Genealogy gives unexpected connections
This July 26 I was going through books for a new bookcase. One by one, each book was scanned and enjoyed more as I neared the bottom of the pile. There were genealogy guides to direct research into family lore.
One nugget was “to look for relatives in old books.” Using my Kindle, I ordered The Journal of Negro History, vol. 2, 1917 (and 1916). I was hoping for an analysis of the World War I race riot in Houston, TX. This conflict occurred between Black soldiers stationed at Camp Logan and townspeople.
As a result of the conflict, three courts martials were set up to determine the punishments for the soldiers involved. My father had just been sent as a new soldier to Camp Logan and became a member of the only (ever) all Black courts martial in the United States Army.
I had first heard of this event by reading online Emmett Scott, The American Negro in World War I. This informative book not only had information the Black soldiers and their competencies in battle, but also had a photograph of the courts martial members, including my father.
And so in July, 2011, reading this Journal, looking for my father, I found instead an article on “Negro” inventors. Included in the article was mention of my father’s older brother, Andrew D(avid) Washington, who had received a patent on the shoe horn!
More and more online sources have material of interest to flesh out the even average person’s histories. If you cannot find much except census forms, the historical events during your relatives’ lifetime will enhance the story of their lives. How did they manage, was there war or peace, what became of their children, etc.?
Researchers are still digging around in other people’s stories and they may have mentioned your family. A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells, biography, by Paula Giddings, is an example, (my grandmother is mentioned). In a previous post about John Brown, I mentioned Langston Hughes‘ grandmother. My in-laws knew her and Langston when he was a child. I did not know more of her story until writing the post. Langston Hughes taught only one class in his life. It was at Atlanta University and I was in it! Years from now my great grandchildren will be poking around in my bookcase, looking for something for school. They will read his biography (volume 1 of 2) and find a photo of mein the back of the room.
- John Brown (leartisteboots.wordpress.com)