Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday

Last week I finally found my grand uncle and discovered that he is interred in Arlington National Cemetery. Thanks to a wonderful Find A Grave Volunteer, I now also have a picture of my Grand Uncle's tombstone.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Madness Monday - Grand Uncle Found

Are the ancestors getting restless, again?

Seems like I'm I'm having a few mini success without even trying. The mini successes are kind of all over the place though. First there was the discovery of new cousins on the paternal side of my family, which you can read about on Conversations with my Ancestors. Then thanks to my Cousin Irene (2nd cousin once removed) doing DNA testing with 23andme, I was finally able to confirm Grand Aunt Mattie was my Great Grandmother Fannie's daughter.

But for now, this one has to be the most special because it had nearly become an obsession with me to determine what happened to 2 of my grandmother's brothers, primarily her brother Willie Felton.

I've written about my Grand Uncle plenty of times during the life of this blog with my most recent post being on May 17, 2010.

I knew that one of the last contacts my grandmother's line of the tree had with Uncle Felton was in the early 1930s when he came to NC to visit his big sister and her family. Whenever I asked my mother about her uncle, trying to jog her memory based on the one and only time she met her uncle, she would always say that she thought he lived in DC and that he had traveled to NC with his and grandmom's younger brother Roy "JD." Try as I might I was never able to gather any additional information on Uncle Felton. Well, that is until today.

I actually had a few minutes to do a little blog reading today and thanks to my friend Valerie's, Begin With Craft, post about a new database on Ancestry.com, I finally have a date of death and place of interment for my Grand Uncle. The new database is
U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962

I immediately did a search for Uncle Felton, not really expecting to find anything when low and behold, I came across this.

I knew right away this was Uncle Felton, but just to be sure, I double checked the military info that was contained on his World War I Summary Card.

The Army Serial Number is the same on both documents; therefore, I'm confident that the Willie F. Pierce interred in grave number 1665 in the Colored Enlistment section of Arlington National Cemetery is my Grand Uncle Willie Felton Pierce.

There are still many questions that remain with regard to my Grand Uncle such as given the fact that it appears he probably was in the  DC area, just as my mother remembered. His younger brother, JD, and his baby sister, Ossie, and her family were also living in the DC area at the time of Uncle Felton's death. So, why is it no one had a clue or seemed to have a clue of what happened to Uncle Felton. The control form indicates that the form for his tombstone was mailed but who was it mailed to? Did he marry again? Did he die all alone? Did he have any children? What was he doing between the early 1930's until his death in 1946? Just like a genealogist, solve a mystery only to open up a new round of questions that need answers.

I also discovered Uncle Felton has a memorial on Find-a-Grave. I actually think I've come across his memorial on several occasions but never knew that it was my Grand Uncle's. Of course, I put in a request for a photo of his tombstone, although I've no clue if one is actually there or not. And of course, next year when the family reunion will be hosted by the DC branch of the family, I plan to make a trip over to Arlington, to grave #1665 and pay my respects to Uncle Felton. RIP Uncle Felton, you may be gone but you were never forgotten by this Grand Niece whom you never met.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - How Popular is My Name?

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun Challenge from Randy Seaver of Gena-Musings is as follows:

1)  Go to the Popular Baby Name page on the Find the Best website at http://popular-baby-names.findthebest.com/.

2)  Enter your given name into the search box, click the appropriate gender button, and click on the "All" Decade button.  Note the results for your given name.

3)  Tell us about how the popularity of your name has changed over the decades.  Were you named during the buildup, the height, or the drawdown of the popularity of your given name?

4)  Share your results in a blog post of your own, in comments to this blog post, or in a Facebook status or Google+ Stream post.

My results are as follows:

I used my first name Mavis.

