Sunday, September 30, 2012

Where is Church? I say it is in the heart.

This post was originally featured here on this blog on June 5, 2011

So I never knew Ophelia and Frank Bryant. Both of them died long before I was even on the radar of arriving on this planet Earth...but I know they passed on something amazing to their children. Church! No not a building ...not a minister...not some piece of scripture. They passed on what I call "Church." "Church" to me is synonymous with spirituality. It means love. It means compassion. It means being open instead of being closed off. It means, here is my heart...I am showing it to you and I will help you find yours.

Now the family was definitely a set of church going people as evidenced by Ophelia's obituary. She was the church organist. On a side note, can I tell you something about the day I received that obituary in the mail. So funny how you don't really stop to think about these things until someone puts a spotlight on it. My grandmother had an organ and a piano in her home. My Aunt Rosa had a piano in her home. My Aunt Eloise had a piano in her home. My mother has a keyboard in her home. The moment I read Ophelia's obituary, I said to myself, "Ohhh. I get it. Duh! That's where that came from." The love of music and the importance of the piano didn't just drop out of the sky. It came from somewhere. 

Bayview Cemetery, Morehead City, NC

Frank and Ophelia were my great grandparents.
Sylvia Bryant was my great granfather's second wife.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Now That's What I Call A Phone Call! -- Part three

If you have missed Parts one and two, here are the links:  Now That's What I Call A Phone Call! -- Part one
Now That's What I Call A Phone Call! -- Part two

The Lord heard my prayer for my cousin's spirit indeed was open! Mrs. Jonas Barco is a sweet-heart. She is  83 years young. God bless her. We spoke on that first afternoon for about a 1/2 hour. After the first moments of introducing ourselves passed, the conversation flowed with ease. I think there is something to be said about our shared Bryant DNA. If you are a Bryant descendant, you are going to be a talker. LOL!

Anyway, she was just amazed to find out how I found her was through find her brother's obituary on the internet and then simply looking her name up in the white pages. This is another reason why I am so ever grateful for the times we live in. How the internet can make finding the different pieces of our own genealogy puzzles so much easier to find. 

As for our conversation, were there any great big bombshells dropped from the sky. Did some sort of family secret become revealed? The answer to those questions would be No. This call was about connection. I took such joy in just knowing I was speaking to the daughter of my great grandfather's sister. I mean think about that for a minute. Frank Bryant's sister, Mamie Johnson, was born around 1892. Jonas, her daughter was born in 1929. Think about all the changes that have taken place in the world from then to now. 

Okay, Okay, I come clean. Part of me was hoping perhaps that Jonas knew the name of her mother's father, who perhaps was the same man who fathered my great grandfather, Frank. No such luck. This is one of those branches of my family tree that I think will remain a mystery but we'll see what time and the spirits have in store for me. 

Highlights of our conversation were that she remembered my grandmother Mary, her siblings, and my great grandparents Frank and Ophelia. Unfortunately she did not have many pictures of her family from her youth so I gladly forwarded her pictures that I have of our Morehead City clan as well as pictures of my family and I. I need to follow up with her about some questions that of course popped into my head after I put down the phone, but that gives me something to look forward to on another day. This is about developing a relationship with someone anyway. Stories have a tendency to unfold in their own due time and only once a trust is established.

Just feeling happy about this. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Now That's What I Call A Phone Call! -- Part two

If you missed part one, here's the link: Now That's What I Call A Phone Call! -- Part one

With phone number in hand, I didn't let time have a chance to set deterrents in the way. I picked up the phone and made the call and crossed my fingers all at the same time. Ring...Ring...Ring...(oh please pick up the phone...oh please pick up the phone...Ring...Ring...Ring...oh no I think she's not home...Ring...Ring...Ring..yup going to voicemail...sigh.) Then, I think that's okay. Voice-mail is not rejection. Think of it as an invitation. So I leave a pleasant upbeat message and pray hopefully she will be open and call me back. 

It was the afternoon, about an hour before my kids come home from school and I thought that I could probably squeeze in a quick grocery shop like any good multi-tasking mother would.  Message left, I decided well, I am off to the store. The grocery store is close to my house and so I'm there in like five minutes. I pull into a parking space and my cell phone goes off. I look down and believe it or not, it is my cousin who I had just left the message with. A moment of panic sets in as I scour the inside of my car for a piece of paper and a pen so I can write down notes. Instantaneously, I know I have to answer this call. Why, you may ask? What if this is the one moment that this person is open and feels free to talk to me. What  if this is the moment that they have cast their own fears aside and know what, I am going to call her back. I know I have to take this call and so I do.

"Hello" I say as I answer the phone and I pause and pray silently in my head. I say to myself, please Lord, let her spirit be open.

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To be continued.....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Now That's What I Call A Phone Call! -- Part one

So I don't know why, but I sometimes I just get so nervous to reach out by telephone to potential family members. Is it the fear of rejection, or the lack of possible interest of the person on the other end of the line? Shucks, I have to say I have had amazing things happen via telephone since I've been on this genealogy journey. I have connected with cousins who have found me via the internet. That's it, they found me. Now time to turn the tables around and start finding them.

