2017 MLK Day of Service – Youth Genealogy Program

C.A.R. Circle

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Indeed.

On Monday, January 16, 2017 the ChiChi-Okobee Society Children of the American Revolution hosted a half-day youth genealogy program at the Children’s Garden and Art Center. This program was made possible by a State College of Florida MLK Day of Service grant which I applied for on behalf of the Sarasota area C.A.R.

mlk2005_nolineHow about I quickly bring things up to speed before dishing out the details on the program. Shortly after joining the DAR last June I decided to to assist on the C.A.R. committee. It seemed like a common sense kind of idea considering I have two small children who I am working on getting into the C.A.R. as well. After a few months time one of my fellow Daughters shared with me a couple of grant opportunities that might be of interest. In October I applied for the MLK Day of Service grant. Just a few days before Thanksgiving I heard that my application for funding had been approved.

From that point forward until the day of the program, I worked tirelessly to develop and bring a youth based genealogy event to my community. And that in a nutshell was how the event came about and one of the many, many reasons I’ve been absent here.

Back to the C.A.R. For those who are not familiar:

C.A.R. is the nation’s oldest, largest patriotic youth organization offering membership to anyone under the ages of 21 who is lineally descended from someone who provided military or civil service or gave material aid or support to the cause of independence during the American Revolution.

C.A.R was chartered by the United States Congress in 1895, and is organized for the training of the young people in true patriotism and love of country.

Although the C.A.R. is only open to children with direct ancestral ties to the Revolution the Youth Genealogy Program was framed to assist children of any background with discovering tools and resources they may not have been previously aware of. Our C.A.R. society recognizes that no matter where your ancestry takes you knowing your lineage is important.
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finding your roots: in search of our fathers

Finding Your RootsTuesday night’s season premiere of the hit PBS series “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates Jr. kicked the season off by profiling celebrities Stephen King, Gloria Reuben and Courtney Vance, all of whom knew virtually nothing about their fathers and/or their father’s family. The first part of the program revealed to viewers a variety of circumstances that took the fathers out of the lives of each celebrity along with the hope of uncovering their family lineage. For Stephen King, he was just a young boy when his dad left the house for a pack cigarettes – never returning. Gloria Reuben was one of her father’s children from a second marriage. Her father was 73 years of age when Gloria was born and he passed away when she was quite young. For Courtney Vance, his father had been given away as a child and had always been in Courtney’s life until he committed suicide when Courtney was 30 years of age.

I suspected I would be able to relate to the many emotions everyone in this particular episode encountered based off of my own experience with my natural father and my step-father. And boy could I relate.
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current research interests

I recently shared in detail my connections and research interests related to Yazoo County, Mississippi. The King and Gilliam lines out of Yazoo from which I descend can be found on my mother’s maternal side. I made a commitment this year to focus on my mother’s maternal lines first and foremost. That is the part of my family tree with the least amount of information. Still, I would like to summarize some additional interests across my entire pedigree. Without further delay here they are:

PATERNAL LINES

Surname(s): ROBERTS, ROBINSON
Location(s): Franklin, Lincoln & Bolivar Counties, MS

Celia Ann Robinson Thomas, formerly Celia Ann Roberts is my 2x great grandmother who resided in Bolivar County, MS. When I requested her 1913 Death certificate from the MDAH I had no idea how it would propel me into seeking free people of color (FPOC) in Franklin and Lincoln County. Per the information provided on her death certificate, my Celia Ann was the daughter of a James Roberts from Franklin County, MS. With the information found on the death certificate I was finally able to locate Celia Ann in the 1870 and 1880 Census years living in Lincoln County with her father James Roberts and mother, also named Celia. I noticed from the 1870 Census that Celia Ann’s father James was listed as a mulatto which prompted me into seeing whether he could be found in 1860. And wouldn’t you like to know what I found?! I found a mulatto James Roberts (presumably the same one that is Celia Ann’s father) living free in 1860 and 1850 with his family. Free People of Color!

Actually, on these two census years I see that James’ father, Dread Roberts, is a mulatto man married to a white woman, Elizabeth Mitchell Roberts. Say what? Yes. Here is where my troubles and questions arise. If James was a FPOC living comfortably in Franklin and later Lincoln County, why did he and several of his children turn up living in Bolivar County with the last name Robinson? Well a couple thoughts come to mind. Come 1870 Dread Roberts and the rest of his children are now passing for white. This trend continues into 1880 and onward for all of Dread Robert’s children. They marry white people and their children become white as listed on every Census record post 1870. The only exception is my 3x great grandfather, James Roberts. So did he move to the Mississippi Delta and change his name because he married / partnered with a woman of color? Or was he himself phenotypically of defect to his own family?

So far I’ve located a number a of Dread Roberts white descendants a.k.a. my distant 4th and 5th cousins, but none are too familiar with their family history that far back. Hmm, I wonder why? I’m certainly not trying to ask anyone who obviously looks white to redefine who or what they are. I only want to have a complete and accurate history to pass down to my own children. This is one of my research areas where I am hoping DNA testing will prove most useful.

Surname(s): HENDERSON, GREEN(E)
Location(s): Mississippi Delta & King George, VA

Anderson Henderson, my 2x great grandfather, was always said to be the son of Hardie and Susan Dandridge Henderson. I accepted it. I rolled with it until I decided to order the pension record of Hardie Henderson. Boy did that muddy the water! Hardie, a Civil War veteran, has a pension file that is 90+ pages long. Long story short: Hardie does a good job including information on his spouse and their children. The first issue I came across was Susan, his wife, was a war widow. The documents state she was previously married to a Bob Green(e) who perished in Vicksburg. My next observation was that Hardie never lists Anderson as one of his children unless Anderson has another name unbeknownst to me. It would seem to me that my 3x great grandfather, Anderson Henderson was adopted by Hardie and took on his surname. However, his biological father is a Green(e). That naturally changes the whole ball game.
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finding your roots: season two preview

Sound the trumpets y’all and come on September. I’m very much looking forward to this new season of the PBS, Henry Louis Gates Jr. program, Finding Your Roots. Based off of this video preview there isn’t an episode I won’t want to see. I’m especially interested in seeing the one with rapper, Nas. His Jones family has roots in parts of Mississippi that my Jones families are from. Could we be related? Who knows? As I’ve already said every episode looks awesome and I can’t wait. Fellow fans of the show, whose family history are you looking forward to most?