I spent much time in the summer of 1967 at my Uncle Louis’ cottage in Idlewild, MI. I was there when the Detroit Riot/Rebellion broke out and remember driving into the city on that first Sunday when it began. You can read more about that here Detroit Rebellion Journal.
I spent a lot of time that summer swimming and skating. I don’t have any photos of me skating but I have this whole series of a dive. My sister Pearl, my cousin Jan and my mother also make brief appearances. My Uncle Henry took the photos.
Recently I went to the nearby Family Search Center to look at some Lowndes County Alabama property records from the 1870s on microfilm. I hoped to find more details about Joe and Emma Turner, my 2X great grandparents. I also planned to look at records for other formerly enslaved Turners mentioned in Wiley Turner’s probate record.
There were five rolls of microfilm waiting for me. It was by no means a large research center. It is actually a few rooms in the educational part of the Church of Latter Day Saints. In a small room there were three computers. Next to it was another small room with a microfilm machine. A local Family Search volunteer opened the building for me and got me started. She loaded the roll into the reader, showed me how it worked and advised me to put a phone book under a piece of paper if the document was hard to read. Then she went to the next room to work on her family history.
After scrolling through to page 238, which I thought was the page I was looking for in Book H, I discovered that there was nothing about the Turners on that page, nor on the pages before or after. I scrolled back to the index. At this point the scrolling was making me feel slightly motion sick but I chewed some gum and kept going. Looking at the index, I found the Turners listed with the “Ts” under a letter “O” on page 97. Very confusing. However, that was actually the page I was looking for and it was full of information about the land deal. There was even a drawing of the property that changed hands. I took photos of the various pages, not very good ones it turned out.
As the next roll of film was being loaded, a thin belt separated from wherever it was supposed to be. The microfilm machine was broken. It was the only machine there and it was ancient. The volunteer said she will try to get it repaired and call me when it is. She also said I can keep the rolls of film there as long as I need them. That is only good if I have a machine to view it through.
Family Search plans to digitize all of their records during the next two years. They also plan to discontinue sharing microfilm in August of this year. I do not hold out much hope for the repair of the machine, unless a local volunteer can do it. Below is what I found.
Know all men by these presents that we, Joe Turner and Emma Turner his wife of said state and county for and in consideration fo the sum of one hundred dolars to us paid this day by Edward H. Herbert and Louisa Herbert his wife do hereby bargain, sell and convey to the said Herbert and his wife Louisa the following described lots or parcels of land lying and being within corporate limits of the town of Hayneville in said county to wit a lot of about one acre lying west and broadside of the lot now owned and occupied by the said Herbert extending west to a street running north and south by the residence of John P Streety, a lot a strip of land about twenty yards wide south of the above described lot and the said lot owned and occupied by the said Herbert containing one half acre more or less; also a lot known as the Stewart lot commencing at the south west corner of the lot on which H a Rinadi’s house stands, running east thirty five yards, thence south to a street running east and west from the residence of John P Streety by the County jail and up by the Methodist Church, thence west thirty five yards thence north to the beginning containing one acre more or less, also a lot of three fourths of an acre mor or less bounded east by the said Stewart lot south of the street running east and west from the residence of John P Streety up by the jail and Methodist Church, west by a vacant lot owned by the said Streety and north of the east half of the strip of land above described; all of said lots containing three and a half acres more or less to have and to hold to them and their heirs and assigns forever.
Witness our hands and seals this 9th day of January AD 1872.
Signed and delineated in presence of W.H. Taigler R.McQueen
In my grandmother Fannie’s scrapbook, I found two library cards made by my mother, Doris and her older sister, Mary Virginia in 1931. My mother was 7 and Mary Virginia was 11. There is no book listed on my mother’s card but Mary Virginia names “The Children’s Story Hour” on hers. I wonder what other books they borrowed and lent or if this was a one time happening. I did notice that Mary Virginia returned her book on time.
This photograph was taken later that year in their backyard. Howard died of scarlet fever the following year. He was two and a half.
The first time I met Gypsies was the summer of 1964. I was 17, wearing a patterned skirt, my hair was long then, pulled back in a clip. I had on gold hoop earrings. My sister Pearl and I were walking down West Grand Blvd. to the Main Library. We passed a house like the one pictured above. Three little girls ran off the porch and began to walk down the street with us.
“Are you Gypsy?” they asked me. I wasn’t, I told them. My sister assured them that we weren’t. They weren’t talking to her, they said. Was I sure? I was sure. When we got to the first cross street, they turned and ran back to their house.
Several months later, an article came out in the Sunday Detroit Free Press Parade Magazine. There was a picture of the three little girls. It was all about being a modern Gypsy in Detroit. The man was their grandfather, identified as the head of their family’s clan.
In 1968 I was an art student at Wayne State. I had been to the Utrecht art supply store on Woodward. As I was on my way back to Campus, some women were sitting on the porch of a large house. They were wearing long skirts and of various ages.
“Want your fortune told?” One of them called out. What if it was a bad one? I thought. No, I called back and kept moving. I sometimes wonder what they would have told me was coming up if I had stopped.
