Wednesday, January 2, 2019

DNA Path on the Journey

Read many articles and followed genealogy posts on DNA testing and how it assisted people with their ethnic make up as well as with their research.  I'm still on the path to figuring so much out with the testing results.  The DNA path started with asking my mother to do the test in 2006.  I was at a brick wall with her maternal side.  Her mother died when she was four years old and she had eleven children.  It appeared at the time my maternal grandmother may have been adopted or raised by a relative known to my mother and her sibling as grandmother (Matilda Harris Freeman 1877-1954). Matilda raised my grandmother, Susie Mae Young (1897-1937) in Alabama.  Matilda married George Freeman a coalminers in Jefferson County.  Susie Mae Young married John Henry Woodard (1889-1932) a coal miner in 1913.  Analyzing some records opened the possibility that Matilda may have been Susie Mae's biologic mother yet is not a sure thing.  Matilda had a previous marriage to a Marc Young in Elmore County, Alabama that ended up in what appears to be a divorce.  Susie Mae's death certificate stated her parens were unknown and the informant was her husband's first cousin, Charlie McClendon.  Charlie was in Alabama with John Henry and migrated to West Virginia with Susie and John as well as Matilda and George.  One would think he would have a good idea about Susie's family.  He also knew Matilda and her husband George.  These are a few of the fact that led to asking my mother to take FTDNA testing.

My mother's results were a bit surprising to me.  Her paternal side based on features appeared to be strongly African and during early generation there appears to be no mixed marriages.  Her results were 80% African (expected) and 20% Portuguese (surprising part).  This led me to research the role Portugal played during the slave trade.  Clearly, I had a lot to learn.  The migration of the maternal line went back to Ethiopia.  It was a surprising history yet no documentation.  I did the happy dance for my Mother for she always wanted to know more about her mother's side.  It was also disappointing that we couldn't come up with any additional information.

Mom transition in 2010 and while I delighted that we did the test, it left me a bit hollow.  By the time I learned more about DNA testing and decided to upgrade her test with the Y branch, the sample had deteriorated and didn't work.  The matches she has very few matches with two possible Africans ma that I've not contacted.  Not sure where I will go from here on her test.  My brother has been tested and I've been tested so who know where the path will lead.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Julius Copeland 1847-1934

Julius Copeland is my second great grandfather.  He was born in Hanover, VA and brought to NW Alabama settling in Lawrence County, Alabama enslaved by  Dr. John Copeland.  He stated that he was a waiter for Dr. Copeland. Believe he waited on his enslaver and while in today's world we would think he was a waiter, most of us would think of him as a waiter in a restaurant.  I don't believe that is the case.  He joined the USCT in Chattanooga, TN at the age of 17.  Did he escape to join the USCT on September 11, 1864 or did his enslaver leave his plantation for the Confederate Army and they parted ways? This is a question that might never have an answer.  We know Julius joined as a private and in the couple of years that he participated as  part of Corp. Co. E. 42 Regiment  became a Corporal.  His name appears on the USCT Memorial in Washington, D.C. He was discharged on 31 Jan 1866 in Huntsville, AL.

Julius settles on Frank Joe's Plantation in Courtland after his discharge, moved on to Mack Graham Plantation in 1867.  During 1868-1870, he worked on Dr. F. W. Sykes plantation.  On September 8, 1871 he married Pearline Burt at the W.C. Sherrod Plantation in Lawrence County.  Previously, Pearline Burt was found in the 1870 US Census in Lawrence County with a young son name George that was two years old.  Was this Julius' son prior to their marriage in 1871? Years later, Julius and Pearline would have a daughter, Sallie that married John Carroll/Cal (my great grandparents).  Their youngest son was named George Alvin Carroll/Cal.  Each of their four children were named after family members.

Although many documents have been found to support Julius' life so many questions are left unanswered.  His military records secured from the NARA in St. Louis has over fifty pages.  What stands out are the many times he applied for his pension.  Details of his physical illness including the details of how he suffered from piles.  His parents not name told him he was born on December 26, 1846 according to the record.  So he must have known who they were.  He did return to Town Creek after his Civil War Service, married and began a family with Pearline Burt.  They had two surviving children before her death in 1919.  His son, Richard became a coalminers while living in Birmingham and migrated to Pennsylvania.  Julius and his grandsons; Richard, Howard and George Alvin would follow by 1924.  Richard's wife died in Creighton, PA due to female problems in 1924.   Richard died of a heart attack in 1929.  The time in Pennsylvania would lead to the joining of Lois Watkins and Henry Howard Carroll/Cal's marriage.  Before 1934, the Copeland/Carroll-Cal family returned to Alabama.  Julius died February 1934 of old age.

While many questions are answered many questions still exist.  Was he sold to someone that lived in northwest, Alabama?  Did Dr. John Copeland inherit him through a Will?  No others with the Copeland surname has been connected with Julius.  He was about 5'3" to 5'6" inches tall, yellow in complexion and medium built.  There were a few people named Copeland in the Hanover, VA.  Will these details reveal the story as the journey continues?

