Saturday, August 29, 2009
Anna Beatrice Green Yarborough, my paternal grandmother. Born in Rolesville (Wake County), Jan. 18, 1891 and died Feb. 17, 1977 in Louisburg, NC.
Mary Davis Walker Hill Thomas, my maternal grandmother. (She was married 3x.) Born in Littleton, NC on Dec. 26, 1897 and died June, 1986 in Hampton, VA. She lived most of her life in Norfolk, VA.
Arthur P. Yarborough, Sr., my father. Born in Louisburg, NC on June 21, 1924 and died in Hampton, VA on Oct. 4, 1997. He was a retired army major, and lived all over the world between 1942 - 1964, but after that retired and resided in Hampton, VA until his death.
Maryanne Hill Hoggard Yarborough, my mother. Born March 23, 1934 in Norfolk, VA. She lived in Norfolk until she married my father, and has lived in Hampton, VA ever since.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
When I first took the leap into blogging (thanks to Luckie), I was sure that I was going to be different from everyone else; unique in my persona and in my approach to the world. I've always been "different" from most of the people around me. I've never felt understood. I don't like being alone, but I've spent a lot of my life that way, and therefore have developed a rather reclusive, somewhat introverted lifestyle, especially of-late. But since I've joined this cadre of researchers, I've begun to feel increasingly at home, like I "belong".
I've realized that those of us who enjoy this kind of work are probably a "personality-type" in ourselves. When I reflect on my childhood, I recall that I was always deeply inquisitive although I was often put off by those I was questioning. Unfortunately, I didn't have a family or community that supported this, so I often heard, "Renate, you ask too many questions!" But I was always one to probe deeply into matters, and I always wanted to to know the why of things! I also recollect that, although my family was not close (and actually was quite disfunctional), I constantly badgered my parents and other relatives about the very issue of FAMILY - always wanting us to do things together, to visit each other, and to take vacations together. I was at my happiest when I was in Louisburg (NC) at my grandmother's, partly because she loved me SO MUCH and I knew it, but also because that was the place where everyone was "cousin this" and "cousin -that". I loved the feeling that it gave me to know that these people (mostly adults) were my kin. At home, I was always the keeper of the family photo albums. I remember being very protective of them from the start. The other thing about my childhood that I recall is that I was always a problem-solver, and I always had the patience and perseverance that was necessary to work on a problem until it was resolved. When I was just very young, people started bringing me their broken watches, clocks, radios, and things like that, and I would open them up and work on them (like I knew what I was doing) until they were fixed. My favorite pasttime was putting together jigsaw puzzles. The hardwood floor in my bedroom made the perfect surface for this work, and was almost always home to a 1000 or 2000 piece puzzle! I loved to read, and I loved to write. I always (for some reason) have paid close attention to spelling, especially of people's names. I could go on and on about the traits that I've noted in my childhood self that I now realize have transferred into making me a perfect fit for the world of genealogy!
Anyway, as usual I've gone on for longer than I'd intended, just to say this: THANK YOU, my dear blog friends for filling the past 6 weeks of my summer with laughter, support, good conversation, and even (today) a little HOPE for the future. I'm sure I'll be rushing home each day to see what I've missed, and hopefully I'll be able to keep up. I tend to eat lunch alone, so I can imagine I'll be peeking in on you guys on my lunch breaks!
For now... for me... it's back.... to.... school.
May God bless and keep you all!
