Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Not So Wordless Wednesday: Raymond Mansfield Cully, Jr - Kindergarten Days

Adopted Maternal Ancestry

I connected to a Jackie Boyette a few years ago researching my Grand Uncles Wendell & Raymond Sr. Cully.  They were both musicians and played in various bands in Massachusetts and famous bands that traveled.  Raymond Sr. played and was friends with SydneGrant, a sax player.  Below is a photo of my cousin Raymond M. Cully, Jr., whose father played the drums.  Raymond also is a musician in his own right. I just think he is too adorable!!!  This photo was taken in the 60's I believe...oh who knows...maybe 50's...[LOL]

Raymond M. Cully, Jr.
Kindergarten Class
Age 5 1/2

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Hannah Gilliam

Adopted Maternal Ancestry

Hannah Gilliam
Rest In Jesus

This is my 2x Great Grandmother's headstone.  She carried many names throughout her life.  She was born a slave to the Singleton household in North Carolina.   Her name was Hannah D. Nelson-Singleton Gilliam.  Her" father" carried the Nelson name. [Her father was Benjamin Ellis Nelson, who was most likely not her biological father as it was told to me that she was the child of her slave owner]  Slavery is such a strange institute that truly stripped one of their exact identity. [Of course it cannot be verified unless it is traced through DNA or the Records, if any were left.  Many African American families depend on the storytelling handed down through the generations, which some may say is folklore, however, many times the information is accurate, and should be recognized and considered.] 

There is a Slave Narrative "Recollections of My Slavery Days" written by William Henry Singleton, who I believe is Hannah's brother or possibly first cousin.  He talks about the Nelson-Singleton union, however the commentators of his book did not find any documents proving that the Nelson slaves became the Singleton slaves.  The rest of the book was documented and proven to be true.  I believe what William H. Singleton wrote is completely true and it confirms my theory why Hannah carries the Nelson name.  The Nelson name is a remnant of the first slave holder within the family.  There seems to be some conflict in what I have found in research and the book itself, but I believe it shall be hashed out in time.  Hannah gained the Gilliam surname from her husband who died in 1867.  It is my belief that Daniel Gilliam, Hannah's husband was born a slave as I have never found him in any records until after slavery and he was located in Craven County, North Carolina probate records of 1867.  It is possible that he was a White man, but my theory was that he was Black.

I went to the place of where my Hannah was buried at New Hope Cemetery in Worcester, Massachusetts.  It was such a cold, windy and rainy day during my visit, that I had a difficult time finding her headstone.  Mary Depew, of Worcester, Mass fulfilled my request by taking photos of many of my ancestors that were laid to rest, in a place where they found freedom during Reconstruction.

I am so deeply moved when I look upon Hannah's headstone.  It was because of her determination and perseverance that she made it through those difficult years.  She was one of the pillars along with her sister Jane B. Collins that protected the Gilliam & Cully families and ensured that the next generations lived to tell the stories.

Hannah was a strong woman and disciplined with a heavy rod.  She raised and disciplined all of her daughter Nora Ann Cully's children, as Nora remained pregnant most of her young adult life.  One of the children you may recognize is Zara Cully Brown who played on the "Jefferson's" TV Sitcom.  This is the family line that were the first fruits out of Slavery migrating from New Bern, North Carolina to Worcester, Mass., in order to find a better life of freedom and opportunity for the next generation.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Spyers Singleton North Carolina Estate File, Part #1

Adopted Maternal Ancestry

I have been researching my Singleton Ancestry for some time.  My 2X Great Grandmother Hannah D. Nelson Singleton Gilliam had been owned by the Singleton family in Craven County, North Carolina. 

