In my last post A Name Remembered-Georgia Anne Peters-52 Ancestors #1, I mentioned that I would contact one of the schools that she either attended or taught at. So I decided to contact West Virginia State University which was established in 1891 as the West Virginia Colored Institute, under the second Morrill Act, that provided land grants institutions for black students.
I contacted the Historically black university that is now diversified and spoke to Janice Young who works in the archives of the university. She was most helpful with my request. She took my information and let me know she would email me if she came across anything that would identify my Great Aunt Georgia Peters. About a week later, I received the photo to the left.
The photo is of the P.O.N Club at the University. It was taken from the 1924 school Annual. Ms. Young stated that she did not know which one was Georgia. I am not sure which one. It could be a few of them. I am still hoping that I will get more answers as to which one is her. I will continue to pursue a photo as there are other places that she attended and taught.
Here is a closer up photo.
Here are a few photos that I used to attempt to identify Georgia in the photo above. One is of my mother Betty Mae Peters and the other is of Charles I Peters, Georgia’s brother [My grandfather]. Which one do you think is Georgia?
I have finally decided to take the 52 Ancestors Challenge where no story is too small. This challenge was originated by Amy Johnson Crow over at ‘No Story Too Small.’ It is not too late to begin, however, I will probably do two to three posts a week to catch up.
Georgia Anne Peters
Georgia Anne Peters is my maternal great-aunt. I remember my mother talking about her when I was growing up. I am not sure if I ever saw a picture of her, because I know I would have remembered it. After my grandfather Charles I. Peters died, Aunt Georgia contacted my mother to let her know that there was some Sterling Silverware and a house that my mother inherited. My mother told me that she had not seen her aunt in years, but stated that she was very pretty and well-educated. I had warm feelings towards Aunt Georgia as my mother always spoke kindly of her.
Georgia was born on November 24, 1899 to Betty Mae Wilson Peters and George W. Peters in Henry County, Martinsville, Virginia. Georgia was named after her father and was the youngest of six children of which two died before she was born. Georgia’s father had died according to the 1900 Census, leaving her mother a widow to raise four children by herself. According to the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census, Georgia resided in Sistersville, Tyler, West Virginia with her mother and siblings.
I had believed that Georgia never married as she always went by her maiden name. However, on November 17, 1925, Aunt Georgia married an Abraham Mitchell in Huntington, Cabell, West Virginia. By 1930, Georgia had already been divorced. I get the sense that she was a very independent woman and decided to stay single for the rest of her life. I had known for years that Georgia was a WAAC, served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in March 24, 1943 and had been an educator, according to the 1930 U.S. Census.
Aunt Georgia peaked my interest, and I wanted to know more. I know that the Ancestors guided me to start searching in old newspapers online. I was extremely excited to find a couple of articles on Georgia. The one I have chosen to share gave a fuller picture of who she was. [Newspapers.com]
It became clear to me that Aunt Georgia had mentored my mom. There were many similarities in the paths they took. My mother had been a girl scout for many years, she was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and she was an educator. My mother majored in English and Journalism at NYU.
Georgia Peters had some affiliation with the Episcopal Diocese of New York as the St. Phillips Parish House was under the direction of the Diocese. I took note of this because when my mother moved to Los Angeles in 1953, she had the Director of the Episcopal Diocese of New York to write her a letter of recommendation for a position as a social worker. I am beginning to believe that it is possible that Aunt Georgia had been the one to help my mother to get a job at the Diocese of New York as the Administrative Assistant.
I found Aunt Georgia to be a woman ahead of her time as she was a Negro woman, and very well-educated in the late 1920′s and 1930′s during a time of racism. Georgia Peters died on June 18, 1985 in Silver Spring, Montgomery, Maryland. Aunt Georgia did not have any children, however, I hope that one of the descendants of her siblings recognize her name and description and contact me.
My next steps are to contact the Universities she worked for and attended in hopes of locating photos of her.
I am so pleased to have Laura Hedgecock, our guest blogger, to share with us why writing about our family stories matters.
There’s no question that documenting your family history is a gift for future generations. That gift doesn’t have to stop with names, dates, and places. You can bring your family history to life by writing about family stories.
I’m passionate about this because I’ve been on the receiving end of such a legacy.
The silhouette of my own family tree used to look more like the willow that lost limbs in every storm than the archetypal oak.
On my father’s side, we had precious little information, owing not the least to the fact that our grandmother claimed to be an orphan. (That’s a whole different story.) The opposite was true of my mother’s side of the family, where my aunt had traced ancestors back to about 1500.
However, the ancestry information paled in comparison to my grandmother’s Treasure Chest of Memories—an old spiral notebook filled with a lifetime of writings. It included childhood memories of relatives, stories of her children as they grew, and family stories. Her stories ground us—all fourteen of us cousins—not only to her, but also to each other and our common history.
Writing about family stories connects family members on a visceral level. In contrast to facts, narratives can help family members—including future ones—to their ancestors. These stories matter because they convey traditions, personalities, and relationships. They can also fill in the gaps of our research.
For instance, when I see “Charles Crymes” on a family chart, I think of my grandmother’s words, “I remember Cousin Charlie Crymes and how jolly he could be….”
I learned all about the Great Depression in school. However, I came to understand it through family stories of going hungry and scraping by. Our family stories are a way of teaching our children (and other family members who might have dozed off during high school) history through the lens of our genealogy.
Writing about family stories of immigration, migration, and service to God and country bring history alive. Perhaps more importantly, family stories of doing the right thing or coping under difficult circumstances allow our ancestors—and us—to be there to teach and share long after we’re gone.
Whether we love them or hate them, family traditions are part of who we are. We may not observe family traditions or cook the same recipes, but they are part of the forming of our formative year. So are the stories that were told at every family get-together. These stories need to be written down and shared.
You can’t always fill in the missing branches on your family tree. However, you can make the branches that are there accessible to your loved ones. By writing about family stories and memories, it’s as if you’re adding a tire swing or little boards up the trunk to make it easier to climb.
LAURA HEDGECOCK is author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life (coming May 2014 via Cedar Fort Publishing’s Plain Sight Imprint) and blogs about telling stories and sharing memories at TreasureChestofMemories.com/blog. Laura would love to connect with readers via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest.
I love her gypsy styled outfit. This photo was probably taken in the Worcester or Springfield, Massachusetts area.
Robert Wesley Bunn Jr.
May 23, 1918- June 10, 2012
An ending of a generation in the Bunn family has given me the sense that my generation is on deck. We are the grandparents now and there is no cushion in front of us.
My heart was saddened to know that my Grandmother‘s brother passed away in June of 2012. I haven’t spoken about his passing too much, as I think and ponder why I didn’t pursue the urgency of speaking with him a little more often. I did however speak with him a few months before his illness got the best of him. At this point, his memory was not as strong, but my Great Grand Uncle Robert did speak with me about his days on the plantation in Lake Providence, Louisiana and Arkansas.
I was not able to attend the Celebration of Life for Robert W. Bunn, Jr., but was pleased however to have received the program card from my cousin Wes, Robert’s son.