Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Celebrating the Life of Sister Hilda "Zemora" Vining

Hilda Zemora Vining
Hilda "Zemora" Vining, passed away peacefully at her home on Saturday, July 8, 2017. She was born on December 19, 1922 to the late Caleb Ike Vining and Eva Ellen Vining; five (5) sisters, Christine Williams, Florence Warner, Creola Anderson, Francis Woolridge, and Hilda R. Pikes. 

A life long resident of Montpelier, LA. She attended Bear Creek School and married at an early age of 13. 

She was the mother of five (5) children. A hard working and caring person of her mother and father. She stopped working to care for them until their death. She worked and retired from Hammond State School. 

She leaves to cherish her sweet memories four (4) children: Jessie C. Seals (Mary). Earnest Seals (Betty), Annie Hurst (Stanford), and Lawrence Sanford (Brenda), all of Montpelier, LA; twenty-seven (27) Grandchildren; thirty-five (35) Great Grandchildren; and twenty-three (23) Great-Great Grandchildren; on God Son, Howard McKinley and her play daughter, Irene Cryer.

Zemora was preceded in death by her parents, her husbands, Earl Lee Seals and Lawrence Sanford; and a son Early B. Seals. 

Source: The Funeral Program of Sister Hilda "Zemora" Vining

A Vessel of Honor in Memory of Elder Nathaniel Richardson, Sr.

Elder Nathaniel Richardson, Sr. 
Nathaniel Richardson, Sr., was born to the parents of Thomas Alexander Richardson and Melissa Wheat on June 20, 1940. He was married to Alma Jean Taylor, and to this union was added five children.

After high school, he attended Texas Southern University. He later moved to California where he worked as a machinist at Western Gear Corporation. In 1983 he returned home to his hometown of Amite, Louisiana where he resided until his death.

Elder Nathaniel Richardson, Sr. was a true servant of the Lord and a lover of the brethren. He served as the former pastor of Morning Star COGIC (Hammond) and the New Spiritual Growth COGIC (Amite). Elder Nathaniel Richardson, Sr., severed on several district departments: District Evangelist Department, and as the District YPWW coordinator.

He was preceded in death by his parents (Thomas Alexander Richardson and Melissa Wheat-Richardson), wife ( Alma Jean Taylor-Richardson), and four siblings; Thomas Richardson, Walter Richardson, Samuel Richardson, & Alex Richardson.

He is survived by: five children ( Wendell Richardson, D'Juana Richardson, Amelia Richardson -Davis (Ray) Nathaniel Richardson, Jr., and Sonja Richardson; grandchildren, five siblings: Helenstine Emmitt Richardson, Sr. (Carolyn), Joseph Richardson (Joyce), Earl Richardson, Sr, (Diane) and Darnell Richardson, Sr. (Gayle);brothers and sisters-in-law: Dorothy Richardson and family, Harold Taylor and family, Rachel Jordan and family, Marilyn Diggs and family, Gladys Holmes and family, Yvonne Williams and family, Charles Moore, Ray Taylor and family, Tommie Taylor and family, Kenneth Taylor and family, Hicks family, and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Source: The Funeral Program for Elder Nathaniel Richardson, Sr.

The Collection of Hillary "Zemora" Vining.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Aunt Rosa Made New Orleans Her Home

Rosabell Richardson Moore
Aunt Rosa was one of my grandmother Josephine's sisters. I remember visiting her in New Orleans on Ursuline street. Her home was always spotless; the hardwood floors had a shine that I will never forget. I remember looking at photographs she had on the mantlepiece and her starched crocheted scarves so neatly on the end tables. 

My mother remembers her tasty cooking and her homemade cakes. Aunt Rosa married first to Eddie Jackson, Sr.; they had one son, Eddie Jackson, Jr.; he was a tall and big fellow. I recalled cousin Eddie smiling all the time, others  in the family remembers him taking family photographs. 

I was driving in the Treme community in  New Orleans, and I drove by St. Philip Church  of God In Christ were he pastored. As a child, I visited  his church with my uncle, Frank. Driving by the church and Aunt Rosa's house brought back memories of my family who has passed on. Whenever I'm in the Treme Community, I can't help but think about my family who onced live there. My mother's sister Catherine Harrell Lewis also lived in Treme on Gov. Nicholls Street. Her son James often talk about going to  Joseph A. Craig school on St. Philip Street. 

