52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #4 ––Charlie Matthews (1896-1941) Closest Birthday to mine.

My knowledge of my paternal ancestry was very limited. Although I could relate familial connections on my mother’s side because of the information that was shared as I was growing up, my father did not speak too much about his family, so I missed out on vital stories and information that are passed down. So imagine my surprise when, through my research, I learned that my paternal grandfather Charlie Matthews and I was born two days apart. I was born on August 27th, and his birthday was August 29th.

Charlie Matthews (2)

Because of my genealogical quest to learn as much as I can, I have discovered a treasure trove of information that has made it possible for me to fill in the missing pieces. Armed with this new knowledge, I am blessed to still have both of my parents, and I am grateful for their contributions and support in instilling in me an inquisitiveness to seek the answers. My Dad, one of my greatest fans, has been a source of confirmation to my research and it is a pleasure to be able to talk with him about what I have found.

Charlie Matthews my paternal grandfather was born, August 29, 1896 Savannah Chatham, Georgia. He was the youngest of eight children. In June, 1918 he completed a World War I draft registration card. He married Anna Harris-Williams in October, 1919 at St. Thomas AME church, Savannah GA. In 1920, they were living at their home, along with his two-step children at Orchard Street in Savannah Georgia. Charlie Matthews was a Tinner by profession and worked in the roofing industry.

1920 US Census Savannah GA
1920 US Census Savannah GA

As millions of African-American families migrated from Southern cities to the North-East between 1910 – 1970; my family was among this historic movement, known as the Great Migration. By the 1921, Charlie Matthews, his wife, and mother migrated from Savannah GA to New York City. They settled in Harlem. My grandparents Charlie and Anna had five children, all born in New York of which four lived throughout adulthood. The year 1928 was a time of mourning for my grandfather, he lost his child, his wife Anna, and mother Amanda within the same year.

1925 New York State Census
1925 New York State Census

In 1940, Charlie Mathews was living with his second wife Lena, along with his four children Henrietta, Jean, Lillian and Charles at East 108th Street in Manhattan, New York. He was employed as a tinsmith.

1940 US Census New York City
1940 US Census New York City

On November 22, 1941, Charlie Matthews died at 41 years old he was buried in Flushing Queens, New York.

52ancestors-2015

By shelley dewese

As I continue to search out my history, I am discovering how much I did not know. The more information that is disclosed about my ancestry, the more I learn and understand how I am the person that has evolved today. As a native New Yorker, with deep roots in the Danish West Indies, now the Virgin Islands of the United States or commonly referred to as the United States Virgin Islands, I have always had a yearning to return to my maternal homeland. In September of 1976, my family and I relocated back to St. Croix. While living in New York, I was always telling my friends about my trip back home, but here I was actually waking up every day, walking among the streets and people that I have identified myself with all of my life. At the time, I was not involved in any genealogical work, but I knew there was a missing link that became completed after I was offered the opportunity to transfer Danish documents into a data base. That opened up my world and I realize that this was my niche. I now had the tools to explore and document my ancestry. Growing up, my mother always impressed upon her children the pride in being a “Bough”, which was her surname. Now I was able to track where that pride came from, through participating in family history projects and meeting new family, as we gathered together for the Bough Family Reunion on St. Croix in July of 2012. As I continued to research, I found my passion extending to photography. Sunsets and street art are my favorite features, as shown in my tumblr blog http://minkyadoo.tumblr.com/ I also began blogging, and found that it has help me to improve my writing skills. Through the comments and well wishes, I have been encouraged to continue to write the stories and events of my life. Whether or not your roots trace back to the Danish West Indies, you will find a beautiful tapestry of life that reflects our “baseball and apple pie”. This site affords you with the chance to transform yourself to a time during the Danish period (1734-1917) where life was both simple and complex. If you have any question, comments or need assistance in searching for a Danish West Indies ancestor, I invite you to drop me an email.

1 comment

  1. How sad….but you know the story of their lives. That makes this easier. Can hardly wait for you to get to the Smith side !

    Like

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