Category: 52 ancestors

52 Ancestors #52 Resolution: Resolved to move on to DNA Testing

Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small”   suggested we write about Resolution.   A resolution can be something that you resolve to do. It can also be the end or conclusion of something. What ancestor do you resolve to find more about in 2016? What ancestor have you resolved conflicting evidence about?52ancestors-2015

Many of the ancestral and collateral line stories I composed for 52 ancestors in 52 week challenge by Amy Crow, resulted from my enthusiastic research on my relatives I either met or heard stories from the elders.

I am deeply grateful to “All Ah You” who Read, Liked, Text or took the time to comment on the blog. Your encouragement continues to inspire me.  I thank you Janet, for being a guest blogger, contributing the tragic story of the “Fancy Me”.   (see Stormy Weather n Tortola BVI) It has been a great year, but for now, for Ancestry purposes, I have taken up the challenge of discovering the ethnicity of my ancestral lineage, sorting out the DNA Matches hoping to connect and meet new cousins.

In an effort to trace back beyond my 2nd GG on my paternal lineage, I decided to ask my Dad if he would submit to DNA Testing.  My father is very interested in genealogy.  His willingness heightened my curiosity, for this I was grateful.    We chose autosomal DNA Testing.  The autosomal DNA Test is half of the DNA inherited from both parents.   Besides being confused by the results, 59% African, 40% European, and 1% West Asia; my dad ethnicity and where his ancestors lived were so different from the family tree I created.

dnasymbolimageThis past Christmas, Ancestry DNA was offering Autosomal DNA testing at a discounted rate.  Something I hesitated to do and now eager to get involved in.  So, I decided to take what is known as the “Big Spit” into a tube and sent it off to Ancestry.com.

My ethnicity estimate revealed  77% African, 22% European, and 1% Native American.   Surprisingly, the 1 % Native American is from my maternal Caribbean lineage.  With this knowledge, I’m hoping to have my mother tested to discover further the Native American DNA aspect.

AncestryDNA Ethnicitysdw-page-001

My top estimates; Ivory Coast/Ghana Cameroon/Congo

One of the most fascinating things that have happened is that I met new cousins.  Patricia introduces herself as my 5th cousin from the Netherlands Amsterdam.  That explains why there are so many cultures in Holland and that it’s quite OK to eat rice, chicken, masala and roti.  Patricia says is not Dutch food.  Another particular match is from a DNA cousin who respectfully shared the bill of sale of his ancestor who  entered into Tybee Island , Savannah Georgia  from  either Africa or the Caribbean .  Of course some DNA matches are intimidated. However, for most, it has been cordial reception.

Certainly, the autosomal testing is difficult to match up with genealogy records.  With over 100 DNA matches for my Dad and my 61 matches attempting to identify the common ancestor, that is extremely important, challenging and somehow complicated.  The issue of identify is clear, but seeing the ethnicity break-downs in the African –American family: whether through television series “FYR”, or “WDYTYA” all suggest there was a lot of mixing going on.

SONY DSC

Although I haven’t found any celebrities or significant prominent genetic connections, nor do I have the time to climb every tree, I find the results very interesting.  I hope that more people from the Caribbean region will utilize this new and exciting tool with their family history research and get DNA tested.  It is exciting, to connect with family around the world you never knew you had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

52 Ancestors #51 Nice -Anita Bough-Moorhead (1918-2015)

Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small” suggested that we write a story to Define “nice” however you want to 🙂

Our family historian Nita, shares a “Nice” Ole Time Christmas Story with her grandson  Dominick Scott.

NITA

Anita Chanette Elaine (Bough) Moorhead

Anita Moorhead was born on October 25, 1918, the daughter of Joseph E.  Bough and Alice M. (Smith) Bough both of St. Croix, Virgin Islands.  She is also the granddaughter of David Bough and Elizabeth (Prince) Bough as well as Emma (Mueller) Smith of St. Croix and William Smith of Tortola.  In 1942, she married Adrian L. Moorheard.