House on Ursuline
Aunt Rosa raised her two granddaugthers Betty and Floriene, they were my mother's second cousin, but they grew up like they were first cousin. I often heard my mother and cousins Betty and Flo talk about their visits to the county.

Her grandson Leman was only four years old when his grandmother Rosa died April 27, 1972.  He recalled her big hats and her black reading glasses. He remembers her cooking red bean and rice. She used to bake pies, 7-up, jelly and pound cakes,  and bread pudding he said. According to the 1940 U.S. Census, Aunt Rosa occupation was a cook. In 1940 she and her family lived in Butler Town. The highest grade she completed was 5th grade. Leman said that his grandmother enjoyed reading her bible. I asked Leman if she ever drove a car, he said that his Aunt Betty told she drove as young in and around Amite, but when she moved to New Orleans, she stopped driving. Aunt Rosa was a domestic worker,  and she was a cook at the school. 

Cousin Betty and Flo's mother Odie Melton died when they were very young. Odie was born in 1926 in Ward 3, St. Helena, Louisiana. Odie parents were Charlie and Florence Melton. Odie's siblings were; Mary Etta, Francis, Ruth, Godfry and Henry Melton.

Odie's mothers' name were Florence Bennett. Florence parents were named Jessie and Mollie Bennett of St. Helena Parishes, Louisiana. Jessie Bennett was born in 1860. According to the 1880 U.S. Census, Jessie and his family was lived in 2nd Ward in St. Helena Parish. Jessie's parents was named Robert and Tabitha Bennett. 

I know when some of my family read this post, it will bring back memories of them.  I want to educate the younger family members about our ancestors whom they didn't know. Sharing photographs, oral history, and written history is a sure way to keep our family history alive. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Musicians and Performers in the Harrell Family

Johnie Darby
Photo Courtesy: Johnie Darby facebook page
My Harrell family are blessed with so many talents. Two family members that come to mind are the descendants of Shelton Harrell, Sr. and Jasper Harrell, Sr.  Johnie Darby is the great-grandson of Jasper Harrell, Sr.,  and Josephine Richardson Harrell. Johnie plays the saxophone

Johnny is the CEO at New Orleans Home Grown Music Lesson in New Orleans, he studied music at NOCCA, New Orlean Center for Creative Arts. Johny is the son of Johnie Darby, Sr. and Marilyn Harrell Darby. The grandson of the late Frank Harrell, Sr. and Sadie Gooden Harrell of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Khris Royal the great-great-grandson of Shelton Harrell, Sr.,  and Ada Nolan Harrell, a saxophone player who also attended NOCCA.  When Kris was only 16 years of age, he received a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and his career had taken off since then. Khris has played with hip-hop giants and jazz and funk legends alike, from Lettuce to Bobby Brown, Alvin Batiste, Ellis Marsalis, Christian Scott, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis. He had recorded with Mary J, Blige, Ashanti, Nelly and the Game, Erykah Badu, Goapele, D.J. Quick. He is the son of Kenneth and Karran Harper Royal of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Khris Royal
Photo Courtesy: Khris Royal facebook  page
My brother Micheal's  son Mykel Cook works at Music Producer/Recording Engineers. He had been making beats since he was in high school. He had made beats for many recording artists. 

I recently found out that another one of Shelton and Ada Nolan Harrell, Sr., great-great daughter Khoryawne Heads who lived in Los Angles, Californa, is s performing artist also.  She made it to the Taste of Soul, semi-finals.  She was invited to share her talent in front an expected crowd of 350,000 people during the Taste of Soul Festival.

Like cooking, art, and any other passion a person has, music and performing are a talent these young people follow.  There may be others the family that I'm not aware of.  I learned of Khris through his mother Karran Harper Royal a renowned genealogist and family historian whom I share a passion with. Karran also shares the passion for cooking just like her late father Wesley Harper. Cooking and baking is something that many of our family members enjoy doing as well. Our family has many talented people that our family is proud of. I know that our ancestors would be proud of their offsprings today. I don't think that everyone that I'm blogging about today, may not know each other at all. I hope that they become friends on the social media sites. 
Khoryawne Heads
Photo Courtesy: Khoryawne's facebook page

I know that several of our Harrell family members played in marching bands. My son Bernard played the cymbal and drum for Kentwood High School. My oldest son Joseph played the trumpet at John F. Kennedy High School.  My youngest brother Micheal played the trumpet at  Clark Senior High School.  Edgar Harrell's grandson Micheal played an instrument. He attended St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, I'm not sure if he was one of the marching100. It's music to my heart to see that Khris and Johnie followed that passion and love for music. 

