Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday



My parents - couple on the right
My Uncle (dad's brother), Toussaint L'Oveture Jones and his wife, Lillie Arnell Jones

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Facing Mortality






Having a tombstone while still living, definitely forces one to face their own mortality.


During my childhood, youth, and even as a young adult, I thought of death but only in regards to my relatives and ancestors. I don't know if it was an only child thing, but when I was a child, I use to sometimes wake up terrified that something had happened to my parents. My mother would always reassure me that they were okay and that I didn't need to worry. Then throughout junior high and high school, every time the phone range, I was fearful that it was someone calling to say that my maternal granddad had passed, yet when the call finally came during my senior year in HS, I still wasn't prepared.


In my 20s, like most young people of that age, I thought life would go on forever. It didn't phase me that I was already losing friends and classmates by the time of my 10 year HS reunion.


The first time I was forced to think about my own mortality was in my late 20s or early 30s. My mother called to tell me that she, dad, and my Aunt Martha had been discussing burial plots. At the time, my aunt wanted to be buried near my parents and mom wanted to know if I wanted to be buried next to them or did I want to wait, in case I got married. Mainly because I didn't want to think about it (I couldn't even think about their mortality much less my own), I told her I would wait. Eventually, Aunt Martha decided to be buried with her parents and brother (she remembered there was a fourth plot there) and except for mom giving me all the details about her and dad's plots, the subject was actually put to rest until 2007.


In 2007, one of my childhood friend's lost her battle with cancer. No questions were even asked this time. Next thing I knew I had both a plot and a marker. I remember the first time I saw it, I still didn't want to talk about it. But somewhere along the way between then and now, I've come to terms with it and now am always pointing it out to someone. I must say that it was still kind of freaky when I pulled it up on findagrave.com.


Acceptance of your mortality is something most of us will have to face. Acceptance doesn't mean giving up but living each day to the fullest with no regrets because tomorrows aren't guaranteed.




Till next time!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Search for a Great-Grandfather, Ancestral DNA, Haplogroups, and Mali

Seems like so much has happened in the genealogical world during my ten year break. One of the most fascinating areas to me, that is big in the genealogical community, is the use of DNA to search for ancestors. And so it was with excitement, anticipation, and nervousness that I decided to have both my paternal and maternal lines tested.

First I should probably do a brief explanation of what ancestral DNA is and is not.

1. Ancestral DNA can not provide you with your complete family or tell you who your ancestors were.
2. Ancestral DNA can
  • Determine if two people are related
  • Determine if two people descend from the same ancestor
  • Help in determining if you are related to others with the same surname
  • Prove or disprove your family tree research
  • Provide clues about your ethnic origin
Two types of DNA tests are available, mtDNA and YDNA. mtDNA is passed from a mother to her children, both male and female, without any mixing. So, mtDNA shows your mother's DNA, her mother's DNA and so forth back through the generations. Y Line Test tracks the Y Chromosome, which is only passed from father to son. YDNA tests can only be performed on a male descendant. Markers in both tests can be used to determine an individual's Haplogroup, which is a grouping of individuals with the same genetic characteristics.

There is also autosomal DNA, which as I understand it, is supposed to look at percentages of various groups that you descended from. If you need further information, check out Ancestral DNA 101, http://genealogy.about.com/cs/geneticgenealogy/a/dna_tests.htm, or just google ancestral DNA.
Testing and Results
I went through Ancestry.com and ordered the 33-marker test. At this time I decided not to do the mtDNA test on dad. Probably the only thing I've regretted in doing this is going through Ancestry. Not because Ancestry didn't do a good job with the testing but because their database is not the greatest. I chose them primarily because I was already a member of Ancestry, could link the results to the family trees I have there, and finally, price.

Although dad complained the entire time (don't know why you are doing this, all those people are dead), testing was easy. After receiving the kit from Ancestry, I took the 3 swabs that came with the kit, swabbed the inside of dad's checks, put the swabs back in envelope that was provided, dropped them in the mail, then anxiously awaited the results.

Haplogroup I1 - the Stonemasons
I received the results back much sooner than I expected and must admit I was surprised by the results. Dad's Haplogroup was I1 (formerly I1a) and the report stated that ancient ancestors primarily occupied what is now present day Norway, Sweden, Denmark and part of Finland. Not that I didn't believe miscegeny could have occurred, but if it did, unlike my other lines, there just didn't appear to be any identifiable physical traits of it. Of course that's purely conjecture as I never met my grandfather and am only going off the pictures I've seen of him.

Here is where the frustration with Ancestry's database comes in. Their database showed a really close match, within 3 generation of having a common ancestor in the last 70 years. I wrote this person not once but twice before realizing that the match hadn't checked in in over a year. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed. I was so looking forward to possibly having more family members.

