Thursday, December 12, 2013

Slaves on the Benjamin and Celia Bankston Richardson Plantation in St. Helena Parish

Hardy Richardson, Administrator of the will
Benjamin and Celia Bankston Richardson, 1852      
File R-4

Sept. 18, 1852. Inventory, Present were: Augustus W. Hart, James McCoy,  Robert W. Roberts, Alexander Courtney, Mrs. Celia Richardson, Stephen Richardson and major heirs Matthew, Stephen, and Francis E. Richardson. 640 acres on which the deceased last resided, bounded north by A. Courtney, east by bound Courtney, south by Davidson, west by Dennis including mills and gin--$4000; 23 slaves--$17,040; mill; horses; cattles; barouche--$100; 8 beds; etc. Total $24,178.

My great great grandfather Thomas Richardson, Jr., and his mother Carrie was part of this inventory. They appraised for $1100.00 dollars in 1853.  My maternal grandmother Josephine Richardson was the grand daughter of Thomas Richardson, Sr., and the great grand daughter of Carrie. Often times I find my mind drifting off on this period in the lives of my ancestors, but yet moving on to educate others in the family about our history in St. Helena Parish.

Thomas Richardson, Sr.
Rocky Hill Cemetery, St. Helena Parish
I knew all of my grandmother's sisters and brothers born to Thomas Richardson, Jr. and Emma Vining Richardson. I only wish that I spent more time talking with them about our history. My maternal  great uncle Alexander Richardson share some of our history with his son Emmitt N. Richardson, Sr.,  My grandmother and her siblings were the grandchildren of slaves. They were the griots that had the family history--when they passed away so did part of our history.

The first time I walked inside the St. Helena Parish Clerk Office vault to conduct genealogy research, I couldn't stop looking at the the vaults. I knew that one of the vaults held information about my ancestors who were slaves.  It was a day of joy and sadness at the same time. Happy and sad tears was streaming down my face as if someone turned on a water faucet. Here I am decades later looking for information on my family. Who owned them? What plantation did they work and live on? Where did they purchase them from? Who are the missing people in the family that we haven't  found. Most importantly, am I the only one who really cares? After locating their graves in Rocky Hill Church Cemetery and finding headstones on both Thomas Richardson, Sr., and his wife Amanda Breland Richardson, Thomas grave that clearly confirmed that Thomas Richardson, Sr., was born in slavery. I owe it to them to tell their story. It may not be important to anyone else, "it is important to me." I know that my ancestors would be rejoicing to know that I am telling their story to anyone who will listen.
From Right to Left
Alexander Richardson, Alma Richardson Gordon,
Josephine Richardson Harrell and Rosabell Richardson Moore

Mildred Ricard of Amite, Louisiana in 1968

This photograph was taken in 1968. Shelia, Mildred and Robert Lee wife was taken at my brother Andrew Williams funeral from Daisy, March 1968

Source: Leona Buckhalter 

Lallie Kemp Hospital in Independence, Louisiana

Visiting the Amite Genealogy Library is like going on a treasure hunt for me. There's lots of photographs, family histories, family books and family files on the shelves and inside the file cabinets. I found this picture of Lallie Kemp Hospital today and had to share it with everyone who read my blogs. My mother Isabell Harrell Cook was the last one born at home by a midwife. All of her sibling after her was born at this hospital.

Source: Amite Genealogy Library

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tangipahoa Parish First Black Medical Doctor "Dr. Walter A. Reed, MD"

Statue of Dr. Walter A. Reed
Hammond, LA
Dr. Reed, was born in 1879, a native of Crystal Springs, Miss., came to Hammond,LA
 in the early 1900s and remained until his death in 1954. Tangipahoa Parish's early physicians listed only white doctors. Dr. Reed dressed in his hat and three-piece suit when he made house calls to visit patients traveling by horse and buggy or his Model T car.

