Friday, September 30, 2011

Augustus Whitney's Civil War Pension File Came. Hooray!

I have a computer again. Hooray! And on top of that ...guess what came yesterday in the mail? My 2nd great grand uncle's civil war pension file arrived. What a wonderful surprise. You know I have been reading that thing like it's going out of style in between the kids yelling, Mom this and Mom that. Kids can't you wait just a second...this is genealogy. This is serious business. LOL. Well just as a refresher to who I am talking about, Augustus Whitney was the older brother of Samuel Whitney (b.1856--d.1916) He served with Company D of the 35th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. Lots of good stuff here. Anyway, I know I said in my last post that I would talk about the parents of Sarah J. Harris Whitney however, in light of recent events I think we will save that post for a later date. I have to get kids to bed but I am so looking forward to writing something about Augustus tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It All Began With A Picture.

Sometimes, I wonder if I ever would have started digging up roots, if I had never seen my great grandmother Ophelia's picture. Ophelia Jones Bryant's portrait I featured in my first blog post. Something has happened recently that makes me ever so thankful that that picture hung in my grandmother Mary's house. Thank you grandma :) Anyway, the good news is the computer is coming! Hopefully by Friday I can get back to writing my regular posts and reading everyone else's on a large screen so my eye balls don't fall out of my head from eye-strain. My next post will probably be about the parents of my 2nd great grandmother Sarah J Harris Whitney. Until then I'd like to close with the words of Don Cornelius,......"and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace, and soul!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Okay I am having major PC withdrawel. LOL!

This going without a computer at home is getting old now. It probably won't be here until next week. Ughhh! I like my book reader for reading books, not surfing the internet. Touch screens just don't hack it for me. I like a keyboard, for the mere fact that I could type what I just typed in one try versus typing, stopping to review text, then erasing and re-typing. Oh well. Must have patience. I thought I should take the opportunity to share that my grandfather Lemuel Harrison has been on my mind as of late. I've been thinking about his love of going on cruises. I remember once when I was quite small I went with my family to see him off on one of his adventures. I couldn't believe how large the ship was. We were able to walk my grandparents only to a certain point near the entrance of the boat and so we did just that. We said our goodbyes. Hugs and kisses all around to everybody and off they went up into the ship. My parents and my brother and I walked back down from the boat's entrance ramp on to the pier where my father found a spot where he could scoop me up and seat me on top of a huge wooden post. There I was, high off the ground right at the pier's edge with nothing but water down below. I remember that narrow space of water between the ship and the pier. The water was dark blue-green in color and lapping gently back and forth. Then that narrow space grew wider as the boat eased off on it's way. I think at this point I got a little nervous about how high up I was and seeing the water stir up down below became too much for me and I asked my dad to get me down. We stayed and saw the ship set out for just a bit longer before we headed back to where our car was parked. All these years later those images are so clear in my head, especially the images of that narrow gap of water between the boat and the pier. As I traveled along my genealogy journey and discovered my Azorean connection through my Whitney line, one of my grandfather's family lines, I asked myself, "Is this why this memory from my childhood is so vivid? Perhaps this is why my grandfather liked cruises?"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Now PC, Why Did You Have To Go And Crash On Me?! computer crashed on me. (Mumble, mumble, grumble.) Oh well, luckily I had backed things up. Whew! Anyway, this post is just to let you all out there in the blogosphere know that it may be a few days before I am back up and running full speed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Grandma and Me

My Grandmother Mary Horton and Me in 1986 or 1987.
Man, was I a baby in this picture or what? LOL!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering Where I Was On 9/11/01

