Monday, December 22, 2008

Life has settled….

….a little. Life changes constantly whether you want it to or not. Since my last post, I have moved, maintaining our family database, started working on scanning pictures, maintaining the family website and generally keeping busy.

The life changing event is the move. Don’t really want to elaborate but, I believe everything happens for a reason.

Now that I seem to have a little more time on my hands, and the projects are well on their way, I can get back into my research. I took a few months off because I was feverishly trying to get our first family newsletter out (Cousin Connections) by the first of December. Mission accomplished! With the help of family members on input and editing, the newsletter went out and the feedback has been great! The next issue is scheduled for March 2009.

We also have an ISSN. For those of you who don’t know, an ISSN is a unique 8-digit number used to identify print or electronic periodical publications. The benefit of having this is, our newsletter will be available for generations to come.

I may have created enough buzz with the family that they have started looking for the cemetery off of Mill Pond road. Heard it thru the grapevine, that some family members have actually taken pictures of some headstones at other cemeteries. I’m excited and hope to see those soon.

Thanks to Wendy who tagged me. I didn’t get a chance to complete it, but I appreciate being tagged and that I was still thought of during my hiatus!!

I plan on taking a research trip in February (depending on the weather) to Elizabeth City. This will be my first one and I'm excited about doing hands on research. Maybe I can find the court records that put my 2nd great grandmother, Cora Spence, in jail.

I don't want you to think that I disappeared. I'm still here and will be in genealogy mode full force come the beginning of the year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


With writing a newsletter and the holidays coming up, I hadn't had much time for research. I also hadn't had that urge to focus on anyone particular for a while. Maybe my ancestors are busy too. I don't feeling them guiding me towards an ancestor, but I do feel them guiding me towards unity.

See, with my family, we have had a separation for far to long. For reasons unknown to me, Spence-Lowry family has been a bit divided. This is my own opinion. My family may not agree, however it does appear that way. So, my quest has been to try to unite my family. The 2 sisters that married 2 brothers.

Usually our family reunion consists mostly of 1 sister and brother's family. The Bessie and Ed side. However on the Rosa and Enoch side, very few come to the reunion. I can understand why. But, I'm not going to air that on here. But, what I want for the coming years is for both sides of the family to feel connected. I don't want one side to feel more or less important than the other. There is a reason why we call it the Spence-Lowry family. Because it's the 2 sisters that married the 2 brothers. We are strongly connected and we should remain that way.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Contacting the Living

Since my family reunion, I haven’t done much genealogy research. With economic stresses in my life, my mind hadn’t been too focused on genealogy. However, it has been focused on family.

I started a family newsletter. The first one will be sent out in December 2008. I’ve requested an ISSN for the newsletter so the Library of Congress will keep each issue on record. I figure future generations will have something to look back on.

I have also been contacting the living. We have a large family but we barely know each other. More importantly, we barely see each other. There are cousins that I have never seen. Well, these past few weeks, I have been calling those family members. Of course, every phone call begins with “Hi, this is A. Spence, I’m the great granddaughter of Bessie” just so they know who I am.

I’m so glad that I have done this. In the beginning I truly thought that I was going to have resistance to the phone calls and questions. But, everyone that I called has been forthcoming with information. Not only that, they have been so giving with other ‘living’ family members #’s and addresses. Everyone seems to love the idea of uniting the family and hopefully in the coming years, well the most distant of cousins coming to the reunions.

But, I believe the happiest thing was finding out that I have a cousin in FL. All these years, thinking that my family and my uncle’s family were the only ones in FL, I learned that I have a 3rd cousin living about 4 hours from me. She doesn’t know me and I don’t know her but we talked for a while last night.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm still here!


I haven't blogged in a while but I wanted to let you know that I'm still here. I've been a little stressed about my job lately due to the current market. My company was bought by another and I won't know the status of my position until December 1st.

So, with that, I haven't had the push to do research although I feel my ancestors invading my daily thoughts about it.

Anywho, just wanted to say HELLO and I'm still here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Changing my Surname

I have been debating with this issue for some time. My fiancé and I intend on getting married in the near future. However, I haven’t decided whether or not to take his last name.

I have lived with mine for 30 years. Why change it because of marriage? Granted I do like the nostalgia of it, however, I don’t want my path lost. I am a Spence and do I really want to change my name to someone else’s surname? What about mine? Is my surname so unimportant that I have to get rid of it? I don’t belong to him. Marriage is such a partnership but most of the time, women is expecting to take on his last name. Let me stop before I get on my feminist soap box.

I didn’t have the foresight of giving my children my surname when they were born. I wish I had. However, they do have an Ethiopian middle name that will be my families naming tradition.

Back to the subject.

What do you think? Should a woman change her name to her husbands upon marriage?

Monday, September 15, 2008

I heart you too!

YAH!!!!! I love being linked on blogs but to top that off, Msteri at Heritage Happens nominated me for the “I heart your blog”! Thank you Thank you Thank you. When I started this a few months ago, my goal was to saturate the internet with Spence-Lowry information. I’m glad to make some GF’s (Genealogy Friends) along the way.

Now for the rules.

The rules associated with this tag are as follows:

1. Can put the logo on his/her blog
2. Must link to the person who gave the award
3. Must nominate 7 other blogs and link to them
4. Must leave a comment on each of the nominated blogs
And the 7 blogs are:

Our Georgia Roots by Mechie
George Geder
Sasha’s Roots by Sasha
Geneablogie by Craig
All My Branches by Wendy
AnceStories by Miriam
Thanks for this nomination, I will wear it proudly on my blog chest!!!!
Now, I'm off to let the others know I heart them too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Oh My Genealogy!!!!!!!!

