Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday - Watch Night Service

Watch Night Service

There was a time when I dreaded New Year’s Eve because it meant being drug to church one more time. Don’t get me wrong, I love church and my faith has gotten me through many a difficult times but to be there on New Year’s Eve, uggh!

As a child mom, who was Baptist and who more times than not I went to church with, loaded granddad and me in the car and headed to church. Even in my adult years, mom and / or dad could often guilt me into going with them, especially mom with her “There’s no other place I would rather be to bring in the new year.” Last year, I finally understood what she meant as for the first time in my life I was at Watch Night Service because that is where I wanted and needed to be.

Prior to moving to Colorado for awhile, I always thought Watch Night Service was something everyone did but during my adult life, I’ve learned that Watch Night service is truly an African-American tradition and perhaps only observed in the southern states.

The tradition of bringing in the year in church appears to have it’s origins in the Moravian community, but the significance in the African-American community can be traced back to December 31, 1862, “Freedom’s Eve.” President Abraham Lincoln in his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, dated September 22, 1862, had indicated that the slaves would be freed on January 1, 1863.

So with new found vigor both in my research and the reflections on the history of our celebration, tonight when I go to Watch Night Service, I know I’ll think and wonder about them, my ancestors, as I’m already doing now, and about the thoughts that raced through their minds as they anticipated freedom. I’ll think about my 3rd great grandmother, Eliza Stovall, at the age of abt. 50, possibly with her children and grand children by her side, giving praise that she lived long enough to see this day.

So, in remembrance of all my known direct line and collateral ancestors that endured slavery, roll call:

Direct Line of known enslaved ancestors

Maternal Ancestors

Eliza Stoval – 3rd great grandmother, abt. 1810 – unk
(date of death bwt. 1880 and 1900)
Wyatt Rome – 2nd great grandfather, 1840 – unk
(date of death after 1910)
Alice Rome – 2nd great grandmother, 1836 – unk
(date of death bwt. 1900 and 1910)
Matilda Hosch – 2nd great grandmother, 1840 – unk
Monroe Barto Hosch – great grandfather, 1862 – unk
(date of death bwt. 1890 and 1900)
Jasper Pierce – 2nd great grandfather 1850 - unk
Jane Pierce – 2nd great grandmother, 1844 – unk

Paternal Ancestors

Issac Ewell – 2nd great grandfather, 1840 – unk
(date of death bwt 1870 and 1880)
Pennie Ewell – 2nd great grandmother, 1840 – unk

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Genea Wish List

Reflections, Goals, and Wishes

Part III - My Wish List

  1. No Brick Walls - for as much as they have helped and continue to help me hone my research skills, they are very frustrating, especially the ones that have been with me almost since Day 1 and 20 years later, they are no closer to crumbling than they were on the first day.

  2. That request for Vital Records, SS5 Applications and various other documents were cheaper. No one ever said that this pursuit was cheap, but those $10, $15, and $27 per document costs add up.

  3. That I lived closer to my geographical research areas. It would be so much easier to take a day here and there and run over to the next county and poke around for documents, burial sites, old home places, etc. Besides the convenience, the cost savings would be tremendous (no hotel stays, travel cost would be minimal, etc.)

  4. That lost lines had not been lost, that almost lost lines do not become lost, and that I can some how reconnect with both.

  5. That there are photos of all my direct line ancestors lurking in photo album(s) somewhere and that each and every one of them has the ancestor's name written somewhere on them for easy identification.

  6. That there were no misspellings, misidentifications, etc. on the census, etc.

  7. That Grandma Mary Pierce Hosch had conveyed to her daughter, my mother, exactly how all of her "People" were related to us, especially Aunt Mattie, her half sister.

  8. That the destruction of the 1890 census via fire and water had not occurred.

  9. That I can identify my other slave-owning families and that the descendants of those families will be as kind and helpful as the descendants of the Hosch slave owners have been and continue to be. Thank you so much Pat and Millie.

  10. That my mother had had an opportunity to meet her grandparents. All four were gone by the time my mother arrived into the world. As a child she longed for a grandmother.