When you mix good music, performance, and good food together you can make all kinds of beautiful melodies of sound and taste. I'm still learning so much about the people in my Harrell family and their passions. I often talk with the griots of the family but to talk about the musicians and performers have added a new twist and flavor to our family.  I haven't run across anyone in my grandfather's  generation that played music or was a performer.

Here is where we start documenting the musicians and performers in our family.  If you are descendants of the Harrell family and you're reading this blog post and know of any musicians and performers in the family please email me their names and I'll be happy to post their story on this blog site. No matter what your passion is, just follow it. No matter how many times you try and may fall, just keep getting up and moving on. Felling is a part of learning and growing, I'm more than sure that each one of the artists would tell you how many times they had self-doubts, but they didn't quit. 

Mykel Cook
Photo Courtesy: Mykel's facebook page

Their ties to the Land and Agriculture is in their DNA

Field Day
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
My maternal grandfather comes from a long line of farmers in the East Flordia Parishes, Louisiana. Several weekends ago my grandkids and I took a morning tour of one the local farms on the Northern end of Tangipahoa Parish, along with people from around other parishes.  Craig and Shannon Coleman were the hosts for this years field day event. Thier kids and family members helped them to make this event a success.

Everyone signed in and put their name tags on, some grabbed a fresh hot cup of coffee freshly brewed and fresh donuts. The homemade fresh cookies were a special treat for everyone, thanks to the cookie baker.  Some folk sampled fresh greens right out of the garden. I wanted to sample the taste of the uncooked purple mustards, but I forgot to go back and get it. One lady said she tasted them and they were tender and sweet. She wanted to learn more about the purple mustards so she can plant some in her garden.

Women and men gathered to share their knowledge of their subject of interest. Conversations about the different types of grass they grow and the health benefit for their livestock.  How many acres it takes to raise one cow? Planting and harvesting the produce can be heard as we travel along the beautiful back countryside.  All the kids were enjoying the ride and watching the tiny
The girls walking in the pasture
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
dog run behind us as we drove along. When we got to the cow pasture, they watched the cattle come up for food for a minute and they took off running and playing like kids will do. Looking at them running and playing under the beautiful blue skies and rolling hills of pastures were photo taking moments for me. 

The weather was just beautiful for this tour. I sit there watching and engaging in conversations here and there. Riding-along brought back so many beautiful childhood memories for me. Growing up in Amite, Louisiana near several family members that were farmers. My maternal great uncle Palmer Harrell farmed right across the road where I lived. My family lived on heir property that was purchased by my great-grandmother Emma Mead Harrell in 1896 and 1902,   grandmother Emma was a farmer. So being around all the farmers, cattlemen, and cattlewomen were very exciting and educational for me. 

Our first stop was the cattle pastures to see the Angus livestock. The owners of livestock shared information and asked questions to learn new about techniques of agriculture.  Some of the farmers met for the first time and others knew each other through agriculture. I interviewed several of the farmers and most of them grew up on a farm and they still have a very deep passion for farming. I know it's in their DNA because after living in the New Orleans for thirty-four years, I returned to the country where I can appreciate having my garden, growing oranges, blueberries, and pears and being connected to mother nature. The beautiful sound of the birds sing in the morning is my alarm clock. The smell of freshness in the air and on a clear night I can see the beautiful stars. 

Trail Ride
As a child growing up in the country, we had the supermarket right outdoors. We had black walnut trees, pecan trees, fig trees, peach trees, natural spring water, herbs, produce, chickens, and my grandfather had a horse named Frank. 

I can truly understand the passion for it. Walking in the footstep of my uncle Palmer who taught me how important the soil is to our very existence. Two things a man can't live without,  food and water. The taste of fresh and especially organic produce is music to my body, my cells, and health.  Fresh herbs and vegetables with vibrant colors are the medication we all need to live a healthy life. This is one of the best prescriptions that can be prescribed. Everyone can grow fresh herbs and produce, no matter where you live. If you live in a city, try planting in flower pots. You will be surprised what a flower pot can yield.

