Saturday, February 27, 2010

Carrying Freedom Papers

(like Michelle Obama's Jumper Relations)

Emancipation papers for Amyntus Earl, Hopkins County, KY
, 10 May 1841; Slave owners name was Samuel Compton (not Earl). Amyntus was yellow complexion, 35 years of age, spare form and five feet eleven inches.

Megan Smolenyak posted the blog "Michelle Obama's Roots: Proving Your Freedom (Over and Over Again) 20 Feb. 2010 on The Huffington Post website. Below is my "editorial" to that informative post.

"Free-coloreds" is not a new concept for African Americans or for genealogists researching African American families. I write about it on my blog and also offer a presentation on free African Americans prior to Civil War, The Free Coloreds - The Privilege of Papers for Proof.

A Few Authors on the Topic
Paul Heinegg wrote on this topic, Free African Americans of North Carolina and Virginia in 2005, as have others like Melvin Patrick Ely, Israel on the Appomattox (VA).

How Were They Freed? (with examples)
Many African Americans were granted freedom for Revolutionary War service, as did Ned Griffin (NC). Others, never born into slavery had white, melungeon, Indian mothers, or free-colored mothers as did the children of Louisa Griffin (Rutherford NC 1840, 1850 census) or were emancipated prior to the civil war due to a change in the slave-master's religious convictions or view on slavery. As free-coloreds were commonly allowed to purchase slaves, they often did so for the purpose of freeing the person. There were even free Africans who came to the Americans as explorers, such as Christopher Columbus' Moor navigator, Pedro Alonso NiƱo. Yes, Spanish name, but a free colored in the Americas.

As a descendant of free-coloreds prior to the Civil War - Griffin family (NC); Wiley Morris, who purchased his freedom abt. 1855 (NC); Amyntus Earl, KY who purchased his freedom in 1841; Lucinda Lewis and Polly Lewis emancipated in 1835 and 1837 respectively, to name a few - this topic is dear to my heart.

Papers Could Have Been a Privilege
There were many social advantages that came with having the papers to prove that you were a free person. For one, you were usually granted the same rights as your white neighbors. You were able to purchase land, as did Peter Griffin in 1817 (NC); you were able to contract yourself out for pay, you could purchase slaves although this advantage is harder to realize, unless you keep in mind that free-coloreds often bought family and friends out of slavery, by setting them free, or they purchased their own spouse or child out of slavery. However, not all free-colored slave-masters were kind to their slaves. Although the treatment of their slaves have not been confirmed, families like the Richards in Louisiana worked the majority of their 152 slaves in their sugar cane plantation, (1860 census analysis of PC Richards and C. Richards full references on file). Free coloreds even had the right to move about freely (in theory), and were free to read and write, if someone was brave enough to teach them as written about in books like the 1992 When I Can Read My Title Clear: Literacy, Slavery and Religion in the Antebellum South by Janet Duitsman Cornelius.

I am pleased that Smolenyak posted a blog on the connection of the Jumper family and First Lady Michelle Obama, as it is another example of bringing the topic of Free Coloreds to light. Perhaps with wider knowledge of the subject, African Americans can also be referenced as having individual experiences and pasts, avoiding the "one in the same" stereotype used when discussing pre-Civil War history.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Who's Hanging From Your (Family) Tree?

Life From Roots with Barbara Poole

One of the favorite workshops I give is “Who's Hanging From Your (Family) Tree?” This presentation covers how people sneak on to our genealogical family charts, how we waste valuable time researching the wrong David Morris, and how one incorrect posting becomes an erroneous fact for many. In this workshop we allow the evidence to “not work for us” but “work for the truth.”

Barbara Poole, author of Life From the Roots gives us an excellent example of bad data proliferation in her blog Feb. 6, 2010 entry of Surname Saturday – Gates. Barbara was one of the lucky ones, she kept reading and researching, and was able to uncover the truth.

In her Life From the Roots blog entry, Barbara shares with us sage advice on how to recover from such mistakes:
It is a wise thing to continue reading periodicals, books and any genealogy articles pertaining to the surnames you have. There are so many researchers and, just because somebody says it is so, it may not be.” 
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Early Grist Mill

Stice Grist Mill and Stice Shoals Dam
North Carolina 1778

"All is grist for the mill."
This was a popular proverb used by our early settlers, making profit from their land when they settled on the best spots of a stream. Grist mills were used to grind up grain into flour. Presently, we use the type of mill, i.e. flour mills, corn mill, etc.

