Presented by the North Carolina Genealogical Society
An invaluable resource to Southern and African American researchers, encompasses business and personal papers from numerous slave-holding families of the South. Decades of genealogical history, 1st account documents surface to struggling personal accounts of “familial” entanglements. The collection also includes cited instances of the enslaved named and perhaps inheriting property to the counted unnamed and sold into inheritances.
Dallas Public Library Associate and Owner of Black Genesis Genealogical Consulting Company, Ari Wilkin’s presentation will demonstrate the breadth of the collection, how to navigate and apply the records to personal research.
#workingmylines: I accept this challenge and dedicate this initiative to my Ancestral Guardian, my Maternal Grandfather aka “Stuff” hailing from Junction City, Louisiana. Iba’e, Iba’e tonnu
Paternal Grandfather: Claude Waters, Jr
birth: April 6, 1926, Junction City, LA | death: January 13, 1997, Oakland, CA
Claude Waters, Jr was born to the parents of Freadie Brooks and Claude Waters, Sr, both deceased. He accepted Christ at the age of 13 at Fellowship Baptist Church in Junction City, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Later he served on the usher board at Mt. Lebanon, in Darnell, LA. Developing a strong work ethic at a young age, he learned how to work on the farm, driving tractors and trucks.
Junction City, LA is the twin City of Junction City Arkansas
The family headed West part of the Second Great Migration, post Depression with aspirations to elevate their economic plight, landing in West Oakland, California. Married to Elsie (Culverson) Waters at age 18, their first home was on Campbell St. and Willow Manor down the street, was the local school his children attended. He obtained early work with industry giant, Owens Illinois Glass Company, during World War II. Drafted for service to the United States Armed Forces for 2 years, my Grandfather later worked at the Oakland Army Base in materials handling as an equipment operator. After furthering his education at Merritt College he worked professionally for the State of California in Landscaping and Highway Maintenance for 26 years, availing the Family
home we know today in what is known as the Fremont area; they were the first Black Family on the block as his children attended the local Fremont Highschool while others attended, Castlemont and Oakland Technical Highschool.
Maybe around 2003, I was bestowed with a rare opportunity to revisit my Grandparents’ first digs on Campbell Street, as it was then owned by enterprising West Oakland “Black moguls” who were acquiring real estate; Through a close friend, I’d also learn that a New Orleans couple that I knew, were slated to purchase it and so I arranged access to take a private tour. By cell phone, my Mom guided me through each room, vividly depicting who stayed where, including her Grandmother “Sug” in the “Mother-in-law” room. When I told my Maternal Grandmother, Mama Elsie of this, we were all pretty excited about the couple of purchasing the home as they were still in escrow, yet my she’d mindfully warn – get the keys!
When my Grandfather transitioned in January 1997, it was like the spoke of a wheel had broken, leaving the wheel to topple over struggling to balance — Family. He was a 25 member of the Masons, with membership to Monarch Lodge #73, Menelik Temple #36 and the Victoria Consistory, he was also the President of the Scimitar Club for 2 years. He was that pillar and visionary who surpassed risks, didn’t accept “I can’t” and firmly encouraged our productivity, progressive action and no-nonsense; he still was a lot of fun and laughs and could out run ALL of his track star grandchildren in jeans, with his house slippers on and a cigarette in his mouth. *smh* My Grandmother called him a “risk-taker” for which we are all grateful to him to this day, as we STILL remain property owners in Oakland.
If it weren’t for the positive encouragement of my Grandparents, I wouldn’t have taken such a dedicated interest in Family History extending to Geneaological research. Upon many attempts I’ve worked to crack “the mystery” surrounding my Grandfather’s paternal line. I’ve heard the ‘lore of half-sisters one day, estranged family members asking for money another day, yet NO NEW INFO today, this is where Ancestral grace will kick in. Some years back, I did learn from his draft registration card, his Father,
Commemorating Lo’Eshe Lacy, killed in a West Oakland shooting at age 16 @hoodline.com
Claude Waters, Sr was previously married to a Daisy Rose and the next of kin listed on the card was a “Raiford”“Rayford” ; In subsequent searches there’d be an absence of any information between the 1920’s and 1930’s, although I’ve located residence info cited in the 1930 U.S. Census. I’ve been poking in and around neighbor surnames on Census records as well, and even super-sleuthing information surrounding my great grandfather’s first wife Daisy Rose-Waters her 2nd husband and son , with no avail to any additional information.