Nita, as she was affectionately called by family was a very effective Teacher as early as 1937 at the Frederiksted Grammar School and the Christiansted Grammar School.  After 40 years of teaching she retired from Pearl B Larsen School in 1977.   She received the award of “teacher of the year” occasionally.  As a teacher she impacted the lives of many Virgin Islanders.  She was an active member of the Lord God of Sabaoth Church overseeing confirmation classes and acolyte training.

Anita Bough-Moorhead was our Family historian.  Cousin Nita was proud of her Bough Heritage and was an inspiration for the first Bough family reunion in the late 90’s.  She created the first family tree for the reunion and as my interest in the history and genealogy grew, we shared information. I became 100% consumed with this knowledge and began blogging my genealogical journey.   Her love and the way she reached out and kept up with family was just incredible.

More importantly, she shared with her grandson Dominick Scott a treasure trove on how Christmas was celebrated when she was a child.  Each time I read this composition by my cousin, I get into the seasonal mood.   I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have each year.  Curl up with your sweet bread and guava berry drink and listen as dear “Nita” describes to her grandson about an Ole Time Christmas.

SONY DSC

Old-Time Crucian Christmas. Whim Museum, St. Croix, USVI personal photograph by author 2013

An Ole Time Christmas written by Dominick Scott

According to my great-grandmother, Anita Moorhead in the 1920’s the Christmas season in St. Croix began after Thanksgiving.  People started to get the stores ready.  Most of the goods came from Denmark and England.  Most of the merchants were natives; there were one or two European merchants and some Puerto Ricans.  Her father Joseph Bough was a merchant at that time.  Everywhere there was a festive air. The stores would be decorated with garlands and other Christmas decoration like colored lanterns.

Women with large wooden trays sat under the galleries of Company Street and King Street selling candies.  The candies were all homemade.  They were: coconut sugar cakes that were colored brown, pink and white; brown, white, or pink losenges; peppermint candies; peanut sugar cake, and dundaslau.

candy

“Coming Home to St Croix” Old time candy,  St. Croix USVI personal photograph by author 2015

There was also a candy that was similar to a lollipop that was shaped in the form of an animal to which a stick has been inserted called sugar babies.  The sticks were decorated with allkinds of colored paper.  Sweet Breads and all kinds of buns were sold.  Rusk was a small sweet bun that twas cut in half and baked until it became very hard and crusty.  People ate it with their tea.

On Christmas Eve night, the streets were crowded with people because most everybody lived in town. The only people who lived in the country were those who worked on the estates.  There were no fireworks as there is today, but people would walk around blowing horns and lighting Roman candles and firing thunderbolts.   After church, carolers went about the streets singing Christmas carols and visiting various homes.   They were given money, sweet bread, guava berry liqueur or cherry herring drink.

Sweet bread and ham were delicacies for the season.  Breakfast on Christmas morning consisted of sweet bread and ham with cocoa or tea.  All during the season sweet bread and ham were eaten for breakfast.  Dinner was either baked chicken or duck, which was usually raised by the family. There was no cold storage. There was only an ice box.  With the chicken or duck, potato stuffing and home gown vegetables like beets, carrots, corn, or string beans were eaten. There were no soda factories.  The common drinks were maubi, ginger beer, or punch made from many of our fruits – guava, gooseberry, plum, sour sop and tamarind.  People visited families and friends after dinner.  One would always be served sweet bread, guava berry liqueur, cherry herring, or Danish brandy.

Christmas Second Day was one of great celebrations.  There were masquerades dancing throughout the streets from noon until six in the evening.  This occurred on all the streets not just down one street.  People would look out their window and the troupes would stop and dance under the windows.  People would throw down money for them.  Some people would follow the troupes that they liked best, just like today when people follow a tramp.  The types of troupes were The Bull, David and Goliath, Donkey Want Water, Indians, Mocko Jumbies and other pretty troupes.

mockojumbionpalmtree

Personal photograph by author 2015

Christmas at that time was joyous and safe.  There were no crimes or violence.  Everyone had a good time.

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On March 19, 2015 we lost our dear relative, she was 97 years old.               Nita=Nice.

 

Source:

http://www.visharoots.org/  St. Croix Population Database

http://home.ancestry.com/ US Federal Census, 1920,1930,1940

In Celebration of Life Anita Bough Moorhead. St. Croix: funeral booklet., 2015.

