Family Friends Friday: Muriel V Arrington & Betty Mae Peters

It is so true that Genealogy is the Study of our own ancestry…but our families are not on an Island all their own.  Family Friends Friday is a prompt that I will use so I can incorporate other individuals that interacted with my family and had major impacts in my Ancestors, and family’s life.  This is where many of the stories come from as we all know some friends are closer than family.

Muriel V. Arrington & Betty M. Peters with their dates

Before I went on my trip to Sugar Hill, New York City, I contacted some of my mother’s friends that grew up with her.  I wanted to get a full picture of my mother, and how New York was when she was growing up.

I wrote Muriel Ferguson, one of my mother’s closest New York friends to see what type of response I would receive.  Included with the letter, I added a questionnaire. (not included in this post).


September 7, 2009

Mrs. Muriel Ferguson

It was a pleasure speaking with you the other day about my mother Betty Mae Peters and the few things you shared with me about the two of you growing up in New York.

I had been thinking about you over the years as my mother told me that you were one of her dear friends from her childhood.  She shared with me the photo of the two of you with your dates.  Wow! What a wonderful picture.

As you should already know, my mother enjoyed writing and she shared with me years before she passed that one day she would take the time out to write her memoirs. She left me with some notes, journals and some things that she wrote down on paper, but she never completed her story.

As her daughter, I am researching and interviewing individuals so I may add to her story as I would like to write her book.  I am hoping that you might be able to help me by sharing with me stories of your life with my mother growing up in Manhattan.  Anything that you might have to share would help tremendously.  I have included some questions that might spark some stories.  You can answer some of these or tell me whatever you like.  I appreciate all that you can do to help.

I would love to come visit you, but will have to plan it for after the New Year.  I promised you my contact information, so here it is:

Yvette Porter Moore
xxxx xxxxx xxxx
xxxx  xxxx xxxx

With much Love,

Yvette Porter Moore

Muriel V. Arrington
1945 George Washington H.S. Year Book

[Muriel’s Response]
 Page #1

Dear Yvette,


The three of us, Betty, Joyce and I were like sisters.  That phase of our lives was happy.

I don’t know why Betty did not mention our third friend (it may have been due to something later in life that occurred.  I know that Aunt Edna and Joyce went to visit Betty and Aunt Agnes in California probably in the 70’s and there was some problem??)

Anyway-to continue-
Did your mom ever mention her elementary school?  I went to Public School (PS) 186 on 145th St. between Amsterdam and Broadway.  It was an old school and may have been torn down by now.

Public School 186
Photo by Vanessa Moore

We three all lived in 460 West 147th St. (3 blocks from PS 186) an old apartment building, once inhabited by whites.  The apartments all had one room with tiny wash room sinks, toilet for a live-in servant!

The entrance to the building was brick paved and led to about 3 steps to a wrought iron and glass doors, when we lived there, there was an elevator man waiting to take you up to the floors.  Around the elevator on each side were marble steps leading up or down.

Apt at 460 West 147th Street
Photo by Vanessa Moore

Betty and Aunt Agnes and “Uncie” lived on…

[Page 2]
…either the 5th or sixth floors.  I don’t remember the apt number. You entered a front door that went down a long hall.  The apartment had several rooms, maybe 6.  The living room and dining room was separated by French doors (or maybe it was pocket doors) was full of fabric and a dress form and spools of thread, scraps, ironing board + iron.  Aunt Agnes was a magnificent seamstress.  Nothing she made looked “Mammy Made”.

In fact when I went away to Howard University in 1945, she made me 2 beautiful suits, which I wore one, a light pearl grey wool suit when I got married in 194_/.  PS. Uncie had been a problem?

Joyce and Aunt Edna (also a seamstress for a designer house) lived on the 3rd or 4th floor of the building.

My mother and I lived on the second floor with my aunt and uncle-They were seldom home (They worked “in service” and my mother took care of me and my aunts 2 children).

Getting back to Betty’s and our activities-We three were the 3 Musketeers.  I believe Betty was 8-I was 7 & Joyce 6? (let me know how old Betty was and then we will know the correct ages.)

[Page 3]
We bought small dolls at Woolworth and Aunt Agnes would always give us scraps of used materials to make dresses (No pants then!) for our dolls and we would set on the steps of the building and sew our creations.

As we grew a little older we created our own language (on the order of pig latin). Each of our parents would get annoyed because we wouldn’t and they couldn’t tell what we were saying.

Some Saturdays my Mother (Aunt Tillie) would take us to the movies close by on Broadway to see cowboy pictures etc.

We three played 24-7.  We were happy together.

