Fearless Females – March 12: Working Girl

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

I had two grandmother’s that had their own businesses in their home.  Both of my grandmother’s sewed for a living.  My maternal grandmother Agnes Cully Peters was a fashion designer, and sewed for the Who’s Who in New York and then in later years Los Angeles when her sister Zara relocated to pursue her acting career.

 

My paternal grandmother Helen Bunn Thompson had a sewing room in her home and she would sew for church members, and many of the neighborhood families where she resided in Los Angeles.  This is one of the many ways she would make a living.  Helen was also was a foster parent and  a launderer.

Helen Bunn Thompson

 

I later learned from an older relative that Helen owned a cafe in Little Rock, Arkansas and in St. Louis, Missouri.

Fearless Females – March 11: Tragic or Unexpected

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family.

 

I mention my Great Grandmother Nora Ann (Gilliam) Cully often when I discuss an unexpected death that greatly affected the family.

Nora died a month short of 40 years on November 9, 1911 in Worcester, Mass.  She had  ten children living when she passed away.  Nora died a few days after giving birth to her daughter Nora Ann Cully, Jr.  This death affected the family as all the children were young and because of Nora’s early demise, the children were sent to various homes as the father, Ambrose E Cully was not capable of raising all the children by himself.

Fearless Females Blog Post-March 10: Religion

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

Religion has played a big role in the life of my ancestors.  In the African American Experience, “Religion” and “Church was always central to their daily lives.

My ancestors have been members of various types of churches. Some of them have been African Methodist Episcopal (AME), Zionist AME, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Episcopalian, Church of Scientology, and various others.

My ancestors not only attended church but they participated in activities under the hospices of the church. Below is an article, with mention of a few of my ancestors.   Jane Foreman (Great Grand Aunt), Zara Culley (Grand Aunt), Mrs. Jane Collins (2nd Great Grand Aunt).  I believe this article was published in the Worcester Spy.  I am unsure of the date of the article, but I believe it would have to be between 1902-1904 as  Jane Foreman died in April of 1905.

They were celebrating Emancipation Day at the Zion Church.

Emancipation Day Celebrated in Zion Church

Fearless Females Blog Post-March 8: Diaries, Letters & Journals

Once again, in honor of National Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

I have decided to participate in the Prompts:  So here we go!

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

Here is a small insert of the memoirs of my mother Betty Mae Peters that will be published in January 1, 2013 by FreedomInk Publishing.  The setting takes place in the 1940’s in New York City.

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Betty Mae Peters Porter with her mother Agnes Mae Cully Peters

Many “black” people, in order to obtain employment, passed for white, “Spanish”, or anything but “colored.”  This was quite common and quite accepted in the black community, as using whatever one could to “make-it” in a basically hostile society.  Blacks also liked the idea of “fooling” paddies (a word for whites).  The darkest black would smile a knowing we-smile upon encountering a friend or acquaintance “passing” on a job, and, far from giving-away the imposter, would instead return to the black community and laughingly report how so-and-so was fooling those “dumb paddies.”  However, in my naivete, I was amazed to learn that whites went through the same kinds of fabrications for the exact same reasons.

If you like this, wait till you read the book “A Taste of Sugar”…

Copyright protected by Estate of Betty Mae Porter-1973-2012

Fearless Females Blog Post-March 7: Favorite Recipe

Everyday this month, I will do a post on a female ancestor.  Thank you to the Accidental Genealogist for the Post Prompt.

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

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Betty Mae Porter at home being Bartender. About 1972

I really can’t think of any recipes off hand that my mother would use.  She was one of those mother’s that would not measure anything, and would just cook.  Of course she had many recipe books in the home, so I am not sure how much she relied on recipes.

I can tell you one thing for sure, she cooked every night for dinner while I was growing up.  It would be a very rare occasion if she bought anything like fast food.

My mother was an excellent cook!  She always cooked with lots of garlic and onions.  Garlic was on and in everything.

I think my mother improvised quite a bit in the kitchen.  The one thing I miss about her cooking was her soup.  Her soups never tasted the same as the last one she made.  It was always a different variety.  My uncle and dad would call her “Soup Girl.”

She would love to send soup to her friends in the neighborhood, and she would send it home to me and my children.  They loved their Grandma’s soups!