The Music Machine

A few weeks ago, I made an amazing discovery, while helping my S.O. go through his mom’s belongings. Okay, technically, I didn’t ‘discover’ anything. Everyone knew it was there, except for me… I can’t even really say I found it, because, again- everyone knew it was there, collecting dust- except for me. Hmmm. At any rate, I was estatic over this piece of history.

It was an 8 track player and a box of 8 track tapes!

I don’t know about you, but for me, this was like finding evidence of an urban myth. I’d heard about these players, but never actually seen or touched one.

My giddiness quadrupled when I finally figured out how it worked and was able to hear a few measures of song.

Immediately, I knew I would write about this piece of ancient technology, but as this is a blog about traveling back in time to meet people, not find things, I had to wait for someoneto start talking.

I didn’t have to wait long before I kept getting images of someone dancing in a kitchen. She had a beautiful afro and a gorgeous, invigorating smile, yet I had no idea who she was.

When a cousin posted some pictures of her mom on social media, I knew I’d found my mystery afro-wearing kitchen dancer.

Allow me to introduce you all to my cousin, Joy Elizabeth Jackson, whom I’m absolutely positive was FABULOUS in life.

Joy was born in 1958 and sadly passed away in 2001, from a massive heart attack. She was 43 years old.

Unfortunately, I have no recollection of ever meeting her, though I am told she attended my dad’s funeral in 1997 and that she was extremely close to my Glory-Glory, who I am also partial to, so it stands to reason I would have met her at least once, but alas I’ve no memory of her. I wish I did, because she sounds like a character and very much like my dad. I’m sure I would have instantly loved and gravitated toward her.

Joy loved her music. Perhaps this is why she showed up dancing in a kitchen. When I talked to her daughter, she told me that she still had Joy’s 8 tracks and records, another sign that I had found the right ancestor for this story.

But apart from dancing and enjoying music, what else was there to tell the world about Joy? For starters, she loved being a mom and a grandmother… Her family was her heart in every sense of the word.

In fact, she loved her kids so much, that in her last year’s, she hid her problems with her heart from her children, so as not to worry them and she dealt with it quietly by herself. Her strength was a recognizable trait and she continues to this day to be remembered by it.

As I was trying to get to know Joy, I was constantly reminded of my father… Like him, Joy was always smiling and loved to play. She would often gather her children (and any others around) into the car (I picture her driving a station wagon, but there’s no evidence of this) and going for a drive to destination no where. This was also one of my dad’s favorite pastime. It is becoming easier and easier to understand why they would have been fond of each other.

Like most families of the time, Joy made sure her children understood Saturday morning chores. She also ensured her kids were in church. Values were an important part in raising her children and she imparted many wisdoms into her babies. Treating others how you want to be treated, without being a fool and remembering that everyone’s heart is different from yours, so as long as you do the right thing, your blessings will come are still living on in the form of her daughter and granddaughter.

Also evident in her offspring, is a hard work ethic. For most of her children’s lives, she worked in the dryer cleaning industry. Her children and grandchildren may not work in dry cleaning, but they do work and they follow Joy’s example- you can have whatever you like out of this life, you just have to work for it.

I know Joy lived a full life, even if it seems cut short to us. So, today, I think I will turn up my Temptations Christmas album and do some dancing in the kitchen- a salute to Joy and the special lady she was.

I’d love to hear from you! Have you made any interesting or remarkable finds? Did they remind you of someone in your tree? Who? Leave me a comment telling me all about it or them or both! As always, the like, share and follow buttons are your friends!!!


The Last Pair of Shoes

Happy New Year! I hope you all have had a wonderful first few weeks of 2018. Holidays bring so much excitement into our home that it seems to take the first half of the new month to get adjusted and back into the swing of things.

Honestly, I would have happily taken another few days off, but I couldn’t.

For the last week, my uncle has been begging me to talk to him. Incessantly pestering me. Do you know how annoying that is? He showed up in my dreams. When I should have been concentrating or working on something else, he would pop in and disrupt whatever train had been chugging along.

The last straw was a few nights ago, when I found myself dreaming of him, once again. It was time to do some super sleuthing. Well, not that much, because how hard can it be to gather information on a 7 year old boy?