According to my Elder Uncle, my Great-Grandfather would not speak of his parents, it was said he was pretty hush-hush about his Family. Yet, my Grandfather’s life quest was to learn more about his paternal side – this quest was bequeathed unto me before he died. I’ve stay in the works to this date, destined to unearth the answers. And with the introduction of DNA testing, I have tenaciously encouraged, prayed, and coached 2 generations of our treasured Y-chromosome WATERS Men to rise to the occasion and help crack this Family code — my fingers are still crossed. // #workingmylines
archive photo:Owens Illinois Glass Company founded in Oakland, CA 1946 as plant number 20, drawing many to the West for war-time work, including my Grandfather; eventually the company was re-assigned as Owens-Brockway Glass Container Company for which my Brothers and I worked various shifts in East Oakland as teenagers.
#workingmylines — Such a wonderful way to share my Genealogy boudoir of stories about my Ancestors. I’ve accepted the #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge created by Professional Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow serving as a boost for those of us with aspirations to write Ancestral memoirs or a book; It’ll also serve as a creative outlet to elevate our narratives that educate Family about our Ancestors. My formal posts will be on Mondays weekly, yet with this pre-launch I begin with one of our foremost celebrated Matriarchs, whose 1st year observance of transition date recently transpired. My Auntie Selyah remains timeless near my heart. #givepraisetolife
Maternal Aunt: Selyah Glenn Waters
birth: July 24, 1948, Oakland, CA | death: May 30, 2017, Oakland, CA
My Second Mother My Mother’s 1st Sister, Middle-child Aunt Selyah…
Daughter, Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Iyakekere (Community Mother)
💛I grew up adoring this beautiful Black Priestess, ready for the World before most; She dared the Mysteries, challenged Drum rhythms, reasoned with Nyabinghi Rasta Elders, and danced in the fire, YES I; She spoiled us on Black-skillet-pineapple-upside-down-cake, intrigued us with ghost stories and always let me play in her fantastic wardrobe.
🔮Auntie introduced me to OHM, Jambalaya, A Course in Miracles and eating red clay; Auntie was a Warrior Spirit, Healer, Teacher, Root Woman, and Bebe to a 3-generation tribe, with a deeper heart that challenged the hearts of Men and those of us who loved her.
🌹In her anchor legged-years, She allowed me to care for her through playful resistance and sometimes brave fights; She got to Love Jamaica one last time, not before invoking the sweetest Love blessing atop of my head, a Family Matriarch first.
🗝I honor Her for such life-altering gifts, I transcend Her wisdom and blaze healing trails of ascension for our Matrilineal heritage. I Love you Auntie Selyah…still missing you in such a divine and personal way, grateful you are ascending, prayerful we all continue to do so. ~Selah
Traditional Dances steeped in West and Central African spiritual traditions, has invoked
DNA wisdom within me since the womb. I indentify with Òsùmàrè [Oxumaré – Brasilian Candomble] known as the “rainbow spirit” of Yoruba traditions holding dominion over the heavens and the earth bearing dual qualities of male and female; Òsùmàrè is the umbilical life-line of continuity’; this embodied concept permeates throughout the island of Haiti — undulating dance movements of Yanvalou, honoring the divine serpent duo known as lwa, Ayida-Wedo and Damballah-Wedo; where rainbow showers and white offerings activate writhing, from the cerebral cortex winding down to the coccyx. And in the Ancient star systems of the Dogon peoples exist the serpentine symbolism of the “double-helix”.
America’s noted discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953, propelled a Congressional proclamation called National DNA on April 25, 2003. This initiative transcended into an anniverserial event carried forward by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), now celebrating it’s 15th year.
DNA testing is a powerful tool for identification. ~DNA Diagnostics Center
DNA testing made accessible for home use?! seemed almost unbelievable. For African Americans on their quest to find their ROOTS marked an important benchmark in Family History Research. Yet, long before I considered taking a DNA test I needed to consider a few things:
1st Exorcise historical Family ‘lore, fears and myths concerning taking such a test, in light of how much surplus blood I’ve given at a many Doctor and or Medical visits.
2nd I actually LOVE biology and particularly became fond of our Genetics component, in High school. Although I was aware of MESA [Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement] my Mom was actually a Health and Safety Lab technician at Lawrence Berkeley Labs and anything less than an ‘A’ in Biology and Chemistry was unacceptable.
