Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I'm Reading Right Now: Crafting Lives --By Catherine W. Bishir

I've been reading in my spare time Catherine W. Bishir's, Crafting Lives:  African American Artisans in New Bern, North Carolina, 1770--1900.  This recently released book provides wonderful insight into what the lives of freed people of color and slave artisans were like from one of my ancestral places. 

I only found out about this book due to a recent Google search I did. I was attempting to learn more about a fraternal order my 3rd great grandfather was associated with in New Bern, NC called the United Brotherhood Society. I used "United Brotherhood Society" and "New Bern" as my search terms and Bishir's book came up showing a mention of the group in the index of her book. 

Here's a little background on my 3rd great grandfather Simon 

A couple of years back, I learned that Simon Harrison was listed as president of a Charitable Society, according to an entry I found in the Freedman's Bank Records.

Source Information:  Ancestry.com. Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1871 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865-1874. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Micropublication M816, 27 rolls.

No:  3840  Record for Charitable Society 
Date, October 15, 1873
Remarks:  Simon Harrison President, David Williams, Secty, Lifford Brown, Treas, Wm F. James, Attorney, Moses T. Bryan are on the committee with the other three to draw this money
                                     Signature, William F James

That "Charitable Society" turned out to be the United Brotherhood of New Bern, NC. Earlier this year I signed up for a subscription to Newspapers.com and ever since then I've been putting that subscription to good use.  I was able to find a couple newspaper postings mentioning Simon and this particular society.

Page 4 of The New Berne Times, June 26, 1874

The purpose of the society, I have yet to determine but I do know that many of those who were listed on the act incorporate it in 1874 were affiliated with the Methodist church and were also woodworkers by trade. When I purchased the book, Crafting Lives, I was really and truly hoping maybe there might be a mention of my Simon somewhere within it or perhaps maybe some more details about this specific organization. Well, that was not to be the case. No Simon and only one brief mention of the organization. The book has helped me get a better sense of what he was like through another way. There are a few individuals mentioned in Crafting Lives, who were in the same social circles as him.  
By learning about their lives, I have gleamed a little bit more about what the life of my Simon Harrison must have been like. 

To get a better understanding of what I am talking about, take a look first at the act to incorporate the "United Brotherhood."

From The Laws and Resolutions of the State of North Carolina, 
Passed by the General Assembly at Its Session 1873--1874

Virgil A Crawford and Edward R Dudley are mentioned quite a bit in the book. There are also brief mentions of some of the other individuals listed above.  

Reading Crafting Lives, motivated me to look over what I already knew about Simon and to finally inquire about what became of him.

This is what I knew:

On his son Thomas Duke Harrison's death certificate, it listed Simon Harrison and Sophia Boyd as parents. The informant on this document was Thomas' wife Mary, so I feel fairly confident that this information is correct. 

A marriage record in the "North Carolina, Marriages, 1759-1979," index for Simon Harrison and Rosanna Smith, Aug. 11, 1866. (Probably a second marriage after Sophia Boyd died, I am speculating.)

1870 and 1880 Federal Census Entries.

Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. 
Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. 

I believe that Simon and his wife Rosanna are listed living at dwelling #49 and that the census taker took down his name incorrectly, listing him as Samuel.  His occupation was a watchman. Note, that I have highlighted the names of two other members of the United Brotherhood Society, Edward R. Dudley and Bristow Latham who were living nearby at the time. 

Source Information:  Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.

For the year 1880, Simon's last name was written down as Harris, again what I believe to be another error on the part of the census taker. He is still with his wife Rosanna but his occupation changed to a sailor. The street he resided on was Jerkins Alley which goes along with what I found in the 1880 Chas. Emerson & Co.'s Newbern City directory.

Image courtesy of Chas. Emerson & Co.'s Newbern City directory (1880)

What became of him? Why wasn't he in Crafting Lives when his contemporaries were?  Did something happened to him to cut his life short?

Well the answer is yes.

