Welcome to my Women’s History Month posts. Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist came up with some wonderful prompts for March, and I have been participating. I have missed quite a few days but will be moving backwards to catch up.
March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.
My mother Betty Mae Peters was an excellent student. She earned a dual bachelors degree in Journalism & English from New York University in 1950. My mother stated that she did not attend her graduation, and had them mail her degree. When my mother relocated to Los Angeles in 1953, she attended Pepperdine University to earn her Masters degree in Education.
I believe that my mother would be the first in her family, as a woman to earn a degree from any University.
Betty Mae Peters in the New York University School Album of 1950. She resided at 460 West 147th Street, New York,N.Y. She was in the Spanish Club; Dramatic Society; Paragon Society; and National Association for Advancement of Colored People.
March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?
If a famous director wanted to make a movie of one of my ancestor’s it would be about the Cully family and it would be centered around my grandmother Agnes and my mother Betty residing in Sugar Hill. The many lives of the other family members would be weaved through the life of Agnes. There would be many scenes portrayed in her sewing room in her apartment where many stories were told. The main years of the movie would be 1923-1952.
I would like to see Cicely Tyson play my grandmother as she is a star actress, and Angela Bassett would play my mother because of her elegance. My mother was very elegant. The name would either be “The Socialite” or “Sugar”
Marian Anderson and her Fashion Designer Agnes Cully Peters
March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.
My cousin Zara Gale Taylor, who I always referred to as cousin “Z” and Aunt “Z” when I was growing up is my most favorite cousin. She was always beautiful to me inside and out and she had a voice that you knew God was shining on her life.
Some of my most precious memories of Cousin Z was when I would spend time in her home to visit for a few days. She always made me feel at home, and would say, “help yourself to anything you may want, this is your home.”
I used to love to watch Z go through her beauty routine. She had the longest hair and she would take her time washing her hair, giving it an oil treatment and then blow dry her hair and then set it in these big rollers. She was just absolutely beautiful! Then she had this routine with her skin, and her make-up. I think she would go through a three hour treatment of taking care of her hair and skin. She then would do her nails.
Another thing I enjoyed about going to cousin Z’s house was the cookies she would bake. She always made raisin oatmeal cookies, butterscotch cookies, chocolate chip and White Chocolate Chip cookies. Z was amazing. She not only could bake cookies, sing and be beautiful, but she was the nicest person in the world.
She always encouraged me to go back to school, telling me it is never to late and that I could be anything I wanted to be.
One of the saddest days of my life was when I had to say good-bye. She passed away November 19, 2005. I put together a memorial on findagrave.com. (Click this link to read about her).
Zara Gale Buggs Taylor in January 18, 1997 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educator's Breakfast in San Diego. She was a guest speaker and singer.
March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.
My brick wall is my 3x Great Grandmother Zara Humphrey Jones. It is possible that Zara was born sometime in 1810 in the state of Virginia. I am unsure of the date but her children Hannah Singleton-Nelson Gilliam and Jane Ellis-Nelson Collins who were born approximately 1830-1840. The dates are never fully accurate because most of the time slaves did not know what year they were born in. I have found multiple years for Zara’s daughters. Zara married Benjamin Ellis Nelson and the year they started cohabitation are not clear.
Zara’s slave names are Humphries and Jones. I need to go to the archives in Virginia and see if I can locate some slave records of some sort. I hope to have the opportunity in the next few years, to visit Virginia and do an extensive search.
One of the documents that revealed Zara and Benjamin’s names were in a Freedman’s Bank application. The other document that revealed the other Slave surnames were on my 2x Great Grandmother Hannah’s death record.
March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?
I found out a few years ago that my Grandmother Helen Bunn Thompson lived in San Diego for a few years when her husband, (I’m forgetting his first name) Mr. Coleman served as a Buffalo Soldier in Camp Lockett in San Diego. The other thing I did not know, was that my grandmother wrote for the San Diego Black Paper in the late 1930’s. My cousin has a framed article that she wrote, and I am still waiting to get a copy.
Recently, I came across some letters to the Editor in the Los Angeles Black Paper on ProQuest. Here is a sample. I discovered that my grandmother was an activist in her community and she liked to give her opinions to the plight of her community.
This letter was published the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and four days before I was born in 1968.