Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday's Obituary: Clifford McGhee Wooten

Clifford McGhee Wooten
December 20, 1918--January 28, 2008

Clifford McGhee Wooten was the wife of my 1st cousin 2x removed, Harkless Wooten. She was known as "Mama Cliff." My mother told me she was quite a sweet lady. Here's her obituary which was featured in the New Bern Sun Journal on February  2, 2008.

Here's the link to two posts I did last year featuring her husband, Harkless Wooten.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Thankful for the North Carolina Marriage Records On

I have to say that tonight I am very thankful for the North Carolina Marriage records that are now available on-line on I have been having a blast looking at either the register or an actual images of  marriage records or licenses of some of my ancestors tonight. I even found a mistake on my family tree where I had someone listed as a child of a 2nd great grand uncle and in fact they were siblings. Pretty cool! 

My 2nd great grand uncle Alfred F. Mitchell applied for the marriage certificate for Margaret "Maggie" Mitchell, his sister, and her second husband William Thompson. Previously, I was under the belief that Margaret was Alfred's daughter but this document helped to clear up the mistake I had on my tree. Also, by finding this information, I realized that Margaret in fact wasn't buried in Bertie County but rather she was laid to rest in the same cemetery that many in her family were buried at in Riverdale, Craven, NC. She's at rest in the old cemetery located behind Mt Olive AME Zion Church in Riverdale under the name Maggie Thompson.

I am glad that I now know this but I am kind of wishing I had found this out before I made a trip to New Bern and Morehead City back in January. When I visit North Carolina again, I will have to make a point of finding her grave and taking a picture.

Rest in Peace --Maggie Thompson (born March 2, 1872--died July 17, 1913)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Now What? What Am I Supposed To Do With That?

Okay. She did it again. Ugghh! My paternal great grandmother is driving me crazy. If you aren't familiar with the story behind my great grandmother, here's one of my previous posts.The Mystery Surrounding My Great Grandmother Ella

Anyway, I was hoping that with the release of the 1940 Census I would be able to crack some part of the mystery surrounding my great grandmother Ella. On the 1930 Census, she was listed as Ella Dixon residing with her 3 daughters and a possible cousin. I began with locating the enumeration district for the last address that I believe she resided at. The one lucky break I have had surrounding my great grandmother has been that my grandmother Ethel's certified copy of her birth certificate was still in the envelope it was mailed in back in 1939. It was sent to a 239 West 113th St and so that was the address I was hoping I would find Ella still living in 1940. I believe I have found her, but here is where it gets entertaining.

1940 Census

In 1940, Ella was fully entrenched in the church of Father Divine. People who followed his church would change their names. It appears from the census record that she is living with fellow members of the church. My dad told me sometime ago that he thought that his grandmother had changed her name to something like Sister Wonderly. Well, there's no Sister Wonderly listed here, but there is someone who's name is quite close. She's also, the right age --52. I believe my great grandmother is the head of household 80 and she changed her name to Wondeful Marshall.  

Now what? What am I supposed to do with that? LOL!

Microsoft Office Downloaded Image

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Feeling The Void.

Like so many of you out there in the blogosphere, I have been pouring over the 1940 census records searching for my ancestors. Luckily I have been able to find many of my kin who lived in Morehead City and New Bern. I had a bit of an unexpected reaction when I located the households of my maternal great grand parents in the census records. You see, both of my great grandmothers on this side of the family died in 1939. This would be the first census where they would not be listed in their households. I knew this before looking at the records so I should have not been surprised not seeing their names listed.

Bryant Household 1930 Census
All the Bryant siblings are under one roof with their parents.
Grandma Rosa Jones living next door.

Bryant Household 1940 Census
My great grandfather Frank Bryant is clearly listed as being a widower

The thing that struck me when I saw this is that the family has dispersed. My 2nd great grandmother Rosa Jones passed away in 1931. It appears that Frank Bryant and his son Linwood, still reside in the family home. The four youngest children are listed but are shown absent from the home. Ray Bryant being a truck driver took him away from home quite a bit, I suppose. The three girls, Mary, Rosa, and Eloise were sent off to boarding school with the assistance of their older sister, Loris who was already married at this time. After the death of his wife, Frank Bryant was going to split the girls up and send them to different relatives to be cared for. Thankfully my aunt Loris stepped in and put her foot down and said no. She wanted her sisters to be together. Can you imagine losing your mother and then being split up from the rest of your family? Oh goodness, I can't.  My eye keeps looking irrationally hoping to see Ophelia's Bryant's name suddenly appear next to her husband. She's dead this simply isn't possible and then it truly hits me. I finally feel the impact of the loss of my great grandmother Ophelia--this void. Someone that is supposed to be there, the anchor of household, my great grandmother is just not there. Gone. It saddened me. I thought of my own family. What if all of the sudden I was gone? What becomes of my husband and my kids? The tremendous impact of a loss like that, how do you bear that?

For my Harrison family line, the comparison is similar.