In the early 1980s I was living in Mississippi. One summer afternoon, I was visiting my friend Carrie Ann, when a woman about my age came by in a pickup selling sets of hand made wooden porch furniture. She had an incomplete set at a reduced rate and I bought it. She drove them down the road to my house and said I reminded her of her cousin. She reminded me of my cousin Barbara, I told her.
No caravans of any kind were involved, but this is what I remembered when I saw the Sepia Saturday prompt for this week.
When I was growing up we spent Saturdays at my mother’s parents house, along with my cousins Dee Dee and Barbara and later, Marilyn. When the weather was good we spent it outside in the backyard. There was a vegetable garden, lots of flowers and space for anything we could think of.
In the summer of 1953 I turned 7 in August. Dee Dee turned 10 in September. Barbara had already turned 6 in January. Pearl was 4.5 until December. Poppy was 64. He would retire in December of that year when he turned 65. The yard was surrounded on all sides by a wooden fence that made it feel like a world apart. In the photographs I can see the big house across the alley and a factory on Warren but when I was playing in the yard I didn’t much notice those things.
Pearl and I are holding dolls and I have a purse I remember getting when we lived in Springfield, MA. A young lady who might have been the church secretary had a grown up purse just like it. It was brown leather and had a golden metal clasp that turned to open and close. Looks like collards with the poison Poppy sprinkled to kill the cabbage worms. I think I see a little cabbage butterfly holding on to the underside one of the leaves.
I am standing up at the table where Barbara and I are making something. Dee Dee is sitting on the arm of the swing. She was probably taking Pearl somewhere on the magic carpet (aka swing) the rider would have to say “Geni of the magic carpet, go, go, go!” and then Dee Dee would take you someplace magic. She would tell you where it was when it was time for you to get out of the swing. Dee Dee was in charge of all the magic. Each of our households had a little, invisible fairy that lived in the mud castle we built and rebuilt at the foot of the apple tree. Their’s was named Lucy and ours was Pinky. She also kept a box full of prizes that she gave out at appropriate times. I remember packages of soda crackers, prizes from cereal boxes and pieces of chewing gum.
Here Pearl and I are standing on the grassy part of the yard. The flowers are in full bloom behind us with the vegetables back behind them. We often made the saw horses into mounts. I see my purse over there on the grass to the left.
I have participated in Sepia Saturday for so many years that it is hard for me to come up with new photos when the same sorts of prompts come around. This week I am recycling a post from 2012.
In 2003 I purchased a copy of the book “Lowndes Court House – A Chronicle of Hayneville, an Alabama Black Belt Village 1820 – 1900”, a book of reminiscences by Mildred Brewer Russell. In the chapter “Reconstruction And After, 1865 – 1900 I found my great great grandfather, Joe Turner, mentioned as one of the Negro (sic) politicians. After that I tried to find what sort of politician he was, what office he held. I could not find anything.
Last week on Ancestry.com, I found the following information. Joe Turner was elected as constable on November 7, 1871.
Google defined a constable as “…a peace officer with limited policing authority, typically in a small town.”
In 1874 Reconstruction ended in Alabama, resulting in loss of voting rights and the ability to hold elected office for black people.
Here is an interesting timeline that traces how the right to vote and hold public office was taken away from black men in Lowndes and neighboring counties. “The More You Know: A History …” It wasn’t until 1970, 99 years from 1871, that African American John Hulett was elected sheriff in Lowndes County.
You can read more about Joe Turner in these posts:
Betsy was about 26 years old when she was listed with her daughter Caroline in the inventory of the estate of Wiley Turner. It was February 2, 1852. Betsy and Caroline were valued at $800.00. On the list below them were eight year old Phillis ($375) and three year old Peggy ($225). They seem to be a family group.
Further down the page Austin is listed. He was 16 years old and valued at $800.
On January 26 and 27 of 1859, Betsy was visited by Doctor Pritchett. The cost of the visits was $2.50. On February 6 and 7, Doctor Pritchett visited Austin.
On January 29, 1859 a coffin was purchased for Betsy. She was 29. On February 8, 1859 A coffin was purchased for Austin. He was 22. Each coffin cost $5. I do not know what they died of.
I found the two coffins listed in the estate file among a list of payments given out from the estate in early 1859. If I had not gone page by page through the file, I would have missed these, as I did when I looked through it last year and only looked for lists of the enslaved.
I found all of these documents in the Estate file of Wiley Turner, deceased, on Ancestry.com. My 2 X great grandfather, Joe Turner came off of this plantation. Click on the documents to enlarge.
For the past week I have been immersed in the Turners who came off of Wiley Turner’s plantation in Lowndes County Alabama. My 2X great grandfather, Joe Turner, came off of that plantation. Wiley Turner died in 1851 without a Will and so his estate was probated. The case dragged on for twenty years. There are multiple lists of the enslaved, the first in 1852. I wrote about the one from 1853 here. The others were from 1856, 1857 and 1865. There were also the 1850 and 1860 slave censuses, which give no names but age, sex and color (“mulatto” or “black”)
There are also records of doctors visits, some patients named and some not. There are records of how much and what was sold from the plantation during this time. There were several changes of administrators due to deaths and some disputes among members of the family about what was due them.
