Sunday, October 23, 2011

National Black Genealogy Summit - Second Day

Another day of presentations for me

Well Saturday was a full day for me. Two more presentations (after having given two the day before) and there was much interest from the audience and I truly enjoyed the sessions.

I decided to sit in on an interesting session Genealogy in the Electronic Age presented by Tony Burroughs were some unique websites were shared with the audience.
Workshop, "Genealogy in the Electronic Age

So much of the fun came from the opportunity to meet people from other states.

Charles Brown of St. Louis brought a bus load of society members from his organization.

Three new friends leave the Wayne Center, Argyrie McCray, Bertha Curtis and Vicki Daviss Mitchell

There was a lot of sharing and I appreciated the time that I had on Thursday to do some research. I especially enjoy looking at the rare books and journals in the library. But the greatest pleasure I must admit was the feeling that I got as I observed friends helping strangers in their quest to know something of their past. On Thursday we all enjoyed watching Shelley Murphy of Virginia, assist a stranger in finding his grandmother's  maiden name. We later watched her assist another new friend, in locating data on her family as well.  Later, in the hotel room, Argyrie McRae of Baltimore assisted the same lady while chatting, and there in the hotel late at night, more genealogical gems were shared with her. Our evening ended with an informal genea-pajama party with friends laughing and sharing great times with each other, and we then prepared for early morning departures.

Sunday morning ended with a ride back to Maryland, through the beautiful Allegheny Mountains. What a wonderful evening to a great genealogy-filled weekend. 

Autumn beauty seen on the way home.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

National Black Genealogy Summit Opens With a Bang

Argyrie McCrae (Maryland) Lisa Lee (California) Charles Brown (Missouri)

The first official day of the National Black Genealogy Summit went extremely well. This was the opportunity for many researchers from from all corners of the country to meet and share ideas, thoughts and have questions answered.

One of those opportunities was especially poignant when a beginning researchers received some assistance from another researcher and she found some information on her family online.

Ms. Bertha Curtis examined her notes after being shown some information on her family online.

 It was exciting to see so many groups that had arrived. Several groups were present also--St. Louis African American Genealogy Society arrived on a charted bus, as did a group from Chicago and Baltimore. Many from the local area were also in attendance.  Friday was an opportunity for many to also meet several authors from and have books autographed as well.

Tony Burroughs (Illinois) and Bernice Bennett (Maryland) 

Although I had two presentations yesterday myself, I was glad to be able to attend some sessions myself. I particularly enjoyed the session by Lisa Lee on Search and Reward Notices. This session illustrated the need to use newspapers in a different way, and how exploring data in Search and Reward Notices one can see how often times multiple generations are reflected in many of the ads found in black newspapers around the country.

Also present was noted author and scholar Dr. Carla Peterson, author of Black Gotham, a book describing life of free people of color in New York City.

Author Dr. Carla Peterson

The exhibitors were present and among them were those representing the website. Several people took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the website and the many features to be found on the site.

Vicki Daviss Mitchell explains the AfriGeneas website to an inquiring visitor.

The conference banquet speaker was Robin Stone of Essence Magazine. She shared the story of how the genealogy-focused article published in the February 2011 came to be published.

Robin Stone, Banquet Speaker

The conference banquet was enjoyable as it allowed participants to relax, share a wonderful meal and to listen to the presenters.

The final day unfolds on Saturday October 22.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ft. Wayne Pre Summit African American Genealogy Conference

I am attending the National Black Genealogy Summit  Today was the Pre-Summit event held at the Allen County Public Library.

After a long ride from Maryland to Ft.Wayne Indiana, and a good night's sleep, it was great to get into the library again and to see old friends. The check in process was a smooth one with a friendly team of library staff on hand to greet everyone.

Seeing old friends, and meeting new friends is always a great part of any conference. Several of the conference presenters were already on hand and ready to interact with the crowd.

Argyrie McCrae of MD, Tim Pinnick of IL, and Bertha Curtis of MD meet in the lobby.

Many in attendance were anxious to get upstairs to the genealogy library and quickly found a comfortable space and got to work.

These two Maryland researchers quickly found a comfortable place and got to work.

