Friday, November 4, 2016

The Pause along the Journ

There are times during the various paths along our research that information is discovered.  Sometimes it is documented or verbal and it makes you pause so you can digest what you learn. After thinking about it for a period, you then decide what path to take.  If the information is positive, like you are related to someone famous or you find an ancestor that accomplished something that society admires, it is easy to know the path to take.

The challenge comes when the information doesn't sit well based on your beliefs.  Digging into what you learn will at times teach you what or why the ancestor did whatever they did.  For example, I had a woman in my family that own and ran a jute joint in a small town.  This was based on verbal history shared with me by her sisters.  This joint was a place where locals partied and musicians would stay while on tour and traveling in the area.   Many years ago, she sent me a picture of a musician that wrote and played a song he wrote that became pretty famous in the jazz arena.  Researching the times, I learned about how African Americans were not welcomed to stay at hotels whether they were  famous or ordinary people.  Word of mouth was how these traveling people learn where they could spend the night safely, have a drink of alcohol, purchase time with a woman and party if desired.  This jute joint own by my family member was during prohibition.  So was this ancestor a tainted woman or a woman that met demands of some clients?  In other circles she may have been considered an entrepreneur in ways.  Rather than criticize choosing to accept what was based on the limited information or lack of documentation, we keep moving along the path.

The experience of this journey consistently leads me in places of learning the real history of the ancestry and learning.   Continuing to follow the paths and moving my modern day beliefs out of the way so their stories can be told is challenging yet it is the real deal.

Happy Hunting.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Series Opening The Mind.

I'm a watcher of most  TV series, shows or movies that are about history, genealogy and travel.  Finding Your Roots  and Who Do You Think You Are, are just a couple of them.  Recently, I've been watching Underground and it is one of the most thought provoking shows that has been on TV or even in the movies ever.  This series is truly about U.S. History.  I had no idea that it would be so in depth and cover so much more than enslaved groups escaping through the underground seeking freedom.

The creators have done an outstanding job on covering so many angles and the impacts of this period of time before the Civil War.  All individuals were affected in one way or another. Age, color, free or enslaved did not go untouched.  This week's episode was so emotional yet surprising not in the way one would think.  The children were changed by the lifestyle of the time and places they found themselves.  A little girl "Boo" was thrown in the hands of an enslaved man that was running to freedom.  Her mother made that decision for her daughter and paid the ultimate price of death.  During the run in her protectors arms, she faced many frightening experiences including death of the man that was designated to take her to freedom.  She runs and hides on her own, finding herself saved by her owner's sister-in-law who becomes her new protector that paid a high price to protect the runaway child.

Another young enslaved boy, James had the freedom to play and become the master's son playmate.  Time changes things and the boys are separated by status yet in reality they are half brothers.  James is sent to the cotton fields and quickly learns it a new period in his life while the master's son begins his training for future duties as a master.  The boys are separated by life status that has been past down.  Both are hurt and handle things differently.

This is simply a sample of the depth of the Underground series for this week.  This period of time is painful in many ways, specifically because I'm a black individual that has a Family History rooted in the enslaved period of this country.  I remember minimum teaching of the slavery period while in elementary and high school.  Mostly, it left me feeling ashamed and angry of how weak and helpless enslaved blacks were projected to be during this time.  It was years later that I learned there was much more to the story.  I learned of abolitionist yet didn't always place the value and cost of what was being done based on their beliefs.  Each role of various individuals in this series brings it home full circle.  

So the biggest take away for me is finally the real story is being told in a way that none of us should miss.  The second most important thing is why it is so important for us as genealogist or family historians to look around areas and time periods to make sure we include as much as possible of our "real family stories" beyond the names, dates and places. Where possible we must include the verbal history that has been passed down and not necessary proven (a real challenge without fantasy).  The other take away for me is that we must include those teachings from our ancestors, parents and others that taught us how to act or what to do in certain situations.

