Friday, June 18, 2010

Wrapping up the IGHR Conference and Goodbye to a beautiful Campus

Presenting findings from the Legal Codes to larger group

Well, sadly all good things come to an end.  Today we had 3 final sessions and brought our Samford experience to a close. Our first task was to summarize the projects that our small groups had been working on during the week.  Group 6 was my assigned group and we had looked at the black codes and penalties from the late 1860s in Louisiana and Mississippi.  We presented our findings to the larger group.  We also listened to other reports from other groups as well, all of  us sharing the results of our research in the Law Library on campus.

Mid morning we were treated to another presentation by Dr. Deborah Abbott who illustrated that one can use land records to conduct genealogical research.  With a case study on the family of David Langford, we were shown how land records brought out the history of the Langford family.  The details into which she went were amazing, and the story of the Langfords, were thorough.  It was an enlightening lesson for all about the value of using land records from many sources.

Dr. Deborah Abbot demonstrates how to use land records to explore one's family history.

The final wrap up session consisted of presentations of the Brick Wall challenges that we received on Monday morning.  Four final solutions were presented to the class at the end and remaining brick wall solutions are being emailed to the persons submitting the brick wall problems.

Another group sharing their findings

Finally----the moment we all dreaded had come---the session was ending.  The week had consisted of new friendships being formed, and new insights into research  having been gleaned. Frazine Taylor, the coordinator of the African American track, distributed certificates to the participants, and promises were made by everyone, to stay connected with the many new friends and friendships that had been formed.

Frazine Taylor distributing certificates

While walking to lunch a final time, I took a final look at the beautiful campus and have a few images here to share.  What a beautiful place to grow and to learn!

I can only say, that this is not the only time I shall attend Samford. I now understand how and why so many people were here for the third or fourth time.  

Was it worth it----a very strong YES!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Computing, Kinship, Library of Congress, Reconstruction & a Banquet

Shamele Jordan shares some of her skills with the Genealogical Computing session.

Thursday's session in the Afr. American track at the Samford Genealogy Institute, began with Shamele, Jordon sharing some tips on how she organizes and shares her data on sites such as Google Maps. This was a great overview of how 21st century tools can reveal the past by putting data online for others. She also shared some excellent databases where information on enslaved people can be found.

The session "Who Cares Who the Neighbors Are" began with an amusing exercise getting participants to share ancestral names, and then to "marry" them to another person.  This was to illustrate how neighbors interacted with each other, and how their lives created strong associations even though a blood line, might not have been there.

The class eagerly participated in the neighborly exercise 
and illustrated how people were associated often with each other in communities.

There is an impressive African American Collection at the Library of Congress. Ahmed Johnson gave a very detailed presentation about the holdings for African American research at the Library of Congress.  He presented some of the best pages on the LOC site, from which one can explore some of the holdings at LOC.
Among some of the unique holdings are the Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations, the A.P. Murray Collection and so much more.

Ahmed Johnson presents information on Library of Congress holdings

For those who have read WPA slave narratives, a fresh new look at using these narratives, was presented by Ari Wilkins of Dallas TX.  She shared her research on the life of a former slave, who was interviewed by the WPA.  Following the life of Fountain Hughes---one of the former slaves whose voice was actually taped, she shared with our class the format that she used to document the life of Mr. Hughes, and how she was able to document a direct descendant, as well.  Her presentation was extremely interesting, and we were also able to assist her in learning the exact burial site of Mr. Hughes, who died in Baltimore.  He is buried at Arbutus Memorial cemetery in Baltimore County.

Ari Wilkins presented a session on researching slaves 
interviewed by the WPA

With one more day to go, the day was topped off by a wonderful banquet.  The guest speaker was Pamela Boyer Sayre, who is also one of the instructors at this week's institute.  Her topic was Lookin' for Kinfolk--Dead or Alive and it was enjoyable.  We could identify with her wonderful story of locating the 3rd gr. grandfather's headstone and her taking us all on the adventure down narrow roads into the countryside to find his burial site.   Since classes will end midday tomorrow the week will come to an end.  It is so hard to believe that this wonderful institute comes to an end, but I have been impressed with the speakers and have been energized to work even harder of those projects on my list.