According to family oral history, Hannah was fathered by her owner Thomas Singleton and her oldest son Leander Singleton Gilliam was fathered by William G. Singleton who was Thomas' son.    So this would make William G. Singleton my 2x Great Grandfather, Thomas Singleton my 3x Great Grandfather and Spyers Singleton my 4x Great Grandfather.  I don't want to cause a ruckus, but this intermingling between master and slave was common and I have no doubt that these folks are a part of my ancestry.  My goal is to trace the Singleton's that were in Craven County, NC and learn more about the slave master & slave relationship within my family.  I hope that the white descendants and the black descendants will do DNA testing to confirm the generational relationship.

So what I do know is that the Singleton Male Ancestry is this:

Spyers Singleton
Thomas Singleton
William G. Singleton 
Leander Singleton Gilliam

Leander carried his father's surname as a middle name and his mother's husband's last name "Gilliam". Leander's step-father was born into slavery and was possibly owned by the Singleton's also or by a nearby plantation.  I am not clear if Hannah had any children by Daniel Gilliam, however, she did have quite a few.  I understand dates can be off, however based on what I know so far, Daniel died in 1867 and Hannah's other children were born in the 1870's.  More research will be done to figure this one out.  The Singleton surname was carried down to each male in the Leander S. Gilliam household.  Leander's sons were William Singleton Gilliam, Eugene Singleton Gilliam and Lawrence Singleton Gilliam.

Here is a photo of my Great Grand Uncle Leander S. Gilliam, a Black man, who passed as a White man.  He was born into slavery in 1860, of which he probably did not have any remembrance.  His descendants recently acquired new knowledge of their African Ancestry.  Leander's mother, Hannah was also fair in complexion.  However, Hannah never attempted to pass.

Leander Singleton Gilliam

Spyers Singleton was a Legislator and businessman of Craven County, North Carolina and the son of Samuel and Hannah Singleton.  Spyers was born in 1745 and died in 1814.  He was one of the main families to settle and develop New Bern, NC. 

According to the 1800 U.S. Census, there were 24 Slaves in the Spyers Singleton Household. 

I have decided to begin my research of the Singleton Ancestry by transcribing Spyers Singleton's Estate Records.  

Courtesy of FamilySearch
North Carolina, Estate Files 1663-1979 S, Singleton Spyers (1815)

Inventory of the personal property of Spyers Singleton deceased which came to the hands of Thomas S. Singleton his executor.

Cash eighteen dollars & twenty nine cents

Legacy to Thomas S. Singleton
One Negro man named Ned about 40 years of age
One Negro Woman named Lidia about 33 years of age
One Negro boy named Caesar about 14 years of age
One Negro girl named Mary about 2 years of age
Legacy to the Heirs of Rich B. Singleton
One Negro man named Frank about 45 years of age
One Negro woman named Violet about 40 years of age
One Negro boy named Alfred about 12 years of age
One Negro girl named Phoebe about 2 years of age
Legacy to Mrs. Ann Hawks
One Negro man named Scipio about 45 years of age
Legacy to Mrs. Elizabeth Smith
One Negro man named Jacob about 26 years of age
One Negro boy named Edmond about 10 years of age
Legacy to Mrs. Eleanor Dickson
One Negro man named Harry about 27 years of age
Legacy to Mrs. Martha Singleton
One Negro man named David about 29 years of age
One Negro woman named Dinah about 33 years of age
One Negro girl named Eliza about 16 years of age
One Negro boy named Bill about 2 years of age
One Negro girl named Mary about 1 years of age
Legacy to Spyers S. Smith
One Negro girl named Rachel about 6 years of age
Legacy to Eliza S. Smith
One Negro girl named Penny about 4 years of age
Legacy to Evelina  Hawks
One Negro boy named Daniel about 10 years of age
Legacy to Elizabeth S. Dickson
One Negro Girl names Phillis about 6 years of age
To Be supported out of the Estate
One Negro man named Tobe about 70 years of age
Legacy to Ann Hawks, Elizabeth Smith, Eleanor Dickson

Seven yards of broad cloth

The impact of seeing my ancestors as property can be maddening and sad all at the same time.  It would be at least 50 years before my ancestors would see freedom.  Most would be old in age and many would see the grave before they could experience freedom.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Final Day At The Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute Day #3

My final day at the Institute was memorable.  But before I go any further, let me tell you about a few of the highlights that also made my three days at the MAAGI grand.

