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!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What To Do on Father's Day When He is no longer here?

LIVE - and do something you enjoyed doing with Him. My Father & I loved Aquariums and since I'm in Georgia which has one of the largest Aquariums, I'm living and He lives through me. Happy Father's Day!
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's in a Name?

Family research has brought up some unique names and even though as an African-American and early on our names were given to us by slave masters, I still believe there are signs/signals in those names.  

I was born Felicia Monique, my mother told me she named me after a little girl she would catch the bus with in the morning while she was pregnant with me; who used to make her laugh and touched her stomach and told her that I would be a girl.  Now keep in mind this is before the Doctor's would tell you if you should start stocking up on blue or pink gear.  Now maybe I'm digging a little too deep here, but I know that everything has a meaning/definition (that's why I love proverbs and the dictionary so much).  

As I continue on with my Family Research I decided to find out the meanings of my known  (I say known because I'm still researching) Great Grandparent's names down to the Parents to see if there was a pattern somewhere.  

Here we go - I'm doing this as I create this blog - so either it will equate to something or maybe it won't, here goes:

Maternal 4th Great Grandparents:
Samuel (His name is God) Mills/Rachel (Ewe) Prince
Paternal 3rd Great Grandparents:
John (God is Gracious) Addison/3GGM Unknown 
Ellen (light, torch, bright) Allen/3GGF Unknown
Zephirin (west wind)Patterson/Lottie (Free Man) Williams
Arthur (Bear or Stone) Williams/Adelaine (Noble)

Maternal 3rd Great Grandparents:
William (will, desire, helmet, protection) Mills/Marilla(bitter)
Paternal 2nd Great Grandparents:
William (will, desire, helmet, protection) Addison/Hettie(home ruler)
Henry (home ruler) James/Isabella (God is my vow) Monroe
William (will, desire, helmet, protection)Thomas/Jane (God is gracious) LaBauve
George (earth worker) Patterson/Theresa (Harvester) Williams

Maternal 2nd Great Grand Parents:
Hiram (my brother is exhaulted) Mills/Martha (Lady)
Major (greater) Buford/Mary (bitter) Gaines
Thomas (twin)McCoy/Eliza (My God is a vow) Marshall
Paternal Great Grandparents:
Nathan (He(God) has given) Addison/Kate (pure) James
Alfred (elf counsel/itself)Thomas/Della (noble) Patterson

Maternal Great Grandparents:
William (will, desire, helmet, protection)  Mills/Susan (lily) Buford
William(will, desire, helmet, protection) Hamm/Alice (noble/kind)McCoy
Spencer (someone who gives out goods) Addison/Alberta (noble & famous) Thomas
John (God is Gracious) Mills/Ethel (righteous noble) Johnson (Hamm)
Spencer (someone who gives out goods) Addison Jr.
Lois(more desirable/better) Maxine (Little Maximus) Johnson (Mills)
Felicia (happy/lucky/fortunate) Monique (advisor) Addison

Well I'd say there was Spirituality and Pride all over the place when I lived all those years ago.  Yes... Giants.

The Fish Monkey Story

Sitting here relaxing when I need to be packing, going to work finishing up the pile of work that can't wait until my return.  I know this trip is about work, but I'.m getting excited about finally getting a chance to visit ATL's aquarium. This love of marine life started as a child, my Father loved to fish and also kept awesome aquariums and a vast library on aquatic life.. (To those reading from my genealogy blog this will eventually tie together). So I've always loved fish in the water and on my plate (okay, a bit ill).

The first memory I have of fishing with my father is actually when we (he) had caught an abundance of Crappie & Blue Gill and it was time to clean them to prepare them to fry with fried green tomatoes and french fries. I had to be about three. And I remember us being at Mama's house (my granny) on her kitchen floor with a bunch of newspaper and brown bags covering the floor. He'd take a fish out of the bucket and hand it to me with a tablespoon and show me how to scale it. Once he figured I had that job covered, that's when he started chopping the heads off of the fish and cleaning them. I'd scale, he'd chop and clean.

