Friday, February 26, 2010

"Friend of Friends" Friday: Slave records

Note: My "Friend of Friends Friday" theme was inspired by the essay posted by Sandra Taliaferro here.

My U.S. roots are mostly Southern.  And some of my ancestors were slave owners.  It's not a pretty fact, but it's true. While I can't change history, I can help descendants of slaves find their roots by posting the information I have. 

Thanks to recent blog posts by Sandra of "I Never Knew My Father" and Luckie at "Our Georgia Roots", I feel I should go ahead and post whatever small amounts of info I might find--whether beautifully researched and explained or not--especially info from primary sources.  I hope this might someday reunite a seeking descendant with their ancestor(s).

So, here's what I have so far:

DAVIS in Louisiana:
The probate record of Mary Ratcliff (Ratliff) Davis, wife of John Davis (my 4th-great grandparents), dated 19 Oct. 1836 in Catahoula Parish, La., lists the following slaves:

"1 negro man--Jack, one woman--Hannah, children Marie, Walker, Betsy"

These notes come via my mom and don't include the whole probate file, so I don't know at this point what happened to Jack, Hannah, and the children, but I may have more notes in files inherited from a cousin.  I have not really worked the Davis family yet.  (I'm still working on organizing some files I have and will post if I come across more info.)

Excerpt of photocopied estate inventory listing slaves owned by Paul Légère, Sept. 1822, Opelousas District, St. Landry Parish, La.  Photocopy owned by Liz Hall Morgan.

LEGERE in Louisiana:
Paul Légère (Legere, Leger) (my great-great-great grandfather), had no slaves in the 1796 census for Opelousas District in Louisiana (according to the Acadian Memorial and Acadians in Gray web sites), but his estate inventory of Sept. 1822 in St. Landry Parish, La., lists the following slaves:

"a negro man named Sam aged about twenty two years"
"a mulato [sic] woman named Mary aged about twenty one years with her child a girl named Susanne about eighteen months old"

Paul's widow, Marie Constance Potier (Potie) Légère, bought the slaves from her husband's estate.  She died in Jan. 1844 in the same parish.  I don't have her estate record, so I don't [yet] know what happened to Sam, Mary and Susanne.  Southwest Louisiana Records by Rev. Donald Hebert could also have records of them in a volume (vol. 33) partially devoted to Catholic church records for slaves.

CARRIERE, LANGLOIS in New Orleans, LA and Mobile, AL:
I also have assorted notes on the Carrière (Carriere, Carrier--Joseph and daughter Françoise) and Langlois (Augustin and son Antoine, who married Françoise Carrière) families of colonial Mobile and New Orleans (early 1700s), but I am trying to organize that info, and will post it in a coherent form in the future. Most of it is from secondary sources, with some estate info that was posted on a now-defunct web site.

Meanwhile, I hope these tidbits will be of help to someone.

Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers Games: My results

Flags representing (upper) my ancestry as a (primarily) Franco-British-American and (lower) the flag of Louisiana Cajuns (I grew up in SW La.).

I've been participating in the Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers Games as a way to goad myself into tidying up and organizing my myriad piles of genealogical files, photos, papers and books.  Has it worked?  Well, if I stopped all blogging, reading blogs and replying to e-mail, maybe.  Not to mention life in general.  But genealogicus interruptus happens, so my desk is only about 2/3 straightened.  But it's progress!  So yay, I'm a winner!!!

I competed primarily in Events #2 & 3.  In #2: Back Up Your Data, I completed Task A & am only partially finished with Task B, so I give myself a Bronze medal.  In Event #3, Organize Your Research, I completed Task A (hard copies, books, etc.) about 3 times over and Task D (digital photos) at least once by uploading all my iPhoto photos into Picasa to try out the face recog, so I'm going to give myself a Silver medal there, though I still have some Picasa fooling around to do before I decide to use it for metadata or upgrade to the latest iPhoto or other software.