I was very happy that I met many new faces.  I also met individuals that I had gotten to know through geneabloggers.

1. Thomas MacEntee, the founder of

2. Angela Y Walton-Raji

3. Bernice Bennett

4. Lisa B. Lee

I took pictures with these three ladies, however...I don't have a copy!!!

So!!!! If any of you see this page...please please please forward our keepsake photos. Thank You!!!

The other highlights were eating Food!!!

We went to Sweetie Pie's Kitchen, White Castle and Riggazi's Italian Restaurant.  All I can say is "Yum!"

So our final class consisted of "The Professional Genealogy Community: Genealogy Proof Standard to Social Media" by Angela Walton-Raji; Participant Response & Sharing Your Plans for the Next Level.  For the most part the last day was for the participants to decide on one thing they were going to do new and be ready to share what we have done when we come back for MAAGI 2014.

I found some time to steal away and visit one of the Gems of the Harris-Stowe State University.  I happened to discover within the Old Vashon building that there was a Jazz Institute!  I was thrilled as I love Jazz and was very interested in their archives as I am doing research on ancestors that were entertainers.

One of the first persons I met at the Institute was the Curator, Ronn Nichols.  He was sitting at his desk when I arrived.  He was very friendly and was glad that someone came in to see what holdings were in the archives.  He allowed me full access around the Art Gallery and Archives and was willing to help me find what I needed.  Of course, I only had about 45 minutes to visit, but I reassured him that I would be back within a few months and would spend more time researching.

There were listening rooms.  One could pick out an album and enjoy the various Jazz Artists of the 40's, 50's and beyond.

If you have a little time...check out my slide show.  If you need it to go a little faster, just click the arrow so it will speed up its tempo.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

There were other things I did such as being toured around by Sarah Cato.  She knew the City of St. Louis like the back of her hand.  I am hoping that she gets her tourist business up and running as I would take a tour with her any day!!!

So this is all folks...Thank you for following me on this Journey at the MAAGI!  Hope to see you next year in 2014.

The Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute Day #2, Part #2

I could not help myself...I kept finding myself drawn away from class and out into the University Campus exploring.  During my lunch break, I walked into the main school building and around the perimeter of the campus to get an idea of what the grounds may have looked like in the 1940's.  Of course in the 40's, there were no other buildings except the large one and possibly another one that would have been considered a Recreation Center.

As I stated in an earlier post, my father Walter J. Porter and my dad's friend Henry Hodge, both attended Vashon in the middle half of the 1940's.  I took every opportunity I had to imagine while exploring the campus, what it must have been like when my kin folks had attended.

I discovered the National Negro Baseball Field of St. Louis.  This field was the 1st original field that the St. Louis Stars played on.  They played in the years 1920-1931.  As I looked upon the field, I wondered if the youth of Vashon High School may have played on this field.

Please check out the photos that I put in a slide show.  Take your time and enjoy. 

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Now don't think for one minute that this is all I had discovered while I was on the Harris-Stowe State University Campus, because I found something that was a gem within the school....Till next time.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute 2013 Day #2

After a good nights sleep, and a hearty breakfast in the school cafeteria, I was ready for day #2 of MAAGI. There were four different Tracks offered, and I was taking Track #4.  There was such a wealth of information given at all the other Tracks that I felt compelled to be a part of the other workshops.  However, I made the commitment to follow the "Genealogy As A Profession" track all the way through.

The classes offered on Day two were, Using Blogtalkradio as A Platform to Promote Your Genealogy Business; taught by non other than Bernice Alexander Bennett, the Host of Research at the National Archives and Beyond!  

