This is a continuum of an index series of First Fruits of Freedom, by Janette Thomas Greenwood to see prior posts go here.
Looking through the index of First Fruits of Freedom, I came across the name Collins, Jane, 152 on page 228. Could this be my Great Great Grand Aunt? I immediately went to page 152 and here is an excerpt of that page:
“As the Worcester Telegram so delicately put it, such institutions “In the city have always drawn the line on the race questions with distinctness,” In response, twelve women from the AME Zion Church organized “the Woman’s Progressive Club, of Worcester, Mass.,” In October 1898 and incorporated the organization two years later. Like the city’s many fraternal organizations, the Progressive Club incorporated both southern-and northern-born members. Of the twelve founders, three were from the South: Jane Collins hailed from North Carolina…”
Jane Collins most definitely had to be my Great Great Grand Aunt. Through prior research of my Great Grandfather Ambrose Cully’s in-laws, this is what I found in the records. Jane Collins was known as Jane B. “Ellis” Nelson and was born in January of 1840. Jane was born to Zara Humphrey Jones & Benjamin “Ellis” Nelson in North Carolina. Jane’s sister was my Great Great Grandmother Hannah “Singleton” Nelson Gilliam. A later post will be dedicated to the “extra” surnames as the Nelson family were born into slavery, and the adoption of the various names has its own history.
According to the Craven County marriage registrar, Jane married Joseph A. Collins prior to August 1866, as they were cohabitating before emancipation.
Prior research and my research trip to Worcester this past April 2011 revealed to me that the Collins, Gilliam and the Cully family were active members of the Zion AME Church in Worcester, Massachusetts.
So to keep this post to the point, my question was, “Is this my Aunt Jane Collins?” A few years ago, I came across this newspaper article from The Worcester Spy, Jan 2, 1902. Even though this article was written a few years after the forming of the Woman’s Progressive Club, it is very relevant to answering the question.
Jan 2, 1902
DINNER AND CONCERT FOR HOME OF THE AGED
The Woman’s Progressive Club gave a turkey dinner yesterday afternoon from 12 to 6 o’clock which was well patronized. The proceeds will go to the Home for Aged Colored People on Liberty Street. The committee in charge of the dinner was Mrs. Minnie Lee (chairman), Mrs. Ida Wilson, Mrs. Amos Walker, Mrs. Sylvester Kennard, Mrs. John Kennard and Mrs. Jennie Everett. The dinner was served by the younger members of the club.
In the evening there was a concert under the auspices of the club, in charge of Mrs. Jane B. Collins. There were songs by the chorus of the club readings by Miss Ada Bell, Miss Jessie Brogden, Miss Annie May Bell, Miss Jane Gilliam and Miss Virone Dudley; Solos by Joseph Gilliam; prayer by Rev. Hiram Conway; address by Rev. W. H. Coffey; reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by George Dominus; duets by Misses Harriet and Georgiana Shannon, Miss Marie Kennard and Miss Inez Dudley and Misses Hannah and Zara Cully.
You could imagine my excitement when I linked this article with the information in First Fruits of Freedom. In this article my Great Grandmother’s siblings were listed Jane Gilliam and Joseph Gilliam. Also My Grand Aunts, Hannah and Zara Cully were in the article and this confirmed to me that I had made the family connection. Aunt Zara had played on the Jefferson’s TV Sitcom. Last in my list but first in the article was my Great Great Grand Aunt Jane B. Collins. The Women’s Progressive Club was an auxiliary of the AME Zion church, so I knew the information from First Fruits of Freedom was on the exact trail I needed to be on.
Jane B. Collins was the Aunt to my Great Grandmother Nora Ann “Gilliam” Cully
I will reveal more family connections from the index of First Fruits of Freedom in Index #3.
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