Friday, July 8, 2016

What's In A Name?

by Bernice Bennett

One day I had a conversation with my mother who was reflecting on how she named each of her children. When it came to the last child in the family, my sister Betty selected the name Cynthia Ann. Mom told me that when they called my paternal grandfather William Alexander to tell him about the birth of his new grandchild, he told her, “if he had known that they were having a girl, he would have asked them to name her Amy, after his mother”.

Several weeks later, my mother was again talking about her paternal grandfather Benjamin Mitchell and recounted another conversation with my grandfather William. She told me that William would not have anything to do with his grandpa Wallace because he hit his dog in the head with a stick and killed him.

Hmmm! Sorry about the dog, however, I now had two names – Amy and Wallace, but no last name.

I decided to search for my grandfather William Alexander in the United States Census in South Carolina because I knew that my great grandfather was John Alexander. This was easy because I found them in the 1900 United States Census. My grandfather was living with his mother Amy, father John Alexander, and siblings in the Kinard Township of Greenwood, South Carolina.

Well, this census did confirm my great grandmother’s first name was Amy,  however, I still had not confirmed her surname or the name of her father.

I ordered my grandfather’s social security application because he would certainly know his mother's maiden name. The social security application revealed several findings; William Alexander was living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1936 at 3102 4th street. He worked at Sears, Roebuck and Company. He indicated that he was born on March 10, 1896 in Greenwood, South Carolina, near 96. His father was identified as John Alexander and his mother was Amy FRIAR Alexander. Sex is male and his color is Negro. William signed the application on March 28, 1936. Just as I expected, my grandfather included his mother’s maiden name - FRIAR.

I then evaluated two other sources: my grandfather’s death certificate in Fulton County, Georgia and a delayed birth certificate for the State of South Carolina. My step-grandmother Bessie Johnson Alexander (we always referred to her as Aunt Bessie), was the informant for my grandfather’s death certificate. William F. Alexander died on June 6, 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was buried at the Lincoln Cemetery in Atlanta. His father was listed as John Alexander and his mother Amy Frair.  I noticed that my grandfather had the middle initial F on his death certificate, and I assumed that the F was from his mother’s maiden name.

The delayed birth certificate included the same information and more. Amy FRAIR was born in Edgefield, South Carolina and died at the age of 35. John Alexander was also born in Edgefield, and was 73 years old when he died. My grandfather was born March 10, 1889 and he applied for the delayed birth certificate on August 17, 1952. I did note a discrepancy in the birth year for my grandfather between his death certificate and this information.

Being just a little curious, I also obtained a copy of my grandfather’s brother- Gosby Alexander’s death certificate in Atlanta and 1915 marriage record from South Carolina. Both documents confirmed the name of their mother – Amy Friar and father John Alexander.

I was convinced that with several independent sources, I had confirmed that my great grandmother was named Amy FRIAR.

Now, I needed to find her in the household with Wallace Frair (Frier Friar, Fryer). The spelling variations all sounded alike and I decided to search using the wildcard * for any one of the names found in the 1870 US census. I found them! Amy was living with her father Wallace Frier, mother Lucinda and siblings Jane, and Elizabeth in Saluda, Edgefield, South Carolina.

While, this is not the end to this story, my mother’s memory of two names served as a compass to direct me to my great-grandmother Amy and great-great-grandfather Wallace. Although, my parents did not name their last daughter Amy after my grandfather’s mother, they did agree to name her Cynthia who is now referred to as Cindy. However, it is ironic that Amy’s mother is named Lucinda, and she could have also been called Cindy during her lifetime!

But, the story does not end with finding the surname of my great grandmother. I was now curious and wanted to know more about the (Frair, Fryer, Frier, Friar) surname and began to check other records. To my surprise, I discovered a Freedman’s Bank Record for an Edmund Friar in Barnwell, South Carolina. Edmund listed his sibling’s (Richard, Hillery,Wiley, Simon,Wallace, Caroline, Elizabeth, Jackson, Cely, Winnie, Tamar), and his parents (Clive and Amy). I was amazed to find my great great grandfather Wallace in the record as well as other family members including his parents - my great-great-great grandparents!

