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FL & TN Collections

I’ve been researching my family history for quite some time (mostly online which I plan to change in the near future) and one of the most frustrating moments for me is when I come across a GREAT database or index for Oregon…..or Delaware…..or some other state/locality that I’m certain my ancestors never saw.  It was one of those moments recently that gave me this idea.

The vast majority of my research is centered around two states; Florida and Tennessee.  I’ve collected hundreds of pieces of information when I’ve come across one of these online gems that happens to cover my family’s slice of the world.  Going forward, every time I find one, I’m going to post the link here so that others might stumble across this information about our place in the world.  You’ll find these collections on the tab above or by clicking here.

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.

Re-Post – Alice (D’King) Kimbro

The section below is re-posted from my maternal ancestor tab.  Partially because it’s one of my favorite ancestor stories.  The other reason is my discovery this weekend that I validated the story told in the pages of Ed Bell’s book with my independent research online.  I’ve sourced marriage of George and Alice, the Castle Street address, the number of children and their son Iz (or Iseral).  For those interested, I’ve included the pages from Mr. Bell’s book.

Alice reference in the The Lonely People

The Lonely People Page 2

Based on my research, most of my maternal line can be found in or around Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  One of the earliest ancestors I’ve found so far actually migrated (at some point) from Texas.  I believe this because I actually have a document which is almost as good a the slave narratives.  Ed Bell, the editor of The Rutherford Courier, penned a book in 1948 called, The Lonely People and their strange ways.  The book was about people living in Murfreesboro that Ed met during his time there.  My 3rd Great Grand-parents, George & Alice Kimbro (Kimbrough) were the subjects of one of his chapters, particularly Alice.  A copy of the text has been passed down for a couple of generations and I’m re-printing it here….

An afternoon in February with yellow winter sunshine coming down the small hill on South Walnut and reflecting across the shanties of Blackbottom…

A great bony Negro woman rocking on the porch of a house at the bottom of the hill, a dingy poodle dog at her feet, its belly turned up to the friendly sun… Aunt Alice Kimbrough, who had been living ninety years, talked about her youth, about when she was known as D’King, the champion wrestler of anywhere there is.

She was the most wrestling fool that ever wore a shoe polish skin, and no man nor woman could throw her down…  Except one man and she married him…The folks came from 500 and sometimes 5,000 miles to see D’King…They would flock on the fences like blackbirds to watch her grab them up and lay them on the cold, cold ground… When a nigger man or nigger woman got mean and talked to much, they said, “We get D’King to han’le you” and the bragger ran away and never come back again…

On D’King’s wedding day, when they were fixing her up with fine clothes to marry the only man in the whole world who could throw her down, a bigmouth yellow woman from the north country come along….The yellow said she never been throwed by anybody…”We get D’King to han’le you,” And the wedding guests said…But D’King was a busy woman…The barbecue was cooked, George and the preacher waiting…George was her true love…

D’King told them to go tell that fool ‘oman she had no crow to pick with anybody anymore except George…She was not wrestling again until she was a married woman…but her father said, “You no ‘oman less you kin.”…Which made her courage rise up till she laid by her bridal veil and went out to throw the bigmouth yellow from the north country…She made one pass at her middle and threw her so hard she hit the ground like a shook apple…Before the woman could get up D’King was back in the house ready to marry the only man.

D’King and her good friend who was name Cassie Ann were the strongest niggers anywhere there is…They could stand in a half-bushel measure and shoulder three bushels of wheat…If D’King hestitated, her father said, “You no ‘oman less you kin.”…Then she lifted it without one word more.

She was the healthiest pickaninny slave down in Texas…It was because she got so much sugar to eat…And the way she got all the sugar was by busting her bare big toe against a rock and running to the Missus to medicine it with turpentine and sugar…D’King ate the sugar off the toe and got fat.

After her marriage to George Kimbrough, she settled down because George done her good…He never called her fool or liar like all the other nigger’s husbands who called their women everything but a cedar bush…The night of the wedding there was happy doings at the white folks’ house and D’King and George got so many chickens for presents they had to get two somebodies to help carry them home…They lived together many years doing good and having seven children… Of these she was proudest of a double-jointed nigger named Iz… Iz hit a Kentucky mule in the head with his fist once and the mule didn’t live any more.

That was the tale Aunt Alice told me on a yellow winter afternoon a long time ago—I saved it to tell when she died.

George and Alice also had a daughter named Jennie.  Jennie’s son, Iss William Brown is likely Iz’ namesake.

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.

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