Monday, August 31, 2009

Memory Monday: A Demonstration of Love

During my high school years, our principal allowed us to have a Bible Study during lunch. It was available for any student who wanted to gather together during their lunch break to study the Bible. This was not formally advertised since technically, this was against the law during the 1980s. Students found out about this Bible study by word of mouth and I found out about it through my orchestra friend John. The teachers for the Bible study both taught English at our school.

I was the only black person who consistently participated in the group and I lived across town from the rest of them. My family did not have a car, but members of the Bible study, who either had their own cars or access to the cars of their parents, would give me a ride to our numerous gatherings outside of school. We had many gatherings at each other’s homes where we would have fun and fellowship. Because of the love shown to me from members of this group, I was able to participate in many of these gatherings. They didn’t have to take the time to drive across town (about a half hour or more), and give me a ride to the gatherings, but they did and I am eternally grateful to them for their demonstration of care and love.

On the occasion of this photo, a few members of the group came to my house for fellowship. (left to right) Chris (on guitar), Debbie (standing), Laura (sitting), and Brenda (holding music stand).

Today, I get together for monthly fun, food, and fellowship with three of the members of this Bible Study. BTW, I have my own car now, so I no longer have to depend on them for transportation. (Smile)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Genealogy Blogging

Lisa Louise Cooke host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast explains the types of genealogy blogs and demonstrates in a two-part podcast how to create your own genealogy blog using

Part 1

Part 2

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Using Newspapers in Genealogy Research

Earlier this month, I visited my local library to search for several newspaper obituaries. The obituaries I needed were on microfilm and locating the correct film and page numbers was easy because they were listed in an online index.

During my visit, I also learned that I could access articles from my local newspaper (1997 to present) from my home computer by using my library card number to access the newspaper database through the library’s website. I was aware of this technology through college library websites, but had never tried using it. Access to online newspapers have enabled me to research the obituaries of family members who died after 1997 as well as other articles on various subjects related to my genealogy research.

With online newspapers, I like being able to search for whatever keywords and then downloading or emailing the text from article.

Newspapers can be an invaluable tool in advancing your genealogy research. For more information on the benefits of using newspapers in genealogy research, view this video.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Wedding Dates on Tombstones

I have heard about marriage dates being on tombstones, but never saw one until earlier this month during a visit to the Pleasant Shade Cemetery. Below are two examples from the tombstones of Mr. and Mrs. Mask and Mr. and Mrs. Gayles. This is invaluable information for a family researchers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Memory Monday: College Retreats at Eagle Eyrie

During my college years, 1981-1985, I attended religious retreats for college students at the Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center in Lynchburg, VA. The retreats were usually held during the fall in the peaceful, wooded acres near the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, and it was a joy to get away from the hustles and bustles of a large city like Richmond, VA, to a more serene surrounding where I could reflect and nurture my spiritual life along with many other college students from the state of Virginia. On several occasions, I ran into former high school friends at this retreat who were attending other colleges. So Eagle Eyrie also became a type of high school reunion for me.

This photo of my high school friend Laura and I was taken on a Sunday at the retreat. I don’t remember a lot of details about the structure of the retreat, but I do remember having some type of worship service on Sunday before we left. That would explain why Laura and I are wearing skirts.

Laura and I met in high school through a bible study we had during our lunch period. She graduated in 1982 and I graduated in 1981. It was a pleasure to fellowship with her at Eagle Eyrie during our college days and to meet some of her college friends. Starting sometime after 2003, when I turned 40, Laura and I, and a few other friends from our high school bible study, began getting together every month for food, fun, and reminiscing about the “good old days.”

When this photo was taken, it was way after Labor Day and so why am I wearing white shoes? I loved these shoes which I purchased for my high school graduation in 1981. Obviously, I did not care about violating the “no white shoes” after Labor Day rule.

For more about the history of the Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center, visit this site.

  • History of Eagle Eyrie
  • Thursday, August 13, 2009

    Carroll Family Reunion

    The Carroll Family enjoyed eating good food at their 2009 Family Reunion. Gosh, I can still tatse those finger lickin' ribs. Yum, Yum.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Beer Bottle Grave

    On Saturday, I visited Pleasant Shade Cemetery in Hampton, VA. This is one of the interesting graves I saw. Who left the beer bottles, I wonder? Was this a random act by some beer guzzlers or was this from the friends of Rashed?

    On Sunday, I visited the cemetery again to get a better picture of the grave marker. I only moved the bottles that covered the writing on the grave marker of this young man. Still, even with the bottles repositioned, this makes an interesting photo of a grave marker decorated with beer bottles and gold praying hands.

    In an attempt to understand the reason for this beer bottle grave, I shared this photo with some family members and genealogy friends on One family member believed that this was some type of ritual; a genealogy friend enlightened me about this ritual with the comments below.

