From Work Horse to Show Horse…

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending Mother’s day with my Glory-Glory. To every one else in the family, excepting my sister and brother, she is Go-Go and to you, she is my grandmother (on my dad’s side). I had an awesome time. Sadly though, I was so caught up in having a grand ole time that I didn’t capture the moment. Or any of them. And there were several. She saw my son for the first time in ages, as every time I have visited over the years he has been with his dad or working or otherwise caught up in his busy teenager life and she was able to meet the baby (her great great grandson) for the first time.

Gloria JohnsonGloria Johnson, A.K.A. Glory-Glory, A.K.A. Go-Go, A.K.A. my grandmother. Pictured with the late Roland H. Johnson. Picture taken from family collection.

She gushed over how handsome Kyle had gotten and told him how she just knew he was a hit with all the ladies. She told him that she knew he had ‘a little smarts’ and she wanted him to do something with it… and she even went to the back door and watched him play basketball for a quick minute. She said she was too old to be bothered with a baby… BUT. She sat in her room and he went with her. I could hear him getting into EVERYTHING. Yet, whenever I attempted to collect him and let her rest, she told me to ‘scram’ and let them be. I heard him repeatedly pick up the phone and she allow him to talk to the dial tone to his heart’s content. She even dialed her answering machine so he could leave a message and she called one of her many friends and told her to talk to her great great grand baby because he was just to cute. She shared her food with him.

So, yeah. My children and I were making memories with a lady we absolutely adore.

I hardly ever write about her or her family line, though. Finding those stories are hard. She has no desire to help me in this endeavor whatsoever and her one remaining sibling I have never met and only recently met via Facebook… and honestly, I think she and her children may think I am a bit cuckoo with all the questions I ask. So, there is very little information to even go on to begin with.

This visit with Glory-Glory though, I did something I had never thought to do before. I asked if she had any picture books I could look through. Sure enough, she did. As she directed me to where they were all stored, she said over and over again, “I wouldn’t go through all those pictures if someone gave me a million dollars.” or “Kim, you sure you want to go through all those pictures?” I just smiled and told her I just wanted to look at them.

OH MY GOOD LORD. The wealth of treasure that she has for genealogy/family history girl like me. I took pictures of pictures and obituaries and funeral programs and newspaper clippings until my phone died and I didn’t even get half way through her stash. If I didn’t think it were in bad taste, I would lay claim to these treasures now in the event of her time to be with the Lord in heaven…

Anyway, there I was looking at pictures and I remembered that I had some pictures to show her. So, I tore myself away from the distant past to share with her the not that long ago past…

As I began to show her the pictures of Kaira with her horse on the farm and at her competitions, she let this little tidbit of information slip- “we used to have these great big work horses named, Brownie and Bob and we used to ride them across town.”

Kaira and ButtonsKaira on her horse, Buttons. The picture that gave way to conversations about riding workhorses in Muskogee, Oklahoma way back when…

Wait. What??? I knew that I could not press for information or else she would shut down and the conversation would be over before it had even began. So, instead, I said, “so, you used to ride horses, too?” Honestly, I didn’t know what a workhorse was, so this was actually a legitimate question. She said, “no, not like Kaira. These were great big horses that were used to pull the farm machines. We would just ride them to the other side of town. (Muskogee, Oklahoma circa 1930s and 1940s) Except for that Carol (her one remaining sister). I don’t know if she ever climbed up on those horses… She was kind of prissy. Carol is younger than Glory-Glory by six years.

brown work horseThese are obviously NOT the workhorses my great grandfather had. BUT, they could resemble the ones Glory Glory grew up with. As defined by Dictionary.com, a workhorse is a horse used for plowing, hauling, and other heavy labor, as distinguished from a riding horse, racehorse, etc. Wikipedia further explains that in North America draft horse breeds typically consist of these five breeds:  Belgian, Clydesdale, Percheron, Shire, and Suffolk. Photo credit: http://www.theequinest.com/breeds/shire-horse/

Wow. In those few sentences, I had been given such a wonderful glance into what growing up had been like for Glory-Glory and her siblings. I had learned that they grew up on a farm and this farm was large enough to require the use of workhorses. Does that mean the farm was rather large? I am still digging. I also learned that they had two teams of workhorses- the other team was Floral and … (auto correct in my phone changed whatever I had typed, so now I don’t know the fourth horse’s name). And they did not have a car.