Before settling down to work, I had to take a few moments to appreciate a beautiful exhibit of quilts on display currently at the library.  The quilt exhibit is called Sisters of the Cloth. This is a quilting guild based in Ft. Wayne Indiana. The quilts on display are stunning!

One of the quilts from the Sisters of the Cloth Exhibition

The lunch hour consisted of a brown bag lunch meeting and it was well attended.  There were a number of people in the audience who were quite engaged and asked poignant questions.

I had a great chance to show some support to some members of the AfriGeneas Team.  Ms. Vicki Daviss Mitchell of Phoenix Arizona, and Mr. Art Thomas of Dayton Ohio shared with participants some highlights of  the massive AfriGeneas website.  I was able to get a little bit of footage of that session as well.

Vicki Daviss Mitchell and Art Thomas Present a Session on Navigating the AfriGeneas Website

In the afternoon, I was at a table and observed how an experienced Shelley Murphy of Charlottesville Virginia took out time to assist a gentleman from Michigan who needed some help with a family line. She was able to find the maiden name of his grandmother. In addition, she also was able to provide the name of the gentleman's grandfather's first wife--an name previously unknown to him.  He was most appreciative and said that with the help that he had received, he was more than satisfied with her assistance, and was, in fact quite moved.  He continually thanked her and their exchange was so touching I was able to get a photo of them together.

Shelly Murphy and a new genea-friend after she assisted him with a puzzle about his family history

Afterwards it was back to work, and enjoying research.
Vicki Daviss Mitchell and I reviewed a document on my computer.

Well after a full day, it was back to the hotel, and time to turn in. I have two presentations tomorrow and am looking forward to both.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reflections as I View My Ancestral Painting From 23AndMe

Well, there it is. 
My ancestral painting as reflected by the DNA company It is an image reflecting a geographic and ethnic source from which my 23 chromosomes are from.

The green segments reflect African sources, the blue segments reflect European and the orange segments reflect Asian/Native American.  (Note---since DNA companies do not distinguish Asian DNA markers from Native American markers it should be understood that the "Asian" in my case is most likely Native, especially in light of my documented ties to the Choctaw Nation.)

The Percentages:

Geographic Origin of my DNA markers

When asked about how I feel about having the non-African markers----well I feel the same way I have always felt---like me! 

The European markers I knew were there and the Native (or Asian) markers I knew were also there--but I could have never said how much, and of course none of this provides names that would tell the stories that I want to hear.

I have tested with DNA companies before---African Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA and the National Genographic Project.  I am fully aware of the ties to Nigeria on one line and to the ties to Guinea Bissau on another line. I am thrilled to know so much of this. 

Yet does this knowledge change me or my feelings about my ancestry?  Does this knowledge affect the way I review myself having non-African ancestry? Is there any closer sense of ties to the non-African side? Understanding that 30% of the markers that I have come from a non-African source is there a new feeling or an enlightened feeling about the past?

Actually, the non-African lines have been understood all along. As a descendant of many people who were enslaved  and as a descendant of women who were mixed who also had children that were fathered by men who were not of African ancestry is information that was known ahead of time and that has been documented, as well.

And the reality of slavery as it occurred in America, is what it is. It happened, and many families have histories similar to mine and have ancestors who have a similar past.

Now this information does confirm the likelihood that there were more than one, two or perhaps even three lines from whom these non-African lines come. 

But I already knew of two of these lines from my own documentation. Does this ancestral painting mean that there are more?  Perhaps so. And it makes the genealogical process more complex, no question.

But from a culturally and experiential perspective, I come form my mid 20th century life and experience, from an African American cultural context into which I was born and in which I live. I married into a family from Ghana and Nigeria, which makes my own life stories fascinating and richly seasoned with wonderful experiences.

All of the other lines--the documented Choctaw gr. gr. grandmother, Sallie and her mother who was  enslaved in the same Choctaw Nation community are as much of my history as my gr. gr. grandfather Patrick Drennan of Van Buren Arkansas, and his white father. And they are as much of my history as my slave ancestor Martha, born in the 1790s in Virginia, to an unknown African slave woman.  All of them are mine, 

And yes, this includes the Choctaw slave owner, the white slave owner, both of whom are also 3rd gr. grandfathers.  Like the many Africans who are part of my ancestral cirle--they all are part of who I am. And I face the world with a proud African American imprint from my life imprinted and put upon my by two wonderful and loving parents---and it is their strength and guidance with which I face the world.  

