it there is always a twist waiting for you and that twist was the illness and eventual passing of my grandmother Ethel E. Johnson.

Keep in mind all of these things that were going on happened by her 28th birthday.  My Mother was strong and a survivor but this was too much. Shortly after my Grandmother Ethel passed my mother begin having seizures.  She was never diagnosed with epilepsy believe it or not.  I remember her telling me that as a child she had seizures from the time she was 8 up until she moved to California.  She blamed it on several factors, maybe it was a fall or two she experienced as a kid.  However when she begin having them as an adult she blamed it on possible head trauma at the hands of physical abuse by my father.

Now I'm not saying neither one of those possibilities were not the cause, however I tend to believe it was more mental than anything else.  While she was a child, my Grandma Ethel worked a lot and most times paid either relatives or neighbors to care for my Mother during the week so she could work.  So most of the week she was in someone else's care and would not see my Grandmother.  During these times she experienced sexual, mental and physical abuse by her caretakers - some she told my Grandmother about and some she was too young to actually tell what was going on.  So I think that by the time she was 8 years old and started to realize a lot of what had happened to her the seizures were some type of subconscious escape.

By the time she was 8 years old she was considered old enough to stay home and not need caregivers, but at the same time she became responsible for her older brothers, looking out for them.  Looking at this from a 2012 perspective one would try to figure out where the common sense was in this.  I look at it two ways.  One could be that my Grandmother had more faith in my Mother being more responsible at 8 years old than she did of her sons that were 12, 15 and  18  at the time.  We also have to consider the generation she was coming up in.  Then they raised their children to be adults, so responsibility was handed down very early. 

I figure the seizures stopped at 12 when the level of responsibility lessened and leaving a place as much as she loved it and was the only home she knew, but a reminder about all she had endured was a relief on that 12 year mind and heart.

So 12 to to 28 she was free of these seizures, but once Grandma Ethel died, they began again and this was something she had to deal with the rest of her life. I also connect the seizures to the relationship with her Mother and in someways to my Father later on.  At 12 she finally had her Mother, when they moved to Oakland.  Yes she had to share with her nephews and nieces but when she went to school, Grandma Ethel was there.  When she got home, Grandma Ethel was there.  The only responsibility she had was helping her Mother run around after her nephews and nieces.

Stability.  She had that with my Grandmother finally - emotional stability.  Eventually my Father would take over a piece of that pie.  No matter how crazy their relationship was, she felt safe with him.  He would not let anyone harm her.  

There was about a year and a half which I feel she had what is called a mental breakdown.  I was 11 at the time and all she would do is stay at home.  She had taken a leave from her job and didn't want to do anything.  Just stay indoors in her nightgown.  During that time I stepped up, cooking and cleaning.  Getting me and Kim ready for school and at the time of course I didn't understand what was going on with her but by that time we had already weaved our own cocoon - so I did what I was supposed to do - help my Mother keep it together.

One day she snapped of it.  Went back to work and life was back on schedule.  She never stopped having the seizures, but she didn't let that stop her.  She raised her children and helped in raising other children.

Maxine was always the one to go to even during all of her ups and downs.  My mother did so much for so many, when I finally started to find out just how much of a positive influence she was in others lives it made me all that much prouder to be her daughter.  I still want to know how she got away with most of it though. :)

I know there are many that are amazed I would be so open about my Mother's personal experiences and pain.   Anyone that knew my Mother knew most of this stuff already.  She hid nothing.  If you asked her something and she knew it, she would tell you.  Healing for her was in releasing the pain to help and educate others.  So growing up, I knew about her being molested as a child.  She used those stories to let me know that if it was occurring to me she understood and wanted to know and that she would protect me (she got real colorful in what she would do to the molester, but I'll keep it clean here).  

She told me about how while in Oklahoma, that while at a nightclub 3 men put something in her drink and raped her.  She told me that story to teach me to always be aware of my surroundings and that sometimes people that say they are your friend does not make them your friend.

She was honest with me about her relationship with my father.  How she always loved him, but couldn't be with him.  That was a lesson as much as it hurt, it was understood.