Now, could I find Wallace’s parents and siblings prior to the 1870 US Census? Was this possible? Were they free or enslaved? Well, why not keep searching?

I think that by now, the ancestors are guiding every step of my journey because in 2010 a new book written by Gloria Ramsey Lucas Slave Records of Edgefield County, South Carolina changed my entire perspective on slave era research. This book included thousands of names of slaves in transactions involving estates, wills, and sales of slaves from one owner to another. The big question for me was whether I could find Wallace Friar, his parents and/or siblings in this book? This was a challenge because the book included a listing of the enslaved with first names and no surnames. Therefore, I initially looked for a slave owner with any of the surnames sounding like (Frair, Frier, Frear, Freer, Fryer, Frayer, and Frair). Not a single slave owner with any of those surnames was listed in this book. I did find a Richard Friar in the 1850 US Census in Edgefield with one female slave around the age of 55. But, he may not have had a will or a slave sale transaction to make it into the book.

I then decided to go through each page by searching for a family grouping with the names listed on Edmund Friar's bank record.

Well, one day, I was lamenting on the excitement of one of my genie friend's – Ellen Butler, who had just found her ancestor’s in the Slave Records of Edgefield County when my eyes found a listing of some familiar names associated with Andrew Pickens and his daughter’s Susan Calhoun and Eliza Coles, and his son Francis Pickens. The slave transactions were between 1838 and 1854, and most of the transactions listed them with (NVG) no value given. They were not sold but given as gifts!

Not only did I find my great grandmother’s maiden name, I also found my entire family enslaved by the Pickens family.

A simple conversation one day with my mother created a wonderful journey for me. The Ancestors Told; The Elders Listened; We Passed It On!

More to come in Part 2
(c)copyright secured all rights reserved (c) 2012

1. "United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 Nov 2012), William Alexander in household of John Alexander, ED 86 Kinards Township, Greenwood, South Carolina, United States; citing sheet 6A, family 93, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1241530.

2. Social Security application for account number ***-***-1972 was ordered from Baltimore, Maryland – Social Security Administration in January 2005.

3. Certified Birth certificate number 3225 in the Georgia State File 15951 was obtained from the Georgia State Office of Vital Records and signed by Julie D. Bidley State Registrar and Custodian – May 20, 2005.

4. South Carolina Delayed Births, 1766-1900 and City of Charleston, South Carolina Births, 1877-1901 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.Original data: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

5. Georgia Department of Public Health Certificate of Death – 975. Fulton, County Georgia. Gosby Alexander - Age 42 – death date – January 19, 1949 – father John Alexander and mother Amy Friar.

6. Marriage License- Affidavits to obtain Licenses – State of South Carolina – County of Greenwood. September 27, 1915. Groom Gosby Alexander –age 21- Mother of Amy Friar and father John Alexander. Bride, Parthena Sims – age 18- mother- Ann Morgan and father Stephen Sims. Ninety-Six, South Carolina.

7. Year: 1870; Census Place: Saluda, Edgefield, South Carolina; Roll: M593_1494; Page: 49A; Image: 102; Family History Library Film: 552993.
Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865-1874. Washington, D.C: Record 6689 for Edmund Friar – June, 1874 –Barnwell, South Carolina. National Archives and Records Administration. Micro publication M816, 27 rolls.

8. Lucas, Gloria Ramsey. Slave records of Edgefield County, South Carolina. (Edgefield, South Carolina : Edgefield County Historical Society, c2010) 432 pages. Names are arranged by the name of the owner who sold the slave. Ancestors were found on page 311 – Amy and Wllace – negro slave and children – owner – F.W. Pickens – new owner Coles, J. Stricter and wife Eliza, 1854/08/07- no value given – Deed Book – JJJ, P 596. This deed book also included – Richard, Tamar, Martha, Hannah, Catherine, Henry, Eliza and Amy. Other transactions will be discussed in another paper.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Remember When They Called It - KA-TRiNAAAAA


by Bernice Alexander Bennett

“Did you say that you are picking up everyone and will leave New Orleans at 2 pm? Yes, 2 pm and everybody better be ready!” “We are leaving in one car. Only pack enough for two days, bring your checkbook and wait for me to honk my horn! Alvin, if you are going to put your car on higher grounds, do it between 9am and 1pm. I mean it, be ready! Janice, don’t think about staying home…I won’t hear it…you are going with me and that’s that. Mama, I know that you will be ready, you always have your disaster plan in check”.