As we were doing this I suddenly thought of the fish in his aquarium, how I could go up to that aquarium and stare at them for hours, watching them swim, fight, eat when he dropped some flakes or shrimp in there and I also remembered a time they looked thirsty and I thought I'd share my glass of milk with them (different story, let's just say I got popped and had to take a nap). And I suddenly got real sad as I looked down at the chopped heads of fish. I stopped scaling and he looked at me crazy as if why am I stopping the rotation? I asked him if we were going to eat these fish, were we going to eat my favorite Guppies and his favorite Arawona named Roscoe?

He laughed - hard. Laid all out on Mama's kitchen floor getting fish juice all over the place. And I looked at the fish heads and could of sworn they were still living, their eyes kept moving and in my mind staring directly at me. My Granny got upset with him for laughing at me and kicked him in his side and told him to shut up. She picked me up and took me to the bathroom for a bath, where she explained to me the difference between pets and dinner. I was cool after that. She told me I could enjoy them both ways and I have ever since. My favorite food is Seafood and I love me a nice Aquarium!

Oh the Fish Monkey story... Well at three I couldn't really pronounce my name Felicia Monique correctly, so when asked my name I'd have a big smile on my face and scream FISH MONKEY ADDISON!
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Liar or Great Storyteller?

I know it has been a moment since I've blogged about my research.  Either I'm digging in deep or assisting others with their research; which I have found to be excellent in helping me with my own research.  It clears my mind, allows other ideas to flow in research that would have probably never occurred to me with my own.

So lately I've been reading my notes, finally made it to the library to look at more yearbooks/directories and while looking at my Father's yearbooks I noticed that some of the stories he used to share w/ me as a child about his High School experience, is not necessarily true. Per his stories, he played Basketball ran Track and was very well known - yet the yearbooks didn't show him listed on any teams.  Then in his Senior yearbook, after they show the pictures of the graduating class, they list them all by name and mention the sports/clubs that each student participated in.  Guess what?  It only showed his name.  No sports, no clubs/activities.  He was just your average student.

Now I figure some family members will read this and be not only disappointed, but probably very upset w/ me for even putting this out there.  Yet I know it needs to be clarified and guess what?  It doesn't change not one bit how wonderful of a father, friend, cousin this man was.  It doesn't change that.  Anyone that knew my father, knew he was a character, could make you laugh, scream and cry.  Very entertaining, so yes, maybe he told us a "story" about his High School experience, but as his Daughter, I look at it in a totally different light.  I look at it as him wanting to show his children what his dreams for himself were as a child, that maybe didn't come to fruition.  Maybe he wanted to be that Basketball Star, Lord knows he had the height for it.  Maybe he wanted to be that Track Star, he had the legs and speed for it.  

Yet, as I look over his life and realize the challenges he had while being a teenager, to say he even made it across that stage is a miracle in itself.  So in my eyes he is that Basketball and that Track Star.  He had the talent for it, life just didn't afford him the space to accomplish it.  The focus and attention had to be given to figuring out how to handle being bounced from home to home while attempting to stay in school.  It would have been much easier to give up, which he didn't do.  Yet he had dreams, even then that makes me feel good. That even as dark as some of those days were for him, he still saw the light.  Now being that my father was an atheist that is sort of humorous to me and if he were here today, that is exactly what I would tell him, "Daddy that was God, the light was God".  

Now I understand why he made sure to always have a stable place of residence for his children to call home. Even as awkward as the living situation in my childhood was, it was always stable.  I felt pulled, being both Daddy's Girl and Momma's Baby, yet never did I doubt the love, it was there in a abundance.  So yes Spencer Addison is my Great Storyteller, who knew?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Oh, What a Day, What a Day... Still Learning Who I Am.

Just a little frustrated.  Last month I did find additional information on my maternal Great Grandmother, Alice McCoy (see last blog entry).  I found her in the 1900 census married to a man by the name of Robert Hopkins.  Since there is no 1890 census, I have to jump to 1880, attempting to find her living with her parents Thomas McCoy and Eliza Marshall.  Per her obituary her and her parents were born in Owenton, KY, but for the life of me I cannot locate them in the 1870 or 1880 census.  

I've found something awhile ago that was a death certificate of a Mrs. Eliza McCoy, but the age seemed a bit off.  It listed no parents so I couldn't confirm the maiden name or even her husband's name, just that she was widowed.  Why are these people hiding from me???

