"Ancestors never die until there is no one to call their names." ~ An African Proverb

Latest

Welcome to RootStories!!

Laura Ann Ware Neal

In anticipation of the AAGSAR #BLOGFEST 2014 I wanted to reintroduce my family history blog and welcome any new readers who love family history or genealogy. I dedicated this to all of my African American ancestors and family who have guided me through my life journey. I was inspired to become a genealogist after seeing the picture on the left of my second great-grandmother Laura. It’s the oldest picture I have of any family member on either side of my family. My grandfather had this picture hanging on his bedroom wall for as long as I could remember. She has the same eyes as my grandfather, and I would stare into them trying to figure out what she was thinking when this picture was taken. There is no identifying information on the photo, and I could certainly try to date when it was taken by her clothing. As I got older, I felt compelled to find out more about her, her family, and everything in between.

Laura Ann Ware was born around September 1853 in Madison County, Georgia. The state of Georgia did not maintain vital records until after 1919, so I had to confirm an approximate date of birth from census, marriage, and death records.

In the 1870 census Laura would have been at least 17 years old. The only federal census I could find that showed her living in Madison County lists her in the household of Jeremiah and Martha Deadwyler. All of the children have the last name of Deadwyler, although I have no documents that support that Laura ever used that name. The date of the census is August 4th, 1870, so Laura would have still been single.

On December 4th, 1870, Laura was married to Asbury Neal in Madison County, Georgia. On this record Laura’s maiden name is shown as Ware.

In 1880, the census shows the Neal household still living in Madison County. Asbury and Laura Neal are living with their children Martha (8), Arthur (6), William (4) and Gabriel (2).

The 1900 census lists the Neal household in Banks County, Georgia. I believe the boundary lines for the county changed and that the family still lived in the same place as in 1880. Asbury and Laura are now the parents of 11 children: Willie (23), Mary (18), Francis (16), Savanah (13), Samuel (11), Roy (8), Lonnie (5), Charlie (2), and Gabriel (21). I am still curious why Gabriel was listed at the bottom of the list when the rest of the children are in age order. It suggests he is a step son or son-in-law. When I follow Gabriel to his death in Ohio in 1946 his father is listed as Asbury, but his mother is “unknown”. This also suggests that Laura was not his biological mother. Martha Deadwyler is also living in the household listed as mother-in-law.

1910 is the last census Laura is listed in. She and Asbury are in the household along with Roy (18), Lonnie (15), Charles (13), and Martha Ware the mother-in-law. I thought it was interesting that Martha is now using the Ware surname. She is widowed, so perhaps she is using her maiden name as it is shown on Laura’s death certificate.

Laura passed on October 5th, 1922 from uremia poisoning. She was buried in Hurricane Grove cemetery, and her father Russ White is named as the undertaker. Her spirit lives on in all of her descendants, and I am proud to have a photo reminder of the strength and bravery that she must have had.

New Kids On The Blog

It’s that time when everyone is focused on making resolutions to make themselves better for the new year. I decided long ago not to make resolutions, but rather set attainable goals to accomplish throughout the year.

While reflecting on my research last year I noticed that I was making some progress, but I had no clear focus. I was relying on my ancestors to guide me and help me discover what they wanted me to see, when they wanted me to find it. However, I lost the “drive” to follow those clues and I was struggling for inspiration. I gave up writing and attending webinars. I even stopped attending my local genealogy group’s meetings. I knew that if I wanted to continue to break down brick walls I was going to need to find something or someone to give me that extra push.

Almost like clockwork, my ancestors seemed to be screaming at me to keep going. I happened to click on a random email that told of an African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research Group (AAGSAR) that would be having a blogging event in January. When I found their Facebook group I was so excited that I dove in and started reading all of their archives. Luckie Daniels had assembled people like me that understood the power of researching together and sharing with each other.

Now, I have a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm to carry into 2014. One of the most important goals that I set was to continue my collaboration with living descendants I found in my research. I cannot put into words how satisfying it was to find and correspond with cousins that I hope to meet in person one day. They help me understand the individuals that were my ancestors, and even without any existing photographs I can see them clearly. I need to fill out these profiles completely and remember that they are more than just data from records. I am more than confident that my new family at the AAGSAR will help keep me on that path and I hope that more people will catch that fever!

Follow our journey at New Kids On The Blog.

Tin Can Sailors

The name “Tin can sailor” is a term used to refer to sailors serving on Navy destroyers. I had never heard of the term until recently, while researching my 2nd cousin Melvin Holbert, I discovered that he was on the USS Shields (DD-596) as a stewardsman from 1954-56.

DD596-1951

Between 18 July 1954 and 30 November 1963, Shields was deployed to WESTPAC seven times. When not assigned to the western Pacific, she engaged in normal destroyer activities out of her home port, San Diego. One of the highlights of this decade of Shields’ career was her participation in the commemoration of the triumphant return of Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” to San Francisco. Another important occasion was the award of the Battle Efficiency “E” for overall combat readiness in August 1960 (http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s12/shields.htm).