I have a greater respect and appreciation for our local farmers who take pride in growing our food. People understand the importance of lawyers, doctors, engineers, and other occupations. "How often do we think about our local farmers? " More people should support the local farmers in their areas.  The taste of fresh produce from the rich soil to your kitchen tables would be a special treat for you and your family.  I look forward to the next event and I gladly signed my name on their communication list. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Women Farmers, Cattle Women and Honey Beekeepers

Shirley look at her okra
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Last weekend,  I saw Larry Freeman at the field day event that was held on Stateline Road in Kentwood, Louisiana. We talked about his crops and what his wife Shirley was embarking upon. Larry and Shirley grow  produce,  and they raise cattle. Shirley takes pride in her hen house, and I like the fact that she recycled a lot of the materials she used to build her hen house. Shirley grew on a farm outside of Laura, Mississippi.  She recalled her mother selling eggs and providing eggs to the school because she had so many eggs. One story about the eggs that came to her mind is the time her sister who was carrying eleven dozens of eggs and she dropped all eleven dozens. "Just talking about this is bringing back memories," said Shirley. I wish I would have paid more attention. I know women who were quilters, canners, and women who made homemade teacakes. "My mother uses to make the best-tasting tea cakes," said Shirley. My sister and I try to make them like mama, but we can't get the taste like mama.

While walking around the old family homestead in Mississippi, she found the laying boxes her father used in his hen house. Shirley and her husband Larry brought it back to Louisiana,  and she is going to restore it and used it for her old girls.  As a child growing up on a farm, Shirley couldn't appreciate the way of life then. Now, she had a great appreciation for growing her own produce and gathering her fresh eggs.

Shirley Beehive
When I drove up this morning, I found her cleaning her hen house out and feeding her old girls. Having my own chicken coop, I enjoyed looking at her hen house. Her hens and rooster have a lot of space to walk around. She let them out for free range and in the woods they went. 

What was more interesting to me is she is a beekeeper as well! This is her first time trying it and she seems to enjoy learning about bees and tasting that fresh honey.  Shirley informed me how she maintains her honey bee colonies. She is definitely looking forward to expanding her beehives. She joined the beekeepers association to learn all that she can and to meet other people in the beekeeping business. I try to purchase honey from the local farmers as much as I can. So far she hasn't got stung by one of her friends. She said there is a certain way to approach the hive. I saw them swarming around. I wanted to be as careful as possible.  Disturbing the hives is something I didn't want to do.  Walking around on her land, she was pointing out the different things she planted. She pointed to her cotton stalk on the west end of the land. 

 I learned that you had to fill out an application with the Department of Agriculture before planting the cotton due to the boll weevil.  This past summer she and Larry planted okra, they had two gardens of greens growing. As we walked around two Angus calves were following us around like to friendly pets. I thought to myself, how could eat them,  they have become something like a pet. Well, my morning came to an end and it was time for me to get back to my desk. Taking this trip this morning was a breath of fresh air. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

African American Cattlemen and Farmers on Stateline Road

Ruthie Coleman and son Craig Coleman
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Two weeks ago I was visiting Ruthie Coleman with VICE documentary producers. While waiting for the film crew to set up their cameras,  her son Craig Coleman introduced himself to me and invited me to visit his upcoming field day event. I told him I would do my best to be there. I know that my schedule is so tight and I didn't have the time to spare. 

I woke my grandkids up early Saturday morning and told them we were going on a hayride and farm. They were so excited to go, they got up early and ate breakfast so that we could be on time. I enjoy taking them on country rides throughout the East Florida Parishes. My two grandsons are in the  4-H club at the school they attend. I thought this would give them the opportunity to really see what 4-H is all about. Farming and raising livestock is a part of 4-H. 

Several of my family members were a part of 4-H. My mom was a 4-H member; she often talks about the homemade yeast rolls she made and how tasty they were. I know that to be truth because she made them for my brothers and I. 

Craig said that he learned how to farm from his mother Ruthie, his uncles, and other extended family members. He said that he plant the fresh produce and give it to the seniors in the community. I thought that was  wonderful, here is a young man giving back to the community. 

"I been doing this all my life," said Craig. I started with nothing, and now I own land and fifty Angus cattle. We toured his beautiful garden of variety of greens; mustards, collard, purple collards, turnips and other greens. 