Harrison Household 1930 Census
Sarah J. Whitney, Carrie's mother, resides in the home with the family

Harrison Household 1940 Census

The absence of my great grandmother and her mother is seen. My 2nd great grandmother Sarah J Whitney died in 1937. Also, the older children have moved out and on with their lives. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A Proud Mom And Her Beautiful Baby Girl

My maternal grandmother Mary Bryant Harrison (at this time she was married to her first husband--my grandfather) and her baby girl (my mother.) I love how my grandmother is looking adoringly at her daughter. Precious!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Amanuensis Monday On Tuesday: Thomas Duke Harrison and Mary J. Williams Marriage Certificate

So I had every intention of writing this post yesterday, but you know how it is when you first get back from vacation. The day simply wasn't long enough yesterday for me to get everything that I wanted to get done done, so here is Amanuensis Monday on Tuesday.
To my delight when we returned home from vacation I found a couple of letters in my mailbox from the North Carolina State Archives. Woohoo! I love getting genealogy stuff in the mail. Anyway, I recently had sent in a request for a copies of the marriage certificate for my 2nd great grandparents, Thomas Duke Harrison and Mary J. Williams and some other marriage records for other ancestors. Here is the marriage certificate for T. D. Harrison and Mary J. Williams.

Page 1

No. 97      Marriage License

To any Ordained Minister of any Religious Denomination, or to any Justice of the Peace, for New Hanover County:

Mr. T. D. Harrison having applied to me for a license for the marriage of Mr. T. D. Harrison of New Hanover County aged 31 years, color Dark the son of T. D. and Sophia Harrison living at both dead and Miss Mary J Williams of Wilmington NC aged 19 years, color Dark daughter of John and Betsy Williams
living at --both dead

It appearing that M____________________________________________
of the parties ________under eighteen years of age, and written consent of ____________________
to the proposed marriage having deen duly filled with me in accordance with Sec. 6 of An Act of the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, entitled "An Act of Marriages, Marriage Settlements and the Contracts of Married Women," ratified the 12th day of February 1872 and there being no legal impediment known to me, 
     You Are Hereby Authorized, Within One Year Of The Date Hereof, To Celebrate The Proposed Marriage At Any place within the county of New Hanover. 
     You are required, within two months after you shall have celebrated the proposed marriage, to return this license to me, at my office with the blanks therein filled according to the facts, under penalty of forfeiting  Two Hundred Dollars to the use of any person who shall sue for the same.

     Issued this 13 day of June 1887
                                                                                                         J. E. Sampson
                                                                                         Register of Deeds for New Hanover County

Fee, $2.00

Page 2


     To be filled up and signed by the Minister or officer celebrating the marriage and also to be signed by one or more witnesses present at the marriage, who will add to their names their place of residence.

     I, Rev S King, a (unsure of word) minister colored of have united in matrimony Mr T D Harrison and Miss Mary J Williams the parties licensed on the 14 day of June 1887 at the house of Mr J W Wilyam in Wilmington NC according to law.

Witnesses Present:

Name  M. Balay Wilyam  Residence  Wilmington
Name  Hanah Witfell  Residence  Wilmington
Name  John W. Wilyam  Residence  Wilmington
Name  Frank Smith  Residence  Wilmington

Now this certificate I have found to be rather intriguing for several reasons. Prior to receiving this certificate the only information I knew about the parents of Thomas and Mary was what was found on their death certificates. According to his death certificate, Thomas Duke Harrison's parents were a Simon D. Harrison of New Bern, NC and Sophia Boyd of Beaufort, NC. Thomas's wife Mary was the informant on the document, so I felt fairly confident about the information she reported. So it was a bit of a surprise to see on the marriage certificate that his father's name was listed as T. D. Harrison, not Simon D. Harrison. Perhaps this was an error. On Mary J. Williams's death certificate it reads that her parents were a John and Elizabeth Williams both from Wilmington so that seems to match up since Betsy is a common nickname for Elizabeth. Isn't it always the case that when you receive more information it only leads to more questions? Were my 3rd great grandparents ever officially married somewhere or was their union a common law union? Was my 3rd great grandfather's name Simon or was it in fact T. D. or Thomas Duke just like his son?  Who are the people listed as witnesses? Looks I have some more digging to do.

Rev. Thomas Duke Harrsion
My 2nd great grandfather

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I'm Back.....New Stuff Is Coming!

Well, it is late and I am weary, but I felt the need to write a quick post before going to bed. The family and I just returned from Pass-A-Grille, Florida. It was absolutely beautiful there. Great weather and great people we met everyday that we were there. Feeling blessed that my husband and I were able to have the opportunity to go with our young children to such a beautiful place. I have to say going on vacation, definitely recharged my engines. I feel ready to write and ready to share new things that have come to light on my genealogy journey. So give me a good night's rest and a chance to get my kids off to school in the morning and maybe a grocery shop in too and then I will be ready to share some new info with everyone out there in the blogosphere. Here are a few pictures from our recent vacation.

Yes, those are my feet, doing what they do best...relaxing.

My sweet dear hubby.

