Friday, April 25, 2008

Coming soon to Louisiana Lineage Legacies -Jefferson family photographs!

I have great news! An aunt(cousin) Jane sent me photographs of most of my Jefferson line including my Great-Great grandparents, Issac "Tooke" Jefferson and his wife Jane Brayboy Jefferson and another photograph of all their daughters which represents 6 of their 12 children.

I have heard about this family all my life and wrote stories about them based on family oral history and genealogical documents but I must say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Being able to put a face with a profile is immeasurable. These photographs were in the family all along. That just validates what I have been saying for years, you have to check with ALL your family members especially the older ones to see what pictures may be hiding in their photo albums, closets or attics. It also proves the old addage, "Ask and You shall receive!

The pictures look to be taken around the turn of century in the late 1890 the early 1900's based on the style of dress. All 6 ladies in the one photograph are wearing high neck, ruffled and lacy collared dresses and blouses which were prevalent around that time as pictured below:

I am sorry to advise that I am not uploading them right now to the site but I will soon. However, I felt the need to share with you my good news but be looking out for them in the very near future.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Charlton Heston (Moses) passes away

The Great Charlton Heston, the critically acclaimed and one of my favorite actors of all time passed away on April 4, 2008 at the age of 84 reportedly of the effects of Alzheimers.

Heston was born John Charles Carter in an unincorporated area between Evanston and Wilmette, Illinois, the son of Lilla (née Charlton) and Russell Whitford Carter, a mill operator.

Genealogically speaking, Heston was of English and Scottish descent and a member of the Fraser clan.

His passing was definitely a loss to many of his adoring fans including myself who were inspired by his life-long work. His best work in my opinion was in the late Cecille B. De Mille's, "The Ten Commandments."

Mr. DeMille's should also go down in history as having produced, directed and written the epic movie. He delivered on that end and Charlton Heston, again in my opinion became "Moses."

The story chronicles the journey of the Biblical hero, Moses' life from his humble entry into the world as an infant son of slaves doomed for execution by edict of the reigning Pharoah of Egypt to his basket journey across the Nile into the hands of his adoptive Egyptian Royal mother that landed him into the House of Pharoah. From there, Moses rises to power as a strong, young Mighty Warrior Prince smitten by a beautiful Egyptian princess, Neferteri and is destined to assume the title of Pharoah until his true identity is learned and he is exiled from Egypt. He finds the strength to make it across the desert into a distant land where he marries and lives amongst the descendents of Ishmael until God speaks to him in the form of a "Burning Bush" on a high mountain and ordains him to lead the Hebrew people out of the bondage of Egypt. He does return to Egypt and following many God sent plagues and against strong opposition of his once brother, Ramses, leads a nation out of bondage across a parted Red Sea to receive "God's Ten Commandments" for living a good life only to have them lose faith and sin against God so they are made to wonder in the desert for 40 years until the ones that sinned died off. You may be thinking, I nailed that summary of the movie. If so, that is because I have literally seen the movie over 100 times since I own the movie and watch it at least 10 times a year.

This movie written in 1956 was spectacular in every way, shape and form. The setting, the scenes, the costumes and especially the actors. Highest honors in that regard as mentioned above goes to Charlton Heston. He was the central character, Moses and his fabulous portrayal of that role made the epic movie what it was. In the process, he touched many hearts and souls including mine and undoubtedly lead as many people to Glory and delivered them from the bondage of sin in real life as he did in his portrayal in the movie. I believe and pray that he is sitting on the right hand of God as we speak!

He leaves behind his wife, Lydia and the world who was blessed by his presence in the world and will forever cherish his memory.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Witherspoon Wills

I found these wills belonging to Boykin Witherspoon's grandparents on a site entitled

"SLAVES OF SOUTH CAROLINA RELIGIOUS DISSENTERS." Boykin Witherspoon was from Darlington County, South Carolina and was the slaveowner of my ggg-grandfather, Stephen Pressley who was born in 1820 so the transactions below took place before his time but some of the bequeathed slaves might have been been his ancestors but I have not yet established that. If you know of a connection, please advise.

Slave Name: Ceasar , Willed to David Witherspoon son of David Witherspoon
Will of David Witherspoon dated 9 Jan 1759 proved 4 Oct 1759

Slave Name: Jack Bristow, Willed to John Witherspoon son of Gavin Witherspoon
Will of Gavin Witherspoondated 6____ 1778prove 1778

Slave Names: Saul, Jemmy, Sue with her two children Isaac & Sue, Pamila, Diana with all their increase Willed to Mary Donnom daughter of James Donnom
Will of Ruth Witherspoondated 22 Nov 1763proved 26 June 1764

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


My ggg-grandfather, Stephen Pressley was owned by the Witherspoon family, in particular, Boykin Witherspoon. According to family oral history, he was a Witherspoon during slavery but changed his name to Pressley after slavery ended which some say was actually his wife, Phyllis surname from perhaps a former slavemaster.

I ran across the McKee/Witherspoon family history and it revealed that an Ann Pressley married a James Witherspoon who was a cousin to Boykin's father, John D. Witherspoon as follows:

90. Ann13 Pressley (Sarah12 Witherspoon, David11, John10, David9, James Alexander8, Alexander7, John6 Wedderspone, Alexander5 Wedderspoyn, Andro4, William3 Wethirspoon, James2 Wydderspoon, Alexander1 Wetherspun) She married James Witherspoon, son of James Witherspoon and Elizabeth McQuoid. He was born 1743 in Williamsburg County, South Carolina, and died 1790 in Williamsburg County, South Carolina.

Based on the above, this may be how the Pressley and Witherspoon slaves crossed paths. Perhaps, Boykin inherited or purchased slaves bearing the Pressley name from his Aunt by marriage, Ann Pressley Witherspoon. That is one theory but I still have not yet located documents to confirm it so my search continues.

