Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Death announcement for my paternal great grandmother from the local African American newspaper, the Buffalo Criterion.

      Mrs. Mary Button of 209 Walnut Street, died May 23, 1955 following about a year of illness.

       Mrs. Button was born in Macon, Ga. in 1867, the daughter of the late Acey and Henrietta Carrington.  She was married in 1888 to Henry Button and was the mother of 11 children. 

     In 1917, she and the family moved to Detroit, where she became a member of Bethel AME Church, and was ordained a deaconess in 1928 by Bishop J. A. Gregg.  She came to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Davenport in 1951 and became a devoted member of St. Paul AMEZ Church where she was a deaconess and was active until her illness in 1954.

     Funeral services were held at theWardner H. Jones funeral Home Thursday at 1 pm and the body was shipped to Detroit where services were held Saturday.

     Surviving are two daughters, Mrs. Anna Davenport, of buffalo, and Mrs. Elizabeth Bynum of Detroit; 9 grandchildren, and 18 great grandchildren.

Buffalo Criterion, 1955-05-28

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mourning my great grandmother

My paternal great grandmother, Mary Clay Button, was 80 years old when she made transition.  Growing up and  for the longest time into my adulthood, I just thought of her dying as a result of just being old.  While I have had her death certificate for a little over a year and poured over every line, I never had her cause of death deciphered.  This weekend I had that opportunity when the Buffalo Genealogical Society of the African Diaspora had a workshop on Causes of Death from Death Certificates.  When I presented my great grandmother's death certificate, I was told that she died from breast cancer that had spread throughout her body.  For some reason, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I went into mourning.

The local African American newspaper, the Buffalo Criterion, had an article on her passing with the the first paragraph stating that she was ill for a year.  --  but no mention of cancer.  No one in the family ever mentioned cancer when they spoke of her.  But that's how it was at that time  --  cancer was almost thought of as a plague and not spoken of.  Her transition year was 1955, two years after I was born so I didn't get to know her but I've been told that she loved me.  She would bounce me on her knees and had a chant, "Jump, jump, jump, jump, jump.  You ain't jumped none today."

I jump in your honor & smile.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Goin' hard -- thanks to Luckie

Never thought I'd be a blogger but thankfully my ancestors got together with the ancestors of Luckie Daniels and they all guided me to the Facebook group African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research.  There I virtually met a seriously dedicated group of genealogy researchers.  But above all I encountered Luckie, the Principal, who held all in the group to a higher standard.  We may have done research on our families with piles of books, papers, & stories to prove it, but what good will all that work do (she prodded) when only the researcher can access the information.  Luckie challenges all in the group to embrace technology in a way that others can see & access our work  --  now and for future generations.

So I'm a baby blogger & quite proud of my progress so far,    As long as I have "a reasonable portion of my health & strength", I intend to put forth my ancestors so others may know that they were here   --  by utilizing technology.  Thanks, Luckie!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

23andMe DNA composition

My "new & improved" DNA breakdown from 23andMe. 

From the time I could walk down to the library by myself, I was always finding treasures that transported me to other places and other times.  Through books, I met some fascinating people.  When I was in junior high school I read about Joseph Cinque, an African who had been taken from the area of Sierra Leone.  Cinque led a mutiny while being transported to the Americas and he was never enslaved.  The case against him for mutiny and murder actually made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  For some reason I felt I strong kinship with him and I was convinced that we were related  --  or even knew each other in a previous life.  

I tell this story because I am so happy to see the West African connection with ties to Sierra Leone.  The ancestors are calling my name.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DNA & adoption

So I mentioned in my last post that I felt a certain obligation to find the connection between my family and the DNA cousin who contacted me who is adopted & looking for his biological family.  I get to work today and there is an email on a librarian genealogy listserv where a colleague is requesting advice & information on conducting a genealogy class for adoptees.  Coincidence . . . I think not.

In a response someone suggested the book  Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill (which has great reviews  --  can't wait to read it!) and looking at blogs like Adoption and DNA
Cover Art
"Richard Hill's true and intensely personal story of how he pieced together the long-kept secret of his own origins. This highly suspenseful book is a page-turning saga of personal detective work that will appeal to anyone who loves a good mystery. But this isn't fiction. It's an engrossing account of an adoptee trying to reclaim the biological family denied him by sealed birth records. This fascinating quest, including the author's landmark use of DNA testing, takes readers on an exhilarating roller-coaster ride and concludes with a twist that rivals anything Hollywood has to offer."--back cover.

Monday, December 2, 2013

DNA cousins reaching out

It's a DNA cousin explosion!  I kind of gave up on the requests that I've sent out to DNA cousins that have no response.  Now in the space of weeks, I have four share requests  --  two from Ancestry and two from 23andMe.  Two of the requests (one from each site) have strong Caribbean roots.  I vaguely remember whispers that we have family in "the islands" on my paternal side.  Here's one message that floors me because he can trace his family from the 1830s and I'm, just up to the 1870s as far as documentation.

"We appear to be related according to our DNA results and I was curious to know the connection.
My family has been based Jamaica since the 1830s.
Do you have any clues as to our family connections?
Kind regards

I also have communication from a DNA cousin, who was put up for adoption at birth, with a very interesting story.  He's trying to find his biological connections.  Our connection seems to be maternal because his biological parents are from Ohio where I know many of my maternal family went to from Mississippi  --  but time & research will tell.  I am drawn to this request & almost feel obligated to find out if we are related so I can give him the sense of family that I always had.

At any rate, now I have to seriously step up my game to understand DNA connections.