There she blogs!

All about my passion for discovering who I am and from where I've come!


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#MyQuietHero


I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “still waters run deep” meaning a person who appears to be quiet on the outside may have a very strong and deep personality. That is a very apt description of Daddy’s baby brother, Thaddeus (affectionately known to us as “Uncle Teenie”). Uncle Teenie was indeed a very quiet and gentle man, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned he was carrying some very deep things inside.

Uncle Teenie served in Germany during World War II. He was responsible for getting supplies to the front lines, and many times it was explosives that he was carrying. He drove alone in his truck but as part of a convoy and under cover of darkness, unable to use the lights on the truck he drove. He did this in five European theaters: Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Central Europe and Rhineland. In 1944 he was a part of the “Red Ball Express”, which was a highly touted truck convoy system that supplied Allied forces needing to move quickly throughout Europe after breaking out from the beaches of Normandy. Patton’s tanks wouldn’t have been able to move without supplies from the Red Ball Express. Uncle Teenie was awarded five Bronze Stars for valor, four overseas bars and a Victory ribbon. He told of a time when a train he was on came under fire of German pilots. He and the other soldiers lay face down. The men on either side of him were killed. He recalled seeing piles of bodies as tall as houses in the woods of Germany. Fortunately, Uncle Teenie was able to return home to Dalton, Missouri. So proud of him! Rest in love, Uncle Teenie ❤

©2017

(Google Images)


(Google Images)


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#HerBlackStory

The year was 1962. I’m 5 years old in this photo. It’s the first of 13 school pictures I would take while attending K-12 at Keytesville R-III Schools. I remember every detail of the dress I wore for this picture. It was shades of blue, pink and purple. The points of the collar were a heavy tatting-type lace. My ribbons were blue satin, and I remember Mama pinning that tiny little bouquet of flowers onto my collar. They were pink and blue forget-me-nots made of fabric.

Kindergarten was my first venture into the world without my family. I remember Mama drove me to school on the first day. I can still hear the sound of my new shoes against the gravel as we walked to the door, Mama holding my hand tightly. She told me how much fun I would have going to school, how I would make lots of new friends, and how I would learn all kinds of interesting things. I was excited, but not sure I wanted to be there without her. Now that I think back on it, I’m not sure Mama wanted to leave me there that day either. I was her baby, her last child.

The kindergarten room was in the basement of the elementary school. Mrs. Rosemary Woodward was my teacher’s name, and I remember how she smiled at me when Mama brought me to the door of the classroom. Her smile and her kind eyes told me things were going to be just fine, and ultimately they were. I did meet lots of new friends, just like Mama said, and I think all of us were feeling the same things that day. We were all a little scared. Nothing was familiar to any of us.

It took a few days for us to get used to our new surroundings, and to each other. The best part of the days was time spent on the playground. We had a merry-go-round, and the boys would run really fast to make it go around then jump on it so they could ride, too. We had a really tall slide that had a hump in the middle. Girls had to wear dresses to school, and on hot days the slide would burn our legs. On days like that the girls would gather on the steps and act out stories. Sometimes we would pretend to be kittens.

On one of those hot days one of my friends started to cry. We asked her what was wrong, and she said she couldn’t play with me anymore. She said her parents told her if she played with me her skin would turn black, her hair would get fuzzy and nobody would like her anymore. I started to cry, too, because I didn’t know if that was true or not, and I felt like I had done something wrong when I knew I hadn’t. I sure had never heard of anything like that. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to make them mad. She didn’t want to turn black and have fuzzy hair, but she didn’t want to stop playing with me either. So we did what children often do–we kept playing with each other and promised not to say anything unless she really did start to turn black. Then we would have to tell. The year was 1962.

