Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mary Carter Was a Trail blazer in Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Mary Carter
Mary Carter served as temporary District 4 alderwoman since Nov. 1984.  She was appointed by the Board of Aldermen to serve in place of her late husband, G.T. Carter when he died in November.  Mrs. Carter was Ponchatoula resident since 1951. Her main goals were to improve city streets and drainage, cooperate with the council, advocate good, sound business principles and help city residents.

Mrs. Carter was a retired economic teacher,. She worked at Perrin Junior High School from 1951 to 1969 and then she taught at Ponchatoula High School until 1974. Mrs. Carter is a graduate of Hammond High School and Southern University in Baton Rouge. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in vocational home economics in 1951 and later worked toward a master's degree in home economics at the same university.

She was the mother of four children: Attorney Gideon T. Carter III, Hammond; Gwendolyn Renee Carter, R.N., New Orleans; Genor and Gemetri Carter, students in Baton Rouge. I was delighted to sit and talk with Gwendolyn about her parents.  Gwen and her family reminded me of the King family. Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King and his four children fought for equality and justice for the oppressed and so did the Carter family of Ponchatoula, Louisiana 

I sit across the table from her listening her talk about what her parent went through and the racism they faced tried to stand up for justice and seeking a quality of education for African-American children. She recalled some of the meetings that took place in her home. She remembered her father  Gideon Carter talking to A.Z. Young and other prominent African American men and women. 

I can't wait to meet and talk with Gwen again. The rich history of her family sure be recorded and documented,  

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Maternal Haplogroup of Emma Vining Richardson Williams

Uncle Henry taking 23 and Me DNA
with Karran Harper Royal
A few weeks back my Uncle Henry Harrell took the 23 and Me DNA test with one of my relatives Karran Harper Royal. His Maternal Haplogroup revealed that he and our family descend from a  long line of women that traced back to eastern Africa over 150, 000 years ago. His maternal haplogroup can reveal the path followed by women of his maternal line.  That would be his mother Josephine Richardson Harrell, her mother Emma Vining Richardson Williams,  Emma's mother Rosa Hart and Rosa's mother Celia Hart and so on.

His maternal line stems from a branch of L3 called L3f. Haplogroup L3f is an old offshot that traces back to a woman who likely lived nearly 46,000 years ago.  Members of L3f live in a wide distribution across the Sahal belt of Africa, a dry savanna region on the southern fringes of the Sahara  Desert, as well as in the northern regions of the Central African rainforest. 

Between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago, L3f gave rise to two daughter haplogroup, L3f1 and L3f2. L3f1 appears to have arisen in eastern Africa and moved westward befor the peack of the Ice Age about 20,000 years ago, when the Sahara Desert expanded and rendered much of the northern part of the continent uninjabitable. Today the haplogroup is commonly found among the Yoruba adn Fulbe population of western Africa, and in the African-Americans who are descended from them. 
His maternal haplogroup, L3f1b, traces back to woman who lived approximately 11,000 years ago. That's nealy 460 genearations ago. In 2003 I took the African Ancestry DNA test that connected by maternal lineage to Niger, West Africa. Tracing my maternal lineage, my Uncle Henry and I share the same maternal grandmother. 

23 and Me revealed the DNA lineage for Emma Vining her maternal ancestors and her offsprings. Her children Josephine, Alexander, Rosabell, Alma, Ethel, Dorothy, Jimmy and Arthur can learn a lot about their maternal lineage from my Uncle Henry's DNA test. Also a warmhearted thank you to Karran for giving my family this wonderful gift. I hope everyone in my family appreicate this knowledge as much as I do.  This DNA test confirmed that my mother and her maternal lineage has lineage to the people of the Sahel Desert. 

Antoinette Harrell in Ingall, West Africa
In 2003 I traveled to Niger, West Africa to met the Tuareg people. I saw people that look just like my family members.  This one woman looked so much like my mother, I couldn't help but cry because I knew this was my people. A day that I waited for has finally come true. I had the opportunity to travel to several regions in Niger. The hair texture, skins tones, and featured reminded me of so many people including my Uncle Henry.  Any genealogist who ancestors were slaves want to know where their ancestors orginated from. 

My research hit a brickwall in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana.  My traced my mother maternal lineage back by four generations. At that point I could go in further in research. Turning to DNA was my only option if I wanted to learn more about the maternal lineage. Matter of fact my mother only knew her grandmother Emma, she knew nothing about Emma's mother Rosa Hart. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dr. Antoinette Harrell Analyzing Plantation Records on

Dr. Antoinette Harrell reviewing records on a plantation
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.
Genealogists and family historians understand the terminology leaving no stone unturned. I'm continually looking for new records that have clues for genealogy and historical research anywhere I can find any paper or documents with someone's name, date and location. 

We are familiar with marriage records, death records, school records, and so on. But finding new records can be informative, and rewarding when you are researching. New genealogical and historical resources  can provide more details about the lives of our ancestors and our family history.  Just recently I went to a plantation in Louisiana to analyzing new records. The records that I analyzed were receipts records from the commissary store on the plantation. Some of the records were burned and couldn't be saved. A plantation in the Mississippi Delta recently demolished a commissary store. I hope that all the records were removed from the commissary store.  Sometimes the family who owns the plantation will keep the records. Others will donate them to a university or State Archives.

Most people in America assume that all African-American people left the plantations after the    Emancipation Proclamation was signed.  Some newly freed enslaved Africans stayed on the plantation, and some moved on other plantations because they didn't have anywhere to go.  Many former slaves were too old and tired to move. They felt  they were better off staying on the plantation where they would have shelter and food.

In 1865, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Land often called the Freedmen's Bureau was created at the end of the Civil War to supervise relief efforts including, health care, education, food and clothing, refugee camps, employment, labor contracts, and the legalization of African-American marriages.