Recently, I was able to get beyond my nervousness and did just this. In fact, it was the week before last week. I started reviewing through some of my Morehead City folks on my family tree and decided to do some random Google searches and came up with an obituary for a cousin of mine. Specifically, his name was Frank Lluellen Johnson. Here's his obituary.

 FRANK LUELLEN JOHNSON, 66, 2494 Ravanall Ave., Orlando, died Sunday, Jan. 3. Mr. Johnson was an industrial arts teacher for a junior high school in Norfolk, Va. Born in Philadelphia, he was visiting Central Florida. He was a member of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, Morehead City, N.C. He was an Army veteran. Survivors: wife, Margaret, Virginia Beach, Va.; son, Robert H., Morehead City; daughter, Frankie Jones, Orlando; brother, Jessie, Pittsburgh; sister, Jonas Barco, Chesapeake, Va.; three grandchildren. Mitchell's Funeral Home, Orlando.

Source:  Orlando Sentinel, January 6, 1993

Now Frank Luellen Johnson's relation to me was this, my 1st cousin 2x removed. He was the son of my great grandfather Frank Linmore Bryant's sister, Mamie Bryant Johnson. The name that my eyes narrowed in on from the obituary was the name Jonas Barco, his sister. I had already identified in my family tree who the children of Mamie Johnson were but for whatever reason the name Jonas was the name my eyes focused on that day. You see, my 2nd great grandmother's name was Jonas Bryant and I knew that Mamie Johnson, my great grandfather's sister had named her daughter after her mother. On a whim, I pulled up the White Pages on the computer and within a few keystrokes I was able to find a phone number.

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To be continued.....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Thomas Henry Hester Sr.

Thomas Henry Hester Sr.
Another child of Mott Hester Sr. and Sidney Bryant Hester
My 1st cousin 3x removed

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Talented Tuesday: Morehead City -- A Town That Seemed To Value Education

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Earlier this year, I was able to print up copies of different newspaper articles from the ProQuest Website from their Historical Newspapers Collection. Some of these articles only had a line or two about a particlular family member, but I have found them so interesting to review because they seem to "flesh out" my ancestors a little more. These folks are not just names and dates of birth and death. They were real people and I truly have enjoyed learning more about their lives.

I have to say I am most impressed with the Morehead City neighborhood that sustained many of my ancestors. There was a true sense of community and it appears that people really valued the importance of education. My great grandmother Ophelia was a school teacher, as well as her oldest daughter Loris. My grandmother Mary Bryant Horton, attended Elizabeth City State Teacher's College along with my newly found cousin Amy's mother, Delphine Hester Johnson. Here's an article I have, which mentions them both.

(On a side note, it's very cool to see Mamie Sampson and Mary Price mentioned here as well. Mamie/Mary Sampson was my 2nd great grandmother, Rosa Mitchell Jones's sister and Mary Price was the sister of my great grandmother Ophelia Jones Bryant.)

Here's another article from December 1940:

The next article mentions Miss Delphine Hester being home for the Christmas holidays, as well as many other Morehead City youths.

(Other family members mentioned in this article, include Dr. Oscar Jones and his son, my 1st cousin 3x removed and 2nd cousin 2x removed and Elizabeth Jones another 1st cousin 3x removed.)

Delphine Hester Johnson went on to become a school teacher and her love of teaching was mentioned in her obituary. Here's an excerpt from her obituary, but it's entirety I featured in my last post. Here's the link: Sunday's Obituary: Delphine Hester Johnson

She was a dedicated elementary and special education school teacher at Queen Street High School and Beaufort, North Carolina Elementary School for over 30 years until her retirement in 1977. she loved teaching so much that she recently started Delphine's Workshop, to teach other residents at White House Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Orange, N.J. where she resided since 2000.

My grandmother Mary Horton, had to drop out of school in her youth. However, it is something that was always on her mind and proudly I can say she did eventually earn her Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens College, in NYC in her later years. I believe that it was in 1980 that she graduated.

My aunt Rosa Sanders attended college specifically, Virginia State University, until her funds ran out. 

Maybe I am reading more deeply into this than what the information presents...but I don't think so.

I think there was a nurturing going on in this community, that allowed the next generation to go out and do better than those that came before. That's just my opinion, but here's another article that I have that may illuminate why this was possible. Pay specific attention to the highlighted part.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sunday's Obituary: Delphine Hester Johnson

Delphine Elizabeth Hester Johnson

My 2nd cousin 2x removed

Delphine Elizabeth Hester Johnson, a loving daughter, wife, mother, sister and friend was born on August 24, 1923 and departed this life on February 22, 2006. Her father Lloyd Motty Moore Hester, Jr., mother Gertrude Reinhart Hester, Husband Louis R. Johnson, Jr. and son Louis R. Johnson III preceded her in death.

She was a dedicated elementary and special education school teacher at Queen Street High School and Beaufort, North Carolina Elementary School for over 30 years until her retirement in 1977. she loved teaching so much that she recently started Delphine's Workshop, to teach other residents at White House Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Orange, N.J. where she resided since 2000

She received her Bachelors degree from Fayetteville State Teacher's College, now Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, N.C. and a Masters from East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.