Apparently, getting to know a 7 year old boy, whom several of your immediate family members knew, is actually pretty difficult.

Ancestry, of who I have come to rely on to pick up the sent, kept coming back to me empty-handed. I swear she just walked to the doors of her cavernous rooms, glanced around and then came back and said, “I didn’t see it.” I sent her back three or four times to double check and each time, it was the same, unapologetic response…

Family Search wasn’t much help, either, though it did return with a headstone picture. This would have been fantastic, if I hadn’t taken the picture.

Mom and Nana were of minimal help. When asked to tell me about him, both immediately began to describe for me his last months- the hospital stay, what he looked like at the time and his and their reactions to seeing him thusly.


Born on April 3, 1954, Edward Lothario Jackson was a happy boy. He loved running and playing outside, especially with his wagon. He probably played the most with my mom, because they were closest in age among all the children. He learned his recitations (poems Nana and Granddaddy selected for the children to memorize and then recite on request) fairly quickly and loved to recite those poems for anyone who would ask. Though he went to school very briefly- a single semester- he did very well and made good marks. He smiled a lot and was very loving. He was given the nick name (which is was only used by the family and surely would have faded away by the time he reached 10) of Turdy Boy- though no one could recall how he came to acquire such a name. Perhaps, as Nana suggested, it was because Lothario was so hard to pronounce or maybe they were teasing him because of his habit of thumb sucking.

According to mom, he resembled my brother a bit (an interesting tid-bit, because when he visited with me in my dreams, he had a cherub face-  mixture between my brother and the baby)

One morning, in March of 1961, he fell over as he got out of the bed. When Nana tried to help him stand up, he could not. He was taken to the only hospital in the area, Mary Washington, located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. There was only one pediatrician in the area and he called MCV, a bigger hospital, an hour south in Richmond. The consulting doctor came and the two concluded he was being affected by encephalitis or lead poisoning. It was suggested that he be transferred to the big hospital for treatment. This was not to be, as Nana and Granddaddy didn’t know anyone in Richmond, who they could stay with for the duration of his hospital stay. Instead, he went north to Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC.

Lothario's Shoes.jpg

These are Lothario’s last pair of shoes. Shoes, he would never outgrow and never wear again.

Almost immediately upon his arrival, doctors discovered he was afflicted by neither of the aforementioned illnesses. Little Lothario had a tumor on his brain. After two surgeries, doctors would know that his cancer would lead to a fast approaching death. There was no mass of cancer for them to operate on, as it had latched on and spread throughout his brain, like a spider web.

One week before the arrival of death, his brother and sisters, as well as other family members gathered in his hospital room to say good bye to a brother, son, nephew  and cousin. This is the traumatic memory that has stuck with his survivors… In sharing his story, I hope to erase this vision, which has cemented itself in the minds of those who remember him and replace it with the delightful boy he was.

I imagine his imminent death would be painful and stressful, as he would loose his faculties… First his speech and then his sight, it is unclear if he lost the ability to feel, but doctors assured Nana that he could hear them up until the end.

Having so little to share about him, I have to wonder why he has so persistently been at me to visit with him…



A few months ago, just before my children’s father left this land of the living, my father came and visited with me. He didn’t speak, didn’t present a story or nugget of information- he just sat with me a moment in my dreams and then disappeared leaving two butterflies behind. When my father died, a group of butterflies flew up into the sky as they were bringing him out of the church… From that moment on, every sighting of a butterfly has brought with it a peaceful understanding and remembrance of him. And so, I knew deep within the recesses of my brain that my former husband would soon be taking his last breath…

Earlier this week, doctors said that there was nothing left they could do for a family member- who has a brain tumor, which from my understanding has spread out so much cannot be operated on or removed… Could little Lothario be coming to prepare me for yet another death?

No one knows and certainly, only God can determine the time when someone’s dash is at an end. I find comfort in knowing that sometime’s the stories the dead tell me help to make be better prepared to accept things happening today.

Have you ever had an experience where an ancestor’s story seemed to mimic a story of a living family member? Did it bring you comfort and/or peace or some other feeling? Leave me a comment and let me know. And you know, I’ll never turn down a like or a share- so be free with those, too!