Sharecropping was created out of the Freedmen Bureau Contracts. The landowner rented land to the the former slaves in return for a portion of their crops. Sharecropping practices took place for decades.  Many types of agreements still exist to this very day.   Many former slaves who  couldn't read or write were taken advantage of by the landowner. They were forced to stay and work on the plantation in a new form of slavery called peonage and involuntary servitude. Thousands had to flee for their lives sometimes leaving their family behind.

I've been on several plantation were people still live, and some people still work on the plantation. There is one plantation in Mississippi that I visited and had the opportunity to look in the records. I saw the names of the people who worked on the plantation, how many pounds of cotton they picked. There were some photographs of African-Americans on the plantations in the early 40s to the 70s. 

When we have exhausted our search in our homes, libraries and internet database such as Ancestry, Family Search, Ancestry and Cyndi's List any other genealogy sites that could be helpful. There are new genealogy resources made available every day that the universities, State Archives, and on genealogy sites.

Commissary Store Records
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr.
Educating individuals who had a rich photograph collections, funeral obituary programs, church records,  and other vital records that can be helpful to genealogy is essential. Every genealogy or family historian whose ancestors were held as slaves on a plantation would like to find records about their ancestors.

On the commissionary store receipts you will find the name of the person who lived and worked on the plantation. The date and year,  the name of the store, and what the person purchased and the price they paid for the items.  Some of ther receipts proved how long the person worked on the plantation and how long they purchased items from the store.

There were some payroll and medical records in the boxes too.  As long as I have been conducting research, I wish I could find other records for ancestors Robert Harrell,  Carrie Richardson or Frank Vining. They were on the Harrell, Richardson and Vining Plantations in East Florida Parishes, Louisiana

Friday, September 29, 2017

Why Do I Research and Document African-American History in the East Florida Parishes, Louisiana?

Dr. Antoinette Harrell researching at the Attala Library
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr. 
Growing up as a young girl who enjoyed reading books and magazines, under the oak tree on the family place of my maternal grandparents in Amite, Louisiana on a hot summer day with a cool drink of water from the water well was a beautiful day for me. Most of the books I read came from the school library or school textbooks.  Reading history and science books or other educational materials related to the two subjects were my first choice.  I consisently paid attention to the illustrations in the books, and none of them were of African American descent. The illustrations told me that the characters were not of people of color.  It gave me a feeling that something wasn't  correct about these pictures.  If I didn't know that African American people made contributions and help to build the society, state, and nation I live in could have been devastating to me as a child with an impressionable mind. 

I moved to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1972 with my family. It didn't get any better in junior high school either. Colton Junior High was in the middle of ingregation and fights between African Americans and Caucasins were high.   A little skinny country girl moving to the big city with my mother and three brothers was a new experience for all of us.  My brothers Reginald, Thomas, Micheal, and I  didn't  know what to expect that summer. I had just finished sixth grade at West Side Elementary School in the Town of Amite and was promoted to the seventh grade. I am the oldest out of my three siblings.  All  three attended Marie Couvent Elementary School in the seventh ward on Pauger Street.

It was the summer of 1972 that my mother signed my brothers and me up for summer camp at what they called Tambourine and Fan. The camp director's name was Jerome Smith.  On the first day of camp, my brothers and I didn't know what to expect. We just did what the camp leaders told us.  I remember before going to our camp rooms, we had to go through our little camp prep chant with Jerome. Once we got to our camp rooms there were books, materials, posters, and black history eduational disussions about African-American pioneers and trailblazers. People like Harriet Tubman,
Freddrick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King and others. 

At the camp, I got to read books about people that looked like me.  Back home in Amite, Louisiana,  I remember my mom purchased a set of encyclopedia for her youngest sister who was attending college and her four children. She also bought the Negro Heritage books. I'll never forget the orange set of books. I still have them to this day. 
I remember flipping through the pages with happiest in my eyes. Page after page, the people looked just like me. Although I was hoping to find something about my family or people in the community that I knew.  Saddened by the fact that I couldn't  find them in the index.  As I grew older and embraced the study of genealogy it was my opportunity to change things. I had researched and collected enough information about my family and the community they live in to write and record my own story and to educate others about their history and the legacy they left.

African American people like my grandfather Jasper Harrell, Sr., who took his old pick truck to pick up people at no charge and took them to the voting polls.  Robert "Free Bob" Vernon who donated land for Mt. Canaan Church and School.  Or African American men in Tangipahoa who dreamed and  had great admiration to give African-American children in the parish a right to education during Reconstruction in Tangipahoa Parish. 

\After living in New Orleans for thirty-four years and returning to the same parish my ancestors once lived, I wanted to come back to make a difference by researching and documenting their history and rich legacies. I wanted to conduct oral interviews and record the stories of family members and people who live in the community. I wanted to look at photographs and encourage others to preserve their family history and heirlooms. 

Educating the descentandants of African-American people who make up the fabric of the parish and community. While designing a blueprint that will help foster pride and dignity to people who may not know the contributions or the names of their ancestors. Writing their names and recording their story because it's important to me and I know it's important to the people who are the descendants of such notable individuals who stood tall in the face of adversary and triumphs. And the people who were determined to make a better life for themselves. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Celebration of Life for Samuel Perry, Sr.

Samuel Perry, Sr.
Samuel Perry, was called home by God the Father on Friday, September 14, 2017. He was 61 years old. He was preceded in death by his parents. James & Gertrude Dunn Perry: siblings, Larry Perry and Christy Francis;  and in laws, Helen in laws, Helen and Herman Robinson, Sr.

Samuel was native New Orleanian and graduate of Walter L. Cohen High School. He furthered his education at Jackson State University. He worked for the United States Postal Service for over 25 years.

Samuel had an intimate relationship with God and knew Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior. He was baptized at Prayer Tower COGIC. In his lifetime, be also attended Second Baptist (6th District), Mount Carmel MBC, and Lakeview Christian Center.