1900s, Rank = 745, Percent with Name = 0.0076%,
       Number of Babies = 235
1910s, Rank = 426, Percent with Name = 0.0201%,
     Number of Babies = 1,707
1920s, Rank = 280, Percent with Name = 0.0446%,
     Number of Babies = 5,527
1930s, Rank = 288, Percent with Name = 0.0408%,
     Number of Babies = 4,505
1940s, Rank = 466, Percent with Name = 0.0181%,
     Number of Babies = 2,699
1950s, Rank = 724, Percent with Name = 0.0087%,
     Number of Babies = 1,722

These were the only years in which my name was ranked. Nothing prior to 1900 or after 1950. While never a very popular name, the peak years for my name were the 1920s and 1930s. By the time I came along, the name had already reached whatever peak it was going to reach.

When I was a kid, I hated my name because I knew of no other person with that name. During my life time I've only met a few other Mavis'. Needless to say I've never found my name among the many name tags, etc. Today I just solve that problem by having things custom made with my name on them.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Madness Monday - One More Clue in the Search for a Great Grandmother

Actually clue is probably not the right term. It was more of a confirmation of my research.

My Great Grandmother, Fannie "Of the Many Names," is one of the main reasons I begin this journey way back when. In fact she's the reason that most of the relatives on my maternal grandmother's side of my family want to begin searching.

I've not talked or researched Grandma Fannie for quite a while. I was having success on other lines and frankly, I had run out of ideas with regard to Grandma Fannie. But since hitting the proverbial 1870 brick wall on my other lines and not having much success breaking through those walls, it's only natural that Grandma Fannie would start calling out to me, again.

So, what the clue that dropped into my lap. Well, if you remember back in 2009, when I first started blogging about my research, I unearthed a new cousin, whom mom and I affectionately call Little Irene, to distinguish her from her Grandmother (mom's first cousin), who was also Irene. Irene's great grandmother, Mattie Lou Henyard Martin was my grandmother's older half sister. Based on the 1900 and 1910 censuses, Mattie never lived in the house with my great grandparents, my grandmother and the rest of her siblings. However, both censuses indicated that my great grandmother had other children that were still living. Therefore, even though my Great Grandfather had been previously married, I concluded that Mattie was my Great Grandmother's child. To date, I've not been able to document my Great Grandmother prior to 1900 and Aunt Mattie, who was born abt 1885 and died 10 Oct 1918 has been even harder. So, my only hope bringing some type of confirmation to the theory of Mattie's parentage was DNA. While I had asked Cousin Irene, early on about doing DNA, it wasn't until this year that she was finally able to do it thanks to 23andme's  Roots to the Future program, which was aimed at getting more African Americans into their database.

When Little Irene's results came in I was ecstatic!

Her mtDNA was L3e1a3. Strange as this may sound, since beginning DNA testing, the only other folks that I've come across with this assignment are known relatives, my mother and my cousin Nicholas who descends from my grandmother's baby sister, Ossie. So based on research, and a recently rediscovered letter from Cousin Ovella, Little Irene's Grand Aunt, to my mother, it appears that the DNA backs up the research.

The second part of the testing with 23and me is the Relative Finder, which shows mom and Little Irene share 1.50%, 8 segments.

Even better, in less than a month, I will finally meet Little Irene. She plans to bring her Grand Aunt Evelyn's photo album. I'm hoping that between the two of us we can finally crack the case of our mysterious Grandma Fannie.

And yes, I'm officially back on the hunt, for the time being, for Miss Fannie "What's Her Name," also know as Fannie "Of the Many Names," aka my great grandmother.

Sentimental Sunday - Bronzed Shoes

Seems like you rarely, if ever see the bronzed baby shoes any more but when I was growing up, there was hardly a house that didn't have them. Yes, especially during the 60s and 70s. immortalizing your baby's shoes in bronze was all the rage.

Since I rarely ever see them anymore, I wondered if this tradition was still being carried on. A quick Google, shows that there are still companies around that are carrying on this time honored tradition. Obviously there are mother's (yes it's a mother thing) that are still having the shoes bronzed.

So, in honor of this tradition that dates back to I don't know when, here are my own bronzed shoes.