Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Family Great Migration

So I'm reading this book that my cousin Brunette suggested called" The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson ,and I'm about 3/4 of the way through when it hits me that I'm part of that Great Migration just didn't realize it, and so were many of my family members.

Most of my family is from the south, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia.  I was born in Chattanooga, TN. in 1950.  While living there I remember several of my great aunts and uncles either getting ready to move away or talking about going up north.  Some were going to St. Louis others to Chicago or Detroit while others were going to California  and New York.

My first cousin once removed Leona, was born in Mississippi, she eventually moved to St. Louis and from there Los Angeles.  Walter my other first cousin once removed moved from Mississippi to Detroit and from there to Arizona. Walter's father Ollie is the one that moved his family to Detroit, I remember visiting them in Detroit until Uncle Ollie died, then the visits stopped.  I always wondered why we didn't still go visit the rest of the family anymore.  Aunt Sadie my grandmother's oldest sister moved to New York, that was where one of her sons lived, and  she was there for a while then moved to Chicago where her daughter was living.  Uncle Roscoe moved to Chicago as did his brother Daniel. I don't know when they moved but I do know that when I would go back down to TN to visit sometimes they would come from Chicago to TN to see us on our visits.

My mother's brother Billy moved to Vallejo California from Chattanooga, TN.  There were also a lot of family that didn't move away but unfortunately I didn't learn about any of these people until I started working on my family tree and by that time they had all passed away.  My Grandma Lena who is my mother's mom, she moved to St. Louis, then New York then on to Los Angeles, CA. We all moved away going to New York and California, Los Angeles and Sacramento and area, and of course when we left from TN my father's mother went with us as she lives with us all my life until she died.

It's amazing how while reading this book I was starting to relate to certain events that happened to some of the people in the book, I'm like okay this happened to me, yet I suppose I was too young to realize it and after a while I just stored it away in my memory bank for later, like now.

The one thing I wish I had thought to ask my parents or grandmothers was how did we make the trip away, did we drive, take a train, bus, I have such a good memory for most of my time spent in Chattanooga but for some reason I don't remember us leaving or how we got there. The one thing I do remember is I was upset that I was having to leave my best friends behind, so that could be why I don't remember I was trying to block it out.
I must spend some time working on that memory and see if I can bring any thing up during that trip.  There isn't anyone left alive to answer this question for me either.
My cousin Brunette is another one that moved, her family moved from Mississippi to St Louis, Missouri, some went to Chicago and other even to Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit.

I must talk to my cousin and see if she knows any stories that her mom or dad might have told her about their migration north.

Sources:  " The Atlas of African-American History and Politics"

St Louis Trip

Last year Malcum and I went to St Louis to meet with Brunette a cousin of mine. It's a long dragged out story but to make it short, I thought she was a cousin only through marriage of my grandmother's sister Pearl marrying William Lee Holloway, but as it turned out through DNA testing I'm actually related.

So I found out that Brunette was living in St Louis, from a cousin on Facebook, so I got her phone number and called her.  That conversation led to a visit last November 2013.  We went there got to meet her and visited only for the day then drove 4 hours home.

This time, we decided to visit for four days so we could really get to know each other and share information, photos and more.

Last week went to St Louis arrived Friday around noon. 

 Brunette and I discovered that we share a lot of interests, Brunette turned 85 this year and she never stops, she's always busy doing something.  We share that in common, I'm constantly moving doing something some where.  Both of us love jewelry, we like to sew and buy clothes then remake them the way we like them by either adding additional items to the piece  or cutting off something and changing it totally. 
I was telling Brunette that I was getting into head wraps learning how to do the different styles, now Brunette is going to the thrift stores looking for long scarves to use for head wraps or material that might work.
The list goes on and on how much we have in common, we don't share one thing in common, I don't like country music in any way, shape or form and she likes it.  I'm sure there are other things that we don't and do share, but it's been interesting finding out all this fun things about how we connect with each other.

While in St Louis Brunette drove us to Sweetie Pies Upper Crust, we got to meet Miss Robbie and Charles.  The line to get into Sweetie Pies wasn't too long but it was very hot outside that day.  Miss Robbie's staff brought out ice water for people to drink while waiting on line which I thought was really nice and thoughtful.  Then Miss Robbie came out to greet the bus that was either arriving or leaving I'm not sure which it was, but she got on the bus and greeted all the people had her photo taken with them, then when she got off the bus, she came to our line and took pictures with those that wanted one taken, and of course we  got our picture taken with her, then when we got inside we had several pictures taken with Charles.  Miss Robbie is really a gracious lady, she's very down to earth and so sweet, Charles is very nice and shy but friendly, he has a nice smile.   He was helpful also I was trying to buy two T-shirts and see if anyone would sign them and he said that everyone was gone but him and Miss Robbie's sister and he said that he would sign it, but when I went to get the T-Shirt they didn't have any of the right sizes, So that's for another trip there.

Then after Sweetie Pies we went to visit a cousin that I had never met her name is Annie and she is 94 years old.  We didn't visit too long because there was food in the car but I was happy to meet her, she has a good memory still but doesn't get around because of a stroke.  

The next day some family members come over that I got to meet and we stayed home mostly just visiting and talking about the family tree, with me taking notes, videos and getting as much information as I could.  I was even taking photos of photos of some of the ancestors.  lol

We arrived in St Louis on Friday about 1pm and left for home Tuesday about 9:30am.  Monday morning Brunette took us to the Missouri History Museum, that was fun, I hadn't been to a museum in probably 15 years of any kind.  

Our trip was so much fun, we got to meet other cousins, Brunette and her nieces and nephews decided to have a get together on Monday evening the day before we were leaving, they brought food, and we visited until almost midnight, took lots of photos and really enjoyed the evening.