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inspiration from the Beyond Emancipation Project

I've mentioned it before, that I've been volunteering with Beyond Emancipation. Today's session was making a video of them talking about who they are, challenges, expectations.  I love those kids.  Hilarious, brutally honest and courageous.  I think back when I was their age and what frame of mind I had.  I was focused at that time, maybe not on the things I should have been focused on, but I knew that I had a purpose.  I was a creative person without an art, who decided to get into the Corporate structure of things. Now I know why within I'm so conflicted.  I have a passion for the peculiar, outside of the box and I continue to question why I remain in the box.  

If it were up to me, when I decided I didn't want to go to school anymore and just live, I probably would have ended up on the streets of Berkeley or SF, making and selling jewelry.  Standing on the corner reading my poetry.   I probably would have been a Henna Tatoo Artist as well, specializing in Adinkra & Khemetic symbols, reading Tarot Cards, digging deep into the Cosmos and Numerology.  I love that, it always has felt natural to me.  I've always been able to read people and see things before they happen.    

It didn't happen that way.  My parents weren't having that...

Both of my parents instilled the work ethic in me deep - even when I didn't want to work.  I knew I had to do something to make a living and be self-sufficient. They didn't understand anything other than that.  They didn't care how I chose to expand my mind or express my creativity - as long as I had a job to back it up.  They taught me early that being a starving artist is not the way to go.  Sort of how we tell our young men to have Plan B even though they want to dribble a ball or have a hot CD. 

When I see these kids though, there is a rough exterior, but it is understood.  I can only imagine some of the things they've experienced in life.  I don't know everyone's story but I know too much happened to them at too young of an age.  Still they are champions, wanting to break the cycle and wanting what every human being does, just to be loved.  Even now as they are simply trying to make it, you see that gleam of hope in their eyes and it dawned on me today that IS life.  The will to want to go on, prosper, be challenged, succeed and get back up when you are knocked down.

Going into this project I really wanted to share with them my love for Family History, my love for my Family (even the ones I refuse to speak to - I'm good at loving from afar). Today confirmed that I've learned much more from them.  They've inspired me to want to write again, express myself.  These are things that I've let lag too long and I'm thankful for this project, because it has given ME back to ME.  Alot of people have tried and failed, who would have thought it would be a group of kids just looking to learn something that did the trick.  See how the Creator works?  So my Parents were thinking the right thing... Work, but make sure you do something you love while doing it... Keeps the stress down.  I should have listened more. 

Be Peace...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Searching for one thing always leads you to another...

I felt like writing, so I figured why not blog about my Genealogy Frenzy this weekend.  First it started with me looking for a friend's Great Grandfather, census page after census page I found him and also his Great Great Grandfather for that matter.

While searching for his family I had been thinking about a recent meeting I had at my Genealogical Society with the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California AAGSNC, and this meeting was on those brick walls.  I've been frustrated with my Maternal Grandmother's side of the family as I'm stumped no matter which way I go I can't seem to get further than my 2nd Great Grandparent's names.  Now for some I know they will say how dare I get frustrated, some people don't get to that point, well it irritates me, okay? LOL...  Especially considering the wealth of knowledge I have gained on the other legs of my family history.

So of course the advice I was given is what I already knew, with the census it could be a mere misspelling of a name, both given and surname, search with the wildcard, search with the soundex - all of these things I tried and still no where.

This particular leg of my family, I've found in the 1930, 1920 and 1910 census, but could never find them in the 1900 - and I've been looking for well over a year.  I knew they were born in Kentucky, but in the three census' that I located them in they lived in Ohio.  So I figured maybe they lived in Kentucky and I did all my researching in the part of Kentucky I knew of.  Nothing...

Well in researching this friend's family it cleared my mind - I was looking for something totally unfamiliar to me and I seemed to be getting info everytime I searched.  As I thought about how freely this info was coming to me, I figured out why - I was calm and let everything come to me - yes, this research is detective work, but sometimes what you feel is the hardest thing that turns out to be the simplest.  Open your mind and expect the unexpected and you will be able to see something you've been overlooking.

After I did all my mind could contain w/ looking for my friend's family, I decided to take yet another stab at locating my Great Grandmother and her two children.  Her name is Alice (common), son's name is Walker (common as a surname, but not a given name) and daughter named Katharine (common, but hard to pinpoint because of the variations of the spelling) common surname JOHNSON.

