Monday, February 12, 2018

Proclamation Proclaim Genealogy Awareness Week

 Genealogy Proclamation
February 5, 2004, the African American Genealogy Connection, Inc., requested that the City of New Orleans Proclaim February 8th - `4th as Genealogy Awareness Week. In honor of Black History Month, Antoinette Harrell and Karran Harper Royal host of Nurturing Our Roots Genealogy Educational Talk Show would like to encourage African American families to study their own family through self-discovery. 

Genealogy can help a person who is researching their family history look at the local history, the community their ancestors and family lived in.  What kind of occupations did they have? Did they attend school? Where did they attend church? Certainly not omitting the local politics and business matters of the community your family lived in. 

Sharing photographs, memories, and family stories can strengthen and bring the family closer. This week in Honor of Black History, I would like to honor my own family and extended community in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana by blogging, sharing photographs, conducting new interviews and lastly placing new information in the archival collections. Some families still have the original photographs from the early 1900s in their collection.  Almost everyone that I have interviewed has a funeral program collection. Several people family member passed away and they inherited all the photographs and other records.  Let me just say that I'm glad they are sharing them with me. 

This year is the fourteen year anniversary since this Proclamation was proclaimed Genealogy Awareness Week. How quickly the time went by! My youngest son was twelve-years-old at the time.  The Florida Parishes was home to my ancestors and family on my paternal and maternal side of the family. Because I lived in the Florida Parishes it makes my search very easy for me when I need to travel to the genealogy library and courthouse to research records. I want to also point out that helping others in the community understand the importance of preserving their family history is vital to the history of the Florida Parishes from an African-American perspective. 

New Orleans City Council Proclaimed
Feb 8th-14th as Genealogy Awareness Week
The history of African-Americans in the Florida Parishes is at large an undocumented history. We can't have the history of the Florida Parishes without the history of African-American people who history is interwoven in the history of Florida Parishes. 

Hard working men and women who faced the many challenges of oppression to triumphs during slavery and Jim Crow. Many who knew the faces of segregation and its effects on them and their families.  Some left the Bayou State of Louisiana, leaving the agricultural fields in search of a better life up north in the 1920s. Many returned after retirement and some never returned. When it was time to come home to visit, they looked forward to coming back south to visit their family members.  One thing I learned during this journey of self-discovery is that it never ends. I spend countless hours in my home office researching and preparing photographs and other records for electronic archiving and the university. 

What Could the Tombstones Tell Us?

Thomas Richardson
Photo Credit: Bobby
If you look at Thomas Richardson, Sr., headstone and the headstone of Andrew Richardson, you will find some similarities. One being the shapes of the headstones and if you look at the top of the headstones, you will find little circles on the top. It looks like the same lettering was used. These two men are one year apart. Thomas was born in 1853 and Andrew was born in 1852. 

Thomas is buried in Rocky Hill AME Church Cemetery. Andrew is buried in Black Creek AME Church Cemetery. Andrew's parents were N. Richardson and Dicy Richardson. What does the "N" stand for?  We only have Thomas mother's name. Her name was Carrie.  I couldn't find any of Carrie's sibling or her parents.  

Thomas Richardson died on February 28, 1923, and Andrew Richardson died on September 10, 1908.  The fact that both men were AME members and the headstones reveal some similarities clues. I think my next step would be to visit the Louisiana State Archives to look at death records. Although we know Andrew's parents' name, I want to find out more on N. Richardson, could this be the Nathan Richardson, whose name in on the inventory list of Benjamin and Celia Bankston Richardson 1853 inventory. 

Andrew Richardson
Photo Credit: Jane Holiday
It's time for me to make a genealogy field trip to Black Creek Church and cemetery in Greensburg, Louisiana. I know there are other Richardson's buried there.  Andrew and Sarah Ann Foster Richardson had nine children. It appears that the family used Black Creek Church Cemetery and Darlington Church of God in Christ for their family church and to bury their loved ones.

I think we're long overdue to find out the kinship of the two Richardson families. Supt. Alexander Richardson has two sons living out of ten children: Supt Emmitt N. Richardson, Sr., and Darnell Richardson, Sr. I don't know much about the family lineage Pastor Alonzo Richardson. He had a son named Pastor Jimmy Richardson who resides in Roseland, Louisiana. Hopefully, the remaining offsprings can help us shed some light and make the genealogy connections.

Supt. Alexander Richardson is the son of Thomas Richardson, Sr. and Amanda Breland Richardson.