3rd It became apparent that I needed to immerse myself, so I took workshops with Field leaders and binged on very accessible tutorials by Ancestry.com on youtube.com. Learning about the discoveries of other African American Genealogists and Family Historians heightened my determination. It was the dynamic delivery of Mr. Shannon Christmas, experienced genealogist specializing in genetic, colonial American, and African-American genealogy in Virginia and the Carolinas, that tipped my scales. He’s well-versed, studied and a dynamic lecturer whose sought out expertise and encouragement invoked me to buy 23andMe immediately after his lecture at #Rootstech2017, Salt-Lake City, Utah. Since then, 4 generations of my maternal line are tested. I’ve taken a second test with Ancestry.com and planning my 3rd effort through FamilyTreeDNA.
Soooo, over 1500 DNA matches later, I am a deep diver of Family History research and highly advise that working YOUR lines is a must, as it often said by experts that Genealogy and DNA testing goes hand-in-hand. And while waiting for your results to come back, make certain to interview your walking history – the Elders in your Family and continue to build your tree. In special cases of adoption, I can share that DNA testing will enhance your investigation, along with Genea-friend kin support, with select educational online sources; Consider every piece of information as a clue towards your find. To this day, I’ve be in the service to locate biological parentage of cherished friends and DNA matches who are adopted; If there ever was a testimony to share, this area of Genealogy, DNA testing bears powerful impact of transformation.
That being said, take all of these cues of inspiration and further your right to learn about your birthright through your Ancestral codes. Testing opportunities are accessible, available and now on SALE. ~ workingmylines.org #workingmylines
#workingmylines Raw and Rooted! My fast-paced race walk on a journey has now gained wings, as I prepare to join thousands more to RootsTech 2018Genealogy/Technology Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ancestors are on the mainline and await your call…I am tried and TRUTH that no boundaries and no brick wall can keep you from your birthright.
#workingmylines from another angle, about 2-3 years ago I came across a U.S. Census document bearing the GULLEY surname of my maternal Family side. When I gleaned the record to learn that two of the Family members’ birthplace was cited “Africa” I was stunned! This was 1880, after emancipation and during an era in U.S. Census history where the names of the formerly enslaved were listed, beginning in 1870 for some areas. I held onto the document until I could corroborate shared Ancestry.
Recently, I watched the PBS series hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr “Finding Your Roots” featuring a segment on Producer and Grammy award-winning band member of The Roots, Questlove. A most compelling breakthrough in his Family history research was a similar document like mine citing “Africa” as the birthplace of his 3rd great-grandparents Charlie and Maggie LEWIS, my eyes bucked! Minutes later the episode whisked us through a phenomenally well-documented sojourn all the way to the Kingdom of Dahomey, today known as the Republic of Benin where a Southern planter “bought” and “illegally” shipped over 100 Africans on the “Clotilde”, 5 decades after the slave trade was abolished. What an extended version of a first time session, learning about your Family History all the way to the Motherland and back.
Distant cousins would then give Questlove a rare glimpse seeing that “his eyes” bear a strong Family resemblance to his Ancestor, Charlie LEWIS.
By association, the historic proportions of this story are equally compelling to that of Cudjoe LEWIS, the last known survivor of the slave ship “Clotilde”. Being shipped to the sharecropping South as a teenager, after tireless attempts to return home, his clan eventually founded Mobile, Alabama’s historical “Africa town” with many of his descendants still living today as learned through Genealogist expert and #BlackProGen, Angela Raji Walton’s blog post-Jul. 2014 “The Heartache of Cudjoe Lewis”:http://bit.ly/2DqrhaE.
*whew* I was super excited and inspired by all of this, most certainly rocking the airwaves of PBS as well as the world of Genealogy; I anxiously fetched that “GULLEY” Census document
pulling an all-nighter determined to make sense of twirling Family branches, contacting member trees on Ancestry.com, vetting, corroborating, creating timelines [thank you Ms. Shelly Murhpy] prayers, intuition and taking cues from Ancestral hunches. And by dawn, I learned that those GULLEYS are indeed my continental African Ancestors.
