Making It Happen!

YvetteThe Last time I wrote in my journal, I shared some of my short term goals. You can go to “I Am Back!!! to see that post .I am finding it difficult to blog most days, but I am going to attempt to do so at least weekly as I think it would be cool to see my progress and journey through reaching my goals.

As stated in my prior post, I applied for University of San Diego’s Paralegal program. I was accepted and I started on September 9, 2014.  I am enrolled in the accelerated program which will end on December 18, 2014.  In four months I will have completed 23 units.  The classes in the  program are: Intro to Law, Criminal Law, Civil Law, Research & Writing, Real Estate Law, and Family Law.  On top of those courses, I am required to take an internship class and intern in a legal office, court, etc.  I applied for a special internship with the Superior Court of San Diego.  I was accepted and will be working in the probate department.  The program will require me to intern for 75 hours.  This case load is very vigorous, and I am praying that I will do well enough to earn my Certificate.

So now that I have been in the program for two weeks, I am finding that I don’t have much time for anything else.  I have been going from class to studying in the Law Library to going home and studying more, while trying to get at least four to six hours of sleep.  I am realizing that sleep has to be a part of the schedule so I don’t burn out…and of course, I got to eat light meals so I don’t doze off in class.  Ha Ha, I could barely keep my eyes open the other day, and my professor saw, but told me not to worry about it because half the class was falling asleep…LOL  I still have to care for my 84 year old Uncle.  My grown children have been very helpful in picking up the slack when I am at school.  I have not found the time to work on the projects I have with my publishing company, however, I am preparing to do so when I find a few spare moments.

I did start my BlogtalkRadio program on August 25, 2014.  My program is on Mondays at 6 pm Pacific Time.  To check out my station “Talk With The Root Digger” click on name. My next program will be with Ty El-Gray of the well known poem, “A Black Woman’s Smile.” Ty is the National Spokesperson for Spokenword Billboard Awards. I hope that you will join me on this program and call in to ask questions of our guest.

What about the time I am taking for my genealogy research?  Well, I do plan on spending at least 2-5 hours a week to research and write about my journey.  I have just started researching my New Mexico ancestry.  I recently found information on my Chavez, Sanchez and Baca surnames.  I had my DNA from 23andme transferred to FamilyTreeDNA, and many of the surnames of my Mexican/Native American ancestors were confirmed by others that I matched up with.  The locales were also confirmed even though I had prior information from looking at census records.  I am very interested in my DNA and am seeing that my Espinoza ancestry is a possible distinct line to Jewish ancestry that also was revealed in my DNA reports.  I am going to try to be more thoughtful as I do this research as I am seeing that historical research of the history of the locations my ancestors lived is necessary for me to understand these determinations.

So of course, I am so happy that I still have a following.  Please don’t give up on me.  I will be more consistent, and I really appreciate your support.

I thought I was finished with this post, but wanted to share why I am back in school.  I did not want to find myself in a unsatisfactory position.  I have been very fortunate to be able to stay home and take care of my Uncle while working on the things that I enjoy.  It is very scary to think that if he were to die, as he is going to be 85 years in November, that I would be in a very serious situation.  I have never provided for myself with some type of safety net.  It is just the way its been.  However, as I am in my 40’s, I am in a situation as if I were leaving my parent’s home for the first time.  My main goal is to be self-sufficient and not having to depend on others for my needs.  

So there you have it in a nutshell.  Please leave comments, I would love to hear from you.

Family Stories Handed Down Through the Oral Tradition

If the Story-Teller leaves no oral or written family history, it dies with them.  I think my mother knew this.  44 years ago in 1973, I was 5 years old.  My mother was an elementary school teacher and I distinctly remember during  Summer vacation, my mother sitting in her home office and firmly letting me know that she was writing a family story.  She would tell me that I needed to find something to do as she spoke into an old-fashioned tape recorder with a hand-held microphone, clearly pronouncing every syllable of every word.

[When I reflect on this, I realize that she had perfect diction and elocution, as did her Aunt Zara Cully Brown, who taught her how to speak]

I have always been curious about my family history, and I would hear the stories of my parent’s lives spoken around the table, or in the living room when my mother was entertaining guests.  I always had my ears perked up, but with child understanding, many of the stories were not remembered or understood clearly.

My Paternal Grandmother would give me bits and pieces of her life and those of her family members from the country, but she would shut-down if my questions presented hit a nerve. That would be it, and nothing more.

My mother passed away in 2004, and as I was packing and storing the contents of her home, I came across boxes of tapes.  Many of the tapes were recordings of community events, and recordings of guest speakers.  When I found the time, I took each tape and listened to see what was on them.  One after one, I stumbled across the old tapes my mother had been recording in the Summer of 1973.  I was ecstatic.  Not only did she record the stories, but most of them she had already transcribed.  This was the beginning of my genealogical family research on the history of her ancestry.

These tapes sparked the story-teller in me, and as I listened to each tape, I realized the stories she was telling were passed down from her mother and her mother’s mother.  It was five generations of stories.  I knew my mother wanted to write her life story in Sugar-hill, New York which also encompassed Worcester, MA and North Carolina.  As a matter of fact, I had promised my mother when she was living that I would help her find records to support the stories she was telling.

My mother, The story-teller, who is no longer with us, is alive and well when I replay the old tapes, and the new CD’s I had made of the tapes.  It is like my mother is in the room.  I feel her spirit, and it is in my hearts desire to continue to tell the stories of my ancestors as I hand them down to my children and their children.  Whenever I get the chance, I incorporate the stories into the daily lives of my children according to how they relate to the happenings in their lives.