Craig Coleman feeding his cows
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Other farmers were attending the events. I watched them hold class right out there in the yard was so beautiful. Several cattle women and farmers attend this event as well.  They try to come together at least once a year. When I arrived that morning the smell of fresh coffee, orange juice and donuts were waiting for the guest. Representatives from Southeastern and Southern University were present.  The topis were: Managing Rye Grass, Determining Paddock Size, and Keeping the Cost Down. I must admit this was a subject that I didn't know anything about.

The farmers shared information with each other that could be helpful and useful. Craig has a special way of calling his cattle. He said when they see that yellow bucket, they know it is time to eat.  He and his wife Shannon and their children work together as a family and team. Several sponsors helped make this event a success.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Obituary of Johnnie Lawrence Harrell

Johnnie Lawrence
Johnnie Lawrence Harrell was born to the late Shelton and late Ada Nolan Harrell on April 1, 1913 in Amite, Louisiana. He ascended peacefully into God's presence on December 28, 2012, at age 99, while residing at Burke Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Johnnie and his family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana when he was a young boy. While residing in New Orleans, he quietly and affectionately demonstrated his love for his siblings, Olga Johnson, Marion Harper, the late Shelton and the late Minard Harrell by his thoughts words, and deeds. They were a close knot family who enjoyed the companionship of each other.

Johnnie attended the public schools of Orleans Parish and Culinary school, where his specialty for many years was baking delicious, beautiful wedding cakes and other pastries. Later, he joined the International Longshoreman Labor Union of New Orleans and became a Longshoreman until his first retirement. Due to his fondness for people and his love for the rich culture of New Orleans, he went to become a guide and security guard for the Superdome until his second retirement.

In November of 1942, he entered the United States Army and served as a Rifleman and Scout. He had knowledge of the use of many types of weaponry, camouflaging and concealment. He served in Italy and France during World War II in the American Theater of Operations with the 371st Infantry Company K. He received an honorable discharge in January 1946. He received the Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and several other medals.

Johnnie found pleasure in reading and studying his Bible three times a day. He truly enjoyed his church family at Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church in New Orleans, Louisiana and served faithfully as an usher and senior member of the Pastor's Aid Society under the leadership of Pastor Lester A. Shaw. He was honored in a ceremony, as the oldest member of his church. His church family respectfully referred to him as " Mr. Johnnie".

Johnnie was a member of the "Young at Hearts Senior Citizens Group" where he enjoyed their meetings and many special outings. They fondly referred to him as "The Tea Man' for bringing hot tea and donuts to the sick and shut in. Traveling throughout the country with his best friend from childhood, the late Herman Bell, was the highlights of his summers. Johnnie was the epitome of southern gentlemen who was debonair and always dressed meticulously. He was and avid physical fitness buff who did a series of calisthenics and rode his bicycle daily until the age of 90. 

In 2005, as a result of Hurricane Katrina, he was lovingly received into the home of his son-in-law, Don, his daughter Joy and their family. Those years were very special. He enhanced the dynamics of the family and brought great happiness and enjoyment. 

In 2008, after suffering a broken hip, he became a resident of Burke Health and Rehabilitation Center. He received exceptional care and attention form Jeneba Sesay, Hafeefa Hairat and the administration and staff of the facility.

Johnnie Lawrence Harrell was married to the late Gladys Parker Harrell; to this union was born their beloved daughter Joy.

Those left to cherish his precious memory and mourn his loss are a devoted and loving daughter, Joy and his son-in-law, Don; four granddaughters ( who affectionately referred to him as "Grampy"): Dayna Lynnette, Donna Joy, Danielle Anjalee and Dionne Gladys; two beautiful great-granddaughters: Anjalee (Angel) and Eden, Colorado Springs, CO; tow sisters: Olga Mae Johnson and Marion Harper, both of New Orleans, LA; a brother-in-law: Leon Palar, New Orleans, LA, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives and many friends

Lovingly Submitted The Family

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Unidentified Photographs of African-American People in Lanier-Fajoni Collection

There a couple dozen unamed photographs of African-American people in the Lanier Fajoni Collection. His collection is at the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies,  I hope by posting them, someone may recognize their family member and post their name. Over a decade ago, I met a contributing writer, who's name I can't remember contacted me about a man named Robert Vernon who had the collection in his care. I sitting here typing and trying to recall her name. I know she was a school teacher who wrote about genealogy and family history in the Tangi Digest Newspaper weekly. She published a different photograph weekly to see if anyone could identify someone in the photograph or identify the person in the photograph. Please email me at afrigenah@yahoo. com, if you have any information that could be helpful.