I was 28, working as a Unit Manager at a call center in Upstate NY. The day started off  like any other day. Punched in. Morning coffee. Usual "Morning" or "Hello" to fellow co-workers. Turn computers on. Our center was large and had two TVs on the main floor tuned into CNN news. Something to take your mind off the mundane task of phone collections. Then the first plane hit. First thought in my head, some joker with a Cessna flew his plane too close to the World Trade Center and crashed. When that second plane hit, I like so many knew that we were under attack. From that point on in the day, it felt like I had a five pound weight sitting on my forehead. It was just surreal. I thought about my best friend who lived in Brooklyn and her husband. Where were they that day? I tried to provide comfort to those who knew people who worked at the WTC. While that is going on I am having flashbacks in my head of when I was a kid and when I would visit the Towers myself. My father's sister, Janice, who passed away in 1989 worked at the World Trade Center. She would often take my brother and I there. When I was a child, my favorite place to eat there was a restaurant called "The Big Kitchen". They had giant letters that if all the tables were taken you could stand and eat next to one of the letters. Then back to present day. TVs were turned off on the call center floor.

The payroll department had their office right behind where my desk was. I knew they had a radio there and would keep abreast of what was going on. I checked in with the ladies. They said another plane was high-jacked, and didn't know where it was heading. At this point, I didn't want to be at the office anymore. I just wanted to be home with my husband (he was my boyfriend at the time). Had to keep it together. I couldn't leave until 5 pm. My outward appearance was calm but inside I continued this back and forth from present day back to memories of when I was a kid. The roof top observation deck I think I may have only gone up to once. I was a real young kid and I remember it made me very nervous being outside and up so high. I preferred the floor below which allowed you to enjoy the great views of the city while being inside. Also, it was where they had vendors sell souvenirs. The next plane hit the pentagon. Then another crashes in Pennsylvania. Have to send collectors to break.

Break room TV's are still on.  I have more coffee to break through the fog in my head. That's when I look around and see the same fog in everyone else's face. We are all going through the motions of getting through the day. No one wants to be there. Just want to be home with loved ones.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday: I have never been so thankful as today to live on a hill.

Please say a prayer tonight for all those being affected by the historical levels of flooding taking place in the Northeast. I tell my friends that it was no accident that my husband and I wound up in the house we live in currently. It was a little over 9 years ago that we made our move from an apartment we shared to our haven on the hill. We had just a month to find it and it was more like it found us. We are not rich. The house is a nice middle class home in working class neighborhood. Great neighbors and close to everything we need. We are blessed that we are safe and dry and at home. So many can't say the same thing. If you read this, just say a little prayer to send comfort and peace to the hearts of those who are suffering tonight.
This is a park located at the bottom of our hill.
There is a whole neighborhood under water to the left of where this is located.

My son's favorite place, Toys R' Us under water.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: More Images of the Fish and Oyster Market in New Bern, NC

The first image I came across on the New Bern Public Library's Digital Collection, under the Header Craven County Digital History Exhibit. I have found so many interesting images of New Bern on this site. Check it out if you have any ties to the area.

Bibliographical Information:  Souvenir of New Bern, North Carolina (New Bern, N.C.: Owen G. Dunn, Co., 1910?), 68 p. A history of New Bern produced for the Bicentennial Celebration in 1910, this volume also includes illustrations of many of New Bern's attraction and businesses. 

The other image that I love is a print I have that depicts the market around the turn of the century. It was originally published by M. E. Whitehurst and Co. 

Now If they could just come up with a way for me to go back in time through these pictures, I would get a chance to meet my Whitney Ancestors. Hey, who knows what the future may hold :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Facing One's Mortatlity

My husband sat down this evening with me to review insurance policy information to see if we wanted to make any changes to our coverage. This was one of the few instances in our marriage where I feel our age difference. Day to day, we are contemporaries with the same crazy dry sense of humor about life. Looking at insurance policy coverage suddenly, we are separated by age and probabilities of who will out live who. Tomorrow is his birthday and he will be 56. I will be 39 in another month.  I think that the thing that really hit me hardest was listening to my husband say that certain coverage will cover him till he is 75 and that a certain portion would cover nursing home costs if he should have to be placed in one. We have always been open and honest in our relationship. Both of my husband's parents suffered from Alzheimer's disease so this has always been part of our dialog in regards to what will happen to us as we grow older. Just hearing him say the numbers tonight though, made me take a deep breath.  We've been together for 16 years. How many years do we have left? Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Okay. Let's keep living. No one knows how long they have with the ones they love. The best medicine for having a long life is to just keep living. And to watch reruns of Seinfeld because man, I don't care how old that show gets, it is still funny.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Military Monday: Augustus Whitney--Member of the 35th United States Colored Infantry

