Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Map of Freedmen's Hospitals Can Provide Useful Genealogical Data.

Several days ago, the new website Mapping the Freedman's Bureau was launched. The purpose is to encourage researchers to research their ancestors during those critical first years after the Civil War. As a result, the site was created to encourage more researchers to use these records as they are becoming digitized by both Family Search, and also the Internet Archive. Some sample documents can be found on the new website and it is hoped that all of the records will be considered essential records as more begin to look at their community history with the aid of these digitized records. Among these records to explore, are hospital records.

In those critical years after some had set themselves free from bondage, and took refuge in contraband camps, one of the many challenges facing the post civil war population was one of health. In many cases disease took lives of the refugees seeking aid. As a result a good number of hospitals arose as the demands for health care suddenly increased.

From every state where there was a new population seeking aid, and in temporary housing, measles, yellow fever, typhoid, and other epidemics arose. In addition, injuries, childhood infirmities and catarrh were also common, all of  which had to be addressed. What resulted were records of patients, being treated in those hospitals and also of those employed in those "Freedmen" hospitals.

Roster of Patients in Mobile Alabama Freedmen's Hospital
Source: Internet Archive, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, M1900 Roll 23

The new mapping site should be used for those who are seeking knowledge about the ancestral community. The site, allows the researcher to zoom in, and to focus on the local community from various perspectives. If there was a  Field office, then there may have been a school, a hospital, and possibly a contraband camp nearby. Everyone is urged to use the tools provided on the maps to learn more about the ancestral community

The Freedmen's hospitals are unique because they also provide data about the nature of public health in the early post Civil War days. One can study the kinds of diseases that affected a population that had possibly been transplanted into a new community after the war.

Another advantage is that in many cases genealogists who use the 1900 census note that a female listed the number of live births, but sometimes only a portion of the family can be found. Where were the other children not in the 1900 census? Were they separated by slavery and its system of separating mothers from babies? Or could the child have been ill and died during those years of transition to freedom?

All answers will not be found, but hopefully the mapping site will become a useful tool for one to have reason to explore the records of the Freedmen's Bureau with enthusiasm and vigor.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Beginning of a Milestone Year - 2015 In the Spirit of Freedom

This new year is the beginning of a milestone year!

150 year ago, the nation changed!
150 years ago, 4 million people found freedom on the soil of their birth
150 years ago the trajectory of the United States was altered, forever!
150 years ago, the ending of slavery would bring about the "Reconstruction Amendments".
150 years ago, with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, slavery was abolished.
  The passage of the 13th Amendment opened the door for the later ratification of the 14th and 15th.
    The 14th Amendment to the Constitution gave citizenship to those once enslaved.
    The 15th Amendment to the Constitution gave many the right to vote for the first time.
  Though ratified after 1865 the way was paved for these critical amendments in 1865.

So yes---this is a milestone year! But strangely there are no celebrations of this incredible year! I know that for the past five years we have seen all kinds of celebrations reflecting the events pertaining to the Civil War. From 2011 when there were events noting 150th anniversary of the first shots fired at Ft. Sumter in 1861. And over the years there have been re-enactments of various battles fought from Gettysburg to Olustee. A simple google search on the 150th Civil War anniversary will reflect that.

A screen shot after a Google Search on the 150th Civil War Anniversary

It is great that the Civil War's ending is noted by people today, But the war was not simply battles--the war was about people. As a genealogist, my job is to tell a story about those people, many of them my own people, and to place the ancestors on the proper historical landscape. My ancestors were there during the Civil War and I am obligated to tell that story.

Some of them were soldier, true freedom fighters. My soldiers on the Bass side served honorably in the 111th US Colored Infantry. They were captured and managed to escape from the notorious N.B. Forrest.


Civil War Service Records of 4 soldiers from Giles County who were captured and who escaped. Capture was at Sulphur Trestlein the fall on 1864, under N.B. Forrest.

Other ancestors were self-emancipated---when the chance came---they left. They walked a very hard walk from Mississippi to Tennessee. Upon arrival they were then taken to President's Island contraband camp.

From Civil War Pension File
Claimant: Amanda Young, Soldier Berry Young

And yet others stayed back home because they were not able to travel and in fact had been taken away during the war so they would not escape.

So, as  I look back at 1865 and I know that the legal status of my ancestors changed during that amazing year, and that my ancestors emerged as survivors of a heinous system.

