As I went through the family photos last night with mom, I saw so many happy times and so many pictures of my mom and Uncle Bobby. See my NaNa Odessa(found out thats what me and my brother used to call her), had mom and Uncle Bobby late in life. Mom and her brother AJ, were at least 20yrs apart, but the oldest two loved the youngest two as if they were a year apart.
I ran across mom and Uncle Bobby’s first communion photo then came across me and my brothers. A coinsidence, I think not. Don’t we instill in our children the same values that our mom instilled in us. We always say we are going to be a different parent, but I know I found my mom all in me when raising my boys.
Me and mom laughed so hard last night because as we were discussing our first communion, we both decided that it was a mother’s vision. See I don’t even remember anything about that time. I had to be about 4 years old. I remember going to a lot of classes and studying for a speech that I had to give that day. I only went to Catholic school for about 1 year. See once mom and dad split, there were a lot of changes for my brother and I. My issue is that I did not even take Catholic as my religion. I was baptizied as a Baptist.
See I did it for her. Just like she did it for her mom and so on. These are our mother’s vision not ours, but we do these things because we think that is what our moms want. I am really proud that my mom allowed my brother and I to decide our own religion but at that time at that very moment, she and NaNa Odessa wanted us to have a first communion and we had one!!
Today as I was shared with a co-worker about what I have learned about my family history so far. I shared with her that my Robertson/Robinson line of women were Mulattos. As I explained to her that Mulatto was a negative word that was used for mixed race. I joking said that someone in my family slept with and Indian or the slave master. We laughed but how true this is. The problem is that whom ever started this color line in my family, was not happy to do so.
I shared with my co-worker that my mom shared with me. She always told me that my grandmother Odessa was so light that she could pass for white. She said that growing up, their neighbors looked down on them because her and my uncle Bobby were light also. My mom said she used to hear them say “here comes Ms Odessa with them light kids of hers.” My mom said that one of the things neighbors said they think they are better because of their skin color.
How not true this is. My Grandmother had my mom and uncle at such a late age in life that after she had my uncle, she started having health problems. They were raised in the Robert Taylor projects in Chicago down on State Street. My grandmother worked cleaning homes and did whatever she had to do to help raise her family. See, my grandfather Robert was so messed up by the war that my grandmother was on her own with two kids and health problems. So how is that thinking that you are better? She went threw the same thing that every women went threw no matter what their skin color is.
My co-worker shared with me that she has the same issue in her family but in reverse. See Carolina is from the Dominic Republic and she shared that most women mixed with men from Haiti. She stated that her grandmother used to tell her” get you one of those men with the blue eyes and light skin.” That might not be the exact quote but you all know what I’m talking about. I told her just like in my family, all the light women went for that dark skinned man!! Even her(she has one of the cutiest little baby), my mom, my grandmother, my great great grandmother and so on.
See I am a true believer that it is not about the color of your skin, but about what you have in your heart and your character, but if you think about it no matter what color your skin is Mulatto, Light skinned, or dark skinned we are all African Americans and Children of God. I just wish things could have been different then and now!!
EMMA ROBERTSON: 1876-1941
As you all know I recieved feedback from a post that I have left on ancestry and actually Mr. McMurray was one of the persons that I sent my letter to in Quest For Information. Here is his response:
WOW! I can’t believe how serendipitous your letter is for me. I was just about to wade back into this family history since I’m having to do a historical book on THOMASVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL here in Sarepta. I started the research into our family while I lived in Atlanta, GA. I am a native of Sarepta, born, bred, and “buttered” here. Sam Long was my Grandmother’s oldest brother. He indeed married Emma Robertson, and if EVER there was a CHRISTIAN WOMAN and a woman of VIRTUE, it was Emma Robertson. She was a beautiful person, loving, kind, and her mantra was “Honey, don’t get angry, it’s a sin to get angry.” She lived that, because Uncle Sam was NOT an easy man to live with. Sam Long was perhaps the most influential man to be born in Webster Parish after slavery. He was well respected, revered and feared because his control of this area was ultimate. What Sam Long said, was LAW. His funeral in 1958 was attended by anyone and everyone, and he is responsible for the inchoation of nearly every church throughout Webster Parish/Louisiana, and Columbia County/Arkansas.
I say this not to venerate him, though he richly deserves that, but to show by contrast that Emma Robertson was actually the DRIVING FORCE behind him and the source of his strength and ability. Had she been a woman of lesser character, Sam Long would NOT have been as successful as he was. My mother is Juanita Wynn McMurray, and she always speaks with disdain of the fact that Sam Long grave is at the front of the cemetery and when Aunt Emma died, they buried her in the back and now you cannot find the grave, though I have looked and will continue to try to locate it. Uncle Sam was my MOTHER’S uncle and her mother’s oldest brother.
