Got a great comment a few posts ago about my great aunt Chitika. She was, indeed, a beautiful child.
Sadly, she did not live past the age of 6. Both she and her mother, my 2nd great aunt Violet Odahlia (namesake of my grandmother in the earlier post), are pretty tragic figures in our family’s history.
One thing I’ve become acclimated to since I began this hobby is finding new and interesting things about my family; most of which I would have never known except through this research. Usually these unexpected surprises happen 3 or 4 generations ago in the haze and grayness of the early 20th or late 19th centuries.
Recently, however, I’ve uncovered a “mystery” much closer:
Earl Bynum was the brother of M. J. Bynum, my Grandfather. He passed away when I was a young child. Lived in Lake City (which likely means that Dada was his father) and moved to St. Petersburg, FL with the rest of my father’s family. Here’s the mystery….I knew just about everyone mentioned in his obituary….but I have NEVER heard of him. Not a word or whisper of his name from my father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Just about everyone on that side of my lineage is now departed, so I can’t depend on answers from the family. My mother never heard of this man during their marriage; despite being very close to M.J. and his brothers and sisters.
To add to this mystery a little, no trace of Earl so far in any household records I have sourced or found on ancestry.com (although I admit, time has prevented me from making this an exhaustive search). Still digging….
UPDATE: My post got me thinking a bit and I checked the site for the cemetery where my family’s plot is located and sure enough….Earl Bynum rests there.
Earlier this month, the subject of one of my Wordless Wednesdays was my Great Grandaunt, Ellen Lorrelle Brown. Ellen was born in Lacassas, TN. She was the daughter of the Hillery and Bettie Brown; one of fifth with two sisters and two brothers.
Ellen attended Fisk University in Nashville, TN and (according to family lore) was one of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in or about 1910.
The original Jubilee Singers introduced ‘slave songs’ to the world in 1871 and were instrumental in preserving this unique American musical tradition known today as Negro spirituals.
They broke racial barriers in the US and abroad in the late 19th century and entertained Kings and Queens in Europe. At the same time, they raised money in support of their beloved school.
For music historians and family historians alike, this would be a terrific connection to the past….if sourced. My problem is, so far, I can’t find a source to confirm or deny the story. Now, to be fair, I haven’t gone beyond internet and ancestry.com searches. I’m hoping some corresponence with the modern version of the group will yield some confirmation. If it does, you’ll see it here first.
In an earlier post, I talked about my 2nd Great Grandfather and his “complicated” family. In that post, I also spoke of his wife Ethel leaving home…
So, with one child in hand and one on the way, Ethel took off down the dusty road leading away from the family farm…. and Dada stood and watched from the porch as his wife and two of his children disappeared in the horizon.
One of those children was my great-uncle, Richard Bynum. Richard was born in 1918 and was the youngest of five (for years, we thought it was four siblings, but learned of a fifth through my research this year! THAT is a story for another time). Richard’s childhood after he headed down that dusty road was a difficult one. I didn’t know him until much later in his life, but I’ll always remember how he would adamantly talk about the reasons he chose to have no children. Basically, he felt his own childhood was so bad, he’d never wish that hardship on someone else.
Richard enlisted in the army and served in World War II. He served over seas from 1941-45 and retired at the rank of sergeant. After his service, he settled back down in St. Petersburg, FL. Despite the frustrations about his youth, I remember Uncle Richard being a bit of a comedian. The more I think about it, I think I actually got a bit of my sense of humor from him. For that, I’m eternally grateful.
He passed away in 1991 at the age of 72 and is buried with veteran honors at Florida National Cemetery.