Although I share a very truncated version of this story, today I remark that my research was straight paper, no DNA testing…Genealogical research is imperative in concert with additional technological and scientific methods. I immerse myself in study sessions, intensives and conference study that advance my expertise, often gaining cutting-edge
strategies that produce genealogical research break thru. Since 2013 #Dancestory2013 aka #nzoCALIFAncestry has been my trajectory of Community service, to illuminate the embodied Ancestral knowledge vested in Dance, Drum, and Cultural Artists in the Bay Area or those with guided intention to learn about their Ancestors.
My Maternal Matriarch is tenacious about learning and teaching Family History. And as I’ve just learned that my Grandmother’s DNA reports are in, my GULLEY Ancestral Matriarchs have shown me that when you call their names, they bless you with unimaginable wisdom, serving as your birthright.
I truly encourage your support as your Genealogy emissary and Community Ambassador, please continue to GIVE and SHARE these good works forward.
#nzoCALIFAncestry is my Community platform for cultivating Genealogy kinship and Ancestral/Communal Healing initiatives.
On a rainy Sunday, November 26, 2017, one enters the double doors of the Community Room of the Oakland Main Public Library, [OPL] interested to research their Family History, open for messages and possibilities. By the day’s end [literally] the room had indeed been imbued by an early evening of compelling Family stories shared, stories passed down and some in fragments; one attendee brings 2 stacks of Family data research, another brings a table long chart of her Family Tree – this session is primed. #RiteOn
We began this day getting right to work to chart our Family tree on a template provided, instrumental to guide the attendees’ next steps in their research. The room was prayed up and prepared to receive 16 faithful and determined Family members who openly gave voice to their Ancestors’ by calling out their names, as those in the room who shared a common surname echoed back in response:
We also cite the places our Ancestors traveled and sojourned; including those who were shipped and or sold away, migrated through many regions, across waters, trails, and areas such as:
Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Texarkansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Chile, China, Haiti, Ireland, Italy, Liberia, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, and California.
As our aural senses were briefly disturbed by outside bellows of anger and resentment being ushered out of the Library’s temporary cove, we braced ourselves and re-centered with deeper focus. [Bless ’em] Each member was steadfast to share their story, even with gentle time warnings. [I, feeling like biting my nails, carefully glancing at the time] I stay mindful recognizing that the room had become safe space. For some, it was their first time and their hearts desire to find a Father or learn more about that unknown great from the South, while others wanted to expand a Family line — all knowing that everyone in the room is genuinely listening with shared intentions in kinship; As a Genealogist / Teaching Artist I was elated, and as a conductor I respectfully surrendered to the process.
My keychain arsenal holds over 23 library cards from throughout the country, I love libraries! It was a distinct pleasure to introduce the OPL’s Genealogy and Historical Records online to aid in their Family History research. With some surprised and others eager to dive in, the time had prospered forward to put research into motion, and so we began with the Ancestry.com’s Library Edition. Each attendee started with “that Ancestor” and was guided through each search prompt, aided by a few additional tips to advance the search in cases of the unknown:
Add Mother and Father or sibling
List the State and Country if you don’t know City
Estimate birth and death year
List known resident locations
Clarify “Race/Nationality” prompt [Ancestry.com]
The minute each attendee, pushed Ancestry’s “search button” a quiet stir hit the room; heads were hunched down tenaciously gleaning U.S. Census records to locate “that Ancestor”. According to the nation’s “oldest record keeper” the National Archives and Records Administration [NARA]
“Census records can provide the building blocks of your research, allowing you to both confirm information, and to learn more.” ~ NARA website
I’ll add that Census takers are human too *wink*. In the next moment, an unknown Father’s information was located; Hmmm looks like there’s more than one Family member with the same name, how could this be true? Another’s Family line extends a generation, while further research by a 1st session attendee, leads to documents from the Philippines corroborating her “Tan” connection.
[now we’re over time] A school bell rings in my head, reminding me of my Mama Georgia’s saying “Play time is ovah, time to come on in”. As a Professional Dance Teacher, I now urgently give cues to relentless minds now locked in on finding out more and announce to make preparations to gather in a circle. The room was now filled, and so was every attendee filled with discoveries made possible by their Ancestor’s presence. I’m deeply humbled, I am too filled, yet remain reticent to skillfully guide us into the ’round — hands clasped, hearts full, Ori-centered to release, give thanks, align and “Give Praise to Life”. *breath*
Egun Ire’o, Egun Iba’se //R. Califa Calloway, #nzoCALIFAncestry
Follow my latest campaign and Sophomoric journey to the Genealogy Mega-Conference #Regina2RootsTech2018, Salt Lake City Utah; I’m cultivating Genealogy / Family History/ Ancestral kinship sessions and taking names to advance my expertise and training in Genealogical methods, research strategies, and Technology.
