Tragic Do-Over

Sometimes, we need a do-over. I have realized that in genealogy, this feeling may come often or after researching one’s own family and forgetting to document. After taking several genealogical courses and learning about proper citation and documentation, I took it upon myself to start fresh.

After researching my family for over 5 years, I have decided to start all the way over. I still have my completed tree with everyone, but I decided to rebuild both my biological family and my adoptive family tree only using real records, and very little family tree hints. My goal is to have these two new trees represent my true paper trail of my ancestors. I want to have proof of my relations to my ancestors, and it will come in handy when applying to legacy societies, like the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) or others.

I have come to terms with the fact that it is very important to cite all sources and document your research. There are times when I have caught myself repeating the same research I had done, or tried to do, previously. This happened because I didn’t keep a record or log of my research. I have since learned from my mistakes, and while I will likely duplicate a lot of my previously done research, this time I will log everything.

My go to web service is Ancestry. It is easy to manage multiple trees, and save all records. At the same time, I do know that I need to keep an ancestral chart on paper and store within my files. Genealogy is similar to banking. You have access to your information online, but you also keep your information

Slavery to Sharecropping to Slavery

Sharecropping was established soon after the end of the Civil War, when enslaved people were emancipated. After the Civil War, former enslaved persons sought out jobs and former slave owners sought  out laborers. Due to the absence of cash, or an independent credit system, led to the creation of sharecropping.

 

Sharecropping is a system where the land owner allows a tenant to use the land in exchange for a share of the crop. This encouraged tenants to work to produce the biggest harvest that they could, but also ensured that they would remain tied to the land and unlikely able to leave for other, more beneficial, opportunities. In the South, after the Civil War, many African American families rented land from white owners and raised cash crops such as: cotton, tobacco, and rice. In many cases, the land owners, or nearby merchants, would lease equipment to the tenants; offerring: seed, fertilizer, food, and other items on credit until the harvest season. At the time of the harvest, the tenant and land owner, or merchant, would settle up, figuring out who owed what and how much

Unfortunately, high interest rates, unpredictable harvests, and unscrupulous land owners, and/or merchants, often kept tenant farm families severely indebted. This created a perpetual cycle of requiring the debt to be carried over until the next year or the next. Laws favoring land owners made it difficult, or even illegal, for sharecroppers to either sell their crops to others besides their land lord or prevented sharecroppers from moving if they were indebted to their landlord.

 

Statistics from the time period indicate that approximately 2/3 of all sharecroppers were white, and 1/3 were black. Though both groups were at the bottom of the social ladder, sharecroppers began to organize for better working rights, and the integrated Southern Tenant Farmers Union began to gain power in the 1930s. The Great Depression, mechanization, and other factors lead sharecropping to fade away in the 1940s.

In US Census records following 1865, I have been able to track some of my ancestors who were sharecroppers. My biological paternal great-grandfather, Henry Nelson, and his family appear in the US 1940 Census Record. Henry Nelson is a farmer in the state of Georgia, renting his land. The week prior to when the the census was taken, he had work 45 hours. He worked 40 weeks in 1939, but his income was marked as zero. He is working on his own account, but has no other income sources. It can be assumed, that Henry Nelson and his family were likely sharecroppers. Viewing census records can be telling. You can look at the neighbors to find clues. Surfing through pages, you may be able to identify the land owner. If this is the case, you can look back to older census records and other records. Perhaps the land owner that your ancestor is renting from was his slave owner. These small details can lead to big discoveries.

 

Next time you look at the 1940 US Census Record or other census records, keep in mind that sharecropping in the South was not uncommon. Many times, African Americans rented land from their former slave masters. Families were sometimes stuck in the cycle of sharecropping due to the unjust legalities put in place.

In Honor of Election Day

 In honor of Election Day. George Washington, a distant relative of mine through marriage, is known as the first president of the United States of America following the American Revolutionary War, in which I have an ancestor who aided the colonists enabling me to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). In 1965, the 15th Amendment was passed, enabling African Americans the right to vote with no restrictions. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American president of the United States. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed allowing women the right to vote. Hilary Clinton is running again to try to become the first woman president, will she be successful? 

Cahee Surname

While conducting research on the Cahee surname, I came across several findings. For starters, Cahee has undergone several naming variations. It took me a while, but I was able to create a list of the ways Cahee was spelled:

Cahee

Kahee

Cohee

Kahi

My goal was to try and determine a possible slave owner of my ancestors. After some extensive research I was able to come to the conclusion that the Keahey family owned my ancestors prior to being freed.

#SurnameSaturday

The Ironic Women

Guiseppina Sulic is my great-grandmother via my mom’s dad. She was born in Trieste. During her birth, Trieste was in the possession of Italy. Trieste was a territory that fluctuated between Italy and Austria. Guiseppina and her family were in favor of the Austrian empire. Her brother was Rudolpho who fought for the Austrian army but died on the Russian front. Ironically, Giuseppina, who was rather prejudice against Southern Italians. She married a man from Sicily who fought for the Italian army, against her brother. She then immigrated to Boston where they married and had children.

#Friday’sFacesofthePast

Louisiana Creole

My birth mother’s family is of Louisiana Creole heritage. This is a map of the places in Louisiana where creole is still the spoken language. This language is significant to the heritage and culture of my ancestors. I wish I spoke the language. I am slowly learning more about the people and the attitude and atmosphere of society during those times. I am fortunate to not have grown up during those times. I would not have survived the prejudiced glances and racist comments.

Some of my Louisiana Creole relatives chose to pass. Rather than embrace their blackness, they chose to run and hide. Others chose to accept their skin color and heritage, but refused to accept men of a darker skin complexion than them.

#ThosePlacesThursday