Monday, August 03, 2009

A Breakthrough...

I don't know why I never thought of posting an online blog in regard to my genealogy quest. I do everything else online and it is so convenient considering the amount of travelling I do. Woo hoo!Lightbulb! ahahah...

In any case, lets discuss my breakthrough. Well I recently found the slave owning family of my Paternal Grandmother's Grandmother. Yes... Let me tell you that was a joy and a pain. A joy for linking the past, but a pain to know what she may have endured.

When I saw one of my Paternal Great GrandFather's (Alfred Sr.) death certificate, they had his mother's name listed, but her maiden name was illegible. It read LaBale from my eyes and anyone else I had to review the record. Well I decided that I should try to find death certificates of his siblings who may have the name listed correctly. I tried the brother that signed his death certificate and it wasn't listed at all. But I was able to find the death certificate of his eldest brother and bam, there it was LaBauve.

I remember when I found her, Jane (LaBauve) Thomas in the 1870 census before I knew her maiden name, and she was living with her husband William Thomas, but they were living smack dab in the middle of people with the name of LeBlanc and LeBauve - so you could understand my confusion. When you start in genealogy, you will find that "assuming" is NOT the best route to take - you have to be able to prove it or you'll be claiming relatives that have no relation to you, so I didn't want to "assume" until I had some proof and her son William Thomas Jr. gave me that proof!.

So I decided to look at her "neighbors" LeBauve and I found that they were a well known family in West Baton Rouge, LA and had a couple of plantations, etc. Being that she carried their name most likely means she was from their plantation, but what I find interesting is that she is listed as Mulatto which means she may have been more than their slave, I'm sure there is some relation there as well. So now my research is in finding which LeBauve was her actual owner and to piece together some history there. I know her mother's name, which is Ellen Allen (I believe it is actually Allain, another well known slave owner).

Since this is my personal blog I want to tell how I feel about this. Like I said, joy and pain. Joy that I have found yet another link in my family's history but sad that it is in this arena. Did I honestly think I'd find a free person of color in my family during slavery times? No, but I can't lie and say I didn't wish that my lineage didn't cross Nat Turner and some of his cohorts either. You get ANGRY for your ancestors, you want to FIGHT for your ancestors.

But you know I'm doing just that, I am angry but I'm going to use that in a positive way. I'm going to fight for them so that they aren't lost forever. They will be remembered and someway somehow their story will be told. I say this for the family members that aren't African American too - seriously, I'm not hateful or racist in any way. I love all people, but when you know that there is a great section of your family that has been wronged, it's hard not to be emotional about it.

Back to my breakthrough!

I also had a breakthrough in finding other children that may not have been listed on the census. In searching death records for my ancestors, I noticed there were a lot of children that died very young, some under a year old. So I decided to order a bunch of death certificates for these children and I found out that my Grandfather Spencer Sr. had a baby sister that he was 4 years older than and she died at 11months. She died in between census periods, so she wouldn't have been listed or even remembered. I found some of my Grandfather's brothers children that died at a young age too as well as a bunch of certificates that I cannot link to my family, but I believe in sharing details, so I'm going to try to find other people that may be researching those families and pass that info on to them.

I'm going to end this now and I'll be back soon sharing my research and my thoughts. Be Peace!


My Genealogy - the Beginning.

I had begun a personal journal prior to this blog, so I'm going to copy and paste what had already been created and begin from there. Enjoy!

Felicia Addison – Genealogy Journal


Today I’m starting my journal on my genealogy quest. Something about today struck me that I need to start documenting this as I research this fantastic time in my life. I’ll start this out with what has been researched up until this point and how I feel about it.

I started on this journey approximately 7 months ago. It started out with me having extra money and receiving yet another email from So I decided to take a stab at what I’ve always wanted to do; learn more about my family and where we come from.

My family has a lot of secrets and in this research, I’m starting to realize that there shouldn’t have been secrets, but when I look at it from where they were mentally at that time, I can almost understand why. It’s not bad things, just things that I guess one would be embarrassed of at the time and considering the time I’m living in with things being so blunt and out there, I guess I’m desensitized to what may have been “taboo” or “shameful” back then.

About myself, I’m 40 years old (which I hit on April 14th, 2009). Legally married to someone I love dearly, but we’ve been separated longer than we were together. As I type that bit of information about myself, I realize how pitiful that is and will make sure I get a divorce this year. Reason why I haven’t divorced him? Lazy and a romantic all wrapped up in one, however a realist and the realist is getting a divorce soon.

Both parents are deceased so this makes this journey a bit of a pain. My father was an only child by his father, so I have no aunts/uncles to touch base with. His mother did have a son before having my father, but he died either before I was born, or right after I was born, so I cannot consult with him. All grandparents are deceased. And although my mother’s older sister and an older brother are living, I am only able to get so much information from them. So you see this will not be an easy one, yet it’s where I come from and I need to know.