Sorenson Database and Mali
Thanks to a wonderful new genealogical networking site, Genealogywise.com, I've learned about other databases where I can take dad's results and manually enter them into their database.
So, last night, dad's results were entered into the Sorenson database. And the results are surprising given the Ancestry DNA report. My ancient ancestors more than likely came from present day Mali and our african surname is possibly Traore. Let's just say at the 85% match, ton's of names from Mali showed with the Traroe surname being the most common, etc. (23/25 markers).

What this Means to Me
I set about trying to determine who my great-grandfather (father of Harry Claudius Jones) was and that desire has not vanquished. Given the circumstances of my grandfather's birth, I suspect I may never find my great-grandfather. I won't give up on trying to find him but with regard to my Jones line, I finally feel like I'm starting to build a trunk to my tree even if I don't have names. It's the realization that I am no longer just part of a branch but something bigger than myself even I don't fully know what it is. It's being able to say, at least for now, my family came from Mali.

One of these days, when funds allow, I hope to retest through Family Tree DNA or another site that has a more extensive database than Ancestry, so that I hopefully can get in touch with possible relataives. In the meantime, I'll do further research on Mali and specifically the Traore family, and I also need to understand Haplogroup I1 more and its connection to that part of Africa.

Till Next Time!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Missed Opportunity ?????

Last night while conversing with CHASTITY, Genealogywise, about her Jones line and my Jones line, I suddenly remembered my Aunt Martha telling me about a family, surname Gaynor, that I think lived in Texas that were our cousins. So, as I was looking for the information on the Gaynors, I reread a letter Aunt Martha had written to me in 1991 when I was in the early stages of this search. There it was just as plan as day yet somehow I've missed it all these years, the two cousins, Ophelia Hargett and Arbutus Carter, that were still alive and living in Martin County, Williamston, in 1991.

I immediately plugged Ophelia's name into ZabaSearch and to my surprise there was a match for an Ophelia Hargett in Williamston, NC. So I thought to confirm the ZabaSearch results that I would double check using Whitepages.com. No match. Not to be deterred, I decided to search census, birth, and death records, using Ancestry, to try to find Ophelia. No matches for birth or census but there appears to be a match for a Death Certificate.

  • Vonzella Ophelia Hargett
  • Female
  • Black
  • Non-Hispanic
  • 78 years
  • Date of Birth - 25 Jul 1919
  • Birth County - Martin
  • Date of Death - 3 Aug 1997
  • Death County - Bertie
Is this the Ophelia that Aunt Martha referred to? I may never know but I'm not about to give up now because one of my goals when I started looking for my ancestors was a determination to reclaim lost lines of my family. Many years have passed since I first started my research and I ended up taking a 10 year break, (What can I say, life took over) but the need, the desire, to reclaim my kin is just as strong now as it ever was.
As I continue to hunt for my information on the Gaynors (where did I put it), I can say I've learned a valuable lesson here
  1. No more 10 year brakes - At this point in my life, the ancestors cannot afford for me to take another break of that magnitude.
  2. Always, always, go back and look at notes, documents, etc. - Now that I've awaken from my 10 year hiatus, I'm constantly picking up on things in documentation, notes, etc. that I never would have noticed when I first started. I really believe this comes with maturity as a genealogist. Unfortunately, many of us when we first began the journey do try to get back as far as we can as fast as we can and even now, I sometimes find myself falling back into that pattern. In the early stages of research, we don't often pick up on what appears to be an insignificant mention of a name, place, event because in those early days and years of research, unless it has to do with your direct line you aren't as interested. As you mature in your research efforts, you begin to realize that those insignificant mentions can be a goldmine of information and researching other branches of the tree can actually lead you back to your direct line.
Until Next Time!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Evergreen Cemetery

Being a genealogist, some how you always are seeking out bits of local history, no matter how minor, as you search for your ancestors. You definitely have to slow down and take in local history while you are waiting for the ancestors to reveal themselves or the next clue because often times it can take years for those clues to come.

I only remember being in Evergreen cemetery on a three occasions, for the burial of my Grandmother, which I barely remember at all since I was only 8 at the time; the burial of my aunt, Martha Edith Jones; and once just to visit at which time Aunt Martha told us that there was an 4th plot (my grandparents and uncle, Thomas Langston, are in the other three) and to bury her there.

Since I have no pictures of the grandparents/uncle/aunt's tombstone, I thought that I would do a brief history today of where they are interned. This is directly from the website, http://www.cityofws.org/Home/Departments/Utilities/Cemeteries/Articles/NewEvergreenCemetery.


The New Evergreen Cemetery is located on a 47-acre plot of land located at 2124 New Walkertown Road on the city's east side. It was opened in 1944 to take place of the former Evergreen Cemetery, a graveyard on private property owned by James Foy, a prominent African-American farmer. The original graveyard was in the Liberty Street area and backed up to Smith Reynolds Airport. It had to be moved in the early 1940's because the airport needed to expand it's runways in order to ship goods during WWII. The Work Progress Administration helped move 700 graves from the old Evergreen Cemetery to the New Evergreen Cemetery on what is now New Walkertown Road. The Winston-Salem Foundation helped pay for the move, spending about $15,000 to buy the land, grade and surface the roads and pay for the actual relocation of the remains.