I hope to hear from you soon and I’d relish the opportunity to compare information with you. My contact information is as follows:
Eddie R. McMurray
P. O. Box 494
Evenings are best, but I’d love to hear from you anytime.Warmest, friendliest regards,
Notice the kind things he had to say about my great great aunt Emma. Boy would I have loved to have met her and know just a bit more about my Robertson line. Can’t wait to talk to him. Will keep everyone posted.
Most of my research has been guided towards my Louisiana roots, I have so been neglecting my other ancestors. So I decided to do a little research on my Mathis side. Not sure but I think I found my great grandmother Alice’s family and my great grandfather’s Virgil family.
When I first started this research I found all different kinds of spelling for my last name:
Matthis/Mathews/Matthews. I always thought my last name to be Mathis. I decided to change everyone’s last name in my tree to Mathis and go from there. Well there are not that many African American Mathis in Arkansas, but I did not let that stop me. Put in my great grandfather’s Virgil first name and date of birth and only three people came up. A Massett born abt 1874, McCoy born abt 1871, and Michell born abt 1870. See my great grandfather Virgil was born about 1872.
The Massett family had a wife named Harriet, which Virgil’s mom name was Harriet found living with him and Alice in 1900. Although the age was off for Harriett, that can always be figured out later. Now the key to this being my Virgil is that there was a Casey family thirteen households away from the Massett family. Although the Casey family does not show my Alice(since she was born after the 1880 census was taken), whose to say that her mom did not give birth three years after.
For some reason I have a feeling that this is my Alice. I know I will have to order a birth certificate and all, but I just can’t shake this feeling. The familys lived to close to each other and although Alice was married to Virgil in 1900, Alice’s mother and father was still in the area and so was Virgil’s. What are your thoughts? Have I found my ancestors?
Today as I read the tweets that went on between Ourgeorgiaroots and Georgia Black Crackers, it so much reminded me of a conversation that I had with my mom.
As you know I posted a letter that I plan to send to possible family members hopefully trying to make somekind of connection. As I was printing the letter(printer set-up is in her Bedroom) she made a statement “who are you writing now”. It kind of upset me at first because, she isn’t really interested in my research until I make somekind of connection, then she asks me to ask whatever connection I make a thousand questions. See shes interested in what I find out for different reasons. As I stated before, it is rumored that Ben Robertson left each one of his children a piece of his land. So of course she is trying to see what happened with Ben’s land.
Now how much do we have to be patient with those family members that have information that we want, or maybe that picture, or maybe that one surname that can help you continue on with your research. See my mom only remembers things as I discover them or make a connection. She has one story that she was told by her mom and I tell her that the research does not add up with that story she just says “that is what my mom told me”. I also had a conversation with my cousin. His grandfather Augustus Banks married my grandmother Odessa. His brother Raymond did sort of a family history also, but he just did the Banks line. When I heard this I was wondering how can he just do one line and not the line of his grandmother. Upon further conversation, Raymond only did the Banks line because the Banks owned land. So when I said “the research was done for the land”, my cousin Billy said no. Tried to contact cousin Raymond but we keep playing phone tag. Maybe he don’t want to share. Hm, could be you know land is involved.
The problem is she does not want to budge on what I have found out, she wants to stick with that story, but is the first one to tell me what question to ask and will have several oh yeah moments. I maybe a beginner, but I know enough that if you are doing family research you can not just do one line not unless it is for a specific reason.
Although my cousin Billy disagrees with the me, it is the truth. My mom, I love her to death and want to share information with her, but if it is not dealing with that land she does not want to hear anything. I deal with it because she is my mom and someday I want to give her the answer about the land. Cousin Billy in all his denials gave me a possible lead for Augustus Banks.
See thats what happens with those relatives that have that information that they want to hold onto. Even if they are in it for a different reason, you never know be patient eventually they will tell it even if they want to be the first to tell it.
As you all know I have been trying to get information on my Louisiana Line. I have reached out to living family that might have some information on the Robertson/Robinson line, but no one had sufficent enough information. Was able to get bits and pieces here and there. Enough to build on my family tree.
Since I know of the website AnyWho.com, where you can but a persons name, city and state and it would let you know of those that live in that area. I decided to put several of my ancestors last name in and see what happens. To my surprise I was able to get at least three families in Cotton Valley that had my ancestors last name.
Last night I decided to compose a letter to these families and here is a copy of that letter:
I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Felicia R Mathis and I am researching my family genealogy and I am hoping you might have some connection to my family and are willing to share or can connect me with someone who has some information and might be willing to share some information on my family. Let me start by giving you some of my family history that might show a possible connection.
