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Finding Grandma Ora Nelms Foster (1895-1971) During the Jim Crow Era 1876-1965

This is the only photo I have of my grandmother. You probably cannot make out her face, but I can. She was a beautiful lady. She lived in Joliet, Illinois, Cleveland, Ohio, Sacramento, California, Memphis, Tennessee, Arkansas, and she lived in DeSoto County, Mississippi when she was young. She held strong Christian beliefs. At the end of her life, it was me that told my father that she wanted to come visit us from Cleveland, Ohio. He sent for her. We were living in Joliet, Illinois. It was on this last visit that she sat down to talk with me while my mother braided my hair. I can remember it just like it just happened yesterday. She wanted me to memorize the 23rd Psalm then and there. It was

The World is Still in Commotion

I wrote this piece exactly five years ago today. I have grown as a genealogist and parent, but I notice the world is yet struggling. I will still move forward as a person of color living by and sharing the things I continue to hold true. The world is in commotion everywhere you turn.  That is a given, but the question is "What responsibility as a genealogist do I have in what I do and say?"  I certainly do not think remaining silent is an option.  In many respects, I feel that I have been prepared for this day and for the current battles.  Through the research of my family, I have learned we find success if we can unite  around true principles.  Differences will melt away as we cease to judg

US Civil War Pension Payment Card for Berry Leech, 135th Colored Infantry

Now that Sharon Pittman Egelhofer has found us and will represent the family of Berry Leech, we will give her the last record we have found below, and leave her with two great places she can research more historical records to document Berry and his family. First, we know Berry was born in Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina so Cumberland County, North Carolina Genealogy should be one resources for her. Next, we know he dies in Robeson County, North Carolina so she should look there to find out more about him and his family: Robeson County, North Carolina Genealogy. We will be happy to locate any other place he lived for her. We will love to see where this journey takes her. US C

US Civil War Service Record of Berry Leech from 135th Colored Infantry

This is comes from the "Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the American Civil War, compiled 1890 - 1912, documenting the period 1861 - 1866" at It is the service record of Berry Leech. We have made contact with a family member of Berry Leech. She was in our Facebook Group, Enslaved Ancestors and Freedmen Genealogy! Just Ask! "These are my relatives. I’m so excited you have led me to my great uncles son. Ed Leach was my great uncle. His father’s name was Miles Leach. Miles had a son named Richard who our family lost in history. But I instantly began to research Berry Leach he took me to Mr. Giles whom we called Miles Lea

Berry Leech 83, Died in Robeson County, NC and was in 135th US Colored Infantry

In "They Served in 135th US Colored Infantry from Fayetteville and Cumberland County, NC on March 1865," I published the names of the 135th US Colored Infantry from Fayetteville or Cumberland County, NC. They enlisted in Goldsboro, NC on March 27, 1865, and mustered in March 28, 1865. Well, Nicholle Young has taken on to look up Owen Spearman. She knows of connections there to Fayetteville State University. Minnie Becton also let me know that she is related to Jack Sherrod and has written his story. She amazingly let me post it on my Facebook Timeline for which I am grateful. Now, I would like to tell you a little about Berry Leech. Perhaps we will find those descendants as well. Pension Fi

They Served in 135th US Colored Infantry from Fayetteville and Cumberland County, NC on March 1865

I have not yet found any ancestors who I can say served in the Union Army during the Civil War, but I do not think it matters too much that I do not have any relations that I know of yet. I want to do something that will show them that I am eternally grateful for their sacrifice. Because I live in Fayetteville, NC, I decided to publish the names of the 135th US Colored Infantry Company A-J, Company L-W who were born in Fayetteville and Cumberland County, NC, for starters. You have to understand something. One reason they are not talked about is because no one knows of them. Unidentified young African Americ

Where is Grandpa? Oral History Interview of Ellis McClure

There is no one left, but Ellis to tell the stories as he remembers going for visits to his grandpa and grandma's farm. I remember asking Archie, his dad, the basic questions about grandparents on both sides. I had to get out my pedigree charts because he related so much I knew I would need to remember it, so I wrote it down in 1993. I knew I would not get the chance to have these conversations, and I knew one day that my daughter, Adrianne, would want to know. From 1993 to 2020 is a long time. Now, I feel I must do these oral history interviews with Ellis because he remembers some great and tragic events and one day his descendants might want to know. The one thing I am impressed by is that

Finding Enslaved Ancestors

Edna Vance by Emory Wallace Vance, Sr. This is a picture of my mom, Edna Vance Foster, when she was playing on her parent’s farmland in Gadsden, South Carolina back in the early 1940’s. My grandfather always took a lot of photos, but we do not have any of them because a family member took them. Because of my research, I have been able to recover some photos he sent to his cousins. This particular photo was given to us by William Louis Johnson of Asheville, North Carolina before he died. I would have never even seen it, but I met him. He shared this and several others before he died. It is so important for me to be able to tell my daughter, Adrianne, about her grandparents, great grandparents

Ellis McClure Recalls a Visit to Birmingham, Alabama with His Dad and Howard Echols in 1956

Listen to a recording of this story: The article Documented Columbus McClure's Probate Record in Alabama, Wills and Probate Records, 1753-1999 brought back some memories we wanted to share with you. Ellis McClure recalls a summer vacation in Birmingham, Alabama with his dad, Archie McClure, his brother, Marvin McClure, and his dad's friend Howard Echols in 1956. One day they Howard and Ellis went into town as suggested by Ellis' grandmother, Coreain McClure. Ellis told this experience to me years later in 1997. He had described it to me so clearly. I let him know that what he had experienced was racism. We are documenting family history. Racism was and is part of our history. Robin: Okay. Th

Documented Columbus McClure's Probate Record in Alabama, Wills and Probate Records, 1753-1999

"Prominent Woodlawn Citizen is Victim of Crossing Crash," Columbus McClure's death,, "The Birmingham Reporter," Birmingham, Alabama, 8 March 1930, column 4, page 8, <> Back in 2016 we journeyed to Birmingham, Alabama to search for information on Ellis' paternal side of the family. We actually searched the newspapers on microfilm to find an for Columbus McClure (D. 1930), his grandfather, obituary at the Birmingham Public Library. We could never find it. Low and behold, this covid-19 season, we found it on His name was not in the title of the article soo that's probably why we could not find it in 2016. This got me to t

Have You Seen 'Father Unknown' by Filmmaker, David Quint?

Sometimes you see that one film that most people can truly relate to. That is what the film, Father Unknown, is to me. If you are searching for ancestors especially to make this person known to a living person, this film will speak to you. This is a true story about a son's desire to help his dad find his father. If you have ever been involved with assisting a family member with looking for an ancestor, you know of the desire of that family member to have success. No matter your situation, this film will give hope to the person who is searching and to you, the person helping to find. Oftentimes, it is the bravery of these two people that brings about the miracle. No matter what the outcome,

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