Monday, December 29, 2014

Who is the Unnamed Slave Boy in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana?

Photo Credit: Dr. Charles Smith
Under a oak tree in Hammond, Louisiana., you can find the gravesites of Peter Hammond, his wife, three daughters,  and the grave of a little boy who was his slave. No one has ever mentioned the little boy by name. He is referred to as the favorite "slave boy."

Hammond, Louisiana is located in Tangipahoa Parish.  The city of Hammond is named for Peter Hammond-(Peter of Hammerdal)- a Swedish immigrant who first settled the area around 1818.

In the Hammond Graveyard; The Hammond Vindicator, Hammond, Louisiana, Nov 5, 1977.  They counted eight graves, nine if they counted the one, unmarked, of a little negro, a pet of Peter Hammond, who he buried there in the early sixties.

The article also mentioned that the spot became a favorite one with Hammond and when a dedicated slave child died, his especial pet, he buried it there. The first grave in the Hammond Graveyard, a striking expression of a Southerner's love for his slaves.
Photo Credit: Dr. Charles Smith
Dr. Charles Smith was shocked and outraged by the anonymity of "favorite slave boy," Dr. Smith
contacted local officials and researched the library for clues to the identity of the unidentified child slave to no avail. He realized that Hammond, Louisiana., would be just the place to begin his second African-American Heritage Museum and Black Veterans Archives, where he educated today's generations of black youth who seem uninterested.

I know that I can say not only should we educate the youth, adults in the area need to be educated as well about their local history and the history of their ancestors as it relates to the area in which they live. As a genealogist and family historian, I'm committed to researching any information I can find on this little boy to give him his name if I can find it. My heart aches as I write and publish this article. He wasn't a pet, he was a human being.

A very special and warmed hearted thank you, Dr. Charles Smith for caring enough to do something in remembrance of the child who was a slave. There are many unmarked graves that hold our enslaved ancestors in the parishes of Tangipahoa and St. Helena, La., Today, I light a candle in remembrance of all of them. But especially for the little boy who is buried in Hammond, LA.

For those of you that will celebrate NewYears Eve 2014, can you at least stop to think about what January 1,  1863, meant to your enslaved ancestors? If it wasn't for them where would you be today?  Because we chose to forget our history, past, and present this is why so many unjust situations are repeating itself again.

Light a candle in remembrance of those who died as slaves. Light a candle in remembrance of those who died fighting for freedom. Your freedom was given to you, there were much bloodshed for a little taste of freedom. To say the least I'll call him "Freedom Child."

For further reading please visit the following sites:,_Louisiana.html

Women Making History in Kentwood, Louisiana

Irma Robertson taking Oath of Office
As National Women's History Month approaches in 2015, I know several women who are making history. This years theme: "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives," bring to mind two women in Kentwood, Louisiana., that made history this year. The newly elected Justice of Peace Irma Robertson, Ward 1 and Mayor Elect Irma Thompson Gordon. Matter of fact three women named Irma was elected this past election. Irma Holloway Clines was elected to serve on the Kentwood City Council.

Nurturing Our Roots Blog salute these courageous women who took Oath of Office to serve the people and Town of Kentwood, Louisiana. Irma Robertson was sworn in by Attorney Ethel M. Clay. The inauguration was held at the Lion's Club. Irma defeated incumbent David Sellers.

The Town of Kentwood, Louisiana Elected Its First Woman Mayor

Kentwood First Elect Female Mayor
Irma Thompson Gordon is no stranger to the Town of Kentwood Louisiana for services rendered. She retired from the Tangipahoa Parish School System after dedicating thirty-years educating children. Many students she taught at Kentwood High School remembered her at the voting poll this past election.

She is the daughter of the late Jimmie and Bertha Thompson. She's the proud mother of two children and the grandmother of five grandchildren. She attended O.W. Dillon Memorial High School and graduated from Kentwood High School in 1969. She earned a B.S. Degree at Southern University in Baton, Louisiana., and a Master's Degree at Southeastern Louisiana University.

