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.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

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?