My sister Cynthia Alexander Green relayed this conversation to me on the eve of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. I knew that Cynthia had her act together and would be the savior of the family. The party planner, actress, legal expert and Ms. Boss Lady is our SHERO!

I spent hours in front of the TV tracking the storm and wondering if this time the rain and the wind would catch up with my family, my community and my friends.

Hurricane warnings were a part of the growing up in New Orleans, and we all had the haunting memories and horror stories from the damages caused by Hurricane Betsy of 1965 lurking in our thoughts. Cynthia was only 11 years old in 1965, and it is ironic that her daughter Jamie was also 11 years old during Hurricane Katrina.

Just as Cynthia planned, they left New Orleans on Saturday before the arrival of the strong winds and heavy rains. The family found a safe place near Shreveport, Louisiana. Relief, relief, they were safe! At least we thought so!

Over the following days we were ALL consumed with watching the news and listening for the Hurricane to blow through so that everyone could head back home.

“Oh no, what’s going on? The Levee’s did what? What?“

Water, lots of water rolling through the city! The NINTH WARD flooding…this cannot be true. Water everywhere! What, I don’t believe it! Was the storm that bad? What happened the people? “The Superdome”. What? Can this be true? People stranded, no food, no water, it’s hot as hell and nobody is coming to evacuate them!

Is this America? How can this be?

"What? people dying, suffering, patients from Charity Hospital are where"?

Email messages and phone calls from friends all over the world. How is your family? Are they safe? Questions, so many questions!

Trying to get the family out of Louisiana. Can the Red Cross help? No money. Need new bank accounts to wire money to the family. No clothes. They only have a few things to change in. They need plane tickets now! Phone us, we need to get out of hear!

France offering assistance!

The entire world is watching! Dis - be- lief!

President Bush said what? "You are doing a great job"? "Who is doing a great job"?

Mayor Nagin - mad - telling folks off, asking for the National Guards. Folks are being evacuated and dropped off on the bridges. What? What is going on?

Brother- in- law Dwight - heading to Shreveport from Little Rock to pick up the family. Cynthia our SHERO, cannot leave Louisiana because she needs to stay connected to her roots.

Oh no, what about the family pictures and heirlooms, the family house! Gone! Gone!Gone!

Sadness, Confusion, Anger, Fear, Disbelief, Shock, Tears!

American citizens are being called RE-FU-GEES?

People dying, making excuses, hungry, tired, scared!

Friends helping, job helping, AKA sorority sisters helping, donations coming from churches- my Church Asbury praying for us! Nieces on the radio, telling the truth…

Sympathy, anger, love, caring, sadness, prayers!

Is this AMERICA?

Did You say, this is America?

Let’s never forget.


Bernice Bennett resides in Maryland and is a native of New Orleans. Her family members evacuated before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. They loss everything and some relocated family members lived with Bernice and her husband until they either rebuilt or settled in other States.

Never Forget! Hurricane Katrina 2005 Remembering the friends and family from New Orleans.

Where are they today - 2015?

Mother passed away in 2010. Jamie is a senior in college. Cynthia is a grandmother of 3 children. Janice is a retired teacher in Memphis and a grandmother of 5 and great grandmother of 2 children, and Alvin lives in New York.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

African Americans - Many Rivers to Cross: The Life of Bristor Harrison: From Slavery, the Civil War, Freedom and Death!

By Bernice Alexander Bennett

Several months ago, I wrote this article in recognition of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War that described the life of one soldier Bristor Harrison in the United States Colored Troops with ties to the Louisiana Florida Parishes. Bristor Harrison is listed on plaque number A-16 at the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, DC.

