Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Alexander Harrell Branches Linked Through A Photograph

Jo'elle and Baylee
We've all heard the someone say, " a picture is worth a thousand words" at one time or another.  My maternal first cousin Monteral Harrell inherit a family photograph collection after her father passed away. She understands the true value of the family photographs collections. It's the Harrell family treasure that holds images of our beautiful family. The collection consist of original black and white photographs and some metal printed photographs.  The tintype dates back to the period during the 1860s and 1870 and persisted into the early 20th century. 

"My daddy made sure I sit down and listen to him talk about the people he recognized in the image. Daddy would be so happy when  he shared the family oral  history through the photographs." He was proud of his family photograph collection," said his daughter.  I had to put them up to keep people from taking them becuase some are missing she said. 

Every genealogist wants to find family photographs while conducting their family research. The images tell stories and give clues. Just recently Monteral was going through her mother's photo albums when she came across a picture of my mother. She posted the images on Facebook and some people started commenting on the images.

Isabel Harrell
Courtesy: Monteral Harrell
A woman named Beverly Stewart Lewis saw the post and recognized my mother. She stated that she and my mother are cousins. I know the majority of my mother's paternal and maternal first cousins, and I didn't recognize Beverly.  I had to ask her to make the family connection for me. She then stated that my grandfather Jasper and Uncle Palmer Harrell use to visit her grandmother Rowena. Well, it turned out that Rowena was their sister. 

Mom often talks about the Stewart family in Arcola, Louisiana.  She recalled during an incident at the funeral of her father Jasper;  there were two ladies sitting on one of the front roll pews that were destinated for the immediate family and the usher asked them to please reserve the seats for the family. "One of the ladies said we are his sisters, that how close we are!"

At this point, the story is getting better. My granddaughter asked me could she have a sleepover with her friend Baylee who is her classmate. Baylee mom called me to confirm that it was alright. In the meantime, Beverly and I are communicating on Facebook and Baylee mother who is also a Stewart are talking by phone. I'm asking both of them questions at the same time. I found out that Beverly is Baylee great aunt and Baylee's grandfather is Beverly's brothers. I was so amazed that I couldn't sleep and I call another cousin and genealogist Karran Royal Harper with the news. Karran was excited to find a new Harrell branch.

My head is spinning with so many questions because I have been trying to make the connection between a woman named Corrine Harrell who is buried at Big Zion Cemetery in the same section of my branch of Harrell. It turned out to be that Corrine Harrell and Rowena were sisters.  I knew that my maternal great-grandfather Alexander had other children. No one ever said how many children he had or if it was males of females.

Beverly Stewart Lewis
I called my mom to asked her some questions about the Stewarts.  She remembers going to school with a young man by the name of Sheldon Stewart who was related to the Stewarts. Later she found out they were related. 

Corinne was born in 1890 in Tangipahoa and her sister Rowena was born in 1892 to Elsie Williams.   Corinne and Rowena were the daughters of Alexander Harrell. Rowena married Lance Brown and they became the parents of; Excel, Miller, Clarice, Ora Lee, Lancine, Marlan, Maceen and, Clara Brown. 

Baylee is the great-granddaughter of Clarice and the 4th great-granddaughter of Alexander. My granddaughter Jo'elle is the 5th great-granddaughter of Alexander. The little girls who thought that they were just good friends found out during the sleepover that they are actually cousins who share 4th and 5th great-grandfather. That connection that brought them together as friends have now brought them together as cousins. They kept looking at each other smiling and giggling like girls do.  The girls are calling each other cousins. They started face timing their other friends to tell them.  Baylee called other family members her age and introduce Jo'elle to them as their cousin. 

Because Monteral posted a photograph of my mother, we have now found a branch of our Harrell family tree. Yes, pictures can tell a story and often times give us a clue. In this case, a picture introduced me to new family members. We all can find ways to share family photographs with others in the family. It's one sure way to make sure the photograph will never be lost.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hidden Family Treasures in Photographs

The Wedding of Sidney and Isabel Harrell Cook
Photo Courtesy: Monteral Harrell
Whenever we start researching our family tree, we hope that we will find photographs and other family treasures. Sometimes those treasures can be hand-written letters, postcards, and priceless family heirlooms. Anyone who is a genealogist can tell you how excited they get with someone shares a family photograph of a person they are researching. 

In 1994, the genealogy bug came for me on a weekday morning. I was on the phone talking with my mother and, she started talking about the family history as always. But it was something special about that morning. That morning I heard her voice like never before, " a voice spoke to me and said start recording what your mother is telling you." Without hesitating, I walked over to the desk in my home office and started writing down what she was telling me.  You could hear the excitement in her voice as she shared the oral history with me. I don't know which one of us was more excited! Was it her telling me or me wanting to listen for more?
Isabel Harrell

I was living on N. Miro Street in New Orleans and couldn't wait to go to the Louisiana Division Department at the Main Branch in New Orleans. I learned how to use the microfilms. The first people I found on the microfilms were my maternal 3rd great-grandfather Robert Harrell and his family. The same day I  found my maternal 3rd great-grandfather Thomas Richardson and his family. Just looking at their names on census came alive for me. I was looking at the family lineage that took me back three generations. 

