Monday, September 30, 2013

October is Family History Month

Leonard Smith III

Did you know October is Family History Month? Several states and cities have designated this month Family History Month. U.S. Senate has adopted similar resolutions in the past. It is estimated that there are over 80 million people researching their family histories. If kicked off Family History Month by donating my Harrell, Gordon, Vining, and Richardson Family History collection to the Amistad Research Center.

Nurturing Our Roots Television and Radio Talk Shows would like to recognize the author of the book entitled " A Beginner's Guide to Searching Family History" Leonard Smith lll. Leonard is the owner and president of LS3studios-an award winning multimedia production company. LS3 Studios offers a variety of services that include images and audio editing, production of broadcast quality video and multimedia presentation, custom photography and web development. For more information about LS3 Studios please visit

LS3 Studios won two AVA award on March 13, 2013 in New York, NY There were 2,000 entries from throughout the United States, Canada and several other countries in the 2013 competition. Narrative Network and LS3 Studios were winners of the AVA Digital-Gold Award, for co-producing documentary trailer " From Shanghi to Harlem." in the category of Creativity Video and Production Editing.

New Orleans Musuem of Art(NOMA) presented a screening of LS3 Studio's " A Legend in the Classroom: The Life Story of Ms. Yvonne Busch, born in New Orleans in 1929 and raised in the historic Treme section of the city. Ms. Busch who mastered several brass instruments and wood chimes, became a touring professional by the age of 12, crisscrossing the United States as a member of the critically acclaimed "International Sweethearts of Rhythm" and the "Swinging Rays of Rhythm," two all female bands sponsored by the Piney Woods Country Life School, an African-American boarding school located in Piney Woods, Mississippi.

A Beginner's Guide to Searching Family History is a common-sense approach to you researching your genealogy. I share with the reader the benefit of the many years I have spent interviewing relatives, digging through courthouse records, traveling to historic sites, searching websites, and rediscovering the stories of those who came before us. I reaffirm the value of oral histories while also cautioning the reader to listen for contradictory narratives.

Get your copy today at

Leonard Smith III will be a guest on Nurturing Our Roots Blog Talk Radio Show with host Antoinette Harrell on Tuesday, October 15,  at 8:00 p.m. CST.

Harrell Family Papers Donated to the Amistad Research Center

Harrell donating family files: Photo Credit-Walter C. Black,Sr.

The Amistad Research Center is the nation's oldest, largest and most comprehensive independent archive specializing in the history of African Americans and other Ethnic Minorites. It was in the year of 2001 that I made the decision to donate my family papers to the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans, LA.

For the past two weeks I've been very busy preparing additional files to be donated for preservation. I getting stress how tedious that work is. I worked long hours organizing the files and going through every single sheet of paper, pictures and books. I have a long way to go yet

Harrell-Miller, Antoinette Family papers, 2000-2001 | Amistad Research Center

Scope and Contents: Antoinette Harrell-Miller of Amite, Louisiana, is a prolific activist who created a grassroots organization called Citizens for Change. Her papers consist of her book, You are My Shadow Gone But Not Forgotten: TheHarrell Family History with news clippings and family memorabilia that may have been used for her genealogical research and her book. The collection also contains photographs, leaflets, correspondence to local and state officials, and VHS videotapes.

Harrell-Miller, Antoinette Family papers 2004 addendum, 1939-2002 | Amistad Research Center

This addendum to the Harrell-Miller Family papers contains ledgers for the Petty AME Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, funeral books, and school books. The school books include a 1939 McDonogh High School autograph book and a 1976 St. Augustine High School yearbook. The church ledgers contain board and parishioner contact information, as well as financial records. The funeral books are for Isaac Stewart (1923-2002) and Michael Stewart (1958-1991).

