Friday, December 1, 2017

Aunt Rosa Made New Orleans Her Home

Rosabell Richardson Moore
Aunt Rosa was one of my grandmother Josephine's sisters. I remember visiting her in New Orleans on Ursuline street. Her home was always spotless; the hardwood floors had a shine that I will never forget. I remember looking at photographs she had on the mantlepiece and her starched crocheted scarves so neatly on the end tables. 

My mother remembers her tasty cooking and her homemade cakes. Aunt Rosa married first to Eddie Jackson, Sr.; they had one son, Eddie Jackson, Jr.; he was a tall and big fellow. I recalled cousin Eddie smiling all the time, others  in the family remembers him taking family photographs. 

I was driving in the Treme community in  New Orleans, and I drove by St. Philip Church  of God In Christ were he pastored. As a child, I visited  his church with my uncle, Frank. Driving by the church and Aunt Rosa's house brought back memories of my family who has passed on. Whenever I'm in the Treme Community, I can't help but think about my family who onced live there. My mother's sister Catherine Harrell Lewis also lived in Treme on Gov. Nicholls Street. Her son James often talk about going to  Joseph A. Craig school on St. Philip Street. 

House on Ursuline
Aunt Rosa raised her two granddaugthers Betty and Floriene, they were my mother's second cousin, but they grew up like they were first cousin. I often heard my mother and cousins Betty and Flo talk about their visits to the county.

Her grandson Leman was only four years old when his grandmother Rosa died April 27, 1972.  He recalled her big hats and her black reading glasses. He remembers her cooking red bean and rice. She used to bake pies, 7-up, jelly and pound cakes,  and bread pudding he said. According to the 1940 U.S. Census, Aunt Rosa occupation was a cook. In 1940 she and her family lived in Butler Town. The highest grade she completed was 5th grade. Leman said that his grandmother enjoyed reading her bible. I asked Leman if she ever drove a car, he said that his Aunt Betty told she drove as young in and around Amite, but when she moved to New Orleans, she stopped driving. Aunt Rosa was a domestic worker,  and she was a cook at the school. 

Cousin Betty and Flo's mother Odie Melton died when they were very young. Odie was born in 1926 in Ward 3, St. Helena, Louisiana. Odie parents were Charlie and Florence Melton. Odie's siblings were; Mary Etta, Francis, Ruth, Godfry and Henry Melton.

Odie's mothers' name were Florence Bennett. Florence parents were named Jessie and Mollie Bennett of St. Helena Parishes, Louisiana. Jessie Bennett was born in 1860. According to the 1880 U.S. Census, Jessie and his family was lived in 2nd Ward in St. Helena Parish. Jessie's parents was named Robert and Tabitha Bennett. 

I know when some of my family read this post, it will bring back memories of them.  I want to educate the younger family members about our ancestors whom they didn't know. Sharing photographs, oral history, and written history is a sure way to keep our family history alive. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Musicians and Performers in the Harrell Family

Johnie Darby
Photo Courtesy: Johnie Darby facebook page
My Harrell family are blessed with so many talents. Two family members that come to mind are the descendants of Shelton Harrell, Sr. and Jasper Harrell, Sr.  Johnie Darby is the great-grandson of Jasper Harrell, Sr.,  and Josephine Richardson Harrell. Johnie plays the saxophone

Johnny is the CEO at New Orleans Home Grown Music Lesson in New Orleans, he studied music at NOCCA, New Orlean Center for Creative Arts. Johny is the son of Johnie Darby, Sr. and Marilyn Harrell Darby. The grandson of the late Frank Harrell, Sr. and Sadie Gooden Harrell of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Khris Royal the great-great-grandson of Shelton Harrell, Sr.,  and Ada Nolan Harrell, a saxophone player who also attended NOCCA.  When Kris was only 16 years of age, he received a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and his career had taken off since then. Khris has played with hip-hop giants and jazz and funk legends alike, from Lettuce to Bobby Brown, Alvin Batiste, Ellis Marsalis, Christian Scott, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis. He had recorded with Mary J, Blige, Ashanti, Nelly and the Game, Erykah Badu, Goapele, D.J. Quick. He is the son of Kenneth and Karran Harper Royal of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Khris Royal
Photo Courtesy: Khris Royal facebook  page
My brother Micheal's  son Mykel Cook works at Music Producer/Recording Engineers. He had been making beats since he was in high school. He had made beats for many recording artists. 

I recently found out that another one of Shelton and Ada Nolan Harrell, Sr., great-great daughter Khoryawne Heads who lived in Los Angles, Californa, is s performing artist also.  She made it to the Taste of Soul, semi-finals.  She was invited to share her talent in front an expected crowd of 350,000 people during the Taste of Soul Festival.