She gave me my first breath, my first smile and my first tear.  She was my protector, savior and enemy, but most of all she was my Best Friend.  So when she closed her eyes that last time I understood that she was the closest thing I would EVER come to knowing God.  Love is not pretty she taught me that.  Love is not a fairytale.  Love just is and all that it brings.  She gave me that and I love her for it.  Always...

Oh, and she gave me Marvin Gaye. :)


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Lost Uncles

I have two uncles that I never knew and have finally been able to obtain copies of their death certificates.  Leroy Lumpkin my Father's older brother and Malcolm Thomas Johnson my Mother's older brother.

Leroy Lumpkin Death Certificate

My Uncle Leroy died when I was about 4 years old.  I don't remember ever meeting him, but my Mother advised that she did and that he was very nice to her.  I never heard much about him from my family and the stories that I did hear weren't very positive, I heard he had a temper and was always ready for a fight.  He had also done some prison time and was eventually killed.  One source advises that he was caught up in the Los Angeles gangs in the early 70's.  I haven't confirmed that fact, but I did confirm he died on 26 July 1973 and this was by a gunshot wound to the heart.  Seems he was at a Cafe a couple of miles from his home and that was were he was shot and killed. 

I've searched long and hard for information on my Uncle but its pretty hard to get information.  From what I understand 3 of his 4 children are deceased and I have no idea how to find the 4th.  These are first cousins I have never met and 3 out of the 4 I will never meet.  

My Uncle Mac I met at a young age which I have no memories of.  This was my Mother's oldest brother and I remember the many stories she used to tell me about him.  He was her big brother and very protective of her.  When my family left East Liverpool, OH to come to California my Uncle Mac remained behind and eventually visited the family in California but some type of disagreement occurred and he returned to the East Coast.

Malcolm Thomas Johnson
The most disturbing thing about receiving this death certificate is that he died on 14 Dec 2005 - that was only 6 years ago.  He was located in California when he died.  Moments away from family but no one knew about it.  He died of a Heart Attack, but it appears he had been fighting Prostate Cancer for years.  His final address was a convalescent hospital in Los Angeles.  When I look at this Death Certificate it really brings tears to my eyes because of all of the unknown information on this death certificate.   He died alone.  No family to help him with his transition and from what I can gather no close friends.  I plan on contacting the convalescent hospital to see what details they can give me, he had family and very close to him, he shouldn't have died this way.  

I had a long discussion with my sister regarding this as we were both very emotional about these death certificates, being that both of our parents are gone things like this always make us emotional because we understand the value of family.  That time is of the essence and you must take advantage of the time given.  I can't help either one of these Uncles, which of course is painful, but what I can do going forward is to make sure that not another family member goes "unknown".  Not when you have an abundance of family that can be there so the world will know just who they are.  This is a lesson for all.  Thank you for letting me share.


Saturday, September 03, 2011

Winnsboro, LA

I just spent the evening with my Father's first cousin's, one I know very well (Dee Dee, the elder I wanted to follow back to Winnsboro when he left Cali). And a bunch I've never seen before. The ones I had never met, Samuel & Lee - his Paternal cousin's felt like I was looking into my Father's eyes. Comforting and needed. I was a Daddy's Girl, so not seeing those eyes for 17 years and to finally look at several pair was a good feeling.

I listened to stories of my Father as a child saw locations of where he walked, played, fell got up and tried again. I can feel him here.

I shared my research history with them and found out there are two others doing research as well; one I got a chance to speak with her, she lives in Jena, LA and another cousin who I will meet tomorrow who I am told has the pictures...

Can't wait, tired as all get out so going to call it a night I huge day tomorrow, can't wait. Ashe!
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I am here

A day and some hours later... Tired... Neve wear white pants while traveling. ;)

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On Way To Louisiana

Sitting here @ Houston Intercontinental waiting to board my flight to Monroe and then driving to Winnsboro to see family members that I haven't seen in a long time, but more than that to meet the ones I've never laid eyes on.

Excited and a bit nervous (first time stepping foot onto the state). So there is a load of anticipation going on. I've been researching my family for a few days shy of 3 years and kind of upset I won't get a chance to raid every place holding records, but I will do the most important of all of this; finally bond with the people I've only heard stories about and the first place my father recognized his hands, his feet. The first place he smiled, laughed and shed tears. I'll catch the records the next trip. ;)

- FE
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

They Come To You In Your Dreams...