Scenes from the Samford Institute Banquet  June 12, 2010

This week has been an amazing experience, and I think that I will probably come back to Samford again, and again!  Only a few classes remain and it will be a little sad to see it come to an end---but---I am ready to get back and get busy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Studying the Law, A Panel Discussion and a Case Study

Samford Participants in Law Library Conference Room

Participating in the African American Track at Samford IGHR has been such an enriching experience! Today's sessions at Samford began with an introduction to the Law Library. This was a good introduction to the Black Codes that were passed throughout the south and what the penalties were for newly freed slaves. We were assigned various tasks to explore the legal codes in various states, so we utilized the records at the Law Library to explore what those laws entailed. This was good exposure to the weatlh of data that can be found in Law Libraries.

After a break and returning to our regular classroom, Shamele Jordon shared some of her organizational skills with our group, revealing methods of organizing data and materials.

Slide from Shamele Jordan's Organization Session

At lunchtime, it was decided to have a lunchtime, roundtable discussion. which was coordinated by Timothy Pinnick.  The panel consisted of Shamele Jordan, Deborah Abbot, Angela Walton-Raji, Michael Hait, and Sharon Batiste Gillins. Tim served as moderator and posed several questions to the panel and then opened the floor for questions.  It was received enthusiastically, and will proabably become a regular feature of the Samford Afr. American Track.

Lunchtime Round Table Discussion Underway

For those who have an interest in Slave Ship Manifests, Emma Hamilton of Atlanta share information that can be found in those manifests. In addition information was shared on captured slave ships. She also showed how to access them on Ancestry and how to read the transcriptions on AfriGeneas, by Dr. Dee Woodtor.

The participants were treated to a workshop by Reginald Washington of the National Archives who shared the story of how the marriage records of the Freedmen's Bureau were created.

Reginald Washington sharing images from the process
of microfilming Freedmen's Bureau Records

The day finally wrapped up with a presentation by Tim Pinnick on how to develop a case study from an historical incident.  He shared how a project had unfolded by coming upon a book on the Cholera Epidemic of 1873. He was able to glean some significant information about a national epidemic that occurred in 1873, and how it affected the African American population. The focus of his presentation included some insight on how to develop new projects.  Most historical events impacted and involved African Americans, whether enslaved, free or freed from bondage--major historical events did include people of color.  His emphasis was how to study these events and to tell the story from the African American perspective.


So hard to believe that three days have already passed by so quickly!   Tomorrow, more good sessions to follow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Getting Down to the Research

Frazine Taylor, the coordinator provides an excellent overview 
at the beginning of each day's lectures.

After a detailed orientation from Frazine Taylor, the Afr. American track at Samford got down to business.
As the sessions unfolded, we got a chance to get a close look at resources that go beyond the basic vital records and census research.  From looking at abolition societies, to the methods of documenting one community, we were exposed to several presentations that approached African American research beyond the usual.

Shamele Jordon got things underway, by sharing her knowledge of the various abolition societies and the records that one can utilize from these organizations.  Some very useful databases were shared and some resources unknown to many researchers were presented.  A second presentation by Shamele Jordan was particularly interesting as she shared her research on the town on Lawnside, New Jersey, the first and only all African American incorporated town in the state of New Jersey.  She documented the history of this  community from the early 19th century into the present time.  Using online tools, she shared how she uses online sites such as Google Earth to document not only former home sites of early residents, but also how she plots burial sites using GIS coordinates, and then shares them online.

From Shamele Jordan's presentation, the class looks at an image of an historical map overlay on a Google Earth image of Lawnside New Jersey on Google Earth.

In the afternoon, we were given a chance to find out the many features in the African American collection on  Lisa Arnold of Ancestry presented information on the many offerings on Ancestry and she covered everything from how to use the collection, to specialized databases such as the Afro-Louisiana database created by Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo-Hall.

Lisa Arnold from Ancestry describes the Afr. Am Collection

A tremendous resource for genealogists lie in college and university manuscript collections. Dr. Deborah Abbot, provided an overview on how to use manuscript collections.  She not only spoke about various collections, but also provided information on how to located collections. There were many databases that I had never used before that I have already book-marked on my computer to explore later.