My PATERNAL Family: Believe it or not, in the 7 months I’ve been researching I’ve been very lucky in finding out about my father’s side of the family. Considering I barely speak to his living cousins who I’m sure have a wealth of information I can gain from them. I might also want to add here that when I had the epiphany today on documenting this journey, I also had the epiphany that maybe I should get the stick out of my ass and reach out and touch this family, my family.

I would say the main reason why I do not deal with this side of my family is due to my parents divorce and the passing of my Paternal Grandmother. Not that the divorce wasn’t bad enough, but there were family members that took advantage of my Paternal Grandmother’s passing and my Mother (yes my Mother) was LIVID. She loved my Paternal Grandmother (her ex-Mother-in-Law) and felt that side of the family did her a disservice. Now I also should mention that my Mother was fiercely loyal , painstakingly so in fact and I need to find out if she was pissed off for the right reasons, because sometimes she could be off center, but hey, it was all in love.

When I started with this side of the family, it was simple enough. I knew my Father’s name. I knew his parents name as well as my Paternal Great Grandfather's name & Grandmother’s maiden name (and her parents). So I started to work backwards, found both Grandparents in the 1930 census. I felt as if I won the lottery. I cannot explain to you (unless you know the feeling) of seeing your family member documented that many years ago. It lets you know that these two people existed and all it took was a meeting for them to create someone that would later create you. I never met my Paternal Grandfather (Spencer Sr.) as he died when my father 12 years old. So to see him on paper as existing; he was more than a story my Father and Grandmother told me about and to see my Grandmother (Alberta - however I called her Mama) on the census, oh my GOD!!! She was 16 years old in the 1930 census. Wow. I even saw her baby brother James on the census and I remembered the stories she used to tell me about him. He died when he was 8 years old and I remember her showing me a black and white picture of him at the age of 4. She loved him and I remember her letting me hold the picture and I would wonder what kind of little boy he was. Did he look like my Uncle Isaac? (One of Alberta's other younger brothers who happened to be one of my favorites.)

So I went on, had a problem finding more about my Spencer Sr., but I was able to locate Alberta in the 1920 census, even with the misspelling of her name as I knew the names of most of her siblings as well as her parents names. I noticed they lived in a different part of Louisiana, but there was Alberta and her siblings that would have been born at that time. Since I didn’t really know what I was doing, I pretty much chalked up my Spencer Sr’s side of the family, plus I was having too much fun finding my Alberta’s side of the family.

So pretty much I played around w/ the 1920 & 1930 census’. Since I had problems finding out info on Alberta's family in the 1900 & 1910 census’ and really didn’t know how to continue on, I decided to dissect what I could on what I had. So I found out how to order death certificates of her family that were listed on the 2 census' that I did have, some were available some were not, but they helped so much.

While I waiting on those death certificates for Alberta's family, I decided to truly dig into the 1930 w/ Spencer Sr (my Grandfather) which seemed off a bit. I knew he had an older brother named Nathaniel but this brother wasn’t listed. I figured, maybe he would have left the home at that time, because Spencer Sr would have been 12 or 13 at the time and young men left home pretty early. Leaving home at 15 or 16 was not unheard of. Especially being an African-American.

Then I noticed the other siblings. My father always talked about his Aunt Mag (Maggie). She took care of him after his father died for a short time (my grandparents had divorced and my grandmother was living in California at the time of my grandfather’s passing). But there was this other daughter listed named Hattie. That made no sense to me at all as I never heard of a Hattie. advised that she was 7.5 years old. My sister Kim who is pretty observant decided to really look at the actual census form. She blew it up, highlighted the details, got out a magnifying glass. Well, the census form didn’t list this Hattie as a daughter, but as a mother of the head of household that was 75years of age. There on that barely able to read piece of paper was the name of my Great, Great Grandmother. Me and Kim both did the happy dance. We were content with just seeing my grandfather’s name and my great grandfathers name, but here we found my great, great grandmother! I’m getting goosebumps now remembering how overjoyed we were. So I cannot stress ENOUGH the importance of actually looking at the census form. I love - LOVE THEM, however transcribers can and will make mistakes - always trust what you can prove!

Then I was determined to find out more. I had another name. So I put in her details on what her age would have been and placed my great grandfather(Nathan Sr) in there as her child and next thing you know I find out her name is actually Hettie on a 1900 census record, but my great grandfather is listed as her child and her husband’s name is William. That floored me.