My family history began in Webster Parish Police Jury Ward 2, Cotton Valley. My families surname is Robertson/Robinson. Some family used either name but I think Robinson was the one used most. My family members are:
Thos (Thomas) Robertson
The family members that I have information on are: Emma, Amanda, and Martha. I know Emma Robertson married Samuel Long and had 8 children, Martha, Cleveland, Paul, Albert, Carter, Julia, Centralia, and Coleman. Martha married Garfield Randle and Julia married into the Hampton family and had a son named J.C. who married a woman named Hattie. Amanda Robertson (my great grandmother) married a James Manuel Amos and had 4 children: James, Willie, Joseph, and Odessa (my grandmother). My grandmother Odessa married Augustus Banks and had 2 children: Earl, and AJ, she also married a Robert L Smith and had 2 children: Beverly Esther Smith-Mathis (my mother), and Robert Smith Jr. My mother remembers Martha, Cleveland, and Centralia as my grandmother cousins. Sometime in the 1920s, Amanda moved the family to Chicago, IL. Where she later died in 1926. My grandmother Odessa died in 1969. Martha Robertson married Robert B. Bell. She married Robert Bell around 1900 and they had about 7 children: Savannah, Robert Jr., Jessie, John, David, Dezeria and Alberta. Savannah married Charles Pyles and Dezeria married into the Cook family. I was hoping that there might be some descendents in the area. My grandmother Odessa had some cousins from the area, there names were Bob and Arthur Robinson. Their mother was believed to be one of the Robertson girls. Bob had a wife named Colona. Somewhere in the family there is a Mary Lee and her mom is one of the daughters also. I know some of the family moved to California, Chicago, and some stayed in LA.
I know this seems like a lot of information to take in, but this is what I have learned through my research, and if you are not of knowing any of my ancestors listed above I am really sorry to bother you and want to thank you for taking the time to read my letter. If some of this sound familiar to you, then fill me in on the blanks that I have missed. Please consider my request for information and if you have any photos of the family you are willing to share so I can add to my tree, I would love to have them. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Now what if this is not my family? What if I get no response? Do I seem crazy? I am so scared that the families might not know anything, or they might even be my ancestors.
My question is: What woud you do if you recieved a letter like this?
In modern time for Friday we say “TGIF”, but did our ancestors say that? I think not! Even after freedom.
My great great grandfather Ben Robertson owned his own land and farmed on that land. From census record in 1880, all children over 10 worked that farm, so that meant his eldest Henry and Georgia had to work. Minvera and Thomas was able to get some education but you can believe as soon as they were old enough they worked the farm also.
Our ancestors did not get a chance to say TGIF!! I see my ancestors working seven days a week. Maybe a half a day on Sunday, because church was in the morning. I can see even those that were in school probably working the farm after school and all day on Saturdays. Ben had such a big family and he worked and worked and worked to take care of everyone and produce his goods, and rumor is that Ben had enough land and left each one of his children a piece of that land. Now I see why he worked as hard as he did.
So when our work week end on Friday, think of those ancestors that did not have an end to their work week. Think of their work ethic and how we can instill some of that in our lives today. I guess we do in some way since us researchers are researching seven days a week. I guess we do have those work habits!!
In my research for my Louisiana line I realized that there were three boys in the family: Henry Robertson born abt 1868, Cane Robertson born 1874, and Thos Robertson born abt 1872. Now I had to really figure out what those two brothers names stood for. We all had nicknames as children.
In my research I would always come up against this names Corneilus Robertson in Webster Parish Jury Ward 2. I decided to save the record to my shoebox, but never thought about it again. Thos Robertson, came across a few records for Thos, but not in the area of my research. Henry Robertson is a true mystery, because there are so many Henrys and I believe he did not stay in the area. Probably wanted his own life and not the farm life.
I ended up leaving a post on one of ancestry message boards about something total different, but the person that answered my post was able to locate death record for that same Corneilus and it had my great great grandfather’s name Ben and wife Mandy listed as his parents.
I go back to that census record that I saved and realized that due to my instincts I had saved one of my ancestors records, and the crazy thing about it was that Corneilus had the same birthday as my Cane.
I firgured out that my Cane was Corneilus and Thos had be short for Thomas. I know genealogy is mostly detective work, but when it comes down to the spelling of these names, we become more than detectives. Instead of really listening to what our ancestors was saying their names were, someone took it upon themselves to give them a totally different name and left it up to us to figure out who is who. If census takers can not spell names at least get close as possible. Cane is not close to Corneilus and Thos, why not add the ma and you would have had the whole name. One thing that I found out about this research is you have to follow your instincts. Truly, if I would not have saved Corneilus’s records to my shoebox, although I had the information on death record, I would had to do a whole new census record. Was able to add another record to Mandy since she was living with Corneilus in 1920. I wanted to say Corn, why not Corn? Sounds much closer than Corneilus.
To all the researchers, FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS!! That is the only way you are going to find your ancestors!!