In addition, I Expanded My Knowledge (Event #4) by reading up on past GeneaBloggers posts for bloggers and I: 1. learned some nifty HMTL code to use, 2. got myself a Creative Commons license, and 3. played around with some label clouds.  So the tasks were not the same, but I'm still giving myself a Silver for expanding my blog tech knowledge through catching up with GeneaBlogger tutorials.  (I think Thomas would approve--I'd already done two of the listed tasks, anyway. :) )

I also get a Bronze for Write, Write Write (Event #5, pre-publishing blog post task) and a Silver for Reach Out & Perform Acts of Genealogical Kindness (Event #6, commenting on & following blogs tasks)--though I wasn't really competing there, just doing stuff I would do anyway.

So, my tally? 2 bronzes and 3 silvers.  Not bad.  Now back to real life, and back to focusing on those files and my desk so I can post a new improved desk photo! :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Cotter/Pate spinning wheel, La.

Note: "Treasure Chest Thursday" is a theme used by some genealogy bloggers.  It's sort of a fun weekly "Show and Tell" for grownups.  You can read more "TCT" posts at Geneabloggers.

Etta Orisca Cotter Pate's spinning wheel, owned by M. Hall, Louisiana, Nov. 2007.  Digital photo by Liz Hall Morgan.

Today's treasure is a maternal great-grandmother's spinning wheel, which I hung on my mom's living room wall a couple of years ago while we were tidying and wondering where to put things.  Why not hang it on the wall?  It's a great piece of family history, and we didn't have the rest of it to display.

The wheel belonged to Etta Orisca Cotter Pate (1859-1937), the third wife of Newton King Brady Pate (1852-1932).  They lived near Heflin in Webster Parish, Louisiana, then moved just south of  Ringgold in Bienville Parish.  Together they had eight children, including my grandmother, Edna Maud Pate Stevenson.  

But those weren't all the children they raised.  When they married, on Aug. 26, 1886, in Bienville Parish, "Newt" came with a ready-made family: six children from his previous marriages, ranging in age from one to 11, who became Etta's children as well.  He must have been awfully charming or well off, or Etta must have been dreading becoming an old maid [she was 27] to take on such responsibility.  But then, more women died in childbirth or from disease then, so I suppose there were more widowers with children then, as well.  But back to the spinning wheel--the Pates had a farm and raised sheep, and Etta spun her own wool yarn for knitting.  That wheel must have been spinning a lot, with 14 children to clothe!  No wonder she looks so sober in the photo below--the woman needs a nap!

 Etta Orisca Cotter Pate, c. 1890-1900?, La., scan of photograph made from original tintype owned by M. Hall, digitally edited (somewhat; this still needs work) by Liz Hall Morgan for spots, scratches and fading.

Etta's middle name, "Orisca," is, according to family lore, after a grandma who was "part Indian." As many "Indian in the family" stories go, however, we can't verify any Native American heritage.  That does leave me to wonder where her parents--William Hadden Cotter and Elizabeth Ann Fariss (Farris, Faress)--came up with "Orisca." Elizabeth, or "Lizzie," was also known as "Queen Ann Elizabeth," so maybe her line has a penchant for unusual names.

Any "Indian" names in your family?  Ever heard of the name "Orisca"?  Leave me a comment! 

Text copyright 2010 by Liz Hall Morgan.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: A tale of two marriages

 My husband and I share a kiss after dancing at our October wedding in California.

My 88-year-old dad contemplates his own 58-year-old wedding portrait, displayed at my wedding.

A few days ago, I was looking through photos of my October wedding that were recently given to me by a cousin.  The ones of my dad are particularly poignant because he died in January after a long battle with cancer. 

Amidst the whirl of wedding planning, and perhaps because Dad was so strong and upbeat for so long (although we knew his condition was serious), it didn't occur to me that his marriage to my mom might be ending not long after mine and my husband's began--I just wanted him to be there and for us to have a good time as a family while he was still doing well.  I wonder if that thought occurred to him while admiring the portrait above? 

Knowing Dad, he probably made a joke about "Who's that good-looking couple?" or something, but the juxtaposition of the two marriages just struck me while looking at the photos, and not long after my mom's first Valentine's without Dad.

For more, I also remember Dad here and write about his Navy service here.

Photos copyright 2010 by Angus Hall; text copyright 2010 by Liz Hall Morgan.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

GeneaBloggers Games update

I'm participating in the Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers Games (inspired by the Olympics) in order to organize the folders and boxes and photos cluttering up my desk and the floor around it.   I'm "competing" primarily in the "Backing Up" and "Organizing" events.