    "I have seen this also, especially for certain "club" motorcycle riders. Some
    have had one beer bottle at the gravesite, which I believe to be the deceased's
    favorite beer. One like this with several bottles makes me believe a group of
    friends came and partied with him. Especially since one of the bottles is still
    capped, that would be Rashed's beer. I would assume (bad thing to do I know)
    that at one time these bottles were all standing up on the headstone."

    On Sunday, August 9th, I looked at the date of death more closely and noticed that this was the 6th anniversary of Rashed's death. I found this bottle arrangement on Saturday, the 8th. Therefore, I assume that Rashed's friends may have partied at their friend's grave, possibly on Friday night to commemorate his death and life.

    For me, this is certainly an interesting alternative to just decorating a grave with flowers.

    R.I.P. Rashed!

    Sunday, August 9, 2009

    Sacred Sunday: Elder Lighfoot Solomon Michaux

    Yesterday I decided to visit the Pleasant Shade Cemetery in Hampton, VA for two purposes: one was to get a little exercise and the second was in hopes of locating the gravesites of distant cousins of the Pair family. I got some needed exercise, but did not locate the gravesites of my Pair family yet.

    After walking around a certain section of the cemetery and taking photos of interesting looking grave makers, I decided to drive around the rest of this huge 100-year-old historically black cemetery. As I reached a dead end, the grave maker below caught my attention.

    “Michaux” (pronounced like “Miss-Shaw”)---I always loved the sound of that name when I heard my grandmother say it as she talked about a minister in her community. As I looked closer at the grave marker, I discovered that this was the final resting place of the Elder Michaux and his wife that my grandmother remembered. This is quite an elaborate grave maker especially when compared with the others in this huge cemetery. The large size of this marker is what caught my attention.

    Later, I showed my grandmother the digital photos of the grave maker. She was surprised that the Michaux’s were buried in the Hampton Roads area because she thought that they had been buried in Washington, D.C. She commented that Michaux was the “Happy Am I” radio preacher and that he and his wife Mary looked like white people. “Happy Am I” was the song that became Elder Michaux’s theme song. Even though I didn’t think that a black preacher would have been on television during Elder Michaux’s lifetime, I still asked my grandmother if he had been on television. “Yes,” she said. I was amazed and impressed and excited about finding more information on the life of this great preacher.

    Later that afternoon, I searched the Internet for more information and found Elder Michaux’s obituary listed in a newspaper index. I can’t wait to go to the library to read and copy the obituary. I also found other biographical websites and learned that Elder Michaux was not just a local preacher, but his ministry had spread worldwide, to large cities such as Washington, D.C. and that he was on both radio and television.

    My best and most treasured finding on the Internet was a YouTube video of Elder Michaux and his congregation singing. Since I found it, I have played it continuously, downloaded it to my computer, and shared it with some online genealogy friends and my grandmother. As my grandmother watched the video, she commented that Elder Michaux was much younger in the video than she remembered. By the time she knew him, he was elderly and gray-haired. This would have occurred after the mid 1940s when she moved to the neighborhood of Elder Michaux’s church. Grandma also commented that the way the ladies in the audience jumped to the music was a common practice she observed in this church when she visited them at the Newport News church and at tent meetings on 16th and Jefferson Avenue.

    “Do you think this video was recorded at the Newport News church? I asked her.”

    No,” it must have been at the D.C. church,” she replied.

    For more information on Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux, visit the following websites.

  • Jet Magazine – Baptisms by Elder Michaux in Potomoc River

  • Michaux, Lightfoot Solomon (1884-1968)

  • Elder Michaux Religious Show

  • Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux

  • Happy, Happy 1937

  • History of Gospel Spreading Church
  • Friday, August 7, 2009

    The Russell Family's Bling

    Smile for the Camera
    The word prompt for the 16th Edition of Smile For The Camera is "Bling, ancestor Bling." I am always drawn to the beautiful jewelry worn by our ancestors in old photographs. The locket that was your Great Grandmother's treasure, the pocket watch proudly displayed by a male ancestor, the beautiful crosses of old, and the children with their tiny bracelets. While not many of our ancestors were wealthy enough to own multiple pieces of jewelry, there was the one good piece that held sentimental value. Some of us have been fortunate enough to inherit those treasures. Show us a photograph of your ancestor wearing their "Bling," or photographs of the pieces you have inherited. Admission is free with every photograph!

    This is my Aunt Lucy Bullock Russell (1882-1967) and her husband Norvell Russell (1872-abt. 1952.) Aunt Lucy was a sister of my great-great grandfather Andrew Bullock (1862-1915). The chain in this photo may have been part of a pocket watch.