Samuel was loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friends. He is mourned by his wife of 32 years, Jeanette Perry; their 3 children, Jessica Perry, Samuel Perry, Jr. and James Perry; siblings Willie Perry, Barbara (Joe) Cheatham, and Eddie (Carolyn) Chapman; brother-in-law Theodore Francis, all residing in the New Orleans area. He is also mourned by nieces: Courtney (Rozier), Hannah, Rebecca, Sarah, Joseph, Elijah (Vicky), Christopher, Jade, Desmond, Candice; and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, relatives, nieces, nephews, and friends.

Source: Obituary Program for Samuel Perry

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tishann Woods Deemer Was a Midwife in Clinton, Louisiana

Tishann Woods Deemer
Photo Courtesy of Gwendolyn R. Carter
Tishann was born in 1853 in Clinton, Louisiana  in a small community called Blairtown. She passed away in Hammond, Louisiana in 1947. She met and married  Richard Deemer  in 1872, and to their union the following children were born; Sarah, Richard, Edward, and Ezecial. Her husband Richard was born in 1840 and died on February 25, 1923 in Blairtown, East Feliciana, Louisiana. 

Oral history was passed down to her great granddaugher Gwendolyn R. Carter.  Gwendoyln said that she was told that  her great-grandmother Tishann was a midwife in Clinton, Louisiana. 

Tishann was the grandmother of Mary Deemer Carter of Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Mary Deemer Carter was the wife of Gideon T. Carter a trailblazer in Ponchatoula, Louisiana.  Of course I googled her name to find out if any information was recorded about her as a midwife and I couldn't find any information about her. I search the search engines for information on Mandy Jones Wheat who was a midwife in Tangipahoa Parish and I couldn't find anything on her as well. Many midwives were also herbalist and for the most part they administered the only health care African-American people received in rural communities. I hope that we will do a better at recording the history that was passed down to us about the midwives. After all they are the ones who delivered many babies, both African- Americans and Caucasian people.

Gwendolyn stated she was told that Tishann father was the plantation owner and he asked the local doctor to allow Tishann to work with him to learn about about medical care. When Tishann's  mother Sarah Green married a man with the last name Woods, Tishaan took on that name, although they knew that her father was the plantation owner.

Celebration of Life for Earl Lee Richardson, Sr.

Alpha: May 26, 1948.  
Omega: September 17, 2017
Earl Lee Richardson, Sr was born on May 26, 1948, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to the late Supt. Thomas Alexander Richardson and the late Missionary Melisa Wheat Richardson. He was the 9th child of nine brothers and one sister. Earl was reared in a Chrisitan home and was united in fellowship at the an early age at Gordon/Richardson Temple of Deliverance COGIC, (formerly Gordon Chapel) under the leadership of the late Supt. Alexander Richardson, and after his passing under the leadership of the late Dr. Samuel Richardson, and up until his death under the leadershp of Supt. Emmitt N. Richardson, Sr. Earl was united in Holy Matrimony to Dianne Richardson, on December 23, 1995.

Earl was educated in the Tangipahoa Parish School System, and graduated from Westside High School in 1966. He recieved his Mortuary of Science Degre from the Common Weath College of Scinece in Houston, TX, in 1967. Upon graduation, he joined his father in the family business where he worked and managed Richardon Funeral Home, Inc., until his demise. He retired from the Tangipahoa Parish School System after serving as a bus driver fro over thirty years. 

The final chapter of the Book of Life for Earl Lee Richardson, Sr., has been completed. He leave to cherish his memories: His devoted wife: Dianne Harrell Richardson, Amite: His children: Earl Richardson, Jr., (Joselyn) of Natalbany, LA., Valarie Richarson of Denham Springs, LA, Shareka Muse of Independence, LA, Monica Holden-Irving, (Deitrich)  of Baton Rouge, LA, Brandon Richardson of Magnolia, AK; his stepchildren Teresa Perry of Ponchatoula, LA., Shelisa Perry-English (Tony) of Ponchatoula, LA., and Dalton Harrell  (Danyatta) of Fort Worth, TX; a granddaugher who he reared Daja Richardson, a host of grandchildren, and two great grandchildren; two brothers: Supt Emmitt N. Richardson, Sr., (Carolyn) of Kenner, LA, and Darnell Richardon (Gayle) of Hammond, LA; five brothers-in-law, Johnny Harrell, and Kenner Harrell, Amite, LA., Michael Zanders (LaShaunda) of Tickfaw, Ellis Zanders of Roseland, and Gerald Zanders of Independence, LA; eleven sisters-in-laws: Supervisor Dorothy J. Richardson of Amite, LA., Betty Richardson of Amite, LA, Collen East (Alford) of Kenner, LA., Genoria Courney (Charles) of Roseland, Evelyn Holden of Amite, LA, Katie Cutrer (Jimme) of Roseland, LA, Patty Dawson of Wilmer, LA, Debra Davis, Independence, LA, Linda Harold (Reginald) of Los Angeles, CA, Brenda Harrell and Ada Harrell of Amite, LA; One God-son, Emmitt Richardson, Jr. of Kenner, LA; two God-daugthers, Shaketia Cutrer-Addison of Roseland, LA adn Evelyn Davis (Chris) of Houston, TX; a God-brother and God-sister, Rev. Jeremiah and Faye Brumfield, a houst of nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Supt. Thomas Alexander Richardson and the late Missionary Melisa Wheat Richardson, his sister, Helenstine Richardson Williams, six brothers; Thomas Richardson, Sr., Walter Richardson, Sr., Alex Richardson, Jr., Supt. Samuel Richardson, Elder Nathaniel Richardson, Sr., and Deacon Joseph Richardson; his mother-in-law, Minnie C. Harrell, one grandchild, Daniel Jamal Harrell, three brothers-in-law; Lawerence (Buster Dyson, Ellis Milton Harrell, and Rober Harrell, and one sister-in-law, Mary (Dena) Robertson.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dr. Kingsley B. Garrison Recapping His Elementary School Years at Ponchatoula Colored School

Dr. Kingsley B. Garrison
Every time I visit with Dr. Kingsley B.  Garrison to gather more information for the Tangipahoa Parish African American Oral History Collections, each time I learn something new and enjoy looking at his photograph collections. This time he pulled his old school report cards out dating back to 1946 when he was a student at Ponchatoula Colored School and Greenville High School in Hammond, Louisiana. To my surprise, the report cards were the same ones I received when I attended West Side Elementary School as a child.