#MYBlackHistory #HerBlackStory #QueueItUp #DailyDoseComing

©2017


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#MyBlackHistory

This is Black History Month, and I’m going to tell you what events have transpired through the past 60 years to become MY black history.
These are the earliest photos of me that I’ve seen. I was about 15 months old in the upper left one. I was born into a family that knew how to love deeply and unconditionally, and still does. The society into which I was born wasn’t so accepting. I was born in 1957 in rural America. The integration of schools had already been ordered, but segregation was still alive and well. There were unspoken rules and boundaries. There were certain restaurants and stores you knew didn’t welcome your business. The owners and patrons might smile and speak to you on the street, but that congeniality disappeared if you dared to darken their doors…so you just didn’t. I wouldn’t learn about those things until I was a few years older and experienced them for myself. You see my parents, and my aunts and uncles as well, didn’t teach segregation to me, my siblings and my cousins. We were taught to treat people well, treat others the way we wanted to be treated. That was the standard we were expected to follow without fail. My early childhood was spent skipping around a huge yard that was home to cherry trees and spirea bushes, playing with beagle puppies and kittens, and singing chorus after chorus of “my Bonnie lies over the ocean”. The troubles of the world weren’t found in my yard. Life was good. ❤

#MyBlackHistory #HerBlackStory #QueueItUp #DailyDoseComing

©2017


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My DNA took me to Valley Forge…

I’ve been caught up in genealogy since 1980.  That means I’ve been looking at the same records and documents, off and on, for the past 36 years, hoping for some hidden information to come to light and waiting for new records to be released.  Along comes DNA testing for the genealogy world, and suddenly it’s a whole new ball game!

I’ve never known much about Mama’s paternal side of the family, other than her father’s name and the names of her grandparents.  Her father was John Ross Wilson, son of Benjamin Franklin Wilson and Mary Powell.  I would eventually learn from a cousin that Mary’s mother’s name was Eve.  Recently, I decided to go back to the census records and take another look at the Wilsons and Powells to see what I may have missed.  The earliest enumeration for them by name is found on the 1870 Federal Census for Saline County in Missouri.


(Image captured from ancestry.com)

I must have looked at this image 5-6 times or more over the years, but this time I see things I previously overlooked.  The first thing that strikes me is there are three surnames listed in the same dwelling — Wilson, Sennet and Powell.  My great-grandparents, Benjamin and Mary Wilson are listed in the “Color” column as “M” for mulatto.  Benjamin is the head of the household.  Next are two children, Joseph and Sarah Sennet, listed as “B” for black.  After that are entries for M.T., Virginia, Charlotte, John and Levin Powell, listed as “W” for white and Fanny Powell who is listed as “B” for black.  After I get over the shock of seeing a multi-racial melting pot in one household, I try to figure out the relationship between all these people.  Who are the Sennet children?  Why are they in the Wilson household?  What is the relationship between the Wilsons and the Powells?  Could M.T. Powell be Mary (Powell) Wilson’s father?  Is that why he, his wife and three children are living in my great-grandparents’ home?  I check the bottom of the page, and the enumerator’s notation says there are five dwellings on this page.  I count them, and there are five.  Looking further, I notice an entry in the household just above that of my great-grandparents’.  “Eve Sennet” is enumerated in the Loy household as a 45-year old black female.  Well cut off my legs and call me shorty!  Oral history is being validated by this 1870 census report.  Eve Sennet and M.T. Powell are the right ages to be the parents of Mary Powell Wilson.  That would certainly explain why she is listed as mulatto.  How can I come closer to proving this?