As survivors they laid the foundation for my family to continue to thrive today. Therefore, I have a commitment to not only tell their story, but to celebrate the precious legacy of freedom. I am committed to honoring their own struggle for freedom and I am obligated to tell the story of how they found freedom. And of course I am committed to sharing data of the beginning of their lives finally lived out as free people.

My hope is that others in the genealogy community will begin to honor this sesquicentennial year as well. I leave the following suggestions for bloggers to explore, in the spirit of Freedom.

Find your ancestor's story of freedom
Learn the community's story--how were slaves freed in the town,in the county.
Extract the many stories of freedom in the many Freedmen's Bureau records, Freedman's Bank records, Civil War Military records, old newspapers. Search for them, read them--and share them!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Exploring the Cherokee 1890 Census

The recent partnership between the Oklahoma Historical Society and Ancestry has brought about more than 3 million records to the public. For Oklahoma researchers this is more than a gold mine, the data contains everything from census records to full color scans of  Dawes Cards, to marriage records, wills, unique tribal records and so much more. One special feature for Oklahoma researchers is the fact that while most US based researchers lament the tragic loss of the 1890 census, but Oklahoma researchers do have data from that year available. Many of the records from the Twin Territories (Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory) were never lost! And now, one does not have to travel to Oklahoma to see them, because one can easily research them online.

Oklahoma Historical Society Description: CHN 04 1890 Census of Cooweescoowee District A - TData from: Indian Marriage and Other Records, 1850–1920. Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Ancestry Source: 
Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Marriage, Citizenship and Census Records, 1841-1927 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA

I have written articles already about some of these records on my other two blogs. (Choctaw Freedmen Legacy, and African-Native American) However, because of the diversity of the data found within the Cherokee Nation 1890 census, I decided to post this article on my primary genealogy blog, because so many people can benefit from looking at this record set.
The records from the Cherokee Nation in 1890 focused on the four primary groups that lived within its borders. There were 1) native Cherokees, 2) adopted citizens,which included Cherokee Freedmen and Inter-married whites, 3) Delawares and 4) Shawnees. 

It should be pointed out that the qualtity of the scanned images is excellent, and generally load quickly on the site, and navigation is not complicated. The records are divided geographically by the various districts of the Cherokee Nation that existed at that time---Canadian, Coowescoowee, Delaware, Going Snake, Flint, Ilinois, Saline, Sequoyah, and Tahlequah Districts. I am showing images from the Cooweescoowee District below.

It its very clear to see how the citizens were described in the "Note to Census Takers" provided at the very front of the ledger.

Source: Same as above.

The design of the census schedule was different from the standard design of the US Federal Census. Personal information about the citizens was provided such as name, age, gender, race, and occupation.

The census schedule from 1890 census
Source: Same as above

This close up view provides a more detailed look at data collected.
Source: Same as Above.

It is also noted that this particular census schedule focused upon details of the land, and the personal property owned by each citizen, including crops, livestock as well as improvements made.

Additional Agricultural Data Collected
Source: Same as Above

At the end of each district is also a population summary. And one can see that data collected included native Cherokees, Delawares, Shawnees, Whites and Negroes. With the last two categories Intermarried white citizens were simply classified as "whites" and Cherokee Freedmen were simply classified as  "Negroes".

Summary of District's Data

Also it is important to keep in mind that this 1890 Cherokee Nation Census was made of persons who were citizens of the Cherokee Nation and this is not a census of persons considered to be "intruders". However note that there are Intruder census records that were collected in a separate group.

Hopefully many will see the value of one of the critical record sets reflecting the 1890 census year.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Continuing the Legacy

Harper's Weekly, November 16, 1867

After 150 years of freedom I, a descendant of people once enslaved was able to exercise my right to vote, again.

This mid term election is significant as it occurs on the eve of the 150th anniversary of freedom, and yet, there are son and daughters of those who were once oppressors who have worked hard to keep me, keep my family and many others who simply look like me from that privilege. And many of them will take office, for the climate has changed into one in which code words dominate but they all are signals that say so much.

Such times and social climates remind us that sadly we cannot rest and take things for granted. The forces are there to accuse people who ask for change as being not worthy of citizenship. In recent  years we have seen acts of violence go unchallenged and dismissed with a shrug, and possibly many with such shrugs will take office soon.