I remember a couple like a black person should never wear red yet that was my Dad's favorite color and I still have a red cape he gave me as a gift.  Alway felt uncomfortable wearing red yet alway received compliments when I did.  Learned from another aunt that was lighter than her other darker siblings to put clorox in my bath water (guess it was to lighten). Guess what I'm still brown.

Oh my, the journey of a Family Historian is ongoing.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Memories of "The Bridge", Dr. Dorothy Cal (aka Carroll) Hardy


The  dark sky is  split by  jagged streaks of lightening
Stars have long since fled in fright
As the first sounds of angry thunder
fractures the cold  black night:

A wind, born of fury grasps the trees and holds them fast
While my soul's boundless spirit rises to meet nature's 
Creator at last.
When the storm subsides - all is quiet

Once more stars cast their age old light

The night is calm-
The storm has passed-
My eyes are closed - my body lies
still at last

from "Pebbles in The Pond" poems by Dorothy C. Hardy (aka Dr. Dorothy "Carroll" Cal Hardy")

Dr. Dorothy Cal (Carroll) Hardy, my "Bridge" now walks among the ancestors.  On our last visit in October 2015, she told me she didn't know how to talk about death.  Fortunately, she left me many of her writings and finding the above poem revealed to me that she already spoke on the subject.

Dorothy is my bridge for during the last four years, she shared so very much that allowed us to bridge the Carroll/Cal family.  Most of all the connection of love between us was unconditional and went deeper than I could have ever imagine.

Our story together amazes me especially whenever I think about how we bonded.  I met her at the young age of twelve in Creighton, Pennsylvania at our Uncle Robert Carroll's home.  She was about twenty-two years older than me and she mostly interacted with other adult family members yet this young girl was totally impressed by her presence.  Yes, she was a beauty and a cousin not previously seen before yet there was something very special about Dorothy.  I overheard her speaking of being divorced, planning to marry again and living in Cincinnati.  It would be many years later before I would try to find her and realized that her surname had changed creating a challenge.  Of course, this was before the Internet was available to us common folk.  Four years ago via we reconnected through a student, Cheryl Morris, that was helping her with family research.  I never thought of how we were related as a young girl but as my family research journey moved towards our Carroll line, she was remembered.

We communicated and shared our information.  Dorothy had first hand information of her grandfather, Henry Carroll/Cal aka Pa Cal for she was his last known living grandchild.   He is my 2nd great grandfather and her father, Otis Cal and my great grandfather, John Cal are brothers.  Dorothy had much information documented on the Carroll/Cal family and knew the geographic area of Northwest Alabama.  She became my bridge by sharing information with me in writings, communication and showing me the area. Dorothy was healthy, energetic and a very intelligent eight-four year old woman that was still teaching a Creative Writing Class.  I loved every minute of being with her and she quickly became my sister, mentor, teacher and challenger.  The only difficulty was when she would say "you need to know how to get to the old place when I'm not here".  She meant how to get to the family cemetery, Cal Family Cemetery, Town Creek, Leighton and other areas that our family have ties.

Salutes to a very special ancestor that will never be forgotten.

Dorothy C. Hardy 1927-2015
Born to Odis and Lorean (Harris) Cal near Town Creek, AL
Graduate of Alabama State University, migrated to Cincinnati, Ohio
Married John Mootry Jr. in Nashville, TN  then William E. Hardy
Founder of Intergeneration Writers Guild
Held many job titles: Assistant Dean of Student Groups & University Programs,
Cincinnati, Administrator of student services, Director of Counseling Services at Central
State, Director of Specialized Student Services at Southeast Missouri State University
Recognitions; 1986 World of Poetry's Golden Poet Award, published in numerous journals
and magazines.

"Leaning back I think of what lies ahead: my bright rainbow--my tomorrow". Line taken from On A Greyhound Bus from Promises: Bright and Broken, Poems by Dorothy Hardy.

Journey of a Family Historian.