Sunday, July 31, 2016

She Was One of Twenty Three Children

Ms. Maxine Knighten
I saw this petite and certainly neat lady several places in the community. She has strongly resembled by maternal cousin Wille K. Gordon, Jr., wife. One time I thought that was my cousin's wife. Mostly, I've seen her in the library with young children. Today I finally got a chance to sit down and talk with her.  Her name is Ms. Maxine Knighten.

After her church service, she stopped over to tell me about her experience at Tangipahoa Parish Training School for Colored. She graduated in 1952 from the school and went on to become an educator herself in Chicago. She was so beautiful in her blue suit and with her matching blue hat and happy to tell me that she was in her mid-80s.  "Could it be in the Kentwood water?" All the elders in the Town of Kentwood is very healthy and their mine are full of history.

When she started telling me about things that happen in the 50s, I could do anything but listen and write. She told me that she was one of twenty- three children and that she was one of seven sets of twins.  "Twenty-three babies, I said!" I thought about a classroom of twenty-three children.  Several of the children didn't survive and died during childbirth.

Mahalia Jackson

Ms. Knighten survived all of her siblings. I could imagine  being born in such a large family and surviving  all my sibling. She still has a lot of nieces, nephews, and other relatives.  She recalls  hearing Mahalia Jackson and gospel singer Joe May sing at Tangipahoa Parish Training School for the Colored. She remembered paying her dollar to get in to hear the concert.  That was one of the questions I had to ask her. "Mahalia song so beautiful," said Ms. Knighten. I never forget that day,
it was so nice.

We started talking about the teachers who worked there during her time at school. She talked about Mr. Thornton and how hard of a teacher he was because he expected only the best from you. I remember Mr. O.W. Dillon using that left hand because he was left handed. The subject of use books was the next things she pointed out to me. She couldn't understand why all the white kids got new books and the negro students had to get the used books. That was the way it was when I was in grade school as well.

Two other people said that they were there that day with Mahalia Jackson came to the school. As she reflects on days that she probably had forgotten about up until now. The hardship of life is one thing she stressed to me. "Yes it was hard and I mean hard," she said. "We alway had food, because daddy grew produce and we had milk cow," she said.

But sometimes we had to go and work in the fields picking cotton, beans, and other produce. "I hated and I mean I hated because I wanted to go to school," said Ms. Knighten.  But daddy did want us to go to school.

I can't wait until Thursday for another history lesson for Ms. Knighten. Click below to hear gospel singer Joe May and Mahalia Jackson youtube,

Joe May

Mahalia Jackson

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Julien Quinn of Amite, Louisiana

Julien Quinn was one of the first African American police in Amite, Louisiana. He owned the first African American taxi cab service. He also owned a club called the playboy lounge and Quinn's motel. He lived in Butler Town. His parents were from Walthall, Mississippi. Their names were James and Louise Quinn.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Sarah Johnson of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana

Sarah Johnson was married to Joe Johnson. She is the grandmother of Mrs. Vera Buckhalter Womack.
Sarah Johnson

Mrs. Vera Buckhalter Womack of Kentwood, Louisiana

Mrs. Vera Womack
Today I met a beautiful woman named Mrs. Vera Buckhalter Womack in Kentwood, Louisiana., She told me that she just celebrated her 99th birthday. All I could do was just look at   her. My eyes couldn't believe that the lady I was looking at just made 99 years old.

We sat and talked for a long time. I went to talk with her about Tangipahoa Parish Training School in Kentwood. She told me about her school days and how she walked one mile to get to school. She recalled how the boys would make a fire in the old pot belly stove to warm up the class. Mrs. Womack left school after she couldn't keep up due to the fact that she had to miss too many days to work in the field picking cotton, strawberries, and other agricultural produce. 

