28 Sep 2015 – Genealogy Apps!

There are a lot of genealogy apps available to build and update your family tree on the go.  If you have an online family tree, always check to see if there is an app for you phone.  The following are apps are free, but require online accounts (some free and some with fees).  Some recommendations:

  • Ancestry – Explore more than 14 billion records, photos and stories with hints to help build your family tree.  Add family members to your tree from Facebook.  Syncs across all devices.  This is a paid service.  Also syncs with Apple Watch.
  • Ancestry Shoebox – allows you to scan photos with your phone.  You can upload to Ancestry or share with family and friends.
  • Find A Grave – one of the many databases accessible via Ancestry (as well as directly online) with more than 100 million graves from around the world.

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21 Sep 2015 – Eva Marie Davis

Eva Davis

Eva Davis

Eva was born on 19 Sep 1958 in Mobile, AL.  I will always remember Eva’s birthday because we were born a week apart.  Eva and I attended Fermi Elementary School in Chicago, IL.  On those days that Eva made it home before I did, Alice, asked, “Eva, where is your sister?”

Eva hung her head and responded, “The children down the street are fighting Debra, but I had to use the restroom!”  🙂

Our parents had to find other options besides the Chicago Public School system.  They joined the Catholic Church so that we could attend their schools, and St. Laurence Catholic Elementary School was our first.

In 1968, while attending St. Laurence, they selected Eva and I to attend St. Nicholas Middle School in Evanston, IL.  This was a difficult transition for us because the kids on our bus were the only African-American children that attended that school.  The travel time was one hour if traffic was good, but most days it would take up to two hours.   Once we arrived, the students and teachers didn’t really want us there! Continue reading

19 Sep 2015 – Alice Ruth Coleman

Alice Ruth Colemand and Her Sister Elouise Parker

Alice Ruth Coleman (left)  and Her Sister Elouise Parker (right)


Alice Ruth Coleman, mother of Melzar Williams, was born 20 Feb 1893 in Mobile, AL.  She married Ervin Williams, from Mobile, AL,  in 1909 at the age of 17 yrs old, and Melzar was born in 1912 (at age of 19 yrs old).  They had another child, but he died from pneumonia after only living two months.  According to the 1910 census, Alice Ruth and her husband lived with her parents, and by the 1920 census, they lived with Ervin’s parents.  She was a laundress, and Ervin was a truck driver for the Grain Mill.  Alice Ruth had four sisters and two brothers.   Continue reading

17 Sep 2015 – Answers to Interview Questions 16-20 (Mother)

On 19 Aug 2015, I posted 50 Interview Questions.  Following is a summary of answers to questions 16-20 from the interview with my Mom.  Enjoy!

  • Do you remember any fads from your youth?  Popular hairstyles?  Clothes?
    • Paper dolls, roller skates (clamped on your shoes with a key)
    • My dolls hair used to be glued on.  Over time, the manufacturer changed the hair so it looked like it was growing out of the dolls head.  This made all the difference in the world!  I could finally wash my dolls hair without her loosing it!
    • I used to fall asleep with bubble gum in my hair.  My mother was constantly cutting my hair to remove the gum.  Madame C. J. Walker invented the straightening comb and many ladies got her hair pressed.
    • Long skirts were in style.  My favorite skirt is in the following picture:

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14 Sep 2015 – Braciole Rolled Steak in Spaghetti Sauce

Another awesome recipe from my Sister-in-Law Joanne!
  • 6 slices of thin sliced round steak cutlets and pound to make them thinner
  • 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • You may add 1 tsp. basil and 1/2 tsp. oregano (fresh is better)
  • Mix bread crumbs, egg, garlic and salt & pepper. If the mixture is to thick add another egg.
  • Spread on the steaks and roll them up, you can secure them with string or toothpicks.
  • Brown in 1 tbsp olive oil. Remove. Pour spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Then cover the steaks with sauce and place in a 350 degree oven and cook until steaks are tender.
Remove and take off string or remove toothpicks and slice in rounds and serve with a side of angel hair spaghetti sprinkled with grated Romano cheese.

13 Sep 2015 – Answers to Interview Questions 11-15 (Mother)

On 19 Aug 2015, I posted 50 Interview Questions.  Following is a summary of answers to the next set of interview questions with my Mom.  We got a little out-of-order, so to stay on track, there are only 4 instead of 5 answers here.  Enjoy!