His recruitment papers indicated that he was born in Petersburg, Dinwiddle County, Virginia about 1829.

I could not find any documentation on Bristor's parents who were most likely enslaved and sold following his birth and arrival in Louisiana.

However, a legal document was found through the Slocum Collection and transcribed below where Harrison is listed as a slave for life:

Amite City, Louisiana

January 29, 1863

Received from Thomas Green Davidson the sum of $800 as the price of the boy Harrison slave for life, which I have this day sold and delivered to him. I bind myself to make a notarial title to the slave with a full guarantee whenever called on so to do –

Eliza W. Morse
Jn. W. Moore

Moses Wolf

By 1864, the United States has been fully engaged in the Civil War for 4 years and President Lincoln has issued a recruitment announcement for black soldiers. Many blacks upon learning about their freedom through the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 either abandoned the plantations they lived on to follow the Union Soldiers in contraband camps and/or ran away and enlisted in the Union Army to fight for their liberation and the destruction of the Confederacy.

A recruitment poster distributed throughout the United States War Department Adjutant General was actively accepting black men in the Union Army and Navy. By the end of the war, over 200,000 black soldiers had fought the Union and for freedom.

Bristor Harrison responded to General Order No. 233: as noted in this recruitment poster with a brief transcription of the last paragraph below:

"The Government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy's prisoners in our possession. It is therefore ordered, for every soldier of the United States, killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed; and for every one enslaved by the enemy, or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works, and continued until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to prisoners of war."

July 30, 1863

Bristor Harrison Enrolled in the United States Colored Troops

On September 4, 1864,35 year old Bristor Harrison enlisted in Company L, 6th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery in Vicksburg, Mississippi for 3 years and mustered out on February 5, 1865. At the time of his enlistment he was living in Vicksburg and is described on his enrollment papers as being 5 feet 8 3/4 inches tall of black complexion, black eyes and hair.

Post Civil War

Bristor Harrison survived the war and returned to Louisiana and is identified on an 1867 Freedman Bureau Labor Contract living on the Davidson Plantation owned by Thomas Green Davidson in Livingston Parish. I found it interesting that Harrison was a slave for life in the 1863 transaction with Davidson and perhaps through a familial relationship was comfortable returning as a freedman with his family.

The Agreement included work stipulation as a laborer and Bristor Harrison, Flora Harrison and two dependents are listed on the contract.

Status of Bristor and Flora Harrison

I wanted to know more about Flora Harrison and found documentation that Flora Harrison was born in January, 1822 in Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi to James Clark and Eleza Young.

While no documentation is found to determine if Flora was co-habitating with Bristor prior to the Civil War, it is possible that they could have met during or after the Civil War in Mississippi. Nevertheless, they are both listed on the Freedmen Bureau Labor Contract with Thomas Green Davidson and have two young children.

I found a marriage document that in 1872, BristorHarrison age 50 and FloraClark were officially married in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana.

However, going back two years in 1870, the 15th Amendment was ratified, giving African American men the right to vote. Bristor as a freed man was justified in exercising his right to vote as a “colored Republican” for the candidate of his choice.

Thomas Green Davidson
was a republican candidate for the legislator and more likely had an influence on Bristor’s political leanings. Nevertheless, many citizens both black and white were intimidated with threats and violence by the coal-oil and buck-shot clan composed of white democrats in Livingston parish to prevent them from voting for the Republican candidates.

I was very saddened to discover that on March 26, 1876, Bristor Harrison was murdered in the 11th ward of East Baton Rouge between Beaver Pond and Sandy Creek. He was shot to death and had his throat cut by the "Democrats" who were trying to silence the outspoken "colored Republicans" who were influencing election results .

Dozens of "black people" were also killed around this time as they attempted to exercise their rights to vote.

Flora Harrison and her family after the murder

By 1880 , Flora Harrison is 47 years old and is listed as a widow residing in the 5th Ward of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is in the household with five children, the eldest is Midlage Harrison, age 18, Mary Harrison, age 15, Lilley Harrison, age 13, Rose Harrison, age 8, Corine Harrison, age 7, Brestin Harrison, age 7, Simon Harrison, age 3 and Victoria Harrison, age 6 months. It is doubtful that the youngest child is the child of Bristor and Flora because of Bristor’s death in 1876. This child is most likely a grandchild.