When I was about 12 years old, yes, after I graduated from elementary school in 1939, My mother and I moved to 153rd St.  7 blocks North of 147th St.  I went to Edward W. Stitt Junior H.S.  My memory quits there-Where was Betty?  I do know that sometime later she and Aunt Agnes moved to California to be near Aunt Zara.

Stitt Junior High School
Photo by Yvette Porter Moore

You asked about George Washington HS.  I went there in the Ninth grade & graduated in 1945, then to Howard-Betty and I always kept in touch but we were far apart.

[Page 4]

Joyce and I remained close, she moved into the same brownstone house (153 st.) Owned by a policeman, when her mother met and married him he and his children/grown, Joyce and Aunt Edna all lived on the lower 3 floors.  My mother and I lived on the top floor.  Joyce had twin boys November of 1953 and I had my twins (identical) in January 1954.  Your mom, My Betty, still kept in touch with us.

In 1972, I married Richard Ferguson, my 3rd marriage, and in 1984.  We moved into our own home in Englewood, New Jersey.

I have forgotten the year, but in the 1980’s the phone rang, I answered and it was Betty and Walter Porter! I was having a Birthday Party for Richard in the backyard, Betty and Walter joined us and I spent most of my time with my dear friend.

When we moved to our 1st home in Virginia, I spoke to her regularly and I was with her by phone up to the end.  I have been blessed with so many friend through the years and Betty was at the top of the list. (over)*

Betty always spoke of you and your brother.  You filled her life with joy.

Yvette if I think of anymore, I will call or write you.

Don’t forget to let me know Betty’s birthday year.  I know it was 11/17/?  Our phone is xxx-xxx-xxxx.  I have your number and I promise I will call.

Lets continue what your mom did 🙂

Love “Aunt” Muriel

PS. Let me know about your brother

(Since this letter we have spoken on a few occasions, while I have pen and paper in hand.  Her memory is not what it used to be as she is 82 years now.  My mother did attend Stitt Jr. High and she graduated the same year Muriel graduated from H.S. in 1945.  While Muriel went to Howard U., My mother attended NYU.)

© Yvette Porter Moore-All Rights Reserved

Tombstone Tuesday: Dorothy Lee Bradley

Aunt Dorothy Lee [Mitchell] Bradley was my [birth] father’s, Johnny Roy Mitchell, Sr sister.

Dorothy was a sibling of 10 children, born to Jesse E. Mitchell and Frances May Paulette.  She was born in Mississippi, but raised in Los Angeles, California.  Dorothy was married to Judge C. Bradley, and they added 8 children to their union. Dorothy was a very attractive woman. She succumbed to breast cancer after a long battle.

[courtesy of Lisa Bradley]
Dorothy Lee Bradley
[Photos courtesy of Lisa Bradley]


The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Sundays Obituary: John Allen Buggs

I loved this man dearly. John Allen Buggs was one of my favorite cousin’s father. He made the best pot of blue crabs when I visited Maryland at 15 years old in August of 1983. I remember him being one of the kindest and most intelligent men I have ever known. John had a great sense of humor.

I attended Cousin John’s funeral in Los Angeles.  The late Mayor Tom Bradley, a family friend spoke at John’s Funeral.

John Allen Buggs; Led U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Los Angeles Times
March 11, 1995
John Allen Buggs, former director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who was a leading advocate for the black community after the 1965 Watts riots and then an adviser to three Presidents, has died.
A daughter, Zara Gale Taylor, said her father was 79 and died Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Buggs began his 53-year career in community relations in Florida and moved in the early 1950s to Los Angeles, where he rose to national prominence as a peacemaker in the aftermath of the Watts riots.
He served under Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter as executive director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and as staff director of the Model Cities Administration at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
He came to the federal commission in 1971 after serving on the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission from 1954 to 1967. Buggs retired in 1978 after a stroke.
Born in Brunswick, Ga., Buggs was the son of southern Georgia’s first black physician, Dr. Charles Wesley Buggs, the family said.
He served as executive director of the NAACP in Marion County, Fla., and was co-chairman of the Florida State Committee on School Integration before moving with his family to California.
In addition to his daughter, Buggs is survived by his wife of 52 years, Mary Gale (Polly) Buggs, another daughter, Diane D. Dix, and two grandsons.
Funeral services are scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m. at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church at 2800 Stanford Ave., Los Angeles. The family has suggested memorial donations to Dillard University, Buggs’ alma mater in New Orleans, where a scholarship fund is being set up.
(l to r) Diane, Zara Cully Brown, Zara Gale,
John Allen & Mary Gale
Cousin John & me in 1978


The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

ette Porter Moore-All Rights Reserved

Nancy E Hartley or Harkley?