Aside from being in a cramped and uncomfortable place in every day there were other health risks associated with serving on destroyers.

    Asbestos Risk on the USS Shields (DD-596)

Because asbestos is essentially fireproof, it became the primary means of fireproofing seafaring vessels beginning in the 1930s. Naval vessels use many pieces of equipment that generate high amounts of thermal energy, such as turbines and pumps. The Navy saw that asbestos could be used in a variety of ways throughout its fleet, particularly as thermal insulation, and continued to use it up to the 1970s.

Sailors on Shields that were primarily employed in repair or maintenance duties generally had the most severe asbestos exposure. The risk was also greater for sailors working in engineering sections and boiler rooms. No member of the crew was completely safe from exposure, as the mineral was also used wrap the vessel’s steam pipes and to pack pumps and valves.

Asbestos material causes mesothelioma by destroying a thin membrane called the mesothelium when it is breathed in. Because exposure to asbestos is the only known cause this cancer, there are usually legal options for Navy veterans suffering from mesothelioma.

Read more: http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-exposure/jobsites/ships/destroyers/uss-shields-dd-596.htm#ixzz2ooV0Gbjh

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-596.
http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd596txt.htm) Retrieved 26 January 2011.

NavSource Naval History. USS Shields (DD-596).
http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/596.htm) Retrieved 26 January 2011.

The Book of Me

One of the first tasks of a genealogist is to write their life story. I never realized the importance until I compared it with the amount of information I wish I had about my ancestors. I have decided to include a project called “The Book of Me” on my blog to discover more about myself, and perhaps help me become a better interviewer and family historian in the process. The project will span over the course of about a year with a series of weekly prompts that I will provide answers to in the “About Me” section. I hope that I can inspire others to follow me on what I believe will be a fascinating journey.

Happy Birthday, Dad!!

Birth: Aug. 15, 1951
Death: Jan. 11, 2010

Inscription:
A2C – US Air Force

Burial:
Fort Logan National Cemetery
Denver
Denver County
Colorado, USA
Plot: Section 44, Site 170

Edit Virtual Cemetery info [?]

Created by: S. McCoskey
Record added: Jan 30, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 47322721
Richard Holbert headstone

Special Honor on Memorial Day- Mozell Aldridge

9th Infantry Regiment Coat of Arms

9th Infantry Regiment Coat of Arms

Remembering my cousin, Mozell Aldridge, from my paternal line who served in WWII and again in the Korean War where he sustained serious injuries:
Mozell Aldridge, Rank=CPL Unit=9th
Inf Reg Division=2nd Inf Div Type of Unit= Inf Regt
Place of Casualty=North Korea Date of Casualty= 06 02 1951
Type of Casualty=Evacuated SWA/Seriously wounded in action by missile.
Taking up the offensive in a two-prong attack in February 1951, the Division repulsed a powerful Chinese counter offensive in the epic battles of Chip-yong-ni and Wonju. The United Nations front was saved and the general offensive continued. Again in April and May 1951, the 2nd Infantry Division was instrumental in smashing the Communists’ spring offensive. For its part in these actions the 2nd Infantry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. What followed were alternating periods of combat and rest, with the Division participating in the battles Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak Ridge, the outposts, and Old Baldy.

Brick Wall

Posted September 3, 2009
The past few months have been very frustrating for me. I seem to have hit every brick wall there is as far as my family is concerned. I thought about trying to research one of the other lines of the family, but I have limited information on the Allens or Baxters. Maybe I will try to contact the Pattersons and see if they have any info to share. I have not heard back from any of the mailers I sent to possible Neal relatives in Ohio. My fingers are still crossed!

Update!

Posted May 21, 2009
I haven’t had time to post a lot lately, but here’s an update on where I’m at. I decided to try to contact possible living relatives. I’ve been using sites like Zabasearch and Intelius and they have really been helpful. Unfortunately, you do have to pay do read the entire record, so I’ve been using the relatives listed to try to match them up. I still need to find some sort of confirmation of my grandfather’s businesses in Bronzeville. He owned a record store and a dry cleaners. I can’t find any official records and I was told that I should try City Hall, but those records aren’t organized at all. My hope right now is that someone from my contact list in Ohio writes me back. My fingers are crossed!

First Post

Posted December 17, 2008
I try to do some research on my family everyday and I find something new everytime I look. I would like to have a daily post just to remind myself, if noone else, what I have accomplished so far and what I have to look forward to. This way I have a diary that I can refer to when I feel like I’m getting nowhere! I know many genealogists can relate to that! When I first started I was using a free trial to Ancestry.com and I had no idea where to start. I put in my last name and found nothing. Then…bingo! I realized that my grandfather’s name was misspelled in the 1930 census and the rest is history!