  11. That the tape mom and I made of granddaddy Hosch had not been lost / destroyed (taped over). 30+ years later, and yes I sometimes still hunt for it.

Until Next Time!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday

Beverlyn Marie Evans (cousin-in-law)
1967 - 2001

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sentimental Sunday - Remembering Cousin Nay

Nathaniel Hosch Evans

Sunrise: Sept. 24, 1944
Sunset: Dec. 20, 2008

It seems like he should still be here, the jovial one, the prankster. Yet, as of today, it’s been exactly one year since the Lord decided he needed his son with him.

He was Aunt Lucille’s one and only and even though we were 16 years apart, there was always this strong bond between us. Aunt Lucille, who is only 2 years older that my mother, always called him my big brother and when he married and began having his own family, his children were my little brother’s and sisters.

I don’t think anyone ever called him Nathaniel. To family he was Nay or Nat. Friends called him Hosch. More recently whenever we saw each other we always addressed each other Mr. Evans and Miss Jones with the biggest smiles on our faces. I have no clue why we started doing this but it was always a fun thing to do and we both got such a kick out of doing it.

Cousin Nay had such a big heart. He was paralyzed most of his adult life due to blood clots, but he never let the paralysis stop him or used it as an excuse. I don’t ever remember seeing a frown on his face even during the last year of his life when he was in extreme pain. He was always checking on everybody to see if they were okay and helping out whether it was helping mom with some painting, ferrying his mom to the doctor, helping me find a new engine for my car, or assisting friends in the community with some of their needs. When I went off to college, he was the one that took me because he had a van to put all my belongings in. Mom always said she saw him do more from a wheelchair than lots of folks who still had the use of their legs. I couldn’t agree with her more.

On top of all that he was a tireless worker in church. He always visited the sick and shut-in, offering his assistance to them. He along with the rest of my family that are members of our little hometown church was the biggest reason that after moving back to the big city, I tried for as long as I could to still get back over to the hometown on Sundays for church.

But it’s this time of year that I think will always cause me to long for my “big brother” the most. Until recently when I begin my own holiday tradition, for at least 20 years, Thanksgiving and Christmas were always spent with Cousin Nay’s family. I always got such joy from picking out just the right present from him, whether it was the gag gift of $1000, shredded, that I got from the Charlotte Mint or working 24/7 for days on end to cross-stitch a picture for he and his wife.

His funeral was a true tribute to the man and a realization of how many lives he touched during the short time that God allowed him to walk with us. Our little church was definitely too small. Aunt Lucille and Cousin Nay's wife decided to move the funeral to one of our bigger churches. It still wasn’t big enough to hold all of those who knew and loved him.

For as much as I miss my “big brother” and long to have him pick at me one more time, it’s when I visit my aunt; see his wife and my cousins, his children and grandchildren; or listen to my mother’s remembrances of her “favorite” nephew that I realize how much he meant to our family and how much we all depended on him. Like Billy Joel said it seems “only the good die young.”

Until Next Time!

Picture from the personal collection of Mavis Jones.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Goals for 2010

Reflections, Goals, and Wishes

Part II - Goals

My Goals for 2010 aren’t very ambitious. In fact they are quite simple. I just need to do them.

