Cousin Musings, Taliaferro

25 April 2010: Touched by the Ancestors ~ BREWER/LAWRENCE burial ground found in GREENE COUNTY, GA!!

Luckie-SandraThis past Friday me, my brother Bernard, and my sister/friend/cousin Luckie of Our Georgia Roots headed to Greene County and Washington-Wilkes County on a research road trip.  My paternal grandmother, Fannie Mae LAWRENCE, her mother Lessie BREWER, her mother Fannie BREWER, and her mother Eliza ASKEW all have roots in Greene Co. So does my great grandfather, George LAWRENCE, and his parents James LAWRENCE and Pleasant LITTLE. The thought of exploring the area these ancestors once called home was extremely exciting, and my spirits were high on just the anticipation of that. The beautiful weather held the promise of good things to come.

The night before the trip, Luckie and I had one last phone conversation going over our plans for the next day.  Luckie’s home ground is Washington-Wilkes, so she was excited to be returning after a long absence.  You can read Luckie post; Saturday Musing ~ Ain’t Nothin’ Like Going Home! for a view of our trip as only Luckie can tell it. I wasn’t feeling too much apprehension knowing I would be in the company of this seasoned researcher.  Luckie’s advice – connect with the locals; once they know you have family from the area, they are more than happy to talk and share information.

Now, you have to know me, but this is way, way out of my comfort zone.  This Luckie knows all too well, but she was having none of it, and was not buying my “That’s just not me” and “I’m not comfortable approaching strangers” excuses.  After a few more words of encouragement and warnings of missed opportunities, she left me to my thoughts. Friday morning before leaving, I grabbed my Brewer and Lawrence folders, and printed out death certificates for Fannie Brewer and her son Green Brewer.  According to their death certificates, both were buried in “Hudson Grove Cemetery”.  I thought maybe we could find the cemetery and possibly locate their graves.

Reids TTPRiding around exploring downtown Greensboro was indeed a treat. The small town country look and feel was just what I’d hoped to see. I felt a tingle of something that told me the ancestors were stirring. “Oh, look Reid’s Beauty Shop. I’ve got the REID/REED surname in my tree.” Luckie said “You want to stop and see if they know your folks.”  I said, “No, but let’s get a picture.”  Was that a missed opportunity for a family connection? Maybe it was.

Earlier, we had passed a small group of elderly men chatting in a parking lot, but passed without stopping. After striking out at the Greene County Historical Society and the local History Museum, we headed back to that group of men. Luckie introduced us, and we asked if any of them knew of Hudson Grove Cemetery. Yes, they did but, it would not be easy for us to find.  One of the gentlemen, Minister Marshall BAUGH, offered to ride with us as a guide, if we “trusted him”. We did. It just felt right.

The Greene County countryside was beautiful; wide open fields and lots of cows. I was hypnotized by the view, and filled with anticipation. Were we really going to the burial place of my Greene County ancestors? Minister Baugh talked all the way in true southern minister-style as we traveled the winding road. Turning onto the dirt road to the church, we were finally there. He was right; we never would have found it by ourselves. It was deep in the country.

100_1881The cemetery was located behind the church. Luckie and Bernard jumped out to explore while Minister Baugh and I sat in the car and talked. He told me the actual name of the church was Hutchinson Grove A.M.E. and it currently had only one member; he wasn’t sure if services were still held there-maybe once a month or so.

The cemetery is Hutchinson Grove Cemetery, not Hudson Grove as indicated on the two death certificates. It showed signs of neglect, but was fairly well kept.  I watched anxiously as Luckie and Bernard explored, and before long was lost in thought. The ring of my cell phone broke the silence of my daydreaming. It was Bernard screaming that he had found a headstone for “LESSIE LAWRENCE!” The excitement in his voice spoke volumes.  Not only that, he continued, there were other BREWERS there as well. We guessed it must have been a family plot.  There was no Fannie or Green for the death certificates I had printed out earlier, but still what an incredible find!

Lessie (BREWER) LAWRENCE was our paternal great grandmother. That’s her picture below, and below that the photo of her headstone. We did not come equipped with a spray bottle of water to clean the dirt from the headstone, but it is still very easy to read.

LESSIE-BREWER-LAWRENCE21

100_1865

The inscription reads:

Every joy to us is dead

Since mother is not here

Along with Lessie, there were 11 other headstones. After consulting my family tree, and searching records on Ancestry, I can confirm that 9 of those are BREWER descendants-no doubt about it. There are two surnames, HUTCHINSON and SMITH that are not familiar to me. They are most likely family I have yet to discover.  I suspect that this may have been the Brewer family church. The Hutchinson surname, which is also the name of the church, opens another avenue of family history to pursue. I am anxious to get started on that journey.

It was a beautiful day, and a wonderful trip.  Minister Baugh was as nice as can be, and the epitome of small town, southern hospitality. We were blessed to meet him. We will definitely be returning very soon.

The next time you take a research trip to an ancestral hometown, stop and strike up a conversation with some of the locals and tell them who your folks are. As I learned on this trip, you never know who you might meet or what you might find.  You might just be ~ Touched by the Ancestors!

