Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Photographs

They know of their own certain knowledge.

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In June 1923, my grandfather Roderick Taylor vouched for his first cousin Howard Willis Barnes when Barnes applied for a license to marry Elmer Pentecost Wright in Greensboro, North Carolina. Taylor was still spelling his first name with two D’s and no E at the time. His mother, Rachel Barnes Taylor, and Howard’s father, Ned Barnes, were siblings.

Handwritten on the rear: “To Jas. Battle from Roddrick Taylor.” The photo likely dates from about 1905.

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Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Witness to nuptials.

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On 12 March 1949, Freeman Farmer, 22, son of Tom and Anne Bynum Farmer, married Lunia Cannady, 21, daughter of Albert and Sylvan Andrews Cannady, on Lepton [Lipscomb] Road in Wilson. Original Free Will Baptist minister George W. Little performed the ceremony in the presence of Jeraline Edwards, E.N.C. San. C.D.; my grandmother Hattie Henderson, 1109 Queen Street; and Bessie Simmons, 211 Stantonsburg Street. Each of these women worked at Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium and, presumably, so did Lunia Cannady Farmer.

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Births Deaths Marriages, DNA, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

DNA Definites, no. 25: Colvert.

DNAnigma, no. 20 — SOLVED!

When my maternal second cousins’ DNA results posted last year at Ancestry.com, I immediately noticed we shared a close cousin in common.

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K.J. and G.W. are my second cousins. A.R. is a match we share.

Who was A.R.? Per Ancestry’s centimorgan (cM) totals (which run low), A.R. shared 99 cM with me, 98 cM with K.J., and 111 cm with G.W. That’s roughly the third cousin range. As K.J. and G.W. are the grandchildren of one of my maternal grandmother’s full sisters, I could be reasonably sure that A.R. was with us in the Colvert or McNeely line. (A.R. also matches E.J., great-grandson of my grandmother’s other full sister.)

In trying to contact A.R., I found his sister A.P. She was quite excited about our genetic link and expressed interest in DNA testing. I mailed her an Ancestry.com kit, and her results came in last week. As expected, A.P. matched K.J., G.M. and I in the same range as her brother does. What was our connection though?

A.P. told me that three of her four grandparents were from the Caribbean, so it was highly unlikely that I matched her in those lines. However, her fourth grandparent, her mother’s father J.W., was an enigmatic figure who had disappeared from the family. Was he the link?

J.W.’s name is a common one, and we had only a general idea of his birthplace. I examined my tree carefully, focusing on my maternal grandmother’s family. Given the information we had, nothing seemed to match up. A.P. probed her close relatives for more information and late last week learned that J.W. was born in 1933 and his mother was named Eva.  A quick search turned up J.W. and his mother (and father and siblings) in the 1940 federal census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina.

My heart leaped. Statesville??? That’s where my grandmother was born! Suddenly, connecting A.P. and her grandfather J.W. to my family seemed not just possible, but likely. I searched for more records of J.W.’s mother and found her marriage license. I scanned the document quickly, then stopped short. On 14 June 1930, when Gilmer Walker applied for a marriage license for himself and Eva Petty, 18, he had named her parents as Delia Petty and … Lon Colbert!

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Colbert was a common misspelling of my grandmother’s maiden name, which in fact was COLVERT. I paused. The handwriting was ambiguous, was the first name LON or LOU? Lon W. Colvert, son of John W. Colvert and Harriet Nicholson, was my grandmother’s father. Lewis “Lou” Colvert was his uncle — brother (or half-brother or maybe even step-brother) of John W. Colvert. If Eva’s father were Lou (and Lou were a biological rather than step-brother to John Colvert), then A.P. and my most recent common ancestor (MRCA) would be my great-great-great-grandfather Walker Colvert, and she and I would be estimated half-fourth cousins. The average shared cM range for this relationship is in the single digits, and there’s a 50% that cousins at this distance show no DNA match at all. But A.P. and I share 96 cM, so Lewis Colvert is extremely unlikely to be our MRCA. 

If, instead, Eva Petty Walker’s father were Lon, A.P. and I would be half-second cousins once removed. The cM range for that relationship would be the mid to high double digits. This range not only captures our cM, it also encompasses the cM totals that A.P. shares with my sister, K.J. and G.W., who would all have the same relationship distance with A.P. If Lon is our MRCA, A.P. and my mother and late uncle Charles would be half first cousins twice removed. As the chart below shows, their 182.4 and 173.8 cM shares with A.P. are on the high end of the 1C2R range.

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Gedmatch matrix comparing autosomal cM shares among Colvert descendants — me, my mother, my sister, my maternal uncle, two second cousins, and A.P.

Thus, the evidence points to A.P.’s great-grandmother Eva Petty Walker as the daughter of my great-grandfather Lon W. Colvert. Eva was born 3 October 1911, ten months after Lon’s wife Carrie McNeely Colvert’s youngest daughter was born. Eva was his seventh known child, all but one of whom were girls.