So far, most of my database info and many photos are backed up on CDs and/or online, but I've started looking for deals on jump drives and photo storage boxes, so I'm still working on the "bronze medal" in the Backing Up category.  Meanwhile, a very important and immediate goal is to download images from my tree that are online now but not on my hard drive, starting with my images of Acadian and French-Canadian records from the Drouin collections there.  Some readers may recall that the Drouin collection was temporarily pulled from while a dispute between the collection's owner and Ancestry (the distributor) was settled.  I don't want to lose that info if things aren't resolved permanently between the parties.  This is also an issue to keep in mind for other collections and online services, if you have many records stored online but not in your physical possession.

In the Organizing category so far, I've organized at least a couple hundred pieces of paper into 4 major categories (folders): To Enter (info for my database), To Scan (documents, other paper info), To File, To Do (people/places to contact to give info or ask for info), so I think I currently have a Bronze Medal for organizing & am working on a silver.  Part of my desk and floor is now clear.  Progress!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers Games and my messy, messy desk

Flags representing (upper) my ancestry as a (primarily) Franco-British-American and (lower) the flag of Louisiana Cajuns (I grew up in SW La.).  If I had my druthers, I'd create a collage with the lower flag in the center & flags of my blog title ancestries surrounding it, but I am graphics-program-challenged and don't want to waste more time at this, so this will have to do!  Use your imagination. :)

OK, I'll bite.  I'm participating in the Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers Games (inspired by the Olympics), if only to goad myself into organizing some of the piles of paper and folders and boxes and CDs of photos cluttering up my desk and the floor around it.  The "rules" require a flag, so mine are pictured above.  Reports on my progress to follow.

Part of the problem is a nice one to have--lots of info and photos accumulated over the past couple of years--and part not--I can get organized but sometimes have trouble staying that way.  I also like to flit around from branch to branch of my family tree depending on my current interest or the contents of my e-mail in-box.  I really enjoy the freedom to do that with my personal genealogy, but lately I'm feeling a little guilty for some info/e-mails I owe a few cousins and also rather overwhelmed at all the folders and papers I have lying around calling out for me to enter data into my database, file or scan info, organize, prioritize, etc.

I can't believe I'm actually posting this photo.  Yes, this really is my desk.  Now maybe I'll do something about it.

I don't like genealogy to feel like work--it's too much fun for that.  But perhaps clearing my desk and establishing some priorities [I do have a genealogy "to do" list but it doesn't include much about the housekeeping part of genealogy] and routines [15 minutes a day of entering data, filing once or twice a week, etc.] would help me have more fun.  I am NOT a "BO" ["Born Organized"] type of person, so if anyone wants to give me organization tips that work for creative thinkers [as in, "I can't remember what I filed that under because I can think of so many possibilities" :)], feel free.

I'm not promising gold medals here, people--I have a lot of non-genealogical things I currently need to be doing--but I'm hoping the possibility of public humiliation will get me working on this stuff.  Backing Up (which I have done regularly in the past, but not recently) and Organizing will be my main "events" in the GB Games.  Anything else I get done will be lagniappe.  And any progress will be a win!

Text/photos copyright 2010 by Liz Hall Morgan

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: My maternal grandparents

Note: "Tombstone Tuesday" is a theme used by many genealogy bloggers; you can see other tombstone posts at GeneaBloggers.
Alvin Jasper Stevenson (Sr.) and Edna Maud Pate Stevenson are my maternal grandparents. They are buried in Tulip Cemetery in the Tulip community near Athens, La.  Tulip is in Claiborne Parish (county) in Northwest Louisiana.

Headstone of Edna Pate and Alvin J. Stevenson, Tulip Cemetery, near Athens, La., Nov. 2005.  Scanned photo by M. Hall, slightly edited and privately held by Liz Hall Morgan. [Note: Alvin was born on Feb. 2; the marker is incorrect.]

Alvin was the son of John William Stevenson and Maggie Elizabeth McCoy.  He was born in Claiborne Parish, La., died in Sulphur, Calcasieu Parish, La., and was a farmer.