Days like today mean that one small gesture can possibly make a difference. Yes, things come and go, and as society progresses, occasionally the winds blow, and bring in negative forces as well. But one things is constant and that is time. How we choose to spend that time is important, so, I made to sure take some time today, to try to slow down the destructive winds, so that they will turn into nothing more than a passing thunderstorm with the rainbow at the end. 

But to get to that rainbow, I had to take some time to do one small thing, that my ancestors did long ago, and it planted them firmly on the soil as people who could make a difference.  

I voted today.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Slave Schedules & A Wonderful Exception to the Rule

I recently shared information about slave schedules in my previous article and how they can be used. One of the points mentioned was that basically data collected on enslaved families, reflected information about the enslaved people, but not who they were.  And for the most part, this is true in the majority of cases.

But there are those rare exceptions when one finds something a bit out of the ordinary. About 20 years ago, a Chicago based genealogist Belzora "Bell" Cheatham made a remarkable discovery. The census enumerator of her ancestral county, Bowie County Texas did not apparently obey the rules while counting the numbers of enslaved people. In this case, the enumerator did what we wish all had done. He recorded their names. 

That's correct. The names of each and every person enslaved in Bowie County Texas was recorded for the year 1850.

Bowie County Texas 1850 Slave Schedule
Every enslaved person's given name is reflected on this document
Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004

It is truly amazing to see 23 pages of the names of enslaved people on this Federal Census slave document! Thankfully they are now all digitized and can be found on several online sites.

The challenge is the pages may have been damaged or exposed to some kind of liquid stain, as there is what appears to be a dark water stain on the bottom portion of each page.

Image from Bowie County Slave Schedule of 1850 revealing stain from a liquid on the page.

However, it does appear that with some tweaking of the image, some names may be partially legible even in the stained portion.

This zoomed in portion does reveal some names if enlarged a tweaked slightly, so some names might still be obtained.

Regardless, this is one of those exceptions that has to be celebrated--because these enslaved people were enumerated by name, and  this could be used by so many people. Texas researchers, Bowie County researchers, community cluster researchers,  and even historians whose focus is slavery can all find this one exception to be useful.

Hopefully someone will study those families in 1870 to learn who survived enslavement and made it to freedom. Others will also be able to study those who may have resided near former slave holders once freed. Of course it is also important to remember that this document was taken in 1850. Twenty years will have passed before their names would appear on a census page, and many things could have transpired.

And of course assumption and speculation should be avoided, but this is still one of those records that could point to and provide useful information, and should be mentioned as one of those rare and valuable exceptions to the rule.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Slave Schedules - Use Them Properly and Tell The Story

1850 Slave Schedule, Coosa County Alabama

In this season of the ongoing genealogy television programs, many of us enjoy looking at the many records shared with the featured guests. We all watched recently the episode on Finding Your Roots, in which a slave document was shared, reflecting the estate of an ancestor affiliated with featured guest, Derek Jeter. The episode generated much discussion in genealogical circles on the use of slave schedules. Some find the documents to be useful and others are frustrated by the limitations of the 1850 and 1860 Federal slave schedules, and rarely use them for their own research.

Because there are such feelings about slave schedules and their value in the African American genealogical process, I thought I would address some of them here.

How can one properly use the 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules when exploring family history? 
From the earliest census years, slaves were counted but it was not until 1850 and 1860 census that two interesting census forms were developed and used to document the number of people enslaved. These schdedules provided a) a numerical count of the numbers of persons enslaved, b) information about the person who was the official slave holder, or owner of record, and 3) notations about the enslaved individuals, regarding gender, age and complexion.

However for many African American genealogists--the one thing that could take them farther back in time is missing. The names of the slaves. Sadly--page after page contain nothing more than simply the name of the slave holder, and his human "property." This provides no glimpse of the families by name, during those years. So for many genealogists, it is felt that Slave Schedules provide nothing.

But they do hold some value, and it has to be understood that though limited, these records may still be useful in the research process.

What Slave Schedules Provide:

1) Names of slave holders during those census years. (see image above)
2) Numbers of enslaved people held within a specific geographic region
3) Useful glimpse at the size of the slave holder's estate

Partial list of slave owned by James W. Jeter, Coosa County Alabama, 1850
Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

4) Composition of real property, with the number of slave houses.