So I figured... let's try Walker and leave the surname blank.  Put in what I felt his age to be in the 1900's and see what I would find. Bam! (As my lovely Goddaughter would say) - I found them... but living with another man AND... a different surname:

In 1900 Census, my Great Grandmother and her children lived with a man by the name of Robert HOPKINS.  I never heard of this man and in asking my elder relatives that may possibly have some info,  they had no idea of who he was.  The JOHNSON Surname is from My Great Grandmother Alice MCCOY marrying Samuel JOHNSON.  She was widowed sometime between 1893-1900.  This I knew just from what my family told me, but once I found this information, I did further research and found out that my Great Grandmother the widowed Alice JOHNSON, married a Robert HOPKINS on 29 Oct, 1897 in Clermore, OH; being the reason they showed up in the 1900 census with a different surname.

My summary of all of the above is sometime in between 1900-1910 Alice & Robert moved from East Liverpool, OH to Cincinnati, OH (assuming for work) and separated/divorced as well (haven't found anything on the divorce yet) but I know by 1910 Census she was living in Wellsville, OH which is in the county of Columbiana, the same as East Liverpool.

On the 1910 & 1920 census her marital status stated she was divorced - I didn't know why, as from what I knew she was widowed.  By 1930 she was stating she was widowed and her death certificate and obituary also states that she was the widow of Samuel JOHNSON.

I found Robert HOPKINS remaining in Cincinnati in both the 1910 and 1920 census', in the later census he was a patient in Cincinnati General Hospital - I need to find out what happened with him as it also contained inmates as well.

So I found something no one knew about her - she had remarried.  This is something that my Grandmother never mentioned to my Mother and her siblings (My Grandmother was Alice's 3rd child born in 1912 with a man by the name of William HAM(M)).  So this was one of those family, ah ha moments.

Did I find what I was looking for, yes and no.  What I wanted to find is her linked up with my 2nd Great Grandparents, but knew I couldn't really get that info until I answered that 1900 census mystery of did she live in Kentucky or Ohio.  Now that I know the answer to that, I'm getting closer and closer to that answer - too bad 1890 census is a goner, but 1880 census Great Granny Alice MCCOY JOHNSON HOPKINS, here I come!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Birthday

It's weird - I'm 42 years young today - or I should say @ 11am I'll be 42 years young.  

I don't feel it.

Now granted, I have aches and pains and most of that is because I know I need to be more physically fit, but wit wise I'm able to hang w/ the ebb and flow of life.  The only thing I believe I want to change about myself is to stop over analyzing things.  I have that bad and I notice it is progressing the older(younger) I get.  I dig the wisdom though, believe that.

Also I would like to be more patient.  In researching my family, I find I have less patience for the family that are alive and thriving.  I know that is mean to say - but hey, truth is truth.  Do I love them?  With every ounce that inhabits this physical form I have and beyond in the mental and emotional form - but still... they really know how to get me to a point of where I want to grab them by the shoulder's and shake them and yell WAKE UP.  

Wake up to who you are and where you originate.  When I look at the lives my ancestors lead and their accomplishments during times that weren't so kind; then I watch the living not really comprehend that and take everything for granted, I become very frustrated.

This baby picture of me I believe was taken at the age of about 6 or 7 months.  See that confused but purposeful look in my eyes? (See what I mean about over analyzing things?).  It appears I'm confused because I think I'm wondering what that thing is in their hands that they keep sticking in my face, but purposeful in the sense that I've seen it before and I'll figure it out one day.

That's how I've lived my life.  Always wanting to know more, many consider me smart and observant, but they have no idea how ignorant I feel on a daily basis.  Ignorant because as much as I know, I know nothing.  And to me, the desire to not want to know is where the crime towards life exists and that's where I get frustrated w/ some of my family members.

Then I look at pictures of my beautiful Grandmother Alberta. To me she was my favorite of Grandparents, very patient, had the best hugs, made my clothes and used to sing the Sesame Street song to me every morning.  Yet, my opinion of her is much different than what my Father's opinion of her was.  To him she was selfish, self-serving and not to be fully trusted.  He had his right to feel like that because that is the person he experienced, just like it is my right to feel the way I do based on the experiences I've had with her.  