Mechie once told me to “the Ancestors are assisting us” and George Geder always ends his posts and comments with “Guided by the Ancestors”. Unless you research your family tree, you won’t understand this. However, those of us who are can feel themselves being lead in a certain direction.

Yesterday, while going thru my spreadsheet of ancestors, I stopped at Martha Lowry (B: 1899, D: 1916). She was only 16 when she died and I had already looked at her death certificate. The cause of death was unknown and the informant was James Armstrong, not her parents, which I thought was odd. Martha is the sister of the 2 sisters that married 2 brothers. However, yesterday I looked at the death certificate again and noticed something that I didn’t see before.

Place of Burial: Mill Pond Ground.

How did I miss this earlier?!?!?!?!?!?! Could this be the Hinton Burial Ground that has been eluding me for the past year?!?!

I have asked SEVERAL family members that live in Pasquotank and no one knows about the Hinton Burial Ground. However, after speaking to my dad about this one day, he did mention about a burial ground down the street from my great grandmothers house (Mill Pond Road). The same street several of my relatives have lived for YEARS! So, in recent days, I have asked several family members about burial grounds on Mill Pond Road. Low and behold, several family members remember a burial ground off a dirt road about 1 mile down the street.

I got chill bumps yesterday when I spoke with one of my cousins about it and he confirmed. If this is the Hinton Burial Ground, it’s an important piece of our family. The parents of our Spence-Lowry connection are buried here. Typing this is giving me chills!!!!!

I got chill bumps this morning when I spoke with my Cuz Tina and told me what her father said. “My father said that there is a cemetery on Mill Pond road. It's at the end of the road.”

The hairs on my arms stood up for at least 2 minutes. I just kept thinking this must be it!!!!!

My dad is going to Pasquotank this weekend for a funeral. I’ve asked him to see if he could find this burial ground and take a picture.

If it is still there, I intend to make it my mission to get this restored.

*Update- I went back and looked at other siblings of Martha Lowry an found a sister of that was buried at Mill Pond Burial Ground also.*

**Update again-I was clicking on the Pasquotank County NC Gen Web site and then clicked on the Pasquotank County Government link. Wouldn't you know, the county is trying to identify these unknown cemeteries!! I think I found mine.**

View Larger Map

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Now What?!?!

Now that my family reunion is over, I’m feeling a little lost on what I should do next. Of course I’m researching my family tree, but I had a project. It was to present the family tree at the reunion. Project completed. NOW WHAT?

I have several ideas in the works. Still working on the family website and trying to decide should I have one or convert it to the site. If I keep the website, I want to have pages for all branches of my tree (Spence, Lowry, Banks, McCoy). We’ll see what happens.

I plan on starting another project called “Millpond Project”.

I’ve been told for many years that everyone on this road is family. Now, I aim to prove it. After doing some quick research on a few different people on that road, I have been able to connect them back to my tree. In addition, since these are living family, I won’t be posting about them just their ancestors.

I am working on a mystery regarding a cousin. I didn't have the pleasure of knowing him since he passed before I began this journey. He was the nephew of my great grandfather, Aaron Edward Spence. However, when I asked how. Of course, no one could tell me. Prior to the reunion, I was able to track his daughter down and ask her some questions about her father. It's amazing what information you can find. More about this mystery on another blog.

The family network site is going well, and I like it much better than a Yahoo or Google group since it doesn’t have to be tied to having one type of e-mail address to use it. Thanks to Mechie for introducing it to me and thanks to my family who have signed on and invited more family to join!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesdays...

New addition to the family. How do you add him to the tree?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


My family reunion was this past weekend (22-24) and we had a great time!

Friday night was the Meet & Greet. I got to see family I hadn’t seen in many years. BUT, I met my 2nd cousin 2 times removed (see the bottom of blog for figuring that out). His grandfather, Preston Banks, and my 3rd Great Grandmother, Harriet Banks, were siblings.

I had previously researched his grandfather’s family. So, when my uncle introduced us and explained who he was, I did what most genealogists would do. I started rattling off who he’s the son, grandson, great grandson of..on both sides of his tree. I think he was pretty impressed by the fact that not only did I know about his Banks side, but I knew about his mother’s Williams side as well.

On Saturday, my fiancé and I went around town. I got some things marked off my list. I visited the FRSNNC which I am a member of and met the President, Sharon Gable. It was a pleasure meeting her b/c I have e-mailed her often for assistance with my family research. Then we went by the library to pick up a copy of an article that the genalogist made for me. It cost me a whole $.10 to get. Then we went exploring.

I wanted to see if I could find my great grandmothers house. I was going off of memory and we just started driving. After a couple of wrong turns, we found it.

The beautiful thing about this is, alot of my family stays on this one road. So all we had to do is park the car and visit with more family.

Saturday night was amazing. Going to our banquets is like going to church. My uncles, The Spence Brothers, are gospel singers in Elizabeth City and they sing at many of the churches there. Every reunion, they sing and it makes you want to get out of your seat. We also had another gospel group come and sing. I don’t have the name of them but they were outstanding. When I get their name, I’ll update the post. When I say that the guy singing “Never would have made it” sounded EXACTLY like Marvin Sapp…that is no exaggeration.

My presentation of the family tree and our history went over well. I think it sparked a lot of interest in the rest of the family by seeing how much work I’ve done over the past year. My only regret is that more of Enoch and Rosa descendents weren’t in attendance. However, I employed my daughter to collect everyone’s address, phone # and e-mail address and she did an amazing job!