Me searching for the best pose and lighting possible. 

My daughter and son.

Another image of my daughter and son caught at sunset.

Just one of many beautiful sunsets we captured while on vacation.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Time For A Little Rest And Relaxation

I am going to be away from my blog for a few days to spend some time with my family in sunny Tampa. I am so enjoying the sunshine already. Hope everyone has a Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: My Dad And His Sister When They Lived In The Bronx

My Dad's sister, Janice, and my Dad.
Picture is taken in front of their apartment building in the Bronx.
They lived at 970 Tinton Ave.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Deposition Of Bristow Harris Found In A Southern Claims Commission Claim

This is one of those lucky gems that a fellow researcher brought to my attention almost a year ago. Anyway for those who may read this and may not be aware of what the Southern Claims Commission was, here is some background information provided by Wikipedia:

The Southern Claims Commission was an organization of the executive branch of the United States government from 1871--1873 under President Ulysses S. Grant. It's purpose was to allow Union sympathizers who had lived in Southern states during the American Civil War 1861--1865, to apply for reimbursement for property losses due to U.S. Army confiscations during the war.

My 3rd great grandfather Bristow Harris provided a deposition on the behalf of a William Merrick for whom he had worked for during the period prior to and during the Civil War. William Merrick was in the business of making tar, turpentine, and cutting lumber.  On September 30, 1872, William Merrick filed a claim to be reimbursed for property taken from him by Union troops.

Page 1

Deposition of Bristow Harris

In answer to the First General Interrogatory, the Deponent says:
     My name is Bristow Harris, my age is 53 years, my residence West St. New Berne in the state of North Carolina, and my occupation a Boatman; I am not related to the claimant and have no beneficial interest in the claim.

Page 2

State of North Carolina
Craven County

Personally comes before me Bristow Harris (col) of West Street, Newberne, above named county and State, who after being duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in relation to the loyalty of William Merrick (col) deposes and says as follows,

     I am in the fifty third year of my age. I reside in Newbern as above stated, and by occupation am a boatman. I have known the claimant for the last twenty years and have been intimately acquainted with him during the late rebellion. We both lived in Newberne. I saw him mostly every day during the war_"that if the confederacy beat, it would be an awful state for us." "We, colored folks, were all strong Union men, and ware so to-day"and expect to die so, The claimant never did anything not ne'er a straw to promote the confederate cause, and further, deponent saith not.

                                                                       Bristow Harris
                                                                       X his mark

Sworn to and subscribed to by making his mark before me this 30th day of Sept 1872
                                                                  John Robinson U.S.C.                   
                                                                                               and Special Commissioner

Page 3

I with others, was employed by Wm Merrick to make the tar. I cannot now say how much tar there was, I am of the opinion there was over a hundred barrels. The provost martial paid me for my work in making the tar, what he did with it I know not and further this deponent saith not. 

                                                                     Bristow Harris
                                                                       X his mark

Read over in presence of deponent sworn to and subscribed by making his mark before me this 30th day of September 1872.

                                                                     John Robinson U.S.C. 
                                                              and Special Commissioner

Depositions of Nathan West as to property taken from Claimant Wm Merrick, by U.S. soldiers in N. Carolina during the late war.
In answer to the first general interrogatory deponent says as follows. My name is Nathan West am about 47 years of age. I reside near La Grange, Lenoir County, N. Carolina, am by occupation a farmer, I am not related to Claimant and have no pecuniary interest in the claim. [This property was taken during Burnside's occupancy of New Berne] I was present. I saw 50 cords of wood, and as near as I can recollect true was 135 or 140 barrels of tar as near as I can guess.

 I did not see the lumber taken, and only heard my fellow laborers talk about it. The cordwood was taken by a colonel -it has been so long I forget the name. Capt Goldsley was quarter master, he tookd the tar and had it hauled off to the wharf. I saw it at the wharf. He had it hauled off in government wagons.
(In the left margin this question is written next) 
How did the claimant become the proprietor of so much tar?

Wm Merrick hired hands to cut "light woods" and help him to burn tar kilns, and in getting lumber, and cordwood. The government officers granted the privilege to us colored men, to get cord-wood, lumber, and tar on other folks lands by paying them one fourth.

Merrick complained of the taking to colonel Heaton (now deceased) but he said he could do nothing with it. I heard a good many of you colored folks complain that his property had been taken in the way it was, and further this deponent saith not. 

                                                                                                            Nathan West
                                                                                                               X his mark      
Witness  Patrick Lynch
               Eliza D Robinson

     Read over and sworn and subscribed to before me this 20th day of December 1872.
                                                                  John Robinson U.S.C. 
                                                             and Special Commissioner
Anyway, the file continues on quite a bit more with the testimony of William Merrick and several others and an inventory of what was taken and valuations.

Here's the page which shows the value of property taken.

William Merrick eventually was reimbursed something, but from what I remember of the case I think it was less than $500. This claim was a great read because it gave me a tiny little snapshot of what was going on at a particular point in time in the life of my ancestor and his community.


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