So I've come to the realization that possibly, those same family members I want to shake the hell out of, today is the way I see things and tomorrow is the way someone else will see them and those thoughts may very well contradict.  That's what gaining a new year of life is about - the possibility of growth.  That is my prayer for everyone.  Grow to your full potential and then keep trying to grow even beyond that, because life is limitless and YOU are the entity that sets those limits, so don't limit yourself. Ashe...

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Writing My Life Story

It's time that I sit down and do what all Genealogists must do, write your OWN story.... I'm scared, lol.
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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Extended Family

I know this blog's purpose is for the research of my family's history as well as my various experiences within Genealogy.  Still as I sit here this morning and think about all the wonderful people that I've had/have in my life that were/are family to me when mine was not readily available, they deserve a mention and more.  Although I can't list them all, it does not diminish their effect on my life or my love for them.  

The picture to the left is of my best friend Brenda Smith and myself (pre-loc'd days).  We shared life the good, the bad, the ugly and the painful.  Nine days older than Brenda her wisdom extended mine in ways I didn't understand until it was almost too late.  

She departed this world on September 5th, 2002 and life in every aspect of the word changed for me.  It turned me inward, but more observant.  Although my smile was lost for a very long time the thought of her brought me joy.  If there were ever two individuals destined to meet and exist in each others energy - it was me and that girl Brenda.  Ashe!

D'Juan Bush
That smile I lost came back when a young man made himself a presence in my life when I tried hard to fight it.  Losing Brenda made me not want to be close to someone like that again.  So I kept on doing what I do, but really closed myself off. Yet this young man forced his way in.  He was a young kid growing up next door to me and I just remember him always smiling and helping my mother in with the groceries.  By this time I was a young adult already working - no time for little kids.  So I grew up, moved out and went on my journey in life.  When I lost my Godson Andre (Brenda's son), my Mother, Brenda and a marriage that failed all within 2 years - I couldn't deal with being at home any longer and I took a year Sabbatical in Charlotte, NC.  I was able to regroup, put things in perspective as much as I possibly could and took care of me.  I returned home and those old feelings started to creep back in, wanting to just shrink up and die.  I just felt like the wind was knocked out of me - all of the time.  Still this one person, when I returned home was a "grown ass man" as he liked to remind me time and time again.  

He was a bug-a-boo in every definition of the word.  Every time I got home from work - there he was. Asking me how my day was, what I was doing for dinner, what movies had I seen, help him with his resume and fill out job applications, etc.  I fought it for as long as I could, but he got in and I'm not talking romantic, I'm talking friend.  He was my baby, my brother.  He taught me how to laugh and smile again.  So we ate together, watched movies together, did job searches (my baby wanted a JOB) and we had so much in common  and after months of him working jobs he despised he finally got his dream job to work for Caltrans.  He was a highway maintenance worker.  I watched a young boy become a young man and yes eventually a "grown ass man".  Yet fate has it's own irony...

One day while working my sister (who also worked w/ me) came into my office and told me we needed to leave urgently, Juan had been in an accident - I immediately grab my purse and ready to go and wanted to drive, which my sister would not let me do.  I needed to get to him and quick to see how he was doing and she wasn't moving fast enough.  She looked at me as if this was the most painful news she had to deliver and she simply told me, "FE - he didn't make it".  I felt the wind seep out suddenly.  

Caltrans lead the funeral procession.
D'Juan Bush was my Soul's Savior.  He taught me to keep trying, no matter how bad it is.  I knew these things already but he found a way in and a way to remind me, not with words but by simply showing me.  His funeral was massive, California's then Governor Schwarzenegger had all of California Government offices hold their flags at half staff the day of his funeral. They stopped traffic on all major roads and freeways for his funeral procession.  To say it was surreal is putting it mildly.  They led the procession through the neighborhood of Brookfield where he grew up and you could see people on the street waving at the procession as he was loved by the whole neighborhood (how cocky of me to believe he was only mine). He is missed so much, but I'm so blessed to have had him touch my life.

Once upon a time there were three friends ( one man and two women) chatting online about movies and somehow it got around to books, books specifically on Black Love.  The lack of positive role models and reality in these books. Well since these three friends dabbled a bit in writing they thought it would be fun to come up with a story of their own - with the women only writing for the female characters of the book and the man writing for well, the male characters in the book.  This was to give it that reality factor.