  1. To develop an organizational system that works for me. When I first began, all those years ago, my genealogical records were the one part of my life that was completely organized. I never stopped working on it without putting everything back into its proper place. These days it seems to be scattered in various locations throughout my house. It’s not even organized chaos, it’s just simply chaos although surprisingly when I need to grab something I usually can find it right away. But as the acquired documentation continues to grow, this will not suffice.
  2. To plan and actually do at least one research trip and preferably two, one for a maternal line and one for a paternal line.
  3. To get up to speed on using Family Tree Maker. I’ve had it for a couple of months now. I have loaded the software onto my computer, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.
  4. To try to stay on an even keel with posting to my blogs, so that those who read them will hopefully stay interested.
  5. To finally truly interview my parents, my two aunts and two uncles. Yes, I’ve asked them all tons of questions for the past 40+ years, even before I officially started researching, but like they never sat down and recorded what the grandparents, great aunts, etc. told them, I’ve never taken the time to sit down and record what they were telling me.
  6. To finally meet Pat and perhaps Millie, descendants of my slave owning Hosch family. Through the years both ladies have been terrific in helping cousin Roy and me reclaim our ancestors.
  7. To go to one training seminar or a national, regional or local meeting of a historical / genealogical group. As I’ve renewed the research, I’ve picked up a few more reference books to use as guides in doing my research. They are treasured additions to my limited collection but I’ve discovered that after awhile, there is no additional knowledge to be gain via this method. I don’t believe that I’m going to be able to topple present and future brick walls without training that involves more than just me reading a book.
  8. And probably the most important of all, just to spend more quality time with my parents. My friends always tell me that I’m a good daughter and that I spend more time with them than most adult children spend with their parents. But for me that’s just not good enough. It’s not about just spending time with them but enjoying and partaking of life with them and it’s the later part of that, the enjoying and partaking of life with them, that I’m always feeling like I’ve fallen down on the job on.

Until Next Time!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday

Reflections, Goals, and Wishes

As this year winds it’s way to a close, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on this past year, set a few genealogy goals for 2010, and give my wish list.


After not really working on my genealogy since 1998, this year has almost felt like a genealogical whirlwind. So in no particular order, here are things that immediately come to mind for this past year. Some, make that a lot, of these will probably be things I blogged about throughout the year but I thought they were worth mentioning one more time before I close out the year.

  1. Thanks to my research prior to 1998, my second cousin, Deborah O., gave cousin Nicholas I. (2nd cousin twice removed) my name. As you know, I, along with many of my Geneafriends, am a firm believer in we are guided by the ancestors. Therefore, I think the ancestors had a hand in this introduction, because Nicholas definitely provided the spark I needed to get going again and boy did I return to research with a vengeance. It seems like genealogy is all that I have done this year. I’m ever so grateful for this introduction.
  2. I still can’t believe that I’m blogging. And what’s more I have not one but two genealogy blogs. Sometimes I struggle with what to write but I’m grateful that I started both. They have allowed me to connect with fellow family researchers / genealogists, which has truly been a godsend. Being able to share highs, lows, strategy and thoughts as I have continued to travel back through time has truly helped.
  3. In addition to making Geneafriends, this blog, in particular, contributed to my mother and I reconnecting with an almost lost line, a line on my maternal grandmother’s side that only mom, Aunt Lucille and I seem to know about. And now, hopefully through ancestral DNA, my new cousin and I can connect the dots of an ancestor’s life that seems to have left virtually no paper trail.
  4. During my time away, I’m thrilled by the role the Internet is now playing in the hunt for ancestors. However, it also saddens me, too, as it appears there may now be a large segment of family researchers that truly believe that it’s all on the internet and everything is in the census records. When I renewed my research efforts this year, I must admit that I almost fell into this trap myself but luckily for me, (1) I begin my research efforts when there was no internet - only microfilm and snail mail, so I knew there was a ton of other information out there that was nowhere on the internet, and (2) my new found Geneafriends wouldn’t let me fall into that trap by reminding me of other places to check. (Thanks Angela, Luckie, Sandra, Michael, Felicia, Valerie, Renate, et. al).
  5. I feel like the biggest accomplishment this year is that I think I’m finally beginning to grow as a researcher even though often times I wonder how much I have truly grown. This means, I still have a long way to go.

By the way, since my lists ended up being a bit longer than I had planned, I decided to divide this post into three parts. Today was the reflections part. Part II will be my goals for 2010 and Part III my genea wish list.

Until Next Time!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Madness Monday

Continuing the Hunt for Uncle Felton

Last week and today, I received what little information there is on Uncle Felton Pierce’s time in the army during World War I.