Standard
Taliaferro

2 March 2010: A Call To Action For African American Researchers

My friend Luckie Daniels of Our Georgia Roots, has written another thought provoking Monday Madness post, this time to the African American Genealogy Community – Madness Monday: The Digital Divide Revisited ~ Tough Love For The African-American Genealogy Community.  After commenting on Luckie’s post, I realized I had actually written my next post.  Yes, I could have let that suffice, but I felt I needed to show my support for and belief in Luckie’s position here on my blog.  So often, we sit back in the amen corner bowing our heads up and down in agreement, but never speak-up and take a stance. I wanted to echo Luckie’s sentiments. My comment to her did that, and posting it here reiterates it. There needs to be some serious changes in the African American genealogy community; those changes need to occur sooner, rather than later before we are standing in the shadows as the online genea-community moves forward.

Thank you Luckie for a very timely and long overdue post.  How sad it was to hear people who have been researching their family history for years stand up in a meeting and ask for help, but they are not on the internet, don’t like, won’t do it. There are so any resources out there, and many connections to make, but you won’t find them in your living room or in the archives.  Genealogy is changing, and the African American community of researchers must change with it. And, it’s not only in genealogy. As another comment so appropriately pointed out, we are missing a wealth of information and resources by not being a part of the online community. It is up to us to take advantage of what is there.

After Luckie’s post, Monday Madness: Open Letter To The Genealogy Community – Help Me To Understand!, many white researchers are now stepping up and sharing documents that might assist researchers in discovering more about their enslaved ancestors. The first Carnival of African American Genealogy is scheduled for March 19th. Look at all you’ve missed just in the last few weeks! How can you possibly take advantage of the opportunity to have access to documents that could help you make that long-awaited connection, or break down that brick wall, when you are not here-online and interacting with the genea-community?  How can you ask others to help you, when you won’t even help yourself? Luckie has issued a challenge, this time to the African American genealogy community. It is a call to action that I hope our fellow African American researchers will answer-SOON. Let’s not be left behind.

(Darn, you’re not online, so you probably won’t get to read this, or any of the other posts that geneabloggers are writing every day.  What a SHAME!!)

Standard
Taliaferro

25 November 2009: WORDLESS WEDNESDAY SURPRISE-The Coca-Cola Cooperage Facility, Atlanta, GA-Circa 1924

COKE BARRELL FACTORY CIRCA 1924

My friend Luckie Daniels of Our Georgia Roots has given me a wonderful Thanksgiving surprise. Today in my email were pictures of the Coca-Cola Cooperage Facility. This is one of those photos. Luckie has been assisting me in obtaining information on the factory where my ancestor David Toliver (aka David Taliaferro) worked as a barrel maker or “cooper” for the Coca-Cola Company here in Atlanta, GA. I don’t know what years David worked as a cooper for the Coca-Cola Company, or how long he was employed there; the 1910 census indicates that David was working for a cooperage company, and his 1951 death certificate indicates that he was a cooper for the “CoCola Co”. I don’t know if David is among the employees pictured here. I’d like to think that he is. I hope to find more evidence to connect David with the Coca-Cola company, and his work as a cooper. In the mean time, I am blissfully happy and thankful to have these photos.

Luckie and Phil Mooney, the Director of Heritage Communications at the Coca-Cola Company, have come through big time with this one. I cannot thank them enough for this glimpse into my ancestor’s past.

[Image Source: Coca-Cola Archives; courtesy of Phil Mooney, Director of Heritage Communications; email from Luckie Daniels to Sandra Taliaferro, 25 November 2009.]

Standard
Taliaferro

12 September 2009: Where’s YOUR Family “STUFF”?

By sjtaliaferro

Once again I am inspired by my genea-friend Luckie Daniels and her recent post on Our Georgia Roots – What Is YOUR Family Story? Learn-Document-SHARE! Luckie challenged all of us to become better preservers of OUR family history. I believe that preservation has to start with us. WE must become better keepers of OUR family “STUFF”.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve asked family members for information (stories, pictures, documents..anything) only to be told…girl, I don’t have any “stuff”, or honey I just don’t remember any of that old “stuff”, or (my favorite) child, I don’t know what happened to all that old “stuff”. I’m sure you’ve heard similar responses to your requests for family information. Well, that “stuff” was/is your family history. We can’t get angry with anyone but OURSELVES if WE don’t start taking better care of OUR “stuff”.

I remember calling my Auntie Ruth one day and asking what she was doing. She said “just throwing away some old stuff.” This is my aunt on my paternal side, my father’s sister, so of course I was very curious about this “stuff”. “What kind of stuff” I asked. She replied “oh just some old pictures and things.” “NO” I screamed. After some back and forth, I convinced her to dig the pieces of “stuff” out of the trash and save it all for me. A few days later, I received an envelope in the mail. Inside that envelope was some very precious family “stuff” torn into pieces. I was able to piece together and save a picture of my grandmother, and a photo of my father and his brother taken about 1925 when they were little boys. There were also a few pictures of my Auntie Ruth in her younger days. A special piece of “stuff” was my aunt’s high school diploma-torn in half. My aunt had told me the story of how when she was in high school she gave herself a middle name because everyone had one except her. So now I have the high school diploma for Ruth “Louise” Taliaferro. I am so happy that I made that call at that time and saved some of my family “STUFF”.

For the majority of African Americans our ancestors’ stories were never told, recorded or preserved. It is an awful and frustrating reality. However, it will be even more awful if we do not stop the cycle of indifference and disinterest in our own family history. Let’s all do a better job of telling our ancestors’ stories-of keeping and preserving our family history. Let’s all do a better job of preserving, recording, documenting, and sharing our “STUFF” for our ancestors, ourselves, and more importantly, for our future.

So, my question to you… Where’s YOUR Family “STUFF”?

Standard