Photo Credits

Photo Credits: Lanier Fajoni Collection

Photo Credits: Lanier Fajoni Collection

Photo Credits:
Lanier-Fajoni Collection

Photo Credits:
Lanier-Fajoni Collection

Choctaw Indians Were the First in Tangipahoa Parish

A Choctaw baby peeks out of a handwoven Choctaw
rivercane pack basket at Lacombe, LA. The picture
was taken in 1909, appeared in David Bushnell, Jr's
article. "The Choctaw of Bayou Lacombe. " Photo
courtesy Center for Regional Studies, SLU
One of my favorite collections at Southeastern University Center for Louisiana Studies is the Irene Morris Collection. When I first moved to Kentwood, Louisiana I was told if you want to know any local history, go see Irene Ried Morris. I had the pleasure of sitting in her home and chatting about all the history and genealogies of the many families who lived on the North end of Tangipahoa Parish. Her weekly column in the Kentwood News called Local lore and legends was known for documenting local  community news and family histories. 

She talked about her collections but she quickly pointed out that there were still so many boxes with files inside her home. After talking with her, my next step was to make plans to go to Southeastern University to look in her collection. She recorded a lot of history about the local people as well as noted African American people on a national level. 

One the folders I looked in,  had an article she had written and published on the Choctaw Indians of Tangipahoa Parish. The first inhabitants of the Parish of Tangipaoha were the Choctaw Indians. A woman by the name of Mrs. Robert D. Hillis, who was well versed in local Indian lore spent countless hours researching the history and culture of the Choctaw Indians in Tangiphaoa Parish. Please let me point out women were identified by their husband's names back in those days and Mrs. Robert D. Hillis identified by her husband name.

Tangipahoa means corncob gatherers," or "corncob people." Tangipahoa Parish was formed in 1869, it was carved from Livington, St. Helena Parish, St. Tammany Parish, and Washington

Hillis made note that the  Choctaws would gather the sassafras leaves to make gumbo filĂ©. They made blowguns out of cane. She noted that their baskets were handmade out and colored with red oak and other natural resources.

After they went hunting for wild game they would bring their games into the local merchant in exchange for groceries. Hillis said the Choctaw Indians were peaceful folk. I know of a family that has Choctaw heritage. I learned of Malinda Lawson the daughter of Tom Swain also known as "Indian Tom," through my cousin Andre Richardson. Andre is the grandson of one of Esau and Malinda Lawson's daughters.  In a community called Ried's community the descendants of Indian Tom can still be found today. I was told by Mark Conerly that there was a theater in the City of Amite, called the Choctaw theater.  You won't find many people talking about the Choctaw Indians in the parish. 

Over in Washington Parish in Bogalusa, there were the Choctaw Indian Village. In an article posted on Rootsweb, Choctaw-Southeaster-L Archives. Rumor was told of full-bloodied Indians who ended up being killed and buried in peoples backyards. The source had to be protected, it was a little old lady, who fathered committed such acts when she was a child. 

A book entitled, "Pistols and Politics, the Dilemma of Democracy in the Florida Parishes. 1810-1899 was written by Samuel C. Hyde, Jr.,  This book documents the bloody history of this region in Louisiana. Dr. Samuel Hyde, Jr., is a Professor of History at Southeastern Louisiana University, and the Director of the Center of Southeast Louisiana Studies.


Please visit the Antoinette Harrell Collection

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Unnamed Slave in the City of Hammond Name Was Gaston

The Unnamed Slave Gravesite
Last year while researching African American history in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana., I came across an article written and posted by Dr. Charles Smith about an unnamed slave buried in a Hammond Cemetery on Charles Street. Laying behind the white picket fence in a corner close to the E. Charles street is the gravesite of Gaston. 

In the cemetery on East Charles Street, Peter Hammond the founder of the City of Hammond and several of his family members are buried there.  His wife Caroline, his unmarried daughter Maria. His daughter Sarah and her husband F. Robertson; and another daughter Clorinda, wife of E. DeSouge, and a granddaughter Elisa and her husband W.S. Wall.

