DNA

DNA Definites, no. 26.

I couldn’t sleep; I hadn’t adjusted to the night sounds of Guatemala City. So I logged into Ancestry.com, and:

  • T.L., who is a known third cousin. The match is actually with his sibling K.L., who provided a sample in lieu. (Predictably, Ancestry underestimates our match at 11.9 cM — 5th to 8th cousins. He shares 17 cM with G.W. and 47 with K.J., who are his third cousins and my second.) His great-grandmother Emma McNeely Houser, and mine, Carrie McNeely Colvert, were sisters. He’s my first McNeely match who is not also a Colvert, so I’m hoping our common matches will shed light on that line.
  • W.H., my known half-third cousin. His great-grandmother, Lillie Barfield Holmes, and mine, Bessie Henderson, were both daughters of J. Buckner Martin. W.H. matches siblings J.E. (94 cM), L.H. (105 cM) and M.C. (23.6 cM), who are grandchildren of Bessie’s full brother Jack Henderson. (They’re W.H.’s half-second cousins once removed.) These are especially satisfying matches as I have been frustrated and mystified by our failures to register matches with descendants of Aunt Lillie’s brother. W.H. and I aren’t Ancestry matches, but we’ll see what Gedmatch says.
  • I was shocked speechless by a match with F.W., whose tree shows her to be a descendant of Durant Dove. Durant Henderson, alias Dove, was the son of Nancy Henderson Dove, whom I believe to have been the sister of my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Patsey Henderson. But at 32 cM?? That fourth cousin-range number is much higher than I would expect with a fifth cousin second removed. F.W. has a second Henderson-Dove line, but I’m not sure that’s enough to account for the extra.
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Births Deaths Marriages, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Rest in peace, Milton Bickett Dove Sr. (1923-2017).

One of the earliest of the many sweet surprises my genealogical research has uncovered is that I am distant cousin to a close college friend, Lorna Dove. Lorna is descended from Durant Dove, alias Durant Henderson, whose mother, Nancy Henderson, I believe to have been the sister of my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Patsy Henderson.

I met Lorna’s father Milton Dove in the days leading up to our graduation from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I knew of his tremendous work as a community activist in Kinston and was proud to claim a bit of kinship with him.

Today, I learned that Mr. Dove passed away last week at the age of 93. My deepest condolences go to the Dove family, who shared their father with so many for such good. Rest in peace, Milton Dove!

“KINSTON – On December 12, 1923, Milton Bickett Dove Sr. was born to Hosea and Rosella Dove on the family farm in the Woodington area of Lenoir County, North Carolina. He was a lifelong resident of Lenoir County having attended the public school system and graduating as valedictorian from Adkin High School in 1941. He passed away peacefully at his home on October 26, 2017. He met and married Mary Frances Mills on March 29, 1942 after which they moved to Kinston staying first in the Mitchell Wooten Courts Housing Projects, then in Lincoln City, and finally on Beech Avenue. Together they raised five children, Velma, Milton Jr., Kaye, Timber, and Lorna. Milton opened Dove’s Auto Service in 1946 and made many real estate investments. With the support of his wife Frances, he was able to pursue his life’s passion, community service. He worked with the Boy Scouts of America serving as scout master for many years, participated in Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Black Artist Guild, and the Greater Kinston Credit Union. The family frequently joked about the fact that he served as president of the elementary school PTA long after his children had left the school. In 1976 when the Lenoir County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established, he was elected as the branch president. He was an NAACP Golden Heritage Lifetime Member and encouraged everyone to join as a lifetime member. While branch president, school desegregation was a primary initiative, however they also fought to eliminate discriminatory employment practices and spearheaded a voter registration drive. The NAACP presented him with many awards as he worked on the county, conference, and state levels. Throughout his life, he worked against Jim Crow Laws and upon discerning that they understood and accepted the risks associated with public protests, he encouraged his children to stand up for social justice. He successfully sued the Kinston School District for conducting a separate but unequal education system. The lawsuit resulted in a court-ordered integration plan resulting in his daughter Lorna’s enrollment in the previously “whites only” Northwest Elementary School. Prior to that, his daughter Kaye was one of the first black student enrollees in Grainger High School under the Freedom of Choice Plan. Attending the March on Washington in 1963 along with a bus load of other community activists was one of his fondest memories. Also being an ardent supporter and admirer of Nelson Mandela, in 1997 he visited South Africa and toured Mandela’s home in Soweto and the place of his 27-year imprisonment, Robbins Island. The trip to South Africa was truly a high light of his life. He was predeceased by his wife, Mary Frances; brothers, Wiley, Jarrell, King David; and sister, Ella Gray. He is survived by his sister, Eva Mae and brother, Alvin (Crystal) as well as five children, Velma Dove (Brian), Milton Jr., Kaye Jackson (James), Timber Washington (Lester), and Lorna Mills Dove (Daniel) along with a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. The funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 1 at the United American Free Will Baptist Tabernacle, 1011 Dr. J.E. Reddick Circle, Kinston, NC. Burial will follow in Mills Memorial Gardens. A wake will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, at Mills Funeral Home. Viewing will be held one hour prior to the service Wednesday at the church. Arrangements are by Mills Funeral Home, Inc. Sign the guest book at kinston.com.”