She held a special love for Elmwood United Presbyterian Church in east Orange, N.J. where she was a new member. Before relocating to New Jersey, she was a member of Purvis Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church of Beaufort, N.C. and St. Stevens A.M.E. Zion Church in Morehead City, N.C. She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and of The House of Ruth.

She is survived by a loving and dedicated daughter, Amy V. Johnson Ferdinand, devoted son-in-law Stanley J. Ferdinand and cherished grandson Rolihlahla S. Ferdinand of West Orange. She also leaves sister-in-law Rev. Violet J. Bailey, of Beaufort, N.C. and Atty. Nina M. Williams of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; nieces, Atty. Nina D. Williams, of Miami, Florida and Violetta B. Ardoin, of Atlanta, Georgia; great nieces, Nichole Ardoin and Carmen Gai Ardoin, of Atlanta, Georgia and a cousin Mildred Stevens, of Brooklyn, N.Y. and a host of other relatives and friends.

Memorial Obituary Provided By: Jackson Funeral Residence)

Delphine's connection to me is through her grandmother. Her grandmother Sidney Bryant Hester was the sister to my 2nd great grandmother, Jonas Bryant.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Rosa Lee Hester

Rosa Lee Hester
She was one of the children of Mott Hester Sr. and Sidney Bryant Hester.
My 1st cousin 3x removed

Here is a link to a blog post of mine from earlier this year which showed the grave site of Rosa Lee Hester and her parent's grave site as well. Tombstone Tuesday: Rosa Lee Hester

Monday, September 10, 2012

More From My Hester Family Branch

I have to send a huge thank you out to my newly found cousin Amy again for being so gracious to share family stories and pictures with me recently. Just as a recap, our family connection takes us back to Morehead City, NC. Her great grandmother, Sidney Bryant Hester and my great great grandmother, Jonas Bryant were sisters.  You will find a picture of Sidney Bryant Hester, here and Mott Hester Sr., here. Amy grew up in Morehead City, nearby her great grandmother and a host of other family members. Her grandfather, Mott Hester Jr., was a fisherman and unfortunately died before she was born so she did not get to know him, but she knew very well her grandmother Gertrude Rhinehardt Hester. Gertrude Rhinehardt's folks came from Catawba County, NC. According to my cousin, her grandmother was quite good at cooking German cuisine due to this family line being originally owned by people of German descent. Here are the pictures of her grandparents.

Mott Hester Jr.
My 1st cousin 3x removed

Gertrude Rhinehardt Hester

I found it interesting that Gertrude knew how to cook all sorts of German food. When I found this information out, I went right to Google to search for any articles regarding the early settlers of Catawba County, NC and indeed some of the earliest settlers were of German descent. Here's one of the links that I came across when I did that search.,_NC._How_has_life_in_Catawba_County_developed_through_time%3F

More to come from this branch of the family later in the week.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Mott Hester Sr.

Mott Hester Sr.
This picture is from a book called "Tales of the Atlantic Hotel 1880--1933"
by Virginia Pou Doughton

Mott Hester Sr. was my 2nd great grand uncle and husband to Sidney Bryant Hester. A picture of Sidney you will find on my previous post. Here's the link if you missed it. Another Piece Of The Puzzle

If you have ties to Morehead City and the The Atlantic Hotel that once stood there, Virginia Pou Doughton's book is a wonderful resource. Here is an excerpt that talks a little bit about Mott Hester Sr.

Captain W. L. Kennedy was such an ardent fisherman that he purchased a boat, the India, and hired a permanent captain, Mot Hester. The Hester family had come from Jamesville, North Carolina, to fish in Carteret County a number of years before.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Another Piece Of The Puzzle

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As genealogists, we are all looking for the pieces of our family history puzzle. It is so nice when cousins have the opportunity to connect and share family history stories. In my last blog post, I mentioned I was doing the genealogy happy dance because I had connected with another cousin, I didn't even know I had.

It turns out my cousin Amy is my 3rd cousin once removed. Our family ties take us back to Morehead City, NC. Here is how we are connected.

My 3rd great grand parents were a Henry Bryant and Caroline Ellison Bryant and from what I have researched, they had five children --Sidney, Jonas, Rose, Henry, and John. Amy's great grandmother was Sidney Bryant Hester and my great great grandmother was Jonas Bryant. I don't have any pictures of Jonas unfortunately but I do have one of Sidney that another cousin so graciously shared with me last year. After I sent a copy of this image to Amy, she indeed confirmed that it was her great grandmother. She said she was quite petite in stature and her mind mentally sharp even into her 100's. Here is a picture of Sidney Bryant Hester that was taken sometime in the 1960's.

My 2nd great grand aunt
Sidney Bryant Hester

Now if you are like me, then when you receive a new picture of a family member, you look for shared facial features with others in the family. With this picture, that may be a little difficult to do, because of it's fuzziness, but I have to say that my great grandfather Frank Bryant probably inherited his forehead from his mother Jonas Bryant who was Sidney's sister.

My great grandfather
Frank Linmore Bryant

More to come in the next couple of days. Hope everyone had a great weekend!
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