Like cooking, art, and any other passion a person has, music and performing are a talent these young people follow.  There may be others the family that I'm not aware of.  I learned of Khris through his mother Karran Harper Royal a renowned genealogist and family historian whom I share a passion with. Karran also shares the passion for cooking just like her late father Wesley Harper. Cooking and baking is something that many of our family members enjoy doing as well. Our family has many talented people that our family is proud of. I know that our ancestors would be proud of their offsprings today. I don't think that everyone that I'm blogging about today, may not know each other at all. I hope that they become friends on the social media sites. 
Khoryawne Heads
Photo Courtesy: Khoryawne's facebook page

I know that several of our Harrell family members played in marching bands. My son Bernard played the cymbal and drum for Kentwood High School. My oldest son Joseph played the trumpet at John F. Kennedy High School.  My youngest brother Micheal played the trumpet at  Clark Senior High School.  Edgar Harrell's grandson Micheal played an instrument. He attended St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, I'm not sure if he was one of the marching100. It's music to my heart to see that Khris and Johnie followed that passion and love for music. 

When you mix good music, performance, and good food together you can make all kinds of beautiful melodies of sound and taste. I'm still learning so much about the people in my Harrell family and their passions. I often talk with the griots of the family but to talk about the musicians and performers have added a new twist and flavor to our family.  I haven't run across anyone in my grandfather's  generation that played music or was a performer.

Here is where we start documenting the musicians and performers in our family.  If you are descendants of the Harrell family and you're reading this blog post and know of any musicians and performers in the family please email me their names and I'll be happy to post their story on this blog site. No matter what your passion is, just follow it. No matter how many times you try and may fall, just keep getting up and moving on. Felling is a part of learning and growing, I'm more than sure that each one of the artists would tell you how many times they had self-doubts, but they didn't quit. 

Mykel Cook
Photo Courtesy: Mykel's facebook page

Their ties to the Land and Agriculture is in their DNA

Field Day
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
My maternal grandfather comes from a long line of farmers in the East Flordia Parishes, Louisiana. Several weekends ago my grandkids and I took a morning tour of one the local farms on the Northern end of Tangipahoa Parish, along with people from around other parishes.  Craig and Shannon Coleman were the hosts for this years field day event. Thier kids and family members helped them to make this event a success.

Everyone signed in and put their name tags on, some grabbed a fresh hot cup of coffee freshly brewed and fresh donuts. The homemade fresh cookies were a special treat for everyone, thanks to the cookie baker.  Some folk sampled fresh greens right out of the garden. I wanted to sample the taste of the uncooked purple mustards, but I forgot to go back and get it. One lady said she tasted them and they were tender and sweet. She wanted to learn more about the purple mustards so she can plant some in her garden.

Women and men gathered to share their knowledge of their subject of interest. Conversations about the different types of grass they grow and the health benefit for their livestock.  How many acres it takes to raise one cow? Planting and harvesting the produce can be heard as we travel along the beautiful back countryside.  All the kids were enjoying the ride and watching the tiny
The girls walking in the pasture
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
dog run behind us as we drove along. When we got to the cow pasture, they watched the cattle come up for food for a minute and they took off running and playing like kids will do. Looking at them running and playing under the beautiful blue skies and rolling hills of pastures were photo taking moments for me. 

The weather was just beautiful for this tour. I sit there watching and engaging in conversations here and there. Riding-along brought back so many beautiful childhood memories for me. Growing up in Amite, Louisiana near several family members that were farmers. My maternal great uncle Palmer Harrell farmed right across the road where I lived. My family lived on heir property that was purchased by my great-grandmother Emma Mead Harrell in 1896 and 1902,   grandmother Emma was a farmer. So being around all the farmers, cattlemen, and cattlewomen were very exciting and educational for me. 

Our first stop was the cattle pastures to see the Angus livestock. The owners of livestock shared information and asked questions to learn new about techniques of agriculture.  Some of the farmers met for the first time and others knew each other through agriculture. I interviewed several of the farmers and most of them grew up on a farm and they still have a very deep passion for farming. I know it's in their DNA because after living in the New Orleans for thirty-four years, I returned to the country where I can appreciate having my garden, growing oranges, blueberries, and pears and being connected to mother nature. The beautiful sound of the birds sing in the morning is my alarm clock. The smell of freshness in the air and on a clear night I can see the beautiful stars. 

Trail Ride
As a child growing up in the country, we had the supermarket right outdoors. We had black walnut trees, pecan trees, fig trees, peach trees, natural spring water, herbs, produce, chickens, and my grandfather had a horse named Frank. 

