Ancestors born before 1900

Ancestors born before 1900
Frances Simpkins, Leah Foote, Emmaline Foote, Rosetta Foote

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ancestral Echoes

As I was working on my second, still unpublished entry, I was doing a little bit of online research on the history of Calhoun Falls. At the same time, I felt drawn to revisit some census records I have been accumulating for the ancestors of two of my DNA cousins. Virgil popped up matching us on 23andMe like we should have been running into him at the Foote Family Reunions all these years. In researching his ancestral Boyds living in Tippah Co, Mississippi, I happened to meet Karmella, also a Boyd descendant. We're all DNA cousins. Their Boyds were listed as born in 1840s South Carolina according to the 1880 census in MS. My great-great grandmother was Jamima Boyd, born about 1840 SC. She married Isaac Foote Jr. and she died way too young, just like her middle daughter, my great grandmother Leah Foote Lee. 

I feel our Boyd ancestors are sending this echo. That's how I describe it when I'm drawn. In 1870 I like to think of my ancestors living in a family compound. Sons are listed with their parents and the wives and children of Isaac Jr and the first Wade in homes next door. By 1880 "Mima" appears to have died. Her maiden name was found on the Death Certificate of her daughter, Emeline Foote Rollinson.

1870 SC - Foote Family

1880 SC Isaac Foote Jr's Household
It is as if in those quiet moments that someone whispers in my ear to go check. I'm supposed to be staying focused as I take a few minutes away from school work. No, I am called to check in on my ancestors who are ever with me. I greet them on the 1880 census. Bena Kale, people of old, my ancestors. In one household I greet Ancestor Andy, his wife, and children. Are you Grandma Jamima's brother? I know Virgil is your descendant. 

1880 MS Households of Franklin Boyd and Van and Ivey Boyd Rogan
Just as I know Karmella descends from the household above him, with Ancestor Ivey Boyd and her husband and children. Above them I wonder if I am greeting my possible great great great grandfather, Franklin Boyd, aged 73.

1880 MS Andy Boyd's Household

My ancestors, I really should be planning for school tomorrow. Let me leave you and find that tiny bit of information on when Calhoun Falls was incorporated. As I depart, I see that I'm still being called when Sharon Morgan posts a link on OBA about Educable Children Records for Mississippi. I take that path for just a second and note that I will need to return...

Google: "Calhoun Falls" history. There it is, 1891, right in this article: The first street was Cox Avenue? It was named after Judge WF Cox of Anderson. Where did I just see the name Cox?

1880 MS Household Leonard and Fibie Boyd Cox

Two houses down on the 1880 census page from Ancestor Andy is the household of Leonard Cox, born ca 1855 MS to South Carolina-born parents, and his wife Fibie, born ca 1856 South Carolina. A quick look over on and the ancestral echo rings loudly, telling me that I must keep looking.

This Ancestral Echo is telling me that I must clarify what is in front of me so that I can find and reclaim our connections for Andy, Ivey, Fibie, and Jamima; for Virgil Karmella, and me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Welcome to Lukasa!

Most of you know that I work to honor our ancestors' memories by reclaiming our knowledge of them and documenting our family history. This is the beginning of our lukasa. We borrow this tradition, no we reclaim this tradition from Central Africa. A lukasa is a memory board used by members of the Bambudye secret society of the Luba to help remember and retell their history.

I wish I could say that I actually learned about lukasa first hand when I lived in Zaire (now DRC), but I can't. I learned about them when I went to an African Art Exhibit sometime after my return. I wish I had started researching our family history in 1986 when I first returned from Zaire. Better still, just imagine what I would have learned from our then elders, now our ancestors, if I had kept the pursuit going when Cousin Shaw (Floree Simpkins Shaw, 1892 Calhoun Falls, SC - 1987 Buffalo, NY) sat down and helped 13 year old me write my first paternal line tree.

I don't know what will come of this - perhaps ramblings, thoughts, research ideas, roadblocks, shared efforts of each of us, and our breakthroughs. For now, I'm just going to stop and thank our Ancestors, starting with Cousin Shaw who took the time to show me how we were related as first cousins once removed. I thank our Ancestors, those known and unknown, for their great courage and the strength they had to have to survive the Maafa. I know that you are not far from us. I feel you with us in this journey. We call your names and remember. We work to reconnect with our family from whom we were separated during the period of enslavement. We work to learn more about our ancestral homes and people in the Motherland. We ask your guidance as we build our lukasa.

Tuasakadila bua kutupesha moyo!

Thank you for giving us life.

Nsoni Nnenna Abena