There's an African Proverb that states, "Sleep is the Cousin of Death." Now whether that is true or not is debatable, but I've always found that in my dreams life is the most interesting.

I can fly.  I am in most cases happy.  I am a Superhero some evenings or doing amazing things that just don't seem to work while awake.  But more than anything I visit with my family that have passed on and I have to admit that is the most amazing and comforting of all the things that I can do in my dreams.

Last night I was an adult running behind my Grandmother from store to store the way I used to do when I was a kid.  I always give credit to her and my Father for the reason why I walk so fast and have no problem walking.  She used to walk all over West & North Oakland, from shop to shop, funeral to funeral (different story) and my child legs would almost have to run to keep up.  My father was a tall man with long legs so one step for him was almost a complete 3 for me with my youthful legs.  So I'm a fast walker...

Last night I was an adult though, following my beautiful Grandmother from store to store, in between clothes as she picked up this outfit or that outfit.  Some she put up against me to see how it would look, checking out the quality, the cut and stitches used to see if it was something that would fall apart after two washings - or better yet if she could just purchase the fabric and make it herself.

We didn't talk at all, but I followed her around; every now and again she'd turn back to make sure I was behind her and I was.  If I was too far behind she'd give me that stern look that meant if I didn't keep up either a pinch or worse the switch would be a factor when we got home.  Or there would periodically be that look while we waited for a bus that she would lick her finger and then smooth down my eyebrows and give me that Grandmother kiss that would make all in the world great.

Yet last night - I was an adult.  The crappy thing about them coming to you in your dreams at least in my dreams is that I can't speak or at least to her, when my Mother visits we talk all the time.  I don't remember a conversation between me and my Grandmother, just looks of love and the comfort of being in each others presence again.

The alarm lost its mind at 6am on the dot and our time was cut short.  Yet I woke feeling the way I did as a young girl, protected and loved.  Well rested and prepared for whatever today brings.  Yeah, I dig those dreams.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Jane Labauve - West Baton Rouge, LA - My Great Great Grandmother

Jane Labauve, born Aug 1852, born to Ellen Allen (b.1816) & father unknown.  I believe Jane was a child conceived by Ellen & her slaveholder or slave handler; as every census that I have found her in she was listed as Mulatto.

I found Jane listed on the 1870 U.S. Census living with her husband William Thomas(b.1842) and the next house listed right below them was that of Jean-Baptiste Labauve.  So I decided to research Jean-Baptiste Labauve to see if he had any slaves in the 1850 & 1860 Census' that may link to either Jane or her mother Ellen (and my Great Great Grandfather William Thomas for that matter).

1850 U.S. Slave Schedule: Jean-Baptiste Labauve owned a total of 11 slaves, 6 men and 5 women.  One of the women age 34, which would have been the age of Ellen at that time.

1860 U.S. Slave Schedule: Jean-Baptiste Labauve owned a total of 14 slaves, 7 men and 7 women. One of the women was age 43, which is a very close to the age Ellen would have been and an 8 year old girl which would have been the approx age of Jane at the time.

I'm not sure how many siblings Jane had as I cannot locate Ellen in the 1870 census which may give me more hints.  However I think I'm pretty much on target with the slave holder.

I'm in love with all of my ancestors, but Jane has always stuck out to me because of the last name and her being the only ancestor I've found so far that had the same last name as her neighbor of a different race on the census listings.

Jane had a total of 14 children, but I only know of 7 one being my Great Grandfather Alfred Thomas.  In the 1900 U.S. Census she was widowed and advised she had 14 children, 6 of which were living during that census.  I tried to imagine the pain of losing 8 children and her husband by that time, that is the definition of strength.

I'm sure when I get to LA and really get to dig in some real records it will sew up most of these loose ends I'm experiencing, but I just wanted to put her name out there because she did EXIST.  The Labauve Family History is all over the internet and her and her mother are merely listed as slaves.  Well those mere slaves survived and flow through me and I will never forget what they had to go through so I could be here writing a blog about who they are.  Ashe!