Sunday was our farewell cookout. I spent most of the time visiting with family, collecting more addresses for my database and taking pictures.

This weekend I took over 150 pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a group photo. There was so much to do and so little time. Hopefully next year, that will be accomplished.

But I can say that I can't wait to go back on a research trip! Especially since I've learned the city!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Final Project Completed!

I just finished the poster that I'm doing for my family reunion. I almost felt like it was a school project that I better get an 'A' on!!

Hopefully my family will appreciate this and enjoy it. Better yet, they'll open up and hand over some stories and photos.

One question though..Should I add something like 'Completed by A. Spence'?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


All I have to say is this: You have a Ancestry, Footnote, account that you're paying $XX.XX per month for. However, if you are African American/black and have used the Afrigeneas website, you should donate. It is the most valuable place on cyberspace that black people have. To keep it going and keep connected with other researchers, we need to donate.

You can even have them link you on the sponsor's page so that I will help promote your website/blog.

Afrigeneas will keep you connected with everything from Adoption to Writing. With the amount of visitors the site has, it doesn't have nearly enough people donating. I just wanted to encourage anyone that was 'thinking' of doing so, to go ahead and do it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Annie Jones (McPherson)

This is Annie Jones. She is the daughter of William Henry McPherson (B: 1872) and Hattie E. (Bouges) McPherson (B: 1877, D: 23 May 1923). This article was in the family book my aunt made. It had no caption that indicated a connection to our Spence-Lowry family. Just that she was the sister of Zelna Hinton (McPherson).

The other day, I got one of those wonderful “I found your profile on” e-mails. I love those! I don’t care if it’s about my family or the cousin’s husband’s sister’s family that is on my tree. I add everyone I find to my ancestry tree if I can connect them to someone. If a cousin got married, I add the husband and his family. You never know…this may lead to something.

And as it has, this has led someone finding additional piece of their family that they didn’t know existed (this article). The great thing is; she has the same pictures of William and Hattie McPherson that I do. Although mine are photo copies, it’s still great. That means there is a close connection between our families.

I posted this article for her. Here you go ‘cuz’.

You could help....

Now, I'm not asking for much. Just a little cooperation on your part. *smile*

  • Your voice mail must say “You have reached the descendants of Aaron Spence, please leave a message”
  • Your e-mail signature should read “Our ancestors are African American”
  • You’re required to have a 3 generation family tree on hand at all times.
  • Know where your precious photos are and who they were given too.
  • Scan them (at 600 dpi) before you hand them over to anyone.
  • Do not put tape on the front of the photo...PLEASE.
  • Stop claiming fake cousins – it’s nice and all…but..very confusing.
  • Attend the family reunion.
  • Give out your #. We are not telemarketers..we're family.
  • Everything is important, even that lil note you had from auntie such-n-such on the proper method of baking a pie.
  • When I say send all pictures, I really do mean all.
  • Tell me the whole story at once. No need to revisit with you 4 times and get 4 different versions.

That is all....for now....

Friday, August 15, 2008

American Legacy

One day, in a search for 'African American Magazine', I came across American Legacy. I had never heard of this magazine before and loved that it was for us. Not about Lil Wayne or Puffy. But about the little known black people in history that made a difference. I loved it.

After going thru the site, they have a family reunion page for you to list your family reunion. Of course, I listed mine. However, if you scroll all the way to the bottom, there is a link for 'Family Reunion Sample'.

What they do is offer a discount subscription for the attendees. I thought that was awesome. So, I sent an e-mail to the person. This was about 2 months ago.

Today, when I came home I had 6 boxes at my front door. In each of the 5 boxes contained 40 copies of their magazine.
In the last box, contained about 250 or so copies of an actual family tree with our names printed on it and 250 copies of family group sheets.

I am so happy about this!! Do you know how much printing this saved me?!?!?!?!

Thank you American Legacy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sad Story.....

….about family memories lost.

When my Great Grandmother Bessie passed away, her things were divided. As many precious things, some her children didn’t know what to do with. So, they left them in her home to make a decision at a later date. Her home is in our family so there were no worries of anything happening to them.

However, one relative came to live in Grandma Bessie’s house after her passing. Many of her things were removed when this relative moved out. Such as: a picture of my 2nd great grandparents, William and Harriet Lowry. These were Grandma Bessie’s parents.

The story goes that this relative took the picture to take to ‘someone’ to get copies made. But, this ‘someone’ lost the picture. Nor does this relative remember who this ‘someone’ is now.

I hope this story is NOT true. I hope that the relative is just hoarding the picture and other belongs. I hope that they weren’t just lost due to irresponsibility. Something so precious just can’t be lost!

I know I’m early into my research and people having quite opened up completely to everything just yet. But, I hope and pray that this is something that will come to light soon.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Word of the day: Griot

I have never heard this word before today. Thanks Mechie for the new word.

I love to Google things I don’t know and of course when I read her comment on my other blog, I googled this word.

Griots are West African Story Tellers of family histories of a tribe. Now, when I read that, I thought “I’m mostly East African since my mom is from Ethiopia” But as I read further, the first person on the list of griots on Wikipedia is an Ethiopian man by the name of Ayalew Mesfin. And he seems to be the only Ethiopian listed.

Then I searched for him, and came across Ethiopiques. I’ll be ordering this CD for my mom when I get home.

My search also took me to this website, African American Griots. I never knew this existed. But, I quickly submitted my blog and surname info so I can be listed. As George Geder always says, "Guided by the Ancestors". This is a definite case of that.