Charles (Carl) Stice, abt. 1745 -1801, originally the German spelling Steiss, was granted the right by the Tryon County Court in North Carolina to build a “grist mill” on his land in 1778 (October 1778 Minutes of Tryon Co. Court Records). This family continued the tradition of settling and building mills on streams, as Peter Stice did in 1835 in Shelby County, when he migrated west to Missouri. Unfortunately, the latter was not deemed successful.

The original Charles Stice mill, later owned by the Duke Power, carries the name Stice Shoals Dam but still exists on the First Broad River, Cleveland County, NC, (county names have changed).

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Orphan Train Ancestor Research


Orphan Train Movement 1854-1929
Like any other massive immigration movement, the United States, although known as the land of ‘milk and honey,’ had the reality of tenements, scarce jobs, and insufficient provisions for the over four million arrivers. These newcomers faced unsanitary living conditions, diseases due to the lack of sanitary living quarters and work environment, and risky jobs without safety measures where many of the men faced their demise leaving overworked mothers at home with young children who may have begun working as early as age six. Due to the high death rate of parents, or their heavy burden, these children were often abandoned or orphaned, left to feign for themselves.

By 1854 there were over 30,000 children living in the New York City streets, interesting both Charles Loring Brace, the founder of The Children’s Aid Society (CAS), and The New York Founding Hospital. These two organizations worked to place the orphans into suitable homes. By transporting the children throughout the USA by railway and placing them in homes, The Orphan Train Movement began.

This Orphan Train Movement, 1854-1929, placed over 150,000 orphaned and abandoned children, babies to teenagers in homes of every state, except Arizona, with the majority being placed in rural Midwest homes. The 1880 US Federal Census New York Juvenile Asylum, NY, NY gives us an indication of the homelessness of some of these children who were placed in Illinois (as well as other states). For more information read: Children of Orphan Trains: From New York to Illinois and Beyond.

The NY orphaned children moved across America, sometimes as many as 30 in a train with a couple of adult caretakers, and were presented to small town America donning while donning new outfits, in hopes of being chosen by a family. Siblings were often separated.

Black children were rarely included.  There was a Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue between 43rd and 44th street in NY that was burnt down during the New York City Draft Riots of 1863, leaving 233 black children homeless. Brace of the CAS was able to assist these children in other ways, but avoided controversy of aiding the African American community as CAS depended on financial donations from those that did not embrace the black community.

Some of the adopted out orphaned and abandoned children were integrated into families, attended school, did chores, etc., but most were merely cheap farm labor, housekeepers, cooks, or shop laborers, many landing in what would now be considered abusive homes. It was believed, in spite of this, that they probably fared better than their street life in New York, which they no longer had any contact with and soon lost many of their memories of.

Best Resources for Research
  • Newspapers. The Orphan Train Movement was chronicled in every newspaper in the USA. You may wish to review Orphan Trains brought Homeless NYC children to Work On Farms Out West.
  • Historical Societies. Many of the local museums and libraries will have information on foundling hospitals and local orphans. Here's the New York Historical Society Museum & Library Foundling Hospital information 1869-2009
  • Midwest Repositories. The announcements of the trains expecting arrival and adoptions were not only in the newspapers, but organizations and churches also promoted and kept loose information on the orphans: where were they placed, what was the agreement, etc.  The National Orphan Train Complex, Museum & Research  Center in Concordia, KS is a good place to start.  

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Researchers to Share Family Slave Records - Responsibilites and Reasons

Emancipation information on Amyntus Earl, Hopkins County, KY, 10 May 1841; Slave owners name was Samuel Compton (not Earl). Amyntus was yellow complexion, 35 years of age, spare form and five feet eleven inches.