Edna was the daughter of Newton King Brady Pate and Etta Orisca Cotter.  She was born in Heflin, Webster, La., grew up in Ringgold, Bienville, La., and died in Lake Charles, Calcasieu, La.  Edna was a schoolteacher before marriage.  She earned a two-year teaching diploma from Louisiana Normal College (now Northwestern Louisiana University), in 1922, though she had already taught for several years.  (After she completed high school in 1913, the local school board asked her to teach.)

Edna and Alvin Stevenson at their daughter's wedding in Athens, La., Sept. 1, 1951.  Scanned photo by unknown family member, slightly edited by Liz Hall Morgan.  Original photo privately held by the Hall family.

Alvin and Edna married in Ringgold on Dec. 16, 1926, and lived in Athens for most of their lives.  They had three children: my mother, my Uncle A.J. (Alvin Jasper, Jr., who died in 1995), and Peggy Catherine, who died in infancy.

"Paw Paw" was a warm, loving grandpa whom I remember fondly.  I would gather eggs with him and watch him feed the cows. When he gave me piggyback rides, he was so tall, I had to duck under the doorways of the house.  Ever-present were his cowboy hat and a twinkle in his blue eyes.  We spent every Thanksgiving at his farmhouse, and a lot of Christmases, when I was a child.  I can almost taste my grandmother's homemade melt-in-your-mouth yeast rolls and her chocolate and lemon meringue pies as I write this.

Edna Pate Stevenson, with surprise cameo by Alvin Stevenson, Athens, La., 1960s.  Scan of original photo by M. Hall, edited by Liz Hall Morgan.  Original photo privately held by the Hall family.

Perhaps because my mom referred to her as "your grandmother," my family called Edna by the incongruously formal "Grandmother." [My cousins called her "Granny," an odd contrast.]  Grandmother came to live with us after Paw Paw died [I was about 10], until her death more than 11 years later.  She was sweet and had a good sense of humor, and she lived almost long enough to celebrate her 90th birthday.  I wish she'd lived longer so I could have asked her more about the amazing changes she lived through as a citizen of almost the entire 20th century.  She did, fortunately, write down some memories of her life, and she passed down many family stories to my mom.  One of my favorite memories of her is the April Fool's Day that I switched the contents of our salt shaker and sugar bowl; I heard nothing about it all day--until I went to bed and found my sheets had been salted, courtesy of Grandmother!

Want more?  You can see a circa-1921 photo of my grandmother here and read about her adventure coaching basketball here.

Copyright 2010 by Liz Hall Morgan.

George Constant Hall, 1921-2010

 Dad, Feb. 2009, Scott, LA.  Digital photo by Liz Hall Morgan.

I haven't posted in a few weeks because my dad finally lost his long, hard-fought battle with cancer Jan. 24 [although I'd have to say he kicked cancer's *** until the last month or two].  There's so much I have to say about him, but I just can't write it all coherently right now.  So I'll just say he was a beloved dad, husband, brother, grandfather & great-grandfather; an amazingly tough old bird to tolerate & practically thrive on chemo for 2 1/2 years in his late 80s, and stay upbeat most of the time; incredibly generous both in spirit and in material things; and a wonderful storyteller.  I feel like our family has lost its spark without him.

Here's part of his obituary--my notes in brackets:
George was a native of Scott [well, actually he was born in the community called Ossun, La.--Scott was the p.o. address--in the home of his grandfather Constant Legere, from whom he gets his middle name] and lived in Sulphur [La.] since 1935. He attended the First Baptist Church of Sulphur where he served as a deacon. He was a US Navy veteran of World War II and flew F6F Hellcats off the USS Hancock. He loved gardening, hunting and fishing. George sang and told stories with the Agin' Cajuns. [His church's cleverly-named senior choir.] He was a graduate of Sulphur High and LSU.

I wrote a few remarks my husband graciously read for me at the funeral service.  I'll have to type them up later & perhaps post.  We played a French version of "Amazing Grace," his Agin' Cajun friends sang hymns, and "The Lord's Prayer" was read in Cajun French and English, all of which he would have loved.  I'm so grateful for the Navy honor guard who came out on short notice and my niece's boyfriend who played "Taps" live and beautifully on trumpet so we wouldn't have to use a tape; I know Dad would have been most proud of that.  Though sad he is gone, I will be forever grateful for the time our family had together in October for my wedding, and for being able to spend time with him again before he died.  He will be forever in our hearts.