Mrs. Womack has lived to see five generations. She is one of seven children born to the union of her Mr. Fred and Mrs. Emma Buckhalter. After she left school to get married, she and her husband opened the only African American store in the community. She started off by selling snowballs and candy and from there she and her husband added other items to the store. She operated the store up until her 80s. The Womack's are a pillar in the Kentwood community. 

Emma Johnson Buckhalter
I enjoyed looking at all the family photographs on her walls and the many beautiful bouquets of roses and flowers she received from her family and loved ones. We both felt like we knew each other all our lives.

According to Mrs. Womack her mother, Mrs. Emma Buckhalter was the first African American teacher in Kentwood.  She taught at Sweet Home Baptist Church when the school was held in at the church.  Emma was born around 1883 in Tangipahoa Parish. Her father Fred was born in St. Helena Parish in 1886. In 1910 the family was living at  the Amos Kent Lbr & Brick Co Quarters. He is listed as a mulatto according to the 1910 United States Federal Census.

She proudly talked about her late husband's determination to overcome being an amputee and how I remind her of him. "He never gave up, he made all the kitchen cabinets and other woodwork," said Mrs. Vera. 

Mrs. Womack was an entrepreneur at heart. She was a hairdresser by trade as well. She went back to the only African American beauty school in Kentwood and earned her certification to become a licensed cosmetologist in 1964. She proudly displays her diploma on her wall. When she started school she told the owner that she didn't have a certification but she knew how to do hair. The owner told Mrs. Womack that she groomed and styled hair better than some women who were licensed.  She was determined to do what it took to help support her family. 

I really enjoyed sitting and talking with her. I hope to live to see her age and most importantly I would like to be in good health like her. Mrs. Vera out lived all her of her sibling. But the memories of her deceased loved one will forever live in her heart. 

Odile Beauty School
Mrs. Vera B. Womack

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

St. Helena Indians 1962

Wallace Smith, James Hart, Thomas Dudley, Hollis Jackson, Charlie Addison, Jesse Stewart, Vernell Williams, Billy Johnson, Thomas J. Howard, James Ramsey, Sam Green, Luther Hall, Emmitt Kendrick, Lawerence Chaney, Henry Crier, Edgar Brumfield, Silar Geralds, Tom Graves, Chester George, Adolphus Dickerson, James Atkins, Earnest Edwards, George Rankins, Ray Pitts, Dennis Scott, Edward Cornish, George Muse, Mack Jackson, Alfred Reynolds, Alcee Musem Roy Dudley.

Coach; Lea Vern Sims
Principal; B.L.BEnny Wicker

The Colored Citizen's School in Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Original Act of Sale from The African Methodist Episcopal Church of Ponchatoula, La to Colored Citizen's School 

Before me Edwin R. Wells, a Notary, duly commissioned and qualified within and for the Parish of Tangipahoa, State of Louisiana, and in the presence oh witnesses hereinafter named and undersigned; Personally came and appeared;

Martin S. Berry Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the said African Methodist Episcopal Church, and J.W. Graves Residing Elder of the Said Church;

Duly authorized and empowered by a resolution passed by said Board of Trustees on February 10, 1916, which said resolution as of record on the minutes of said Board.

Who did declared for and in consideration of the price and sum of twenty one & 50/100, and other valuable considerations, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged to have been received and good acquittance given for the same. They do on behalf of the said Church, sell set over transfer and deliver unto; The Colored Citizens School of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, herein represented by E.H. Pines chairman of the Board of Trustees of the said school, as per resolution passed by said Board of Trustees on 2nd, day of February 1916 as will appear of record on the minutes of the said board trustees of he said School, the following described property to wit.

Lot nume eleven and twelve, (11 & 12) in square number sixty nine, (69) together with all building and improvements or appuretanances thereto belonging, situate in the Town of Ponchatoula, Tangipahoa Parish State of Louisiana according to the official map of said Town.

To have and to hold the above described property unto the said purchasers, their heirs and assigned, forever, free from any lien for encumbrance whatever, with full and general warranty and all rights as held by the said vendors.