Monday, August 24, 2009
On a completely different note: I have some news for my blog-friends who are doing South Carolina research! Today, I visited a used bookstore and print museum here on the Outer Banks (Kill Devil Hills to be exact). It was called the Croatan Bookery, Ltd.) This place was huge, and it was filled with antigues and old books galore! I was hoping to happen upon some good historical fiction. I even asked about family bibles - and left my contact information for when they get any with genealogical information in them. I spend over an hour perusing the shelves, and just when I got to the very last section - "DIARIES", I found a book that could very well be a gold mine for the right SC researchers. The book was The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, A Southern Slaveholder. The intro and summary were quite intriguing, and I could tell that this was a winner! The diary was kept from 1841 -1864, and apparently the writer (who was also a Senator) recorded every single thing about his life during these years, up to, and including his view of things during the war, his slaves, his black offspring, and more in it. I really wanted to go on and purchase the book, but it was $28.00, and I just wasn't prepared to do so. I googled the book, and got tons of hits, but here is one link to some of the excerpts from the book. http://www.stolaf.edu/people/fitz/COURSES/secrets.htm
Okay, things are getting kind of CRAZY here! I don’t exactly know where to begin to explain the events of the last 24 hours, but to surmise, my fellow Hawkins researcher and I have continued to share back and forth via email, as well as a little bit more on the HAWKINS message board on Ancestry. Just as it seemed that the two of us had settled on agreeing to disagree on the interpretation of Philemon’s will (at least until we had further proof one way or another), boom! I get an oddly-worded message on the board from a (White) Hawkins descendant. He seemed a bit aggravated at the discussion taking place about his ancestors, so I sent him a response in hopes that we could connect, and that hopefully I could help him come to terms with the fact that he does have Blacks in his family tree!
Okay… so immediately after typing my response, I decided to pull out the documents that were sent to me two years ago by that other HAWKINS descendant and researcher, HB HAWKINS, in Eugene, OR. We ran into each other on one of the boards back in 2007, and had a couple of conversations, after which he send me hard copies of the family tree (ancestral lines for my gg grandfather, specifically noted), a nice letter, and a collage of pictures of himself and his family, so that I could “see if there is any resemblance.” (He looks a lot like my grandmother.) HB also sent me a copy of a marriage record for Nathaniel Hawkins and Patience Green, whom we had discussed extensively on the phone, as we tried to figure out if this could have been my gggf, since his wife was a Green. (This is the same Nathaniel who I’d mentioned in my earlier post, whose records I’ve been shoe-boxing in Ancestry.) I studied everything carefully at that time, and have referred to these documents a few times since then, even as recently as three days ago. But, before now, I have concentrated mostly on the page that contained the information about my NATHANIEL MACON HAWKINS, or at least who I’ve believed him to be all this time – and so did HB. However, just now, after responding to the poster on the message board, I thought about that fact that his name was “Herbert”, and I wondered if he could have been the same person as, “H.B.” So, I pulled out the envelope again, and began looking through each page for HB’s full name, but this was to no avail. Everything was just, “HB.” (I remember him telling me that he only goes by that, so it makes sense.)
Since I had the papers out, I decided to go through them again, now that I have so much more information and new questions about the HAWKINS family. First off, I found that I’ve actually had notes about the whole Philemon will thing all this time! HB had put a note on one of the pages, explaining the whole thing, even giving a bit more information than what I’d recently found out. I’m sure I’d read this two years ago, but it had no personal meaning to me at that time! The information was noted at the bottom of the page that was designated for the tree of Philemon’s first marriage to Mary Christmas, who died in 1822.
Well, (I know this is long…) while I was on this page, I noticed that there were question marks for several of the descendants’ death dates, and I knew I’d created a document where I’d copied several death notices from the Raleigh Register, so I decided to pull out my document and see if I could fill in any of the death dates. It was just as I was beginning to do this – as I was perusing the page to find question marks – that I saw it. NATHANIEL MACON HAWKINS. There was my gg grandfather’s full name, but it was on a completely different page! This Nathaniel was listed as the sixth child of Dr. Joseph Warren Hawkins and his wife, Frances “Fanny” Minter Hawkins! What - was -this?
My mind started going about 1000 mph. Another Nathaniel Macon Hawkins? How could I have missed him all this time? Well, first of all this family lived in Mississippi, not in NC. Not only that, but upon finding him (immediately) with his family in the 1850 Census, I learned that he was born in 1840 – almost ten years after my Nathaniel (but much closer in age to my gg-grandmother, Anna, who was born in 1844). So, even if this Nathaniel had ever come up in my searches, I would have discounted him, I’m sure.
My next step was to try to find out what happened to this NM Hawkins. As I typed his information into the search boxes, I couldn’t help but to think about how elusive my original Nathaniel has been all these years. How none of the Hawkins researchers I’ve connected with ever knew anything about him, except that he was born in 1831. Nobody knew what became of him, where he was buried, why he wasn’t mentioned in anyone’s wills – nothing. Was I about to discover that I’d been barking up the wrong tree all these years?