My Calling

If you see on the lower right hand-side, I have about 20 surnames. Not all are blood lines to my tree. Most are the spouse, person on the census, or some other type of connection in my research. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to know more about them.

I believe that every black person in these counties are related me some kind of way. I’ve even found connection between my Cuz Tina’s paternal line and my family (her ancestors and mine married further up the tree-so we’re cousins a couple of times along the way)

I post all the surnames I come across because you never know who is reading. What if someone just so happens to be researching an Uncle that they knew about but didn’t really know?

I truly believe that this is my calling; connecting the dots on my tree with solid lines! And as I begin working on my presentation and try to think of what I’m going to say at my family reunion, I came across this poem that says it perfectly.

My feelings are in each family we are called to find the ancestors.
To put flesh on their bones and make them live again,
To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.
To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead,
Breathing life into all who have gone before.

We are the story tellers of the tribe.
We have been called as it were by our genes.
Those who have gone before cry out to us:
Tell our story.
So, we do.
In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.

How many graves have I stood before now and cried?
I have lost count.

How many times have I told the ancestors
you have a wonderful family, you would be proud of us?

How many times have I walked up to a grave
and felt somehow there was love there for me?
I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts.
It goes to who I am and why I do the things I do?
It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever
to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen.
The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.

It goes to doing something about it.
It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.
How they contributed to what we are today.
It goes to respecting their hardships and losses,
their never giving in or giving up.

Their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.
It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation.
It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us
That we might be born who we are.
That we might remember them.
So we do.
With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence,
Because we are them and they are us.
So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.

It is up to that one called in the next generation,
To answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.
That is why I do my family genealogy,
And that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

[Author: Della M. Cumming ca 1943.]

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wordless Wednesdays - Follow up

I don’t know who these people are. For some reason they were in the ‘family book’ my grand aunt made for the elders.

O.k. the picture of the 2 people are top are William Henry McPherson (B: 1872) and Hattie E. (Bouges) McPherson (B: 1877, D: 23 May 1923). They married in 1895 in Pasquotank County, NC. They had 9 possibly 10 children.

  • Tem McPherson (B: 1897) – He possibly married Penelope Griffin in 1915 in Pasquotank.
  • William Ernest McPherson (B: 1899). He married Georgia Temple in 1919 in Pasquotank.
  • Lillie M. McPherson (B: 1901)
  • Mabel L. McPherson (B: 1903)
  • Flossie Luciele McPherson (B: 1923). Possibly married Mavin or Malvin Griffin in 1923 in Pasquotank.
  • Carrie McPherson (B: 1909). Possibly married Joseph T. Williams in 1926.
  • Zelna (Zelda) McPherson (B: 1914). Married Rufus Hinton
  • Naomi M. McPherson (B: 1916).
  • Ruth McPherson (B: 1919)
  • David McPherson –Possibly married Emma Griffin in 1924. This is the one I’m not sure about.
Now, in the family book we have a picture of Annie Hinton. It states she is the daughter of Henry and Hattie McPherson. I believe that Ruth and Annie maybe the same person. I don’t know who these people are and in my research, I haven’t been able to connect them to the tree. So, maybe they were close friends of the family but no one really knows.

Now the article is about 5 generations of Negro farmers. I don’t know this family either. Based on the age of Margaret L. Hinton (90) in the article, I estimate it was written around 1937. According to the 1930 & 1920, census she was born 1851. The 1910 Census states she was born 1855. 1900 Census states she was born about 1848. 1870 she was born about 1846. She died on 11 Sept 1938.

I’ve contacted the Pasquotank Library for assistance on getting a better copy of the article.

Why are these people in the family book?

Maybe someone in cyberspace is looking for this tidbit of info.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

I have a GHD!

That’s right I have a Genealogy Hater Degree. I’ve helped my cuz research some of her family members..and yeah..i’m hatin a lil on the fact that her people owned property that can be traced. One of her surnames has been free since the late 1700’s. I’m a lil salty since I can’t even find my Spence’s before 1880 let alone the slave owners of the rest of my surnames.

I’m a lil perturbed that some folks on Afrigeneas are able to make connections to other folks on Afrigeneas like “Hey long lost cousin. I’ve been looking for you. When’s the reunion?” I get a lil frustrated when a blog buddy makes online connections. I always think…WHERE ARE MY PEOPLE??

Side Note: I did find my cuz Tina on She would be the only other person researching the family tree. (there cuz, you're not chopped liver! lol)

My dad has come to the conclusion that I’m probably the only one researching our family tree that includes the Spence-Lowry.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not mad at those that make their connections. I think it’s wonderful. But I always say, ‘Where are my people!!”

Of course, my frustration comes from something I always tell my cousin. “Everything isn’t online”. I know that I will have to make hands on genealogy trips to Pasquotank and Camden County in NC in order too make some headway. I also know that those who have found more info have done this. Next year, that’s my goal!

But then I get to thinking. I am like my GG grandfather, Aaron Spence, I don’t recall filling out a census in 2000. I was single and living in my own home with 1 child. So, in 72 years when my GG grand daughter is looking for her GG grand mother Al on the census, maybe she’ll find this long lost post about where I was in 2000. My daughter was 2 and I was 22. I was single. I bought my home that year and loved it. I was working at a mortgage company. Not yet interested in genealogy or who my ancestors were. Hope you find this and put me on the tree.

Love always,

Monday, July 28, 2008

Getting ready....