I wish I had one of my old report cards from school. I must say at that time we didn't understand the importance of holding on to some of the school reports, photos and other documents that would take us down memory lane and share with our very own kids.

Dr. Garrison received excellent grades in math. He said math was his favorite subject and English was his least favorite. I was even more surprised he got a "C" in conduct. I had to ask him how is that he got a "C" in conduct. Oh! I was quite a talker he said.  I took a few pictures of him sitting there looking at all his report cards and going back down memory lane. I took photographs of his report cards. 

Dr. Garrison and I have been talking about preserving his awesome collection. Often, our family members may not know what to do with the collection.  Some family members may think it's junk and dispose of it. Collections like Dr. Garrison can help genealogist and historian gain a better understanding of local history.

If a researcher was researching the genealogical history of Dr. Garrison by analyzing his report cards they will learn that he went to a Public School in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. For the school year of 1956-1957, he was in the 11th grade. His teacher was named Mr. Youngblood. and the Principal was named J.W. Davis.

Analyzing the 1946-1947 school year. We learned that Dr. Garrison was attending Ponchatoula Colored School. The Principal for that year was D.C.Reeves.  He was classified as a primary student.

It good to have young students today look at the historical records and compare their report cards to the ones long before their time. What subjects did the school offer to the students? Did they get the same grade marks that students receive today? Students today get a computer printout report cards, and they couldn't imagine having a handwritten report card. Most of the records from the colored schools have been destroyed. It's people like Dr. Garrison that held onto a piece of the past and history of the colored schools before integration, otherwise, all would be lost. I'm looking forward to helping him preserve his collection and I hope that others will follow his example. I heard other people tell me that their items were thrown the trash with a relative or their children help them to clean out their home.

Also when a loved one died, the very first thing that some children will do is throw away their deceased loved one papers and photographs. In many cases, they have thrown away antiques, handmade quilts, and other family heirlooms. It's important to educate our youths and family members about preserving their family heirlooms.

Utilizing Ancestry DNA to Locate Missing Relatives

Karran Royal Harper and Henry Harrell DNA Testing
My great-grandfather, Alexander Harrell died in 1914, his youngest son Jasper was only two years old when his father Alexander passed away. Alexander was born to the union of Robert and Dinah Harrell. He had several siblings; John, Anow, Marrietta, Millie, and Margaretta. 

My mother Isabell is one of the daughters of Jasper. She said she recalled her father talking about family members in Clinton, Louisiana. Her family didn't visit Clinton, Louisiana because they didn't know their great uncles and aunts. But she and her brothers knew that we had relatives in Clinton. A lot of the family members want to know who are the other family members. Thanks to my Uncle Henry Harrell, who agreed to take the Ancestry DNA and 23 & Me with his newly found cousin Karran Harper Royal a couple of weeks ago. I asked my uncle did his father Jasper ever talk about the family members in Clinton. He told me that he didn't remember his father talking about the Harrell family in Clinton. 

Uncle Henry is first cousins to Karran's grandmother Marion Harrell Harper. Marion,  father Shelton Harrell, Sr and uncle Henry's father Jasper were brothers. Karran and uncle Henry met for the first time at the Jackson, Gordon, Harrell, Richardson and Temple family reunion. 

Jasper Harrell, Sr 
Since I started tracing our family history this had been one of those unsolved mysteries. Who are they?  What is the genetic resemblance,  what did they do as an occupation? Where are they now? Karran and I want to know. 

Stephen Harrell, Sr.  is a police officer in New Orleans, Louisiana and his roots are connected to Clinton. He is the offspring of Beauguard Harrell and we want to know if we are related. I met another young man by the name of Darius Harrell fifteen years ago, who's family lineage connects to Amite and Pike Counties, Mississippi. Because of social media, I meet a woman named Carolyn August-Robinson, who had Harrell family roots tied to Clinton, Louisiana as well.Are related, only the DNA can tell us at this point. After hitting a brick wall, utilizing DNA may help get the answers we are looking for. 

Alexander and his family lived in Amite, Louisiana. After his death,  no one in my immediate family went to Clinton to find out anything about his brothers and sisters. Finding our long lost relatives is what Karran and I want to do.  Hezekiah Harrell, the son of Levi Harrell, migrated down south with his family, livestock and slaves to East Feliciana and Amite, County, Mississippi. The mostly settled in the 7th Ward in East Feliciana.

"We want to know what happened to Alexander's brothers and sisters, did they stay in Clinton, or did they move to Tangipahoa Parish with their mother and father?"  Using DNA to locate them will help us to build family ties, find other photographs, gather new oral history and extend our family trees. 
Alexander Harrell
Karran, Stephen, Elton and I searched the Clinton Courthouse for marriage records and other records that could be helpful to our Harrell research. While in Clinton we stop by an auto mechanic repair shop to talk to a man named James Harrell who was the descendant of Beaguard Harrell.  Stephen's brother Albert kept looking at James." He looks just like one of my uncles," said Alton.  James got on the phone and call some of his cousins and they came over and confirmed that they were the descendants of Beauguard as well. Everyone was overjoyed to meet each other and make a new family connection.

We can't wait to get the results back to see if there are any family trees and connections in Clinton, Louisiana that will help us locate our long lost family member. The Harrell family would like to thank my uncle Henry Harrell for volunteering to help us solve this mystery. 

Life Celebration of the Late Joseph Richardson

Alpha: 1941--Omega 2017
Deacon Joseph Richardson was seventh of nine brothers and one sister born to the late Supt. Thomas Alexander Richardson and the late Missionary Melisa Wheat Richardson on December 12, 1941 in Independence, Louisiana

Deacon Richardson was educated in the Tangipahoa Parish School System at Westside High Schoo. He later attended and graduated from Southern University in 1966, with a bachelor's degree in Social Studies and minor in English. In 1968, he proudly served in the United States Army. During his tour in Pleiku, Vietnam, he taught English to students who were obtaining GED equivalent. In 1974, he obtained a Master of Education degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in Administration and Supervision with a minor in Special Education. His educational career ended in 1977 with a Master of Education plus thirty. 

