Slow Down and Read: Death Announcement: William Hope Payne, Jr.

     Searching Ancestry newspapers, I stumbled across William Hope Payne, Jr’s death announcement in the Washington D.C. Post Newspaper dated March 19-21, 1961.  I had no idea that my cousin Gladys Peters had ever been married, but this notice confirmed that she had.

     This obituary also allowed me to find my cousin Ralph L Peters and his wife Mozelle, as I was trying to locate them in Washington D.C. (revealing they relocated to Delaware).

     I also knew this was a “family” notice when I saw my cousin Carlotta ‘s name listed.  I also discovered her husbands name, as I did not formally have this information either and I did not know that he was a Reverend.

     The reason I posted this notice is because I am finding that it is very important to read through obituaries and death notices and not just the header name, as there may be clues as to who your family is related to.  It is not always obvious.  I had no Idea that my cousin’s married name was Payne, so had I been in a hurry, or not interested, I would have went to the next notice and lost out on some vital information.

Sentimental Sunday: Charles Irving Peters


Charles Irving Peters
     I do not know much about my Grandfather Charles Irving Peters, but am in search of his daughter Millicent Peters Leggett.  

     I remember when my mother got the call that her father Charles died.  I was twelve years old at the time and never had the opportunity to meet him as my mother did not communicate with her father.  A couple days before my grandfather’s death, she shared with me that she had nightmares about her father, where he would come to her  while she was sleeping and he appeared to be tormented.  So when my mother got the call from her Aunt Glady’s that her father had died, she understood why she had those dreams.
     Call it strange, but even though my mother did not have a relationship with her father, I was intrigued by him nonetheless.  I wanted to know more about him.  
Charles Peters and daughter Betty Mae
1927 on top of Tar Beach, New York
      I stated that I am searching for Charles’ daughter Millicent Peters Leggett.  I spoke with her years ago and I believe that she was living in Detroit, MI or Chicago Illinois and was working for an attorney.  I found some court documents with a letter from Millicent and decided to call, as my mother did not want to have any personal relationship with her half-sister.  The difference between my mother and me is that I did.  Millicent and I spoke for awhile, and frankly I do not remember the conversation.  Since I was very young and we are no longer in possession of those court documents, I am having difficulty locating her.  
     I know I will need to order the probate files from the court, but I have not got around to it, and time is moving fast.   I am unsure as to Millicent’s age, but my mother would be 85 years this year.
Charles Irving Peters Death Certificate

     Charles Irving Peters was born on February 8, 1897 to Betty Mae Wilson and George Washington Peters in Martinsville, Henry County, Virginia.  He was one of seven children, of which two died before Charles was born.  Charles’ mother was Native American & White and his father was Black.  I have always been infatuated with Charles’ military photo, as I find him very handsome.

     Charles served in the Army for two years, but as of yet, I have not located any military records. (His records may have been destroyed in a fire).

     Charles had been married to my grandmother Agnes Mae Cully in the 1920’s in Brooklyn, NY.  I heard many stories about my grandfather but of course nothing beyond 1950.  My mother Betty Mae Peters was named after Charles’ mother.

     Charles had been a student at Virginia State University.  His major was mathematics, but due to the racial climate of the country and the economic structure, Charles dropped out of school and worked as a Porter for the railroad system.  He also was a gambler and a bootlegger, which allowed for good times and bad.  I heard rumors that he and a close friend owned a black hotel, but I have not seen any records of that.

    Charles died on December 23, 1980 (wow! Dec. 23 was the date my mother suffered a fatal stroke in 2004.)  According to his death certificate, the informant was Thornton Hopson.  I tried to locate Thornton as he was the attorney that handled Charles’ last affairs.  I discovered that Attorney Hopson died in 2000.  So frankly, the only way I think I can locate any living relatives is to get the probate documents that were written up 30 years ago.  Maybe there will be a clue.

     My Grandfather Charles Peters is buried in an umarked grave at Detroit Memorial Cemetery.  I hope to one day raise enough money to at least give him the honor of a engraved marker.