Scott, Dominick. “Ole Time Christmas.” (class composition)

 

 

 

 

52 Ancestors #50 Naughty Ernest Bough

Amy  Johnson Crow  “no story too small”  suggested that we write a story about an ancestor who probably received coal in the their stocking

52ancestors-2015

Looking for naughty ancestors was a fun task.   The ancestor who got coal in the stocking was Ernest Bough.  He is the son of Julius Bough and Bernice Rowell, both of the Virgin Islands and who migrated to New York.   In our family, I remember hearing, as children, the anxiety the adults would have speaking about Uncle Ernest, who ran away from home.    But my thoughts were different coming from a family with immense rules and etiquette.  I would cheer him “yippy yi Ya”.   I viewed him childlike as one being a courageous and adventurous runaway.  But now, with research and oral history, Ernest Bough was the adult who served in the military and never returned home.  I came to thinking why would he just vanish, and cause the family  so much heartache, headache, and  stress. He ended up in Detroit, Michigan, never to be heard of or seen again.  So, I decided to stir the Pot.

Research revealed that Ernest B. Bough had served over 10 years in the military between 1932 – 1946, with the New York National Guard and the US Army.   By 1934, he was married to Rosalia Benjamin of St. Croix.  By 1937 he received an honorable discharge from the National Guard.  It is at this point that Ernest B. Bough never returned to his family, nor did they hear from him again.  The research supported the oral history  that Ernest  went to Detroit, Michigan.

So it hit me that he went to Detroit because it was booming with the Auto Industry.  He thought he would return home when loaded, or he heard about Motown and wanted to audition for Berry Gordy.  (Poking fun)  Listed in the “Classified Business section for complete list for Businesses and Professions” for Dearborn, Michigan City Directory, 1941 was Ernest B. Bough, Porter in Garfield Detroit. (huh)

Ernest, at 32 years old enlisted in the US Army for 2 years.   In February 1951, he then married Maggie Kelso from Martin, Tennessee by all standards; they were farm people who became a part of the “Great Migration”.  Those were they who were fleeing the South going North or West for a better life filled with hopes and aspirations.  Still, all in all, Ernest B. Bough died on February 7, 1973 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was 61 years old.

What brought Ernest from New York to Detroit could have been the fact that his mother, Beatrice, was married to a Gentleman by the name of Lonnie Haddon of Ohio who lived in Michigan.  Did he have any children?  Why didn’t he send word to his New York family he left behind is all left unknown?  One thing I know for sure, regardless of the situation his behavior was naughty.   Yes, my Great Uncle Ernest probably received coal in his stocking.

christmas-coal

Sources:

Photo by Getty Images {link to http://www.freeimages.com}.

http://www.visharoots.org/ St. Croix Population Database

Ancestry.com   New York, U.S. National Guard Enlistment Cards, 1917 – 1954,

Ancestry.com:  1910 US Federal Census

Ancestry.com:   1920 US Federal Census

Ancestry.com : New York, New York Marriage Index 1866 – 1937

Ancestry.com:  Michigan Marriage Records  1867 – 1952

Wikipedia: History of Detroit.

Ancestry.com : US Directories 1822 – 1995

Ancestry.com Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records, Michigan Deaths 1971 – 1996

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

52 Ancestors #47 Sporting – Levi “Yogi” Bough

Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small” suggested that we write about Football or baseball players in the family. Or about an ancestor who was a good sport about things.

52ancestors-2015

Week 47 – Sporting Levi “Yogi” Bough – Basketball Player (1922-2008)

Bough Broke Color Barrier at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights.” Those words headlined the on-line Sports “Tablet” Magazine. What excitement came over me when I saw that the article was detailing my uncles’ College basketball career in honor of Black History Month February 2015. Clearly, the desire to toot the horn, and forward the article to all my contacts was at my fingertips; instead, I held back a little.  Then  a reality check hit me that although you may not get your flowers while you are breathing, the people left behind can celebrate and benefit from your good works.

The article describes how Levi Bough “’paved the way for countless St. Francis Student-Athletes to achieve their dreams”. The article goes on to call attention to the fact that he was the “first Black Player in the 52 year history of St Francis College. “ I hope you will take the time and read the online piece. http://thetablet.org

Below is the post I published back in 2012 about my Uncle Levi born on St. Croix, raised in New York and buried in Switzerland.