Along comes DNA…

About three years ago, my sister and I submitted DNA samples to AncestryDNA for strictly genealogical purposes.  Between the two of us we have over 14,400 matches, ranging from “extremely high” to “moderate”.  I needed to see if either of us shared DNA and a common ancestor with someone from the Powell lineage.  So I began to build a Powell family tree, using myself as the home person.  I worked my way back, using M.T. Powell as the father of my great-grandmother since he is the most likely candidate, and he’s living in her home.  I learned from another census report that his name is Magnus Trozl Powell.  I carefully traced the line back to Cuthbert Powell, and Ancestry calculated his relationship to me as being my 7th great-grandfather.  But I needed to backtrack a couple of generations to my 5th great-grandfather, Leven Powell.  Ancestry.com led me to an almost unbelievable number of records and hints for him.  I was blown away by the things I read about his man.  His full and correct title is Lt. Col. Leven Powell.  He was appointed lieutenant colonel in 1777 by his personal friend, General George Washington…THE George Washington, the father of our country.  He was at Valley Forge with Washington during the bitter winter of 1777 that claimed the lives of over 2,500 men.  He survived the winter, but ill health resulting from that time at Valley Forge forced him to retire from the military in 1778.

Lt. Col. Leven Powell  (Images from Google)

So am I really connected to this Powell family?

Once I had constructed the tree, I linked both my sister’s and my DNA tests to it.  Within an hour I received a notification that both of us shared DNA with individuals who were descendants of the Powell family.  Upon checking, the shared ancestors in all instances were leading back to Lt. Col. Leven Powell.  In one day I went from wondering if my great-grandmother was really a Powell to finding enough shared DNA with Powell descendants to say yes… yes she was… yes we are… yes I am.

john ross wilson

My grandfather, John Ross Wilson, son of Mary Powell Wilson, 3rd great-grandson of Lt. Col. Leven Powell

My DNA took me to Valley Forge.

©2016


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Why me?

I’m sitting here at 1:08 a.m., and the feeling has washed over me that I have a huge responsibility, a duty even, to tell the stories of my ancestors.  I find myself with tears welling in my eyes, and I wonder… why me?

©2015

The family bloodhound at work...


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#MYblackancestry

©’Glory’ was on tv tonight. I’ve seen that movie at least 5-6 times, and have been filled with emotion each time. Tonight I watched through new eyes. You see, I recently learned that my paternal 2nd great-grandfather, Aurin Miller, was a part of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry (later renamed the 79th USCT), the first regiment of black soldiers to see action in the Civil War. The 1st Kansas engaged in battle at Island Mound near Bates City, Missouri, on October 29, 1862, nearly a year before the 54th Massachussetts saw action. There was a scene in the movie where Denzel Washington’s character, ‘Tripp’, was asked by his colonel if he would do the honors of carrying the unit’s flag into battle the next day. Tripp said he wouldn’t do it. He expressed that the war would never end, that no one would win, that eventually the colonel would return to his home up north, but he had nowhere to return. That scene gave me pause. It carried me back to that time in our nation’s history when black men were willing to fight to the death for the right to be called “free”. They weren’t sure what “free” would really mean for them. Where would they go? Where would they live? How would they feed, clothe and care for their families? Would they now be treated as men instead of chattel?
The answer to those questions is best given by someone who lived during that time. My maternal great-grand uncle, Henry Clay Bruce, wrote these words in his book ‘The New Man: Twenty-Nine Years a Slave, Twenty-Nine Years a Free Man’:

“This was the condition of the Colored people at the close of the war. They were set free without a dollar, without a foot of land, and without the wherewithal to get the next meal even, and this too by a great Christian Nation, whose domain is dotted over with religious institutions and whose missionaries in heathen lands, are seeking to convert the heathen to belief in their Christian religion and their Christian morality.

These slaves had been trained to do hard manual labor from the time that they were large enough to perform it, to the end of their lives, right along, and received no education or instruction in the way of economy. They had no care as to the way they were to get the next meal, the next pair of shoes or suit of clothes. This being the duty of the master, they looked to him for these necessaries, just as a child looks to its mother or the horse to its master for its daily sustenance.

The history of this country, especially that portion of it south of Mason and Dixon’s line, shows that the labor of these people had for two hundred years made the country tenable for the white man, had cleared away the dense forests and produced crops that brought millions of money annually to that section, which not only benefitted the South, but the North as well. It does seem to me, that a Christian Nation, which had received such wealth from the labor of a subjugated people, upon setting them free would, at least, have given them a square meal. Justice seems to demand one year’s support, forty acres of land and a mule each.