I can truly understand the passion for it. Walking in the footstep of my uncle Palmer who taught me how important the soil is to our very existence. Two things a man can't live without,  food and water. The taste of fresh and especially organic produce is music to my body, my cells, and health.  Fresh herbs and vegetables with vibrant colors are the medication we all need to live a healthy life. This is one of the best prescriptions that can be prescribed. Everyone can grow fresh herbs and produce, no matter where you live. If you live in a city, try planting in flower pots. You will be surprised what a flower pot can yield.

I have a greater respect and appreciation for our local farmers who take pride in growing our food. People understand the importance of lawyers, doctors, engineers, and other occupations. "How often do we think about our local farmers? " More people should support the local farmers in their areas.  The taste of fresh produce from the rich soil to your kitchen tables would be a special treat for you and your family.  I look forward to the next event and I gladly signed my name on their communication list. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Women Farmers, Cattle Women and Honey Beekeepers

Shirley look at her okra
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Last weekend,  I saw Larry Freeman at the field day event that was held on Stateline Road in Kentwood, Louisiana. We talked about his crops and what his wife Shirley was embarking upon. Larry and Shirley grow  produce,  and they raise cattle. Shirley takes pride in her hen house, and I like the fact that she recycled a lot of the materials she used to build her hen house. Shirley grew on a farm outside of Laura, Mississippi.  She recalled her mother selling eggs and providing eggs to the school because she had so many eggs. One story about the eggs that came to her mind is the time her sister who was carrying eleven dozens of eggs and she dropped all eleven dozens. "Just talking about this is bringing back memories," said Shirley. I wish I would have paid more attention. I know women who were quilters, canners, and women who made homemade teacakes. "My mother uses to make the best-tasting tea cakes," said Shirley. My sister and I try to make them like mama, but we can't get the taste like mama.

While walking around the old family homestead in Mississippi, she found the laying boxes her father used in his hen house. Shirley and her husband Larry brought it back to Louisiana,  and she is going to restore it and used it for her old girls.  As a child growing up on a farm, Shirley couldn't appreciate the way of life then. Now, she had a great appreciation for growing her own produce and gathering her fresh eggs.

Shirley Beehive
When I drove up this morning, I found her cleaning her hen house out and feeding her old girls. Having my own chicken coop, I enjoyed looking at her hen house. Her hens and rooster have a lot of space to walk around. She let them out for free range and in the woods they went. 

What was more interesting to me is she is a beekeeper as well! This is her first time trying it and she seems to enjoy learning about bees and tasting that fresh honey.  Shirley informed me how she maintains her honey bee colonies. She is definitely looking forward to expanding her beehives. She joined the beekeepers association to learn all that she can and to meet other people in the beekeeping business. I try to purchase honey from the local farmers as much as I can. So far she hasn't got stung by one of her friends. She said there is a certain way to approach the hive. I saw them swarming around. I wanted to be as careful as possible.  Disturbing the hives is something I didn't want to do.  Walking around on her land, she was pointing out the different things she planted. She pointed to her cotton stalk on the west end of the land. 

 I learned that you had to fill out an application with the Department of Agriculture before planting the cotton due to the boll weevil.  This past summer she and Larry planted okra, they had two gardens of greens growing. As we walked around two Angus calves were following us around like to friendly pets. I thought to myself, how could eat them,  they have become something like a pet. Well, my morning came to an end and it was time for me to get back to my desk. Taking this trip this morning was a breath of fresh air. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

African American Cattlemen and Farmers on Stateline Road

Ruthie Coleman and son Craig Coleman
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Two weeks ago I was visiting Ruthie Coleman with VICE documentary producers. While waiting for the film crew to set up their cameras,  her son Craig Coleman introduced himself to me and invited me to visit his upcoming field day event. I told him I would do my best to be there. I know that my schedule is so tight and I didn't have the time to spare. 

I woke my grandkids up early Saturday morning and told them we were going on a hayride and farm. They were so excited to go, they got up early and ate breakfast so that we could be on time. I enjoy taking them on country rides throughout the East Florida Parishes. My two grandsons are in the  4-H club at the school they attend. I thought this would give them the opportunity to really see what 4-H is all about. Farming and raising livestock is a part of 4-H. 

Several of my family members were a part of 4-H. My mom was a 4-H member; she often talks about the homemade yeast rolls she made and how tasty they were. I know that to be truth because she made them for my brothers and I. 

Craig said that he learned how to farm from his mother Ruthie, his uncles, and other extended family members. He said that he plant the fresh produce and give it to the seniors in the community. I thought that was  wonderful, here is a young man giving back to the community. 

"I been doing this all my life," said Craig. I started with nothing, and now I own land and fifty Angus cattle. We toured his beautiful garden of variety of greens; mustards, collard, purple collards, turnips and other greens. 