Harrell-Miller, Antoinette Family papers 2005 addendum, 1925-2005 | Amistad Research Center

Scope and Contents: This addition to the Antoinette Harrell-Miller Family papers documents members of the Harrell and Stewart families of New Orleans. Prominent names include: Isaac Stewart, Juanita Stewart, Michael Stewart, Clarence Harrell, Minnie Harrell, and Edgar Harrell. Also included is documentation of Antoinette Harrell's activism on topics from affordable energy to reparation lawsuits, her work on African American genealogy, and information on Petty A.M.E. Church.  The collection contains correspondence; military, school, financial, voter registration, and property records; photographs; programs; flyers; news clippings, and other documents.

Harrell-Miller, Antoinette Family papers 2012 addendum, 1910-2011 | Amistad Research Center

This addition to the Antoinette Harrell-Miller Family papers documents members of the Harrell and Stewart families of New Orleans. Prominent names include: Isaac Stewart, Juanita Stewart, Michael Stewart, Clarence Harrell, Minnie Harrell, and Edgar Harrell. Also included is documentation of Antoinette Harrell's activism on topics from affordable energy to reparation lawsuits, her work on African American genealogy, and information on Petty A.M.E. Church and Fluker A.M.E. Church, both in Louisiana.  Of note are materials related to peonage cases in the South from the 1920s-1960s, information regarding Ballground Plantation (Mississippi) and Algodon Plantation (Madison Parish, LA), images of the Lawson family of Amite, Louisiana, and of Choctaw decent, and a 1910 letter regarding fundraising for the World’s Panama Exposition Company in Louisiana
The collection contains correspondence; military, school, financial, voter registration, and property records; photographs; programs; flyers; news clippings, and other documents.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Obsequies of Church Mother Rosabell Moore

Rosabell Richardson Moore was born to Thomas Richardson and Emma Vining Richardson on October 3, 1907. As her life flowered and bloomed married to Mr. Eddie Jackson, Sr., and to this union was born one son Rev. Eddie Jackson. She later married Alvin Moore.

Mother Moore, as she was fondly called was converted and baptized at the age of 12 by the late Bishop S. Lazard. Her church life was the continuous mainstay of her life and she became a member of Gordon Church of God in Christ pastored by Rev. E.C. Pounds.

From there she served in Amite Church of God in Christ pastored by Elder. W. K. Gordon, Sr., After moving to New Orleans she faithfully worked as a dedicated member with Elder. H. M. Evans, pastor of the St. Phillip Church of God in Christ until her son was ordained as minister and became pastor. With love, she then united in fellowship with "The Whole Truth Church of God in Christ" New Orleans, La., with her son as her pastor. She served as Church Mother and  President of the Bible Band. Her examples of the fruits of the Spirit; love, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith and meekness will endear for ever to all those who were blessed to come in contact with her.

To mourn her departure she leaves her husband, Mr. Alvin Moore, a son Rev. Eddie Jackson, Sr., and his wife Mrs. Cason Jackson,  two sisters: Missionary Alma Gordon and Mrs. Viola Payne of Amite, LA; three brothers: Rev. Alex Richardson, Sr., and Mr. Ed Williams, Amite, LA, Mr. Johnnie Williams of Oakland, Californi; two aunts, eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and other relatives and friends of the family.

All information was pulled from her funeral program.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Harrell Preparing to Donate Family Files to a Repository

Antoinette Harrell preparing files for repository
Photo credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.

Genealogists and family historians spend a lot of time collecting photographs, family papers, letters, audible and videos recordings for our family history collections. I spent two decades collecting and it seems like I am going to spend at least ten years preparing the collections for repositories. I made my first repository to the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans, La., years ago. Last year I made a repository to the Southeastern Louisiana University " Center For Southeast Louisiana Studies" that collection is named the "Antoinette Harrell Tangipahoa and St. Helena African American History Collection." The collection at the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans is named "Harrell-Miller, Antoinette Family Papers." I am scheduled to meet with an archivist at the Louisiana State Library this coming Thursday to discuss donating files to the library.