So, I’ve been working on our family book lately and I have 1 page completed. My reunion is coming up in August and my family wants to see why I’ve been calling them for the past year. It really amazes me that some members of my family (the elder ones) know nothing. It seems as though when my great-grandmother was telling the stories of family, a lot weren’t listening.

I’ve also been trying to figure out how I should present my research so far. My cousin suggested I do a large family tree on poster board so people can have a visual. Others suggested the same.
When I started researching my family tree, it began more as a curious mission. ‘Let’s see how far I can go’. Then it turned into irritation. ‘Why don’t you know who your family is!’ Then it turned into pride. ‘I know we’ve been here since at least 1866!’ I know feel a sense of responsibility to make sure I research as many family members on my tree. Even the 4th cousin twice removed. They’re still family. I’ve called myself the family historian. I’m claiming that title now.

"We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors; to put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family their story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. Genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts; instead, it is breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as if it were in our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story, and so we do. In them we find ourselves."-Author Unknown

It always amazes me those that are not interested in the family or their genealogy. I went to a family reunion this weekend for my fiancés family. I asked him “Why do they call it the Mahone-Knight?” He had NO CLUE. I was really saddened by it b/c I think it’s such a shame when WE don’t know who our family is.

Family is an extremely part of our lives and our families past lets us know the struggles they went thru. I hope I’m making my ancestors proud by making them have a voice in my future.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alfred Ferebee 1875-1923

This is who I believe to be my 3rd great grand Uncle Alfred Ferebee. I believe that Alfred is the half brother of William Lowry, my 2nd great grandfather.

I found Alfred’s death certificate on Ancestry. It stated he was murdered. The wonderful people at Pasquotank Library were able to send me an article regarding his murder. This is from The Independent, Friday 28, 1923.

The wording is a little hard to read, but it says:

“No One Understands Why Alex Jones Killed This Harmless Negro Tenant”

More or less mystery surrounds the killing of Alfred Ferebee, a negro farm worker at the home of Alex Jones, a prominent Newland Township farmer on the Newland Road, about ten miles from Elizabeth City. Jones is held for a preliminary hearing Friday morning under a $25,000 bond.

Ferebee was brought to the Community Hospital in Elizabeth City last Thursday night in a semi-conscious condition as a result of a blow on his head. He was put under options and died Sunday afternoon without regaining consciousness or making a coherent statement. The autopsy revealed that he had been dealt a crushing blow on the left temple, the blow fracturing his skull from a point over the left eye to a point just behind the left ear. It was a blow that might have been struck from the side or from behind, but could not have been easily dealt face to face. Jones will plead self defense.
Wow! I can’t even believe it. I don’t know the outcome of the case against Alex Jones. But I will be looking into that when I go to Elizabeth City in August. It does go on to say.

Alfred Ferebee was one of the most dependable and respectful negroes in Newland township. He had lived at peace with his neighbors all his life according to reports gathered by this newspaper. For 21 years he had lived in a little tenant house on the grounds of the late W. Frank Williams. He stuck by Mr. Williams during his life time and when Mr. Williams died, Alfred stuck by the widow of his former employer, worked her lands and did many of her chores. He was not a robust negro and is said to have been a consumptive.
My next step is to order the marriage certificate for Alfred Ferebee and Nancy Griffin. I'm curious to see who he lists as his parents.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

“Hi, you can call me Ally or AL”

I don’t know about you, but I come across a lot of nicknames in my family. I still have living family members that I still don’t know their real names. I learned that my grandmother’s name was really Hala Rose and not Bay Rose. Then I learned that the ‘Bay’ is just country for ‘baby’. So, now I can look back at my aunts who’s names I thought were ‘Bay (insert name here)’ and know that it was really just ‘Baby’. Crazy…I know.

My dad was telling me about our family reunion and that our cousin Bummy was coming down with us in FL. Since I have been researching our family tree, I haven’t come across a Bummy. I asked my dad who is BUMMY! He explained to me who he was. He was the son of ‘such n such’. But, I had to ask again to get the real name.

When my great grandmother Bessie died on May 3, 1998, my uncle was the one to call me. I remember that day. I was 9 months pregnant with my daughter and got a phone call that went like this:

ME: Hello
HIM: Hey Baby Girl, this is your Uncle Jeffrey. Grandma Bessie passed away.
ME: What? Who is this?
HIM: Al it's me Jeffrey.
ME: I don’t have an Uncle Jeffrey. WHO IS THIS?
HIM: *quieter voice* Al it’s your Uncle Kim.

I was 20 when this happened and at age 20 I had NO clue that my Uncle Kim’s first name was Jeffrey.


I remember the first time I met my grandmother. It was in 1985. The first family reunion that I remember. I had never seen this woman a day in my life. However, everyone told me that this was my grandmother. Me, being the tender age of 7 didn’t get the significance. I heard all my other cousins refer to her as Aunt Bay Rose. Everyone referred to her as that. I recall waiting for my brother to call her something so I could get the cue of what I should say. But, he was playing with our other cousins. Finally, the time came where I had to say something. We (my cousins and I) were going to another relative’s house down the street, cousin Pokie (real name Pocahontas Banks). She was an older woman but she sold candy out of her old scary lookin house. Well, I had to ask my grandmother for some money to buy some candy. I tugged on her shirt and said “Aunt Bay Rose, can I have some money please.” She politely said “Baby, you call me Grandma”. I remember feeling embarrassed after that!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Our Family Reunion

A continuation of the Wordless Wednesday.