In 1966, he began his teaching career at Westside High School in Amite as a social studies and reading teacher. He was known as a good disciplinarian and a better than average teacher who greeted everyone with his infectious smile. For the next 15 years, he worked as classroom teacher. He was later transferred to Loranger High School as Assistant Principal. Two years later he was appointed principal at Spring Creek High School He was awarded Educator of the year in 1980. The following year, he became principal at Jewel B Sumner High School. He concluded his administrative career at Roseland Elementary. Throughout his career, he was affiliated with numerous professional organizations. 

Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Deacon Joseph Richardson retired after thirty three years of service in 1999, only to come out of retirement in 2003 to become Principal of Gordon-Richardson Christian Academy. This school was birthed in the heart of the is oldest brother, Supt. Samuel Richardson. It was a place where children were loved and taught biblical principles as well as secular courses. As a lifelong, faithful member of Gordon-Richardson Temple of Deliverance, he served in as administrative capacity in addition to being a Sunday School teacher, Chairman of the Deacon Board, Chairman of the Finance Committee and District Choir President. He also served as a spiritual mentor for many young men in the church.

Deacon Joseph joined the graduate chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and was awarded "Sigma Man of the Year" for the humanitarian efforts and commitment to the organization. 

He leaves behind his wife, Joyce Jacob-Richardson, his children, Andre Richardson, Amite, Valencia (George) Sander, Baton Rouge, Daphne (Frederick) Hall, Lafayette, April (Gary) Bruns-Brister,  Bogalusa; Earl (Diane) Richardson, Sr., Amite, Darnell (Gayle) Richardson, Hammond; sister-in-laws, Supervisor Dorothy J. Richardson, Amite, Betty Richardson, Amite, Bernice Franklin, Jackson, MS, Marvis Jacobs, Killed, TX, Nettie (Clinton) Frazier, Bogalusa; brother-in-law Larry (Gail) Jacobs, Houma; a God-daughter, Deandria Harrell, numbeous nieces, nephews, cousins, and church family. He was preceded in death by his parents, Supt. Thomas Alexander Richardson and the late Missionary Melisa Wheat Richardson, his sister, Helenstine Richardson Williams and five brothers Thomas Richardson, Sr., Walter Richardson, Sr., Alex Richardson, Jr., Supt. Samuel Richardson and Elder Nathaniel Richardson, Sr., 

Andre Richardson
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Four African American Men Lynched in Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Lynching Ponchatoula, Louisiana
Photo Courtesy: Ponchatoula, Louisiana Photo Collection
On September 21, 1900, on an oak tree on Beech Street in Ponchatoula, Louisiana., four African American men who were accused of robbing the family of Louis Hotfelter, were taken from the jail cells and lynched. They were charged with choking and beating the wife of Louis Hotfelder. It was alleged that Charles Elliot,  Isaiah Rollins, Nathaniel Bowman and  George Bickham were forced to confess to the robbery at the Hotfelter's home. 

It was reported that the wife of Hotfelter later identifies another man two days later. Nevertheless,  the angry mob wanted to make an example out of these men regardless if they were innocence or not. The mob was determined to send a loud message to the African American community concerning attacks on Anglo-Saxon people in the Ponchatoula community. 

14 African American men were picked up and detained. Sheriff  Frank P. Mix couldn't hold back the angry mob, they used axes to break down the door of the jail and forcibly to took Elliot, Rollins, Bowman, and Bickham to an oak tree in the African American community to be lynched. 

Dr. Kingsley Garrison recalls looking at the photograph as a boy around the age of seven. He knew James Elliot the brother of Charles Elliot. He said his mother had the picture looking at it and somehow he was able to see it. Although Dr. Garrison said that folks who talked about the lynchings is now deceased and not too many people are not talking about it anymore. 

Their bodies hung under the oak tree until the following morning when Mayor William Jackson ordered that their bodies be cut down. It was an unknown passenger who took the photograph. As I sit here thinking about the funeral I attend of Jermaine Carter of Greenville. Jermaine was lynched in Greenville, Mississippi in 2010. My mind started to go back to the lynching site of Raynard Johnson in 2000,  in Kokomo, Mississippi,  and the lynching of Roy Veal in April of 2004 in Woodville, Mississippi.

Most recently a little boy biracial in New Hampshire received injuries from an attempted lynching by a teenager. They called the little boy racial names and threw sticks and rocks at his legs. Now the teenage boy said it was an accident. 


Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Friday, September 1, 2017

CO."B" 805 Pioneer Inf. U.S. A., A. E. F. Phil Garrison

                      Phil Garrison served in WWII, he is the father of Dr. Kingsley B. Garrison.

Last Roll
 Phil Garrison Fourth man for the left

Eugene Edwards Was Rented Out By His Father For Eight Dollars A Week

Eugene Edward
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black, Sr. 
Eugene "Brother"  Edwards was born in 1923 in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. At at the age of 93 years old he still plants his crops and harvest it himself.  He pulled himself up on his old tractor and got to work disking his rolls for planting. I wasn't there just to interview him, I wanted to watch him work, so I dare not stop him from his days work.  He use to plant  nearly twenty acres of land, nowadays, he's not planting near that much. He breaks for lunch and return in the evening. No matter how hot the summer days get, he'll be out there planting and working.  The cold days can't stop him when it comes to planting. It's his way of feed himself and making a few extra dollars for the month. He left and went up to Detroit and worked in the plant for a while. I guess you can take the boy out the country, but you can't take the country out the boy. Eugene returned back to the Deep South and never left again. 