LEVI YOGI BOUGH

I met my uncle Levi G. Bough in the 70’s when he visited his birth place of St. Croix Virgin Islands with his family from Switzerland.  Although he was no longer the Athlete and his body had aged, you could still see the traces of the athlete he was in his posture and the way he carried himself.  You knew instinctively that he was a man who took good care of his body, although he was off the basketball court for decades.

growing up, we heard all about his Athletic talent from my mother and other distant relatives.  They told stories about his skill as a basketball player, who received a scholarship to attend College.  Levi also was thrifty and earned money by selling newspapers, and shining shoes.    He was known for studying way into the night with a Kerosene Lamp.  Later he joined the US Army as a member of the 761st Black Tank Battalion during World War II.  After the war, he played basketball in Europe, where he settled with his family.

Yogi and Team-mates

Yogi, as he was affectionately called, loved to talk and could recall the statistics like it was yesterday.  Levi   Bough enrolled into St. Francis College in 1946 and continued his basketball career as the first black basketball player with the S.F.C. Terriers.  With Yogi as a starter on the team during the years 1947 to 1948, St. Francis College  ranked first in the New York City area and 20th in the nation as a defensive unit.  They destroyed the mythical Brooklyn title over Brooklyn College and St. Johns University, and were rated 76th in the US by a leading collegiate basketball summary that tabulated 790 Schools.

“Taking it to the Hoop”

Levi graduated from St. Francis College with a degree in philosophy and psychology after serving as a basketball trainer and director of sports at the institute, but a government scholarship allowed him to continue his studies in Switzerland.   He went on to win 18 championships in basketball altogether.  Yogi went on to become a player and coach when he attended the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.  He took the game of basketball by storm and was deemed by Europeans “the first true American” for his accomplishments on and off the courts.    Levi “Yogi” Bough died in Switzerland in 2008.

Levi Bough was featured for his skills and talent on the basketball court, in the St. Croix Avis Newspaper in July 2006 as “A True Crucian emblem”

52 Ancestors #43 Oops George fell!

Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small” suggested that we write about “An ancestor who made an ‘oops,’ or one that you made while researching.

52ancestors-2015

 

Week 43– OOPS!   George A. Bough (1806 – 1856)

George A Bough

Artist J.Dawkins rendering of George A. Bough private in the Jager Corp  1846 St. Croix danish west indies.

Although, there have been many oops over the years of my genealogical research that required pruning and other measures,  I decided to look at what appears to be an oops when looking at the cause of death for George Anthony  Bough, the patriarch of the Bough family.  From embarrassment to tragic.  George’s cause of death was a fall.  Oops there it is.

George Anthony Bough died on April 3 1856 on St. Croix,  Danish West Indies now the US Virgin Islands.

 

 

Sources:

Burials 1856, Christiansted Gravedigger Journal 1856/04/03 RA/VILA/VR/#3.81.635

Christiansted Burials 1856
RA/VLA/VR/# 3.61.209

52 Ancestors #42 Proud Nancy

The optional weekly theme for Week 42 was “Proud” Many of us have an ancestor that we are proud – or that we’re proud of our efforts to find them!

52ancestors-2015

As I look at my pedigree chart, there are so many ancestors that I am certainly proud of; but I am most proud of the efforts done to find my African Ancestor on the Christiansted Town Register of 1855.

I had been researching the genealogy of my maternal family, the Boughs of the Danish West Indies for at least one decade.    Researching my ancestors’ lives has been very fascinating and at times, discouraging.  However, finding my African ancestor, while in the midst of searching for the mother of my great-grandfather August Bough, I came across the 1855 Christiansted Town Register which showed 4 generations.  On the first line, of the 2nd household was the name Nancy, born in Africa.  She is the great-grandmother of August Bough.  Although I never thought I would find such ancestor, nor was I actively seeking one.   I experienced an Alex Haley moment when he found Kunta  Kinte.  Earl Jones, who played Alex Haley, shouts out with every bone in his body:  “ye ole African, I found you, I found you!