After the Civil War was over and Freedom came, there were new records for the formerly enslaved and now free, the 1866 census for the first time named the formerly heads of households. In the 1870 census, the whole household was named. In 1880, relationships to the head of the household were given. There were also marriage and land records.
By investigating the community and households, I want to see what happened to the people and families, both before and after slavery. Right now I am going through the material and figuring out how to present it. At first, when going through the probate record, I just looked for the names of the enslaved. Going over it again, I realized that I could not give a picture without knowing more about what was going on around them, what crops were grown, what was sold, what was bought and the rest of the turmoil swirling around them during that time period. Maybe I need to start by printing out the whole file.
I have never done a project like this outside of a time crushing challenge, so we shall see how it goes.
“They set up a table in our room with a white tablecloth and a test tube bud vase. It was a good meal. I had thought I wouldn’t be able to have the dinner and had to call Jim at the Reeses to come eat. I had been on a special diet until that afternoon. James slept very nicely through the whole meal.”
Story of James Birth From His Baby Book – 1982
James was born during an ice storm. Actually the ice storm began the day before he was born. We went into Jackson (we were living about half an hour away in Simpson County at the time) when the storm started because I started having mild contractions about the same time. We stayed with a family with 6 children Jim worked with sometimes in printing. The first night I woke up and the contractions were stronger and we went to the hospital, but they faded away at the hospital and we went back to the Reece’s house. She said she knew I wasn’t really in labor because I was checking on everyone before I left. The next day my water broke and there was some meconium staining in the show. We went back to the hospital around 2 in the afternoon. I said I hoped they wouldn’t have to send me home again but Dr Barnes said since my water broke I wouldn’t be leaving until the baby came.
I was in the same birthing suite I used when Tulani was born. And had the same nurses. They hooked me up to the monitor because of the meconium and even attached a wire to James head to “get a better reading”. I remember thinking as I was laying there listening to the nurses talking and going about their business, that there I was laying there in labor and yet they were living their regular lives. They weren’t actually involved in it at all. I imagine it’s sort of like when you’re dying. But that’s neither here nor there.
I started pushing at 6:30PM and figured the baby would be born soon. After an hour of second stage labor and pushing the head still wasn’t engaged. I remarked between contractions that I hoped it wasn’t going to take me until midnight for the baby to be born. (I said that because each of the babies was born three hours later then the last one and Tulani was born around 9 PM.) Dr. Barnes said they weren’t going to wait that long, if he (she was sure it was a boy because he was causing so much trouble, she said) wasn’t born in an hour she was going to do a c-section. That hadn’t even entered my mind. Soon she sent all the nurses that were waiting for the birth off to get ready. I tried getting on my knees like I had with Ayanna, but to tell the truth, the mood was ruined. I just wanted to get the whole thing over with. If the baby was going to require a c-section, just go on and do it, I thought. Of course afterwards I wondered if I’d tried pushing awhile longer if he would have come on down.
On the way to the delivery room I asked Dr. Barnes if she would tie my tubes since I was going to be opened up and she said yes and I didn’t have to sign any papers, I think Jim did. And she gave me a tubal. Afterwards, when I found out that once you have a c-section you don’t always have to have a c-section if it’s not structural, I wished I hadn’t.
James was born at 8:17PM. He was 22 and 3/4 inches long and weighted 8 lbs and 12 ozs. He was fine and nursed fine and kept on growing. His Apgar score was 9 at one minute and 10 at three minutes.
My mother told me that we should name James for my husband. So we did. She was very ill with cancer and died five months later without having ever seen baby James.
This year for my 5th A to Z Challenge, I used my 2Xs great uncle, Thomas (Ray) Allen’s pension file as the basis for my blog posts. Thomas served in the United States Colored Calvary during the Civil War. In his 115 page pension file, I was able to find family members, friends and veterans who served with him during the war, plus the name of the man who had enslaved him.
In spite of pledging myself each year after the challenge to prewrite my posts, I found myself once again doing last minute research and writing most of the posts on the day I published them. Towards the end of the month it came to me that I should pick a topic that doesn’t require research and is guaranteed to produce short posts. “Fleeting Memories” is the topic I am thinking about for next year. I have already filled a tiny notebook with them.
A big difference this year was the lack of a list including everybody who signed up where we could go and find blogs to visit. Instead there was a post each day where we could reply with our blog url, twitter with #atozchallenge and a fb page. Not to mention our own fb pages and google+. What worked best for me was visiting blogs I had enjoyed in previous A to Z Challenges and visiting people who commented on blogs I enjoyed . I ended up following about 30 blogs during the challenge, with one time visits to others. I visited as many of these as I could each day and commented. I visited those that visited me and I tried to reply to all comments on my posts. Looking back over my posts and comments for this year and years past, I received about the same number of posts this year.