Friday, August 25, 2017

New Day

Inconsistent times, thoughts, events, people, places and things.  One thing known for sure is we are not in control of what's going on.  I think of those things now and wonder how our ancestors accepted those things.  Word of mouth may have been the source of what they learned on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  Today, we are flooded with news on a minute by minute basis.  My second great grandfather knew most white land owners would not sell their land to him, a black man even if they needed the money.  He and a white "boss" that became a friend avoided conflict.  How?  The friend purchased the land for him and later turned it over to Henry Carroll/Cal in northeast Alabama.  They accomplished this by working together around the system.  Henry ended up with one thousand plus acres of land that is now known as the Cal Bottom.  I'm sure people that work together are still doing things to work around systems that are not working for all of us.

Branches of my family gained by working with those of other races.  How could at least two relatives own land when they were enslaved by their owner, Colonel Benjamin Sherrod in northwest Alabama?  The laws didn't allowed enslaved people the right to own land, yet they came out of the enslaved period owning land and passing it on to their family after death.  So surely, what we hear or see about this turbulent period today didn't fit everyone.  Bottom line is while there is a great deal of negatively coming forward, people regardless of race helped each other move forward.  Not everyone was a part of this move forward, yet there were enough people that quietly did their part to help each other.  No coverage was given in the news in the form of a sound bit.  It happened and we cannot let anyone else tap into the insecurities we have within.

There are obstacles that each of us face and at times brings out our doubts about each other based on race.  We must keep our eyes open for those that are genuine interested in each other based on common ground.  During my twenty plus years of genealogy research, I've connected with some real people that helped me based on our interest.  Those people that taught me how to move forward or encouraged me along the road are priceless.  Let's not let these negative forces impact our purpose.

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.


Friday, May 29, 2015

A Peek Into Coal Mining From Alabama to Pennsylvania

My recent journey took me into the history of coal mining from Alabama to Southern Pennsylvania where I was born. Natrona, Brackenridge and New Kensington has deep roots in the mining industry. Past research did not yield the details found this time.  New Kensington 1927 Directory listed where family members worked. Taking a look at Allegheny Steel Company and their history opened doors to situations that no doubt impacted some of my family.  This taught me the value of City and Town online Directories.

Robert Carroll is my great great paternal uncle that left his father's farm in north west Alabama and became a coal miner in Jefferson County.  Verbal history is that he had a disagreement with his father and left the farm.  Not sure how or why he pursued the mining industry for research revealed that often black men arrested were often leased out to these companies in Alabama.  No record has been found to indicate Robert had any problem with the law.  Robert was born in 1891 and was the fifth son of Henry Carroll/Cal and Celia Sherrod.  It is possible that he was seeking an adventure to find his own way and landed in the mining industry.  In 1920, he lived in Pratt City, Jefferson County, Alabama and was married to Rosa who was born in Tennessee.  Robert's brother, John had a brother in law Richard Copeland that was also living close to Robert in Pratt City and working in the mine.

By 1927, Robert and his wife as well as Richard were all living in New Kensington, Pennsylvania working at Allegheny Steel as laborers.  Robert's nephews, Richard and Howard were also living in New Kensington working at the same place as laborers.  A quick research of Allegheny Steel opened unexpected doors into the mining operations.  That is what research does.

Allegheny Steel was founded by Alfred Hicks, a Welsh immigrant before 1900.  His son, Lewis Hicks ran the coal operation and they had many mines around the country.  My focus was on the Allegheny-Kiskimineta Valley aka Alle-Kiski.  The United Mine Workers Association (UMWA) targeted the operations pursuing improved working wages and conditions.  Appears that originally English, Scots-Irish and German ancestry individuals left the farms for work in the mines.  The conditions were not acceptable and they began organizing a union to improve conditions.  The mine owners/operators resisted and one method used was to import people from outside of the region.  They were known as scabs and were of other nationalities.  The scabs were used as strikebreakers and the climate was not a good one.  Violence in strikes took place from 1916 to 1919.

Many African American were imported from Alabama with some knowing they were strikebreakers and other tricked into believing they had an opportunity for a better life.  This time period was very unstable in the mining industry and I wonder how my one great great uncle Robert made it working for Allegheny Steel to retirement.  Other family members left the company and returned to Alabama in the early 1930's.  I knew my Uncle Robert and now wish we could have a chat about his work and the work atmosphere.  

One woman I found interesting was Fannie Sellins (1872-1919) who was an activist for the union in the area. She was born in Louisiana, married and widowed in St. Louis.  Fannie was left with four children and worked in the garment industry.  She became an organizer for unionizing  the Garment industry then moved on to West Virginia where she was arrested then relocated to New Kensington actively involved in the UMWA.  Had no idea that a woman was so active in an industry that was male dominated.  She was killed while participating in a strike in August 1919. Some believe it was a conspiracy.

The journey of genealogy may take you where you have no idea you are going and you just keep following the path until a treasure is revealed.