Flora Harrison is later found on the 1890 Veterans Schedule where she is residing in Police Jury 5th and 10th Wards of East Baton Rouge Parish. She is listed as the widow of Bristor Harrison- Private .

By 1900, Flora Harrison is reported as 65 years old and is still living in the 5th Ward of East Baton Rouge and has not remarried. She resides in the household with her granddaughter Hattie Harrison. In 1910, she is still in Baton Rouge in the household with her daughter Corine Primus, son-in-law John Primus and grandchildren, Della Primus, Annie, Primus and Ellen Williams.

Flora Clark Harrison
lived a long life and passed away at the age of 105 years old in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This is only brief story of one USCT Soldier - Bristor Harrison and I encourage everyone to find a soldier, honor him and his family and never forget that he as well as others fought to save the Union, to vote and to raise their children in freedom.


1. Bristor Harrison’s first name has several spelling variations – Brista, Brister and Bristor. For the sake of this article, his name is spelled BRISTOR.

2. Records on Film Number M589 Roll 38. Information on the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System at

3. Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Slave Manifests of Coastwise Vessels Filed at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1807-1860; Microfilm Serial: M1895; Microfilm Roll: 10.Original data: Slave Manifests of Coastwise Vessels Filed at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1807–1860. NARA microfilm publication M1895, 30 rolls. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

4. Jeffrey Boyd- co-editor of the Edward Livingston Historical Association Newsletter has the original copy of the transaction that is part of the Slocum collection.

5. Poster is available at

6. Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.

Original data: Data compiled by Historical Data Systems of Kingston, MA from the following list of works.
Copyright 1997-2009
Historical Data Systems, Inc.
PO Box 35
Duxbury, MA 02331.

6th Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery
Organized from 2nd Mississippi Heavy Artillery (African Descent). Designated 5th Heavy Artillery March 11, 1864, and 6th Heavy Artillery April 26, 1864. Attached to Post of Natchez, Miss., District of Vicksburg, Miss., Dept. of Tennessee, and Dept. of Mississippi to February 1865. Post of Natchez, Dept. of Mississippi, to April 1865. Dept. of the Gulf to May 1866.

-Duty at Natchez, Miss., and Vidalia, La., till May 1866. Skirmish near Vidalia, La., July 22, 1864. Attack on Steamer "Clara Bell" July 24, 1864 (4 Cos.). Expedition from Natchez to Gillespie's Plantation, La., August 4-6, 1864. Concordia Bayou August 5. Expedition from Natchez to Buck's Ferry and skirmish September 19-22, 1864. Expedition from Natchez to Waterproof and Sicily Island September 26-30, 1864. Expedition from Natchez to Homichitto River October 5-8, 1864. Expedition from Vidalia to York Plantation, La., October 26-27, 1864. Skirmish at Black River October 31 and November 1, 1864. Mustered out May 18, 1866.

7. The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen's Bureau)- National Archives in Washington, DC

(M1905) Louisiana Registers and Payrolls of Freedmen Employed on Plantations
Unbound registers and payrolls of freedmen employed on plantations, 1864–68, are arranged alphabetically by parish. The registers give the names, ages, sex, and class of the laborer; names of former owners; and former residences of freedmen. The payrolls give similar information except that they include the freedmen’s monthly wages, the number of days worked, amount of money received, and signatures or “X.”

Roll 46 - Lafayette, La Fourche, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Orleans, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Pt. Coupee 1866-1868
Davidson Plantation – Livingston Parish

8. Hunting For Bears, comp. Louisiana, Marriages, 1718-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

Original data: Compiled from a variety of sources including original marriage records located in Family History Library microfilm, microfiche, or books. Original marriage records are available from the Clerk of the Court where the marriage license was issued.