#nzoCALIFAncestry Genealogy kinship service welcomes Cultural Presentations, Conference and Panel invite; I am enthusiastic about Intentional Retreats & Inner-Circle gatherings that facilitate Communal & Ancestral Healing works. Dedicated to restoring Family Charters, I partner in Personal Development and Transformation initiatives as Family Reunions and Family gatherings are a fave. Contact me today, and let’s envision.
Woke up on the 3rd Day of #ROOTStech conferencing, WHIPPED from all of the frenzy of information as the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center is huge, boasting “515,000 square feet (47,800 m2) of exhibit space, 164,000 square feet (15,200 m2) of meeting space including a 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) grand ballroom, and 66 meeting rooms.”* There were tens of thousands in attendance, over 200 sessions to choose from, with an Innovator Summit in tow and the most concise Genealogy EXPO one can attend in field knowledge, industry and education planting supple training grounds– whew, Salt Lake City breeds Genealogy and Ancestor research.
My head says stay guided, so after my morning meditations, I turn on the television looking for Gospel programming and as loud as day, this message broadcasts:
“Your spiritual bloodline will always overpower your natural bloodline”
LOL, Pastor Joel Olsteen’s Sermon of the day, I got it! Paraphrased, learn who you are, for your are destined for greatness. He went on to cite “Your spiritual bloodline will always overpower your natural bloodline.” POW, I resonate with this through a legacy of study of African Spiritual traditions and deep reverence for Native American Ancestral propitiation; I am also further inspired that the very root of our Family Spiritual beliefs, is aligned with this overarching message. Generations of social challenges, dysfunctional Family cycles, incomplete rites of passage breeds an insurmountable occurrences of psycho-spiritual calamity in our African Ancestored communities.
Senior Cousin Donald Culverson, Ph.D.Associate Professor, Governor’s State University, Chicago, IL
Trumpeting MAAGI at #ROOTStech, I’ve learned under the auspices of fantastically intelligent minds decoding Ancestor codes and destroying “brick wall” theories. Our Ancestral codes tell us more than where we come from, they give inference as to how we lived, what codes of success we can be inspired by to further prosper our lives; one can learn about Family medical history to chromosomal defects that may affect childbearing and rearing aspirations. One common tenet I’ve learned in my own Family research and personal sojourn is that my folks were devout Spirit people, and yes CHURCH was at the helm. The partnering tenet was education, for as soon as it was made accessible to them without the lash of a whip or “Holy terror” tactics, my maternal second great-grandfather James “Gabe” Coleman born in 1870 Alabama, attended Tuskegee Institute, his granddaughter my maternal grandmother [living] went to Southern and today my niece attends New York University [NYU]. As there are a number of Educational success stories in our family, there also exists specialists who were administrators for Oakland Unified School District for over 30 years, College and University Professors in Chicago and Bakersfield to President of Merritt College in Oakland, California. Others of us are Teachers in Special Education and Arts and Cultural enrichment programs, to licensed and credentialed Health Care Professionals serving as Registered Nurses and Social Welfare Counselors.
Post conference, I was privilege to receive an invitation by one of Salt Lake City’s proud natives and Church member Brother Stephen Debies via his partner Sister Robyn Cherry to attend the historical Calvary Baptist Churchorganized in 1896. This special Church produced voices of inspiration that lit up African Heritage Dayat ROOTStech, lifting up thousands in attendance. On 1st Sunday in Salt Lake City, Calvary’s Activist and Pastor, France A. Davis shared inspiration from the word that day** what we have received, we ought to put it to good use in God’s kingdom and minister to one another… offering up the day’s Sermon, “A Good Steward of the Manifold Grace of God”. I often believe that at their very best, Family Elders work hard to provide and want their families to do well often battling and balancing the course of Family hardship. In this course, I count my blessings daily and strive to stay inspired in my service works to produce spiritual efficacy to overcome these challenges as Pastor Davis’ sermon further speaks about “manifold grace” — manifesting itself in one way to serve my needs whereby my needs met, can begin to serve another.[Calvary Baptist notes forthcoming]
I share this teaching moment… On the last day of #ROOTStech although it was nearly the end of the conference, I rushed to strategize a question to illicit some of the expertise that the “Coaches Corner” had to offer, knowing that the appointments were probably filled — yet the “face drop” response to my inquiry regarding my African American 3rd great grandfather led me to believe, I simply got an expert who didn’t specialize in “my area” as she responded with swift empathy. I knowing that African Ancestored Genealogy is deeply entrenched in World History, I pressed forward calibrating my question resulting in the familiar database response checks. CHECK! Out of time, no problem, “I’m all the way up,” next stop post conference Family History Library research — STILL STOKED.