As genealogists we often collaborate with others to gather documentation and information, but often we forget to mention or posts information on the slaves in the household, or slave names, ages, and descriptions as found in family records, bibles and unregistered deeds and agreements, etc. This information is a vital part of our history and there is a loud call for descendants of slave masters to share these documents as they would with all others, so that descendants of slaves may piece together a very difficult puzzle caused by limited information of persons in bondage. This would include indentured Irish and German servants who were purchased and sold by ship captains on the docks and eventually may have lost their families or identity, which was very common in the 1600’s to 1800’s, as well as those of African descent.

Slaves and indentured servants were used in all areas of the USA, including the northeast, even though they were not in vogue as long. Slaves were owned by both white and black slave owners, so don’t overlook the possibilities of a slave owned by your advantaged ancestor, especially a free-colored. Some free-coloreds purchased family members and never officially emancipated them through the courts, others actually purchased slaves to work the land or for their skills.

Revealing that your descendant owned slaves or indentured servants along with other information on the family, helps all genealogists place the family in the proper historical social perspective.

Putting stereotypes behind, family records can reveal religious influences on the family – “Did the family emancipate their slaves during the strong Quaker movement or due to another social movement?” Unpublished family records also may have the actual names of the slaves, who they were purchased by (very vital) and to whom they were sold. Family records may also reveal runaway slave names.
Emancipation Agreement (indenture) for slave Amyntus Earl, Hopkins County, KY to purchase his freedom, signed 23 May 1839. Amyntus was 32 year of age and hired out ot Orlean Bishop to pay for his freedom.

As some deeds or wills were never properly registered, the family record may be the only indication that a written or verbal agreement was made with a slave or with other slave owners, putting light on slave surnames (which was not always that of the master), leading a researcher to a different plantation or family, Civil War records, emancipation dates, and slave trafficking.

Descriptions often included skills of slaves. Was the slave a blacksmith or farrier (or other skill)? This can reveal information of the slave's life and ability to purchase his own freedom and that of family members, in some cases, substantiating a family folklore.

Family records and bibles of slave owners can reveal the price of a slave, the economy (supply and demand) at any given time in an area and may even guide a researcher to the slaves African homeland. If in the area a slave was sold for much less than the going rate, it could be from whence the slave originated; i.e. Angolan slaves were often cheaper due to the idea that they were not producers and worked lazily in the field. Often the purpose for the slave is written in these records; words like “breeder,” “strong,” “cook”, etc may be found.

Family records may have drawings of the land revealing sizes of slave quarters, uses of the slaves by name, allotments of slave provisions, costs to maintain slaves, reasons for selling slaves, etc. There may be letters which mentions a favored slave by name, the children’s nanny or wet nurse. All of these hints give a bit more to the slave family researcher. It also gives a bit more insight to the slave master researcher a bit more about their ancestor's social class, struggles, and lifestyle.

These are just a few of the reasons to post/publish your family slave documentation along with your other genealogical data. Sure it was not the most pleasant part of our history, but as genealogists we do not rewrite history, we unveil it.

Kathleen Brandt
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Friday, February 19, 2010

A Creative Timeline

Making It Easy with At-A-Glance Timeline

Always looking for new genealogy tools, I happened on the blog Georgia Black Crackers,, authored by Mavis Jones.

In working on the blogger theme of “Expanding your Knowledge,” Mavis had created a timeline for her great grandfather Cornelius Pierce: The interactive tool she used so effectively was TimeToast, a free web-based timeline application at All you need to sign up for this free application is an email address.

With TimeToast, you can create multiple timelines, add events and timespans and even upload pictures. The reader can click on a pin-point, and a balloon populated with the details pops up.

Although this interactive application can be used for any timeline needs, for genealogists, it displays your ancestor’s activities - their progression, migration or events - at a glace, which is what Mavis does for her readers. Once created, you can embed your timeline(s) on other sites, as done on the Georgia Black Crackers site.

Mavis sums up TimeToast and visual timelines best in a Feb.18, 2010 quote “I really had fun doing that one. I've tried to incorporate time lines but usually use word to try to do. This one definitely creates a better visual.”

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Purple Heart

Criteria for Medal

Often the Purple Heart Medal is awarded post-mortem and is not easily obtained by family members. However, with a bit of organization, the medal is presented to the family (or veteran) once all the strict requirements are met. Before hiring a researcher for assistance, you may wish to be aware of the requirements and criteria. I have outlined the criteria below. This is relevant for all branches of service.