The final presentation of the day consisted of a close look at the contents of the Southern Claims Commission. Sharon Batiste Gillins, gave a very thorough presentation of the various kinds of records that can be found in the Southern Claims Collection. This under-used resource contains valuable data for researchers of all backgrounds.
Outline of session on Southern Claims Commission

As the days are passing, it is clear that perhaps the most wonderful part of the conference consists of the opportunity to network with other researchers.  I am impressed with the people who are here, and was surprised to learn how many are here for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time. I was excited to see old friends from Chicago as well as others whom I know from other states and they are returning participants. They are among some of the most well-read and well versed people, whom I admire and respect. I look forward myself to returning in future years.   This has been a great experience and the participants as well as the presenters have made it worthwhile.  

In the morning and in the afternoon, there is a break where participants can chat and share their ideas and projects with each other.  This break time is taken advantage of and truly indepth conversations take place during the breaks.  These are a few images from the African American Session, taken during break time, where real networking unfolds.


After attending this year's event---I can understand why so many are back again and again and again.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Samford Institute Classes Underway

Well today was a full and busy day, the first of five days of genealogy workshops at the Samford Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research. I am participating in the African American track which is focusing on slave and reconstruction era research.

After an orientation, the first session got underway with Dr. Larry Spruill of Morehouse College setting the tone for this week's track.  He is an historian and also a genealogist as well, so he fully understood much of what we as researchers need to tell our family stories.  He spoke about remnants of African culture found in African American culture today.  He also shared some features of Transatlantic Voyage Database.

Dr. Larry Spruill: "New World African and the Transformative
Experience of the Transatlantic Slave Trade"

Timothy Pinnick, of Chicago then took the group into an overview of the resources for studying the Reconstruction Era. His session can be described as being a primer for researching the Reconstruction Era. He focused on the various populations that endured the reconstruction era---former slave, former slave owners, alike.

In the afternoon, the second  part of his presentation consisted of utilizing resources in the university computer lab. In this session, he presented strategies, tips and online resources. 

In the afternoon, Sharon Battiste Gillins of Galveston Texas,  gave a thorough analysis of the various types of data that one can find in the Freedman's Bureau Labor Contracts.  Because the records vary from one field office to another, and that there is no name index, one must methodically look at all records that pertain to the region where ancestors lived. 

Session on Freedman's Bureau Labor Contracts

The Final Session of the day was an overview to the many Tax Lists that can be found. This session by Kelvin Meyers covered the early years after the Civil War.  Some of the states with better tax records, include, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky Mississippi, New Jersey, No. Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

The first full day ended at 5:15 with our having assignments and tomorrow, during breaks we will meet in smaller groups to work on brick wall projects that we have been assigned.  I will share more about that later in the week.

Time to rest after a long and interesting day.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Samford IHGR Experience

Today  after a pleasant flight from Baltimore to Birmingham Alabama, and I had a chance to meet new and old genea-friends. I am in Birmingham Alabama attending the Samford University Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research all week long.  This is my first time attending and my brief interaction with friends old and new has me excited about the rest of the week! After checking in, at the hotel, I took the shuttle bus provided by the university to the campus to check in and officially register.  As we left the shuttle and approached the library, I could see that a line was already forming outside of the building to get inside.

And a few others were gathering outside of the library door.  I must also mention that it was incredibly hot and humid outside. Temperature over 90 and heat index over 100!

Once inside the everyone politely stood in line to get to the registration desk.

Though the lines were long, no one seemed to complain. Perhaps that was because we were glad to get out of the heat and get inside a nice cool library.

The library staff was warm, gracious and friendly and made everyone feel welcome.  It was one of the smoothest check-in procedures that I have ever experienced.

It was clear right away that they were prepared for us.  Glancing at the conference bags (above) one can see that they have the registration process down to a science, and that made everything go so well.

I am excited about the week, and they have 10 tracks running concurrently, and they are all full.  It appears that the weeks promises to be as exciting as it was meeting new people.

As the days pass, I shall try to share more about this institute and how it unfolds.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Finding the Right Amanda and her story: The Rewards & Value of Pursuing Oral History

Telling the Stories of the Past

When beginning an ancestral quest---we all  know that oral history is part of that process.  
Speak to the elders, and speak to them often.  

I was so fortunate when I decided to research my mother's line, to have one living cousin who would share stories of my mother's maternal line the Young family from Ripley, Mississippi. This was the family of Amanda Young.

My mother had a cousin, Frances Swader, who lived in Chicago most of her life. But she was born in Memphis and she grew up in the household with several women--including her grandmother, Amanda Young.  This same Amanda was the gr. grandmother of my mother Pauline.  Amanda was Grandma Harriet's mother.
My connection to anything about Amanda would be through Cousin Frances, with whom I had started talking in 1991, by phone and then met in 1994, while visiting Chicago. 