Thanks to Victor T Jones Jr., Special Collections Librarian at New Bern-Craven County Public Library, I now know what happened to Simon.

The library in New Bern has the microfilmed interment books for Greenwood Cemetery (2 vols., covering 1882-1909) on State Archives microfilm #M441.40002 titled “Town of New Bern, Greenwood Cemetery, Record of Interment, 1882-1909, 2 Vols.”

Simon Harrison aged 58, died of a rupture in New Bern on November 3, 1883 and was buried on November 4, 1883 at Greenwood Cemetery in New Bern. He is at rest at the same cemetery as his son and grandson, Thomas Duke Harrison and John Thomas Harrison Sr.

So thanks again to Victor for your help and thank you Catherine W. Bishir for inspiring me to dig a little deeper.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Book Of Me: Prompt 10 --Unexplained Memories

For details about The Book Of Me, Written By You project created by Julie Goucher, of the Anglers Rest blog, please refer to this link: http://www.anglers-rest.net/book-of-me-written-by-you.html

This week’s prompt is Unexplained Memories

Do you have an unexplained memory or memories?
Things and times you can remember, but you are not sure where they fit into your past.

Hmm. You know honestly, I can't think of anything right now that fits this prompt. I've been putting off writing this one for a couple of weeks now, in the hopes of something actually popping up in my mind but so far I draw a blank.  If I do think of something, I will come back and revisit this. 

The Book Of Me: Prompt 11 -- Military

For details about The Book Of Me, Written By You project created by Julie Goucher, of the Anglers Rest blog, please refer to this link:  http://www.anglers-rest.net/book-of-me-written-by-you.html

Prompt 11: Military

This week’s prompt is Military

Did you join the military?
Were you encouraged or discouraged?
Did a family member?
Regular or for a particular incident
Did you or your family serve overseas in the line of Service either during a war or a posting
Any thoughts, photographs, memories relevant

I've never been in the military.  I was neither encouraged nor discouraged from joining. My parents always talked about the importance of getting a good education and encouraged my brother and I to attend college, so that is the direction I went in. A number of my family members did however join the military. 

My father and my mother's brother both served in the army and were stationed abroad in Germany.  I think my dad joined the army right after he graduated from college in 1964 until 1966.  Here's a couple of pictures of him from his army days.

Handsome dude right? :)

My dad is pictured center.

Most of my maternal grandfather's brothers were in the military.  

John T Harrison Jr. --served in the Army during World War II
Samuel D. Harrison --also Army World War II
George A. Harrison -- Navy World War II
Freddie Harrison --Army World War II
Earl W. Harrison --Navy World War II
Rudolph H. Harrison -- Air Force
William Arthur Harrison --Army

Here's a picture of one of my grandfather's brothers in uniform.

Earl Harrison

I have the highest respect for anyone who has served. It is something I just didn't see for myself. To be honest, I don't have the guts for it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mappy Monday: Camp Bryan, NC and "The Savory Dishes Of An Aged Negro."

Today was a day I needed a little something to make me smile. Nothing bad happened to cause my ill mood. It was just one of those days. Maybe I woke up with a "case of the Mondays."

Well, this newspaper article that I came across helped me get out of my funk and actually crack a smile. My 2nd great grand uncle, Dave Sampson, I have written about previously on this blog. He seems to have a way of popping up in something entertaining from time to time. His wife, Mary Mitchell Sampson and my 2nd great grandmother, Rosa Mitchell Jones, were sisters and that is how he is connected to me. If you are new to my Dave Sampson, here are the links to my posts about him:

Dave Sampson a True Riverdale Character --Part one

Dave Sampson a True Riverdale Character --Part two

My Speculation Regarding Dave Sampson's Parentage

Friday Funny: A Tale From David Sampson

Article from Page 4, Hope Star (Hope Arkansas) January 28, 1930

Caption under the pictures reads: Rex Beach, noted writer upper left, Babe Ruth, upper right and Irvin Cobb, humorist, are among the celebrities who trek to Dave Sampson's hunting camp each year for his famous barbecue, collard and cornbread