WWI, WWII and Korean War
Purple Heart Medal is awarded to individuals who were wounded or injured as a DIRECT result of action by the enemy of the United States.

Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm
Purple Heart Medal is awarded to individuals who were wounded as RESULT of enemy action (DIRECT or INDIRECT).

Prisoners of War
If a Prisoner of War (POW) is eligible for a Purple Heart, the POW will be limited to a single Purple Heart covering the entire period of the captivity.

What is a wound?
A wound is defined as an injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent, sustained while IN action. Also, except in the case of a prisoner of war, the wound for which the award was made MUST have required treatment by a medical officer at the time of injury. Only one award is authorized for more than one wound or injury received at the same instant from the same missile, force, explosion or agent.

Documents Needed
  • Proof that individual was wounded/injured under the conditions stated above.
  • Proof that medical attention was needed due to the injury.
  • Proof of direct/indirect involvement (deck log record)

Kathleen Brandt
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Tangled Trees Blog

Road Less-Traveled Resources

From “Using Google Books to find the Details” to “A Treasure Chest Thursday for French-Canadian Researchers – PRDH,” and “Searching Kent County, England, UK,” T Casteel of Tangled Trees, offers us a wealth of resources and research tools on the blog

This blog reminds the researcher that before saying all available resources have been exhausted, have we checked with new and different sties? Most of them are free or at least affordable and easily accessible, as Casteel shares with us.

I hope you enjoy the road-less traveled resources provided by Tangled Trees.

Kathleen Brandt
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

WWI Chandelier Helmet

What Not to Do To War Memorabilia

George Strader was a WWI Corporal for the 805th Pioneer Infantry, AEF and was a disabled veteran from Lyons, Rice County, Kansas. He was born in Kentucky in September of 1894 and was the son of James Nelson and Mary (Gaddie) Strader. He married Blanche Blanton around 1921 after serving in Europe and returning home safely.

But…this blog is not about George, who is featured in the photo. This blog is entitled “What Not to Do To War Memorabilia.” As the story goes, George presented his mother with his WWI helmet which George so proudly was wearing when the photo was taken. His uniform looks so complete with it on his head as he posed for the First Colored Hero. He was the pride of the town.

His mother, not sure what to do with this wonderful piece of family pride, decided to make a chandelier out of it, so all the neighbors could glare? at the beauty hanging overhead. It was actually the living room chandelier (so I heard from eyewitnesses) for years, until the 1960's.

That chandelier, which someone had painstakingly drilled four holes into in order to attach the ornate light fixtures on, has been passed through five generations of Strader’s.

What to do with such a piece is anyone’s guess, but I gasped when I saw it. I only wondered what the neighbors thought, when it so proudly hung in the Strader home in Lyons Kansas. Perhaps it was the fad in 1920 to take war helmets and make them into household fixtures, but might I persuade you to donate such things to the local museum or put them in a curio-cabinet, unbolted and not defaced?

Kathleen Brandt
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kansas Sod House

Meade County, Kansas Soddy

Sod was the one plentiful resource of Kansas which made undesirable sod houses affordable and a perfect match for a “starter” home for the new pioneers. All you needed to construct one of these insulated abodes was densely rooted grass.

By the time the White’s migrated to Kansas from Missouri and built their sod home, the “grasshopper” plow had been developed (aft 1880). The grasshopper plow would lift four inch bricks of sod utilizing as much roots as possible, and cut them into one foot wide strips of sod as seen in the “crude” sod house that yet appeard to have uniformed sized blocks of sod.

Although this sod house did not have windows, some were made using a wooden frame, but lumber was expensive in the plains and was reserved for the door. The cool dirt floors attracted rodents and snakes, and the ceilings, if made of sod, were not efficient in rainstorms, due to constant leakage.

On the other hand, the sod houses were wind and fireproof and well insulated, keeping the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If more heat was needed, buffalo chips (preferred) were often used to stoke the fire.

This was the life of the homesteader.