If I had to guess, this was our 1979 family reunion. In this picture is my uncle when he was probably about 20 or so. Also, the thick little boy sitting on the end, that's my cousin Jo-Jo (I This picture has my aunts (red shirt and the blue shirt) and a uncle (see guy with come over?)
The blurry person is my Grand Uncle Clement! He's the one that was born about 3 months before my dad. That means my grandmother and great grandmother were pregnant at the same time.
And..the cute one in this picture is ME of course. That's my cousin Michelle holding me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Restoring Grandpa.....

While wandering thru google (to see if I'm listed as a genealogy blog..) I stumbled upon this site . Not only does he research his family tree, he restores pictures as well. Do you see the sample? He did that!

This is a picture of my grandfather, George Washington Bolden/Bowden/Boulden. The picture is damaged due to a step-father tearing in a fit of rage.

One of my relatives taped it back together for my dad when he was a young boy. However, they put the tape on the top of the picture instead of the bottom. This makes the picture even more fragile and difficult to restore. I have sent it off several times to get restored and it always came back crap! My main concern is the face. Previously when I sent it off, the face would come back looking like someone different.

I sent this to George b/c I've seen some of his work. All I can say is, he did an amazing job. I only seen him a low resolution copy I had saved on the computer to see what he could do with it. Now, I'll be scanning a higher resolution image onto CD to send to him. He really does some amazing work. Along with the fact that he takes pride in his ancestors, he knows how important these photo's are to those researching theirs.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Saga Continues

Another interesting thing I found about Alfred Ferebee is he and Nancy Spence had one child (that I know of) name Charlott Ferebee. I wasn’t even looking for her death certificate when I found it. But, here it is, Charlielottie Ferbee.

The interesting thing about the death certificate is the informant is W.M. Lowrey. This had to be my William Lowry! Not only was he the informant for Alfred Ferebee but for the daughter also?!?!

The puzzling thing is Alfred married Nancy Spence. However, she’s listed by the informant as Nancy Griffin. I will have to order the marriage certificate to be certain about the names. I found a death certificate for a Nancy Frisbee (common misspelling of Ferebee) that died in 1924. Her father is listed as C W Griffin and mother is Sarah Bouges. Everything seems to match, however, I’m not sure about the name.
Searching the marriage certificates for Nancy Griffin yielded a marriage for Nancy Griffin and Moses Spence. Perhaps, Moses died and Nancy remarried Alfred by 1902.

I found a Nancy Spence listed in the 1900 census, living alone and a widow. She’s listed as having given birth to 8 children but only 2 were living. Living next door was Caleb Griffin and his wife Sarah. Possibly the same C W Griffin listed on her death certificate. In their home is their grandson Ernest Spence. Maybe Nancy’s son.

By 1910, Nancy is married to Alfred and they have a 4 year old daughter named Charlott.

The next blog will be 'AS PASQUOTANK TURNS'. You'll see how we're related to almost everyone (black person) in that county thru marriage or blood!.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Could it be true???

I’ve had a hunch that this William and Ann Lowery on the 1880 census are related to me. I've said it before that I thought that William Barker listed in this census as a grandson is my 2nd great grandfather William Lowry. In addition, the 2 other grandsons, Issaac Boykin and Alfred Ferebee were half brothers to William Barker. I do know that William and Ann Lowery had a daughter named Martha Lowery. She later married James Howell. My thoughts were that she had 3 other children out of wedlock and left them with her parents when she married.

Thanks to and their new upgrade of North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975 that contains images of the actual death certificate, I've been able to connect some dots. I stumbled upon the death certificate for Alfred Ferebee. This is possibly the same Alfred Ferebee that was living with William and Ann Lowery in 1880. When I reviewed the death certificate, 3 things stood out to me as shocking.

  • The mothers name is listed as Martha Laury.
  • The informant is W.M. Laury. (Possibly my William Lowry)
  • He was murdered!!!

    My next step is to find out if there is an article in the newspaper for 23 Dec 1923 that may list Alfred in it and what could have happened. Also, I'll be ordering the marriage certificate for Alfred Ferebee and Nancy Spence from 1902. Hopefully, it will show who their parents are. What if Nancy Spence is also in my family?!?!?!?!

    I'm just so excited that I could have found a half brother for my ancestor. Also, confirmed my suspicions about Martha Lowry and her children prior to marriage.

    Friday, May 30, 2008


    I recently developed this. This Sunday, I began doing something strange. I started reading the obituaries. I used to only get the Sunday paper for coupons. However, this Sunday, I went thru the obits thinking, “Maybe there’s someone in here that I know”. Uh..NO! My ancestors are in North Carolina and I live in Florida. My family in Florida consists of my immediate relatives. That’s it!

    Now, I need to figure out a way to get a copy of Daily Advance at my house on a weekly basis….hmmm….

    Picture courteously of JMK Books.

    Wednesday, May 28, 2008

    We is Cousins....

    Hello Cousin! I'm searching for info on Rosa Spence/ Cora McCoy/ the Lowry's too. I'm in Baltimore; email me so that we can work together.”

    That’s how I met my cousin, Tina, in November 2007. See, her grandmother, Rosa Lowry, is my great grandmothers, Bessie Lowry, sister and her grandfather, Enoch Spence, is my great grandfathers, Aaron Edward Spence, brother.

    Our family story has always been 2 sisters’s married 2 brothers we’re all double related. I always heard the story but never really knew it. I didn’t know Rosa’s side of the family, although we have the same side. But, I never knew her children, grandchildren etc….til now.

    When Tina contacted me, I was skeptical. She found me thru I thought no one else was researching my family tree. I would look at message boards and websites and everyone was researching other counties in NC. The rare post I would find researching African-American ancestry in Pasquotank would be for a different surname.