Camp Bryan, NC is located approximately 23.3 miles south of New Bern and is part of the Croatan National Forrest

Images courtesy of Google Maps

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Something About Me Saturday: So Very Proud Of My Kids

My husband and I attended parent teacher conferences for our two kids this week. A lot has changed since we both attended elementary school. The way that math is taught now is completely different.  It's all about number bonds and visual representations of how to do addition and subtraction. Just so you know, I am not trying to imply that this is a bad thing. In fact, I think it is fantastic because it really encourages problem solving versus the just plain memorization of data.

The kids are doing fabulous in school. We couldn't be more pleased. I love their eagerness to soak up new information. I hope they never lose their enthusiasm for learning.

Anyway, one of the things I love most in life is the art work of children.  Here are some of my daughter's more recent pictures.

My son who will turn nine in January, isn't into drawing as much as he once was. He's quickly leaving the little boy phase and entering into the era of being a young man. (Sigh)  Still, his heart is pure and full of love and appreciation for the things that matter most. Here's something he wrote that's on display outside of his classroom.

My dynamic duo :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Not So Wordless Wednesday: Their Hero Killed In Action In Korea

An article from the The Afro American, March 10, 1951.

My step grandmother Vadnie Harrison. I believe this picture was taken Christmas 1981

If you missed my prior posts regarding my step grandmother and her first husband Harry Sutton, here are the links:

More About Harry E Sutton, My Step Grandmother's First Husband

Military Monday: Harry E Sutton --Korean War Hero

Monday, November 11, 2013

Military Monday: Harry E Sutton --Korean War Hero

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. 
Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Today was a gem of a day! I did some more digging for information on my step-grandmother's first husband, Harry E. Sutton. If you missed my earlier posts regarding him, here are the links:

And Then...That Was When I Felt It

More About Harry E Sutton, My Step Grandmother's First Husband

I found an account of what happened during the evacuation of Hungnam beachhead during December 1950 and the role that the platoon led by Lt. Harry E Sutton played in it.

An excerpt from Rhinelander Daily News, December 21, 1950:

The Red assault disentegrated when each American was down to his last ammunition clip of eight bullets. That's how close the Reds came to penetrating at least the outer U. N. defense ring.

The savage battle of "Sutton's Ridge" began before dawn Monday. The American counterattack ended Tuesday noon. The story can now be told without endangering security. 

At 7:45 am Monday the Communists struck. Just a small attack, but made by ferocious men who would not stop even when wounded.

The Americans moved back and forth in their old fashioned trench, picking off the Reds. 

M-Sgt Tyler Collins of Malone, Fla., stood bolt upright and picked off seven Communists. A bazooka man killed 10 with a single shell. But they kept coming.  Finally at 7 p. m. there was a break.

But two hours later the snarl of small arms began again from the opposite ridge. 

Then at 6 a. m. Tuesday, the howling Reds assaulted Sutton ridge. With flashing bayonets, they burst into the strongpoint on the last of the three nipples on Sutton's Ridge. 

The Americans there fought desperately. 

In the breaking dawn they could see the Communists crumple and tumble down the slope and then see new men replace them.  Bodies were strewn crazily on the slopes. 

"We gave them everything we had," Sutton said.

Lastly, I would like to say to all our Veterans on this Veteran's Day thank you for your service!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Book Of Me: Prompt 9 -- Halloween

For details about The Book Of Me, Written By You project created by Julie Goucher, of the Anglers Rest blog, please refer to this link:  http://www.anglers-rest.net/book-of-me-written-by-you.html

This week’s prompt is Halloween

Have you ever participated in a Halloween event?
When was it?
Where was it?
What did you dress as?
Trick or treat?