Hartley or Harkley, That is the Question?

     My Great Great Grandmother Nancy E. (Hartley) or as her surname was known to me, was going to remain as that, as long as I didn’t have enough proof that it could be (Harkley). I also was focusing on the Cully branch and figured that it was taking too much effort for me to find anything on Nancy.  One of the few documents that I did find with Nancy’s Maiden Name was her Wedding Bond, registered with Craven County, North Carolina County Clerk and the one registered with the State of North Carolina, (and mind you, it was not even the original document, but one that had been transcribed).

Nancy & William Cully North Carolina Collection

Well whenever you are doing scholarly research and publishing your results, it is always open to criticism, as questions can and will be raised.  Well, my distant cousin-in-law, Debra Newton-Carter, the genealogist/and writer of In Black and White:Cross-Cultural Genealogy, questioned my latest post Cully Surname Part #2.  

Debra stated, “Go to the New Bern-Craven County Public Library site for the book & page number for the marriage bond:
Also, while it records her name as Nancy Hartley, she is most likely a Harkley. They are also related to Carters, Georges and Moores, and I know several of the family from the George Family Reunions.”

I had already done what she said on prior occasions as we both use many of the same resources, but I know she was trying to make a point so this is what I posted in response:

@Debra, I have noticed that the Harkley’s are related to all the Surnames listed, however, I have not found anything over the years listing Nancy as a Harkley. I have looked at originals and it say Hartley. If you can find this relation and that it really is a misspelling please show me as it really would be most helpful. I believe I found someones tree with Harkley but I told them it was Hartley. I will relook. Thank you for your continued scholarship.

I could have left it at that, but one thing that Debra had stated that stuck with me in one of her blog posts regarding proving  through documents was:

 Sometimes we attach sentimental value upon a loved one’s suppositions that we find difficult to relinquish. . . . but accurate research must be verified by the artifacts and documents left behind, leaving a trace of their existence and contribution to a way of life deemed foreign to us today. “

I knew I must follow through, and find whatever evidence I had to prove or disprove Nancy’s Maiden Surname.

So, even though I had seen other documents in the past with Harkley, I decided, I would focus on those and look at the originals, and not just the transcribed documents.  This is what I found:

In the North Carolina Death and Burial record for Melvina C. Robinson, Nancy E. Harkley and William H Cully was listed as her parents.  I already knew who her parents were, but had to look at the maiden name of Nancy..I also looked at the original and it had the “K” and not the “T” in her surname.

Melvina C. Robinson Death Record
(Transcribed)Listed Mother (Nancy E. Harkley)

Melvina C. Robinson Death Certificate
Original Document

Nancy E. Harkley and William H Cully were listed on Sarah F. Whittington original Death Certificate as her parents.

Sara F. Whittington Death Certificate
Daughter of William Cully & Nancy E. Harkley

I went another step to find any records on Nancy Harkley, and could only at this time go as far back as 1850. Nancy Harkley was listed in the household with the Godett’s and she was 17 yrs at the time.

Nancy Harkley in 1850 US Census w/Godett’s

Based on the documentation, It is most likely that Nancy E. is a “Harkley” and not a “Hartley”. When it comes to research, you must be willing to give up some of your old unproven beliefs and be willing to discover what is the truth, that is if you want accurate information attached to your family tree.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

Wally Porter and Jody- Talented Tuesday

My late father, Dr. Walter James Porter, had been a part of the Black Entertainment scene in Los Angeles, CA in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  During this era, many entertainers performed in Black Night Clubs, as the Jim Crow Era was the political framework of the day.  The Black Night clubs were located in the ghetto’s and the performers would perform not only in the clubs, but at parties, and other social gatherings.  During this time there was no formal Comedian, Jazz, Entertainment circuit for African Americans.

My father opened for Jazz Artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton and other Big Name Comedians Such as Red Foxx.  Wally would perform his famous act with Jody and would go everywhere with this little guy with a hat.

Wally Porter also had many other talents as he wrote lyrics and music (of which two songs are played by Jimmy Witherspoon-3rd Floor Blues) Third Floor Blues, played the Bongo Drums and was a wonderful Dancer.  He and my mother could really cut the rug…

Walter and Betty Porter dancing at Walter’s Retirement Party
Advertisement, March 3, 1960

Just a little Trivia….My Father would scare the color off of us when he would hide behind the corner and pop out with Jody staring at us when we least expected it…. My Dad could throw his voice, which would amaze us…Growing up With Wally Porter and Jody was a blast…Interesting enough, when my father died in 2001, so did Jody…He began to fall apart….