Frances Swader, 1994
Chicago, Illinois

She was a gracious woman who spoke to me about Amanda, any time I called. She talked about Amanda's  role in the community where they lived in Memphis and she would mention that Amanda moved there from Mississippi in the early 1900s to live with a grown daughter.  Cousin Frances would later give me some information that would connect me to the rest of the family story when I shared with her something that I found.

Facts Known about Amanda Young
 I knew only a few facts---Amanda was a slave in Ripley Mississippi. She had sisters Nancy & Paralee. She had many children, but the only two whose names I knew were her daughters Harriet and Violet.  They too, were slaves of William Tandy Young, of Ripley.  But no more facts were known. 

Now, Cousin Frances did not know much about Amanda's life as a slave, nor her  years after the Civil War.  She only knew Amanda during the years in Memphis.  But she knew more about the daughters and her own early years in Memphis before she moved to Chicago. She shared with me stories of how people in Memphis who knew Amanda, in Mississippi would come to visit her and how she would sometimes help with old remedies when someone was ill. Amanda was the heart of the family and it was her love that all of her grown daughters flocked to.  Cousin Frances spoke about Amanda, and where they lived, in Memphis, and her burial at Zion Cemetery.

My question was---could more be found about Amanda?  

My mother Pauline was raised by her grandmother Harriet---Amanda Young's daughter. Grandma Harriet would often speak about her mother Amanda and their life in Ripley, and when I began researching for my mother's  line, I had one goal: I wanted to find Amanda and tell her story. 

The Search Began
I went step by step and combed through census records in Ripley Mississippi, for months---No Amanda Young.  There were Amandas and there were Harriets---but no Amanda Young  and no Harriet  Young.

But then----another genealogy suggestions was made to me---look for the people---not the family name---look only for Amanda, and Harriet and Violet.  Perhaps I could find 3 people in the same family with those names in that community of Ripley Mississippi.

The 20th century census records did not reveal any such names---nothing from 1930, 1920, 1910, nor 1900.
Ok, perhaps 1880 would hold something since there was no 1890 record to examine.  

But then, I noticed a family in Ripley Mississippi, in the 1880 census---There was a man Pleasant, with his wife by the name of Amanda, and two daughters were there as well----Harriet and Violet!!  My heart skipped a beat!!!  Wow! Had I found them?  But their name---it was not Young---it was Barr.  

Pleasant Barr & Family in 1880

Who were these people?

I phoned my mother and asked if she recognized the name of Pleasant Barr.  "Pleasant who?" she asked.  "Barr", I said.   She did not.  

Enter Cousin Frances again.  Frances Swader was my mother's 2nd cousin who lived in Chicago. She was a delightful woman, a retired nurse and, she was the last person living who actually remembered Amanda Young.   Amanda was her grandmother. 

Cousin Frances was also Grandma Harriet's niece, so maybe she might know something, especially since she was raised in the house where Amanda had lived, the last 20 years of her life.

So, I phoned Cousin Frances and told her, about finding a family with Amanda and Harriet and Violet in the 1880 census ---but they were not listed as the Young family, but as the Barr, family.   

She paused and ever so sweetly said, "Well....I wonder why they did that.  Elijah was the only one in the family who was a Barr."  

"What?" I asked.  "Who?"  And she repeated it, "Elijah was a Barr, but Grandma was a Young."   

Wow!!!!!!  So Barr----WAS a name connected to our family!!! ( Thank you Cousin Frances!!)

I asked her to hold the phone while immediately ran to my census binder to look at the 1880 record.  I hoped that there would be an Elijah in the household---and sure enough---there was an Elijah in the family!!!   

Family of Pleasant Barr 1880, Ripley Mississippi
[Source] Year: 1880; Census Place: Ripley, Tippah, Mississippi; Roll  666; Family History Film: 1254666; Page: 492D; Enumeration District: 194; Image: 0126.

Close up showing Elijah enumerated in 1880

Running back to the phone, I asked her, "Who exactly was Elijah?"  "Well,  that was Grandma's last child.  She had him after the war."   

Did she know Elijah? It turns out she did.  He was much older than she, and had once been married and later divorced, she recalled.  Cousin Frances also remembered when Elijah died in 1919.  He had been in a sanitorium, when he died, and she recalled how Amanda kept saying how she had not lost any children since the War, and now he was gone and how it had touched Amanda so much. Elijah was her youngest---her son with Pleas. 