Study questions to think about

1. Why are the headstones so similar?
2. Did Carrie Richardson have other siblings and children?
3. Could Andrew be one of her siblings' children?
4. What funeral home did the family use?
5. Did someone make the headstones for the family?
6. Could any of the other people on the plantation be Carrie's siblings?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Unknown Children in the Photograph

Photo Courtesy
Audrey Harrell Dumones
Robert Harrell was born a slave in 1821 in Amite County, Mississippi. He also lived in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. I would like to know who the young people are in this picture. Robert passed away  died in 1921. His son Alexander was born in 1859 and died in 1914. 

Could this be my grandfather Jasper's brothers and sister? My mother Isabel said that her father Jasper was only two years old when his father passed away. This photograph looks so much like Alexander Harrell, although cousin Olga Mae Johnson who is deceased said that it looks like grandpa Robert.  Could that be the grandchildren? The little girl looks a lot like Aunt Bertha. I thought I would share it anyway. At least I can say that the photograph was taken at the old homestead in Amite, Louisiana. 

Whatever little piece of history we can hold on to learn from is essential. If you have any photographs and stories you would like to share with the Harrell family please share it.  Last week I visit several people in the community who had a rich collection of their family photographs and most importantly they are sharing with me so that their history will never be forgotten. People from all over the world is reading about our history in the Florida Parishes, Louisiana. 

Are There Any Relations Between Thomas and Alonzo Richardson?

Andrew Richardson
Photo Credit: Jane Holiday
My maternal grandmother's father was named Thomas Richardson born abt 1884 in Ward 3 in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana.  Alonzo was born abt 1895 in Ward 2, in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana.   I wanted to conduct genealogy research to find out if there is genealogy connection between Thomas and Alonzo. Although after looking at the United States Census today, I'm strongly convinced that there is a bloodline connection. At this point, I'm compelled now to look at every census starting at 1940 and working my way back to 1870. 

According to the 1900 United States Federal Census. I think this is a mis-spelling because it lists Alonzo's fathers' name as (Anna Richardson) and his mother name was Sarah. Growing up I always heard that there were two different sets of Richardson families. Most of the older people have long passed that could tell you anything. 

I'm analyzing the 1880 United States Federal Census and found that a man named Andrew Richardson born around 1852 in Ward 2 in St. Helena Parish. Andrew said that his father  N. Richardson's birthplace was Virginia and his mother Dicy Richardson birthplace was Georgia. Could this be Andrew spelled as Anna?  N. Richardson was born around 1820.

Anna! "I'm  presuming this could be Andrew." Andrew married Sarah J. Foster and they gave birth to  seven children according to 1900 United States Census; Girtie, Clacie, John, Marget, Leonard, Alonzo and Monore Richardson. On the Social Security Application and Claims Index, 1936-2007, they had a child named John Wesley Richardson. John  W. Richardson name is on my grandmother Josephine Richardson and Jasper Harrell, Sr. married license as a witness.

Benjamin and Celia Bankston 1853
Both Richardson men were from St. Helena Parish during the same time.  Like I said earlier in the blog, I don't know if Carrie had other children. In 1853 when she and her son Thomas, Sr., was appraised for sale the document didn't say that she had other children. Carrie was twenty-years old when she was appraised for sale. 

Andrew died in 1908 and he is buried in Black Creek AME Church Cemetery in Greensburg, Louisiana.  I looked at the photograph of the headstone Jane Holiday posted on, It is almost the same inscription that is inscribed on Thomas and Amanda Breland Richardson headstones. Some of the Richardson family is also buried in Darlington, St. Helena Parish, Louisiana.  

When I found my maternal grandparents' marriage licenses in the Amite Clerk of Court records I wanted to find out who was this John W. Richardson who witnesses my grandmother Josephine Richardson Harrell wedding. What relations was he to her and he had to be close to her to stand as a witness in her wedding. 

John Wesley Richardson was born in August of 1885 in St. Helena Parish. In 1920 he was married to a woman named Emma Richardson, in the 1930  United States Census, they list him as being married to Minnie  Ada Wright Richardson. They had seven children at the time the census was taken; Emmett, Flora, Inez, Mennard, Gladys, John, and Huey Richardson.

John's U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 described him as being short with black hair and black eyes and medium build and his birthplace was St. Helena Parishes, Louisiana. 