“Our lives are like a million books, of which many stories can be told.”

What Are My Maternal Genes Saying About Me?

I have always wanted to know my ancestral roots as far back as I can remember. Being adopted somehow heightened my curiosity.  Even though I have had a successful reunion with my biological family, the curiosity of my deep roots have never subsided.  I saw this DNA testing as an opportunity to know more about my ancestral roots and about myself.

Below is an illustration of how sons carry their mother’s DNA and how the daughter passes on her mother’s DNA to her children.  I know very little of biology and will not attempt to pretend that I do…All I know is that Science has advanced so much so over the years, that it has allowed others such as myself to learn more about their maternal line through DNA testing, and so here I am.

Photo from: http://www.genebase.com/store/product.php?spId=6

In July of 2011, I received an email from the National Urban League(NUL) stating that they were partnering with 23andme, with the intentions of encouraging people of African descent to participate in the testing of their DNA.  The NUL and 23andme stated that there is a lack of participation of African Americans and there is little known about the connection between DNA & Disease in the African American.  I have been a participant of a National longitudinal study of African American Women, and so I also saw this as an opportunity to find out what diseases I may be inheritable to, and find ways that I could prevent those diseases from occurring.

I have always identified as being African American with the knowledge that I have Mexican and some Indian Ancestry.  All I know is DNA doesn’t lie, so here is what some of my information shows….Even though I do not understand what everything means.

My Maternal Haplogroup B2

My maternal Haplogroup is B2 which is found in Native American Ancestry, and U.S. Southwestern Groups.  I believe that B2’s are also found in South America, North America and Asia.

My Ancestry Painting

So what this chart is showing that I am 48% European, 33 % African, and 18% Asian.  Am I surprised…Well, yes and no.  I thought I would be no more than 10% European, 50% African and 40% other.

What I find interesting from my Ancestry painting is that I have no long solid lines.  I am totally intertwined with various colors in the chart.

I am very curious as to what my paternal line has to say about me.  I would be thrilled if I could get one of my father’s brothers to take the DNA test for me, but I think that I will have to at least get one of my brothers soon to do this for me.  On my maternal line, my Uncle and Grandfather recently died and so my hopes of getting anything from my maternal line will be impossible.

Global Similarity

The Global Similarity chart of my DNA revealed that on my Maternal line that my DNA similarity is largely matched in South and North America.

I am hoping that I can get more clarity of my DNA as time goes on.  The 23andme testing has been very valuable to me.  I believe that I will be able to be a part of this health study for awhile.  I am required to complete online surveys on my health, environment and behaviors.  I hope more African Americans participate as this will be most helpful.

The other thing is that many African Americans state they are of Native American Ancestry.  What we need to do is have our DNA studied so that there are more of us and there can be more info as to the actuality of this.  I believe that since there are more Europeans in the DNA bank, they base the Native American Ancestry by their Genes.  If I am mis-stating this, please let me know.

I am sure many of us have watched Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates.  He is an advocate for 23andme, and has stated in his program that many African Americans ancestry are of European descent rather than Native American.  I am not sure of his statements because I think until more of us decide to participate we will not have a fuller picture as to our ancestry.

One thing that I know for sure is that I self-identify of the African American culture, so that is what I am.

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 22 – This is “Her” Life.

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

Not So Amanuensis & Mappy Monday: Hope Cemetery Map And My Ancestors Buried There: Part #2

On January 10, 2012, I received an e-mail message from My Cousin’s husband on my genealogy website contact form.  He stated to me, “I have recently started to trace our family tree and believe there may be a connection to my wife’s grandfather ‘Leander Singleton Gilliam’ through your great-grandmother ‘Hannah Gilliam’ (as described in your genealogy blog).  If interested in more info, please contact me.”

I responded to him via e-mail and then on the phone.  We quickly discussed the fact that my Hannah [Singleton-Nelson] Gilliam was my Great Great Grandmother and that Leander Singleton Gilliam would have to be her son.  Hannah carried her slave name Singleton, and Gilliam was her married name.

My cousin’s husband informed me that his wife was white and they were surprised to see mulatto on one of the US Census records for Leander when he lived in North Carolina.  The Census records in Worcester, MA for the years 1900-1930, Leander and his family are listed as White.  I informed Hank that my 2x Grandmother Hannah was very fair and so was her sister Jane B. Collins, as they could pass as White.  Some family members chose to pass and others did not.

Even though I was having this conversation with a Gilliam descendant, I still was not positive that this Leander was Hannah’s son.

A few day’s ago, I was sent me a map of Hope Cemetery that had writing on the back of it in Leander’s (assumed) handwriting. This map clearly proved that my Cully, Gilliam, Collins family were related.  I was also sent  photo’s of Leander and his three sons, as I will present on a later post.

Hope Cemetery, Worcester Mass Section Map
Markings of where family is buried
Plot 76 is where my 2X Grandmother Hannah Gilliam & My Cully, Collins family is buried.
Writing on the Back of the Hope Cemetery Section Map

[Transcribed]

Perpetual Care See Mr. Burbank, Superintendent

Hannah Gilliam  1839-1914
Lot 5817
Sec 76

Joseph A Collins
1831-1911
Jane B. Collins
1840-1925
Lot 6772
Sec 76

Nora J Cully
1870-1911
6772
Sec 76

6567

There were one discrepancy as Nora J A Cully was the daughter of Nora A Cully and she was the one buried in Plot 6772, Section 76.  She was born 1911 and died in 1936.  The mother was buried in Plot 6767, Section 76, (RF2) with her son William E.

See my prior post Hope Cemetery-Part #1 at this link.

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