Researching in Georgia - Taliaferro, Toliver, Lawrence, Brewer, Askew, Dorsey, Jackson, Poole, Butler, Allen, Gilbert, Crawford, Middlebrooks, Gates, Parks, Thompson, Alford, Favors, Guise, and related surnames.

27 January 2010

Wordless Wednesday-Speechless !!

Felicia over at My Nola Heritage and Sherry of Family Tree Writer have honored me with the Blogger’s Best Friend award. I am truly touched by their kind words.  Thanks so much ladies for thinking of me for this award. I’m SPEECHLESS!

I am passing the award on to Lori E of Stories of My Ancestors. Lori comments frequently to my posts, and has offered helpful suggestions for my Taliaferro research. Lori deserves this Blogger’s Best Friend award. Lori’s encouraging words and willingness or help and share make her a shining example of “ A Friend of Friends”.

24 January 2010

Sentimental Sunday- Walker Street Elementary School

Recently, while searching through the Vanishing Georgia Collection at The Digital Library of Georgia I came across this photo of Walker Street Elementary School. Unfortunately, the photo depicts a fire that destroyed the building in January 1983. Walker Street became Atlanta’s third public (white) elementary school in February 1872. The building as it stood when I attended was built in 1911. It was converted to an elementary school for Blacks in the 1930's.

Looking at this photo sadden me, but also brought back memories of my old neighborhood. Today, the neighborhood is known as Castleberry Hill; it’s on the west-side of Atlanta, just minutes from downtown. I don’t remember it being called Castleberry Hill when I was a child; I didn’t know it had a name - it was just home. Now the area is being rebuilt with lofts, condos and trendy shops so I guess they had to give it a name or call it something. The famous Pascal’s Restaurant even relocated to Castleberry Hill from its historic location on ML King Drive (formerly Hunter Street). Boy, have things changed!

I attended Walker Street from kindergarten through the fifth grade. Those were by far the best years of my childhood. My friends and I walked back and forth to school every day; no fears, no threat of harm. Most days on the walk home, we stopped at the little corner store for some two for a penny candy or cookies - Mary Jane was my favorite...Sugar Daddy...Bazooka Gum...coconut bars, and those little cookies shaped like a flower with the whole in the middle. I don’t think they had a name - “just give me a nickel worth of those”. We played hopscotch on the sidewalk, jacks and marbles, kick ball and giant step (May I, Yes You May) in the street, and fell asleep on the porch on hot summer nights.

We had a milkman who delivered milk, eggs and butter; a vegetable man yelling- “veg- a-bles, git ya veg-a-bles”, and in the summertime we all waited anxiously, with a nickel or dime, for the ice cream man. There was also the ice man, the junk man, the insurance man, the Watkins man, and the Fuller Brush man. Now that I think about it, seems there was a “man” for just about anything you needed. You could go to the grocery store without any money - “my mama said, put it on her bill.” We were carefree and happy. We were not sick often, but when we were the doctor came to our house. Were we poor? I didn’t think least not through my child’s eyes. I never wanted for any thing. There was always plenty of food, a big warm house, nice clean clothes to wear, and above all, lots of love. This is not to say that all was peaches and cream. We took the trolley to town, but had to sit in the back, and ten minutes away doors were labeled “Colored” and “White”...but, those memories are for another time, another post. Today, I have fond memories of Walker Street Elementary School, and the old neighborhood - Castleberry Hill.

However, there is one ugly memory that I must share, or my recollections of Walker Street Elementary School would be incomplete. As happy as my memories are, I am forever scared by one vivid not so nice memory that haunts me to this very day. I remember it so well....It was the last day of school, a beautiful, sunny day. My friends and I were standing out front in the schoolyard gathering for the walk home, and ready to begin our summer vacation; there was laughter, joking, playing around. All of a sudden out of nowhere this boy runs up to me and plants an awkward kiss smack dab on my cheek. I WAS HORRIFIED!! I won’t say his name, but he will always be remembered by me as the boy who ruined my last day of school - fifth grade.

That summer we moved and I changed schools. It was sad leaving my friends and all the good times we shared. But, you know, it’s a good thing we did move because I was going be another year older, and ready to kick that boy’s butt if he tried something like that with me again!!

[Image Source: The Digital Library of Georgia, Vanishing Georgia Collection .]

[School History-Source: Early School Days In Castleberry Hill. The Chronicle, Winter 2007. Assessed 23 January 2010.]

15 January 2010

A Friend Of Friends: Lessons From The Underground Railroad

One night during the holidays I watched one of my favorite movies, Roots: The Gift. The movie stars LeVar Burton and Louis Gossett, Jr., in their roles as Kunta Kinte and Fiddler from the television series Roots. In this movie, Kunta and Fiddler accompany their owner to another plantation at Christmas time for a party, and become involved in a plan to help some runaway slaves escape via the Underground Railroad to freedom. A simple, yet powerful story. There are many messages and lessons to be learned from Roots: The Gift.
In one of my favorite scenes, Fiddler and Kunta are helping the group of runaway slaves get to the river where they are to meet a boat that will take them further on their journey to freedom. Along the way they make a stop to pick up other “passengers” on the Underground Railroad. When they come to a farmhouse, Kunta approaches and knocks. The man asks...”who goes”? Kunta responds “Friend of Friends” acknowledgment, the man replies “Friend of Friends”. A group of “passengers” exit the house. Kunta, Fiddler, and the group continue their journey.