Katheen Brandt
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Italian Dual Citizenship

The New Craze

There has been a rash of requests for assistance with obtaining Italian Dual Citizenship. Grandpa or Great-Grandpa (or Ma) immigrated to the USA from Italy and you want the papers to not only prove it, you want the benefits of being an Italian Citizen. It is not clear why there are so many recent requests since the Italian law has allowed dual citizenship since 1992, but this has been the new craze on the a3Genealogy desk.

As an Italian citizen you can secure an Italian Passport and live and work in any European Union (EU) country. You can take advantage of the free public health care and you can pass the citizenship to your children and take advantage of the Italian free education. These are just a few of the benefits of having a dual citizenship. If approved as an Italian citizen, your spouse and children (under eighteen) are also eligible for dual citizenship.

Documentation Needed
But to qualify for an Italian dual citizenship you need to do a lot of legwork to meet all the regulations in proving “jure sanguinis” (your birthright) through lineage to an Italian citizen who did not renounce their right to Italian citizenship. You will need to gather or hire a researcher to gather your materials. This is an overview of what is needed:

1) your direct line ancestor, grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather, etc, emigrated after 1861 and was an Italian citizen..
2) your immigrant ancestor did not become an American citizen before his descendent (your direct line) was born. So if the lineage is from you, your father, and grandfather, your father would have been born prior to your grandfather’s USA naturalization date for you to be eligible.
3) Proof of naturalization date or proof that your immigrant ancestor never was naturalized.
4) Translated Birth certificates for you and your direct line to the immigrant ancestor and spouses as well as your children*
5) Translated Marriage certificates (into Italian) for all mentioned above
6) Translated Death certificates.
*Most translations needed are for the direct line between you and the immigrant.

Eligibility Determination
Meeting the requirements of Items 1-3 (above) normally are the reasons an Italian descendent is not eligible. Therefore, the best thing to do is hire a genealogist that specializes in lineage research to verify these basic eligibility requirements prior to translating marriage and death certificates and searching for Italian birth certificates.

There are other ways to obtain Italian citizenship, but a3Genealogy only works with those obtaining it through “jure sanguinis.”

Buona giornata!

Kathleen Brandt
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Microfilm Readers

Share My Loss of the Microfilm Apparatus

Probably I am the only genealogist left in this hemisphere that is lamenting the replacement of crank - the - arm microfilm readers with the everyday PC or laptop. As a professional genealogist, I have subscriptions to and and I have to say I enjoy the convenience, availability, and even the search options, but they do not replace scouring microfilms in a dark room – moving slowly in a forward motion through the alphabet. When given a choice, I don’t even use the relatively new motorized microfilm readers. I prefer the over - the head loading apparatus, and constant arm motion needed to control the speed and direction, and manually adjusting the lens from blurry to "much clearer."

I want the excuse to pause as I pull and file the little white boxes, reload by coercing the film in the little slot and winding halfway through a 4 inch reel to look for the M’s. I like changing the lenses to enlarge or print, and covering the screen with a yellow colored paper to enhance the faded view while reading. Those will soon be the days of yesteryear.

The excitement of visiting the new NARA Kansas City recently was marred by the obvious absence of head high cabinets of properly filed microfilm boxes. And then the hardest realization of all – the 30 or so readers (could be an exaggeration) were replaced by shiny PC’s. When I inquired, which I surely did, I was told you have to ask for the microfilm in advance and use it on the lone microfilm reader, cornered and slightly hidden in the research room. (Could have been others, but didn’t see them).

This just won’t do. I need the rows of cabinets, the boxes of films, the bulky readers! What if I want to read the Dawes Petitions on every Vann or Landrum surname on a film? I want to be able to pick a reel and enjoy the snowy Tues (or Wed, or Thurs, you get the point) reading every petition, even if not directly pertinent to my research.

In some repositories the transition to totally digitize is being fast-forwarded. I enjoy and, and they truly have a place for genealogy research, but they are not a replacement for the dear own microfilm apparatus.

Kathleen Brandt
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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dawes Rolls and Enslaved Practices

Unscrambling Landrum Family in Indian Territory

Those of us who delve into research in the Indian Territory during the 1880s usually end up in the Dawes Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes. Researching in these rolls can reveal your ancestor’s age, American Indian blood percentage, their parents and family unit, whether or not they had been a slave, and verify their roll number. Your ancestor had to be living in the Indian Territory during 1898 and 1914 to be listed on these rolls. But, some family units are difficult to decipher without reviewing the actual Dawes packets and applications of individuals. Such is the case when trying to determine why so many children of nearly the same age declared their father as George Landrum.