1860 – It will take a bit more work to find out where Nathaniel is, because there are several with his name in Tennessee and Alabama who fit his description.
1863 – Marriage bond with Patience Green. Nathaniel is noted as, “col.”.
1866 – Cohabitation bond acknowledged.
Now, all of this happened just before I started typing this, and as I’ve been doing so, I’ve been going back and forth trying to find more out about this Nathaniel, but oddly enough, he disappears, also. So the mystery thickens. I know that my original Nathaniel did exist, because he’s shown in the HAWKINS household in 1850 and 1860, and because I have several other documents related to his death and estate. But why is it that these two Nathaniels are so elusive? There are several other connections that I’m seeing, which are teasing my curiosity about this, but perhaps this finding will lead to nothing. But I do have to say, WILL THE REAL NATHANIEL MACON HAWKINS PLEASE STAND UP?
Addendum: 8/24/09 - I have not heard back from my "cousin", and apparently he's not going to be forthcoming with any family information. Makes me think about the discussion on Luckie's blog. (See OGR here: http://ourgeorgiaroots.com/?p=674&cpage=1#comment-829)
Friday, August 21, 2009
I have been following a few new leads on my Green mysteries, and I'm excited that I've finally heard back from the archivist at the Cornell University Library
http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/collections/cuhist.html, who seems to have a bit of information on my great-uncle, William L. Greene, who obtained a Masters Degree from there in 1929. I'm hoping to see his records so that I can see how he was spelling his name at that point, since it is he who changed the spelling of the surname Green, to Greene, and thus all of his descendants carry that spelling, which distinguishes his line from all the rest of Anna Green's descendants. Unfortunately, I've been going back and forth with the archivist for several days because they need "proof of death" before they will release his records to me. (He was born in 1901......, but they have him listed as a living alumnae...hmmm). I have sent her the copy of his death certificate 3 times, but she keeps telling me that her email won't receive the document. Now, it's the weekend, so I guess I'm put off til Monday, but I might have to make a trip to a fax machine to get this ball rolling!
Also, on the Hawkins front - I've been having a dialogue with a fellow researcher, which started on the Hawkins board at Ancestry, and has now moved to us exchanging private emails. This was all spurned by my finding of Nathaniel Hawkins' great-grandfather's will, in which he mentions his grandson, Philemon, who was my gg grandfather, Nathaniel's father. I was surprised and excited to learn of the possibility that this Philemon may possibly have been Mulatto himself (although if he was, I don't think it was a well-known fact, and he must not have looked it). However, this other researcher disagrees with my interpretation of the language, and does not think he was. So, we've kind of been debating this, and although I have never read anything that would have indicated this as a possibility, and I know that my new friend is probably right, I can't discount it without proof to the contrary after reading the wording of Philemon Hawkins' will. On the same day that I discovered the will, I also ran across this letter from Philemon (the possible mulatto) to his father John. http://docsouth.unc.edu/unc/unc06-70/unc06-70.html Knowing that he attended UNC makes it even less likely that he was Mulatto, I guess, but still... I need PROOF! One other thought that has occurred to me is that this John could have very well had two sons named Philemon, one being the child of his wife (and the one we all know about - Nathaniel's father), and the other being the child of the slave, Amy.
As I'm typing this, I'm having another ah-ha moment, as I realize another possibility. (Thinking out loud... well, actually on paper...lol.) There has been a Nathaniel Hawkins that I've have run across many times in my research. He was in Warren County, and he was born in 1830, just like my Nathaniel Hawkins. I have held on to his information, and even shoeboxed him in Ancestry. He was married to a Green, but her name was, Patience. The reason I've not followed up on him more, is because he was listed as BLACK. So... now I have to wonder, if my Nathaniel Hawkins' father (Philemon) was half-Black, could this be my gggf???
Anyone who is interested can read the wording in question in the book, In Full Force and Virtue: , if you own the book, or you can read it here. http://books.google.com/books?id=usSoUtSJChgC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA281#v=onepage&q=&f=false It is the last paragraph on page 281. To me, it is clear here that Philemon is stating that his grandson (and namesake) is the son of his son, John and a negro woman named, Amy. The bold print is as it already was in the the reader, so I'm assuming that was done by the author. Also, to me it doesn't sound like he's in denial about this at all, but he is writing young Philemon out of his will and his "legacy" more because of his attempt to deceitfully and underhandedly get some of his grandfather's property.