Eugene still heats himself up in the winter with his old pot belly wood burning stove, while cooking a pot of fresh red beans and some fresh collard and mustard greens for dinner.  When visiting with him, it seems as though time stood still in his neck of the woods. The old wooden house 

He told me how his father rented him out to an old white man. The old white man furnished his room and board and paid the eight dollars to his father, Ben Edwards. According to his registration draft card, he lived with his father Ben Edwards at the age of twenty-three year old at RFD #1, Amite, La.; He was farming with his father. Eugene signed his name on the registration card.

His parents Ben and Annie Williams Edwards." His mother Annie died at a young age after falling off a horse and died from complications," said Sharonne Hall, a cousin to Eugene Edwards. This was the oral passed to Sharonne by her grandmother, Luella Butler Johnson Morris, a first cousin to Eugene."

Luella and Eugene was a couple of months apart in age. His father  later married a woman by the of name Careetha. His siblings were; Geneva, Estelle, James, Willie, Shadrack, Abednego, and Machae. His three brothers were after the men in the Bible.

Eugene Edwards
Photo Credit: Walter C. Black
Farming is in the DNA of Eugene, and he will plant and harvest until he just can no longer do what he love and enjoy doing. Eugene can recall the names and history of the people who make up the Parish of St. Helena.  He came from a long line of farmers and learning the art of farming from some of the best. And yes! He plants by the moon and stand by the Farmer's Almanac like most farmers. 

It has been a long time since I visit him last. I can see the hard work of farming has taken a toll on his body. He was walking bent over more than he was several years ago. His son moved next door, and his grandchildren help him harvest the crops. 

"Are there any lessons we can learn from Eugene," yes there are? If only we would take the time out to talk with him. There aren't that many people his age left that we can talk to about the era he came up in and what he experience and witness. I was delighted to introduce him to Eddie Ponds, owner of the African American Newspaper in Ponchatoula, Louisiana.  Eddie and I talked about his oral history project, and I thought Eugene's story would be a great story to write about. 

I wish I had more farmer that I can interview about planting, harvesting and storing what you grew. My grandfather Jasper Harrell, Sr. was a farmer. He passed away when I was two years old. Although I learned some lessons of planting from his brother Palmer Harrell.  Their mother Emma Mead Harrell was a farmer. They lived on the place that Emma purchased in 1896 and 1902. She farmed about twenty acres. And she drove her mule and wagon to town to sale her produce. 

Eddie and I both was happy to see that he was still physically and mentally able to continue what he love. There always somebody visiting him and talking with him, The wisdom and his vast sense of humor keep the visitors coming. 

Eugene Edwards Registration Card

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A.M. Strange One of the Greatest Educational Leaders in Louisiana & Mississippi

A.M. Strange given name, Armstead Mitchell Strange was born on Oct 14,  1884, in Waterproof, LA.,  to Tillman Benjamin Strange and   Millie Hunter Strange.  His father Tillman was born in 1860 during slavery and died Jan 1927.  He was one of seventeen children some of his siblings in the 1900 U.S. census were: William, Ella, Bessie, Bula, Luther, Etta Lee, Gladys A, Mabel M, Leman L,  and Richelieu E. Strange. Armstead M. Strange was living in Collins Ward 6, in Covington, Mississippi on Bryan Avene. He was married to Henryene Strange. His occupation was teaching. He owned his own home in 1910.  A  young girl named Rosa Taylor and his sister Ella Strange were living in the house with  him and his wife. His brother Tillman ( Tilghman)  was born 1883. and moved to Chicago and became a physician. He died in 1920 at the age of 37 years old. He was buried in Lincoln Cemetery. One of his other brothers named Williams M. Strange, died in Chicago as well on Dec 1, 1932, by occupation he was a Postal worker.

Ten years later he and wife Henryene were living in Tupelo, Mississippi. On the 1930 and 1940 censuses, he was listed as mulatto. In 1930, they were still living in Tupelo, Mississippi, he had become the Superintendent of the school.  Living in the home with him and his wife: Lehman,  Riechilen, Truman and, Mabel Strange.

Prentiss Institute Rosenwald School, Prentiss, Jefferson Davis County
By 1940, Armstead and his wife were living in Chickasaw, Mississippi. He was teaching at Okolona Industrial School for the Colored. He had completed four years of college. Living in the house with him, where Majorie and Mary James Strange. A man named Frank Taylor was  79 years of age lived in the house as well.

He received his elementary education at Waterproof while his college studies were done at Alcorn College, where he finished in 1902. He was admitted as a freshman in the fall and completed his college work with the Bachelor of Science Degree. A.M. Strange came to Tangipahoa Parish via Collins, Miss.  He was one of the first of his family to earn an educational diploma, and he was instrumental in seeing to it that his brothers and sister did likewise. He is remembered as one with a very stern personality and believed in earning one's way. One family member recalled going to live with him in order to attend school and was greeted with, " Get a broom and start sweeping."

The school for blacks in Kentwood struggle along unto the fall of 1910. This is the year that Mr. Strange, who was principal at Collins, joined several local white businessmen, who donated money. Constructed Kentwood Industrial School for blacks. Mr. Strange raised the money, purchased the land, and erected the buildings, one of which was named for him.

The scholastic year 1911-12, marked the beginning of the County Training School Movement as far the Slater Fund is concerned. Professor A.M. Strange wrote to Dr. James H. Dillard, general agent for the John F. Slater Fund (a philanthropic fund for the advancement of Negro education), soliciting aid for a black school that would be located in Kentwood, Louisiana. Professor Strange established  Kentwood first County Training School for Negroes. After starting several such schools in both states, he labored for fifteen years at Tupelo, Mississippi.

He was elected to head the Coahoma County Agricultural High School in Clarkdale, Miss., which he did for one year.  In 1933 he was named the president of Okolona Industrial School, an American Church Institute School which he improved into a junior college. When he left to become president of the Ministerial Institute and College at West Point, Miss., where he built up a dilapidates school into a solid institution.