I started shaking that family tree to find what else I could shake off that tree. I started at the roots of the tree; the roots took me to the Louisiana Florida Parishes. There I met with family members who held on to the oral history, family heirlooms, and pictures. Years ago my mother's youngest brother Raymond Harrell, Sr.  passed away. His daughter Monteral inherit his rich collection. Now she had passed the collection to me to help her preserve it.

In that collection, I found pictures of my mother.  Growing up in the family house in Amite, Louisiana., I didn't see any pictures of my mother growing up through the years. My eyes were fixated on the shoe box that Monteral put on the table with all the photographs. I didn't know what photograph I would find in the box. Inside of the box was a lot of photographs that are related to the Harrell side of my family. I picked up a stack very careful and started looking at the images with focused eyes.  I realized that some of the pictures dated back to the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s.

Isabel Harrell
Westside Class of 1958
I soon came across my mother high school graduation picture and finally, I kept looking and I soon came across a picture of her wedding. "I asked Monteral if she knew who's wedding this was?" she said no. I told her that this was my mother's wedding.  I was so surprised and happy to find these priceless photographs of my mom.

My mother graduated from West Side High School in 1958. She told me she played basketball and she had a picture of her with the girl's basketball team but somehow it was misplaced or lost. My mother and her groom Sidney Cook, Jr.,  stood dress in their wedding attire in the living room of my maternal grandparents home in Amite, Louisiana.

Mom's beautiful lace dress and her white gloves fit her so perfectly with her white pearls to accent her beauty.  I couldn't believe that these treasures were in the shoebox with all the other family photograph collection. 

My brothers will be happy to read the blog post and, see photographs of mom's life cycle. A treasure I want to share with them and it's all because of family images preservers like Monteral. There are genealogy clues in old photographs that can tell us a lot about our family history. My brothers, nieces, and nephews appreciate her sharing these photographs with our family. Now that they are in my collection I will share them with my siblings, nieces, and nephews.

Isabel Harrell Cook
Photo Courtesy: Antoinette Harrell
Mom's kept a lot of family photographs herself. During hurricane Katrina, she lost a  lot of the pictures, so over the years, I have been giving her family photographs as a gift. Mother's Day is soon approaching and, I guess I will find a way to share these priceless photographs with her.  

Over two decades later, I'm still shaking that family tree and pictures, documents and oral history is still falling off the tree.   My mission is to share family photographs through my family blog.  Sharing photographs is a sure way of making sure that our priceless family photographs will not be lost forever. We are living in a digital age where it is easy to share family photographs with each other.

Now, I have something to share with Monteral. I took a lot of photographs at her parents wedding and I want to give the album to her. I'm happy to share what I have with others. Other family members like Wendell Richardson, Alex Richardson, Cletis Gordon and Shan Gordon has shared a lot of photographs from their family collection on facebook. Let's keep sharing photographs and keeping our history alive. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Sons of Jasper and Josephine Richardson Harrell

The offsprings of Jasper and Josephine R. Harrell
Photo Courtesy: Monteral Harrell
My first cousin Monteral Harrell shared her father's photographs with me to preserve his collection.   One of the pictures in his collection was the sons of Jasper and Josephine. The images had March  25, 1968; written on the back of it. 

This photograph was taken at their mother's funeral. All of them had on black suits. The only one missing is Uncle Jasper, although it looks like that could be him on the left end. 

From left to right; Frank Harrell, Sr., Roosevelt Harrell, Sr., Henry Harrell, Raymond Harrell, Sr. Herbert Harrell, and Oliver Jackson. Uncle Herbert's son Rodney looks so much like his father in his father's younger days. After looking at the photograph over and over, I think that the image on the right end is uncle Jasper. 

My grandparents legal adopted their nephew Oliver Jackson after his mother passed away. Jasper and Josephine had seven sons and one adopted son and three daughters. Oliver's mother Ethel was the sister of Josephine. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

One of the Women of Bennett Road " Ada Coleman Wren"

Ada Coleman Wren
Photo Courtesy: Walter Wren III

It is estimated that Mrs. Ada was born abt 1916, she married Walter Wren. They had three children: Deloris, Dorothy, and Walter. According to the 1920 United States Federal Census, her parents were Dave and Jennie Coleman. 

Dave was born abt 1897 and was living in Kentwood, Louisiana. He was born in St. Helena Parish. He worked Kent Mills Co. His mother was named Ada Meredith Brown Coleman and his father was named William Coleman.

Mrs. Ada and her husband Walter lived on Bennett Road in Amite, Louisiana upon their death. They both worked hard to provide for their family.  She was a nurse and her husband was a farmer. 

My grandmother Josephine Richardson Harrell was very close friends. My grandmother didn't drive and on some Sunday's Mrs. Ada would drive home after church. She kept a beautiful smile on her face all the time. No matter when you saw her, she was always very neat. It was women on Bennett road like Mrs. Ada, Mrs. Genora Johnson Wheeler, Mrs. Helen Edwards, and my Aunt Lena Temple that help make their community a strong community. She passed away in 1991. 