Augustus Whitney (born about 1840--death before 1910) was my 2nd Great Grand Uncle. His younger brother Samuel Whitney(b.1856--d.1916) was my 2nd Great Grandfather. The Whitney line as I have discussed in earlier posts was of mixed ancestry, specifically, Portuguese and African. Samuel and Augustus's father, Thomas, I believe was of Portuguese Ancestry from the Azores while their mother, Margaret, was of African Ancestry. It turns out that Augustus was a Civil War Veteran who served with 35th United States Colored Infantry, Company D.

Source Information: U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865

What I find interesting about this is that I think one of the reasons Augustus's father and grandfather left the Azores was to avoid military service back in the Azores. The Azorian government in around 1800 put into law that any 14 year old male would have to enlist in the Portuguese Army for a period of time.  Life in the military there would have meant very little money for the enlisted man or his family and more than likely that they would be shipped off to mainland Portugal away from all that they held dear. Now here comes Augustus joining the military. I am sure there was mixed bag of emotions and thoughts going on within the family regarding this. Since Augustus was 1/2 Black and 1/2 Portuguese, he lived his life as a black man according to the norms of our country at that time and felt the need to help his people. Also, the possibility of  pay that could help him and his extended family during the extremely difficult times of the Civil War,  probably was a motivating factor for him to enlist.  Whatever his motivation, I salute the man for his service to our country.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday's Obituary: Freddie Harrison, My Grandfather's Brother.

New Bern Sun Journal
November, 10 1979

I was only fortunate to have met a couple of my grandfather's siblings. Unfortunately, I did not get to meet his brother Freddie so I really don't know much beyond the obituary I have for him. One interesting thing did come to light when I showed the obituary to my mother.  I noticed one of Freddie's daughter's was named Brenda which happens to be my mother's name. I said to myself, "Wow, I wonder if my mom knows about this."  When I showed her the obituary she responded very casually that she knew that she had a cousin with the same name as her. Her response was kind of like..well, you know about this, don't you? Sometimes I think as we get older, we make the assumption that our memories and family stories are already known by everyone. That it's passed down my osmosis or something. This sharing of this obituary revealed to me how important it is to keep asking questions and to share discoveries with all members of the family. The conversations that develop as a result can be so fruitful with new information.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Those Places Thursday: Fish Market at Middle St, New Bern, NC

Oyster Fleet at foot of Middle Street, New Bern, NC

Over the past year,  I started to collect postcards and images of some of the places where my ancestors lived. I bought this vintage postcard because it gave a depiction of what the Fish Market at the foot of Middle St looked like in the early 1900's. My 2nd Great Grandfather,Samuel Whitney, was a drayman. He helped fish and bring seafood into New Bern until his death from Malaria in 1916. I didn't know what a drayman was until I started researching Samuel. Here's The Free's definition of the word drayman.

Drayman: n.  A driver of a dray.

Hmm. Not very helpful if you don't know what a dray is. So you can guess what I did next. Here's The Free's definition of a dray.

Dray:  n. A low heavy cart without sides, used for haulage  
          tr.v. drayed, dray·ing, drays
          To haul by means of a low, heavy sideless cart.

Aha! Now we are getting somewhere.  Now I understood that my ancestor, Samuel Whitney drove a cart either oxen or horse driven to deliver fish in New Bern.

The other thing that strikes me when I look at this postcard is the word Manteo written on one of the boats. Manteo was supposed to be the town where the wife of my 2nd Great Grand Uncle, Susan Ann Burns, lived in before she married Augustus Whitney. 
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