This year, I was particularly moved by the Underground Railroad scene, and even more so by the phrase uttered by Kunta- Friend of Friends. The phrase, and variations of it, was used along the Underground Railroad as a password or signal to those assisting runaway slaves on their journey freedom. The traditional response to the “who goes there” password is said to have been “A Friend of a Friend”.

A Friend of Friends. Say it... A Friend of Friends, again...A Friend of Friends. It evokes such a comforting, welcoming feeling. A feeling of trust, of sharing, of caring, of kindness, and of friendship, however brief. At the same time, it is transient...adjusting and changing with the circumstances. I’m A Friend of don’t know me, but I require assistance...I need your help, and guidance...some information to aid me on my journey...then I’ll be moving the next stop along the way.

The phrase, and the underlying concept, seems particularly appropriate and relevant for those of us in the genealogy community; aren’t we all on some level really just A Friend of Friends? Strangers helping strangers. Friends of friends with a common bond that ties us all together....the desire to know our ancestors, and to tell their stories. A common goal, with different methods, different paths that cross and intersect along the journey. As we travel this road to uncovering our ancestors and their stories we should all embrace the concept...we should be A Friend of Friends. Don’t be afraid or reluctant to share, to care, to guide, or to assist your fellow researcher along their journey.

As an African American researcher my task is two-fold; I research my family, but inevitably I must also research the family of my ancestor's slave holders if I want to know more about my roots. Often we must seek information (assistance) from those that we do not know to aid us on our journey. It is an unavoidable truth - the descendants of our ancestor’s slave holding families may hold the key to our enslaved ancestor's past. Slavery is an ugly truth of our shared history. I am not angry with you because your ancestor held my ancestor as a slave; don’t be angry with me because I seek those records that may shed more light on the lives of my people, and help me to tell their story more completely. Some who were members of slave holding families assisted passengers along the Underground Railroad. I challenge you to be A Friend of Friends.

We, as researchers of our African American ancestry, must also remember to share, to care, to guide, and to assist our fellow researchers; reach out, take, make time. Can you request and expect the assistance of others, yet not expect the same of yourself? I urge you to stop being selfish with your research. Don’t miss out on a connection or a long lost cousin because of fear or uncertainty. Post It, Blog It, Share It, and Publish It. Many who were passengers along the Underground Railroad returned to assist others on their journey to freedom. I challenge you to be A Friend of Friends.

True genealogists know all of this, and understand the necessity of it. Indeed, the concept is nothing new in the genealogy community. Random, and not so random, acts of kindness occur every day. So, consider this a wake-up call, my challenge to you. When a fellow researcher comes calling...for info...for guidance...for knowledge...for support - be there - to share, to care, to guide, and to assist.


09 January 2010

A Happy 101 Award - Just When I Need A Smile!!

My friend Gini over at Ginisology has gone and done it again. This time she’s awarded me with the Happy 101 Award. Now how did she know I need to be perked-up? Well, I have been in the dumps lately, and this has really helped to cheer me up. Thanks, Gini. You’re the best! Now I have to list 10 things that make me happy, and pass the award on to 10 other blogs. The first one is easy.

Ten things that make me happy are:

1. My brother, Bernard. It never fails, he can always put a smile on my face.  He's my best friend.

2. Savannah, my dog. She is just the sweetest thing, and soooo pretty. I’m an animal lover, but puppies and dogs top the list.

3. Taking with any of my friends on the phone.

4. Honey Baked Ham...or a Jersey Mike’s club em!

5. Memories of my mom.

6. Long car rides to nowhere special.

7. Music, especially oldies on Saturday morning.

8. Thinking about retirement... coming soon.

9. Watching my soap operas (my guilty pleasure), and sipping on a Sprite.

10. A clear blue sky on a sunny spring day. Beautiful!!

Now, the not so easy part. Ten blogs to pass the award on to. There are many great blogs out there for sure.  There are only 7 here, but they are the ones that I read most often, and can honestly vouch for the consistently excellent content. They all have great post, and keep me coming back for more.  Here's to you ladies!!

 Our Georgia Roots-Luckie Daniels

 Into The Light- Renate

 Georgia Black Crackers- Mavis Jones

 Reclaiming Kin- Robyn

 My Colored Roots-Darlene

 Our Family As A Whole- Felicia Mathis

 Conversations With My Ancestors- Mavis Jones 

[ADDENDUM: 13 January 2010.  A special thank you to Sharon over at Kindred Footprints, who today gifted me with another Happy 101 Award.  It was really nice of you to think of me for this award.  I truly appreciate it.  Thanks!!

01 January 2010



Thanks for following I Never Knew My Father. I look forward to sharing my research findings and thoughts with you in 2010. Happy New Year and I wish many BLESSINGS for all of you and your families in 2010. It's going to be a great year!

[Image source: Atlanta Peach Drop 2010.]