Q Are you a son of George and Cassie Landrum? A I am a son of George and Peggy.
Q You and this applicant are not full brother and sister then?
A No, sir, half brother to her, my mother was Peggy and her mother was Cassie.
Q Was your father married to Peggy before he married Cassie?
A Yes,sir
Q When did he marry Cassie, was it in slavery days? A Yes sir
Q Was Peggy dead then? A No sir he had two wives.
Q Were both of his wives slaves? A Yes sir.
Q Did he pretend to live with both of them at the same time?
A Yes sir.
Q Was that sort of thing permitted in that day? A Yes sir that was the go in them days, nigger babies is what was wanted.

George Landrum appears to be the father of both Peggy and Cassie Landrum's children while enslaved in the Indian Territory. In reviewing the applications it is possible to believe that George’s purpose was to breed slave babies. Slave breeding was not only a common practice, it was accepted. Jim Landrum best explains it in his application, (Dawes Packets, Cherokee Freedmen, D683-D741 D701, pg. 11). Through this application, it is verified that the same George Landrum was the father of Peggy and Cassie's children.

Happy surname hunting!

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Wall of Honor Ellis Island - Ginisology Blog

Celebrating American Immigration

Gini of Ginisology reminds us of the pride that comes in verifying our Ancestor's point of entry. Through posting a certificate on, we are all able to be reminded of the journey each of our ancestor's had to bear to reach our shores.

The certificate, posted by Gini, documents the addition of Marie Beekman Webb's entry on the Ellis Island American Immigrant Wall of Honor. This Wall of Honor is rather unique in that it represents even "those who endured forced migration from slavery" and ..."our own earliest settlers, the American Indian." You can visit the American Immigrant Wall of Honor at Ellis Island in New York Harbor or visit them on their website. With over 700,000 names, including Marie Beekman Webb’s, you may find your ancestor, or you may wish to add an ancestor’s name ($150.00). For more information:
When an ancestor's name is included, a certificate, like that of Marie Beekman Webb’s, documenting your ancestor’s entry is generated. A copy of this certificate is on or on the Wall of Honor Commemorative Gifts link.

Kathleen Brandt
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

805 Pioneer Infantry A.E.F.

"Victory – History of the 805th Pioneer Infantry American Expeditionary Forces

There’s an old cedar chest in my living room from my great grandmother Underwood that is used to protect valuables, especially around the holidays when the house is filled with “handlers and touchers.” But, a couple of days ago I went to retrieve an old picture, and felt something hard under the quilts and blankets. It was a long forgotten box - never been opened. In there was an old Bible, some letters and notes, and this semi-hard cover book from 1919 with worn leather and an imprint of “805th Pioneer Infantry A.E.F.” and the American Eagle perched on top. (Click on book to left to see cover clearer). In the right hand corner was “July 5th 1918 July 8th 1919.” There even appeared to be an autograph. The Book was titled “Victory – History of the 805th Pioneer Infantry American Expeditionary Forces” authored by Major Paul S. Bliss in 1919.

I knew Great-Uncle George Strader served in WWI, his service folder was destroyed in the NARA St. Louis file. And, I didn’t have any particulars about his service, so I thought. But, Victory gives a thorough overview of the duties, challenges and environment of the 805 Infantry during this one year span as they were transported from Kansas to Europe and mobilized throughout France. It also had a small picture on page 108 when Great Uncle George served in France at the
Mouzon-Tower, and his name is listed as a Corporal of Company D on page 112, which corresponds with family folklore.

What I can gather is the 805th Pioneer Infantry Regiment, AEF, known as the Bearcats, was a "colored" unit formed at Camp Funston, Kansas. This unit served with the 1st Army and Advance Section Command in France during WWI and was a labor force of ditch diggers, undertakers and railroad mechanics. The 805th landed in France on July, 1918 and served in Europe until July 1919; and supposedly saw 39 days of action.