Scripture inspiration offers that “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). The harrowing nature of American History and slavery might have broken a many Spirits, yet at the same time, many chains of slavery were broken through the might of Spirit and Faith from liberation to emancipation.
Honor the “walking history” of wealth that dwell among you — your Elders! Listen, learn, record and chart their stories, we can benefit from their embodied knowledge; We are that much more abundant transcending the yoke of our Ancestors. And if you don’t know that by now, then start counting your blessings, starting with your breath; drink from the fountain of Ancestral wealth, be full and then refresh the cup of another. Today, my cup runneth over as I finally send off my first DNA test and skip over to the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. ~ #workingmylines
*[Salt Palace – Wikipedia]
** Feb. 12, 2017 note: Sermon by Reverend Dr. Frances A. Davis, Calvary Baptist Church, SLC, Utah
~MAAGI: Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute – July 11th – 13th 2017: www.maagiinstitute.org/
~RootsTech 2018: February 28-March 3, 2018 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
…I’ve come too far to turn back now. Since 2009, the fascinating stories of Genealogy bloggers kept me engross in the intrigue and unearthing finds of African American agents like myself, interested to rebuild their Family Trees, inspiring others along the way. 6 or 7 years later, I weather the daunting trail ways of researching my Family History, 4 lines strong and write about them– Maternal: Waters and Culverson and Paternal: Calloway and Hunter. This journey began as a Family History project, expanding into life works, serving as an important resource tool giving me greater technological and field research access that’d facilitate me working my lines. So far, utilizing associative Genealogical tools of investigation, like researching blood types, analyzing DNA tests, to altering your health and nutrition lifestyle changes can positively impact your code of behavior, that just may extend your life.
Tips, Testimonies and Genealogical triumphs serving as fuel to power my mission forward to blog about the byways and pathways of my Ancestors. #wRiteOn
’tis a courageous feat to tell the stories of those who are no longer here, yet our African Ancestral Spiritual traditions stand as Ancient practice influencing leading Spiritual philosophies the World over. I benefit by birthright to access these sacred codes encoded my life script. So to this date, in firm dedication forward, I shall BLOG MORE ABOUT MY ANCESTORS.*and thinking on a Master Plan* ~R. Waters Calloway
Southern California-– I am a double Family descendant belonging to the Coleman and the Culversons on my maternal side and at the helm hails my 90 year old Grandmother Elsie Waters, daughter of Mabel Coleman and Cleveland Culverson of West Carroll Parish, Louisiana. My Grandmother along with my Grandfather married as “Waters” although they had known each other since my Grandmother was 13 years old. They moved to West Oakland, California at the end of WWII and bought their 1st piece of property on Campbell Street.
Our Southern California Colemans and Culversons were the host for this year’s Family Reunion. I was absolutely thrilled to be in attendance, to share my love for Family History at the same time to speak with Elders who would know the story beneath the story of the many living Elders and their descendants and of our celebrated Patriarch, Perry Coleman. Tis a major feat to bridge the convening of these double cousins, yet Coleman and Culverson Families have organized reunion for nearly 17 years. I am fortunate to have been a part of the Northern California branch to launch its first Family History pamphlets and books in 1993, inspired by my Grandfather Claude Waters Jr, these efforts forwarded to this day by my Grandmother Elsie Waters – Today there are 5 pieces of self-produced booklets, with another project underway.
Coleman & Culverson Family Reunion pix
[upper lft] Family Matriarchs
[upper rt] Taking notes in consultation with Family Elders at the table.
