"In this great future you can't forget your past" ~No Woman, No Cry, Bob Marley

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Leva Jane

“Are you related to Leva/Levy Jane who married a Nicholas (Carter?) I just found a Record [sic] for her divorce from her first husband!” This was a message that was patiently waiting for on Friday, 22 November 2013 in my Face Book “in-box”; it was from a wonderful research friend/mentor in Illinois.

Okay, Leva/Levy/Levia/Alevia/Lena Jane CLARK was my third great grandmother on my maternal grandfather’s side. The last time I’d done anything with Leva was just over three years ago (three years and 16 days ago to be exact), when I compiled some information I had about her to share with a cousin I’d met at a genealogy conference. Why? Well, to be honest, I felt a little intimidated by the very common surname, and what I thought was not enough information to grab ahold of anything certain with which to move forward. Despite this, over the past couple of years, I would wonder how I could go about finding and figuring out what I need to find and figure out. I was unable to travel to Illinois, where most of the events for Leva took place, at least the ones on which I needed information, and to that point, I’d exhausted what was online for her. I did with Leva as I’ve done with some other Ancestors—set them aside, and revisit them from time to time; only with Leva, I hadn’t revisited with her as often as some others. Well, I must say that there is some nudging, and it is time.
The friend who sent the message was doing some work for an on-going project of his involving African-heritage residents of Braidwood, Will County, Illinois. While going through documents, the name of my Ancestor stood out, in large part because of her connection with my DONALDSON family and her marriages to miners. I enthusiastically let him know that yes, yes Leva was indeed one of my people and shared in his excitement at finding the divorce record—now I’d have a first name for this first of three husbands, finally! Now, I knew that the marriage ended through divorce, not death; what else would I learn? Well, this genealogy blessing emailed me, as he called it, “the good stuff” and put the paper copies in the mail. Oh was the “good stuff” good!! Okay, Leva’s first husband was one Taylor BURCH—and according to the paperwork, and the witnesses (no names of witnesses provided—shucky darn!) who testified on Leva’s behalf—he was an abusive individual who had deserted his wife and was unfit to be a parent and have any part of the child’s upbringing or education---Whoa nelly, the child? Yes, a child, and the child, whom I’d not known about before, was named in the paperwork—Antwoine—wow!! Okay, so I am reveling in this new bit of information, and trying to figure out what happened to this child because this child does not appear in the 1880 census with Leva and her second husband, Shelton JONES and their daughter, Louisa. I combed as many online databases as possible searching for any death information, nothing surfaced, so I am guessing I really need to try to get to Illinois this summer. As I am taking all of this in, I get another message from my friend, who shared that among the birth certificates he has copied so far was one for baby Antowine, daughter of Leva and her first husband; he emailed it to me. Oh. My. Gosh!! Okay, time to share what I know of Leva.

According to two of Leva’s marriage records, and the birth certificate of her daughter, Antowine, Leva was born in Manchester, Clay County, Kentucky about 1857, though her ages in census enumerations place the year of birth at various other years. According to these documents, and information provided by her third husband for her death certificate, her father was George CLARK and her mother was Nancy CLARK (unsure if Clark was also her maiden surname as well as her married name).

Leva married three times. First to Taylor William or William Taylor (the divorce record has his name as Taylor, the baby’s birth certificate as William) BURCH/BIRCH. The date and location is unknown, but the divorce was finalized on 13 January 1879 in Will County, Illinois. Her second marriage was to Shelton JONES of Charlottesville, Virginia; the marriage occurred on 27 February 1879 (Yep, you read that correctly, she married him a month and 14 days after her divorce from Taylor/William) and took place in Will County, Illinois. I am not certain if this marriage ended in divorce or with the passing of Shelton, however, what I do know is that by 1883, she was married to Carter NICHOLAS of Saltsville, Virginia. This third marriage took place in Joliet, Will County, Illinois on 18 July 1883.