Did they get that or any portion of it? Not a cent. Four million people turned loose without a dollar and told to “Root hog or die!” Now, whose duty was it to feed them? Was it the former masters’ or that of the general governments which had conquered the masters, and in order to make that victory complete freed their slaves? My opinion is that the government should have done it.

The master had been conquered, after four years’ hard fighting, and largely by the aid of the two hundred thousand Colored volunteers, mustered in the United States Army, and told to fight for the freedom of their race. The history of that conflict says they did it loyally and bravely.

General Lee had surrendered. The South had staked its all upon that contest and had been conquered and laid waste, as it were; its business gone, its crops confiscated by both armies, and its slaves set free, but it had to feed these homeless and penniless people or see them starve. No one will say the masters did not feed the freedmen until a crop was made, and, too, at a time when they had no money in cash and no credit at the North.

When we take into consideration the penniless condition of these four million people at the close of the war, and the fact that they were destitute of education and turned loose in the midst of a people educated in science, art, literature and economy, a people owning the land and chattels of every kind, with money to do the business of the country and with the experience and training of a thousand years, the fact that the freed-men did succeed under these adverse conditions in obtaining a living, and in many cases in getting little homes for themselves and families, instead of becoming a public charge, is greatly to their credit.” (pages 117-119)
I re-read the words of my great-grand uncle after watching ‘Glory’ as I said, through new eyes, and wonder what were the thoughts of my 2nd great-grandfather on the morning of October 29, 1862, at Island Mound. Rest in love, Grandpa Miller. Rest in love, Uncle Henry.

©2015

aurin muster out

Aurin Miller, my 2nd great-grandfather, mustered into the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry on September 17, 1862. (Image from kansasmemory.org)

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Aurin Miller's service card for the 79th USCT. (Image from Fold3)

Aurin Miller’s service card for the 79th USCT.
(Image from Fold3)

Inside cover of Uncle Henry's book...

Inside cover of Uncle Henry’s book…

Henry Clay Bruce, my great-grand uncle and author of 'The New Man Twenty-Nine Years a Slave, Twenty-Nine Years a Free Man'

Henry Clay Bruce, my great-grand uncle and author of ‘The New Man Twenty-Nine Years a Slave, Twenty-Nine Years a Free Man’…

penniless quote


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#MYblackancestry

I’ve been lazy.  Not really lazy, but preoccupied with so many things.  I’ve been very busy with my pursuits into genealogy, but I’ve been slacking when it comes to keeping up with my blogs about it.  It’s February aka Black History Month, and what better time to make a comeback of sorts…

This month I’m endeavoring to make a daily post on my Facebook page about one of my ancestors using the hashtag #MYblackancestry.  When February gets its turn on the calendar each year we see all the familiar facts and faces regarding Black History.  There are so many more stories that need to be told.  Each family has them.  Each family has someone who accomplished much, who made much out of very little.  The stories are there waiting to be revealed.  That is my goal for this month.

I’ve learned that my great-uncle Eugene Wilson, older brother of my maternal grandfather, John R. Wilson, served in the Spanish-American War.  He was a member of the 23rd Kansas Volunteer Infantry.  His was an African American regiment that served in Cuba from August of 1898 to March of 1899.  He was a private going in and a corporal coming out of service.  The 23rd was the only one of four Kansas units to see duty in Cuba.

©2015

Eugene Wilson 1877 ~ 1934

Eugene Wilson 1877 ~ 1934

This is the Application for Headstone as found at  Fold3.

This is the Application for Headstone as found at Fold3.

Eugene Wilson headstone

Uncle Eugene is buried at Highland Park Cemetery in Jackson County, Missouri. This image of his military headstone is found at FindAGrave.com. Photo credit to Richard Parker.