For the past two weeks once again I've been preparing files to be archived. I've been through boxes of photographs, letters, personal and professional letters, funeral programs, brochures, flyers, and videos. I promised myself I will never again collect this much material. Between an early morning cup of coffee and back to work again until late evening with a glass of wine or a cup of hot peppermint tea with a twist of lemon to relax me and help me to get through the rest of the day's work.
Antoinette in the middle of her picture collection

Reassuring myself that the end will come and  this is the legacy that I want to leave my children, grandchildren and those yet unborn. Sitting in the middle of the floor looking at old pictures and reflecting on the moments, events and people in the pictures. Some of people who were a part of our lives or loved ones have long or recently passed away. Leaving only memories behind of their life and presence that they shared with us.

I am assuring this history and genealogical heritage collection will be a part of our community's collective memory for time to come. Some of my friends who were genealogist passed away and I often wonder what happened to their collection?  Just recently my friend Kojo Livingston, a contributing writer for the Louisiana Weekly and Shreveport Sun Newspapers passed away. I know he had years of articles he wrote for the two newspapers in his collection. I hope that some of his writing will be archived by the family.

After a hard week of going to through boxes, photo albums, newspapers, brochures, funeral programs, etc., I am saying, "calgon take me away" so that I can relax.  We can learn from other people who have prepared and preserve their collections and other who passed way and left the collections to children, grandchildren and other family members who may not know what to do with it.

I didn't want to leave this burden on my children. Besides the collection may not mean to them what it means to me. I know that one day they will look back and appreciate what I left for them. Their grandchildren can visit the archives and universities to see the collection that their great grandmother left for them.

If your family history has genealogical connections Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes, Louisiana and you would like to talk with me about your family history collection please contact me at: 504.858.4658 or email me at

Please click on the links below for more information about the collections.   _k/harrell_collection.html

Friday, September 27, 2013

Teaching Grandchildren Their Family History

Baking Time Together
As a family historian I get the opportunity to teach my grandchildren their family history and build family traditions of our own. Every month we set aside one Sunday for "Big Mama" dinner. The grandchildren come over and spend the weekend, we cook together, look at family photographs, take in a movie and sometimes we visit the local library. There are so many things that you can do to help build a stronger bond with your grandchildren through genealogy

I wanted to give my grandchildren a gift, the gift of knowledge of their paternal lineage. I was inspired to write and publish  a genealogy coloring & activities book for children making my grandchildren the characters in the book. Every child would like to see themselves in a book. In the coloring and activity book the children travel with their grandmother to the genealogy library, the state archives, family cemetery and the local museum. They get to go on a treasure hunt looking for family treasures, photograph and family heirlooms. This is a great way to spend time teaching them about their family history.

Genealogy For Kid Tips

  • Help them to Record Names of their Family Members
  • Create A Group Sheet
  • Create a Pedigree of Family Tree Charts
  • Draw a Family Tree
  • Have them to write Family History Questions   
It is never to early to start teaching your grandchildren about their family history. Almost every grandparent starts with family photographs. Often time we share family stories with our grandchildren and they enjoy listening. We should always find a way to teach our grandchildren about our loved one who are no longer with us.

Teaching your grandchildren about their family history is so important. If your family own land, it would be nice to take your grandchildren for a walk on the land where their ancestors once lived. Teach them about the person who purchased the land or property. If we recognize and honor the family member or ancestors who purchased the land so will our grandchildren.

I've written about the land my maternal great-great grandfather Robert and his son my great-grandfather Alexander Harrell purchased in 1888 for 50 cent an acre. I am very proud of my ancestors and I want my grandchildren to know the history of their ancestors.
Reading time with grandchildren

I can't explain the joy I felt publishing a genealogy coloring and activity book for children.  My grandchildren are paying close attention because they see themselves in the book. This is one way that we can make history come alive for our grandchildren. Have your grandchildren or child to draw pictures of the family and write little notes and turning them into a book. These books would make great presents to give to their parents for keepsakes. There are many companies you can choose from to have your grandchildren books printed.
Connor and Chase Map Reading

I know we are living in the age of increasing technology, iPads, CPS, and other hand held devices. I find that teaching my grandchildren how to read maps is very important. Map reading is an important skill that your grandchildren will enjoy. Ok! Here is a where I added a little fun an excitement. I told my grandchildren "Big Foot" was found in China so they are looking at the map to see how many states and what oceans he had to cross. Well, if that what it took to get them to read the map it worked.