Craig Coleman feeding his cows
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Other farmers were attending the events. I watched them hold class right out there in the yard was so beautiful. Several cattle women and farmers attend this event as well.  They try to come together at least once a year. When I arrived that morning the smell of fresh coffee, orange juice and donuts were waiting for the guest. Representatives from Southeastern and Southern University were present.  The topis were: Managing Rye Grass, Determining Paddock Size, and Keeping the Cost Down. I must admit this was a subject that I didn't know anything about.

The farmers shared information with each other that could be helpful and useful. Craig has a special way of calling his cattle. He said when they see that yellow bucket, they know it is time to eat.  He and his wife Shannon and their children work together as a family and team. Several sponsors helped make this event a success.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Obituary of Johnnie Lawrence Harrell

Johnnie Lawrence
Johnnie Lawrence Harrell was born to the late Shelton and late Ada Nolan Harrell on April 1, 1913 in Amite, Louisiana. He ascended peacefully into God's presence on December 28, 2012, at age 99, while residing at Burke Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Johnnie and his family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana when he was a young boy. While residing in New Orleans, he quietly and affectionately demonstrated his love for his siblings, Olga Johnson, Marion Harper, the late Shelton and the late Minard Harrell by his thoughts words, and deeds. They were a close knot family who enjoyed the companionship of each other.

Johnnie attended the public schools of Orleans Parish and Culinary school, where his specialty for many years was baking delicious, beautiful wedding cakes and other pastries. Later, he joined the International Longshoreman Labor Union of New Orleans and became a Longshoreman until his first retirement. Due to his fondness for people and his love for the rich culture of New Orleans, he went to become a guide and security guard for the Superdome until his second retirement.

In November of 1942, he entered the United States Army and served as a Rifleman and Scout. He had knowledge of the use of many types of weaponry, camouflaging and concealment. He served in Italy and France during World War II in the American Theater of Operations with the 371st Infantry Company K. He received an honorable discharge in January 1946. He received the Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and several other medals.

Johnnie found pleasure in reading and studying his Bible three times a day. He truly enjoyed his church family at Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church in New Orleans, Louisiana and served faithfully as an usher and senior member of the Pastor's Aid Society under the leadership of Pastor Lester A. Shaw. He was honored in a ceremony, as the oldest member of his church. His church family respectfully referred to him as " Mr. Johnnie".

Johnnie was a member of the "Young at Hearts Senior Citizens Group" where he enjoyed their meetings and many special outings. They fondly referred to him as "The Tea Man' for bringing hot tea and donuts to the sick and shut in. Traveling throughout the country with his best friend from childhood, the late Herman Bell, was the highlights of his summers. Johnnie was the epitome of southern gentlemen who was debonair and always dressed meticulously. He was and avid physical fitness buff who did a series of calisthenics and rode his bicycle daily until the age of 90. 

In 2005, as a result of Hurricane Katrina, he was lovingly received into the home of his son-in-law, Don, his daughter Joy and their family. Those years were very special. He enhanced the dynamics of the family and brought great happiness and enjoyment. 

In 2008, after suffering a broken hip, he became a resident of Burke Health and Rehabilitation Center. He received exceptional care and attention form Jeneba Sesay, Hafeefa Hairat and the administration and staff of the facility.

Johnnie Lawrence Harrell was married to the late Gladys Parker Harrell; to this union was born their beloved daughter Joy.

Those left to cherish his precious memory and mourn his loss are a devoted and loving daughter, Joy and his son-in-law, Don; four granddaughters ( who affectionately referred to him as "Grampy"): Dayna Lynnette, Donna Joy, Danielle Anjalee and Dionne Gladys; two beautiful great-granddaughters: Anjalee (Angel) and Eden, Colorado Springs, CO; tow sisters: Olga Mae Johnson and Marion Harper, both of New Orleans, LA; a brother-in-law: Leon Palar, New Orleans, LA, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives and many friends

Lovingly Submitted The Family

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Unidentified Photographs of African-American People in Lanier-Fajoni Collection

There a couple dozen unamed photographs of African-American people in the Lanier Fajoni Collection. His collection is at the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies,  I hope by posting them, someone may recognize their family member and post their name. Over a decade ago, I met a contributing writer, who's name I can't remember contacted me about a man named Robert Vernon who had the collection in his care. I sitting here typing and trying to recall her name. I know she was a school teacher who wrote about genealogy and family history in the Tangi Digest Newspaper weekly. She published a different photograph weekly to see if anyone could identify someone in the photograph or identify the person in the photograph. Please email me at afrigenah@yahoo. com, if you have any information that could be helpful.

Photo Credits

Photo Credits: Lanier Fajoni Collection

Photo Credits: Lanier Fajoni Collection

Photo Credits:
Lanier-Fajoni Collection

Photo Credits:
Lanier-Fajoni Collection