He had black and white patients that respected him as a medical doctor. When the outbreak of pneumonia happened, he worked hard to save the lives of so many people both black and white who were ill with pneumonia. He doctored on Dr. Gates when he had the pneumonia. Lettie Anderson who was his housemaid in 1918, became the nurse in his clinic and eventually nursed the doctor and his wife in their old age. Dr. Reed's oldest son Walter A. Reed Jr, was 87 years old when this interview took place. Walter, Jr, lived in Meridian, Miss. " I think I was in the fifth grade when I came to Hammond, " said Walter. My father established and had a house on Coleman Avenue. My mother was ill, and she passed away that year.

"My father married another lady, Ella Church from Crystal Springs. My stepmother took notice of the impoverished condition around Hammond and surrounding areas, she saw people spending money on good timing while their homes were in poor conditions. She convinced my father that I had to leave Hammond, La., so we took a train and went up to Jackson Preparatory School (now Jackson State University. It was part of the college and I lived on campus.

Dr. Reed's  first wife the former Lillie Loving, whom he had met at Jackson State. While he studied in New Orleans, his wife lived at Bogue Chitto and gave birth to their four children, W.A. Jr., Shellie, Edward and Lillie.

Available of many years at Central Drug was " Dr. Reed's Cough Syrup" he helped heal many people.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Homegoing Services for Lizzie Coleman Frazier

Mrs. Lizzie Coleman Frazier 
The angel of the Lord has visited again and has chosen from among us one of the best. On Wednesday, April 14, 2004 at 4:45 a.m., Sister Lizzie Coleman Frazier ("My Da") was called from earth to heaven's reward, Sister Lizzie was born on October 23, 1919, to the late Major Coleman and Maggie Spear Coleman. She was reared in a Christian home and united in fellowship at Gordon/Richardson Temple of Deliverance, the former Gordon Chapel C.O.G.I.C., at an early age.
she served faithfully in the church in many capacities such as deaconess, Church Mother, etc. She remained a loyal member until her death.

"My Da" was united in holy matrimony to Willie, C. Frazier, Sr. (W.C.) on Jun 24, 1939. To this union eleven children were born. She was a devoted wife and mother and did not seek employment until all of her children became of age. She was then employed in various positions, which included a position at Hood Memorial Hospital, from which she retired.

She leaves to treasure the memories of her life: her devoted husband, W.C. Frazier, five daughter; Lillie M. Warren of San Francisco, California, Catherine Galmon, Delores Topps, Josie D. Frazier, and JoAnn "Tiny" Winfied (Calvin) of Amite, LA; five sons; Emmitt (Elaine), and Roger (Connie), of Roseland, LA, Earnest (Jo-Ann), and John of Amite, LA, and James E. Frazier (Audrey, of Livermore, California; two sisters; Minnie Harrel of Amite, LA and Lillie Johnson of New Orleans, LA; on brother, Leroy Coleman of Amite, LA; one brother-in-law; Wade Wilson of Baton Rouge, LA, three sisters-in-law; Bertha Coleman, Rosa Caston and Ellen Frazier; thirty-three grandchildren; forty-five great grandchildren, a host of nieces and nephews, and many friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Major Coleman and Maggie Spears, her stepmother-Josephine Baker Coleman; four sister Edna Baker, Caretha Grazier, Mable Gilber and Mildred Wilson; one son, Willie C. Frazier, Jr., and one grand daughter, Eulandra D. Frazier.

Mr. Xavier Smith, Sr. of Amite, Louisiana

Xavier Smith, Sr. 
Since its inception as A.M.E. Church in 1886, Grant has literally hundreds of person join its ranks, but there has been none to equal the length of dedicated service that Mr. Xavier Smith, Sr. has attained. Converted and joined the congregation of Grant Chapel in 1916. Mr. Smith has been a constant, vibrant, dependable, vocal and dedicated member until the day he died--with specific interest in the temporal affairs of the church.

After 70 years of continued service, Mr. Smith can rightfully be considered the church's historian and father. His being strictly a family man, he has engineered his family members into good followers of Christ. His beloved wife, Daisy, was as dedicated as he, serving as a stewardess until her death; his daughter, Dorothy, is a local preacher; his daughter, Yvonne, and his son Xavier, Jr., are trustees; his granddaughter, Tewana, is a steward and Sunday School teacher, his son Glenn, was a deacon in the Baptist Church until his death. Yvonne and Tewana are both member of the gospel chorus. Yvonne is also a class leader. This a good indication that has begun a legacy that will last for years.