1. Why would the grandson have to underhandedly try to write his way into his grandfather's will if he weren't mulatto, or a child outside of his father's marriage? It's obvious that Philemon was generously bestowing gifts upon his children and grandchildren in the will, and this last paragraph is obviously an addition that was made after the writing of the original will. To me, that means that Phil (the grandson) probably found out that he wasn't in it and did something to try to deceitfully change that.
2. How would Matthew, the slave boy, know so much? Well, again I can argue that there was much talk amongst the slaves (in and out of the quarters). The other researcher thinks that Matthew may have been Phil's child, and if he was, maybe his nephew tried to convince him to go in on the deceitful act, since he wasn't addressed in the will either. But nevertheless, folks talk, and I believe that Philemon was probably bragging or telling of what he'd done amongst his people, and that's how Matthew found out.
3. Philemon states that his grandson would not have "both this legacy and the property described in the said deed". Legacy to me means the family name and rights, which is different from property or wealth, and here Philemon distinguishes between the two. How often do we hear of people taking away the "legacy" from their own (White) children or grandchildren?
Your comments are welcome.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I've just come in from a visit with my mother, who, unfortunately, resides in an assisted living facility due to a movement disorder (Parkinsonism?) and increasing dementia. Some visits are short and some are long. This was a long one, due to my showing her recordings of my daughter (a violinist) playing several pieces, and the fact that I had several "newsy" items to update her on.
My mother is pretty much in her "right mind". Her dementia has manifested itself mainly in her ability to take care of her ADL's, and has robbed her of most of her gross and fine motor skills. But, she can still hold a good conversation, and she knows what's up about everything and everybody. The rest of our family (except for my daughters) has basically abandoned her, and on the rare occasions they do have contact with her, they treat her as if she's not herself anymore, which doesn't help her at all. However, when my daughters and I visit her, or take her out, we treat her like the mother/grandmother she's always been, and the longer we are with her, the more of her true personality and still-intact intelligence shines through.
Anyway, this evening during our visit, I was sharing with my mother that the tenants who've lived in her rental home in Norfolk have given their move-out notice, after being in the house for about six years. This was the house that my mother grew up in, which was first owned by her grandparents, then her mother, and became hers shortly before my grandmother's death. My mother had the house renovated in the early 90's and has been renting it out ever since. But, since she been disabled, the responsibility for this property (along with everything else of hers) has become mine, so it was with a bit of a sigh of relief that I shared this news with her, adding that "now we can sell it." My mother's reaction to this was quite genuine. She sort of gasped, and teared up, and responded by quietly saying, "Yes, I guess we can." I thought it was over, so I just sat silently for a minute, but then I heard a very quiet, "I was so hoping we could keep it in the family. It means so much to me." A brief silence followed this, as I watched my mother blinking back tears, and then I responded, "I know, Ma, but it's just too much for me." This she repeated, almost in monotone, but then she added, "I know it is. You have too much on you." We went on to discuss the pros of selling the house - what she could do with the money, etc., and then it was all better. But I couldn't get this out of my mind on my drive home. Here's why:
My ancestry research has been almost soley dedicated to my paternal side. For some reason, I just feel more like I "come from" that side. And besides, my mother's side is smaller. Her siblings are still living and they seem to know who they are. Oh, and there's the other problem of my mother's father abandoning the family when my mother was four years old. No one has ever heard from or about Daniel Webster Hill again.
When we were kids, my brother, Arthur, and I used to claim that my mother's mother was HIS grandma, and my father's mother was MINE. It seemed that they loved us that way, although that probably wasn't true. But on my drive home tonight, I realized that I've really done my mother a disservice by not finding out as much as I possibly could about her roots. Yes, I located them in the census way back to my great-great grandparents back in the beginning of my research, and I've searched high and low to find out about my grandfather, but I haven't done the HALF of the work that I've done on my paternal side, and I plan to change that, beginning right now. So stay tuned because Walter and Manerva Brown Davis (my gg grandparents), Daniel and Mary Davis Hill Thomas (my grandparents), and even my mother, Mary Anne Hill Yarborough will begin to make themselves known on my blog!