In the case of James W. Jeter, it can be seen below that he had 10 slave houses on his estate. That provides an idea of the size of his property and the number of enslaved men an women to work on the estate and maintain it.

1860 Slave Schedule, reflecting slaves owned by James W. Jeter, Coosa County Alabama

Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.

5) Acts of Resistance among slaves--number of slaves missing or reported to be "fugitives"

Top of 1860 Slave Schedule provides a column to count runaways

As seen in this full shot of the Jeter estate from 1860, no runaways were listed.

What Slave Schedules Do Not Provide:

1) Names of enslaved men, women, children.

2) The total number of every slave held by that particular slave owner. Slaves were bought, sold, traded, rented and deeded continually.The numbers of people held as chattel changed and depended upon the circumstances within a household, an estate, or the presence of auctions for slaves being brought into a community. The total numbers reflect those in bondage only on the day that the count was made.

So, in the case of James W. Jeter in Coosa County Alabama, a total of 41 people were held in bondage on the Jeter estate, and they lived in a total of 10 houses on the grounds.

3) No specific slaves are reflected on slave schedules and thus are not easily identified. Even if the age of a person on a schedule is exactly 10 years younger that the targeted person appeared in the 1870 census, slave schedules do not pinpoint specific individuals with certainty.

4) Schedules do not reflect data pertaining to the lives of slaves. No occupation, or special skills can be gleaned from slave schedules.

5) Slave schedules do not provide an overview about the quality of their lives, nor how they were treated. 

How to Use Data From Slave Schedules

Though these documents are limited, they can still be a part of the family narrative. The size of the estate, the number of houses on a slave holder's estate and whether or not there were fugitives or runaways still associated with the estate can be gleaned and when speaking about the persons enslaved, one can share this data with family as part of the story. 

Here are some basic rules and precautions to follow.

1) Report What is Shown. Data collected should be studied and analyzed and then told without embellishment.

2) Stick to the Evidence. When sharing the record of enslaved people on the slave schedule, stick to the evidence. Though one "might" be the targeted ancestor, with no name listed, there is no evidence.

3) Avoid Assumption. A person found in the 1870 who was 25, is not guaranteed to be the nameless person on the 1860 slave schedule whose age is listed as 15.

4) Avoid invention. The slave schedule can be a tool and can provide some useful information about the composition of the population held in bondage, in terms of demographics. The ages of fellow slaves, the number of houses their quarters consisted of can be useful information. However, beyond that kind of data, no definitive statements can be shared without supplemental records to tell the story.

It is our responsibility as researchers and genealogists to tell the story accurately, and to maintain the integrity of our research by providing the evidence to support that which we share. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In Search of Victoria Ardella's Family

We all watched last week's premiere episode of Finding Your Roots. The segment featuring Courtney Vance was the most touching, as he learned a bit of the history of his father's birth mother, Ardella.

Sadly only a few facts came out from the story, of a young teenage girl, who became pregnant by someone, at a tender age. She would give birth to the son, who would be raised in the social system, living in foster homes. But who was this young girl Ardella? She was a young girl, born victim to her circumstances into a world that was not a friendly one for her.

But she was a girl with parents, grandparents and history. Much was not shown though possibly edited out for the broadcast. But for me, I had questions.

Who were her parents?
Who was the loving mother who died and left her as a motherless child?
Were there grandparents to assist in any way?
Did she have others who showed her love?

I along with several other genealogy friends from the AfriGeneas community and from the MAAGI community have had numerous conversations since the program aired about the episode. There were several clues to follow, to find a bit more detail about Ardella Vance's life, and I decided to see what I could learn.

It was pointed out that there were no details about Ardella that were found in the census, and it was noted that the only clue about her came from an article in the well known African newspapers, known as The Chicago Defender. I was able to use a database and found the same article mentioning the circumstances about Ardella. That article provided a few additional clues about this young girl, from Arkansas.

The article was written in 1932 and she stated that the young girl "Idella" as she was called, had intimate contact with a pastor of a local church and that he may have been the person who left her in a "delicate condition." The case was later dismissed, and a subsequent news article by the research team for FindingYourRoots, confirmed that the pastor's case was dismissed and it was concluded that the pastor was not the father of her child.

But there is so much more to the story.

In the article it is stated that she lived with relatives and not her parents.  It did not mention her parents, and in fact the only family mentioned in the article was an uncle, James Holman. This provided more clues as to whom she was related.