Last week I received his World War I Summary Card from the Georgia Department of Archives. At first glance, one would think there is not a lot of information there, especially from a genealogical stand point but I personally found the information contained on this summary card quite interesting. The following are some of the items note:

  • Contrary to all of the family stories, Uncle Felton did not actually participate in the war. He never left the country. He was in the Reserves, Unit 437. Given how our government at this time in history felt about sending colored troops into battle, I’m not surprised. There were a couple of black units that got a chance to go into battle but most did not.
  • Uncle Felton was inducted into the Army on August 23, 1918 and was honorably discharged on February 21, 1919. So, he was only in for 6 months. But during his brief 6 months, he was promoted to Corporal, achieving that rank on November 14, 1918.
  • The one piece of genealogical information is that his summary card indicates he was born in Athens, Clarke County, GA.
And from his Final Pay Voucher, it was noted that he was in Company C of the reserves

In my previous posts, I’ve noted that Uncle Felton’s WWI Draft Registration card, as well as my other great uncles, all indicated that their birthplace was Watkinsville, Oconee County, GA. (Oconee and Clarke were one county until the last quarter of the 1800s). Athens as a possible birthplace is interesting due to the fact that I think I might have stumbled upon my great grandfather Cornelius Pierce’s first marriage. If this is Grandpa Cornelius’ first marriage, it occurred in Clarke County.

So, now that it’s official that he survived the War, and per his niece’s memory (that would be mom), he visited his big sister (grandmom) and her family sometime between 1928 and abt 1936, what happened to him? Why can’t I at least locate him on the 1920 or 1930 census? Where else can I look for him? The hunt continues.

Until Next Time!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Madness Monday

Fires, Fires, and More Fires

What’s with all the fires destroying records that were generated during crucial periods of my ancestors’ lives? First there is the well known fire of 10 January 1921, which destroyed the 1890 census, although from what I’ve read most of the damage was created by water and not the actual fire. During that 20 year period between the 1880 census and the 1900 census, a lot occurred - relocations, deaths, births, marriages, etc. Overall, the loss of the 1890 census has not hampered my research, at least for the lines that tended to stay put. It’s the lines that I seem to know the least about where that 20 year gap is the most frustrating. I keep thinking if I just had the 1890 census, I could perhaps put the pieces together. However, I refuse to use the loss of these critical documents as an excuse, so I continue to push myself to think of other methods to determine and follow the movements of my ancestors.

More recently, as I’ve concentrated on Uncle Felton and trying to determine what happened to him after World War I, I have learned about another fire that occurred on July 12 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO. This fire destroyed 80% of Army records generated between November 1, 1912 and January 1, 1960 and 75% of Air Force records generated between September 25, 1947 and January 1, 1964. To put it another way, 16-18 million records were destroyed.

Picture obtained from National Archives webiste

Even though this presents another disappointment and possible set back, I’ve not been deterred, yet.

The National Personnel Office did notify me that the National Archives had the final pay voucher for Uncle Felton on file. So, last week, I submitted, via snail mail, $20 to obtain a copy of this document that offers a possible glimpse into Uncle Felton’s life. I also submitted a request to Georgia Archives to obtain a copy of his WWI summary card.

Since submitting these two requests, I’ve also done a bit more research on other possible locations for WWI personnel documents. I’ve learned that the military made recommendation to WWI and WWII veterans that they file a copy of their discharge papers at the courthouse. For Walton County, GA these records are filed with the Superior Court. While I’m excited to know that his discharge papers might exist in a courthouse somewhere, based on my previous dealing with the Walton County Superior Court, I’m not looking forward to having to contact them, again. Yes I got the information I was seeking, but I also received a letter telling me that they were not equipped to do this kind of work and that I needed to hire someone to do this. So, you can see the dilemma I have. Even though I still plan to do a research trip to Walton County, GA, I’m not sure when that will occur as every attempt this year to get there has fallen through.

For now, I will just wait, anticipating the arrival of the documents already requested, and praying that they will contain enough information to help me determine what happened to a long lost Uncle.

Until Next Time!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

From the personal collection of Lucille Hosch Evans