2008 Pressley Reunion

The Presley Family Reunion dates are August 1-3, 2008 in Houston, Texas for the Presley families originating from Desoto Parish, Louisiana and South Carolina.

Please contact me for additional contact information.

Slaves in the Carribean Islands

For those of you that are of Carribean or British West Indies ancestry, has a massive search site which lists the names of former slaves as well as their slave owners.

It is listed as below under:
Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834 Census & Voter Lists Antigua and Barbuda.

To get to the site,
1. Pull up's main page
2. Click search all databases
3. Click on "Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834"
4. Enter slave's surname and/or first name
5. You can narrow your search by colony dependency and/or parish

Coloney dependencies search options include Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Berbice, Dominica, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Mauritius, Nevis, Sri Lanka, St. Christopher, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Tobago, Trinidad and Virgin Islands.

This is a great site and an invaluable resources for those of you in search of your Carribean ancestry.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Our family Cars

1965 Chrysler New Yorker like the one my parents owned except they owned a brown one and later a burgundy one

1958 Dodge like ours except ours was PINK

I recently encountered a piece written by my cousin, Craig Manson on his blogsite, GeneaBlogie regarding the vehicles his parents owned while he was growing up. It inspired me to do a piece as well on the same subject. Afterall, we as families spend a great deal of time in our vehicles creating memories inside them or on our way to memorable events.

Among the vehicles that my parents owned was a 1958 Dodge and we took many cross country trips in the early 60's to Louisiana in it. They later upgraded to a brown Chrysler New Yorker and later a 1965 Burgundy Chrysler New Yorker with matching leather interior with cruise control and all the other "Bells and Whistles" of that era. We kids referred to the rear of the 1958 Dodge as having "Bat Wings" because it resembled the rear of the "Batmobile" on the then hit show, "Batman." We didn't realize we were riding in luxury.

As mentioned above, for most people, those vehicles hold a lot of nostalgia and creates another "vehicular" aspect or angle of family history.

My father, Jewel Burney loved to drive, whether it was a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive or a long-distance trek across the country, it seemed to relax him and bring on a level of peace.

Some of our more local destinations included many Saturday trips up to Roseville, California to the Denio's Farmers' Market and Auction which has been around since 1946. For those of you not familiar with it, it is a mecca for fruits and vegetables, leather goods, clothing and just about anything you could possibly think of at bargain prices.

We were a family of 9 including my parents when all the children were at home and in addition, my parents regularly entertained brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, friends and anyone else my father seen fit to invite home to partake of his wife's good cooking. Hence, those 20 mile car trips to Roseville not only provided leisurely quality family time but was well worth the trip for the fresh bargain fruits and vegetables and other food goods for their massive dinner menus, school clothing and supplies, car parts, ice cream cones and my favorite, pony rides.

My dad also drove us to the Zoo a lot. Again, the car drive on the way to Zoo was just as memorable as the Zoo itself. I can remember conversations we had, songs we sang and the many funny things we did.

One game we would play is "Pee-Wee Punch". The object of the game was for each child to identify as many Volkswagon Beetles (VW's) as possible on the way to our destination. We used our fingers to keep track. The winner was determined by whomever had pointed out the most "VW's by yelling, "Pee Wee Punch" by the time we reached our destination. The person was simultaneously "punched" usually in the arm. This was especially fun on long distance trips.

Another game that we played was whenever we crossed railroad tracks, each child was required to cross some bodyparts, i.e. their fingers, toes, legs, arms, lips, eyes,etc. If you were caught by another not crossing something when you crossed over the railroad tracks, someone identified it, and you were pinched. However, if you were actually crossing something like your lips, eyes or some other bodypart and they pinched you, you could pinch them back twice. We bruised each other up a lot playing this game and gave our parents a lot of headaches in the process.

Another trip, we would take a lot in the car was to the Bay Area home of my father's sister Gladys who was a WONDERFUL cook. Again, the drive down was one of the best parts of the experience. The drive from Sacramento to Richmond, CA is very scenic. We just loved to take in the beautiful mountain ranges, pastures, houses atop hills, waterways, bridges as well as the roadway as our car lapped the miles. As a family, we would point out to one another a breathtaking view, a sunset or even a cow. They seem simple but they were memorable.

A more long distance trip that we took several times in the 1960's were our road trips to Louisiana where both my parents grew up. Now, I got to be honest with you, here. The only real memories that I have of these is the packing up of the vehicle, climbing in and hitting the freeway because once we got about 20 miles down the road, all the children in the car were fast asleep. Mind you that it is at least a 36hour trip making good time since I drove it many times since as an adult. However, as a kid, the only thing I remember was getting in the car and waking up there. But again, as mentioned earlier, the car got us to that destination that brought us many memories. Those memories included spending time with my grandmother, Johnnie Pearl and her mother, Anne Bell Green whom we called "Big Mama and all the family dinners and conversations that went along with the trip.

I know you are probably wondering how on earth all 9 of us fit into that 5 person 1958 Dodge. Well, in case you didn't know it, there were no seatbelt or carseat laws back then. Hence, the going rule was "you get in where you fit in." That meant, everybody squeezed together to in order to accommodate each other. The usual and customary order and sitting arrangement was: My dad and mom in the front seat with 2 small children in between and my mom holding a baby, 4-5 children sitted in back with another child sitting on their lap if need be, and up to 2 children sitting on rear floor board. As I mentioned earlier, there were nine of us and often cousins and friends tagged along.

So as you can see, cars are one common and important place where family memories are made. I hope this article inspires you to reflect back on the family memories you had in your family vehicle!