The certificate required by article number 3364 of the revised Civil Code of the State is hereby dispenced with and the undersigned Notary is hereby exonerated from all liability on account of the non-production of the same. All taxes assessed against the above described property have been paid up and to including the year 1916, the taxes for 1917 not being due, as evidenced by the tax receipts in the hands of the vendors. 

Thus done, signed and passed at Ponchatoula, in the parish and State aforesaid on this 1st day of August 1917, in the presence of Joe Mixon and ? Pince two competent witnesses, who have signed these presents together with the said appeared and me said Notary after due reading of the whole. 

Source: Tangipahoa Parish Clerk Office; Conveyance Book 81, page 331
Transcribed by: Antoinette Harrell

Sunday, July 24, 2016

O.W. Dillon Faculty Member 1950-1951 Ernestine Fluker Imes

Ernestine Fluker Imes

Ernestine Fluker  Imes taught 1st grade at O.W. Dillon Training School in Kentwood, Louisiana. She was born in 1917 in Tangipahoa Parish to Irvin and Dielie Fluker. According to the 1920 U.S. Census her father worked at a saw mill as foreman. He was born in 1899 in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. 

West Side Rams Class of 1962

For the past couple of weeks I've been assisting the Alumni's of O.W. Dillon School in Kentwood, Louisiana. I put a call out for high school yearbooks and two beautiful women by the names of Annette Vernon Brumfield and Ernestine Johnson still has their 1950-1951 yearbooks. I can't explain how excited and happy I was to take a look at those yearbooks.

While looking through the pages I found several family members of my own. My maternal cousins; Adam Gordon, Willie K. Gordon, Frank Gordon, and Maude Temple. When we start to preserve our family history and the community history, we will find that we're all connected by bloodlines or extended community family, classmates, neighbors or church members.

These two women hold a piece of the legacy of O.W. Dillon School that should never be forgotten. I called my cousin Vernon Gordon, Sr., and asked him if his father Adam Gordon played football. He confirmed that his father did play for the Westside Rams. All these years I didn't know that his father played football. When I got my magnifying glass to take a closer look at the image. I took a second look at number 76, which looks like my him.

I feel so happy that my passion for preserving the history of African American people in St. Helena and Tangiphaoa Parishes had educated me on the rich and unique history we have and the people who  shoulders I stand on.

At that time Reginald A. Cotton was the head coach and O.W. Cunnigen was the assistant coach. The team  had 23 veteran letterman and well balanced.  The next largest man on the squad was an even hundred pound senior tackle veteran Adam Gordon.

The following young men on the squad were;

Willie Finn, Larry Dillon, Richard Morris, Edward Tate, Shelton Johnson, Lionel Brumfield, Jimmy Daniels, Adam Gordon, Alfred Bennett, Fred Buckhalter, Larry Zanders, Robert Cain, Henry Fleming, Milton Curry, Solomon Davis, Julius Strickland, Maurice Dillon, Ernest Brown, Alton Zanders. Albert Perry, Thomas Williams, Elliot Himes, Larry Foster, Charles Harvey, Robert Oden, Anderson Tate, Nelson Finn, Curtis Bryant, Melvin Vernon, Enoch Sims, Earnest Gordon, Anderson Watterson, Joe E. Williams, Louis Ruffin, Robert Stewart, Raymond Brown, Henry Wilson, Alcee Allenn, Geroge Perry, Roy M. James, Rayford Brumfield.


Robert Andrews, Danny Riley, Earnest Walker and Willie Addison. Statisticians are; Leslie Mabry and Willie G. Williams.

Pep Squard;

Earline McDowell, Mary Mills, Ruthie James, and Gloria M. Seal.


Derlean Kirkwood, Helen Cyprian, Shirley White, Lillie Frazier, Juanita Bush, Sarah Perry, Helen Buckhalter, Gloriastine Wilson, Rosemary Heart and Jeanne

Source: Article for a local newspaper. The name and date of the newspaper wasn't attached to the article.