Several of my own family members attended the school. My uncle Jasper Harrell, Sr., and his brother Roosevelt Harrell, Sr. are two of my direct lineage that traveled from Amite to Kentwood to go to school. President A.M. Strange, who has served as president and principal of several Negro schools and colleges, died July 7th, at the age of 59. His funeral was held at Tupelo Baptist church with all the Negro ministers of the community officiating, assisted by Dr. Charles G. Hamilton of Aberdeen, his rector. President Strange was one of the great educational leaders of his people.  He started the first Rosenwald School in Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi.

Professor Strange rendered distinguished service to Negro education. His legacy and service rendered should never be forgotten in the African American communities.  He left a monument in many institutions of learning and religion, but even more in the hearts of all who knew him.

I would like to thank my colleague Leonard Smith III for all the research he found on Professor Strange.  Leonard found his name and other records that were vital to this blog post.


Genealogist/Family Historian: Leonard Smith III

Death Notice, August 22, 1943

Souvenir Program " Tangipahoa Parish Training School Dillon Memorial High School, School Reunion 1911-1969


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Lettie Anderson Sewing Up Bloody Tangipahoa

Lettie Anderson, Gumbo Magazine
Lettie Andeson, nearly 90 years old, knows about Blood Tangipahoa,. She saw it every Saturday night. When the men got off of work at the lumber companies in Natalbany, they come down to Hammond for drinking, carousing and brawling in the streets. The blood flowed; Dr. Walter A. Reed and nurse Lettie sewed.

'We had plenty of patients, " she recalled. On Saturday nights, they'd start coming in. They'd come down from the mill in Natalabany, drunk and go to cutting on each other. We'd be up all night, sewing them up. We worked till time to go to Sunday School I'd want to  fall across the bed, by I say, "No, I'm going to go on to Sunday School." That's what I did. I bathed and went right on to Sunday School."

Dr. Reed, a native of Crystal Springs, Miss., who come to in the early 1900s and remained until his death in 1945, is believe to have been the first black doctor to settle here. Written histories of Tangipahoa Parish physicians list only white doctors, but those who remember him say he was well respected by his peers, Drs. Edwards, A.F. Gaters, and S.S. Anderson, which whom he had studied at Tulane.  Reed, usually dressed in hat and three-piece suit when he went on calls in his horse-pulled buggy or Model T, also had the respect of his patients, black and white. "My daddy's brother was S.S. Anderson, and I remember him talking about how Dr. Reed had helped him and what a wonderful doctor he was. Dr. Reed has taken advanced courses in the North, said Antoinette Yokum. " We had so many pneumonia cases, and my uncle talked about how Dr. Reed has helped save the lives of a lot of white people. He doctored on Dr. Gates when he had pneumonia."

But perhaps his most devoted supporter was Lettie, the gaunt hard-working and eager-to-learn young woman who began as his housemaid in 1918, became the nurse in his clinic and eventually nurse the doctor and his wife in their old age. 

She still lives at Reed's clinic, which he left to her, the small green Acadian-style house across the from First Guaranty Bank's main office. A large Bible rests on the table of her tidy, warm kitchen. Weeds and brush behind the house hide the old St. James Cemetery.  Where many of Hammond's first black settlers are buried. Anderson says she worked downtown on Thomas Street for more than 50 years, including about 25 years for the doctor and then 27 years for the South Central Bell Telephone Co. Nowadays, she can be seen walking along the street to pay a bill at Central Drugs or shop at the other downtown businesses. Her niece Fairy Dean Hannible teaches at Hammond Junior High, frequently visit and take her grocery shopping. 

Dr. Reed's oldest and only living child, W.A. Reed Jr., 87 lives in Meridian, Miss. and is a distinguished professor. He headed the black schools before integration and then Meridian Junior College. He lived with his father in Hammon for only two years. 

"My dad was the son of a prominent Baptist minister in the area of Crystal Spring, Miss.," he said.  He finished college at Jackson State and took medicine in New Orleans. It was different then; you worked with doctors. And he then he became efficient, he came to Hammond to practice medicine. I imagine somebody from the area influenced him to come to Hammond." 

Reed might also have been influenced by the fact that Hammond is about half between New Orleans and Bogue Chitto, Miss., the home of his first wife., the former Lillie Loving whom he had met at Jackson State. While he studied in New Orleans, his wife lived in Bogue Chitto and gave birth to their four children. W.A. Jr., Shellie, Edward, and Lillie. 

"I think I was in the fifth grade when I came to Hammond," the son said. "He was established and has 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,. She was an unusual woman; you don't see many stepmothers taking such an interest in another woman's children. I often wonder why she did. When she came to Hammond, she was not impressed with the schools. During that time, people seemingly had pretty good money, but their homes were poor; they spent their money having a good time. She didn't like that. She wanted me to leave Hammond and go to Mississippi. I had finished the seventh grade. She got onto my father about me, and finally, she got on the train and carried me up to Jackson Preparatory School (now Jackson State University). It was part of the college and I lived there on campus. 

"So I was not with my dad too long. When I was there, he was just getting started in his work. He had a pretty good load, and he didn't have too much time to spend at home. The doctor's two daughters died shortly afer they finished school. 

Major Biographical References

A Reprint from
Gumbo Magazine, Sunday Star November 19, 1989

Magazine Courtesty of Melody Ricketts

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bishop Willie K. Gordon, Sr. Talked About the Lynching He Saw in Amite, LA

Bishop Willie K. Gordon, Sr. and his wife
Alma "Mandy" Richardson Gordon
Bishop Gordon was that courthouse grounds when they hung five Italians who were charged with robbing the bank in Independence and shooting the president of the bank.  It was said that they hung all five because no one would confess the triggerman.

One day near what is now Pecora's Cleaners he saw two black men that had been lynched lying on the street on two pine boxes. 

One day I was walking east in Amite and crossed the path of another boy who was walking south he said. There were some cows on the sidewalk, and the other boy began to curse the cows in a loud manner. A white girl was offended and went and told a horse trader name Singleton about a nigger on the street and a white boy. 