    Although our family has been in Pasquotank and Camden counties since at least 1870, I haven’t been able to find much, in my opinion, on our family. I’ve interviewed family members and none of them could ever tell me

    Her: Hey Cuz! Girl, tell me who you are (who's your mom)... I didn't know I had family in Florida! Did you go to the family reunion this year? I was there. My Mom is one of Rosa Spence's daughters her name was Matlene (but she goes by Madeline) How do I see your family tree? Maybe you can help me, I'm looking for my father's grandmother’s family and I'm hitting a brick wall -- how do I get around that?

    Me: Hey. My dad is Spence. His mom is Spence. Her mom is Bessie Lowry. Her parents are William Lowry and Harriet Banks. Harriet’s parents are Caleb Banks and Henrietta. What’s your dads name and DOB? Also where was he born? Maybe I can find something. I missed the reunion. My grandma told me that the Spence family from South Mills came. I'm trying to compile a family tree for the next on. That’s how it all started. Now, we don't do our research without each other. We're always sharing ideas, theories and finds with each other.

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Shelton Lowry

    Well, this goes to show you that family stories are helpful, but not always accurate. My aunt said they didn't find water in his lungs and he probably died of a heart attack. However, as you can see from the death certificate, they didn't do an autopsy and it states he died of an accidental drowning.

    However, she did remember that they had 3 funerals in her church and John Adams was sent back home. According to his death certificate, he was sent back to Fayetteville for the funeral.

    The other 3 men were buried in Elizabeth City, NC at Stokely Burial Ground. The funerals were handled by Walson Funeral Home in Elizabeth City. The sad part, besides 4 men losing their loves, is my great uncle Johnny drove them to the river that day. Johnny is Shelton's nephew. I wish Linton was still alive, I would love to talk to him about this and get his story.

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Four Newland Negroes Drowned

    **Scanners working now**

    The library in Elizabeth City, more specifically, the genealogist at the library is awesome! She only works 1 day a week (Thursday). I called on Monday and she called me back Thursday morning. She said she found the article and I had a copy in my possession by that Saturday. All that for a mere $.10!

    My hopes were correct and there was an article about the drowning of my uncle, Shelton Lowry. The 4 people that I found on Ancestry that died on the same name were the 4 men in the boat that day. The article also gives me the name of the one survivor. What a great find!

    "Four men, all Negroes, were drowned late Wednesday afternoon in Dismal Swamp canal in Camden County when, with five on bard a small skiff, on man decided to rock the boat. He rocked it and the boat sank: drowning four of the five occupants, according to a report brought back to the city by Assistant Fire Chief George Koch, who answered an SOS call from the scene of the drowning at six o'clock. With fireman A. W. Pool, Koch arrived on the scene in a few minutes and with a length of barbed wire curt from a nearby fence had all four bodies fished out; he estimates, in a matter of 15 minutes. With inhalator brought along in the car he and Pool worked over the bodies for an hour or such a matter, but to no avail.

    The downed men according to the fire department records are Shelton Lowry, 40; William K. Barnard, 25, John Wilfred Adams, 26, and Milford Moore, 34 all of Newland.

    According to the story told Koch by Linton Burnham, survivor Burnham and his brother were swimming in the canal at the point where the old toll bridge used to cross back of the site of the old John Louis Hinton home about 10 miles from Elizabeth City. They live in the old house once occupied by the bridge keeper when the bridge, abandoned when the river was bridged above the cut with paving of U.S. 17 to South Mills, was in use.

    The four who were drowned appeared on the opposite bank of the swamp and asked to be brought across the river, Burnham said. Burnham in a small boat went to get them. They all got aboard and one of them wanted to use the paddle. Burnham told him to be careful but he said he knew all the tricks of handling a boat and began to rock it. The boat sand and all five men went overboard. They began struggling with one another in the water; but Burnham extricated himself and swam to safety.

    Sheriff M.D. Stevens and Coroner Carroll Godfrey were summoned and the coroner viewed the bodies and held no inquest necessary as the men evidently came to their death by accidental drowning.

    Three of the bodies of the drowned men were turned over to the Walson Funeral Home and the other to the Davis Funeral Home in Elizabeth City."

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    She died in jail!!!

    O.k. so, I've been a slacker when it comes to the library. Everything should be on the internet, right?? But, we all know it's not. Somethings you'll actually have to do some leg work to figure out. Today I went to my local library to see what they had as a genealogy collection.

    I couldn't even believe that they have obituaries from 1919-1924 for Elizabeth City, NC. I live in Florida! It's not like Elizabeth City is a large city. Hell, I think I'm somehow related to every black person there. Anywho.....

    This is my 2nd great grandmother, Cora Spence. She died in 1922 in JAIL!!!! That's something I didn't even know and none of the elder members knew either.

    "Cora L. Spence. A 56-year old colored woman of Newland Township, living about 13 miles from town, died last week after having grieved herself sick because she was placed in jail a day or two during the last term of Superior Court in this county, about three or four weeks ago.
    The colored woman was held in jail Tuesday to Saturday, having been held as a witness in a case in which her daughter Beunna Temple was involved. She couldn't understand why a witness should be jailed, and the burden of falling into such disgrace at her age was too much for her. [October 10, 1922, p. 1]"

    Why in the hell was she being held in jail?? She was only a witness?!?!??!

    So in the first paragraph it says 'a day or two' and in the second it says ' was held in jail Tuesday to Saturday'. Uh...lemme pull out my fingers and count...that is more like 5 days not 'a day or two'.