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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, Migration, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

Rest in peace, Alice Henderson Mabin (1920-2017).

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Cousin Zeke in 2013, age 93.

I happened to be in Wilson when the news came. Cousin Zeke had passed peacefully at the age of 97.

Bessie Jack Alice Henderson

Cousin Zeke at right, with sister Bessie and their father Jack, circa late 1920s.

Alice “Zeke” Henderson Mabin was born 22 January 1920 in Wilson to Jesse “Jack” Henderson and Pauline Artis Henderson. Despite their ten-year age gap, she and my grandmother were close pals in the years before Zeke relocated to Norfolk, Virginia — where she met husband Joseph W. Mabin — and eventually Baltimore, Maryland.

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Cousin Zeke in front of the family’s home on East Vance Street in the early 1940s, with sister Doris Henderson Ward behind.

Cousin Zeke returned to Wilson four years ago as her health began to fail. She had no children, but was well-loved by her many nieces, nephews and cousins.

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Right to left: Cousin Zeke, her husband Joe, and her sisters Bessie Henderson Smith and Mildred Henderson Hall in Mildred’s den on Queen Street in Wilson.

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Sisters Zeke and Bessie on their sister Mildred’s porch, 1986.

 

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Education, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs

The class of ’52.

Sixty-five years later …

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Wilson Daily Times, 29 May 1952.

When I was home earlier this month, my dad and I did a count. About one-third of his graduating class of 75 has lived to see this anniversary. The Class of 1952 included parents of several of my close childhood friends. Though none of us attended, we were blessed to grow up under the Darden umbrella.

Best wishes to the ’52 Trojans! May you celebrate many more!

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North Carolina, Oral History, Paternal Kin, Photographs

It is a glory to her.

My father’s mother told me:

And so Mama was working at the factory, and I used to go up there and look at her. And so that’s when I first cut my hair. I went there, and the lady was asking Mama at the table where she worked to, and she didn’t say nothing to me, and she said, “Unh, who is that child with all of that long hair?” And she took one of my plaits and held it up. I had it in three plaits. I’ll never forget it. I had one down here used to come here. Yeah, it come down to below the shoulder. Like I plait it up, and it be from there. Two plaits here and then this one down across. And I always put that one behind my ear. ‘Cause I didn’t like it parted in the middle. Seem like it just wasn’t right in the middle. So I asked Mama ‘bout cutting my hair, could I cut my hair. ‘Cause everybody: “How come you don’t cut your hair? ‘Cause you’d look pretty in a bob.” I don’t know. I just wasn’t half combing it. And it was nappy. Like I’d go to try to comb it, and knots would be in there. And then I’d get mad with it. Then I’d take the scissors and clip that little piece off.   And then all that other part would come off. And so I wondered, “Mama, could – ” “It’s your head. It’s your hair. I don’t care if you cut it off.” And so one day, a fellow stayed up there on Vick Street was a barber downtown, a colored fellow, Charlie Barnes or whatever his name is. So he passed there one day, and I asked him, “Would you cut my hair for me?” And he said, “Yeah.” Said, “You come on down to the shop.” And I said, “Where is the shop?” And he went on and tried to tell me, and then he stopped there one day, and he told me, he said, “You say you want to get your hair cut?” He said, “You got too pretty a hair to cut.” And I said, “Yeah, but I can’t half comb it.”   He said, “Well, anytime you want to come on down there, I’ll cut it for you, if it’s all right with your mama. You ask your mama?” I said, “Yeah, she allowed me to cut it.” So sho ‘nough, I went around there one Saturday morning, went down there. And so, he turned around and cut off my plaits on both sides ‘cause I had two plaits there. He cut them off, and then he put some kind of stuff on it and then somehow fluffed it all up. Awww, I thought I was something. I reckon I was ‘bout 12, 13 years old. After then I cut it off in a boyish bob.

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With the boyish bob.

She also said:

I got a plait of [Hattie’s] hair and a plait of my mama’s, Bessie’s hair, and then mine. I was looking at that the other day, and I looked at it, and I said, “Huh, it was that long?” Rudy, Rudy Farmer took that picture. ‘Cause I – He saw my hair. I was standing there with my housecoat on. I still got that thing now. And, “Goodness! I didn’t know your hair was that long!” We were staying on Reid Street. And he said, “I’d sure like to have a picture of that.” And I said, “Well, you got a Kodak?” And he said, “Yeah! You’d let me take a picture?” I said, “Yeah.” And so he went home and got it and took a picture of it. I was standing up in one and sitting down in one.

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The standing up picture.

Those plaits of my grandmother were kept in a small soft green valise with all her photographs. We visited her in Philadelphia every summer, and usually one of the first orders of business was to “see the hair.” They captivate me no less now than they did then. Perhaps even more, now that I know exactly what I’m seeing.

My grandmother’s plait, an astonishingly heavy rope measuring a full thirty inches, is essentially one of the braids shown above. Tired of the headaches brought on by carrying that weight, she cut it at the nape of her neck about 1957. It is coffee-brown with silver strands, bound at one end, as are the others, with thread.

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Hair piled high, early 1950s.

There are actually two plaits from my grandmother’s mother Bessie Lee Henderson (1891-1911), most likely cut just before or at her death at age 19. The longer measures just over two feet; they are a lustrous deep brown, a shade lighter than her daughter’s and smoother to the touch.

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Bessie Henderson a la Gibson Girl.

Hattie Mae Jacobs (1895-1908) was Bessie’s first cousin, daughter of Sarah Henderson Jacobs and an unknown white man. Hattie died at age 13, and her slender, blondish-brown braid was likely cut on her deathbed, too.

The last plait is something of a mystery, but I am fairly certain that it belonged to another Henderson who died in her teens — Bessie’s mother Loudie (1874-1893), my great-great-grandmother. The tradition, then, may have started when her mother Margaret wove a narrow braid and clipped as it a memento of her youngest daughter’s short life. It measures 25″ and is dark brown with a hint of auburn.

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The plaits — Bessie’s, Hattie’s, probably Loudie’s, my grandmother Hattie’s.

——

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With fiancé Jonah Ricks, not long before she cut her hair.

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Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) at age 90. After years wearing it just below ear length, she let her hair grow out again in her final years.

 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.  

I Corinthians 11:15

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved. Bottom photo by Lisa Y. Henderson.

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