Let's see. I don't recall going to any Halloween parties as a kid although, I probably did at some point. I do remember trick or treating. I used to go out trick or treating with my older brother when we lived in Cambria Heights, NY and then when we moved to Long Island, I would go with friends. I think the first time I ever dressed up, I was as a clown. The costume my mother made for me. Every year after that, I went as a witch. I would wear a long dark skirt, turtle neck and an old poncho from my mother's closet. Top that off with a witch hat purchased from a local discount store and you have yourself a witch costume. Honestly, I never really gave it much thought on how I would dress for the holiday. I was more concerned with how much candy I could get my hands on :)

Since I don't have much for this post, I figured I'd share a couple of pictures of my little ones from Halloween 2013.

My Iron Man

And My Little Fairy.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

More About Harry E Sutton, My Step Grandmother's First Husband

Members of the 555th (Triple Nickel) Parachute Infantry Battalion are 
briefed before takeoff from Fort Dix in New Jersey in 1947
Image courtesy of the National Archives

Okay, so if you missed my post about my step grandmother Vadnie Harrison, you may want to go back and read that one first. Here's the link:  And Then...That Was When I Felt It.

Vadnie was married to a Harry Earl Sutton before she married my maternal grandfather Lemuel Harrison. Sadly, my grandmother became a widow when Harry died in the Korean War. Let's take a look at some of the things I found on Harry.

Images courtesy of Ancestry.com

Now when I came across this I said "Say what?!"  He was a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army back in 1951. That's extraordinary! I realized this guy was a real hero, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country. I had to know more so I did some Googling.

I came across something on Wikipedia next. This was listed under the history of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (United States):

It turns out that Harry was a member of "The Triple Nickles", an all black parachute battalion. You can learn more about the battalion's history if you visit this link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/555th_Parachute_Infantry_Battalion_(United_States)

Take a look at this excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:

On 22 August 1950 the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was disbanded. Many of its former members later fought in the Korean War, in other units. First Lieutenant Harry Sutton, one of the battalion's former officers, died leading a rearguard action during the Hungnam Evacuation and was decorated posthumously with the Silver Star.

I've been all over the internet today trying to see if I would be lucky enough to find a picture of Harry, to see if my mother's description of him was somewhat accurate.  She told me that he reminded her of Harry Belafonte. Well, I found a picture!

Tell me what you think?  Do you think my mother's description was accurate.

To see a picture of Harry Sutton and to learn more about the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalian, click on this link:  http://www.metroherald.com/metroherald.data/SmartObjects/PDF%20files/02-17-06%20archive.pdf

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Book Of Me: Prompt 8 --Time Capsule

Image courtesy of Microsoft Office Images

For details about The Book Of Me, Written By You project created by Julie Goucher, of the Anglers Rest blog, please refer to this link:   http://www.anglers-rest.net/book-of-me-written-by-you.html

The prompt is Time Capsule

1.      You can choose who to create the time capsule for as that will influence what you put (or would put into your time capsule)

2.      The creation of a time capsule
a.      You can do this in the literal sense or
b.      You can simply write what you would place into your time capsule and why. It is much more fun to create though!

You may choose to create a time capsule for your children, or a niece/nephew, for grandchildren – A physical item that you will give to a named person.
Why have you chosen that person and when do you intend for them to have it?
You may choose to create a time capsule of your home and leave it for someone in the future to find.
You may want to create a time capsule relating to an actual event or anniversary
If you create a physical time capsule, what did you choose to use as your capsule and why?

At this time, I am going to write about what I would put in a time capsule. Eventually, I want to put one together for my kids.  It would be something that I hope they could open and share with their own children.

Here are a few things that I would put in there:

My paternal grandfather's wallet. Here's a picture of it.

I have shown them this before but they are still to young I think to appreciate the significance of it.  I worry that it may accidentally get thrown out somewhere along the way so putting it in a time capsule may be the best way to ensure that someone may discover it in the future. 

Some examples of my son and daughter's school work. I think they would get a kick out of seeing their own writing from when they were children. 

A lock of hair from each of them. 

