Sunday, December 12, 2010

William Ham

I found him!

My Maternal Grandmother, Ethel Elizabeth Johnson, was a love child between my Great-Grandmother Alice McCoy and Mr. William Ham.

The story basically goes, Alice McCoy married a man by the name of Samuel Johnson approx 1890 (still cannot prove that marriage yet) and from the union she had two children, Walker Johnson (who at one time I thought was named Walter) and Katherine Johnson. Sometime around 1899 and 1900 either Samuel Johnson died or they separated (still working on that proof as well).

Well I'd always heard my mother tell me her Mother's father's last name was Hamm, but because her Grandmother wasn't married to Hamm she couldn't "legally" put her under his name. So she had to carry the name her mother had which was Johnson (her supposed married name). Even on my Grandmother's birth certificate it lists her father as William Samuel Johnson.


After several interviews with my Aunt Sally, each time its a new bit of information, or clarification of information previously given.

Perfect example: Walker (Walter) Johnson.

I have an Uncle named Walter James Johnson, this would be my mother's brother. Well the story I was always told is that my Uncle Jimmy was named after his Uncle Walter Johnson.


In 1900 & 1910 census in Columbiana, OH - Alice Johnson was listed with her 2 children, WALKER Johnson and KATHERINE Johnson. I took it to be a mispelling of his name - hey because the story I had always been told is Uncle Jimmy was named Walter James Johnson after his Uncle, my Grandmother's brother.


On my most recent interview with Aunt Sally in discussing her "Uncle Walt" I mentioned to her what I found in the census - that each time they listed him as Walker and not Walter - she grabs her forehead and screams, well Mom always called him Walker, but his nickname was Walt.


More confusion? No wonder I couldn't find his death certificate as per Aunt Sally he died approx 1941-1943 in Philadelphia, PA - I had been searching for WALTER JOHNSON. So basically my Uncle Jimmy was named after his Uncle WALKER who they nicknamed WALT.

Now... back to the Ham/Johnson love child...

How I found my Great Grandfather William Ham is by dropping the additional "m" in the name Ham and my Aunt Sally finally dropped some info on what Mr. Ham's sister's name was was Marie Jackson (she called her Grandfather Mr. Ham). Finding Marie Jackson led me to 1910, 1920 and 1930 census with William Ham, who didn't live too far from My Great Grandmother Alice McCoy Johnson - so in 1911 they got cozy and created that Love Child Grandmother of mine Ethel Elizabeth Johnson.

Summary of this blog:

  1. Don't assume names. My main mistake w/ Ham was searching for HAMM. I assumed that it would be w/ a double m as it was a name and not an actual Ham...
  2. Don't always go by what they "called" people. The census people had it right. His name was WALKER - they called him Walt as I guess calling someone Walk wasn't popular then.
  3. Always continue to ask questions - even when you think you've got the tip top total truth - you never know what else is lingering out there and what someone remembers in the first 7 meetings, trust by the 10th a new bit of info will emerge.
Family History is lovely and surprising all at the same time... gotta love um...

Have a great holiday.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

New Vision

Hey all...

A bunch has happened since my last post of being overwhelmed - yes still feeling that way, but with a more positive outlook.

Facebook is wonderful. My sister and I have linked up with a bunch of cousins on Facebook. All it took was linking up with one and next thing you know there were a flood of invites of distant cousins. That was so wonderful. So we are planning to visit Winnsboro, LA Thanksgiving week to meet these cousins as well as touch base with the family we already know. Should be fun as we've never been.

Of course I'm going to turn it into a research week as well, already making my notes and travel plans for that week as well. Going to visit Concordia and Catahoula Parishes while there to dig through some county paperwork, visit some cemeteries and praying I get some good info.

I'll keep you updated!

Sunday, August 08, 2010


Fellow Genealogist - I'm at that point. So much info, too little time and not enough hands to help with it. I swear I'm mixing up ancestors, names jumbling together and we won't even go into the fact that my laptop crashed taking with it all of my wonderful notes and work and I feel like pulling out my hair. Or how about my teeth, one at a time without pain medicine!!!

My family seems interested, but no one is reaching out to help me w/ this documentation of where we come from and where we are going. Yet my passion is enough to keep the fuel burning - still I can't help feel overwhelmed by this.