Now having this ancestral  painting to ad to my knowledge of self is a good thing. And yes, I might wonder as glance at my gr.grandmother, if I see her African mother or her Choctaw father. I look at my mother's image and wonder, if I am seeing an ancestral Fulani/Yoruba smile from the old  photos, or is there another ancestor from another line smiling through?  And other ancestors do make me wonder if there is some trait from the European ancestor as well showing through.  Does it change who I am inside and who I am as a person?  No.

I am glad to know just a little bit more through this ancestral painting, and now with that information, 
I can say that it is all good.  

It is who I am.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Ancestors' Geneameme

Old Family Bible Belonging to my Gr. Grandfather Samuel Walton

I have decided to join the fun with a Geneameme. I saw a post on Twitter  where a number of genealogy bloggers are typing things about themselves by making 40 statements about their genealogy and their genealogical research. I am not sure who started the Geneameme but it looks like fun, so I decided to join in as well. And I decided to enhance my list a little bit with a few images.

The Ancestors' Geneameme:
The list has been annotated in the following manner:
Things I have already done or found: bold face type
Things I would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things I haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type-not bolded [Comments are placed in brackets after each item ]

Which of these apply to you?

1. Can name my 16 great-great-grandparents [Ok, I can't do that, but I can name six--all of whom were slaves in the early 1800s, so that's not bad.] 
2. Can name over 50 direct ancestors [Yes]
3. Have photographs or portraits of my 8 great-grandparents [Don't have 8, but I do have photos of 4 of them.]
L to R: Georgia Ann Houston Bass, Louis Mitchell Bass, Sallie Anchatubbe Walton, Samuel Walton

4. Have an ancestor who was married more than three times [Not more than three---but Gr. Grandpa Samuel Walton did make my gr. grandmother Sallie his third wife.]
5. Have an ancestor who was a bigamist [not found one yet]
6. Met all four of my grandparents [Only had my one grandparent--my dad's mother]
7. Met one or more of my great-grandparents [Yes, Sallie--we called her Nannie, was my heart.]
8. Named a child after an ancestor.
9. Bear an ancestor's given names.
10. Have an ancestor from Great Britain or Ireland [Well according to 23andMe DNA company, I have 25% European ancestry (who knew?) but the several 3rd to distant cousins showing up on the family finder appear to be quite German. (again---who knew?) ]

11. Have an ancestor from Asia [Well 23andMe DNA---says I have 8% Asian. But it is probably the native ancestor showing up as DNA companies do not make a distinction between Asian and Native Am.]

12. Have an ancestor from Continental Europe [According to 23andMe I do]

13. Have an ancestor from Africa [Indeed, and from Nigeria/Niger according to three DNA tests] 

14. Have an ancestor who had large land holdings [Gr. Grandpa Mitchell Bass and son Irving had over 200 acres of land in SW Arkansas.]