A couple months back, Kenneth Harris, Councilman Lemar F. Marshall, a descendant of Peter Hammond and I had a conversation about the unnamed slave and finding his name. The blog post I wrote last year started African Americans in the community to at least talk about slavery and some went to visit the cemetery. Many African Americans in Tangipahoa Parish had no idea the gravesite was there.

An article was written and published in the Hammond Vindicator by Velmarae Dunn indicated that his name was Gaston. The article also stated that Gaston died of yellow fever. Gaston died in the early 1860s and was buried before Peter Hammond and his family. The Hammond Preservation Commission Director Leah Solomon and  Commission Shauna Seals organized today memorial event to place a wreath on Gaston's gravesite. Hammond President Councilman Lemar F. Marshall was present. Historian Howard Nichols, who is also a Commission Member join in for the discussion at the City Hall.
Pouring of Libation

At the gravesite, Mayor Peter Panepinto spoke to the occasion followed by Prayers by Rev. Shelton Myers of St, James A.M.E. Church. The pastor of Grace Memorial Episcopal Church laid the wreath at the grave.  Mayor Panepinto has committed to replacing with a headstone that has Gaston's name on it. 

We are hoping to learn more about Gaston life through genealogy and historical research. I talked with my colleague Bernice Alexander Bennett who specialize in Livington Parish research about Peter Hammond. She may have some research tips that could be helpful.  I'm happy to see that the community leaders and others in the community are embracing this long overdue subject. I would like to see more African American historians not just locally get involved with the people in the community. As we approach the 2018 Black History Month, we are looking forward to an event that would commemorate the discovery. 

I've visited several slave cemetery in St. Helena Parish with Mrytis Johnson who's mission is to preserve the abandoned cemeteries and slave cemeteries. Now our mission is to find out as much as we can about Gaston. Some of the questions I want answers to:

Where did Gaston come from?
Did he have family members on the plantation?
What did he do on the plantation?
Was he purchased from someone else?
Was anything ever recorded about him?

 I was hoping to see the pouring of libation in memory of Gaston, African dancing, and drumming. This is an African tradition that dates back to the book of Genesis.  Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He has spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he out a drink offering on it; he poured oil on it.  Gen 35:14

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Obituary of Stine Temple

Stine Temple, a dock worker for United Fruit Co., died Tuesday of a heart attack at United Medical Center. He was 52. Mr. Temple was a lifelong resident of New Orleans. Survivors included three daughters, Angela, Carla and Yvette Powell; his mother, Cora W. Temple; two brothers, Bobbie and Alvin Temple; a sister, Betty T. Steptoe; and five grandchildren. A funeral service was held Saturday at 9:30 a.m at Second Zion Baptist Chruch No. 1, 2929 Second St. Vistiation will be at 8 a.m. Burial will be in Temple Cemetery in Amite, D.W. Rhodes Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Source the Time Picayune Newspaper, the clipping didn't state the year.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Connecting Our Vining Family Genetic Through Ancestry DNA

Isaiah Vining
Photo Credit: Antoinette Harrell
Several months ago my cousin Belinda Vining Trepagnier and I talked about having her father Isaiah Vining to take the Ancestry DNA and African Ancestry DNA test. We want to find out about our family history as much as possible. 

Isaiah is the descendant of Leon and Hattie Vining. He was born in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. He is one of six siblings; Leola, Eddie Lee, Johnny, Mary Lee, Rosedale, and Thomas. His father Leon as born about 1906 to the union of Benjamin and Annie Richardson Vining, he lived in Ward 3, in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. 

 Leon's sibling were;  Carrie, John, Leon and Luellea Vining.  I met cousin Luella over twenty years ago in New Orleans, La., She was in her eighties when I met her. I would often visit with her and talk with her about our family history. She talked about her mother Annie Richardson Vining every chance she got. She told me that her father Benajmin has contact the smallpox and had to be quaratine in a little shack in the woods. She remember going in the woods and placing food under a tree and leaving. He died in the woods due to the smallpox. No one couldn't come in contact with him. 

Cousin Luella spent a lot of time with her grandmother Amanda Breland Richardson and Thomas Richardson. At one time she and her family was living with her grandparents. She had a picture of her grandmother Amanda and her mother Annie hanging on her wall. Cousin Louella was a amputee and she spent a lot of time crocheting blankets, caps and baby items for the family. 