Yet... the reason to keep going is take a look at this baby picture - THIS is our future, one of the latest additions to our family. I have to keep going for the kids. I don't want them guessing where they came from. I want them to be able to pull out my notes, pictures, memories of who their ancestors were. If I were to die today, my Grand Niece Lovenia Monet Smith (top left) will grow up knowing pretty much from day one who her Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandparents were and that is much better than where I started. I didn't know about my GGGGrandparents until 2 years ago and I'm 41. So see there is progress.

Yes, I'm overwhelmed but again, the passion outweighs it. I think I'll step away for a month, clear my head and then tackle it again - get everything back in order, build my computer database again (and promise not to cry while doing so). I can't help to think how much fun it would be for some family members to love it as much as I do, understand the importance of it and wave a friendly hand that wouldn't mind helping with the research, gathering the pictures, something... ;)

Overwhelmed but in Love w/ My Family...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

75 Years of Strength

Hello All,

I know it has been awhile since I've blogged - believe me when I say I have all of the intentions to do so, it just ends up falling on the back burner, due to the day job that has me traveling a lot. But I hope to figure out a way to make blogging one of the top priorities soon.

In any case, I did want to share with you what I did this past weekend. My Aunt Sally just celebrated her 75th birthday on February the 3rd.  I created her a scrapbook that did a brief review of her life as well as add pictures of her 4 children and their children & grandchildren - I also gave her a copy of the family tree I've been working on (although it is no where near complete).  I thought it would be a nice idea to at least show her how far I've gotten with her assistance. She was very touched and ecstatic about everything, my cousins (her children) were jealous, hahaha - as I had given the best gift so far. Now everyone wants their own scrapbook w/ the same details - so I'll be busy on that project as well.

Being I cannot place the entire scrapbook online for all to see, I did want to share the personal tribute I placed in the scrapbook from me to my wonderful Aunt Sally. She is sarcastic, hilarious, a lover of science fiction, still smoking, has an addiction for scratch off cards and a soap opera addict. However behind all of that drama, this is the most loving woman I know. She is controlled, tries not to show it so much, but just looking in her eyes you can tell just how much love she has for her family - she is our Matriarch.

*** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Comes when you seek it, comes when you least expect it
If one truly pays attention Family mirrors Inspiration in so many ways…
Aunt Sally, for as much as you are my family you have also been my Inspiration.
Love you more than words can say.
Happy 75th Birthday and many more…

Once upon a time in the land of East Liverpool, Ohio (if we must be precise, Sunday, the 3rd of February 1935) the Stork of Happenstance knocked long & hard at the door of Clarence Edward Tyree & Ethel Elizabeth Johnson school sweethearts that had no clue of what the Stork had in store for the young couple.
Ruth Ethelda Johnson was the name bestowed upon this unique creature. Now being that I’m telling this story 75 years after the fact, I really can’t say why she was named Ruth, however the stars are inclined to believe it was from the Book of Ruth from the Holy Bible (being both parents were active in their respective churches). The name Ethelda comes from her Mother’s name Ethel. And Johnson… well, you can make the connection.
My sources tell me she was a good student as well as a soloist in her church’s choir which was frequently featured on an East Liverpool local radio station. She graduated from East Liverpool High School and joined the military, both Navy and the Army where she met and married William Alvin Christopher Jr.
Born during a time when opportunities for young ladies were scarce and adding the term Negro didn't make the opportunities that much greater - Ruth made a way for herself. Graduation, Military Service, Widow at 31 and rearing a family with four young children as well as taking care of her Mother and young sister Maxine – she did all this and made it look as simple as tying a shoelace. However, we all know it wasn't easy, I’m sure there were many a night when the house was still, she questioned her strength and her ability – yet each day she packed away those doubts and made it happen anyway.
As her Niece she may never know how much I respect her for that. Without her my mother would have never moved to California and met my father. I’m sure she doesn't want the credit for that, but hey without that union there would be no me. ;)
So I offer you a minor journey of those that had the stars not aligned and that Stork of Happenstance not visited Clarence and Ethel and blessed them with Ruth Ethelda Johnson Christopher, there would be no US…
Felicia Monique Addison aka Fish
February 2010