Monday, October 24, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - Last Game

Growing up, believe it or not I was the football expert. Dad was always asking me the players names on the various NFL teams. Back then, I usually could rattle them off without batting an eye. Dad was always impressed and would comment that if I knew my studies as well as I knew football, I would be getting somewhere.

However, it was different football remembrances that came to mind when I recently came across tickets from Dad's and my last game together.

For as long as I can remember, one of dad's and my special times was traveling back to the ancestral hometown to attend games at his undergrad Alma Mater, Winston-Salem State (WSSU). From junior high on, probably even prior, I remember going to the games with dad.

Our favorite spot was always by the band. For those of us who grew up in the atmosphere and history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the game was always a distraction until the real game begin at half time, between the two bands. Daddy, who had been a band director prior to integration, always commented on what he thought the bands were doing right and wrong.

For about 8 years, dad and I missed out on this special time. I decided to move out of state for awhile, almost to the other side of the country, and only saw the folks twice a year. So, for 8 years there were no games, no homecoming parades, no half-time shows.

I moved back home to NC in 1998 and dad and I slowly picked up where we had left off. By this time, dad seemed to be more interested in attending games at his Grad School Alma Mater, North Carolina A&T. I personally, still preferred going to games at WSSU.

As dad's health begin to fail, and he didn't like traveling as much, we begin to attend the games of our  local HBCU, Johnson C. Smith (JCSU).

Last years game in Charlotte between dad's undergrad Alma Mater, Winston-Salem State, and the local school Johnson C. Smith would be our last game together. Since this tends to be a big game, the game was held at Memorial Stadium instead of Johnson C. Smith's on-campus stadium.

Unable to find parking near the stadium, I ended up parking a bit away from the stadium. I had asked dad if he wanted me to drop him off while I found parking but he said no that he could make the trek back to the stadium. So, slowly we ventured back down the street toward the stadium, stopping ever so often so that dad could take a break.

We entered the stadium on the home team's side. Daddy would have been fine right there but since we were there to represent WSSU, I insisted that we go to the visitor's side. On the way to the visitor's side of the stadium, we ran into my younger cousin Reggie, who had come down from Winston-Salem with his dad. Since we had no clue they were going to be there, this was a special treat for dad, who always loved being around his nephews and nieces.

During the game, daddy was a little more subdued than usual. I kept asking if he was okay and he kept saying yes.

WSSU won the game and as far as I'm concerned the game within the game (halftime show). We bid the cousins farewell and wished them a safe trip back to Winston-Salem. As we begin the trek back to the car, daddy realized he just couldn't make the trek back no matter how many times we stopped, so he asked if I could go get the car while he waited. So, I left him with a nice police officer while I went to get the car.

Daddy was silent more than usual for the short trip back home. He thanked me like he always did as I dropped him off at the assisted living facility. 

Unfortunately, that was the only game we attended last year. From Sept - Dec 2010, dad had doctor's appointments practically every week, so I worked practically every weekend for the remainder of the football season and year so that I could have time off during the week to take dad to appointments. My coworkers loved me for taking all the weekends.

I always thought there would be more games and was so looking forward to attending some games with dad this year but it wasn't meant to be.

And so, I'll treasure these tickets that I hadn't even realized I had kept and include them in that yet to be started scrapbook that I keep hoping to make. And even though the journeys won't be the same without dad, I still plan on attending a couple of those WSSU games each year, because even though I didn't attend the "family" alma mater, deep inside I'm a ram at heart.

Ram logo obtained from the Winston-Salem State University website.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

National Black Genealogy Summit, Fort Wayne, IN - Oct. 20-22, 2011

The National Black Genealogy Summit will take place October 20 - 22, 2011 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fort Wayne is home to one of the nation's most comprehensive collections of genealogy records, and an excellent source of documents pertaining to Black genealogy in particular.

The three-day conference will feature a number of nationally-known genealogy and research experts, and a wide variety of workshops for everyone from beginners to experienced family researchers. The event is sponsored by the Indiana Genealogical Society; the Friends of the Allen County Public Library; and
For more information, please visit

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Finding Your Ancestors in the NC Archives – Part III

On Saturday, September 24, 2011, I attended the one-day workshop / lecture series entitled, Finding Your Ancestors in the NC Archives. The Friends of the Archives sponsored the workshop. As mentioned in the previous two posts in this series, it had been some time since The Friends had sponsored a workshop.

After the wonderful lecture entitled Tar Heels in the Family Tree? A Genealogical Introduction to North Carolina Records, we broke for lunch. As many opted for the box lunch, which could be purchased during the registration process, it provided an opportunity for attendees to mingle and discuss their research with fellow researchers.

Lunch passed quickly and it was soon time for the third presentation, Get Excited about Your Pre-1870 N.C. African American Research: the N.C. Archives Can Put Great Resources at Your Fingertips!, given by Diane Richard. Diane is the owner and operator of Mosaic Research and Project Management. As indicated in her handout and on her website, Mosiac specializes in Genealogy, Family History and History projects that make extensive use of on-the-ground research, web resources, and more. Although she herself is not African American, Diane has a special interest in African American research and has done work in this area in 70 of the 100 NC counties.

Diane began by reminding us to do our homework before arriving at the Archives. In doing the preliminary work, don’t forget to look at the community in which your ancestors lived.

That out of the way, Diane then took us, virtually, through the various floors and sections of The Archives and discussed materials and records that were available. As Diane provided a lot of information, I will only highlight a few of the materials and records she discussed.

North Carolina Marriage Registers and Licenses are often a gold mine of genealogical information and typically include the names of the parents, if known, and whether they are still living, etc. Diane pointed out that if you have ancestors that were from border counties, be sure to look in the neighboring state for marriage records even if other family members were married in North Carolina.

Slaves were often sold instead of bequeathed. These transactions, if recorded, would be found in the Bills of Sale. Bills of Sale can be found in the Deed Indexes. Sometimes Bills of Sale are in the “Loose Collection” of the county records. 

American Slavery Petition, which can be found on the University of North Carolina at Greensboro website, is a database of slavery petitions. Petitions represent disagreements that developed over the division of slaves. Once a North Carolina petition is located in the database, it can be viewed at the North Carolina Archives.

In wrapping up her segment, Diane pointed out that we should not let record categories stop us as many records can be located under categories that we may want to dismiss.

This concludes my series on the workshop, Finding your Ancestors in the NC Archives. For those with North Carolina roots, I hope that it was beneficial.

By the way, now that I’ve attended the workshop, I’m trying to plan a trip to the NC Archives to get some on the ground research done.