    Correction 06/12/08: I received an e-mail today from Irene at library. She stated that "Cora didn't die in jail but as a result of heartbreak at having been jailed about three weeks earlier". She's sending me some pages from the Superior court case from 1922. Hopefully, this will shed some light as to why Beulah was going to court and why her mom, Cora, had to testify.

    Monday, May 5, 2008

    Genealogy Addict

    Genealogy is a genuine obsession of mine. My family nor friends quite understand it; however, they all think I should do it professionally. I don’t think I’m there yet. I love sharing my recent ‘finds’ with my family. More than likely, they have no clue whom I’m talking about and constantly get confused about which Aaron Edward Spence I’m referring too or who exactly was William Lowry, etc. But for me, explaining it is easy. I have these ancestors, my family, memorized. I can tell you who had a half sister, how the Ferebee surname got into our tree, what year my 3rd great grandfather passed away, etc. These are my family.

    One of the most interesting facts that I found is a relative shared the same birthday as I. He’s the son of Shelton Lowry (Brother to Bessie Lowry-my great grandmother). He was born 11 Mar 1928. Sure there is 50 years difference between our births, but I think it’s awesome that a relative and I share the same b-day and I don’t even know him.

    I intend on writing the library in Elizabeth City, NC (which covers several counties in northeastern NC) to see if they can pull an article about Shelton’s drowning. Another great aunt of mine told me that all in the boat died and even gave me the name of the person that rocked the boat. However, the problem that I have is, if everyone died, how did they get the story about rocking the boat and Shelton saying ‘Don’t rock the boat because I can’t swim’? Another tidbit she gave me was that Shelton may have died of a heart attack because he was so frightened about drowning. She said her sister told her that there was no water in his lungs. She didn’t know how true that was but I told her I’d order his death certificate and see what it says.

    The facts I got from her were:

    • 5 people were on the boat.
    • John Adams rocked the boat.
    • John said ‘All y’all who can’t swim, shame on you.”
    • More than 2 died.
    • They begged him not to rock the boat.

    I found record for 4 people that died on 10 Sept 1947 in Camden County, NC. I will be ordering these death certificates.

    • John Adams
    • William K. Barnard
    • Shelton Lowry
    • Milford Moore

    I would think that if so many people died in a drowning in a little city like South Mills, it may be in the papers.

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    Passed Down

    The family stories passed down from generation to generation tends to change. No one wrote it down; it’s always by word of mouth. I have 2 main stories in my family that are either inconsistent or just not true!

    My great grandmother, Bessie Lowry, had an older brother named Shelton Lowry (B: 1908, D: 10 Sep 1947). The story from my great aunt was he died in a drowning. He was out on a boat and someone started rocking the boat. Shelton told them ‘don’t rock the boat, I can’t swim’ and he and a friend fell in the water and drowned. The story from another great aunt is everyone in the boat died.

    Hopefully some info from the FRSNNC will help clear this up.

    Now for the complete untruth.

    Leroy McCoy, possibly the son of Ernest McCoy who is the son of William Everett McCoy (my 3rd great uncle), was researching the family tree until his death in 2005. He told several elder Spence family members a story. I remember when I first heard this story, before I began researching the tree, I said it didn’t make sense. So, here we go.

    Back in the late 1800’s, 3 Spence brothers came over on slave ships and were separated thru sale. They landed in various counties in NC; Pasquotank and Camden being 2 of them. Our real name was SPENCER however was changed to SPENCE when we were sold into slavery. Remember, this is the late 1800’s. at we came over on slave ships in the late 1800’s. The Spence brothers that were sold into slavery was either my great grandfather, Aaron, and his siblings or my 2nd great grandfather Aaron (to be know as Aaron Sr.) and his siblings (have no clue who his siblings are).

    Well, for the truth.

    The truth being that none of the above happened. Aaron Sr was probably born into slavery. His parents are Enoch Spence and Susan Williams who were also slaves. They officially married in 1866. I’m certain they had other children; however, I haven’t been able to locate them. In 1900, Susan was living with, Aaron Sr. On the 1900 Census, it states she had 6 children and 4 living.

    I’ll be discounting the ‘SPENCERS on a slave ship’ theory that the elders have included in family history. Hopefully they don’t throw stones.

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Great Grandparents

    I went to my dad’s house last week and we were looking thru the book my aunt made and I asked him, who is these people?

    He looked at the picture and said this is a picture of your great grandfather, Aaron Edward Spence, and your great grandma, Bessie Lowry when they were younger. I would have never known that.

    This is my great grandparents when they were older. I never got a chance to know my great grandfather. He died 6 years before I was born. However, I did come to know and love my great grandmother dearly!
    She raised my father like a son. When ever I would see her she would tell me the same story. "I was the first one to hold you when you came home from the hospital." Recently my dad told me the whole story.
    My great grandmother (Bessie) worked for a white woman in Elizabeth City, NC cleaning her house. The woman would often travel and Bessie would travel with her. I suppose they had a pretty good working/friend relationship. This one trip, the woman happened to be coming down to FL and of course Bessie went along. She took it as an opportunity to see her grandson and his family. The day they arrived in our city, my mother was just discharged from the hospital from having me. When we arrived home, Bessie was waiting at the door for us. That's when she scooped me up and the first one to hold me when I came home from the hospital. It was a matter of pure coincidence or divine intervention. My mother told me that it was a blessing having her there for almost a week because she took care of almost everything. Gave her time to rest and recover.
    I miss hearing that from Bessie.

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