So----Elijah was a cousin! 

Noting that Cousin Frances was born 1911, she would have had no knowledge of life for the family in the 1880s.  She probably knew nothing about this man Pleasant Barr, who was enumerated with wife Amanda, and the other children.  

AND---now knowing that this was probably my Amanda---it was clear what had happened.  

Amanda remarried after the Civil War, to this man called Pleasant Barr.  

She had other children, who actually used the name Young, but when enumerated in the 1880 census, the head of the house was listed and the others were listed with his surname of Barr. And Elijah was their child after this marriage.

What about 1870?  I looked and there they were again---Amanda and Pleasant Barr, and Elijah and others.

Pleasant and Amanda Barr 1870
Source: Year: 1870; Census Place: Ripley, Tippah, Mississippi; Roll  M593_750; Page: 152A; Image: 311; Family History Library Film: 552249.

  Harriet & Violet were living nearby with a white doctor and his family, as live in servants.  
Harriet and Violet were enumerated with Dr. J. B. Murray in Ripley. 
They were servants in the household.
Source: Year: 1870; Census Place: Ripley, Tippah, Mississippi; Roll  M593_750; Page: 151A; Image: 311; Family History Library Film: 552249.

I realized that the circumstances of their lives were so different from what I had expected, and were different from what oral history had stated.  

But----the oral history was not wrong---it was simply just not complete.

The rest of the story would become clear when I began to look into 1 other mystery----if Pleasant Barr was her second husband, who was her first husband?  

I had heard only 1 story from my mother about some of the men in the Young family.  One story was that we had an ancestor who served in the Civil War. I was thrilled to hear that!  I had longed to find a member of the US Colored Troops in the family.  When my mother mentioned this, of course my question was, "what was his name?"   "I don't know, they never said" she said. 

 There was also an uncle who disappeared--her Grandma Harriet's brother.  "What was his name," I asked.  "I don't know, " she said.   So close---yet so far from knowing.

I was happy to have found Amanda---but---Amanda Young, who was now a Barr---and the descendants only called her Young---hmm.  I was never sure what to make of it.  I printed off the documents and tucked them away in my binder.  I also admit that I was never certain 100% that this was the right Amanda---but the first names matched, even though there was always a tinge of doubt and wonder.

But----if this was the case, following oral history, Amanda was at one time a Young. And she had a husband with that name.  But what was it?  And the children older than Elijah were probably children from that first husband called Young.  

One day, I decided to try to see if I could find a soldier called Young. There were quite a few black men who had enlisted in the Civil War from that community.  Could Amanda's husband have been one of them?
And how about her son---Grandma Harriet's brother he might have been one as well.  I did know that there was a USCT index at the National Archives, which yeilded  hundred of black soldiers with that surname. 

I decided upon a strategy. 

On each Archives visit, (I made a trip at least 2-3 times a month) I would look at the Civil War Pension Index, to see if the name of a soldier who might have served in a unit around Ripley or northern Mississippi could be identified. From there, I would narrow my list down and pull their files periodically, and read them.

So--my next quest began---------As the heavens would have it----I was so blessed---with thousands of soldiers to read---and having no first name---I started with "A" for Aaron Young--expecting to go all the way through "Z" for Zebediah Young, looking for a clue.  

Well I got to the letter B in the index---and something caught my eye!  One document was for a man called Berry Young, with a widow Amanda Young.  Then another notation directed me to a soldier called Berry Kirk--aka Berry Young.   And this Berry had a widow applying for a pension---her name---Amanda Barr!
I had to order the file right away! Both of the documents somehow directed me to the same very thick pension file.  

Berry Young aka Berry Kirk---was a soldier who had a widow Amanda applying for a pension for a  young child.  The mother was Amanda.  Amanda Barr!!!  Amanda Barr!!!!   

Was this Berry Young the ancestor, whose name was long forgotten by generations of women, who had not seen him since 1864?  

Could be possibly be my gr. gr. grandfather? 

The index indicated that there was only an application and no pension awarded---but would the file contain papers to unlock the history of the family?  Was this my Amanda, and was the name Berry, really the name of my ancestor? Was Berry Young my gr. gr. grandfather?