1855 Town Register

1855 Town Register

It is through the VISHA database that I can retrieve some of the Danish records.  Although, there are gaps I was able to piece together a time-line which gives me a clear picture of my Africa Ancestor and what became of her.   I don’t know where she came from or what her name might have been, but on the census and church records, she is known as Nancy.

Looking at the Danish involvement with the slave-trade from the 1650’s helped to establish when Nancy arrived in the Danish West Indies from her long journey from Africa.  It appears that she may have arrived during what is called the “winding down” time between the years of 1792-1803 of the prohibition of slave trade.   Danish Captain Thomas Petersen purchased Nancy and another African girl together for 400-800 rd.   She lived in the household of Thomas Petersen at Hospital Street in Christiansted.   The Town Register showed Nancy was baptized in the Lutheran Church, July 4, 1798.

In May of 1800, Captain Petersen prepared a Deed of Gift.   He gifted Nancy along with a house on 46 Hill Street, to his two sons, Peter Andreas and Hans Wilhelm Petersen, by a free colored woman named, Anna Lucia Assenius.    By 1818, Nancy, house servant, was living at the house on Hill Street, the property of the Petersen Brothers.    Living in the home were the Brothers,  their mother Anna, as well as what appears to be Nancy’s  five (5) children; Anna, Toney, James, William and Henry, noted in a later census.

Hill Street Home of Peter and Hans Petersen where Nancy resided over 50 years.  Photo accessed from St. Croix Historic Photos/Rezende-Walbom/Danish West Indian Society

Hill Street Home of Peter and Hans Petersen where Nancy resided over 50 years. Photo accessed from St. Croix Historic Photos/Rezende-Walbom/Danish West Indian Society

From the records we observe that Nancy stayed with the same Petersen family throughout her life.  She was considered morally good and was never punished.   Nancy received her freedom on July 3, 1848, when Gov. Gen Peter von Scholten proclaimed the freedom of all slaves in the Danish West Indies.    I perceive that since Nancy and her family were no longer slaves, it was the hope of a new day.   After the emancipation, she continued to live at the Petersen home on  Hill Street with her family to include my 2GG Emelia Petersen  She was no longer a servant, but then supported by her children.

By 1860 Nancy was a 70 year old invalid.  No surname was given on the census.  Despite the limited information, I am proud of the efforts and the assistance from my friends and family in finding Nancy, the African.

strength

S O U R C E S:

(Slave List 1798 – Head Tax CD 6 (1795-1799)

St. Croix Mission Church book 1805 – 1814

Christiansted, Lutheran Church Mission 1818 – 1846

St. Croix Slave Plantation and Head Tax Lists, 1772-1821. Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA),

Rigsarkivet (Danish National Archives, Copenhagen)

Vestindiske lokalarkiver (West Indian Local Archives)

Christiansted Byfoged (Bailiff)

Pantebog 1800-1801, folio page 38

St. Croix Register Unfree 1841, 1846,

St Croix Register, Christiansted , 1850,1855, 1860

http://www.visharoots.org/

52 Ancestors #16 Ena Dorothy Bough – Lived to 97

Long Life:  Ena D. Bough, My Great Aunt and direct ancestor:

52ancestors-2015

Ena Dorothy Bough, (1907- 2005) was born on St. Croix in the Danish West Indies. Ena was the daughter of Crucian Parents; Haddasha Summersille died at the age of 93; studied pediatrics and performed duties as a Mid-Wife.   August C. Bough died at the age of 74; the sucessful Merchant who turned Reverend and co-founder of AME Church in Christiansted St. Croix.

Ena was born at a time when Havanna Cigars were being sold, Cotton and Cane were flourishing and a Leper Asylum was established on St. Croix.   On the mainland, Mary Phelps Jacob invented the bra.   A decade after her birth, the Americans purchased the Danish West Indies in 1917.

In 1920, Ena was living with her parents, at the family home in the town of Christiansted.  She was a middle child between brothers, James, Oscar, and Kaj Bough. She attended school in Christiansted and was a known talented Seamstress.  By the mid-1920’s, Ena and brothers migrated to New York.  The 1930 census, showed her living in New York with her younger brother Oscar, and working as a Finisher in a Dress Factory.