Bernice Bennett
Lecturing on BlockTalkRadio

Bernice charged our group to produce a blocktalkradio program.  We all had a part in planning and producing the program, even though it was clear who our leaders were. This course was to challenge us in our Genealogy Profession by giving us exposure to what we are doing in the field.  What I took away from this class, is that we all have a unique niche and that we can share it with a public audience.  We don't have to be concerned that we are competing with anyone because we have our own way of presenting.

Angela Y Walton-Raji then did a presentation on Blogging.  I had a preconceived notion that this was going to be a class of review, as I have been blogging for quite awhile...However!  Here I am sitting in class watching Ms.Walton-Raji in motion!  It clicked!  She was teaching me how to do a Professional Presentation to a group of people that wanted to learn about "Telling their Family Story!"  I have a Presentation on Blogging, and I have presented a few times, however, I realized that I needed to make much improvements for it to be professional.  I enjoyed the way Angela incorporated Stories into her presentation.  It was done beautifully!

Angela Y. Walton-Raji
So the key element of this class was not only to introduce one to blogging but to Write Your Story!  Write Your Family Story!  Whatever you do, Tell The Journey of the Story!  Sometimes individuals will do so much research and then fail to tell the story...It is important that one tells it so it will be interesting for the next generation.  Don't let your story get lost in documents.

The other classes were Memberships in Benevolent Societies, Resources for Beginners & Professionals taught by Angela Y. Walton-Raji and Creating the African American Genealogy Curriculum by Dr. Shelley Murphy.

Both of these classes opened up new ways to research and think about taking one's profession to the next level by teaching.

I enjoyed some of the tag teaching that occurred in the classes.  Dr. Murphy's teaching style was supreme and she came with a wealth of information.  

Dr. Shelley Murphy

Angela Walton-Raji

Dr. Shelley Murphy
Writing Curriculum

Now you know I can't let you go without sharing some of my daily exploratory adventures around me on my next post.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute 2013: Day #1 Part #2

Harris Stowe State University
Old Campus of Vashon H.S.
View from my dorm

I started my first day off at the MAAGI with excitement and anticipation to learn some new things about "Being" a professional genealogist.  I have been researching and writing my family history on my blogs for at least three (3) years, and I have been following others that are of all levels in the field.  It is my goal to work full time in the field of genealogy, so I began by taking the genealogy certificate program in Genealogy Research at Boston University.  The courses were great, however, I felt I needed to do something more to ensure my success in Genealogy.  I knew MAAGI would take me to the next level in the areas of my specialty.

Being on campus, I knew I would learn some great things, but I also knew I would be fighting the urge to run out of the classroom to explore the great outdoors of St. Louis, and the campus of which we were learning on.  All I can do is laugh because I felt like I was in a big toy store trying out all the

The first day greeted us with classes such as Planning and Preparation & Introduction from Beginners to Professional, taught by Angela Y. Walton-Raji; Credentials-Is Certification Required with Lisa B. Lee; Thinking Outside of the Genealogy Box with Drusilla Pair; and Documenting the Genealogy Process with Nicka Sewell Smith.  All of the classes were informative, and I couldn't help but fill my notebook up with lots of helpful notes.  

Angela Y Walton-Raji 

Lisa B. Lee

Drusilla Pair

Now, I didn't get a photo of Nicka Sewell Smith, but I discovered that she used to live next to one of my relatives in East Carroll, Louisiana and has contact information for me.  I had been following Nicka through her blog  It was great to meet her in person.  So far my experience was excellent by learning new skills and allowing the ancestors to bring information to me.

Some of my Classmates and fellow genealogists

Day two was just as more to come.  If you didn't catch my first post go here.  MAAGI Day #1 Part #1

Not So Wordless Wednesday: Henry Hodge at Vashon High School (Track)

Adopted Paternal Ancestry

So, I have been back from The Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute [MAAGI] in St. Louis since Friday, July 12, 2013.  I had to really catch up on my rest and getting my life at home normalized.  I always have such proactive ideas and I always mean well, however life gets ahead of me, and I sometimes do not follow through.  