Marriage records for Leva Jane's second and third marriages--received courtesy of T. Pinnick


According to the 1900 census (Leva and family was living in Roslyn, Kittitas County, Washington at the time), Leva had given birth to ten children, of which, six were living. Who were the other four children? Well, the divorce record accounted for one of those four. The six living were:
Louisa, born in May of 1879 (she was raised as a Nicholas, however, she was the daughter of Shelton Jones and she was my second great grandmother), Bertie, born March of 1886, Nettie,  born in March of 1888; Mary born in June of 1894; Stella born in March of 1897, and Albert born in June of 1899 [all birth months and years according to information listed in the census enumeration]. Okay, Antowine BURCH was born in May of 1878, according to her birth certificate. I am curious about the other children—In looking at the birth years of Leva’s children, I am guessing that at least one child was born between Louisa and Bertie. I am also wondering if one or two of the children were born between Nettie and Mary. I shall, I hope, find out.
Birth certificate for Antowine BIRCH/BURCH
Received courtesy of T. Pinnick

According to the Washington State Death Certificates housed both on FamilySearch.org, and through the Washington State Digital Archives, Leva transitioned from this life to the next on 12 October 1922 at the age of 65 in Roslyn, Kittitas County, Washington. I still have to order this record.

Ah, as is one of the things I love about genealogy and family history, every answer tends to bring with it at least three questions, and it seems, Leva Jane is ready for some of her questions to be answered, and I, I am ready to learn.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Living and Still Going--This is Why I Search

“We don’t see the same history….Our history is not dead facts in a book. Our history is alive and still going on. It’s in our songs and stories and the roots of every tree.” ~Grampa Sky

—From The Warriors, page 75 (by Joseph Bruchac)

As a Mom, reading tutor, after school class instructor, and classroom volunteer, I have had the pleasure of reading a number of books, over the years that were written for school-aged youth. The Warriors was one such book; it was one I read a couple of weeks ago to help a teacher decide if it should join the list of read aloud books for his classroom [not that it matters here, but yes, it would be a wonderful add to the list, as would a couple of Bruchac’s other titles]. Little did I know that it also held something for me, a beautiful gift in the form of the above quote, which holds in it a very rich trueness.
The quote comes from a passage in which Jake, a young boy of Native heritage (Iroquois Nation if memory serves), is sitting in his history class. As he is listening to his teacher, his mind wanders a bit, and he remembers what his Grampa Sky told him about how his people view history. When I read the quote, it nearly leaped off the page at me. It resonated immediately, deeply—it struck a beautiful and harmonious cord in the process. A number of thoughts crossed my mind about the significance and richness of this quote, including, “YES!! This is why, in large part, I research and try to share”. I was gifted the history bug by my Mother, who caught it from her father; I love learning about the history not just of my family and the times in which they lived, but of so many others and places. When I am learning about the Ancestors, it is literally something I can feel inside; I can feel a sense of excitement, joy and pride that seems to bubble up and over—it is certainly not a dead feeling, it is very much alive. I feel connected, in such a profound way, not only to those who have gone before, but also to things in a larger sense. Truthfully, there simply aren’t words to express exactly what it means or feels like.
As we learn more about from whence we came/come, cherish, respect, and honor those roots that so firmly hold our tree strong—those shoulders upholding the generations we continue to keep our history alive and keep it on going. As long as we tell their stories and share them with each other (we all hold differing pieces of the same puzzle), as long as we sing the little songs they sang at bedtime, bath time, or times of joy or sorrow; as long as we do these types of things and more, we continue to keep the history living, growing, thriving.
This, this is why I research and seek to know—why I seek to help keep the memory and works of the Ancestors alive—because as Grampa Sky said, “Our history is alive and still going on.”  Is it all a proverbial bowl of peaches and cream, or “hunky-dory”? Why no, no it is not, but it is all part of who we are. Our Ancestors lived, laughed, loved, cried, hurt, lost, gained, made mistakes, contributed to self, family and society, and more—in honoring and acknowledging them; in giving them voice and place, we, in some fashion honor and acknowledge ourselves, give ourselves voice and place.
In the coming weeks and months, some bits of the stories will be shared; it is my hope that you find the stories, which will be shared in this space enriching, enlightening, and from time to time, inspiring. The melodies of the notes sung in the songs of our history and the words that make up the passages of these very same stories will include those of Alfred SAMUELS and his brothers, Isaac and George (Alfred and Isaac both served in the Civil War--CW); Alfred, who was last enslaved by Mary SAMUELS.  The songs and stories, which will include those of Melinda (SNADON/SNORDAN) KIMBROUGH who was the mother of Isaac (Zeke) and grandmother of Frank KIMBROUGH and who was reportedly last enslaved by Thomas Gaines KIMBROUGH; of Free People of Color Families such as Richard and Mary (WRIGHT?) MORAN, whose son Rush served in the CW, and John Wesley and Julia (BANNISTER) ROBERTS. Not to mention, the songs and stories of Bass HARLIN and family, Bass, who was last enslaved in Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) in the Cherokee Nation by Delilah HARLIN; George W. and Nancy (Nannie) (SEAMAN/NAPIER) GULLICK; Jesse and Anna (SMALLEY) DONALDSON, Jessie who served in the CW and was last enslaved by Levi DONALDSON, and so many more. The notes of the songs and the pieces of the stories are also made up of the various jobs held by the Ancestors, by the activities in which they participated, their religious and political beliefs as well as the daily goings on of the day, so be prepared to be graced with this information as well from time to time.
Connecting Past and Present,
This first picture is of Julia (BANNISTER) ROBERTS and John Wesley ROBERTS date unknown, standing in front of the home in which they homesteaded in Washington State. Julia and John Wesley were my 3rd great grandparents and are part of my maternal lineage. Received courtesy of M. Spearman, cousin and family researcher.
This second picture is of Isaac KIMBROUGH (seated on the far right)--he was my great grandfather, he and his siblings (Ephriam, Lucy, and Lillian), pictured here with him, are part of my paternal lineage. Date and location are unknown for this photo. Received courtesy of J. Jones, cousin.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Acknowledging Some Who Served