On-line Photo https://www.google.com/urfreepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com

On-line Photo: the Ship Silivia that sailed Ena to new york
freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com

Ena answered the call to return to the Virgin Islands, to care for the family where sickness was eminent. Despite the excitement of living and working in New York City, she returned home.  Ena worked the most of her life as a famly care giver to include nephews and nieces.  Ena was very proud of her brothers’ successes in the fields of Law, Education, Agriculture, and Business Administration.

I met my great Aunt Ena for the first time at her home in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands when my mother and I took the seaplane from St Croix to visit the family.  It was hard to keep back my excitement of meeting the last living child of my great-grandfather, August Curtis Bough.  I walked with a list of questions and a small tape recorder, prepared to capture oral history.  When we arrived at the house, we were greeted by an over friendly dog and my cousin Ellie.  We glimpsed Aunt Ena sitting in the corner, looking puzzled as to the Crucian relatives who descended upon her.  My mother and I realized Auntie wasn’t up to talking about the past, nor was she going to be interviewed.  She just smiled gently, while offering the usual traditional greetings.

Our visit lasted about 2 hours, as we had to catch the plane back to St. Croix.  Although I was a little disappointed by her lack of engagement I understood her suspicion.   I was determined to make another trip to get better acquainted.  Being hopeful, we planned to return to celebrate her 100th birthday, with “lights, camera, action” for the interview of a lifetime.  Unfortunately, it never materialized.

Ena D. Bough Birthday Celebration.  Photo Courtesy by Ellie Bough

Ena D. Bough Birthday Celebration. Photo Courtesy by Ellie Bough

Aunt Ena  outlived her siblings. With her death on April 17, 2005, it signified an end to the August Bough generation of those who were born during the Danish period.  She lived on the island as a citizen of the Danish West Indies and was present in 1917 as the Danneborg lowered, and the U.S. flag was raised.

Coincidentally, as I reflect on my ancestor Ena Bough.  She was among the first Virgin Islands people to become American citizens; I will be honored to be among the rest of our citizens, as we celebrate Transfer Day in the year 2017. The US Virgin Islands will reach a milestone in our history.  Marking 100 years since the United States purchased the Danish West Indies (St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John) from Denmark for $25 million, and I look forward to the celebration.

Danish, Virgin Islands and USA Flags.  photo taken in St. Thomas by sdewese

Danish, Virgin Islands and USA Flags. photo taken in St. Thomas by sdewese

Ena Dorothy Bough died on St. Thomas, USVI April 17, 2005.  She was 97.8 years old.

Sources:

http://stx.visharoots.org/ St. Croix Population Database

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Year: 1929; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 4555; Line: 1; Page Number: 249

Newspaper: The Virgin Islands Daily News; Publication Date: 23 4 2005; Publication Place: St.Thomas, Virgin Islands,, Carrbbean

http://www.highbeam.com/

http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org

Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011.

52 Ancestors #14 Favorite Photo Charlie Matthews

Charlie Matthews (1896-1941)  my grand-father on my paternal side portrait style photo is my favorite picture.  He’s well dressed and looks little prosperous.  Date of photo is unknown.

Charlie Matthews

He was the son of John Matthews and Amanda Allen-Matthews both of Barnwell, South Carolina.  Charlie Matthews was the youngest of six (6) Children.  He was born August 29, 1894 in Savannah Chatham, Georgia.

His US World War I Draft Registration Card revealed that he was living at the family home in Savannah Georgia.   The 1920 Census showed that he was 23 years old.  Charlie  married Anna Harris;  his occupation was a Tinner (roofer).  This same census also showed that his home was mortgage free.

Great Migration Image by Jacob Lawrence

Great Migration Image by Jacob Lawrence

Between 1920-1922 Charlie Matthews, alongside his wife and mother joins what is known as The Great Migration.  This migration is when a substantial number of  African Americans moved from the Rural South to the Urban North.

In 1922, Charlie and Anna Matthews first child is born in Harlem, New York.   I don’t know whether they left Savannah via Train, Boat or Bus; what I do know is that they were among the many migrants that anticipated a better future for their family. In 1941, Charlie Matthews died a Widower at 45 years old.