The City Council agreed to take over the cemetery in 1944. The cemetery was expanded in the late 1960's to 32.5 acres. In 1998, the cemetery was again expanded to 48 acres, increasing the cemetery's capacity for future interments.
Usually when I'm in the Winston-Salem area, I always want to go back to neighborhood where my grandparents house use to be (where dad and the aunts and uncles grew up). I just never seem to think about going by the cemetery. But I think the next time I'm there, I will make a special effort to get there.
Till Next Time!

Friday, July 10, 2009

What happened to Aunt Goldie?

It's funny how you can pour over and over the same historical documents and then one day something that you hadn't noticed before or should I say that hadn't registered with you before just suddenly jumps out at you.

Well it happened with me on the 1920 and 1930 censuses. About two weeks ago, I noticed that great-granddad Peter Everett basically reared two of his grandchildren, Etherlyn (Cousin Hun) Johnson and James (Buddy) Johnson. This discovery lead me to wanting to know what happened to aunt Goldie Everett, my grandmother Iola Everett Jones' big sister, and what happened to Goldie's husband, J Henry Johnson.

I think Cousin "Buddy" Johnson came to my grandmother's funeral, which was in 1969 but that is all I know about him.

Cousin "Hun" died in 2002 at the age of 95. I don't ever remember meeting Cousin "Hun" but do remember writing her when I was in college. I was taking a history class where we had to write a paper about a member of our family and relate their personal history to US history. I remember deciding to write about Cousin "Hun" and wrote her for more info. While cousin Hun was interested in what I was doing, unfortunately, she didn't respond to my letter and I ended up writing something off the top of my head as best as I could. Cousin Hun has three sons, but from what I can tell, there has never been a close relationship between her children and the rest of the family. I have met cousin Hun's youngest son on a few occasions but have lost touch with him after Cousin Hun's death. Since I'm back on the ancestral hunt (after a 10 year break), I think now is as could a time as any to try to locate him and reestablish ties. Perhaps he can fill in the missing pieces of his grandparents.

Till Next Time!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Another Great-Grandmother Mystery



Just like my great-grandmother Fannie on my maternal side, one of my great grandmother’s on my paternal side has haunted me for years.

She’s the one that seems to push me the most amongst my North Carolina ancestors and yet she’s the one I know the least about. She’s the one that I always felt like was denied her rightful place amongst the ancestors, and that’s it always been up to me to tell the world about her.

Unlike like my maternal side, very few stories or information about the ancestors were handed down on my paternal side. So it’s been dogged determination with the few snippets I did get that have allowed me to even get a small glimpse of her.

And so here is what I knew when I begin this search

1. My aunt, Martha Edith Jones, was named after both of her grandmothers.

2. My dad always said that Mary Williams, who he and my aunts and uncles called grandmother wasn’t really my granddad’s Mom. Dad always suspected that Mary Williams was my granddad’s aunt.

3. On occasion, dad mentions that he thinks granddad had some siblings.

What I know and have discovered through the years

1. On my grandparents’ marriage license, granddad lists his mother as Martha and she was still living when my grandparents were married (Dec. 27 1914).

2. On the 1900 census, Hamilton, Martin, North Carolina, there are three families listed for dwelling, 110.

  • Family 121, General Williams and his wife, Mary E.

  • Family 122, Je* Williams (female), age 70, is listed as head. With her is Joseph Williams, age 16, listed as her son and Clansy Jones, boarder, and Leter Jones, boarder.

  • Family 123, Martha Jones, head

3. I’m fairly confident in stating that (1) this is the Mary E Williams that reared my granddad (granddad’s death certificate list General Williams as his father and Mary Elizabeth Jones as his mother. My grandmother was the informant on granddad’s death certificate), (2) Clansy is my granddad, Claudius, and (3) the Martha listed is my great-grandmother.

And now, the headaches, frustrations and questions

1. Where were Mary and Martha between 1880 and 1900? Based on the 1900 census, Mary was been born abt. 1872 and Martha was born abt. 1877. To date, I’ve not been able to locate either of them on the 1880 census. I've also never been able to locate them or granddad on the 1910 census.

2. What happened to my great-grandmother after 1914? I’ve not located her on the 1920 or 1930 census. Did she marry?

3. Who is Leter Jones? Is it possible that my grandfather had a twin? On the 1900 census both are listed as being born in 1892 with granddad being born in July and Leter being born in August.



Till Next Time

Finally Up

This has been a long time coming but my second genealogy blog, this one documenting the trials and tribulations of searching for my paternal ancestors, is finally off the ground.