When we are traveling out of state, we always stop at the rest area and get a map so they can read. Learning how to read a map can help improve their reading, science and math skills.

Nothing like a kiss for a grandchild

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Students from Tangipahoa Parish Commemorate the 50th Anniversary March on Washington

Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.
Filled with excitement six youth ambassadors from Amite, Louisiana boarded a bus for the long 18 hour trip to Washington, D.C., They came aboard with their iPads, notebooks, and pens to learn all they could about the civil rights movement. Katelyn Jones quotes in the Shreveport Times " It's like being a part of my history, "said Jones, 9, a fourth grader at Amite Elementary Magnet School. "I learned that we need to keep hope alive and keep fighting."

La'Daesha Lee, Madison Hill, Imani Blossom, Aurie Gordon and the youngest ambassador Jo'Elle  LaCoste had a first hand lesson at marching for justice. They proudly carried their signs to stand for change in their communities. Bobby J. Ginn and Glyniss Vernon Gordon help prepared the ambassadors for the trip to Washington. Bobby helped the youth to write and prepare for their speeches. Antoinette Harrell taught the youth about the importance of their civil and human rights. They listened to civil rights songs and learned the meaning of the songs followed by a discussion and dialog.

On the bus the girls listened to Dr. King speeches and discussed how the message in the speeches affect them today. They went to Washington D.C., to bring awareness to poverty in their parish. Once at the Lincoln Memorial the girls heard President Obama, Martin Luther King,III.,  Julian Bond, Oprah Winfrey and others who spoke about the fight for civil and human rights.

They met Julian Bond, an American social activist and leader in the American civil rights movement, politician, professor, and writer. Julian Bond was only 23 years old in 1963 when the March on Washington took place. He has been called the patriarch of the civil right movement. At the age of 73 years old and fifty years later he once again stood on Lincoln Memorial.

They also met Marc Morial an American political and civic leader and current president of the National Urban League. The students were advocating for funding for a community center in their town. Over 14 million students leave school every afternoon and have no place to go for enrichment educational programs. According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center(NYVPRC), nine out of ten Americans think all youth should have access to after-school programs, but two-thirds of parents say they have trouble finding programs locally. The bad news is that the situation may be getting worse.
Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League

The youth expressed a vital need for such a center in their rural town. Every child should have access to educational enrichment program to learn new skills. Some of the programs that can be implemented in the resource center are mentoring, technology, reading, art, drama and reading programs.

Many people and news reporters took photographs of the youth with their signs.The youth were interviewed by BET National News and Shreveport Times. This was truly a life changing experience for the youth and one they will never forget. After the youth returned back to the bus they started reflecting upon their experience.

Roland Martin,  American Journalist
They are also met Roland Martin and American journalist and syndicated columnist with Creator Syndicate and author. He is a commentator for TV One and the host of Washington Watch with Roland Martin, a one hour Sunday morning news show on the network. Source: Wikipedia

I have made arrangement with the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans, La to have my granddaughter's memorabilia preserved in the Antoinette Harrell Collection. We would like to thank House on the Rock, Jo-Ann Frazier, Pastor and Mrs. Buchanan, Bobby J. Ginn, Walter C. Black, Sr.,  the photographer and all the people who help to make it possible for the youth to attend the 50th Anniversary March on Washington. Yes, fifty years from now they can say I was there!
La'Daesha Lee interview with BET National

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Legacy of Our Ancestors of Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes, Louisiana

As a small child I enjoy the company of my maternal grandmother Josephine Richardson Harrell. I was just a toddler when my grandfather Jasper Harrell, Sr., passed away in 1962--so I have no memories of him at all. It was his brother Palmer Harrell whom my three brothers and I had the pleasure of his beloved company. The four of us would sit on the front steps of our home waiting for that old beat up green truck to come slowly down the lonely country road. At that time not that many cars would pass by so we waited for him as if we were waiting for a playmate our age. That how much joy he brought to us as kids. We knew that he had some cookies in his little old brown bag.