I had a difficult time finding them in the 1910 & 1920 census, but just on what I knew felt GREAT. I started visiting the various genealogy message boards on - keep in mind, at this time I was still very new to genealogy and had no idea of the wealth of information that was out there, so was my savior and for that I will always claim them as my favorite because they were the light with me on this journey! So in any case I begin searching for my surname in the parts of Louisiana I knew they resided in. About 2 weeks into my research, I find this gentleman that was researching my same paternal family. He lists the parts of Louisiana they are from and name some other family members. I decided to send him an email and PRAYED he would contact me. His message on that message board was very old – how about 8 years very old. I knew sending him a message could mean he would not get back to me, but I figured it can’t hurt to try. The next morning…

He answered my post!!! He was so excited to find out we were researching the same family. We shared the same great, great grandfather William!!! William’s son Nathan was my great grandfather and William’s daughter Henrietta was my new found cousin Leon’s great grandmother! Leon had been doing his research for approx 9 years and he sent me his information including pictures and he filled in so many blanks! I had a suspicion that this man named John could possibly be my great-great-great grandfather, but I couldn’t find a way to link him to William. Thanks to cousin Leon, he helped me with that link as well as letting me know more of William’s siblings. We haven’t located William’s mother yet, but that is my passion and I cannot wait to share those details w/ Leon who has given me so much. See what finding and reaching out to other family members can do for you? :)


Yesterday I completed my 5 week genealogy class I signed up for with the California Genealogy Society. I gained a lot, but didn’t realize just how much I knew. It was strange sometimes being in that class. The youngest and most times the only African-American (to my surprise there was a Black woman last week, elderly but hey at least I wasn’t the only one!). Of course in the classes I could feel them staring at me , probably trying to figure out why I was there. I mean they knew I was there for genealogy – but why so young?

My answer I guess would be that I’ve for the most part of my life been curious about my family. Always hearing bits and pieces, some truth, some fiction. Wondering why some family members got along and others didn’t. The whispers that would stop when a child would enter a room or the raging arguments that would occur that my young mind didn’t have the capacity to understand at the time. I’m curious or some may even call me nosey, lol.

I love my family and at this time of my life I’ve been through enough to know that we are all human. We make mistakes. Sometimes we are evil. Sometimes we give painstakingly and most times we are brilliant and just haven't tapped into that part of our psyche, but I feel we all mean well. I crave to understand my parents, their parents and so on as adults. I’ve been their child for far too long and I also feel that to understand them better will help me in my walk of life as well. Yes we all have free will, but you cannot honestly tell me you’ve done something that you have no idea why you did it. Boo – it could be in the DNA.

After class on Saturday I decided to go to the Oakland Public Library simply because I knew they had all of the city directories/telephone books so I could get a handle on the address situation. This was something I had not considered prior to my classes DIRECTORIES! It can give you a timeline unlike any other. I found out a lot.

I found out that my Paternal Grandmother (Alberta) lived with one of her sisters for a couple of years to move in with another for a couple of years and then on to her own residence. To some that may not be an “ah ha” moment, but for me it brings some clarity. It lets me know that something in those mid 60’s prior to my birth was a hectic time for my Grandmother and her sisters possibly. I know my Aunt Clara's (Alberta's older sister) hus
band died in 1966 and then in the 1967 directory it showed Alberta now living w/ Clara. She could have moved in to be supportive.

It helps me with the questions I have to ask my cousins that I’m dreading to contact. I know I will get their side of the story and I’m scared it will have an unflattering spotlight on my Paternal Grandmother, my favorite of my grandparents.

Again I know they are human and I want to know them as adults, but I’m fighting with the child in me. To me my Paternal Grandmother was the cat’s meow. She was my Savior. All good things radiated through this woman on to me. When my parents were so wrapped up in their relationship with each other, she was the one that gave me balance and peace. Yet... all that good had to come from someplace - and sometimes it comes from a bad place.


Just because I haven’t written lately doesn’t mean I haven’t been hard at work! Basically what I’ve done since my last entry is sign up for another genealogy class, this one focused more on African American genealogy, got a account (although in my humble opinion it’s not helpful at all) – sad to say, a good majority of these websites are still geared towards the Europeans. Now maybe that is small of me, but today that is how I feel. I have to admit digging through all of this makes me frustrated at times, but I'm on a mission.

I’ve pulled out my Roots DVD and have watched the first 2 episodes. Funny, I view it so much differently. I remember the first time seeing it; I was young so I was sad for Kunta and his family, both African and American. I read the book when I was 9 and only understood it with a 9 year old mind. I saw it again approx 8 years ago and read the book again. This time I was angry. I debated it back and forth with my friends as we tried to relate it to our plight as African-American’s today. Yet watching it now, I see my Great-Great-Great Grandfather and his children and his family. My family. It’s truly personal now. Am I angry? Some but more hurt and appalled than anything. We were human beings! Just a different hue, to call us cargo and compare us to cattle, how degrading and inhumane.

I’ve been having dreams of my father lately as well. The only thing I remember somewhat clearly is last nights dream. A conversation about my GGGGrandfather and him telling me names of people he remembered, etc. I wish I could remember more.

Well my latest research is trying to find a slave owner. I’ve printed up the 1870 census of my GGGGrandfather and the 1860 free inhabitant & slave schedule census records; trying to find someone who may have been the actual slave master. As 1870 census is the first census after emancipation, he was up in his years so I’m sure he still worked with or for his slave master. Then hopefully I can find out how we came to use the name Addison.

There’s so many gaps to this and it is driving me crazy, but as I watch Roots and realize that it took Alex Haley Jr. 12 years to trace his roots. I haven’t even come to a full year yet, so maybe I need to stop stressing so much, haha.