9. Louisiana in 1876. Report of the sub-committee of the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate. In three volumes. Volume III.
Date: Monday, January 1, 1877 Publication: Serial Set Vol. No.1737; Report: S.Rpt. 701 vol.3; Source:

10. Year 1880: Census Place: 5th Ward, East Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Roll:452; family History film: 1254452: Page: 512C: Enumeration District: 108; image: 0888

11. Year 1890, Census Place: Police Jury Wards 5 and 10, East Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Roll: 5; page: 1; Enumeration District 13.

12. Louisiana, Statewide Death Index, 1900-1949 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, Division of Archives, Records Management, and History. Vital Records Indices. Baton Rouge, La, USA

Friday, March 29, 2013

What to do with three kids?

My conversation 5 minutes ago with my granddaughter who is 7, and two grand-nieces 6 and 8.

Do you know how we are related?

The 8 year old - you are our friend..
6 year old - sister?
granddaughter - grandmier?

Let me say it again! Do you know how we are related? Let's take it one step further. How am I related to your grandmother?

8 year old -I know, I know! She is your sister.
6 year old - That's right, your sister.
granddaughter - I think that she is your sister.

Next question:

How is your mother related to me?
8 year old - well, if my grandmother is your sister, then my mother is your friend! haha
6 year old - she is your niece
my granddaughter - your niece!

Next question:
If your mother is my niece, and my sister is your grandmother, how are you related to me?

8 year old - I guess that we are also your nieces(smiling) jumping up and down - I like this game.

6 year old - Niece!!!

granddaughter - well, I am your granddaughter and your sister is my Aunt and your niece must be my cousin because my daddy is also related to your niece... this is so much fun!

Now, how is my mother related to all of you?

They all respond - I know, I know...great grandmother.

Ok, we are now looking through the photo album.

I hope that they remember! — feeling happy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wow! "We Are Just Passing Through"

The Ancestors Told; The Elders Listened; We Passed It On!

Bernice Alexander Bennett

My mother was always sharing a childhood memory! So, one day we were driving to the grocery store and she saw some ladies standing on the street. She immediately began to talk about her Cousins Josephine, Minerva, Pinky, Myrtle and Augustine. Mom did not have any sisters and those cousins meant a lot to her!

She told me that they were always there for each other! Helping out when necessary, visiting and celebrating a birthday, church event, you name it!

Mardi Gras was always a special time for the family to get together and we could always count on a bunch of relatives showing up at Aunt Hester’s house on Thalia Street in New Orleans because the truck floats would stop in front of her house. My grandmother lived in a small apartment unit owned by her Aunt Hester and the mother of all of those cousins. She had a balcony and we would stand on the balcony hollering like crazy, “ hey mister, throw me something”! Well, those were the good old days. Lots’ of food – gumbo, red beans and rice, fried chicken (not the KFC) but the real deal - okay – a typical New Orleans style spread of food for all to eat. When mom was amazed at something special, she would simply say” Wow”! That’s the way it was on Mardi Gras! Fun, food, family and WOW!

Well, the cousins slowly passed away and mama would say – “we are just passing through”.

It wasn’t until my mother passed away in 2010 that I realized how much her cousins meant to her. Following her funeral, we went to the cemetery for that final goodbye. Cousins attended the funeral from all over New Orleans, and I could see from the side of my eye that they were slowly migrating to other gravesites. Of course, I wondered, what’s going on?

I then realized that the descendants of Josephine, Minerva, Pinky and Augustine were also paying homage to their parents, grandparents and great grandparents. I also learned something new – in 1955 – the cousins decided to purchase cemetery plots to be near each other in death.

Wow! “We Are Just Passing Through”

(c)copyright secured all rights reserved (c) 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Hurricane Evacuation Kit of Memories!

Bernice Alexander Bennett

As I reflect on the impending Hurricane Sandy awaiting us on the East Coast, I am reminded of 2005, and Hurricane Katrina. My family members needed to evacuate from New Orleans and I could not sleep unless every single person was safe and out of harms way.