O.W. Dillon Tigers of Kentwood, Louisiana

The Dillon Tigers of Kentwood, under  Coach Monroe Perry assisted by J.J. Williams and George Magee.

Photo Credit: Jenkins
Squadmen that make the Tigers go are: James Innis, Lanny Vernon, Lionel Patterson, Arvell Buckhalter, Clyde Walls, Hollis Robinson, Jimmy Washington, James Parker, McTha Turner, Woodrow Dyson, Bennie James Gordon, Conrad Wyre, Hurley Gordon, Elijah William, Nolan Gordon, Felix Braxton, Eugene Peavy, James Cook, Charlie Dunn, Fate Irving, Stanely Cooker, Charlie Robertson, Willie Chaney, Edmond Thomas, Lonnie Hookfin, J.D. Morris, Felix Johnson, and Charlie Johnson.

Source: This article appeared in a local newspapers. The date and name of the newspaper was not documented. I assumed it had to be the Kentwood Ledger.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Scranton and Emma Jones Harrell of Dodge, Georgia Lineage

Robert Harrell, Jr.
I met Robert Harrell, Jr.,  several years ago through social media. Robert family lineage run deep in  Dodge County, Georgia. He traced his great great grandfather Scranton Harrell back to 1868. He was married to
Penny and they had four sons. 

Robert's grandfather was named Scranton Harrell he was born around 1879. In 1930 they were living in Dodge, Georgia.  They owned their home, Scranton was a farmer and owned his own farm. He and his wife Emma were the parents of; Scranton, Robert, Isaac, Mattie, and Mandy.

Harrell-Jone & Related Families will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on August 1-3, 2017. The event is being hosted by the descendants of Scranton and Emma Jones Harrell and related families. Scranton was the grandson of Scranton and Emma Harrell and the son of Anthony & Mattie Yarborough. Emma was the daughter of Robert and Ellen Jones.

Robert publish a quarterly newsletter entitled " The Times Harrell" Family Newsletter "Our Roots Deep," is committed publishing an educational edition by early August. His prior editions only focused on current educational activities. However, his future issues will also include news on continuing college students and any noteworthy achievements of youth at any level.

Scranton and Emma Jone Harrell Marriage License

Friday, July 15, 2016

Searching African American Harrell's in Amite County, Mississippi

Derius Harrrell, Pike County Clerk's Office
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Years ago a young man by the name of Derius Harrell contacted me to find out if I found any of his ancestors on my family tree. His family research took him to several counties in Mississippi; Pike, Amite and Marion counties.  My ancestors were also in Amite County. 

According to Derius Harrell family tree;  Harrison Harrell begat, Wilford James Harrell begat, Nathaniel Harrell begat,  Melvin Harrell begat, Derius Harrell. 

Harrison was born around 1850, he met and married Harriet in 1875. In the 1900 U.S. Census they were living Pike, Mississippi. They were the parents of fourteen children; Bertha, Duffie, Homer, Dendry, Allie, Caley, Lason, Rosa,  and Perry, was listed on the census. One the 1910 census you will find J.L, J.W. Jessie, and Roscoe in the home. The own their own home and were mortgage free. Harrison and Harriett was married for thirty years and were able to read and write.

Derius Harrell look so much like a my maternal first cousin. Each time I look at him I wonder if we share the same ancestors. Once we hit the brick wall in our genealogy research its time to turn to DNA. Its good to see all the Harrell families researching their family history. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Isaac and Mariah Harrell of East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana

Top Left: William Harrell, Sr. Bottom Left: Isaac Harrell, Jr.
Top Right: Johnny Harrell: Bottom Right: Joseph Harrell
Isaac Harrell in the center.
Last week a woman name Carolyn August- Robinson contacted me about her East Feliciana Harrell family.  Her grandfather Isaac Harrell was born circa 1892. Isaac's mother was named Catherine, she married a man name Ripley Flowers who listed Isaac as his stepson in the 1900 U.S. Census. 