Welcome, I am so glad and thankful that you stopped by to visit for a moment. The blog is currently in its infancy stage, however, I am excited about this venture and you being along to watch the growth and share in the experiences along the way.

In this first “official” post, I would like to take a moment to recognize those family members who are currently serving and have served in the United States Armed Forces. Presently, I am unaware of all of the family members who have chosen to serve, but extend a thank you to them. I would like to take a brief moment to acknowledge some of those who have gone on who also, in nearly all cases, made the choice for themselves to serve (future posts will share more about these individuals). The following list is certainly far from exhaustive, and I hope to learn the names of more men—and women, none currently listed/known—to this list.

Veteran’s Name
Conflict, if served during non-peace time, if known
Revolutionary War, served in Col. Shepherd’s Army/Company
Was a bugler in the Army—9th Regiment Calvary
Civil War, served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT)—Co. H of the 107th United States Colored Infantry; he was enlisted in the USCT by his enslaver, who hoped to be compensated for enlisting him (according to his pension file)
Civil War, served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT)—Co. E of the 9th regiment of Indiana (according to his pension file)
Civil War, served in the United States Colored Troops—Co. I Regiment 15 (according to his pension file)
John Wesley SAMUELS
WWI, Battalion Sergeant Major  in the 317th Trains Hqrs. Of the 92nd Division (from Snohomish County in the War)
Stationed in North Africa during the Korean Conflict
Spent time stationed in Japan
Served during Vietnam on the USS Ticonderoga

There are so many more¸ whose names, as I mentioned I am unaware. I am working to obtain their names and their stories; I am looking forward to sharing these names and stories with you in the months and years to come.

Again, I am looking forward to sharing our rich family history with you via this and other mediums. I hope you will enjoy the journey with me.