Thursday, June 26, 2008

US Colored Troops-True American Heroes

The United States Colored Troops (USCT) were regiments of the United States Army during the American Civil War that were comprised of African-American soldiers mostly former slaves.

The U.S. Congress passed a confiscation act in July 1862 that freed slaves of owners in rebellion against the United States, i.e. those states in the South that had seceded from the Union. Hence, a militia act was passed that empowered the President to use freed slaves in any capacity in the army.

In September 1862 Lincoln issued his preliminary proclamation that all slaves in rebellious states would be free as of January 1. Recruitment of colored regiments began in full force following the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863.

The United States War Department issued General Order Number 143 on May 22, 1863, establishing a "Bureau of Colored Troops" to facilitate the recruitment of African-American soldiers to fight for the Union Army comprised of many regiments, including infantry, cavalry, light artillery, and heavy artillery units.

Former slaves and freed blacks rushed to sign up to secure the promise of freedom and deliverance from the life of bondage and oppression that so many knew. They were recruited from all states of the Union and became known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT). Approximately 175 regiments of over 178,000 free blacks and freed slaves served during the last two years of the war, and bolstered the Union war effort at a critical time. By war's end, the USCT were approximately a tenth of all Union troops. There were 2,751 USCT combat casualties during the war, and 68,178 losses from all causes.

The reason I am writing about and remembering these brave men is because has a site that you can search for the names of your ancestors and other relatives who may have served. However, it does not stop there. A lot of the original documents contain personal information like who their former owners were, who to contact in case of an emergency, promotions, whether they were wounded, hospitalized or died. It is a virtual diary of their military experience. As such, I urge you to explore it and see what you come up with.

As mentioned in the title of this blog, these were true American heroes. These men put their lives on the lines not just for themselves but for the millions of other African Americans formerly enslaved and the countless number of future generations of African Americans in this country.

Their contribution to this country has over the years been mimimized, concealed and kept from even their own descendants and relatives. They received few accolades after the war in part due to the fact that many returned home to the bitter South still pining over the loss of the war and to those who did not care to hear about the heroics of blacks responsible for their sudden change in lifestyle. Hence, many former soldiers kept their service under wraps for fear of lynching or worse. Therefore, you would not have seen too many former soldiers marching around town in Union war uniforms or bearing medals. As well, there were no monuments in the South following the war commemorating United States Colored Troops.

As a result, the legacy of who they were and what they did for their country has to a great extent has been lost to even their own descendants and other relatives but
they should be highly regarded, saluted and honored for an eternity for their priceless contribution.

With that said, you can assess the site by going to the opening page and then viewing all records under "Military Service" in the right sidebar. The database is listed towards the bottom under "U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865." Once you pull up and view the original document, you can click next at the top and you can view all the records on the individual.

To the US Colored Troops who have all now passed on to Glory-Thank you for your sacrifice and war efforts which have allowed so many to enjoy the freedoms that many of you early on were denied. Thank you for your willingness to lay down your lives for the benefit of countless others. You would be happy to know that your efforts were
not in vain. Many are still reaping the benefits of your selfless acts. May you enjoy the peace and freedom in heaven that you fought so hard to bring about for your fellow brothers and sisters on Earth. Eternally Grateful, Karen Burney

Friday, June 20, 2008

Juneteenth Celebration

This weekend, thousands of african americans and others will celebrate Juneteenth across the country.

In case you don't know, Juneteenth celebrations began in this country, primarily in the Texas region in remembrance of when slaves in the United States were emancipated. The name comes from June 19th which is run together to form the word, Juneteenth.

On June 19, 1865, the Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas announcing the war had ended, and all those enslaved were now free! From that moment in Galveston, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day had spread across the United States and beyond. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Today, Juneteenth’s national celebrations focus on African American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures. In recent years, an increasing number of Juneteenth organizations have risen to take their place alongside older organizations with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and heritage. As they continue to take on a more national and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not only remembered, but celebrated.

My mother, Lottie Green Burney who grew up in rural Louisiana recalled that when she was a young girl, they never really celebrated the 4th of July because blacks were never really free in this country until the Emancipation Proclamation was passed. Hence, Juneteenth was a big day in the South. People would barbeque, do fish frys, put together dances, and just fellowship with with family and community while reflecting on what it meant to be free.

She recalled sitting around with the "Old Folks" listening to what some called "Slave Tales." At the time, she thought they were telling tales, like Peter Rabbit or Southern legends. It was not until later that she realized that they were not just "Slave Tales," but "Slave Truths."

African Americans have certainly come a long way in this country in the last century. While racial divide still exists, God has brought us from a mighty long ways. We are even at the point where we could have the first black president, Barrack Obama.

So in rememberance of Juneteenth, and all of those men and women both white and black who put their lives on the line to bring about freedom for all, I encourage you to attend a Juneteenth celebration in your area.

