Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Happy 85th birthday to Mommy: A Throwback Pictorial

My mommy, Evelyn Orthelia Brown Williams, is the daughter of Noah Brown and Lucy Washington of Mississippi.  She was born November 30, 1931 in Buffalo NY, the youngest of four siblings, that include Verlie, Arthur, and Vivian.

Although a city girl (born & bred) her favorite music is Country (1950s & 1960s) and her favorite hobby is gardening.  One of her special memories is visiting cousins in Ashtabula OH (which is basically the country).  I guess Mississippi roots run deep.

This is the earliest picture I have of Mommy.
Mommy at age 12 with her sister, Vivian Elizabeth Brown, age 14
So I asked why the long faces --  this was an Easter picture and they didn't like their outfits.

Fosdick Masten High School social club, circa late 1940s
Mommy seated, 2nd from left. Friends throughout adulthood (seated): Julia Bolden (left of Mommy), Bronite Blenman (right of Mommy) and Harriett Carlise (far right)

From a Buffalo NY newspaper when Mommy was part of a debutante ceremony.
This article is yellowing and unfortunately I don't know the newspaper.

With brother, Arthur Brown

Wedding picture, September 26, 1952.
She and Willis B. Williams were married in the home of her mother, Lucy Washington Brown

25th birthday party, 1956
Mommy told me that Daddy gave her this 25th birthday party

Birthday dinner at local restaurant, 1980s
Left to right: Daughter Sandra Ann,; Granddaughter Elizabeth Orthelia; Evelyn Orthelia; Husband Willis Burkette; Son Richard Lamonte (Flick)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

When a name is not THE name

I don't remember ever meeting my Uncle Flipper. He was one of my Dad's older brothers.  He was born 6 Jun 1922 and made transition on  39 Sep 1969 when I was sixteen.  His first appearance on a census record was the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. When the 1940 census records were released by the US National Archives on April 2, 2012, I was happy to see 17-year-old Flipper Burkette still in the household with his mother, Florence Burkette and his six siblings -- Joseph, Louis, Janice, Christine, Willis, Joan.

His given name is twice listed on the census records as Flipper.  In addition to "knowing" his name, there was a picture of Uncle Flipper in uniform among family pictures displayed throughout my parents home.

So finding Uncle Flipper in military records should be a breeze  --  I had his name, date of birth, place of birth, and where he lived.

Nothing in family history research is a breeze and I became a crazed woman trying to find his military records -- but at the time I was a rookie researcher. I found no Flipper Burkette or any variant of that name listed in military records.

When I asked my Dad, if Uncle Flipper had another name, he thought for awhile and said no, his name was Flipper.  Maybe that was his middle name, I prodded.  No . . .

When my Dad made transition in 2011, I came upon the only other picture I have seen of Uncle Flipper. This one was taken in France and he signed it "Flipper".  By now I was more knowledgeable about searching for ancestors and I also knew that the name a person was known by was not necessarily their given name.
Inscription on front: "Forever Yours . . . Flipper"
(on back) Marseille, France -- March 10, 1945

So I began searching for his military records again, eliminating the given name field.  I searched the surname Burkette and Burkett (which is listed both ways in the census) serving in the Army during World War II.  Lo and behold! There was Alexander Burkette with the same birth date listed in the census, from Detroit Michigan.

Well with the possibility of the right name I did find reference to Uncle Flipper's service records.  He served in the U.S. Army during World War II from 16 Jun 1943 to 4 Feb 1946  -  the dates coincide to the date on his picture. Studying the picture again, there IT was in the inscription: "Forever Yours Al (Flipper)". " Al" wasn't an abbreviation for Always, it was an abbreviation for Alexander!

With his correct name, I have been able to find his marriage record to Carrie Ward on 13 Oct 1942 in Detroit, Michigan. I also found his death record in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010 as well as the U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014.

Lesson learned:  When a name is not the name, 

  • Question
  • Don't overlook clues
  • Use a variety of search techniques

Friday, November 18, 2016

It's My Turn, Presenting a Genealogy Webinar

On April 21, 2016 I presented my first genealogy webinar --  an introductory session on family history research as part of a webinar series sponsored by the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS).  I've attended in plenty of genealogy webinars but being on the other side and presenting had me a tad anxious. However once I got into my presentation, time seemed to fly!

While the registration cut-off for the webinar was 50 people, 53 attended. I thoroughly enjoyed both the preparation and presentation. Preparing for this workshop forced me to look at my research in a critical way. It also challenged me to take a hard look at what I knew about genealogy research.

I stressed starting with self, speaking to elders, DOCUMENTATION, and taking it one step at a time. It seems that the webinar sparked interest for some and re-awakened interest for others -- and I've been asked to do a workshop at the NABS Festival and Conference in Philadelphia in November.   YAAAY!

Comments (emails sent directly to me)

"BRAVO! You delivered a stellar presentation tonight. It was simple, clear, and chock full o' goodies. I learned a lot! Thank you!"  -ka*:x lovestruck

"Thank you! Very good information to get a novice started.  I really appreciated the visuals.  
Hats off to the Education Committee, Sister Sandra, Tahira and the NABS Board that just keeps moving us higher and higher."

Thanks NABS… Thanks Sandra Williams Bush!  Just got the results back 2 days ago from my DNA sample from…  This was very timely :-)"

Thank you for providing this excellent webinar!

Survey for Discovering Your Ancestors (anonymous survey to webinar Organizer)
Presenter: Sandra Williams Bush
Please share comments on the effectiveness of Presenter, Sandra Williams Bush.

Excellent! Sandra spoke slowly and clearly and gave good information. I appreciated the resources she gave.


Stellar presentation….clear….organized…..interesting….
I cannot begin to express how well Sandra moved this discussion along with professionalism and concise, clear explanations of every aspect of the material she shared. The flow was just perfect so that it was easy to digest all that was imparted. She punctuated her information with in depth explanations and rich resources. Interest was maintained throughout and the topic was thoroughly covered. One is ready to begin!!!