Monday, August 10, 2009
Last week's mystery was about my gg grandmother, Anna Green. Today I'll introduce her son, William. William Green was born in 1873 in Franklin County, NC. He was the fourth of Anna's mulatto children. (See last week's Mysterious Monday for the back story) I know very little about William, except that he looked white, and that he left NC at an early age and moved to New York, where he lived as a White man. According to my 90 year old cousin, Florine, he married a white woman, who she thinks may have been Jewish. It is unclear as to whether or not this woman ever knew William's ethnicity before his death, but Florine recalls that she actually came to Louisburg at some point afterward, said some choice words and dumped off a bunch of pictures and such - which have since disappeared.
Florine tells a story of going with her aunt, William's sister, to New York for his funeral, but not being able to attend because she was too brown and would have given away the "secret". (Interesting, because Florine is very light, but not light enough to pass.) So, she stayed at the house - which I'm assuming was her Aunt Bettie's (Elizabeth's) house, who was also living in New York and passing for White. This was sometime in the 1930's.
What I know for sure:... (Not much!)
1. William's middle name was Adam. Now, this is complicated, but I have a Family Group Record from familysearch.org that shows William's 1904 marriage in Manhattan. This marriage was to Sally Lou Johnson, who was also from Louisburg. but the (Florine says this is not the white woman, but a first wife, and I'm guessing she was Black.) On this document, William lists his parents as Anna Perkins and Nathaniel Green. If this is my William, which I believe it is, this document corroborates the oral history that Anna was originally a Perkins before she came to Louisburg. Nathaniel also matches the first name of the person I was told was Wm's white father, but I have a different surname. I'm assuming that William may have been guessing at this, because his father died when he was six and he was just probably assuming that his mother got her last name (Green) from him, but she didn't. They were never married. The other thing about this document is that I can no longer find it or pull it up on familysearch.org! Thank goodness I printed it out when I orginally saw it, but it's a mystery as to why it no longer seems to be there.
2. William died in New York.
3. William's sister, Bettie, also lived in New York and was passing for White. She was a "hairdresser to the rich folk", according to Florine, until William's wife found out that they were Black and went and told everyone. Then she lost all her clients. Florine says she lived in the Riverdale section of NY. Bettie married Roy Miller, a postal worker.
William names his father as Nathaniel Green on the fs.org document. Our oral history gives the name Hawkins. (What the heck - that's the name. Nathaniel HAWKINS.)
1. Did William ever have any children, either by Sally Lou, or by his white wife? If so, what happened to them, and how can I find them?
2. What was William's wife's name? (the white one)
3. Where is William buried?
4. Did William maintain any type of communication with his mother, Anna?
5. Did Anna ever visit William in New York? Could she have gone to live with him? (Perhaps as a servant? Remember, Anna disappears from my census findings after 1880.)
Today's mystery question: How can I find out more about William Green?
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Read this email I just got from her. (I'm initializing her siblings' names for privacy purposes.)
Subject: I found them!
I have connected! I am so excited! I am so emotional and on information overload and exhaustion. I will email you all later and tell you the story. Right now I am not able to talk or make sense.
Ladies, Thank so so much for your help. it never would have happened without your skills and dedication to helping a perfect stranger. I am so grateful. I cannot tell you how full my heart is right now!
I have talked to my sister, MG, in Wellington, KS, for hours this morning. Danis' document late last night , the obit for FS, was the break we needed. I have talked to another sister, who was very nice, but didn't know much. M is a gold mine of information, and we will meet soon. She is 72. I am 66. I am so grateful we have connected and I can put my questions to rest. Thank you so much. Pattie.