Land Patent of Irving Bass

15. Have an ancestor who was an agricultural laborer [doesn't everybody?]
16. Have an ancestor who was a holy man--minister, priest, rabbi. [Two gr. grandfathers Louis Mitchel Bass and Samuel Walton were both ministers]
17.Have an ancestor who was a midwife. (Sallie Walton was a midwife in Skullyville, Ind. Territory)
18.Have an ancestor who was an author.
19.Have an ancestor with the surname Smith, Murphy or Jones
20.Have an ancestor with the surname Wong, Kim, Suzuki or Ng (Not that I am aware of.)
21.Have an ancestor with a surname beginning with X (None)
22.Have an ancestor with a forename beginnining with Z [None]
23.Have an ancestor born on 25th December [But I was born 4 days after.]
24.Have an ancestor born on New Year's Day [none]
25.Have blue blood in your family lines [Not to my knowledge]
26. Have a parent who was born in a country different from my country of birth [No]
27. Have a grandparent who was born in a country different from my country of birth [Does the Choctaw Nation count? My Grandfather Samuel was born in Ind. Territory before Oklahoma statehood]
28. Can trace a direct family line back to the eighteenth century [Yes two were born in Virginia in the 1790s.]
29. Can trace a direct family line back to the seventeenth century or earlier [uh, no]
30. Have seen copies of the signatures of some of my great-grandparents [Gr. Grandpa Samuel, Gr. Gr. Uncle Sephus Bass, and several X signatures of others.]
31. Have ancestors who signed their marriage certificate with an X [Yes]
32. Have a grandparent or earlier ancestor who went to university. [Yes an ancestor who graduated from Meharry Medical College in 1878. Another who graduated from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal in the 1890s.
33. Have an ancestor who was convicted of a criminal offence [Yes, Jackson Crow my g[r. gr. uncle was an outlaw from the Choctaw Nation, who was tried in front of Judge Parker -the hanging judge. Sigh... he lost his case.]
34. Have shared an ancestor's story online or in a magazine [Yes--See Finding Uncle Sephus]
35. Have an ancestor who was a victim of crime [Jackson Crow took the rap!]
36. Have published a family history online or in print [Black Indian Genealogy Research]
37. Have visited an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries [See:  In Honor of Patrick]
38. Still have an ancestor's home from the 19th or earlier centuries in the family [No]
39. Have a family bible from the 19th Century [Yes, I have Samuel Walton's Bible]

19th Century Family Bible

40. Have a pre-19th century family bible. (No)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Reflections on the 2011 AAHGS Conference, Little Rock Arkansas

Last week the 32nd Annual Conference of the African American Historical Genealogical Society took place in Little Rock Arkansas. The theme of the conference was "The Ties That Bind. Honoring Our Ancestors".

On Thursday evening, Mr. Charles Howard, national president opened the conference with the State of the Society Address.  He spoke to the current issues facing the organization and also announced that next year the conference will be taken to Greensboro, North Carolina. This is the first time the annual conference will convene in that state.

Charles Howard addresses AAHGS members at Annual Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Attendees, listening to State of Society Address

On Friday morning sessions got underway. There were also a number of exhibits and vendors on hand as well.

Among the Exhibitors were the Black History Commission of Arkansas

The Arkansas History Commission Display

Preservation of African American Cemeteries had an impressive Display

AfriGeneas Items on Display

I was excited to see a workshop that addressed the history of the US Colored Troops. Bob O'Connor author of the book, "The US Colored Troops at Andersonville Prison" gave an interesting presentation on the fate of the little known black soldiers imprisoned at the notorious civil war prison.

Bob O'Connor Spoke about Andersonville Prison and US Colored Troops

I was excited to attend a session on African American Memorabilia, presented by Archie Moore. This session interested me particularly because the items shared were from Arkansas.

Archive Moore Collection

Mr. Moore who also sits on the Arknasas Civil War Commission, is well known in Arkansas as a collector of African American historical artifacts.
Archie Moore introduced his Arkansas collection

His collection included Civil War documents, rare books and pamphlets and items used by well known Arkansas residents. He even shared with the group booklets describing persons no longer known in the area, but who had published books and were once well known in the community.

Of course, no conference is complete without the wonderful opportunities to meet old friends and make new friends.  Arkansas residents were on hand as were persons from California, Utah, Flordia, Minnesota, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, and many more places.

Angela Walton-Raji (Maryland)  Dr. Patricia "M'Pata"McGraw (Arkansas), Callie Riser (Minnesota)

The author's luncheon's allowed participants to mingle as well as hear presentation by a number of selected authors.

Author's Luncheon

The closing banquet was enjoyed as a new AAHGS Chapter from Topeka Kansas received their charter, and awards were given to specific honorees.

The Topeka Kansas Chapter received its official charter at the closing banquet 

Charter for the  new Topeka Kansas Chapter

Alice Harris, President of the Central MD Chapter Received
the special President's Award

Special Thanks was given to Tamela Tenpenny-Lewis 
who was a key person in bringing the conference to Arkansas for a second time.

The conference ended smoothly, with new friendships formed, old friendships renewed and dozens left with new ideas and inspiration to get back to research projects with new vigor.  

Next year---all eyes will be on Greensboro, North Carolina.