African Roots Podcast Episode #245 December 13, 2013

This Week's Pod Cast

 

Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast!
You can reach me at AfricanRootsPodcast@gmail.com.

Well we are two weeks away from Christmas! Hard to believe that not only is the holiday so close, but so is the new year!

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Last week I had an interesting call—this is a sad story—as there is really nothing to be done—and nothing could be done. A colleague gave me a call when she was on the road to do some work on her own ancestral line. An effort had been underway, in fact to preserve some records from Franklin County NC. The Heritage Society had offered to work with the records. The problem is that many of the records were mold covered and damaged after being left in a basement for many years. A call had been made to the NC state Archives, at one point and after discussion and efforts of the Heritage Society, word came from a source with the fateful order to destroy them. Not toss them—for someone could have dumpster dived and retrieved them. But the order was—to have them burned. Burned!!!! This was so tragic. I was asked to share the story with any and all that I could—so I put the message out on Twitter and Facebook. My colleague was in the town and before leaving decided to drive by the courthouse—and another text message came—the removal had begun. This colleague took a cell phone photo, and I shared it on Twitter and Facebook.

Is there a lesson here? I am not sure. The community had stepped up and offered to handle the records themselves and at least to photograph them, then allow them to be burned since many were heavy with mold. So there were preservationists involved—but even they could not stop the destruction of records from taking place! This is so very tragic—but when the right people could not stop the wrong thing from happening—one can only feel exasperated, frustrated and sad. The generations yet to be born, will never have some questions answered.

Perhaps for future preservation efforts, it is time to visit and make inquiries about the holdings in old courthouse basements and attics, and to work quickly to get them copied before destruction. Special thanks to my Franklin County researcher who shared their concerns with me. This person did their own part to try to tell it to others, although they were destroyed—at least the efforts was made.

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Bernice Bennett’s show last night featured Dr. Elaine Parker Adams who was researching the life of Peter Wellington Clark, a Methodist preacher and an advocate for the people. Interesting show that illustrated how sometimes when we see something missing in a larger story—and you have the means to fill that void, you should. Thus came the work of Dr. Adams who wrote a biography of this Methodist circuit riding preacher of the south. So little was written about Black Methodist leaders, so Dr. Adams decided to fill that gap a bit. That is a good reminder to all of us, to not just shake our heads when we see something missing, or a void in history. This can be a good opportunity to fill that void.
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I had my own genealogy lesson this week. I went looking for an old document and found a direct ancestor I had not expected to find. I found my gr. Gr. Grandfather on the list of Educable children from Mississippi. And there he was at the age of 20 learning how to read. Such a lesson—because I had looked at the record before—but had not seen his name. But admittedly was not looking for it. Now years later, I examined the record and his name stood out. How did I miss him in the past? I know I had a probably earlier with poor microfilm, but this was a sharp image—and sure enough—there he was. What a wonderful surprise, but a lesson to visit documents more than one time.

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Well, time to wind down another week. Thanks for listening I always appreciate you for being there and for tuning in. Enjoy your holiday shopping and remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find.

1 Comment

  1. Valerie D. Lewis -Mosley
    Posted December 14, 2013 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    A few years back, I was taking a break from writing a theological paper. I went up into the library stacks to see if I could locate a publication by Thurman …needless to say I was just looking at the various titles on African American history when I came across a book titled Negroes 1877 of South Carolina…checked the index out of curiosity to see if my maternal grandmothers family names were listed. they were not but to my surprise the name of my paternal great grand father Spencer Reeves was noted in the index… I said oh this cannot be my Spencer Reeves for he is from Milledgeville Georgia…well to my surprise the article was about one Spencer Reeves from you guessed it Milledgeville Georgia. it was a short paragraph of a newspaper interview about him and his family participating in one of the Back to Liberia Sierra Leone Africa, movements…I was shocked…I began a quest which revealed later the details of the Bar Azor journey leaving South Carolina…A year plus later he returned disillusioned on the Monrovia which arrived in New York Harbor…I found their names listed on the manifest. Also tracked down the journal of the white newspaper journalist who also noted my Soencer Reeves family in his account if the journey…The ancestors will speak and lead us when we listen……….

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