Although Victory gives details on all of the companies, my interest is on Company D, that Great Uncle George served. Company D, traveled from Ft. Riley Camp Funston 25 August 1918 to Kansas City where they boarded the Wabash train to Detroit. They were able to stop in Moberly, Mo. for a proper military send off by the “colored citizens” of the town. From Detroit, they took passage by ferry to Canada, stopping in Niagara Falls for a short visit before reporting to Camp Upton, Long Island, 30 August 1918. On Sept. 1, they were shuffled off to Montreal Canada where they were shipped to Camp Romsey in England. Having yet to arrive in France, they crossed the English Channel for France on 28 September. (pgs 107-111)

The Bearcats were most proud of their undefeated baseball team where they played at the diamond at Chateau de Chehery, on the eastern edge of the Argonne Forest. According to page 205, the diamond field was built “between the road and the Aire River.” The 805 also had boasting rights for their “Regimental Band.” The organized band was “sent out to various companies of the regiment and to other organizations…”(pg.209).
Wishing all happy treasure hunting.

Kathleen Brandt

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Great-Grandma Strader - As Remembered II

Part II As Remembered - Don't Forget Family Stories 

Mary E. (Gaddis) Strader born August 1865/66 was the daughter of General Jackson Gaddie and Ellen Fox. She married James Strader in Hart County Kentucky in about 1891. She had ten children, three died stillborn. She and husband James, married in about 1891, migrated to Lyons Kansas, Rice County, about 1900 (based on children’s births). Mary E. died June 17, 1968 in Ellsworth, Kansas. 
91 years old in photo

Our memories, true or not, are part of our family history. Of course verifying the facts are vital, but the memories should not be forgotten.

Great Grandma claimed she was born in 1865, but there were no documents to prove it, however, the 1870 census agrees. Her parents, Ellen Fox and Jackson Gaddie, were both slaves from Hart County, Kentucky and could not read or write and did not have a Family Bible. So when it was time to get social security Great Grandma had to use her school records to prove her birth year which complicated things as they had her birth year as 1865, 1866, and 1867. To make it easy, they took the middle ground and settled on 1866 which agreed with her first job as a school teacher. The letter, which I remember seeing as a child is now lost, but Great Grandma was a school teacher at the age of fourteen, having completed up to 8th grade. It was a one room school house that housed first through eighth grades, and she was the only employee. Mother liked to say she was “the teacher, the principal, and the janitor.”

Even with the knowledge that Great Grandma was an educator my mother, having married into an “ex-slave” family, was no more fond of the Strader’s family traditions. One weekend, while in Lyons, we visited Great Grandma at her 5th St. house, which had great family memories. Her youngest three children were born in that home with no running water, and until her death in 1968, it still did not have running water. This bothered Mother, but us great-grandchildren loved the idea of being able to use the water pump outside the door even for baths. Baths were taken on Saturday in the kitchen, in the tin tub; once a week was enough for Great Grandma.

The Saturday before the once-a- month church service was special. Once a month, a roaming African Methodist Episcopal (AME) pastor would come to Lyons and preach in the little white house, Grant AME Chapel, used as the”Lawd’s Temple.” All the “coloreds” from the several counties would come. Great Grandma would bake all day, preparing her famous German Chocolate cake or pound cake. Mother, with a Home Economics degree and Foreign Language degree would call the cakes “heavy, hard and always dry” in English, French and Spanish. This was in spite of the pound of butter used, but probably due to the fat cream she used instead of milk, said Mother. Daddy disagreed and would flush his big slice down with more milk.

Often, after our special pre-church day dessert, Daddy would take us to the outhouse, wipe our behinds with pages from the Sears catalog, (toilet paper was a waste), and we would follow the path back to the house for one of Great Grandma’s stories of the homeland, in this case Kentucky. She was a great storyteller with no regard to the age of the child, so we were usually haunted by nightmares of people falling into open wells, and such.

She on the other hand, would get a good nights sleep, for her “performance” in church, as mother liked to call it. Although Great Grandma migrated to Kansas in around 1900, she still couldn’t say “Lord”, it sounded like “Lawd,” which she would proudly shout out with praises of Amen, and “Preach on, Lawd, preach on” as her black straw hat, regardless of the season, barely sat on top of all that thick hair.