Today I will begin with my great-great grandmother, Anna Green. Much of what I know about Anna has been passed on to me in an oral telling by one relative, my now 90 year old cousin Florine, who is Anna's granddaughter. According to Florine, Anna was originally a Perkins who fled from Tennessee because "the man kept on bothering her". (It's a bit fuzzy, but it may have been Anna's mother who was being bothered, not Anna.) Florine also tells that Anna's mother was a "full-blooded Indian", but I have nothing to verify that yet. Anyway, Anna (and her mother??) somehow ended up in Franklin County, NC, and somehow took on the surname, Green. Here, my cousin always tells me that she thinks it had something to do with some auto dealer in Franklinton, but this doesn't make sense to me because the automobile as we know it was not yet invented.) Anyway, Anna, who was born in 1844 apparently became the woman of a white man, X, and bore 6 children by him. The oral history states that X loved Anna, and put her up in her own home on his family's property. However, when he died in 1879, his father, promptly put Anna and her children out, and thus begins what is seemingly a legacy in my family of single women being left to raise their children on their own.
Here's what I know for sure:
1860- 29 year old X still lives at home with his momma and younger siblings. He is listed as a "Negro Trader."
1870 - 26 year old Anna (listed as White) is head of household. She has her son, John (5) and daughter, Elizabeth (2). The children are listed as Black. None of the neighbors' names seem to be connected to us, but most of the neighbors are black, except for one family two doors down.
38 year old X is listed living alone, however he is completely surrounded by blacks. His occupation is listed as "Trader." (This is post Emancipation, so what is he trading???) Interestingly enough, the census taker had first written "B" for Black, but wrote over it, "W". Apparently X never married, which would be strong support for his relationship with Anna.
1880 - 37 year old Anna (now listed as Black) has all of her children; John (14), Bettie (12), Annie (9), William (7), Mary (4), and Esther (1). She also has three children in the home who are "something other than a direct relationship". They are Bat (13), William (9), and Lucy (3) Wood. ALL of the children in the house are listed as Mulatto.
I never find Anna again in any census. For some reason, I have her death date as 12/6/1927, but I don't have this sourced. However, I feel sure I must have actually found this somewhere early in my research, so for right now I'm holding it as true.
*Cousin Florine knew all of Anna's children except for John (my great grandfather). All of them were very light, and several could (and did) pass for white. (I have brick walls on them, too, but that is not my focus for today.)
* My grandmother was named for her grandmother, ANNA GREEN.
Currently, I have the entire family of X on my tree, however, I am uneasy about it because there are parts of the oral history that don't match with the facts on his family. The main one is that his father, a very prominent figure in Franklin County, died in 1856. This would be well before Anna would have taken up with his son, and way before X's death in 1879. So, none of that stuff about the father putting him out would make sense, although it could have been his other family members who did so.
1. What was Anna's ethnicity? Obviously, she was of mixed blood, but was it black-white, white-indian, black-indian????
2. Was Anna ever a slave?
3. Where did Anna actually come from? The oral history says TN, but in 1880, Anna tells the census taker that she was born in VA, and so were her parents. I find this more believeable because it is now 15 years past Emancipation, and Anna probably has no fear of telling the truth, as she might have in 1870 if, by chance, she'd been a runaway slave. Is there any hope of me finding her family of origin (Perkins??).
4. How did Anna get the name Green? She didn't seem to have ever married.
5. What happened to Anna after 1880? Unfortunately, we don't have the 1890 Census. Anna just seems to disappear. I do find a few Anna Greens outside of the area who match her in age, but I have nothing to go on to verify that either of them is her.
6. Even though X's father died in 1856, probably before he and Anna hooked up, X is completely excluded from his father's will. Why was he left out?
7. I have seen X's will at the state archives. He left everything to his mother and siblings (supposedly - if not tampered with). Comments, please.
Well, this has gotten much longer than I'd expected it to be, so I'll stop here. There are a few other tidbits, but not of great importance. The reason I've decided to use "X" for my gg grandfather's name right now is because of all of the conflicts and because so much is unverified. I'd rather not lock anyone into a name if you think you can help me with this. I have attempted to make contact with several people who have him on their tree, but no one knows any more about him than his name and d.o.b. and NO ONE knew of him having any offspring.
I look forward to hearing about any insight anyone might have into this! Thank for reading!
MYSTERY QUESTION: How can I find out more about ANNA GREEN?
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I'm so sad that I didn't know about this sooner, but it looks like it will be a wonderful event, so I want to promote it on my site. Unfortunately for me, I don't think I'll be able to pull it together (financially) to be able to attend on such short notice, but I look forward to seeing posts and hearing about it from those who can make it. Hopefully, I'll be amongst the attendees in 2010!