She served on the Kentwood City Council for twenty-years; sixteen of which she held the position of Mayor Pro-Temp.  As Mayor-Elect, she plans to work hard to bring new business, small business chains, and social services to the Town of Kentwood, La., One of the issues we discuss was the outdated website that needs to be updated immediately so that the citizens of Kentwood, Louisiana can use to get updates and access information that is vital to the Town of Kentwood. One of her goals is to plan various activities for the youth, seniors and the town that will promo education as well establish entertainment entitles for families and children.

Mayor-Elect Irma T. Gordon and offsprings.
"She is the first female elected as Mayor of Kentwood, Louisiana., although as previously said she is no stranger to serving our community." It's surprising that she would choose her ninety-eight-year-old aunt to hold the bible that she used to be sworn on December 28, 2014, inauguration. She has a great respect for the elderly people in the community. One of her platform missions is to bring more programs to the Town of Kentwood for the elderly citizens.

I couldn't help but think about the time in which Ms. Geneva was born, a time when women didn't have rights. Many women of color fought for the right to vote.  The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote was passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote.  Now Ms. Geneva was witnessing her niece being sworn in as the first female mayor elected to the Town of Kentwood. Although women in Kentwood, Louisiana., has been elected as Town Council members.

Please follow Mayor Gordon at

Sunday, December 28, 2014

In Remembrance of Enslaved Africans of St. Helena, Louisiana

As January 1, 2014 approaches, I couldn't help but think about what my ancestors and all the enslaved Africans and prisoners of war thoughtout Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes went through on January 1, 1863. They were held as slaves for four hundred years under the brutal evil acts of slavery at the hands of their white masters. It was on Thursday, January 1, 1863, that President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The 2015 News Years Day falls on Thursday.

There were a different type of fireworks that sparked the air. The sparks of freedom filled the air for hundreds of thousands of newly freed Africans who were held as slaves in both parishes. My ancestors being some of the enslaved Africans who cried tears of joy because the freedom bell rung. The Richardson, Vining and Harrell's were slaves in St. Helena and East Feliciana Parishes, Louisiana.

I'll be forever grateful to Stephanie K. Martin-Quiatte slavery database records for St. Helena Parish. Her extensive slave database can help many African Americans find their enslaved ancestors.

I found a man named "Wash" in a sheriff's sale in St. Helena Parish, Bailey Chaney vs. William Whitten on August 4, 1860 in the database she published.

State of Louisiana
Parish of St. Helena
Eigth Judicial District court  #2,40(?)
Bailey Chaney vs William Whitten

By virtue of a writ of Fieri Facina (?) issued from the honorable court aforesaid, in the above entitled suit, and directed to the Sheriff of St. Helena Parish, and State aforesaid, I have seized on and will offer for sale to the highest bidder at the courthouse door in the town of Greensburg on Saturday, the 4th day of August 1860, between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm of said day.  It being the first Saturday in said month all the rights title, interest  and claim of the defendant R.P. Lee in and to the following named property to wit:

A certain Negro named Wash, age of about 25 years and black in color.

Property pointed out by the plaintiff to satisfy the above writ and all cost.
Terms of sale, cash with the benefit of appraisment

J.J. Wheat, Sheriff
June 30, 1860

For more information please visit her databases at

Cleaning Out a Deceased Relative House

Antique Radio
If anyone has ever had to clean out the home of a deceased family member, they can tell you how challenging it could be. It’s something that most of us don’t want to think about or have to face. I've heard time and time again that someone cleaned out a family member’s house and threw away all the family papers, records, photographs and furniture. 

Yes, this can be a difficult task. It is a task that must be carefully thought about and planned. The first thing that I suggest is go through each room one room at time. Access the room, look at the items carefully and decide what you want to do with them. If there’s a group of people working together, put together a plan.

 If there is a person in charge, they should make it clear that nothing should be thrown away without consulting with the person in charge. If it is large furniture and large items, you can post little sticky notes on the items to say what you want. Whether you are donating to the Goodwill or giving them to a family member, it would help the people who are helping you to achieve your goals for the items. For the smaller items and personal items, it would help to get three boxes and put them in the middle of the floor. Mark each one as follows: Box one: keep; box two: donate to family members who want them; box three: donations for Goodwill. 