Well, during Hurricane Katrina’s evacuation, my 89 - year old mother had a container with all of her essential documents ready and near her bed in the event she had to leave her home. That little plastic container with the green lid brought her comfort because she had her medication list, insurance policies and a bunch of other papers that I really never considered reviewing until today. That’s right today! I was looking for a few tips and I think that she was sending me a message to just take a look in her container!

The Evacuation Kit!

Today, I decided to open that container to see what else she put in her evacuation kit and guess what I found – her 1929 New Orleans school transcript from Thomy Lafon School; her birth certificate; property deed of land owned by her mother with a map and description of the land; a newspaper clipping of her mother’s obituary; a letter from one of her grandsons, a letter from me written in 1980, a letter from my older sister written in 1989; a newspaper clipping from Anne Landers; birth certificates for my sister and brother; death certificate’s for her mother and my father; a signed program from individuals she taught to quilt with beautiful comments thanking her for the teaching them a new skill. I am still opening up the various documents and I think that the message is loud and clear! If you must evacuate, take whatever will connect you to what made you happy and don’t forget the essentials.

Some of her important memories!

These comments meant a lot to her!

Mom passed away in 2010 and I am still finding the little genealogy gems in notes left in books, and now the Evacuation Kit of Memories!

Well, I am working on my evacuation kit, and will take the essentials and then add a few special memories – maybe my high school transcript or a note from a special friend!

(c)copyright secured all rights reserved (c) 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"The Phone Call That Made My Day"

Bernice Alexander Bennett

Yesterday wasn’t any different than any other day until I answered the phone last night. The call was from a cousin who explained that she needed assistance for her 12 year old granddaughter who had a history class assignment to trace one line of her family lineage back 10 generations.

My cousin was prepared to help draw a family tree and was told by her granddaughter that she needed to do it herself, and only wanted the information.

The wise grandmother (my cousin) remembered that I was a genealogist! Hooray! I have an opportunity to share my research with a willing recipient. So, the first question – what is the name of Lil Mama’s mother. Now, Lil Mama is my cousin’s great grandmother and the sister of my great grandmother. Well, I was on a roll. I first told her the name of Lil Mama’s mother’s name – Rebecca Youngblood Clark. Next question, who is Rebecca’s mother? Her name is Minerva Smith Youngblood. I have marriage records for both Rebecca and her mother Minerva. I went to the St. Helena Parish courthouse and copied both records.

My cousin and I were already excited about our maternal DNA match of L4b, and now it was easy for her to explain to the granddaughter that we were all direct descendants of Minerva and Rebecca Youngblood.

Do you know when they were born? Yes, according to the 1870 census Rebecca Youngblood Clark was born in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana about 1866, and her mother Minerva Smith Youngblood was born about 1835 also in Louisiana. Do you know when they died? Minerva died around 1878 according to 1882 succession documents I found in the Livingston Parish Courthouse for Minerva’s husband - Thomas Youngblood.

Wow! My cousin listened attentively and then I said something that triggered recognition in the naming patterns. For example, Lil Mama’s first daughter is also named Minerva and my grandmother Rebecca was named after her grandmother Rebecca Youngblood. Lil Mama was named after her father’s sister Hester.

Next question, where is your evidence to support what you have just told me? Wow, she is asking and apologizing at the same time. She said, "sorry to be so pushy"! Don’t be sorry, I love it! With excitement - ok, I have the evidence. First of all, I have marriage records, newspaper articles, death certificates, and succession records, Homestead application, census records and obituaries. I even have the original 1955 hand written obituary that Lil Mama wrote when her sister Isabella(my great grandmother) died.

She wanted to know if I had a picture of Rebecca Youngblood Clark and unfortunate, I remember seeing the photo because Lil Mama would showed it to me every time I visited her home. She said that she looked so much like her mother. I have no idea what happened to that photo. I do have a photo of Peter Clark – Lil Mama’s father. I even wrote a story about Peter – the Black Louisiana Homesteader.

So, I sent a few documents and then she wrote back – thanks so very much! You don’t know how helpful you have been to my granddaughter and me.

Thanks for asking! “I will take a phone call like that any day”!

This is a photo of the completed assignment!


(c)copyright secured all rights reserved (c) 2012