An Error in the Broadcast
In the broadcast the voice over said that there was no trace of Ardella in the Census. (Advance the broadcast to 26:13 minutes.)

On first search in the census there is no Ardella. But could this really be true? She was from the small community near Brinkley Arkansas, located in Monroe County. Since Arkansas is my home state, I was extremely curious and began to study the community. There was one cluster of Vance's that lived in that area for some time. But sure enough---there was no Ardella.

I mentioned this to some genealogy colleagues, and one of them (Sarah Cato of St. Louis) pointed out to me that her name was not just Ardella Vance, but that it was Victoria Ardella Vance. She had noticed that on the screen when the show aired. So, I re-watched the online version of the program, and sure enough on the family tree presented to Mr. Vance, her name appeared as Victoria Ardella Vance.

Image from PBS Finding Your Roots, showing Ardella's full as "Victoria"
For full image scroll to 28:10 on the broadcast. Click HERE

So I followed that suggestion, and looked for Victoria, and I was surprised to find her!

In fact she was in the census twice in the same year!

Since the voice over narration mentioned that Ardella was said to have been about 17 years old, in the 1932 article that meant that she was born about 1915. Therefore, I looked for Victoria in the 1920 census and found her there with her father, a step-mother and others.
Year: 1920; Census Place: Dixon, Monroe, Arkansas; Roll: T625_73; Page: 7A;Enumeration District: 93; Image: 765

Interestingly, also in 1920, there was another child in the same community, in Brinkley Arkansas named Victoria Vance as well. And in this household, she was a grandchild. And in addition---another tie in to the article in the Chicago Defender---the Holman family!

Year: 1920; Census Place: Brinkley, Monroe, Arkansas; Roll: T625_73; Page:7A; Enumeration District: 87; Image: 524

So the question arises---were these two enumerations showing a Victoria Vance--reflecting the same child?

Dr. Gates stated that Victoria's mother had died when Ardella was two years old, so her mother would not be present in the 1920 census. And the woman "Hattie" seen in the first 1920 census document above was most likely not Ardella's mother, but her step mother. And the same woman was only 24 years old, and had just given birth to a baby, in that census document. (The youngest child was 0 month's.) She may have been the "new wife" alluded to on the broadcast

Plus note---the first census reflecting Victoria with a father and siblings was taken on the 3rd of January, 1920 and the second census reflecting Victoria with a grandfather from the Holman family, was taken later in the same month---the 24th of January. So this is quite possibly the evidence reflecting the fact that this was the child Victoria Ardella being shuttled from household to household.

But could there possibly more evidence connecting Victoria Ardella to the Holmans?
In other words--can it be proven that Victoria was the same "Idella" mentioned in the Chicago Defender article above? And if so--can a tie to the Holmans be confirmed in another way?

Well, I found the connection in a marriage record. 

In 1911, Todd Vance married Kate Holman. Ardella's mother was Kate. Kate Holman. I can now call her name aloud.  I could not help but find myself saying the same thing about Kate that Courtney Vance said on the program about Ardella, "Wow, that's a pretty name."

Marriage Record of Ardella's parents

Now it was pointed out that the Chicago Defender article revealed that there was an uncle called James Holman who lived in the same household. Well, in that second census document shown above, there is a young boy called James Holman living with his parents John and Pollie.These were Victoria Ardella's grandparents, the Holmans.

So within a month's time this child was living with her father and a new wife and young baby, then three weeks later, enumerated with the Holman family grandparents.

I wanted to find Katie, Victoria Ardella's mother in her life before marriage as well. Katie Holman Vance's name was never named on the program, but her name needs to be shown, and needs to be said. 

Hopefully the current Vance family was given this data.

So I went looking and I found Katie Holman, in the 1910 census, a year before she married Todd Vance. And at that time, she was living with her own parents, John and Pollie Holman. And in that household, was the younger brother James, who was later mentioned in the newspaper, as the uncle to "Idella".

(This is the document showing Victoria Ardella's grandparents the Holman family. Katie--Ardella's mother is shown as the oldest child in the household at that time. This document reflects the Holman family a year before the marriage to Todd Vance.)

By the early 1920s when Ardella was still a young girl, her grandfather John Holman died, thus leaving the Holman's now without the head of household. 