Photo: Unknown
Now, most important is the paperwork. No more than two people should handle the papers and other documents in the house if it can be arranged. The reason that I am suggesting this is to avoid having important papers and other documents thrown away. Too often this happens and people lose valuable documents and family papers because too many people were handling the documents.

Read every document carefully, and if you’re unsure whether it’s something you should keep, just hold on to it at least six months to a year. When it comes down to old photographs, please don’t throw them away. Check around and see if anyone in your family, church or community can recognize the people, places or know something about the location of the picture. If all else fails, please consider contacting your local university or genealogy society to see if they would take the photographs to be preserved.

Finally, please, if aren't pushed for a date to move out of the home, don’t be in a big rush. After all you don’t want to throw away important items, documents, and photographs that you would regret later.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Where Are the African-American Historic Landmarks in St. Helena and Tangipahoa Parishes?

Church in Reid's Community, Amite, LA 
I've traveled throughout St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes searching for one historical African American landmark. There are several places that should be preserved as National Historic Landmarks.  

Sweet Home Folklife Museum in Kentwood, LA.,  mission is to preserve African ancestry celebrated with artifacts in the museum, crafts, a walk through the Nature Trail, storytelling and you can witness an outdoor Baptism in Cool Creek. 

The African American Heritage Museum & Veteran Archives is dedicated to preserving, maintaining and educating the public on the history of African-American ancestors in the State of Louisiana and Tangipahoa Parish in collaboration with other entities of cultural interest throughout the United States of America and aboard through artistic endeavors.

Where are the places where African Americans pioneers lived, raised their family, the location where an important even took place, the home of someone who left a legacy in the community?  Whether its a school, a church or building that hold special memories that are important to you and the community. These landmarks help tell the story of the people who make up the fabric of their community.

The National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places invites you to explore the history and culture of Southeastern Louisiana, featuring historic places along the Mississippi River. African- American people in St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes has a rich heritage that needs to be preserved. One church comes to mind in the Reid Community in Amite, LA, a little church that should be on the preserved list. In Roseland, LA, there is the Big Zion School where African American students attended classes before integration.

Sweet Home Folklife Museum, Kentwood, LA
Because of social media, African-Americans from both parishes are sharing more photographs of family members and photographs from the earlier years. I was inspired to start a collection for photographs and other records at Southeastern Louisiana Studies three years ago. This collection is rich in photographs, funeral programs, church programs, family history and other documents of the people who live in both parishes.

It’s very disappointing to see so many people from St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes, who graduated from Southern University and Grambling State University not working to preserve historic landmarks, the history of the local people and the history of African American people. Many families have been in the parishes since these parishes were formed. I hope that the alumni of these schools and other social organizations can come together to preserve the history before it is lost. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Obituary of Gussie Fluker of Kentwood, LA.

Gussie Fluker
A long life, useful and fruitful, a Christian life, tells the earthly story of the late Sister Gussie Fluker. She was born in Kentwood, LA., January 29, 1883, the daughter of the late Bro. Wallace McGee and Sister Josephine Cutrer McGee. She was united in hold wedlock to the late Curtis Fluker and to this union was born two children. After the passion of her, she took the responsibility for the rearing of her five children. All of whom she became mother.

She became a member of Oak Grove A.M.E. Church at an early age and remained a faithful soldier in God's Army until she was called to rest on August 19, 1972. She was a member of Stewardess Board No.1, The Household of Ruth No. 1619, and Tangipahoa Christian Benevolent Association No. 3., She is survived by one daughter, Hollis Butler, one son Erwin Fluker, bout of Kentwood; one foster brother, Edward Eley of Chicago, III.; I grandson Percy Fluker, Kentwood; six foster children, and Wallace of Chicago, Frank of Glenburnie, Md., Eugene, Berkley, Calif., T.D. and Edmond of Kentwood; four great-grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.

Please note that the information in this post is printed just as it is on the obituary. No correction or change has been made.

Source: Bernice Alexander Bennett