A newspaper from the day the time capsule is buried. 

A note telling them how much their parents loved them. 

Since I think taste in music tells a lot about a person, I think I would include a list of my favorite songs and the artists who sung them.

A list of my favorite movies too.

A picture of what my house looked like on the day the time capsule is buried and for that matter pictures of my husband and kids as well. 

A picture of their father from when he and I visited the Grand Canyon. In this picture, he has this wonderful look of amazement, happiness, and that all things are possible in his eyes. 

A recording of my voice telling them about some of the oral history that was passed down to me about our family.

A pack of Dentyne Fire Sugarless Gum (yes I am addicted to this stuff. I can't help myself.)

Another note reminding my kids to continue to read, learn, adapt, and thrive.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

And Then...That Was When I Felt It

My Bonus Grandma Vadnie Harrison

I know many of you out there can relate to this. In the middle of putting together my post The Book Of Me: Prompt 7 --Grandparents --Part Two, I felt like I needed to take a little break from writing and so I did.  I had just finished writing a little bit about my step grandma, Vadnie Randolph Sutton Harrison, so I thought to myself, why don't I see if I can find out anything new on her.  When Vadnie and my maternal grandfather Lemuel Harrison wed, it was a second marriage for them both.  Before I get into what I discovered recently, here's what I know of my grandmother's life before she met my grandfather. 

Vadnie Randolph was born in March 17, 1925 in New York City. Her mother I addressed as "Mrs Randolph" when I was a child. It turns out Mrs. Randolph's had a first name and it was Louise. According to the 1940 census, mother and daughter resided at 210 West 153rd St in Harlem.

Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census
 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Vadnie and Louise were living with a William Marshall who was described as the head of the household. Louise was regarded as his common-law wife and Vadnie was noted as being Louise's daughter. So who was Vadnie's father?  That will be the subject of a future post. 

While growing up, I knew of my grandmother Vadnie, simply as grandma. I guess I kind of knew she had a life before meeting my grandpa Lemuel. I knew of her children my uncle Harry and my aunt Linda. The specifics of how someone is an aunt or an uncle to you often aren't made clear until one becomes a grown up.  It wasn't until earlier this year that I thought to ask my mother about the man who was Harry and Linda's father and Vadnie's first husband. She said he had been a very good looking man. He reminded her of Harry Belafonte. Then she mentioned that he had died in the Korean War. Now for whatever reason, perhaps I was distracted or something at the time, I really didn't "hear" those words when she said them to me. 

Now let's get to what I found.

Source Information:  Ancestry.com. U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 
1928-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

This is the U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control form for a Harry Earl Sutton

Name of Cemetery:  Long Island Name:  Harry E. Sutton
Emblem:  Christian
Rank: 1 lt.
Service Data:  3rd Div Co I 15 Inf Regt
State:  New York
Date Of Birth:  Apr 19, 1920
Date Of Death:  Feb. 3, 1951
Date of  Internment:  Aug. 28, 1951
Grave Loc:  Sec or Plot A  Grave or Lot No. 24
Dates of Service
Enlistment: 12/28/44
Died on A. D.:  2-3-51

Remarks:  (Authority for interment, pension, claim number, disinterment etc.)

Auth.  Korean Dead returned from overseas (RE) (SR) (DB) was verified by next of kin
Gr. 24A Sec A reserved for widow Vadnie

Wait a second. What?! I read on.

Name and address of next of kin or other responsible person

Vadnie R. Sutton
670 Adee Ave., Apt 2A
Bronx 67, N.Y.

And that was it. That was when I felt it. My dear sweet grandmother was once a young widow with two babies to raise on her own. For a moment I couldn't breathe. Then, I thought about that little lady (she was under five feet tall.) I used to call her my honorary Irish grandmother because her birthday was on St. Patrick's Day. What strength she had! Her eyes always seemed to be bright and smiling when I would visit. I look back now and wonder what other sorrows she may have kept to herself.

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