Traveling Down Memory Lane Through Pictures

Her 6th Grade  Class at O.W. Dillion
Photo Credit: Ian Brown
The journey of family research has allowed me to meet other families throughout the Louisiana Florida Parishes.  Whether it is oral history or a collection of photographs everyone had something they are proud to hold on too. I couldn't wait to visit with Mrs. Grace Sanders Walker to see her collections of family photographs. Years ago she donated the first African-American community album book to the Amite Genealogy Library. 

Mrs. Walker understands the importance of holding on to the family photographs and heirlooms. She comes from the Vernon Clan of Tangipahoa Parish.  When she started pulling out all her pictures and naming the people in the photographs. "I said to myself what a piece of history we would lose if we if it wasn't for people like her!"

I was walking back down memory lane with her. Each time I look at photographs with individuals who are willing to share the image and the story with me. I feel like I'm traveling back with them and learning something about the person in the image.

Mrs. Grace S. Walker and Glyniss Vernon Gordon
Photo Credit: Ian Brown
Old photographs are treasures that many people hold on too tightly. Pictures that make them smile and often time they reflected upon a loved one who has passed on. Learning how to label the photographs are important. Everyone has photographs in their collection and may not know some of the people in the photograph. 

Her pictures are in great condition and you can tell that she handles them with gentle care. Our family photograph tells stories about our family and ancestors. There is an old saying that says...a picture is worth a thousand words. In earlier times taking a picture was a big deal. Everyone put on their Sunday's best and pose for the pictures. Most of the time everybody looked so serious. The women dressed up in the fancy dress and some wore hats. The men put on their finest suit and shine their shoes to get their pictures taken.  I can't forget the children how nicely dressed they were.  

Sitting on her dresser was pictures of her parents and other family members. She made several trips to bring out more pictures. One of the pictures she brought out for display was of Robert "Free Bob" Vernon. She is a descendant of Robert. The Vernon family had deep roots in the Florida Parishes. Nurturing Our Roots really appreciate everyone who has preserved their family photograph.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Photograph Collection of the Late Raymond Harrell, Sr.

My uncle Raymond Harrell, Sr. was just like his older sister Isabell in preserving family photographs. After he passed away, his daughter Montreal Harrell inherited her father's collection. I met with her years ago to scan the images, and just recently she and I discussed donating his collection to Southeastern Center for Louisiana Studies in his name. Uncle Raymond had two children. One daughter and one son; Monteral is the oldest.  I don't know if her brother Raymond, Jr., paid attention as Monteral did.  I like to think of it as her family history lessons taught to her by her father.

Uncle Raymond was the kind of person that would visit with family members and take photographs. I remember one time he and I traveled to Chicago to see his first cousins; Bobbie and Audrey. He took me to meet the descendants of uncle Warner Harrell in Wisconsin. I met his first cousin Dan Harrell and his beautiful wife. My mother never met them so it was an honor for me to meet them. 

Monteral said that she went to Chicago with her dad too. "I helped him drive," said Monteral . I know that was a great experience for her. Spending quality time with her father. I know he would be proud to see the beautiful and caring woman she is. 

Ella Harrell Harrison
Courtesy of Monteral Harrell
After our discussion about the images, she decided that she would allow me to guide her through the process. In memory of her dad, she is giving the family and parish an educational gift. I took the collection to help organize it for the repository.

Too often family images can get lost or thrown away.  He kept all his photograph in a box and from time to time he would take them out and share stories about the people in the image. Looking through the box and I found my mother's wedding picture.

I wish my uncle were here to share the stories and name some of the people in the photograph. "Daddy used to pull the box out and talk about the people," said Montreal. Unless someone has lost all their family photographs in a natural catastrophic incident, you can imagine the pain that it causes. We traveled down memory lane looking at our Harrell ancestors. They were dressed so elegantly and classy to say they were the children and grandchildren of former slaves. 

We couldn't identify some of the people in some of the photographs. Nevertheless, we wanted to save them anyway. Perhaps someone else may be able to identify the people. Monteral is an educator in the Tangipahoa Parish School System. She understands the importance of the photographs and how important it is to our history. 

The photographs keep her feeling connected to her father. Looking at her beautiful smile, I can see the feeling of connection. She knew just how much the collection meant to her father.  Our great aunt Ella Harrell Harrison had the collection and when she died, our cousin named Gert inherit the
Image Unknown
Courtesy of Monteral Harrell
collection. After cousin Gert passed away my uncle Raymond inherit the collection. 

The collection couldn't have fallen in better hands. Now, Monteral has entrusted me with the collection. I can't wait until the collection is ready for view at Southeastern Center for Louisiana Studies.

Doing something in memory of my uncle means so much to me. When I was a little girl he would take me for a ride in his car and we always stop to get an ice cream cone. His love for family is the reason that these photographs meant so much to him. What a great way to honor his memory by honoring the legacy he left to all of us!

Monteral is to be commended for sharing that gift and legacy. The beautiful images speak volumes about African-American families who lived in the Louisiana Florida Parishes.