[btm left] Bakersfield 2017 Family Reunion Announcement by Cousins O.C. and Odella Johnson
[btm right] In the grand scheme of things, nothing else matters but the love and compassion that we show to one another. ~Pastor J. R. Coleman The Word Community Church, Fresno, CA
I woke up this morning in a comfortable embryo position, finding my tear ducts filled, with a soft weep at its brink, eased by a smile and a deep longing for that solid presence, and in consolation knowing that HE is still here and with me. It is my STUFF, us grand kids called him, born Claude Waters, Jr of Junction City, Louisiana in 1926 to Freadie Roe and Claude Waters, Sr.
Driving a tractor at the age 14, and taking care of his parents since he was a teen, my grandfather was quite accustomed to working with his hands and tilling the earth. Extremely resourceful in his community and among family, he was a quiet guided Spirit, and the life of a party, yet firm in his vision and could easily galvanize his resources in people and through his work ethic to make things happen. Then, although he was met with a hesitancy by his childhood friend and his first love about the idea of getting married, he patiently awaited and kept it moving and soon after, the two would reunite in California where Claude and Elsie came to be, raised a family of 5 and took care of his Mother in West Oakland.
Their first home was on Campbell St. and Willow Manor was the local school his children attended, he worked for the Owens Illinois Glass Company, served 2 years for the United States Armed forces, later working at the Oakland Army Base in materials handling as an equipment operator. After furthering his education at Merritt College he worked professionally for the State of California in Landscaping and Highway Maintenance for 26 years, availing the Family home we know today in East Oakland, they were the first Black Family on the block as his children attended Fremont Highschool and Castlemont Highschool. Maybe around 2003, I was bestowed with a rare opportunity to revisit my grandparents’ first digs on Campbell Street, as it was then owned by enterprising West Oakland aspiring “Black moguls” who had acquired this real estate; Through a close friend, I’d also learn that a New Orleans couple that I knew, were slated to purchase it and so I arranged access for me take a tour. By cell phone, my Mom guided me through each room, vividly depicting who stayed where, including her grandmother “Sug” in the “mother-in-law” room. When I told my grandmother of this, we were all pretty excited about the couple purchasing the home as they were still in escrow, yet my Grandmother mindfully warned – get the keys!
When my grandfather passed in January 1997, it was like the spoke of a wheel lifted, leaving the wheel to topple over trying to balance – Family. He being a 25 member of the Masons, with membership to Monarch Lodge #73, Menelik Temple #36 and the Victoria Consistory, he was also the President of the Scimitar Club for 2 years. He was that pillar and visionary who surpassed risks, didn’t accept “I can’t” and firmly encouraged our productivity, progressive action and no nonsense; he still was a lot of fun and laughs and could out run ALL of his track star grandchildren in jeans, with his house slippers on and a cigarette in his mouth. *smh* My grandmother called him a “risk-taker” for which we are all grateful to him for this day, as we are STILL property owners in Oakland.
Today, I ponder at the fact that I wouldn’t have taken up such a dedicated interest in Geneaology research, if it weren’t for the positive encouragement of my Grandfather. I have upon many attempts worked to crack “the mystery” surrounding his Father’s people. I’ve gotten the lore of half-sisters one day, estranged family members asking for money another day, yet NO INFO even though there’s a wealth of technological access today in Genealogical research. The #AncestorChallenge attached below was the result of a task placed before members of the The African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research (AAGSAR)led by #Genealogy buff Ms. Luckie Daniels, as she was most definitely a welcomed catalyst, with an adjoined “No Brick Walls” policy. Tenaciously, I did learn from his draft registration card, that my great grandfather Claude Waters, Sr was married prior to our Sug, and the next of kin listed on the card was a “Raiford” “Rayford”; in subsequent searches there’d be an absence of any information between the 1920’s and 1930’s, although I located residence info cited in the 1930 census. Been poking in and around neighbor surnames on Census records as well, and even super-sleuthing information surrounding my great grandfather’s first wife Daisy Rose-Waters her 2nd husband and son , with no avail to any additional information yet.
…so today with a gentle nudge from my Grandfather “STUFF”, I contacted select cousins and all of his children my Mom, Uncle and Aunts to share the message to physically honor their Father, my Grandfather as it is the light he deserves. And I thank those who responded, for the alignment needed with fervor to keep #workingdalines.
For today Daddy Stuff, I’ve picked back up your paternal line as it is now added to my research docket today. #AncestorsSpeak #workingmylines