At 89 years, Mr. Smith shows no signs of deterioration, mentally, physically, socially, or spiritually, which gives him the right to be honored as grand patriarch of our church.

Celebration of a Life Well Live for Brother Leroy (Tip) Coleman

Leroy (Tip) Coleman, affectionally known by his sisters as "Brother", was born on March 25, 1929 to Major Coleman and Maggie Spears Coleman. He was the seventh of eight children. He departed this life on Friday, October 28, 2005.

On August 23, 1948, Tip was united in holy matrimony to Bertha Green. To this union, nine children were born. He was a devoted husband and father. Tip worked in many capacities as a laborer and retired at 62. After retirement, he chose to become a farmer and supply the community.

He leaves to cherish his memories his wife, Bertha Coleman, Amite, LA; four daughters; Linda Coleman, Amite, LA; Eva C. Jackson, Mandeville, LA; Debora Coleman, Greensburg, LA; Doretta C. Holiday, of Houston, TX; four sons, Roy R. Coleman, Greensburg, LA; Major Coleman, Donald Coleman, Gregory Coleman of Amite, LA; one sister, Minnie Harrell of Amite, LA; two brothers-in-law, Wade Wilson, Baton Rouge, LA; (W.C) Frazier, Amite, LA; two sisters-in-law, Lena Bruno and Becky Green, Amite, LA; 18 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents Major and Maggie Coleman, his stepmother, Josephine Coleman; six sister, Edna Baker, Caretha Frazier, Lizzie Frazier, Mable Gilbert, Mildred Wilson and Lillie Johnson; one son Jerry Lewis Coleman; one son-in-law Johnny L. Jackson.

Source: The Obituary of Leroy (Tip) Coleman

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

African American Physicians of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana

Before trained black physicians, surgeons, and medical education was open to black people in the United States, the black people in the community depend on the natural medicine healers, root doctors,  and midwives for healing. Few medical school would admit black students regardless of their academic excellence. 

Medical education for those seeking careers as physicians and surgeons was limited to a few black medical colleges including Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Walter Reed. MD
, and Meharry Medical College, in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The first trained medical doctors in the Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana community was Dr. Walter Reed, MD., that some of the older folks in the community told me about. Two other African American physicians that grew up in Amite, Louisiana are Dr. Daphne L. Richardson, OD.,  and Dr. Dwan S. Mabry, MD., FACOG. 

Dr. Daphne L. Richardson, OD
Dr. Daphne L. Richardson, OD, Optometrist Eye and Vision Specialist and Dr. Dwan S. Mabry, MD, FACOG, is a board certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist serving Tangipahoa and surrounding parishes for the past 10 years. Dr. Daphne Richardson is the daughter of Joseph Richardson and Linda Robinson. She was raised in Amite, Louisiana. She received her elementary and high school education in Amite, Louisiana also.

Dr. Mabry, M.D., FACOG
Dr. Mabry received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1990. She completed her medical training at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans in 1994. Dr. Mabry then completed her residency at University Hospital and the Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans, La with the LSU School of Medicine in 1998, and received her Board Certification in 2000.

Dr. Richardson and Dr. Mabry ancestral lineage is deep rooted in Tangipahoa, Louisiana.  If you know of other African American physicians in Tangipahoa and St. Helena, please contact me by email at

Monday, December 2, 2013

Discover Your Family History with Nurturing Our Roots

Are you ready to discover your family history? Many people discover important information about their family. Compiling and gathering family documents, photographs, family papers, military records, obituaries, death records, vital records, land deeds and other important documents that is vital to your research.

If you have thought about researching your family history and don't know where to start. Join host Antoinette Harrell on Nurturing Our Roots for a journey for a life time researching your family history.

Come explore your family history right here on Nurturing Our Roots, "The Live Talk Show Where Family Matters." Where the past meet the present and the present meet the future.