When I got to the next block, several whites put me on their shoulders.  Got a rope and preparing to hang me until someone recognized me and told them who I was and they released me. My stepfather, Bass who fight white folks. Bass Wheat drove an ox wagon hauling logs from Montpellier to Roseland to the box factory. There wasn't  any other information mention in his interview.  I searched google to see if any other information was available on the lynchings. I found several names of men and one woman,  who was lynched in Tangipahoa Parish. Although, there are others who names weren't  recorded.

The two men that Bishop Gordon could have seen were Jerry Rout and Daniel Rout. Bishop Gordon was born in 1909, he would have been about 8 years old. I remember him telling me these same stories during an interview with him at his home. He was in his 90s at the time of the interview. 

Name of those lynched                              Location                                           

 Aps Ard                                                 Greensburg, Louisiana                                          
 Oct 1, 1909
Archie Joiner                                         Amite, Louisiana                                                    
 Jan 19, 1897
Charles Elliott                                       Ponchatoula, Louisiana                                        
Sept 21, 1900
Daniel Rout                                          Amite, Louisiana                                                  
July 29, 1917
Jerry Rout                                             Amite, Louisiana                                                  
July 29, 1917
Echo Brown                                         Amite, Louisiana                                              
August 9,  1899
Emma Hooper                                      Hammond, Louisiana                                        
 March 1, 1917
George Bickam                                    Ponchatoula, Louisiana                                      
April 17, 1907
Gus Johnson                                        Amite, Louisiana                                                  
 Jan 19, 1897
Gus Williams                                      Amite, Louisiana                                                    
 Jan 19, 1987
Isiah Rollin                                         Ponchatoula, Louisiana                                        
Sept 21, 1900 
Monsie Williams                                Tangiphaoa, Louisiana                                        
 Nov 16, 1905
Nathaniel Bowman                             Ponchatoula, Louisiana                                      
 Sept 21, 1900
William Bell`                                      Amite, Louisiana                                                
 April 2, 1898 


Reprint for the Grace Walker Collection, Amite Genealogy Library.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mahalia Jackson the Greatest Gospel Singer Sung at O.W. Dillon High of Kentwood, LA

Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson, the greatest gospel singer, sung at O.W. Dillon High School in Kentwood, La., in the mid-60s.  Betty Lou Womack recalled the day Mahalia arrived at the school. Betty's parents couldn't afford to give Betty money to purchase a ticket to attend the musical concert. But she pushed her way into a  standing crowd outside, just to get a look at Mahalia.  "Just to see her get out of the car was enough for me," said Betty.  I remember how they laid out the carpet for her to walk into the gym of O.W. Dillon High, I'll never forget Betty said. "I was just happy to see her!"  She recalled the crowd gathering and waiting to hear the sound of  Mahalia Jackson's beautiful voice. "What an exciting moment for everyone on the campus Betty said!"  As she said, she will never forget that day. I know there are other people like Betty who were there. I want to hear their stories too!

I started asking other people who attended  O.W. Dillon High School, if they remember her singing at the school? Some said yes, and others couldn't recall at all.  Quite a few individuals stated that it was after they graduated. Betty, recalled it like it was just yesterday.  One of the people I spoke to told me I needed to talk to the daughters of Collis Temple, Sr. Their father Mr. Temple was the second principal of the school. 

Betty Lou Womack
Following O.W. Dillon principalship as a leader,  Mr. Temple worked hard as principal to continue building on the foundation that Professor Strange and Professor Dillon started.  Mr. Temple invited Mahalia Jackson to sing at O.W. Dillon High. His daughter pointed out that her father worked hard to give African American students and the community cultural enrichment.  Each year the town of Amite held an annual fair.  Before integration, segregation didn't allow black and white people to attend the festival on the same day.  Saturday was known as "Nigger Day," that was the day that African American people could attend the fair.  Mr. Temple wouldn't allow his children to attend the festival on that day for that reason according to one of his daughters. 

He became inspired to start a fair on the school campus so that African American people could be treated with respect.  Mr. Temple met with entertainers, vendors and marching bands and invite them to participate in the school event.  African-Americans in Kentwood and surrounding communities would look forward to their annual event. 

Mahalia Jackson was one of the singers among many entertainers that performed at O.W. Dillon High School. She was born on October 26, 1911,  and died in Chicago, Illinois, in 1972.  If anyone who attend the concert to hear Mahalia sing, I would like to hear your story. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Phil Garrison A Native of Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Phil Garrison
Phil Garrison was born in St. James Parish, Louisiana to the union of Paul and Eave Garrison, and migrated to Ponchatoula. He was born on September 14, 1889. He passed away on December 4, 1957,  in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Garrison was 68 years old when he died He was employed as a machinist at  Louisiana Cypress Sawmill company in Ponchatoula.

Phil met and married Josie "Madie" Cain Garrison. There were several children born to their union. Dr. Kingsley B. Garrison and Lovie D. Garrison is the two I can recall him talking about. There were others.  

During an interview with his son Dr. Kingsley B. Garrison, he informed me that his father was involved in civic duties in the community. His father belonged to the Masonic Lodge. He pointed out that his father was a man of integrity and didn't like to tell lies. He would tell you the truth no matter what.  

One thing that came to mind as he talked about his father, "how good of a listener his father was!" Dr. Garrison proudly displayed a photograph of his father in his WWI uniform. Because his father had some levels of education, he wanted all of his children to get an education.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Rev. Lee Woodridge of St. Helena Parish, Louisiana

Rev. Lee Woolridge
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Kingley B. Garrison

Rev. Lee Woodridge was born in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. He was born on June June 11, 1889. He was self-employed as a  farmer in Montpelier, St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. He was married to Selina Woodridge. He passed away in August of 1976.  Rev. Lee is buried in Bear Creek Cemetery, also known at Mount  Zion and Greater Refuge Temple Cemetery. Rev. Lee Woolridge was the father of Laura Knighten, Irene Lee, Clara Woolridge, Mary Brown, Rosa Lee Brown, Della Mae Woolridge Garrison.