There’s A Mystery Afoot

magnifying glass     Had to break out the magnifying glass on this one, folks! I recently decided to revisit my relatives in my Jackson/Hamn tree on Ancestry, because you kow, that’s what I do. Plus, the dead really have been quite silent these last few weeks.

Anywho, there I was excited because there were a ton of NEW LEAVES!!! I love new leaves, they make it so easy for the dead to start coversations with me- or maybe, they make my ears more in tune to their chattering. Whatever the case may be, it is safe to say I was estatic and I happily began checking out the leaves, not even caring if anyone talked to me or not.

And wouldn’t you know it? Someone started talkig to me almost immediately! Roxanne Tyler flagged me down with her death cerificate. Roxy, as she was called while living, was born in 1859 to Gabriel and Martha Tyler and she is my third great aunt. The Tyler name may sound familiar to you because, they’ve been rather chatty this year ad her brother and nephew were featured earlier in He Was The Son of a Preacher Man…

This is all mundane information and I am sure you are wondering why I was calling the mystery squad, right? Well, here is the thing… She was 51 years old when she died in 1933.

Here’s a copy of her death certificate and a copy of the 1870 Census- I’ll wait while you do the math…


It didn’t add up for me either. At first, I was confused as how someone could just magically drop twenty-three years off with no one noticing- I mean if that’s the case, then I would like to be 25, please and thank you.

But that isn’t how life works, is it?

I started meticulously reviewing all of the information I had on Ms. Roxy, trying to identify the point in her life when she shaved all those years off. I figured this woud be done most easily in the census records, because they were notorious for errors or jotting down whatever they felt like… No such luck. Each subsequent census shows her age with only a slight variance in her age, ranging from a year to three year difference, but not the twenty plus, I was looking for. Not to mention that the final census she is found in, has her at seventy years old.

Her marriage record indicates she was twenty-three when she married Mr. James Morton on July 25, 1883. Here, her birth year is 1860. So, again, not enough of a difference to cause any alarm or concern.

This is about the time that Roxy stopped talking to me and I was really wishing the Mystery Squad would hurry up and answer the call I had put out.

While I was waiting, I began to ponder how a body would behave if it was twenty years older than what you were telling people it was… I mean mind over matter goes a long way, but is it really possible to convince a body to act and behave as a younger body- if you just convince your mind to believe it? Again, if that’s the case, then I believe with all my might that I am twenty-five… I wonder how long it will be before everything else falls into place? 😉

This was getting me absolutely no where and my brain was starting to hurt from all the work of thinking… I decided to take one more look at the death certificate. Naturally, Roxxy started whispering sweet nothings in my ear, again. I looked over and over the death certification looking for clues and I was continuously drawn to the informant; Ada Morton Mercer, aka, the daughter of Roxy Tyler Morton. How in he world does an adult child not know how old her parent is? This was difficult to fathom, because my own children, excepting the toddler, know how old I am and have known this information since they were in elementary school. Am I the lone parent that encourages her children to know things about her other than ‘I am called mom’? I hardly think I am.

Ada Mercer. Why did Roxy keep directing me to her? I could not figure it out. I guess Roxy was getting frustrated with me, because the next thing I know, she was seemingly screaming at me, “do the math dummy!” (Yeah, my dead people can be a bit harsh when you aren’t moving fast enough to their liking…)

I can imagine that Ada was very distraught over loosing her mother and may have even been a bit tired, exhausted or even depressed, which is why when the form asked for the age of the deceased, she listed her own age, 51, in response.

Yep. Roxy was getting me all worked up over her daughter. I haven’t had a chance to dig in and see what’s going on over there, but when I do, I will be sure to let you all know!

Have you come across a for or other document that contained wrong information? How did you go about finding the correct info? Once you found the right stuff, did you make any effort to get the wrong things changed? Why or why not? For me, I think I will just make a note on Roxanne in my tree and leave it at that. I don’t think it would be worth it to get the information changed anywhere else.

I can’t wait to hear about how the wrong info has affected you in your searching! And like always, please share, share, share! I’m not picky, so I won’t tur away your likes and comments, either!