Having a conversation with someone can produce such great information- the kind you may not get if you were only to hand them a piece of paper and say, “answer these questions, please.” Conversing with older members of your family can also change how you research things. For example, it wasn’t until I started trying to understand what exactly a workhorse was that I realized my Glory-Glory entered life just as the Great Depression was coming to a close, but the effects- especially in Muskogee, OK where she grew up- were still widely and greatly felt. I would really love to understand how they were able to afford the luxury of owning and feeding four horses throughout the years of the depression. Researching the area of Muskogee, specifically trying to envision what farms would look like during that time, also gave me a more defined and true understanding of where Muskogee is/was in relation to other areas that my family comes from and makes it easier to understand how husbands and wives may have met and weren’t really traveling as far as I had originally thought they were.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone in your tree or a tree you are working on that changed your research in some way? I would love to hear about it- leave me a comment, telling me all the ins and outs of what you learned and how it changed your searching! As always, please be free with the likes and the shares and thanks for stopping by!

Until next time-

dvnmskm!

Lewis Dawson Massey- You Are Not The Father… Maybe.

When I first started researching my family, long before I had decided that I wanted to tell the stories of my ancestors; I learned or maybe I was taught that records NEVER lie. That is to say that any information I came across was simply hearsay unless there was a record of some sort to support the found information. I am not sure why I grabbed a hold of this teaching or why I have held so staunchly to it in the years since first embarking on this journey. This is especially confusing to me because I KNOW records do, in fact, lie. I know that Census workers of years past were prone to write what they thought or believed and not necessarily what was truth. And I have come across several records that have been transcribed incorrectly, but taken for fact. So, again, I have no clue why I would believe records never lie.

Anyway, I have been plodding along on this little adventure, never questioning the official record and taking it as pure dee fact. And I was content in this. That is until I read a fellow Bloggers post… He shared his story of tracing his ancestors and how DNA had helped him to determine that a white ancestor, who was named as the father of another ancestor on that person’s death certificate, was not actually his ancestor. I commented on his post about how I sometimes forgot how lucky I was as a black person, because I for the most part, have come from ‘free people’. But, something about his article stuck with me and my mind would not let it go. It turned over and over inside my head, to the point where I had to do some serious genealogy sleuthing… Thanks a lot Andre Kearns! (Read the full story, here.)

 

Lewis D Massey

 

This is Lewis Dawson Massey.It is family consensus that Mr. Massey is the father of Lewis Massey. This information can of course, be verified by viewing Lewis Massey’s death certificate. Lewis’ mother, Mary, is believed to have been a slave belonging to Mr. Massey. (The only information collected thus far to prove this is a census that lists a slave girl under Mr. Massey’s property, who falls in the appropriate age category.) The belief that Mr. Massey is the father of Lewis Massey extends beyond the descendants of Lewis Massey- believed by the descendants of Mr. Massey, even.

Andre’s Blog post planted a seed of doubt as to the paternity of Lewis Massey. I began to seek out the males in both my Massey line and Mr. Massey’s line, hoping that one of those men from each side of the Massey line had already taken the DNA test…

No such luck there though…

So, what is a girl to do? It’s not like I can take these two to the Maury show and prove once and for all if Mr. Massey is the father or not. I personally, have not taken a DNA test, so I am not sure of all the intricacies associated with such a test or even what benefit (other than cousin matches) me- a black woman.

I’d love any advice you have to share or any similar experiences you may have had in your family history road trip! Leave me a comment telling me all about your paternity woes and as always, please hit the like button and share, share, share!