We called him "Uncle Buddy" somehow we felt that he was our buddy and friend. That beautiful smile and friendly way he had about him made our day. When it was time for him to start working in the field for the day, we would join him and help him as much as any little hands could picking beans, cucumbers, bell peppers and any other fresh vegetables he planted. At the end of the work day, we knew we had a treat coming, a ride to the store to get a nickel worth of candy. Now, let me tell you for the record, that was a lot of candy.

Rev. Ernest Thomas Pugh
Someone else who comes to mind is Rev. Ernest Thomas Pugh, he was born on February 14, 1896 to the late Bishop and Amanda Pugh, was reared by Mr. John and Emma Harrison of Delhi, La. in Richland Parish He passed away on June 7, 1979. He met married Madlyn Albernathy and to their union ten children were born. He received his high school education at Pearl Hight School in Nashville, Tennessee and his Bachelor of Science Degree at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn.

His teaching experience included areas in Cooksville, Tenn., Loudon, Tenn., Harriman, Tenn., where he served as elementary principal Greenville, Tenn., elementary and secondary principal, Pastoral Arkansas as an elementary principal, and Amite, Louisiana where he taught and retired as a Science teacher in the Tangipahoa Parish School System.  Rev. Pugh was minister and teacher. He pastored for over forty-three years and he taught school for over thirty years. He pastored A.M.E. Zion churches in the following areas: Loudon, Tenn., Harriman, Tenn., which was constructed under his pastorship.

He was a member of the Ministerial Alliance of Amite, LA., The Tangipahoa Parish Voter's League, and Morning Light Lodge, No 18 F & AM, Greenville, Tenn.

Obituaries Can Provide Value Genealogical Information

In every African American community you will find someone that had an extensive obituary collection. My mother Isabell Harrell-Cook is one of those people. When attending a funeral, everyone wants a funeral program! The programs provide a lot of genealogical information that would be helpful to anyone who are conducting research on their family. The funeral program can provide information such as the birth of that person, their parents, siblings, and if that person was married, the name of the person's spouse can be found as well at the name of the children, grandchildren and if they person had a devoted friend or family member. On many programs you will find a photograph of the deceased person and now some people are adding other family members photographs to the program.  Please review the Funeral Program for Ardean Cutrer Leonard.

Memorial Services for Sister Ardean Cutrer Leonard

Ardean Cutrer Leonard

Sister Ardean Cutrer Leonard was born to the late John Cutrer and Jane Taylor Cutrer, January 30, 1908 in Wilmer, Louisiana. She converted at an early age at the Oakridge Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. James Vernon. She later Moved to the Mt. Canaan Community and united with the Mt. Canaan Baptist Church  and served faithfully  as long as health allowed.
Sister Ardean Leonard was united in Holy Matrimony to the late Sebram Leonard, and to this union four children were born. One preceded her in death. She also reared her grandson, Donald. She served as an usher, a member of both Missions, Nos. I & II.,  She was a regular Sunday school participant and a devoted church worker. Today we are silent to pay tribute to a person who has lived amount us as " One who went about doing good" and who always put Christ first in everything she did.
During her months of illness she leaned heavily on the Lord. Sister Leonard was lovable character, a person everyone chose to have as a friend and willing to be a friend to all. She never pushed herself forward, but always stayed in the background working and praying, doing whatever she was called upon to do for the Master.
She leaves to cherish her memory three children, two daughters: Ms. Allie Ruth Leonard and Mrs. Naomi Johnson, Amite, Louisiana, one son Arthur Sebram Leonard, Amite, Louisiana, six sisters, Mrs Cora Daniels, Amite, Louisiana, Mrs. Eula Claiborne, Evanston, Illinois, Mae Helen Hookfin and Evelena Cutrer of Kentwood, Louisiana. Bernadine Blackburn and Creola Dyson of Franklinton, Louisiana: four brothers, Robert Cutrer, Williams Cutrer and Leo Cutrer all of Kentwood, Louisiana and Cleo Cutrer of Franklinton, Louisiana: ten grandchildren and ten great grandchildren and a host of very special nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.