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sources:

1920; Census Place: Savannah, Chatham, Georgia; Roll: T625_240; Page: 41B; Enumeration District: 58; Image: 1151

New York State Census, 1925

52 Ancestors Week No. 12- Same

The last couple of weeks have been truly occupied in a pleasant manner. Spending time with my mom’s niece on the island was very refreshing. Her visit gave me the opportunity to re-discover St. Croix and enjoy our one-of-a-kind culture.  Albeit, I am looking forward to getting up to speed with the 52 week Ancestor challenge. I thought I would begin week 12 with the theme – Same – What ancestor is a lot like you? What ancestor do you have a lot in common? Same name? Same home town?

52ancestors-2015

Week 12 (March 19-25) –Same. While I was developing my maternal Bough family tree, I was surprised at how the middle name Curtis repeated itself in five generations. It is common tradition that names are repeated in honor of an ancestor.  Yet. I couldn’t find an ancestor who had Curtis as a given or middle name before 1841.   My research of the name did not reveal any historical timelines.  I turned to Wikipedia for name significance. “Origin: The name was Anglo-Norman. Meaning: Courteous, Polite, Well-Bred.”  Considering their lives through either family history, oral history, individual experiences; I was starting to understand the name Curtis and why it was picked as a middle name. also, all the more importantly how it matched the life they lived.


The basic facts from the Bough Family tree are these:

First Generation: Benjamin Curtis Bough (1841-1875) The son of Susan Crow and George A. Bough

Second Generation: August Curtis Bough (1866-1939) The son of Emelia Petersen and George Bough

Third Generation: Julius Curtis Bough born 1889-1936 The son of August Curtis Bough and Georgianna Agaard

Fourth Generation: Bernadine Curtis Bough (1895- 1974) The son of Ophillia Jackson and August Curtis Bough

Fifth Generation: Ishmael Curtis Bough (1929-2014) The son of Viola White and Bernadine Curtis Bough

Lord God of Saboath Lutheran Church, Christiansted St. Croix where family members attended. Photo  by s.dewese

Lord God of Saboath Lutheran Church, Christiansted St. Croix where family members attended. Photo by s.dewese

52 Ancestors # 10 Stormy Weather in Tortola BVI

The theme for week #10 of 52 Ancestors (stormy weather)  is so fitting to describe the historical backdrop of a schooner in Tortola called the “Fancy- Me”.  This brief account will show how a Hurricane back in 1926  impacted a Community, Family and a Caribbean Island to a heartbreaking misfortune.

For this story I invited my cousin Janet Smith, as a Guest Blogger.  She has courageously written as well as publicly spoken about the “Fancy-Me” Vessel and its incident.  It is not simply a story, it is a courageous effort on her part to write an account of the final voyage and loss of the “Fancy-Me”.

The Fancy-Me at Anchor in St. Thomas Harbour

The Fancy-Me at Anchor in St. Thomas Harbour (water island in the background)

SUCH ARE THE HOURS TO FIND PEACE

When Family Must Live with the Maritime Disaster of the Century

“Such are the hours to find peace”….  No more fitting words could describe the deepest feelings of a man who just days earlier, was only one of 59 of the 89 men and women when he returned home.  He had survived the sinking of the Fancy-Me schooner when it succumbed to a hurricane off the coast of Hispaniola on July 25, 1926. The schooner had been built on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for Jacob Wilson Smith, who, with his sons (and still for many of his descendants), had spent much of their lives in the business of boat building and inter-island transport.   “Papa Jake’s” only daughter was Ann Smith.  In the mid 1800’s she and her two young sons had moved from the British island of Tortola and made her home on St. Croix in the U. S. Virgin Islands.   Through marriage, the Smiths of Tortola is linked to some of the members of the Bough family.