Sunday, December 1, 2013

Alma Harrison Vernon a Woman Pioneers of Amite, Louisiana

Alma Harrison Vernon
There is one African-American woman in Amite, Louisiana that left a legacy for so many in her community. Her name is Alma Harrison Vernon. She was born on April 7, 1923, in Amite, LA., to the late Obie and Carrie Mcknight Harrison.

Mrs. Vernon spent her life educating, empowering and inspiring women throughout the Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes. Mrs. Vernon let her light shine in all that she did and touched. I will never forget the times that I would visit with her and how we spent time talking. She was also an archivist that clipped and saved important newspapers articles about the local black folks that made the news.  She kept very good and detailed records of the churches and community meetings.

Alma Harrison Vernon
Although I didn't have her as a teacher, I still learned so much just by watching and listening to her. She taught my brother Thomas in second grade at Amite Elementary School.  She taught so many of the children in the community.

Alma Harrison Vernon
She received her elementary and high school education in Tangipahoa Parish. She received a B.S. Degree in Elementary Education from Grambling State University. Mrs. Alma H. Vernon was the wife of Rev. Willard Vernon, and she was the President of the Senior Women Auxiliary of the Little Bethel Baptist Church of Amite, Louisiana. She spoke at the National Baptist Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1975. It was the 95th Annual Session of the National Baptist Convention. Her address to the Convention brought many favorable comments, including that of the National President of the Senior Women Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention of American.

While visiting her only daughter Glyniss Vernon Gordon, I had a chance to look through some of the many albums that Mrs. Vernon kept. It was like looking in an archive and I was happy and delighted but not the least surprised of the accomplishments of such an elegant woman whom help shape our community.

One of the awards that I had to make mention of in this blog is the "Certificate of Appreciation" that was presented to Mrs. Alma Vernon in recognition of an important contribution to the ongoing fight against hatred and intolerance in America.

The name shown above will be added to the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama to provide inspiration to all those who choose to take a stand against hatred. The Certificate of Appreciation was signed by Morris Dees, Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Morris Dees co-founded the SPLC in 1971 following a successful business and law career. He won a series of groundbreaking civil rights cases that helped integrate government and public institutions. He also severed as finance director for former President Jimmy Carter's campaign in 1976 and for Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern in 1972.

Westside High School Class of 1965

Westside High School in Amite, Louisiana was segregated in 1965. Several of my family members were in this class. My Uncle Herbert Harrell and cousin Oliver Jackson, Sr.,  I would like to thank Luther Tolliver for posting this photograph. Luther graduated with this class as well.

I am happy to see that many African Americans people through out the Tangipahoa & St. Helena parishes community have preserve a part of our history.

Source: Luther Tolliver

Mr. Louis A. Vernon, Architect " The Great Grandson of A Slave

Louis A. Vernon
Louis A.Vernon, architect, was the designer of this present structure. He finished his early training at Mt. Canaan Elementary School, he attended Dillion High School and Southern University. However, his course was interrupted when he was called to serve his country. He returned and finished his course at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

He later returned back to Louisiana as an architect and instructor of mathematic at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. From there he transferred to Wilburforce University in Ohio where he taught architecture until his death. This structure stands a monument to the memory of a brilliant young man who was the great grandson of Robert "Free Bob" Vernon. 

Robert was born in 1832 in Rankin County, Mississippi as a slave. He died July of 1915 in Tangipahoa Parish. He was the father of seventeen children: Willie, Riley, Georgia, Lula, Jim, Nancy, Isaac, John, Florence, Emma, Guy, Sam, Owen, Toby Stamp, Anna, Lettie, and Robert Vernon, III. 

Robert "Free Bob" Vernon
A Former Slave 
He watched as his first wife and sons were sold off as slaves on a plantation in Mississippi. Robert worked hard to purchase his freedom. He later moved to Louisiana where his father Robert Vernon lived. He built a cabin on one hundred and sixty acres; his father told him that if he worked hard to cultivate the land for five years, he could become the owner of the land. Robert took the challenges on and began working hard on two plots of land. 

Source: Booklet of Glyniss Vernon Gordon. The book didn't indicate what building and where it is located.