Thomas and Amanda Breland Richardson has five children; Annie, Thomas, Golene, Johnc and Sophia Richardson. Cousin Luella told me that her mother was accidently shot by her brother John. She said her mother died of lock jaw and the family didn't talk about that subject at all. Matter of fact, not to many people knew of Annie, not even my mother who was the family griot. Most of the people who would have known about Annie had died. Annie was my grandmother's Josephine Richardson Harrell's aunt. 

Cousin Isaiah is in his eighties and agreed to take the DNA test. Surrounding by his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and other family members as well as friends. Isaiah and his family get together every fouth Sunday of the month for fellowship, family fun, games and lots of home cooked food. 

I really enjoyed myself watching the family really enjoy each others company and having fun playing a game of spoon. Most of all, cousin Isaiah was right there playing with games with his children and grandchildren. They are planning to go on their annual cruise this years. Cousin Isaiah is truly patirach of his family. I'm happy that I met Leon's branch of the family.  Matter of fact Isaiah is double related to me on the Richardson and Vining side of my family.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Rev. Charles Daggs Ran for Office in Tangipahoa Parish in 1872

State of Louisiana

Parish of Tangipahoa

Before the undersigned (?) appeared Charles Daggs, Emanuel Daggs, who being duly sworn according to the  law (?) that he was employee by J.P. Harrison when he went for his pay he Harrison refused to pay him. Daggs was running for office and that his life was not worth it and said he would never give him any more work, because Daggs voted the (?) ticket and had been working (?)
said Harrison interest for five years

Jackson Stapleton told me that Mr. J.P. Harrison said that if Stapleton voted the Republican ticket he Stapleton would  be taking bread out of his children mouth and after receiving this information he Stapleton refused to vote the Republican  ticket. 

Charles Daggs

Sworn to before me by said Charles Daggs, and by him subsribed in my presence this 7th day of December 1872. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sarah Nicholson Kidnapped and Sold Into Slavery in St. Helena, Louisiana

Edna Jordan Smith
Many people watched the movie "Twelve Years a Slave," or read the book. Over a decade ago I came across an article that was published in the Time Picyaune Newspaper. The article was written by Joan Treadway. Treadway has intereviewed Edna Jordan-Smith about her research discovery concerning a woman named Sarah Nicholson who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana in 1826. 

Smith reseach didn't reveal who kidnapped Sarah, her research revealed that white people and free people of color was involved. It was through a lawsuit that was filed on August 20, 1826 in St. Helena Parish Courthouse that Smith learned of the case. While looking through a summary of abstracts of cases during her employee at the Bluebonnett Library genealogy department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

An attorney named Thomas S. Lloyd, whom Smith believed to have been based in New Orleans. The document stated that Sarah had been kidnapped from the Pine Stree Wharf in Philadelphia and taken on board a hermaphrodite rig, they then transferred her to a oyster boat. "A storm rose in which the boat sprung a leak," Sarah said in the lawsuit. Sarah and nine other African descent people was but back on the rig. A total of fifty-people was enslaved there. She was put in irons, around her right foots, and a rope was fastened around her neck to the neck of another.

The ship made several stop while  enroute to Louisiana, where Sarah was transported to land, in St. Helena Parish. "A slaveholder by the name of Presley Stephenson a cotton farmer possibly used her for a field hand," said Smith. I research his name in Ancestry, I found him in St. Helena in the 1830 United States Census. His name was spelled Stevenson. Stephenson later sold her to a "Captain Thompson," who was a slave dealer on the corner of Canal and Camp

Sarah talked about how Thomspon beat her and was very mean and cruel. He beat her at the police station in the New Orleans for saying she was a free person. In her suit she wanted to be paid for unspecfied amount of damges she recieved from Thompson. 

I went to the St. Helena Parish Courthouse searching for the lawsuit. I will make a visit to the library in Baton Rouge to look at the abstract and have it transcribed.  Preserving Our History in Tangiphaoa and St, Helena would like to thank Edna Jordan Smith for this ground-breaking researh and bring it to the forefront.

Edna Jordan Smith holds a Masters of Education Degree with emphasis in Historical Research. She taught Genealogy Research at the Bluebonnet Genealogy Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Major Bibligraphical Sources: 

Time Picayune Newspaper " Woman Fought for Her Freedom in La.

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.  Gwendolyn 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  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.