In 1966, Great Grandma got a letter from President Lyndon B. Johnson congratulating the Centurion. It was the same year she got family-diagnosed pneumonia, and needed care. Plus, children and grandchildren were fussing about her using the open fire in the kitchen. In spite of her protest, she was moved from Lyons, Kansas to Ellsworth to live with Great-Aunt Can where there was running water and indoor plumbing.

She also enjoyed real coffee. Great-Aunt Can would make it on day one, on day two Great Grandma would add a few more grinds and water, and on day three just a few more grinds to freshen up the pot. And then start all over. I think Mother kept a calendar on the fresh pot coffee day. Keep in mind this had nothing to do with financial needs, Great-Aunt Can was a fairly well-to do widow. It was just one of her “peculiar ways” Mother would say.

When I was eight years old Great Grandma died, after being in and out of the Ellsworth County Veterans Memorial Hospital. Having never been hospitalized before, we knew it was the end. She was at least 101 yrs, 9 months and 20 days old. 102 if you used her original birth date. Her service was in the little white church house in Lyons, where she used to praise the Lawd. And Mother proudly read her eulogy.

Kathleen Brandt
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Great-Grandma Strader – As Remembered I

Don’t Forget Family Stories – Part I of Great-Grandma Strader

Mary E. (Gaddis) Strader born August 27, 1865, was the daughter of General Jackson Gaddie and Ellen Fox. She married James Strader in Hart County Kentucky in about 1891. She had ten children, three died stillborn. She and husband James migrated to Lyons Kansas, Rice County, about 1900 (based on children’s births). Mary E. died June 17, 1968 in Ellsworth, Kansas.
Our memories, true or not, are part of our family history. Of course verifying the facts are vital, but the memories should not be forgotten. There are several ways to celebrate your ancestors. One is to state the facts:

The other way to celebrate this matriarch's life is to tell a story:
Mother, who married into the Strader family, liked to say, Great Grandma Strader "brought her Kentucky ways with her all the way to Kansas.” But, Great-Grandma was born right after slavery, barely being saved by the civil war in 1865; whereas Mother, having been educated with the Mennonites in Buhler Kansas, a product of a rather refined free-colored family with generations of educated folks, was not accustomed to the Strader’s simple traditions. Yet, as a child, I was always fascinated by them.

To her seven children, Great Grandma ,who was a 5’10, large bone woman, with the largest hands you’d ever see, was bigger than life. To her grandchildren, she was the best German chocolate cake baker in the world, and to her great grandchildren, she was the oldest person on earth. She was 91 years old in the photo and lived another 11years, until 1968, just so we would have memories. She had a bald spot on the top of her thick head of hair, moles on her face, and had weird eating habits.

Every day, like clock work, she’d wake up, put on a feed-sack flowered dress, which she seemed to have and endless supply of, accessorize with heavy cotton beige stockings, even in the summer, and enter the kitchen, where she'd put a feed-sack apron over her ensemble. Every day she’d prepare oatmeal with sugar and milk and 2 slices of fat side back, also called, fresh side meat (non-cured bacon) that she rolled in flour and fried in the skillet using the pan grease to make a milk gravy over biscuits or bread. She’d eat it while sipping that God-awful Postum, a Kraft substitute for coffee that was some sort of suspicious powdered roasted grain.

She was never heavy, but a rather perfect size for her tall body, probably because at 2:00pm every afternoon, she’d set out to the post office, walking from 5th street to the Lyons, Kansas square, about a half a mile away, to pick up her mail. No one offered her a ride, even though she was almost one hundred years old, because they knew she wouldn’t accept it, not even in 100 degree, mosquito ridden weather. So, they just waved as they passed. Sometimes they waited for her to arrive at the post office so they could have a brief chat.

This routine, added with her daily work in the garden keeping her potatoes, turnips and onions perfect and weed free, did not end until she was practically 100 years old and had to move from Lyons to Ellsworth to live with her youngest daughter.

Those are just some of my memories. And with a little help from Mother, I'm able to picture it like it was yesterday.

More to come on Mary E. Strader and the family in Part II of Great-Grandma Strader.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, Accessible Answers