Something else I would like to point out,  Thomas son Alexander Richardson and his wife Melisa
have a son the named Emmitt N. Richardson.  John Wesley and Minnie Ada Richardson also had a son named Emmett Nathaniel Richardson. It appeared that Emmett Nathaniel moved to Oakland, California. In 1940 he was living the home of John and Starnes. The 1940 United States Census said that he and 3 years of college. 

List or Manifest of Aliens Employed on the
Vessel of Crew
Emmett N. Ricardson was married to Fidella V. Hilliness in 1959. He passed away in March of 1986 in Alameda, California. He was a California, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1959 list him on the ship named Elwood Haynes, Port of Arrival:  San Francisco, California and Port of Departure as Eniwetok.  When he passed away in 1986, they brought his remains back to St. Helena Parish, Louisiana to be buried at Black Creek AME Church. 

On the 1853 inventory list of Benjamin and Celia Bankston, I found the enslaved Africans they owned; a girl name Chole age 18 years old, girl Sally age 15, Carey 20 and her child Thomas 1 years old, boy Nathan age 15 yearly old, boy George 12, years old, boy Charles age 10, girl May age 7, girl Lucy age 14 years old, girl Harriet 32 and her four children; John age 9 years old, and girl Julia age  6 years old and Henry age about 2 years old, boy Jefferson age 12 years old. 

Questions to think about

1. Who were Carrie parents?
2. Did Carrie have other children besides Thomas, Sr., 
3. If so,  how many, who are they and, where are they?
4. Is there a genealogy connection between Thomas and Alonzo?
5. Why did John Wesley Richardson stand in Josephine Richardson Harrell's wedding?
6. Did Alexander Richardson name his son Emmett after a relative?
7. Did Alexander Richardson name his son Nathaniel after a relative?
8. Are we willing to take a DNA test to prove the theory of relations?
9. Are there any other people with the surname Richardson in the Florida Parishes,
     that we don't  know anything about?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

American Jazz Legend Born in the Village of Tangipahoa

Willie Cook
Gugge Hedrenius Big Blues Band
I received a phone called from Howard E. Magee concerning prominent African Americans who were born or lived in the Village of Tangipahoa. The Village of Tangipahoa is located in the Northern end of the Parish of Tangipahoa. Howard's objective is to highlight prominent African Americans for Black History Month 2018. 

According to the 2000 census the populations was 747. The Village got its name for after the Tangipahoa Native American people. It also the home of the Camp Moore, a Confederate Museum that is known for their annual reenactments.

Not to forget Micheal Jackson Dyson who was a professional football player who played for the Cleveland Browns who home was also in Tangipahoa, Louisiana. 

Howard brought to attention that a Jazz Musician named Willie Cook was born in the Tangipahoa, Louisiana. Willie was born on November 11, 1923, and died on September 22, 2000. He was an American jazz trumpeter.  He migrated with his family to Chicago and learned to play the violin before the trumpet summoned him. Making the trumpet the instrument of choice.

He joined Perry King Perry's band in the 1930s, then joined Jay McShann's band early in the 1940s. He later credits include performing and recording with Johnny Hartman, Earl Hines, Jimmie Lunceford, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, B.B. King and, Count Basie. He joined Ellington's band in October 1951 as lead trumpeter and stayed for a decade. He moved to Sweden in 1982 after spending time in the country touring. He died of heart failure in Maria Regina Hospice in Stockholm on September 22, 2000.


Color of Tangipahoa Project " We Want to Hear Your Story"

Help Us Honor Black History Month!

Please help me to continue to document our history, legacy, triumphs, and your family history this month for Black History. For the past twenty years, I have been working to document the rich history of African-Ameican people of Tangipahoa & St. Helena Parishes, Louisiana. 

The genealogy department at the Amite Branch is a vital resource when someone is searching for their family history. When I first started researching my family history at the Amite Library, I couldn't find anything outside of the census. My heart dropped because I knew my family like so many families of African descent contributed so much to our parish and there wasn't any written history about them. I told myself I had to do something about it. I started by donating my own family history to the genealogy department. 

The Amite Branch and I are in a collaboration to collect family history through an oral history collection on Saturday: February 10th at 9:00AM to 2PM. Please help me to continue to document the history of the undocumented people who contributed has been a part of Tangipahoa & St. Helena Parishes since the forming of the Florida Parishes. 

Please contact me to add your name to this list to preserve your family history. I can be reached by phone at 504.858.4658 or by email at