After a few failed attempts, that last attempt had a life of it's own.  Before they knew it they had come up with enough material to actually call it a book.  Myself, Joye Cooks and the male counterpart who I will keep anonymous, together we birthed the book known as Love Mosaics: Indigo Blue under the pseudonym Tatu (meaning three in Swahili).  This story began right after I lost my Mother, Brenda read it while it was being created and then she left, but guess who was at the book signing? Yes, D'Juan... See how wonderful extended family can be?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Giving Back: Beyond Emancipation

For the past few weeks I've been volunteering to help Youth from Alameda County research their family members. A Youth Ancestry Project through Supervisor Keith Carson's office in conjunction with the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC).

So far I've been working with the young adults at Beyond Emancipation, helping them piece together their family history as well as hopefully help them locate living relatives. I have to admit in the beginning I didn't know what to expect, but once I sat down with them and we begin discussing some of the things that have transpired in their lives it felt like home. Not in so much as I could relate to all of their stories, but I felt their pain and their need to know who and where they come from and if there are any relatives currently available for them to connect with. I bring their stories home with me and I admit to tossing and turning thinking about them and my need to want to help them as much as possible. Giving back does the heart good - I cannot stress that enough, truly a Blessed feeling.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mama, I Remember

Today was a BLESSED Day... I cannot explain the joy I've had today. First I attended our Society's monthly meeting AAGSNC, which had a powerful presentation by Nicka Smith on her journey to Cameroon, I wanted to be in tears, but tried to remain the big girl. :) Nicka has a gift, she has found what she is passionate about in her family research and there is no limit to how far she will go for it, a true inspiration. I'm not sure if she's put her journey yet on her family's blog, but here is her family's website: - one day I will hopefully get our family's history to this caliber - she is a true inspiration and I am glad to call her friend.

Then after today's meeting I went over to my sister LaJuana's house. Family pictures are hard to come by in my family as when my parents split, my mother left everything (just grabbed her two girls and left) so all of our family pictures were spread among many family members. Now a bunch of those family members have passed on so trying to find out who has what and how to piece them all together is a journey within itself.

Now getting back to my visit w/ LaJuana, I knew she had some pictures that were my Grandmother Alberta's (Mama) so I toted my laptop and my scanner (yes, I put my scanner in a suitcase and toted it along) one day I'll be savvy and get me a small portable one, but a sista's got to do what a sista's got to do.

So I set up all of my equipment and LaJuana brought out this album and I immediately came across a picture that rocked my heart to its core. This is a picture of my Uncle James Thomas, my Grandmother Alberta's baby brother.

I remember her showing me this picture when I was a little girl and her explaining to me that he died when he was a little boy. She had this picture low in a drawer, so I would pull it out every now and again and look at it. He was a baby in this picture, but I remember how she used to call him her baby and how much she loved him (she was 14 years older than he was) and I'm assuming during that time she was probably more of his caregiver than her mother was.

James was the baby boy out of 11 siblings. 7 Boys and 4 Girls. So when i saw this picture my heart did an immediate cartwheel. My sister LaJuana had no clue on who was in this picture, but I recognized it immediately the minute she pulled it out. I used to stare at this picture and wonder what type of little boy he was, my Grandmother was crazy about him and when she would talk about him, I could see tears welling up in her eyes, as she would tell me how she used to rock him to sleep, play with him when he was a young boy. This is the only picture I've ever seen of him and I'm sure more exist, I hope I can recognize him just by feeling him. I'm sure Mama will give me that signal.

Below is his death certificate that I obtained from Franklin Parish, LA - this was the link that let me know my Great Grandparents were actually from West Baton Rouge, LA and over time migrated on up to Winnsboro, LA.

My Uncle James Thomas was 8 years old and 7 months at his time of death and died of Diarrhea. I'm assuming he had been ill and the Diarrhea is what most likely dehydrated him and eventually killed him. When I think about this I think about how times have changed and how had this illness fell upon a young boy at the age today he'd be able to live through it, grow up into a beautiful young man, who would have gone on to start his own family, but that was not his destiny. His destiny would extend many years beyond his death, until a day his big sister, would show his baby picture to her inquisitve granddaughter who never forgot that he existed and how much her Grandmother loved him. His story will be told and kept alive, all 8 years and 7months of it.

Mama I remember and thank you for sharing him with me.