Times were hard throughout the english-speaking Caribbean in the early 1900s. Making a living to support one’s family had grown harder and harder at home.  For the men of the island of Tortola and its surrounding British islands, so had employment from the bauxite and alumina industries on the U.S owned island of St. Thomas.  For this reason, the men, and sometimes even the women, ventured for months at a time to the Dominican Republic (also known as Santo Domingo) where they could find work cutting sugarcane or working in factories in order to support their families. While some moved permanently with their families to San Pedro de Macoris, most of them returned home when the season ended, and waited for the next sugarcane harvest.  Their families waited patiently for the financial support they sent home and for the time they would return home – whether to stay, or to return.  It was on one of these trips home – when many were looking forward to celebrating the local emancipation of slavery with the traditional festivities planned for the first Monday in August, that the tragedy that has been marked historically as one that may have affected every family, and in which the loss of life totaled more than that combined for all the hurricanes that have affected the islands to date, occurred.

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The brothers, James and Alexander Smith, by then owned their father’s boat – The Fancy-Me.  James himself was at the helm when the boat left the Santo Domingo city of Macoris late that Friday.  Some say they had hurried to leave.  It was hurricane season, and a hurricane was always possible, but those who plied the seas were experts who had come to know what to expect during such weather, and just how to handle their vessels.  Among other things, they knew that they could expect calmer waters in the open ocean. But the speed of the development of any storm was never predictable.  Passengers were anxious to get home to their families, to celebrate the festivities, and to celebrate the marriage of one of their own, some say.  The boat was also loaded with cargo – mostly sugar.…much of which had been placed on top of the boat’s larger of two anchors.  If there was to be rough weather, it is possible that this was intended to stabilize the schooner on the high seas, though we can only surmise.

It was usually a trip that lasted four days.  On the second day, as the weather worsened, it was necessary to take shelter near Saona, a small island south of Hispaniola. The captain dropped the available, but smaller anchor, which soon gave way with the tossing of the boat in the high, windy waves.  Despite his efforts to rid the boat of cargo, and to instruct passengers to help with shifting from their weight in order to balance the boat as it was tossed from side to side, there was much fear and panic as the boat capsized as it was flung against a rock – a rock called El Caballo Blanco (The White Horse). The single lifeboat was soon full and the remaining passengers were therefore left to fend for themselves.  It was night-time.  They grabbed whatever floating trunks and bits of wood they could, sometimes fighting each other to gain possession in order to stay afloat; and sometimes uniting in the midst of the tragedy, in the hope of saving each other. Many hung on to whatever they could and prayed for a passing vessel that might see, and rescue them.  This did happen, and some were taken to the small town of La Romana in Santo Domingo.  A few also made it to shore, but more than half of the passengers, including the captain and first mate, both of them members of our Smith family, were lost at sea that night.

It was a tragedy, none the likes of which had ever, or has since been experienced by the small and closely-knit people of the British Virgin Islands.  Though the family had always been, and continue to be well respected, everyone had lost someone, or knew someone that was aboard when the Fancy Me went down.  Most of us knew of the incident, as we often heard of the loss of the Fancy-Me, but sooner or later would come to realize how little we also knew about it. Feelings ran as deep as the pain that remained, so little was ever said by family members or others within the families that had experienced the tragedy; and blame was hardly spared.  Many of us sensed a measure of respect and admiration that was tinged with some distrust as we grew up.

Fancy Me Schooner Anchor

Fancy Me Schooner Anchor

In 1998, one member of the family, with the help of her father who interviewed perhaps the last two survivors,  obtained verbatim but almost identical accounts of the incident some fifty years later – as though it had happened yesterday.  “ Such Are the Hours to Find Peace: Intimate Accounts of the Loss of the Fancy-Me” recounts those two accounts, together with other accounts as they had been passed on through the years. Dr. Smith’s earlier writing as part of the story of the family, had been released.  She described it then as a personal item that closes a loop, but also one from which she hoped that others would come to learn a great deal concerning the history, people and culture of those times.

Janet D. Smith, Ph.D. is a native of the Virgin Islands.  She grew up on Tortola with her parents, Wilfred W.  Mrs. Cheddena (Nibbs) Smiht.  Dr. Smith, a higher education administrator, now lives in Jacksonville, Florida.   She has worked at the University of the Virgin Islands as well as at Universities in Ohio, New York and California.  Dr. Smith’s earlier writing on the “Fancy Me” is part of a 1992 description of the descendants of Jacob Wilson Smith a family known throughout the Virgin Islands for their citizenship, varied professional and boat building skills.

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