45 year old

Jackie E. Johnson

The information collected is a summary of years spent researching one branch of my family tree. Those years include a childhood of being seen and not heard in adult conversations.

Uncle Richard Hill is the relative that started me on my genealogy journey. In the seventies my mother moved to California. She stayed with several relatives and eventually ended up renting two rooms from Uncle Richard. I was curious about how Uncle Richard was everybody's uncle. He was address as Uncle so much that his neighbors and friend started calling him "Unc" for short. When I was about fourteen, I asked my mother how is that Uncle Richard my uncle, your uncle and your momma uncle. She said, "He's momma's mother's brother." Well that answer really explained everything. I forgot the whole matter for about fifteen years.

22 July 1989 - I took my first step in actively researching my family's history. My first step was a mother daughter trip to my childhood home of Alto, Louisiana. Since our first trip we've traveled from New York to California in search of family. On those trips I met some cousin for the first time and became reacquainted with others I've known my whole life.

26 July 1995 - Grand Rapids, Michigan I met my cousins Mariah, Ernestine, their children and grandchildren. My cousins Richard, Tate, Willie James, and other I can't remember live in Toledo, Ohio with their families.

7 August 1999 - While visiting Uncle Richard in California, I met Howard Hill, a cousin who came into the fold when his father died. He spent fifty years not knowing hundreds of paternal family members.

2001 - I went to Texas to see my paternal grandmother, who I've seen about five times in forty years. Like most southern grandmothers she believes in feeding you. She cooked a full course meal with a chocolate pudding pie for dessert. If you grew up in the south, you know I have to taste everything. While there I saw my Aunt Ella and Uncle Tommy and host of other family member.

My best cousin find has to be a group of second cousins. They are my Uncle Dan's children, or my grandmother's brother's children. In a conversation with my mother she mentioned that her Uncle Dan had about four children by his first wife. She said that she spent the night and played with them when they were younger. She said that she thought they moved to Texas. After using several people search web sites and making lots of dead-end phone calls, I tried teldir.com. I checked each name and found four cousins Albert, Dan, Helen and Monroe living in Houston. Later that year I got a copy of Uncle Dan's death certificate and was able to find his widow. I found her phone number and was able to talk to Wayne Anthony who informed me of his mother's death about three months prior to our conversation. He also told me about his sister Teresa, who lived in Florida.

24 November 2001 - My research book was stolen. It contained recordings, maps, everything, it was my "holy grail." It has taken me a while to get back into the genealogy routine. I felt lost and questioned why for about 4 years. As easily as it was taken, I came back refreshed and focused. I had to stop thinking about the book and what it contained and concentrate on the memories that filled the book. I had the memories of what I collected, and the family connection was still there. I'm ready to try and tie the past to present and leave something to ease the hunt for future family tree diggers. I'm having lots of fun digging through the 1930 census information.

29 May 2005 - My cousin Richard Calhoun bribed me into visiting him in Toledo by using the fact that he had our great grand ancestors bible. I went to visit him and his family over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The bible was from the late 1800's and in fair condition. The family documented information was minimal. It was a pictorial bible, with lots of black & white and full color sketches. I thought the "Family Temperance Pledge" was interesting. It stated that "Both science and experience prove that even moderate drinking is injurious to health" and "The pledge protects us from the solicitation of friends and removes us from the temptation of the saloon" All family member were instructed to sign... unfortunately no family members signed. Also wedged between the pages was a property tax receipt from 1899 and The Apple Man flyer.

4 July 2007 - I never mention our family reunions or the fact that we have an open date Thanksgiving homecoming every year. The reunions float from state to state every two years. I started attending the yearly homecomings around 1994. In 2005 I attended my first Hill-Badger-Riley Family Reunion in Monroe, Louisiana (our Mecca). I enjoyed it so much. For the 2007 reunion in Toledo, I was asked to do a family tree. I was hesitant, I thought about the skeletons in the room and how the family might handle them. I almost shoved it under the rug, but my cousin-in-law Lois Hill prodded/insisted, and it was done. It contained five generation dating back to the late 1700. Due to the size of our family, I had to limit it to persons born before 1960. At the presentation the family tree was placed on two eight foot tables. I extracted and enlarged census, birth, marriage, death and other timeline information for key ancestors and enlarged the copies. Attendee were given pedigree charts and placed at a round table with an elder. The attendees were asked to fill in their pedigree chart. If they got stalled, they were told to talk to the elders and get as much information as they could on their family line, Then lastly they could find their ancestors on the large family tree display to complete their chart. I also gave participants the chance to correct any misspelled names or change dates on the large family tree display. It was a great mixer. It brought the generations together and generated heated conversations and sparked a genealogy interest in the young and old. The most quoted feedback "Thank you!" "This looks like hard work." "I didn't know that about our family!" and "Are we doing this next time?" Yes, I'll do it again. HOUSTON, TEXAS 2009 (9-09-07, to be continued)

12 February 2006 - I got so much inspiration from African American Lives, a genealogy journey into the past hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. If you missed the show, find a friend who recorded it or buy it. Take a genealogy course. If you can afford to hire a genealogist, hire one. I prefer to do the hunting myself, it time consuming and frustrating but I love it. Find your family's history and pass it on.

7 December 2008 - I became a grandmother to Paige Courtney Marie Murphy. What blessings she will bring!

6 March 2009 - This web site has also been a true blessing. My search for information on my great-great grandmother was answered by a website visitor who knows her niece. Yes, her niece! She is 101 years old and living in Texas. So, you know I'm planning a trip to Texas.

22 May 2009 - I went to visit Harriet Reed, my great-great grandmother Molly Vivian's niece. The visit was the spark I needed to get back into my genealogy search. What a gem.

11 June 2009 - I was scheduled to visit my cousin Richard in Toledo in late June. My cousin Lois called and hinted that I should come as soon as I could because Richard wasn't doing well. I decided to invite my daughter and 6 month old granddaughter along for a road trip to Ohio. It was a bitter sweet visit, Richard perked up for his visitors, but he wasn't himself. He passed away a week later. I will miss him and his willingness to share our family history.

12 March 2010 - Yes, I'm watching the NBC series Who Do You Think You Are? Its part of my reasearch process.

If you're interested in researching your family history, start by compiling your oral history. Talk to your grandparents and other elders in your family. Try this site "How to Start Your Family History" as a quick reference to getting started.

Thank you for visiting my site.

photo taken July 2006

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Coretta Scott King