Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Genealogist's Nightmare...

I have been working very hard for almost two years now on writing a book about my African American ancestors. It has been the most challenging and rewarding project I've ever done.

About a month ago, I decided it was time for self-publishing. I had all of the text and photos laid out, I had done four rounds of editing with various friends, and I was pleased with the final result. That day, though, some new historical records became available for free online: the Alabama Statewide Deaths 1908-1974. It was a gold mine!!! I found so many records I could barely handle them all. But then my heart sank as I searched through records for the Magruders and found this:

Name: Annie B. Lampkins
Death date: 26 Nov 1940
Death place: Tuskegee, Macon, Alabama
Gender: Female
Age at death: 46y
Estimated birth year: 1894
Spouse's name: Simon Lampkins
Father's name: George Mcgruder
Mother's name: Sally Fitzpatrick

I found out that the Annie Belle Magruder (Demps) in MY family tree, my great-grandmother, is not the same Annie Belle Magruder whose parents are George Magruder and Sally Fitzpatrick. I linked her to the wrong parents. I'm very fortunate that I caught this HUGE error two days before I was going to publish my work!

Now my challenge is to find the right parents for my great-grandmother. So far, with these newly available death records, I have narrowed down two Annie B. Magruders that are NOT my ancestor: Annie B. Magruder Lampkins, mentioned above, and Annie Bell Magruder Appleby, whose parents are Lazarus and Lou Magruder (also mentioned in my family history). I am pretty much at a standstill until I can find the right parents, but because of the missing 1890 census, it will be a miracle when I find them.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Musings on Father's Day

"Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes." ~Gloria Naylor

I saw this quote and immediately thought of my grandmother, Nellie Booker Demps. During the last few months that she was in the nursing home, Jon and I would go to visit her. We took our laptop full of old photos of her family members, and we would show them to her. Even with Alzheimer's disease taking quite a toll, she remembered most of the names of the people in the photographs. Inevitably, we would come around to this photo:

And as soon as his face flashed on the screen, she would say, "That's my daddy, Joe Booker!" Even at 94 years old, he was still her "daddy." I don't know a lot about Joe Booker's life - mostly that he suffered the loss of his wife when she was only 34 years old - but he must have been something special to Nellie for her to speak his name with such love, almost 30 years after his passing.

Unfortunately, many of us don't have ideals relationships with our fathers. In fact, searching through my family tree for an especially good example of fatherhood revealed too many dysfunctional fathers! As I have searched for my ancestors, I have found that one thing is certain: fathers WILL be remembered. It is up to them to live their lives such that they will leave behind a legacy of honor and love. May all men have the desire to earn the love and respect of their daughters, sons, and wives, so that their names will be praised for generations after they are gone.