[UPDATE: 5/1/2017 — I just got a match in Ancestry.com to T.C., who is the grandson of Eva Petty Walker’s daughter. Further confirmation.]

[UPDATE: 9/14/2017 — A.P. and my mother (and the other Colvert testees) also shared matches with S.X. S.X. and A.P., in fact, shared a cM total in the 1100 range, which is exceedingly high. I just confirmed that S.X. is another child of J.W., further cementing the conclusion that J.W.’s mother Eva was Lon W. Colvert’s daughter.]

[UPDATE: 4/13/2018 — A couple of days ago, I saw that T.R. is an estimated second cousin match to my mother, and an estimated first cousin match to S.X. It didn’t take too long to figure it out this time — T.R.’s paternal grandmother was another of Eva Petty Walker’s children.]

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Business, Maternal Kin, Oral History, Other Documents, Photographs, Virginia, Vocation

Texaco liked the work.

In the summer of 2002, my uncle Charles C. Allen told me this about my grandfather John C. Allen Jr.:

[Daddy] had to get reestablished after the war. But he had a friend named Buster Reynolds. And Buster Reynolds was reputed to have made his money in the numbers, and so when the numbers were getting real hot and heavy, when it was reputed that the Mafia was trying to take the numbers over, Buster got out. And he built this service station, and he had a Texaco franchise, and he had Daddy to build the station. And Texaco liked the work so much that Daddy built two more stations for Texaco. And both of the stations that were built in the black community are still up. They’re not gas stations anymore, but the buildings are still up. And the one that was built Overtown is gone. But even the station that was in the white community, Texaco had him to build that one, too.

Today I found this:

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The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 1 February 1948.

My uncle passed away in January; I wish dearly that I’d been able to share this with him.

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The former service station at 28th and Chestnut, Newport News, 2002.

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Education, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Honor graduate.

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From “The American Negro in College 1943-44,” The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races, volume 51, number 8 (August 1944).

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Macy Oveta Aldridge was born 20 January 1923 in Dudley, Wayne County, to John J. and Ora Bell Mozingo Aldridge. She attended Wayne County public schools, then received an undergraduate degree from Georgia State College (now Savannah State University.) After her honorable discharge in 1946, she resumed her education at the University of Pennsylvania and Glassboro State College. Cousin Macy worked as a laboratory technician for the United States Army Medical Corps and then as a teacher. She married Clay J. Claiborne and was mother of three sons. Macy Claiborne died 12 October 1999 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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Macy Aldridge Claiborne.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The Hawaiian princess.

Toward the end of his college days at Howard University, Aldridge descendant Charles Cromwell Coley married Harriet Purdy, a native Hawaiian athlete and performer and a descendant of King Kamehameha I.

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Their only child, daughter, Laulupe Kaleilani Coley, was born in 1932 in Washington, D.C.

A post in the D.C. neighborhood blog Popville notes: “In March 1934, the Hi-Hat, a ‘smart new continental Cocktail Lounge and Cafe, styled in the modern manner,’ opened on the top floor of the Ambassador. The Post raved about its decorations: ‘The silvery iridescence of kapiz shell gives the mellow effect of moonlight on the water, and the imported blue and white mirrors trimmed in stainless steel surrounding the columns introduces a new note in modern interior decoration.’ The Hi-Hat Lounge quickly became a popular nightspot, offering top names in the nightclub circuit. Its opening act was Princess Harriet Purdy, a Hawaiian who strummed a ukulele while crooning languorous songs in her native tongue.”

Harriet and C.C. Coley divorced in the late 1930s. Their daughter was educated on the mainland, but married and settled in Hawai’i.

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Yearbook of Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, New York, 1950.

Harriet also returned to Hawai’i where she continued to preserve the island’s traditional arts and culture. In this video posted to Youtube, Harriet Purdy dances hula as Sonny Chillingworth, Myrna English and Billy Hew Len perform “Kaula Ili”:

Harriet Keonaonalaulani Purdy Kauaihilo, 96, of Kapolei, a professional hula dancer, died Aug. 26 in Kapolei. She was born in Waimea. She is survived by son Bill, daughters Laulupe K. Dempster and Harriet Clark, hanai sister Olive S. Purdy, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grand-children. Private graveside services. — Honolulu Bulletin, 11 September 2002.

HARRIET KEONAONALAULANI PURDY KAUAIHILO, 96, of Kapolei, died Aug. 26, 2002. Born in Waimea, Hawai’i. A high diver and swimmer, known as the Hawaiian Human Cannonball at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier in the early 1930s; and professional Island hula dancer. Survived by daughters, Laulupe Dempster and Harriet Clark; son, Bill; grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; hanai sister, Olive Purdy. Private graveside services. Arrangements by Ultimate Cremation Services of Hawai’i.— Honolulu Advertiser, 11 September 2002.

www.popville.com, “Streets of Washington Presents — The Ambassador Hotel, catering to ‘experienced travelers’ (Formerly at 14th and K St, NW)”

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