  1. What kind of games did you play growing up? Hopscotch and jump rope.  We also played marbles.  There were kids that played double dutch, but I never learned how to play.  I also played with dolls with artificial hair glued to the scalp.  Every Christmas I got a doll, and the first thing I did was comb and wash her hair.  I cried when all her hair came off by the end of the day.   I got a doll every year for christmas until I was 13 yrs old and then we got a piano – it was the worse christmas ever when we got the piano.
  2. What was your favorite toy and why?  My favorite toys were the dolls with hair.  I loved combing their hair but the glue always came off when I washed it.  A doll would last at most a couple of days but ultimately they needed their hair washed.  🙂
  3. Did you receive an allowance?  No, I did not receive an allowance.  My mother gave us money when we needed it for school, bus (fare was $.30), movies, etc.
  4. What school activities and sports did you participate in?  I wanted to be a cheerleader but I could not tumble, so I joined the pep squad while in high school.  I always enjoyed football, and Central High School was the first african american school to play at Ladd Stadium (up the street from our home in Mobile, AL.)



Between The Dashes

9 Sep 2015 – Our Summer Vacations in Quitman, MS

Eva Jasper took her granddaughters Alice and Marce to Quitman, MS every summer for about two weeks to visit Amanda Jasper (Grandma Mandy), their great-grandmother.  Alice had mixed feelings about the summer visits to Quitman.  I think the girls really enjoyed spending time with their grandmother and great-grandmother, but Quitman was so different from Mobile, AL.  Quitman was truly the country!

Alice remembers riding the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (GM&O) Railroad to Quitman.  The train was like a greyhound bus that made many stops along the way.  People could bring chickens, goats or sheep on the train and Alice was afraid of anything with feathers.  See the GM&O map below.  When Momma Eva, Alice and Marce arrived in  Quitman, Grandma Mandy came to pick them up in a horse and buggy.

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8 Sep 2015 – Answers to Interview Questions 6-10 (Mother)

On 19 Aug 2015, I posted 50 Interview Questions.  Answers to questions 1-5 located here.   Enjoy the answers for questions 6 through 10 from my interview with my Mom!

  • What is your earliest childhood memory?
    • I remember hearing on the radio that the war ended in 1945.   We were playing across the street.  We used to play across the street with the other kids in the trees and swing off the tree limbs.  I was swinging on one of the tree limbs and it broke.
    • At the time, we just had radio, no television.  The radio had murder mysteries acted out by various people.
  • Describe the personalities of your family members.
    • Father (Melzar Williams)
      • My father always worked.  I remember him rushing from one job to another.
      • He sold the timber off his wife’s property in Quitman, MS without her knowledge.
      • Periodically, he told stories about his time in the Merchant Marines.  He joined as a cook and used a recipe to make the food – he became a baker doing cakes, pies, etc.  If the recipes didn’t turn out there was so much food that the mistakes could be tossed and you could start over until you got it right. The ship could not dock in New Guinea so the supplies had to be transported to shore.
      • Daddy Chappy  played the trumpet at a lot of the events.

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4 Sep 2015 – Answers to Interview Questions 1-5 (Mother)


On 19 Aug 2015, I posted 50 Interview Questions.  In the past, when my Mom and I discussed her childhood, we really started in the middle of the story.  I really appreciated the survey questions because they provided a good framework for capturing family history.  In fact, I learned more about my Mom’s environment than I had in the past.  I urge anyone in the family history/genealogy business to use interview questions.  These questions were awesome!

As promised, following is a summary of the first set of answers from the interview with my Mom.  Enjoy!

  • What is your full name? Alice Lauraetta
    • Why did your parents select this name for you?  Alice was my grandmother’s name (father’s side), Laura was my great-grandmother (father’s side), and great-aunt Etta (father’s side).
    • Did you have a nickname?  No, not when young.  In college, they called me Chappy because everyone knew him.  Besides, my sister and I went to the same college.  She was two years ahead of me in college.

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2 Sep 2015 – Davis Avenue

During the 1950s, my grandparents owned a night club for about a year on Davis Avenue.  By the 1960s, Davis Avenue was the hub for Negroes in Mobile.  There were grocery stores, night clubs, doctors, lawyers, barbers, hair salons…everything needed to support the community.

I couldn’t find a good picture of Davis Ave.  My mother told me that she never went on that side of town because the neighborhood had gotten really rough – people fighting, gun shots, stealing, etc.  I imagine it must have looked like this:

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