Brick Wall #4525

I’ve been actively researching my family’s history now since 1999. In the early days, every day yielded a new path, new treasure or new finding that got me up out of my seat. In the years since that time, “brick walls” spring up routinely and breakthroughs become fewer and farther between.  That’s why when something new comes along, the happy dance is twice as sweet. A few posts ago, I referenced the familyhistory.org site and the databases therein. Well, this morning it delivered again. Although I signed up for a site membership a while ago, I usually search without logging in. HUGE mistake! I logged in this morning and to my surprise, not only was the tennessee, Death Records, 1914-1955 indexed, but copies of the actual death certificates were scanned and available for download! I was able to find an actual document for dozens of my ancestors in Rutherford County
including Hillary Brown. Loads of information are contained on these pages! As for brick wall #4525…. Hillary’s certificate CONFIRMED his parents as William & Fannie Brown.  What’s the big deal you might ask?!? Well, my first real record of Hillary and Bettie is the 1870 census record.  Because they were born as slaves, they weren’t named in any government record prior to that. Family lore always suggested that Hillary was raised by his older brother Booker (well documented on this site). Maybe; but the death certificate listing of his parents tells me that Hillary and his family knew exactly who their ancestors were, even 60+ years later.

Holloway High School, Class of 1940

I recently received a copy of the photo composite for the 1940 graduating class of Holloway High in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Thanks cousin!).  Why is this set of photographs important to me?  Well my grandparents were members of this class and I’ve just added two new late teen aged snapshots of them to my collection!  For those that have followed this site for a while, you’ll note the handsome young man in the lower right hand corner is Wash William Brown, my grandfather.  My grandmother, whom I’ve written about before on this site, has her identity protected here because she is still happily with us in mind, body and spirit!

Holloway High was founded in 1928 and was the only black high school in Murfreesboro, TN at the time.  Many members of my maternal line walked the halls at Holloway High and still attend the annual ‘Red and Black’ affair in Murfreesboro.

Booker S. Brown revisited

One of the moments in my research that elicited pride (there have been many) was the time that I “found” my 2nd Great Grand uncle, Booker Sampson Brown, and his connection to the Civil War.  I was recently re-watching the African American Lives 2 series and watched a similar discovery for Don Cheadle and his family.  You can see it for yourself here.   Here’s Chris Rock having the same joy:

I think a lot of the pride comes from knowing that your ancestors weren’t just victims…. weren’t just dragged along by this holocaust, but actually had the opportunity to put on a uniform, bare arms and fight for the freedom recently granted through war.  It’s not nearly enough to erase the scars, but it gives me something to talk to my kids about when the questions inevitably come.   Something personal.  something beyond Roots, Dr. King and the differences between now and then.

When I visited the African American Civil War Memorial for the first time a few years ago, it struck me that this was a story not often told.  No one ever told me until I went to find it myself.  Over the holidays, I was able to visit again, this time with my Grandmother in tow.  She is Booker’s Great-Grand niece.  She’d never heard the story I’ve been able to piece together either (beyond hearing her Grandfather Hillary speak fondly of his older brother).  Amazing how this stuff teaches the young and the old.

Wordless Wednesday

Sisters-in-law Great Aunt Fannie Irene and Mama Tennie (my Great Grand mother)

Wordless Wednesdays – I’m back….

Wash Brown

After a wonderful holiday with family and friends, I’m back.  Life is hectic, so I’ll ease back in with a WW post featuring my wonderful Grandfather – Wash Brown.

Wordless Wednesday

2nd Great Grandfather Hobart Sr.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Got a great comment a few posts ago about my great aunt Chitika.  She was, indeed, a beautiful child.

Great Aunt Chitika

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.

2nd Great Aunt Violet Odalia

 

Everyday….Is Veteran’s Day

Hobart Brown Jr WW II military

Hobart Brown Jr WW II

Wordless Wednesday

Violet, Hobart & Chiteka

Jubilee Singer?

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 at 17Ellen 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.

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