Amanuensis Monday: Alphonse & Gaston Tabb (by Alice F. Peters)

     Apparently my cousin Alice enjoyed writing.  Her short story was placed in the Washington Post.  When I look at early 1900’s posts the newspaper had more of a community feel than it does today.  I feel fortunate to have found this story entry in the newspaper. I am sure Alice would have never thought that one of her descendants would ever come across her story ninety-six years later and post on the world wide web.
by Alice F. Peters, age 14
Washington Post, D.C
December 12, 1915



     “Get out, my dear Alphonse.” “After you my dear Gaston.” “Get out of that barrel, you silly cats. I’ve never seen cats use so much formality in wanting to see the world.” So this is the way she (Mamma Tabb) greets us and we were trying to make a good beginning. Well, after this harsh command, we flew out the barrel. Mamma Tabb tells us if we want to be intelligent, we must do as all intelligent cats do and not say “flew,” because cats can’t fly. We walked around the woodshed, our birthplace, trying to find something of importance there. As we didn’t find anything and as we were weak and tired we rested.
     We were beginning to think that this was a funny world. We hadn’t seen anyone since we were born. About three days after this the mistress of the house came in the chicken yard and after walking around, strolled into the woodshed. She looked surprisingly at us, smiled and went on. Evidently she didn’t tell anyone about us, for it was about a week afterward before any of the children came to see us. As cat life goes on, so our life went on, and nothing much happening we grew a little and now we were about six weeks old. Cats certainly do live lazy lives. There is nothing to do but to eat and sleep. Mamma Tabb has life right easy. She can catch mice. Yesterday a mouse walked right over us and smiled.
     “Let’s try to climb a little, my dear Alphonse.” “All right, my dear Gaston.” “Sit down and rest. There is no use in trying to be too smart.” Mrs. Tabb always has an all right answer on hand.
All the children seem to like us except one of the girls. I think they call her Alice. We always think so because every time we come around her she either gets us out of the way or she gets out. What a hard time we have. We are only two months old and still kittens. Mamma Tabb tells us we won’t be “cats: until we are at least three months old. Well, I truly hope I’ll soon be a cat. Kittens are certainly imposed on.
     “Let’s only tell of our early life, my dear Alphonse.” “Just as you say, my dear Gaston.”
Well, it has been decided that we only give a part of our early life, since cats get into so much mischief when they grow up. The next time we write we will tell more of ourselves.
     But before concluding, we must tell you of a great event which will soon come off. Next week on the back fence of Sunshine Tabbeta, a grand midnight serenade will be given by all the cats of the neighborhood. A prize will be given to the kitten or cat howling the loudest and sounding the most like a human baby. The prize will of course be a large mouse.

(Owned by Alice F. Peters, age 14

Sunday’s Obituary: Carlotta Constance Peters Pace

     I posted a memorium of Carlotta and her father Yancey Peters not too long ago (here), but I just recently came across Carlotta’s obituary notification in the Washington Post and want to give her, her own post.  Carlotta is my 1st Cousin 2x removed on my maternal side.

Washington D.C Post
February 1977

     I was very interested in knowing more about Harmony Memorial Park to see if she was listed, but apparently the Washington, D.C. Harmony Memorial Park was moved to Maryland.  This is what I found on Find-a-grave (here); or look below.

Cemetery notes and/or description:

Original location: Rhode Island Ave., Washington, DC. Also known as Harmonia Burial Grounds, located 2 miles from Washington, DC on Brentwood Rd. (1893) and as Columbian Harmony Cemetery. The cemetery was moved to Landover, MD in 1959. Now known as: National Harmony Memorial Park Cemetery, Landover MD.

In the late 1950s, National Harmony Memorial Park was contracted by the D.C. government to move the historically black Columbian Harmony Cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair.

According to a 2000 Washington Post article, 37,000 remains were disinterred and moved to what the Bells named National Harmony Memorial Park.

     I don’t think that my Cousin’s remains were disinterred now that I am looking at the dates that this occurred, but the fact that many other peoples remains were disinterred really upsets me as I have found this to have happened with some of my other family members. I think there is something very wrong when we disrupt the dead and then build upon sacred ground of which our ancestor’s are resting. I wonder how much money they would have saved in restoring the grounds instead of moving the cemetery.

Photo taken by Lani Pottle
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Sympathy Saturday: Alice F. “Peters” Moore

     I am currently researching the Peters, My mother’s paternal side of the family.  I have located various death announcements and In Memorium Announcements in the Washington Post Newspaper via

     I found my Great Grandfather’s niece Alice F. Peters Moore’s Memorium in the Washington Post dated October 26, 1964.  Alice was the daughter of Yancey D. Peters who was the brother of my Great Grandfather, George Washington Peters.  I have more success locating my Great Grand Uncle’s direct line decedents than my own grandfather’s.

     Alice Peters was born in March of 1899 in Washington D.C, and died on October 26, 1954 in her hometown of D.C.
     According to this memorium Alice’s sisters Carlotta & Gladys and her brother Ralph were still living in 1964.