He was! The pension file was rich---so rich and so full.  Berry was Amanda's husband.  Her first husband.

When a Union Army raid came through the area from Corinth, Mississippi, able bodied black men went with them---so Berry left to join the Union army.  So did her son, John---the long lost brother of Grandma Harriet---whose name was also forgotten. And so did her father--also named John.  

Goodness!!!  Amanda's husband, her son and her father----they all left together---and horribly----they never returned after the war.  None of them!

As she said on one of the many depositions in the file----"we never see'd them no more."

Oh what heartbreak!!!   She lost all of the men in her life--- her husband, her father and her son!!   

Freedom came in the middle of all of that chaos---but how bittersweet it must have been!  

No joyful reunion, no loving embrace---just a new status and no husband with whom she could share her joy.  
Just several young children and now no place to go!

But-----the file told the rest that story.  She survived somehow, her older daughters were hired out as servants---serving once again---though on paper they were now "free."   

After 2 years when it was clear her husband was never to return, she met an older man, who was alone--from South Carolina---Pleasant Barr was his name.  

Sketch of an Unknown elder man after the war.  
(No image of Pleas Barr has yet been found)

He had been sold away from his family---somewhere in South Carolina several years before the war--and he too,was now alone, and he too needed a companion. With no way to get back to South Carolina---where would he go? Many families were devastated by the war, and his own family might have relocated to places unknown if he were to go back looking for them.

He saw Amanda, a God fearing woman raising children  with no husband, nor sons nearby to assist.  He visited her often and in 1870, he and Amanda Young decided to share their fate and put their lives together.  
They married in 1870,  I learned after I locating their marriage record, and---they would have 1 child together----Elijah.

More chapters to this story unfolded from that file---but this first chapter came to an end---because I had found Amanda, I had identified her husband Berry, learned of her earlier life in Tennessee, and learned about the painful years after the war. 

The men in her life--all whom she had loved had gone, but I found a woman of courage, who dared to love one more time, and she, Amanda Young---- took our family into the next century.

The Lessons I Learned:

1) I learned how important it is to talk about what you do.  Had I not shared my quest with Cousin Frances and mystery of the Barr family---I might not have ever heard the words, "Well.....Elijah was a Barr."

2) Explore all statements from oral history. Cousin Frances, was adamant that Elijah was a Barr but the others were Youngs. So I decided  upon her insistence, to look for a soldier called Young. I found Berry's file and in it, I found the story of Amanda.

3) Study the history of the region. The search for Amanda & Berry, took me on a journey to learn about the history of the area around Ripley Mississippi. I learned about the recruitment of Black Union soldiers from the area when Gen Rosencrantz sent a raid from Corinth.  I learned about the lives of the refugee slaves who remained behind, and the research exposed me to other stories from the community.

So many more stories came from Amanda's story.  
 -Amanda's earlier life  in Tennessee 
 -Survival of slaves in Ripley after the war.
 -Amanda's sister taken to President's Island, contraband camp in Memphis  
 -The connection of Pleasant Barr to SC and his family left behind
  -The Spight Family of Ripley Mississippi
 -Amanda's connection to the family of William Faulkner, the writer.

Other stories I learned from fellow researchers (Thank you, Melvin Collier, for finding Pleasant Barr's home.)
  -The Barr-Reid family history of South Carolina
  -The founding of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Ripley.

And a wonderful experience----And in 2006, I had the wonderful experience of making an historic trip to Abbeyville, South Carolina, to visit the origins of the Barr-Reed family.  

I joined Melvin Collier when the Reed/Barr/Puryear clan traveled to Pleasant Barr's homeplace.  You see---Melvin Collier is a descendant of Pleasant Barr's family in South Carolina!
To Pleasant Barr---I owed it to him to travel with Melvin's family, because it was Pleas, who provided family structure once again to Amanda and her children, and so I journeyed with them, to pay him some respect.

More adventures still await me, but I know now, thanks to Amanda's story, and thanks to Cousin Frances, and perhaps some thanks to intervention of the Ancestors---I am ready to undertake the next quest---to find the descendants of Elijah Barr. 

This journey to document Amanda' life and history has taken me down so many paths, and I hope to share many of them here.  

I am grateful to Cousin Frances Swader, now deceased, who spoke to me as often as I wanted to talk to her, sharing snippets of history with me about the life of Amanda Young, my great great grandmother.  Our talks opened doors once the right questions were asked.