I am currently doing a few posts of my experiences at the MAAGI.  For me, it was not only informative and life changing for my career as a professional genealogist, but having the opportunity to be in St. Louis, MO was very important to me and my research of my father.  Even though St. Louis is very different than when my father lived there, it made me feel closer to him.  Not only that, but my father's best friend from St. Louis attended the same High School as my father did.  I take care of my Uncle Henry on a daily basis, and this has opened up some communication between us.

If you are following my posts of my MAAGI experience, then you would know that the "Institute" was held on the campus of Harris-Stowe State University, which is the old campus of Vashon H.S.  I make mention of this because my father and my Uncle Henry both attended Vashon and I have photos of their time on this campus.  They both left St. Louis in the Late 40's and joined the military, so a great part of their experiences and life in St. Louis was in their childhood on this very campus. 

So as I was going through some photos, I came across one of my Uncle Henry Hodge on the track field jumping hurdles with the old Vashon H.S. in the background.  So this is my highlight for the day.

Henry Hodge at Vashon H.S.
circa 1947
 It was really difficult to find the exact spot that this photo was taken, however, if you look at the photo below, you can tell that it has the similar style.  Vashon was a large building and around the back, which faces out to the street, is where many of the sports were played.  When I have an opportunity, I will try to identify the exact location.

Building of old Vashon
Currently Harris-Stowe State University
(The back)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI) Day #1 Part 1

I took the red-eye Monday, July 8, 2013, from San Diego to St. Louis so that I could attend the Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI).  My purpose for attending the First Inaugural MAAGI  was to learn from some of the top genealogists that I have gotten to know through Geneabloggers & various social media networks. I want to take my genealogy career and business to the next level. The icing on the cake was that I would have a chance to explore some of the city where my father was raised.

I arrived at 5:30am at the Harris-Stowe State University Campus where MAAGI was being held.  Some of the attendees were staying at a local hotel, while others decided to stay on campus in the dorms.  I am one who decided to stay on campus. 

My arrival into St. Louis was an adventure in itself.  The shuttle dropped me off on the side of William Gillespie Hall.  I wasn't sure if the building was the dorm I was staying in and was unsure if the building was open.  I contemplated what to do next. 

I looked to my right at the end of the campus and saw a huge building that I was drawn to.  It had the name of the University on it.  I felt moved to take pictures of the building before I went to Gillespie Hall to see if I could check in.  As I took the pictures, I said to myself, "I hope that I will have the opportunity to visit my fathers Alma Mater, Vashon H.S." 

I put my camera away, and walked back to the Gillespie building to check in.

I was able to get my key to the dorm, and put my things in my private room.  I freshened up as my 1st day of workshops were going to begin within a few hours.  The ladies that share the living space with me were very cordial, and then we went to breakfast.

When I arrived to the Institute, I was greeted by Charles Brown, who resides in St. Louis, and is the coordinator of MAAGI.  We talked a few times prior to my arrival into St. Louis.  I had shared with him that my father was a Vashon Alumni and I was interested in seeing the old campus.  After Charles gave me my registration badge, he asked me to follow him so he could show me something.  Off I went to the window and he pointed to the building I had felt the urge to photograph.  He said, "That building is the Old Vashon H.S."

My mouth dropped!  I was shocked at what I heard and asked him to repeat what he said.

"That is the Old Vashon H.S."

I had known at that moment I had had a spiritual encounter with my ancestor.  I knew that my father wanted me to be here at Harris-Stowe State University so I could see where he attended H.S. 

These are a few of the initial photos I took of the "Old" Vashon H.S. [I have taken more photos on the 2nd day and will show at a later post.]


What a  great beginning of the MAAGI.  More to come.