Sunday, October 13, 2013

2013 AAHGS Conference - Saturday, October 12, 2013

Another fun-filled, jam packed day here at the AAHGS conference.

I begin the day by working in a bit of much needed exercise.

After having a filling lunch of salmon on orzo, it was off to session II, Unlocking Our Southern Mosaic: Examining a Family's Life Near It's Slavery Origins, by Dwight Fryer. Mr. Fryer's work as a minister was evident in the way he told the story of his family's origins in Grand Junction, TN.

I have to be honest, when Mr. Fryer began his presentation, I thought he was referring to Grand Junction, CO, a locale where I resided for a few years during my adult life. It was a little confusing at first, because his description of Grand Junction of course wasn't matching up with the Grand Junction I knew. After realizing there was another Grand Junction, the presentation began to make sense.

Wonderful points of interest from Mr. Fryer's presentation include:

  • A Union Army Contraband Camp was formed in Grand Junction, TN.
  • Western Tennessee, where Grand Junction is located, had the same culture and politics as Mississippi. In fact, Mr. Fryer referred to it as Tennessipi.
For the next session (III), I attended Understanding African American Genealogical Patterns as Remnants of Slave Culture: Demographics, Family Dynamics and Religious Practices. The presenters were Rev. Dr. Richard Gardiner and Ceteria Richey.

Ceteria, realized like many African-American families that she knew more about her mother's side of the family that she did her father's side of the family. She also realized that her mother's family was a strongly matriarchal family.

Using the principles of Cognitive Therapy, Ceteria tries to understands the whys of her family? Cognitive Therapy seeks the patient overcome difficulties by  identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking, behavior, and emotional responses. These principles can be applied to society as a whole.

The roots of the matrifocal society in the African-American community finds it's roots in slavery. During slavery, African-American women's value was their womb. Slavery was perpetuated because the status of any children born into slavery was through the mother. When women were sold it was always due to her potential increase to the owner. Women and their young children were often sold together.

Mean while, men were often used as studs, in other words, humans were breed like cattle and horses. Often if the men and women refused each other, they might be whipped.

In my younger days, I use to argue against this notion, that 100+ years removed from slavery that the effects of slavery were still manifest. But, as I've gotten older and looked through the more mature eyes, it seems that families that came through slavery intact do not seem to have as many of the problems as those who were ripped apart.

For the final session of the day, I attended Shelly Murphy's (aka familytreegirl on Twitter) Hitting the Genealogy Brick Walls & Challenges: The Search for Information about Joseph Brand Davis.

Shelly hates using the term Brick Walls because she believes there are no such thing as Brick Walls only Challenges. 

Highlights from Shelly's presentation are as follows:
  • All research should focus on asking questions
  • Know what laws were in place during a particular time frame.
  • Records generate other records
The day was wrapped up with dinner, a little entertainment by two young local talents, and the awards ceremony. Sandwiched between the entertainment and the awards presentation, we listened to the keynote speaker, Thomas Cain talk about the Nashville connection to the music industry. Can you say Little Richard.

And with that it's a wrap folks as my time here at the 2013 AAHGS conference comes to a close. Mom and I will be heading home in the AM. I've had a wonderful time meeting new people, finally meeting those I've known online for a few years now, and just being able to get away for a few days.

Hopefully, this is finally the beginning of me returning to the research and blogging. I hear the ancestors telling me to get back with it. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

2013 AAHGS Conference - Friday, October 11, 2013

Today was the first full day of speakers at the 2013 AAHGS Conference.

I took in two of the four sessions (Session I and Session IV).

For Session I, which was from 10:30 to 11:30, I attended Toni Carrier's presentation on Port Royal: The Birthplace of Freedom in the Old South. I've known Toni for several years via now the online Genealogy Community. So, not only did I learn a lot about Port Royal but I also got an opportunity to finally meet Toni in person by attending this session.

The events that occurred in Port Royal helped to set the stage for emancipation elsewhere. Some of the interesting facts that I learned from Toni's presentation were

  • 9 of the 16 largest slave holders were in SC
  • More than 5,000 men from SC served in the USCT after the fall of Port Royal 
  • Sherman was forced to call on northern charities to helped provide subsistence to the former slaves
  • Many of the Freedman formed land cooperatives in order to purchase land. Many descendants of the freedmen still live on the land .
To find out more about Toni's work, please be sure to check out Low Country Africana

Lunch was from 11:45 - 1:15 and the keynote speaker was Chris Haley, nephew of Alex Haley, author of Roots. The topic of Chris' speech was Our Ancestors Gave Us the Rights; Our Nation Gives Us the Potential.

Neither my mother nor I attended the 2nd and 3rd sessions for today, which were from 1:30 - 3:45 . Instead, we ventured to the Nashville National Cemetery in order that I could see my Uncle's grave in person. When my Uncle Toussaint passed, I was not able to attend his funeral. I also recently acquired some information on my uncle's life and the struggles that he and my aunt had to go through while pursuing careers in education. Lastly, since my aunt and uncle never had any children and there is no other known family in Tennessee,  it was my own personal way of acknowledging that my uncle would not be forgotten.

After visiting my uncle's grave, I took my mother for a little shopping at the mall. Whenever we travel out of state, mom always wants to check out the stores, even if they are they same ones we have back in North Carolina, because she always looking for a new pair of shoes.

After returning to the conference, mom and I attended separate presentations during Session IV, which was form 4:00 to 5:00. I attended Researching Abandoned Cemeteries by Jo Ann Williams McClellan. Ms. McClellan discussed how she went about trying to find Negro Cemeteries in Maury County, TN.

Ms. McClellan began with the approach of determining the location of Negro schools and churches. This was accomplished by checking records, interviewing local historians and community elders, and contacting local funeral home directors.

Via these methods, names of cemeteries were determined but not always their exact location. In order to better determine the location of the cemeteries Ms. McClellan used the Internet, especially the Geographic Names and Information System (GNIS).

Ms. McClellan's research project was later expanded to include death records because the majority of graves did not contain headstones. More information about Ms. McClellan's project can be found in Gone But Not Forgotten African American Cemeteries and 1908 - 1930 Death Records of Maury County, Tennessee (ISBN 0981995152 9780981995151).

Dinner for tonight was a wonderful buffet which included potato salad, collard greens and potatoes, sweet potato casserole, pulled pork, ribs, and apple cobbler.

After dinner, we heard the final speaker for today, Dr. Learotha Williams, who did a presentation of Slave Grandchildren Remember. Dr. Williams is documenting the remembrances of grandchildren whose grandparents were born into slavery.

And so the day comes to a close. Looking toward another fun filled day tomorrow. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013 AAHGS Conference - 150 Sounds of Freedom

This year, thanks to one of my online genealogy buds, Renate from Into the Light, both of us are attending our first African American Historical and Genealogical Society Conference (AAHGS).

Earlier in the year, Renate had inquired if I would be attending the AAHGS conference this year, which is being held in Nashville, TN. After checking out the preliminary information for the conference, I decided I would go. I figured at the very least, I would get a much needed vacation and also thought it would give me a much needed boost to get back to my research.

Although Renate and I have never met each other in person, we recognized each other right off the bat. Renate was in the registration line a few people ahead of me. Renate seems to be as nice in person as the person I've come to know via cyberspace these past few years.

After registration, Renate, her friend Dinah, my trusty genealogy assistant (aka Mom), and I had dinner.