4 Dec 2015 – Laura Washington and Melzar Williams

It’s a pleasure to have my Mom living with us!  I hear so many stories about our ancestors that really help to fill the gap that “Between The Dashes” addresses.  If you are following my blog, you know my Mom celebrated her 80th birthday this year!  My Mom and her sister are the oldest living relatives in our family.  Today, let me share with you my 2nd great grandparents, Laura and Melzar Williams.

Laura Washington was born 17 May 1869 in Mobile, AL to Annie (age of 25) and George Washington (age 28 ).   She was about 5’2″, light-skinned with long hair that she parted down the middle, braided in two braids, and pinned each braid in the back.  She had three sisters (Etta, Mary, and Addie) and two brothers (Dave and Emanuel).   Continue reading

23 Nov 2015 – Cousin Francis 

Last week, my Mom and I were reminiscing about cousin Francis.  He was special to both of us, and we have many fond memories of him.  My Mother and Francis grew up together in Mobile as children.  They were like best friends.  They attended the same schools from elementary through high school.  Francis worked at the Seafood business that Our family owned.  He would go with my Mom to pick up the fresh seafood from the Mobile Bay and bring it to the restaurant to sell.  Francis also delivered groceries for the business.  Francis was my father’s best man at my parent’s wedding.

I knew Francis while I was growing up as a child.  He was always the one that loved to have fun and cooked some of the best gumbo around!  The gumbo had big pieces of crab, shrimp, sausage and rice with seafood seasoning.  Unfortunately, no recipe on this one folks!  Francis combined his fantastic food with drinks  and dancing at his parties.  In Chicago, we called them “house parties”.   My sisters and I had a house party one night, and one night only.  Perhaps I will share that story in a future post.

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11 Nov 2015 – Korean Conflict – Roland Davis (My Father)

Happy Veterans Day!  A special thanks to all of our military and their families for their service!  It’s truly a Team effort!  Following is a picture of my father and his friend while serving in Korea in 1953.


Roland Davis & Timothy - Korea 1953

Roland Davis (left) & Timothy Perkins (right) – Korea 1953


During my childhood, I don’t remember my father talking much about his service.  Most of what I will tell you today is either documented in his discharge papers, based on my research, or based on family history.

On 5 November 1952, Roland Davis reported to Montgomery, AL for in processing which consisted of uniform issue and mental and physical exams.  I believe his basic training was done at Camp Stoneman, CA per his brother Roosevelt.   When the US Army inducted him for the Korean Conflict, my father was 20 years old.  Prior to entering the service, he lived with his mother and three brothers in Mobile, AL.

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5 Nov 2015 – Health History

When we do our family tree, we focus on births, deaths, marriages, and other significant events.  One very important piece of information is generally missing.  As you do your genealogical research, take the time to gather health history as well.  This is helpful information for you, your family and your doctor, especially for diseases that are hereditary.

There are several options to gather health information.  For deceased persons in my tree, I generally add cause of death as a fact to my tree.  You can also upload documents and attach to your tree.  Be mindful what information you share especially if you make your tree accessible to the public.

The March of Dimes has a very comprehensive  family-health-history-form that could be completed and attached as a fact to your family tree.  This form is pretty involved.

Other useful sites include:

My Family Health

Tracing Your Health History at Genealogy.com

My Family Health Portrait

Know Your Family Health History at FamilySearch

Family Health History Toolkit

Ancestry.com – Creating a Health History (requires Family Tree Maker software)


Between The Dashes

3 Nov 2015 – Genealogy and DNA

Have you ever thought of getting your DNA tested?  Well, I thought about it and actually did it!  My Mother always talked about the women in our family having a Native American heritage, so I really expected to see results that included Native American – maybe 10% or more!



The structure of part of a DNA double helix. May be subject to copyright.

I took advantage of the tests offered by Ancestry which provides an estimate of the historical origins of my DNA.  Following are my results:

 Africa 73%

  • Benin/Togo 21%
  • Mali 17%
  • Cameroon/Congo 14%
  • Nigeria 6%
  • Ivory Coast/Ghana 5%
  • Trace Regions 10%

Europe 26%

  • Europe West 10%
  • Ireland 8%
  • Trace Regions 8%

West Asia 1%

  • Trace Regions 1%

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24 Oct 2015 – Wakes In The Home


When my mother Alice was growing up, wakes were actually held in the homes. When a family member died, the funeral home prepared the body, placed it in the casket, and delivered it to the home.  During the wake, friends and family would come to pay their respects.  The wake was a celebration of life with food and drink.

My mother remembers her great-grandmother (Laura Washington) and grandfather (Joseph Brown) having a wake held in their home.  Based on the time of the funeral, the body would be delivered to the home the day before, and be available until an hour or two prior to the funeral which was held in the church.

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19 Oct 2015 – Ella Brown Thomas and Emaline Brown

Ella Brown Thomas

Ella Brown Thomas is my 3rd great-aunt (Mother’s side).  It is rare for me to have a picture going back six generations!  She was born in 1844 and died in 1944.  She is the daughter of Emaline Brown who was born in 1832.    I don’t know much about Ella Brown, but I do know that her mother was Emaline Brown.

When you are researching african american ancestors in the 1800s, it’s a challenge because the records are extremely scarce.  I was able to find limited information on Emaline Brown, mother of Ella Brown.  She had a savings account on 2 May 1872 at the age of 41.  At the time, her parents were dead, but the records show she had nine children:

  • Peter Brown
  • Margaret Brown
  • Simuel Brown
  • Ella (pictured above)
  • Elixander Brown
  • Thomas
  • Willie Brown
  • Carrie
  • Millie

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09 Oct 2015 – Thomas Coleman

Thomas Coleman

Thomas Coleman

Thomas Coleman was born 2 Jan 1901 in Mobile, AL.  He met Isabel in Chicago, and she became the love of his life.  I’m not sure where they married, but he took the train to Mobile to introduce his new wife to the family.  Isabel was so light-skinned, she passed for white and they made her ride in the front of the train.  Thomas went to the back of the train.

Thomas Coleman worked as a Pullman Porter on the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (GM&O) Railroad.  He directed guests to their rooms in the Pullman car, served drinks, cleaned, and helped people with their luggage.


Library of Congress Pullman porters, known for their white jackets, played an important role in luxury train travel for a century.

Library of Congress Pullman porters, known for their white jackets, played an important role in luxury train travel for a century.

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3 Oct 2015 – Thanks Goodness For Social Media!

My parents, grandparents and great grandparents lived during a time when their relatives lived in the same neighborhood.  There were relatives next door, on the same street and around the corner!  The environment was such that not only did their parents reprimand them, but the neighborhood did as well because they were your relatives!

In my generation, everyone literally lives around the world.  My sister lives in Florida, my brother in Illinois, and a nephew in Singapore!  Today, there is no reprimanding someone else’s child, you must keep your hands to your self!  My generation may not have families that live close, but does that really matter when we have social media?

Social Media Images

Social Media Images


I love social media!  It’s  part of my life, and I don’t know what I would do without it!  When I talk social media, I am referring to Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter.  These are all sites that are good options for spreading the word about family history and genealogy.  I get the most feedback on Facebook, and hardly any on the other sites. But that’s ok.  I post anyway.  🙂 Continue reading

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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