    Aunt Lucy and Uncle Norvell's daughter Queen (1907-2003) is dressed beautifully in her pearl earrings, necklace, and bracelet, along with other chain bracelets and possibly a watch. Like many women of her generation, Cousin Queen is wearing a hat to church.

    Aunt Lucy and Uncle Norvell's daughter Julia (1912-aft. 2001) is dressed beautifully in her long pearl necklace, a ring, and what looks to be either a watch or bracelet. Like many women of her generation, Cousin Julia is wearing a hat to church.

    Here are four of the daughters of Norvel and Lucy attending a Bullock Family Reunion around 2001. Queen (wheelchair), Julia (white hat), Minnie (blue dress) and Buelah (all black). The jeweled adorned head wrap is Cousin Buelah's trademark which she wears on both casual or formal occassions. Her dangling earrings and matching necklace spruce up the all black outfit she wore to the Bullock Family Reunion Banquet.

    Sunday, August 2, 2009

    The Spiritual Legacy of Bessie Bullock Carroll (1901-1991)

    This was written for the 2009 Carroll Family Reunion, July 25, 2009, Richmond, VA


    Bessie Bullock Carroll (left) and her
    sister Bell Bullock Johnson

    Bessie Bullock Carroll was born on November 19, 1901 in Vance County, NC to Andrew Bullock (1862-1915) and Luvenia Jeffress Bullock (1864-1951). She and her nine siblings were born and raised in the Drewry area of the county.

    Bessie was described as “a starch supporter and defender of the Gospel and a “real mother in Zion, the epitome of holiness, and stood for truth and righteousness” Undoubtedly she, as well as her five sisters (Bell, Mollie, Mima, Channie, and Nancy) were influenced by their mother Luvenia, who is most remembered for the way she entered church shouting “Holy!” and praising the Lord. (Read more on page 2) Bessie and all of her sisters are also remembered as women who loved and praised the Lord and they lived their lives dedicated unto him. During their adult years, the Bullock sisters delighted in seeing each other and praising the Lord together.

    Bessie accepted Jesus as her personal savior at a young age. In a 1980 interview for a church newsletter, her sister Bell, who was known as a woman of strength, joy, and spiritual vitality, recalled her own salvation experience.

    “I accepted Jesus as my savior as a young girl. My soul could not rest until I received God’s redeeming grace and I fasted all week while working in the fields until the Lord changed my life. After my salvation experience, God sanctified me and baptized me with his Holy Spirit.”

    The six Bullock sisters and their brother John were active in church during their adult lives. I do not know anything about the spirituality or church affiliation of the other brothers, Andrew (who moved to Queens, NY), James (who was a barber), or Joseph, (the youngest who died at age 27 in 1932). Bessie and her sister Mollie were member of Saints Delight Holy Church in Drewry, NC; Nancy, Morning Star Holy Church in Vance County, NC; Channie, St. John Holy Church in Richmond, VA; Mima moved to Pennsylvania and I do not know the name of the church she attended; and Bell, Union Chapel Holy Church, Ridgeway, NC. John Bullock and his wife Lucinda were gospel singers who sang at churches in the Warren/Vance county region. I think they may have attended Burchette Chapel Church in Vance County.

    Bessie was also a member of her mother’s church, Veanus Chapel House of Prayer, which was a log building built next to her mother’s house in Drewry. Bessie’s husband Alfred Carroll was a trustee of Veanus Chapel. After she moved to Elizabeth, NJ in 1958, she joined Guiding Star United Holy Church where she served as Adult Sunday School Teacher, Vice-President of Women’s Day, and member of the North New Jersey District Devotional Committee, Noon Day Prayer Leader, and Church Mother.

    Bessie was known for her starworth testimony and song,

    “I love Jesus, he’s my Savior
    Storms are raging, he’s my shelter
    Where he leads me, I will follow
    I love Jesus and he loves me.”

    Other favorite songs were “I’m Saved” and “To the Mount.” After her fiery testimony she would go forth in a dance of praise and thanksgiving. Her sisters are also remembered for their fiery testimonies and dancing and praising God.

    In an interview in 1980, Grandma Bell summed up the mission and purpose of her life. Based on the way they lived their lives, this was also likely the mission and purpose for her mother and sisters.

    "I don’t want my light to get dull, I want my light to shine bright so men can see the good works and glorify the Father. I ain’t got no bad works, but I want my light to shine bright. I let my light shine so that black and white can see Jesus in me."
    Bessie Bullock Carroll and her family lived by precept and example and raised their children in the fear and nurturing of the Lord. Bessie loved her Pastor and her Church and served faithfully until her health failed. She died at the age of 89 in July 1991 at Elizabeth General Medical Center in New Jersey.


    Sources: 1991 funeral program of Bessie Bullock Carroll, 1980 “Portrait: Mother Belle, (Voice of the World, Winter 1980), social security death index, oral history, marriage and death records, census, and obituaries