A brother by the name of James E. Harrell was living in the household. James was born in 1894. 

In 1910 he was living in the Police Jury Ward 7th, East Feliciana, Louisiana.  He was recorded as a mulatto and was a farmer by occupation. He was married to Mariah Jefferson Harrell.  They were the parents of Catherine, Emma, Leola, Viola, Mary Ella, Florence, Joseph, John, Isaac and Elizabeth Harrell.

In 1920 Isaac and Mariah were living in New Orleans, Louisiana at 5763 Dauphine Street. He worked as a laborer at a saw mill. In 1930 the family was living at 5431 Urquhart Street. Isaac was longshoreman working on the docks.

Their son Joseph was killed in a train derailment in 1947 on his way home. Once Isaac and his wife left the small town of Clinton they made New Orleans their home. Many of their descendants still live in the New Orleans today. I heard that there were Harrell's who lived in the ninth ward in New Orleans other than my Harrell family. Now that I'm making a connection with other Harrell's who came from Clinton it may help me find my maternal great grandfather Alexander's brother and sisters offsprings if there were any.

The Harrell Sister
Just this past week  family historian Karran Harper Royal and I went to Clinton to help New Orleans Police Officer Stephen Harrell, Sr. connect to his Harrell roots in Clinton. Now we're connecting with Carolyn to connect with her Clinton roots.

In 1802 Hezekiah Harrell was sent as early as 1802 by his father, fat old Levi Harrell of Charleston District, S.C., to explore the southern wilds for a home large enough for his "old folks," the littles one, the slaves and held. Hezekiah, having obtained a liberal Spanish grant.  Fat "Ole Levi," other family lines are  Smith, Bacon, Chance, Robinson, Hobgood, Little, Cassel, McNeil and Hunt. They all lived in East Feliciana and Amite County, Mississippi in the early 1800s.  I've been to the clerk's office in Amite County, Mississippi many time looking at the slave inventory and succession records of Hezekiah. Now that I know the lineage of Isaac and Beauregard Harrell, I would like to find their ancestors who were slaves to find out if they were related to my maternal great-great grandfather Robert Harrell.

Carolyn August-Robinson
One thing that fat old Levi told his son Hezekiah is not to sell any of his slaves. Hezekiah honored his father wishes and kept the enslaved African together on the the Harrell plantation.  I hear people with the last name Harrell talk about their Clinton roots.  I think its time to use DNA to find out if we're related once we hit a brick wall and our research can't go any

So many of us with the last name Harrell want to know how history and more about our ancestors, who were they, where did they come from. Who are their children? Where did they go after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed granting the former slaves their freedom. I very grateful for social media networks, because we're sharing photographs and family stories.

Carolyn informed me that she and Stephen are friends on facebook and she was trying to find out if they're related.  I think we'll  get some answers very soon. If you're a Harrell with ancestral roots in East Feliciana Parish, Amite County, Mississippi, St. Helena Parish, Tangipahoa Parish and Orleans Parish, and you would like to share your Harrell family history please email me at, Karan and I would like to hear about your history and we're still searching for the descendants of Alexander and Dinah Harrell.
Isaac Harrell, Jr.
Son of Isaac and Mariah Harrell

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Genealogist Karran Royal Visit the Land of Her Great Grandfather Shelton Harrell, Sr.

The Homestead of her gg grandmother Emma Mead Harrell
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.
Karran and I met over fifteen years ago in New Orleans, La., I had just finished writing and publishing the Harrell family history book. The Times Picayune Newspaper published and article about my book and Karran contacted me after reading the article. She said to me, "I think we are related through my great grandfather Shelton." After talking with her indeed she and I are related through my maternal grandfather Jasper Harrell, Sr., and her paternal great grandfather Shelton Harrell, Sr. 