In an effort to learn more about the Holman family (Ardella's mother's side) I see that Uncle Henry was actually John Henry, and in 1917, he registered for the Draft as was required at that time.

Draft Card of John Henry Holman, son of John Holman, Brinkley Arkansas. John Henry was the brother to Kate Holman and a great uncle to Victoria Ardella Vance.

"United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-25075-40866-73?cc=1968530 : accessed 30 Sep 2014), Arkansas > Monroe County; Hackelton, Joseph F.-Z > image 318 of 3022; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d).

My curiosity for the Holmans stemmed from the fact that Victoria Ardella did have a legacy and a family that was not rooted totally in tragedy.

It is true, that her mother died when she was young and little Victoria Ardella did get moved around. But this must be said, her trials in life did not and do not define the legacy of Conroy Vance, nor his descendants. They came from a family with a foundation. Although the tragedies in Victoria Ardella's life put her on a different trajectory path, her descendants should not feel that their legacy through Ardella's line was rooted completely in tragedy.

On significant clue comes from the 1910 census record in which Katie (Ardella's mother) was found living with her Hollman family.

In that record, using one of the tools on the Ancestry site, it was indicated that John Hollman, Katie Holman's father owned his own land. He was not a poor sharecropper at that time, but he was himself a landowner. He was his own man, carving out a living as a land owning farmer.

(Source: Same source cited in same image above.

(The fact that he owned his own land, can eventually lead the Holman family researchers to additional information by inquiring in the county court house to find out about the history of his land ownership.)

But yes, there were tragedies that the young Ardella faced, in her young life, including the loss of her son Conroy to the social service system, But that was only part of the story. And there were many other clues found in the broadcast last week that were most likely given to Mr. Vance, the guest. 

For example, Ardella had another child.

The voice over narration by Dr. Gates, mentioned that she was pregnant at 15, and we know from the articles that Conroy Vance was born when she was 17. And it appears that the researchers for the broadcast had found the other child, and in fact they had located the social security application of that older child, a male child. (See the following image.)

Image shown on PBS Program Find Your Roots.
(Ardella's first son's name is blocked out for privacy to persons who may still be living.)

The image was flashed on the screen very quickly, but I was able to see it. I have intentionally blotted out the name of the other child, out of respect for the families involved, as there are most likely other living relatives related to the first child. On that application for a social security number,  the parents are named. One can see Ardella's name faintly on the record. To the left is the name of the father, and sadly it is noted that the father of the child was a Vance. A relative of Ardella. Yes, this tender young girl was most likely taken advantage of by a relative. 

One cannot help but feel compassion for this young girl who ended up so soon, in Chicago, as a young frightened mother. And she then sought safety in a place that would lead to a second pregnancy---her church.

The story of Ardella's situation attracted attention in Chicago, and it was even covered in the national press. In fact the Baltimore Afro American featured the story as well when the pastor was freed of paternity charges.

Summary of the case from Baltimore newspaper

However, Ardella's tragedy does not define the Vance family history.

The Vance-Holman legacy is a strong one and should be noted. Through Katie Holman--(Victoria Ardella's mother), that line brought a rich and strong family tradition or hard work and land ownership, and spirit of industry to the Arkansas community where they lived.

The Holman family did recover after the death of John Holman in the 1920s. And it was Ardella's Uncle James who was her largest supporter during some of the difficult years when Victoria Ardella was so young and so vulnerable.

A follow up---Ardella's first child died in 1993 in Chicago, but there is a possibility that the Vance line is still alive in Chicago. And the Holmans have a strong tie still to eastern Arkansas as well.

Though Ardella's journey was a bumpy one--her son Conroy's line continues and extends to a successful line of astonishing artists and professionals.

Somewhere out there, Victoria Ardella who died in the 1990s can look down from her eternal home, upon the following generations of grandchildren and great grandchildren and realize that all was not lost in her tragedies. 

They are successful and hopefully, she is proudly smiling, saying "look at my children shine."

I was so happy to find the names of  the parents and grandparents of Victoria Ardella, and to see her as the young person that she was when she was a young girl, full of hope and faith. 

My only hope is that she also found some joy through the years as  her life unfolded. 
Ardella died in the 1990s but through her, comes a family that is truly strong. 

Perhaps Katie Holman Vance, the loving young mother that Ardella never got to know, also smiles with her as they both watch their descendants move on taking on life's challenges with success and with pride.