Just recently I asked her if she had ever been to the homestead of her great grandfather in Tangiphaoa Parish, she told me no. I had to arrange a road trip to the  old Emma Mead Harrell Homestead for her. This past December the genealogy bug bit Karran and she had been hooked every since. She researched her mother's side of the family and her husband's side of the family. 

We  visited  Big Zion cemetery where the Harrell family is buried at in Roseland, Louisiana. It was her first time going to the gravesite of her Harrell family members. Having someone in the family who is committed to researching, documenting and preserving our family history is exciting and rewarding for me, but especially for our family.

Karran has joined me as the co-host of "Nurturing Our Roots Educational Television Talk Show" the show where we're growing new branches. This is the beginning of our road trips. We would like to invite other family members to take the road trip with us to learn about our family history.

This land has been in our family since 1896. Our great grandmother Emma Mead Harrell worked hard to save enough money to purchase land for  her heirs. Our next road trip will be visiting the Harrell cemeteries in East Feliciana Parish. From there we'll visit the Amite County, Mississippi. We'll keep you posted right here on Preserving Our History in Tangipahoa Parish Blog and Nurturing Our Roots Educational Television Program. If you would like to join Karran and me, please contact me by email at

Harrell's from East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana Connecting Their Lineage

Nurturing Our Roots Producer and Host
Antoinette Harrell and Stephen Harrell, Sr.
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.
Today my cousin Karran Harper Royal co-host of Nurturing Our Roots Television Program and I drove to Clinton, Louisiana with Stephen and Elton Harrell from New Orleans, LA. Stephen and his brother knew their grandfather Garrett Harrell was from Clinton, Louisiana., This was the oral history that was told to them by another family member.

My Harrell oral history was told to me by my mother Isabell Harrell. My mother said that her father Jasper Harrell, Sr., told her that his father's family were from Clinton as well.  I traveled many times to Clinton to make a connection with Harrell's who never left the small town. Last year Stephen and I talked about his family genealogy to find out if we're related.  We won't stop until we find out if we are related. Stephen's great grandfather Beaugard Harrell was born in 1860 in Clinton. Louisiana. Beauregard married a woman name Louise. To their union ten children was born; John Thomas, Lucy, Mary, Margaret, Walter, Clara, Cornelia, Carrie, Garrett, Emma and Octavia Harrell. 
 Karran Royal co-host  of Nurturing Our Roots
Television Talk Show, Elton and Stephen Harrell

According to the 1880 U.S. Census Beauregard lived in the 7th Ward, East Feliciana, Louisiana. He's listed as a mulatto. He was living in the house with a cousin by the name of Admiral C. Spears. Beauregard was a farmer by trade.

Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.
After we spent several hours in the clerk's office in Clinton researching the Harrell lineage we went to see James Harrell. James is the owner of a mechanic shop in Clinton and I knew if anyone could help us it would be James. He stopped working and talked with us a while about his family lineage. James' father was Gus Harrell and Gus is the son of Beauregard Harrell. While sitting down waiting for James to call his sister Hazel and cousin Jack to talk with us, Elton was just saying how James reminded him of his male family members on the Harrell side of the family. That's when James said that Gus father was Beauregard Harrell, "we all started laughing with joy knowing that a family lineage connection was made."  

Hazel was so excited to meet everyone. It felt like we had known them all of our life. Before we left we exchanged phone numbers and planned  a date to meet up again and visit the Harrell cemeteries in Clinton and meet other Harrell families.  At this point Karran and I are looking into researching and documenting all the Harrell's who live in  Clinton, Louisiana. Although we have a lot of help from other Harrell's who are trying to make a lineage connections as well. This week I received many phone calls from other people who carry the surname Harrell. Some people have sent me photographs, documents and family trees. So that tell me that we're on the right track.