Here are some of the celebrations going on around the Country:

Sat - Jun 21, 2008
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Legions Hill Community Center
South Pardue
Vivian, LA 71082
Phone: (318) 455-1390 PRICE: free.
PHONE: (318) 375-4649 or 375-5730

Sacramento California
June 21 - 22, 2008
William Land Park
Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Free Admission

June 21 2008, 10:00am - 7:00pm
San Francisco, CaliforniaTomorrow,
Where: Civic Center Plaza Park
Polk, McAllister, Grove & Golden Gate
San Francisco, CA

Friday, June 13 at 1:00 PM
Park Strip (Anchorage, AK)
Mid-town, Anchorage
Anchorage, AK 99508

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Papa Isam and his Black Horse

My paternal great-grandfather was Isam (Isham)Hines. He was the son of David and Mariah Pressley Hines and father to my grandmother Bessie Hines.

He was born and raised in and around Frierson, Louisiania in DeSoto Parish. He was one of at least 9 children so he was surrounded by a lot of family. His siblings Arthur, Bell, Phillice, David, Maria, Maria(Mariah), Mary and Richard.

As well, he had a big extended family as the Hines in Desoto Parish were and still are plentiful since his father, David also came from a big family and they all resided in that same community.

His maternal grandparents, the Pressleys also lived there. They were Stephen and Phyllis Pressley.

He met and married, Cornelia Jefferson Hines, the daughter of Issac and Jane Brayboy Jefferson. By all accounts, she was a tall, beautiful and strong woman. The 2 had 6 children together. She and Isam eventually parted ways but remained friends.

I never met my great-grandpa Isam but heard a lot about him from my father and other relatives. He was described as a very smooth dark-skinned man with the genes of Mother Africa definitely flowing through his blood. He was the darkest shade of ebony. His wife on the other hand, was very fair because of her african/native american and caucasian genes.

Isam and Cornelia were the parents of Bessie Hines Burney, Nelvin Hines Fuller, Jane Hines, Moeis Hines, Edward L.(Erascus) Hines and Mary Hines. As well, Cornelia had another daughter, Viola Nickleberry Henderson.

He later married a woman by the name of Sicily (Cecily). They resided primarily in the Shreveport area. On the 1930 census, he is listed as a Cotton Farmer and his 9 year grandson, Tom Fuller, the son of his daughter, Nelvin was residing with them.

The story that sticks out the most about Papa Isam is that he loved to ride his black horse, often even after nightfall came. One relative, Eliza Martin recalled that as a young girl, she would often see my dark-skinned Papa riding that black horse, at night with black clothing sometimes with a bottle of moonshine in hand at the end of a hard-day's labor. She remembered looking out the window and only seeing a streak pass as he galloped across land. She also shared that after he passed on that she would still see him streak across the acres on his black horse and say to her parents, "I just seen Papa Isam on his black horse," while they assured her that it was only "a little girl's imagination."

He passed on to glory on April 30, 1947. As said before, I never got the chance to met him but his memory has lived on trhough his children, grandchildren and other relatives who lovingly remembered him.

To Papa Isam:

Strong Black Nubian Prince, perched upon his black horse
Ride, ride until the sun sets and you finish your course
Ride high, ride proud, until the Lord calls your name
And you prance away, prance away & victory's proclaimed

Love always, Your great-grand-daughter, Karen Burney

Friday, June 6, 2008

Seed (offspring/descendent)scriptures

Psalm 37:25
I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken or their seed begging bread.

Psalm 89:4
Your Seed I will establish forever, and I will build up your throne for all generations.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lamberton Genealogy Project

The following is a Press Release from a gentleman connected with my Brayboy line.

Press Release
May 28, 2008
George Geder

Lamberton Genealogy Project

November 2007 was the beginning of a wonderful and productive relationship for me with the Robert E. Lamberton Elementary school of Philadelphia, PA. Their principal, Marla Travis-Jones declared the 2007-2008 school year's theme as 'Family History & Genealogy'. My wife, Cynthia and I flew from Santa Fe to present and speak to the students about ancestry.

We showed the kids the PBS program 'History Detectives' that featured my 2nd great grandfather John Stevenson, an African American Civil War soldier and veteran. Then we gave a PowerPoint presentation of my ancestors, telling stories and explaining genealogical research along the way. We had a delightful and illuminating Q&A session with the students and their parents. After two days, we returned home.

For the next six months, the students had genealogy projects to develop. In order to graduate from middle school to high school, they had to create a family history presentation. And create they did! Booklets, posters, computer discs, oral histories on audio tape, and even a dance interpretation of three generations of women in one family!

I returned to the school in May to witness - and judge - a collection of genealogical treasures that just blew me away. I could tell that many of the students had help from their older siblings, parents and relatives. No points were taken off for that. In fact, that was the big 'Gotcha' moment. The whole family got together on a genealogical project! Folks, it doesn't get any better than that!

The top ten students had to present to me. There was the typical talking too fast, too low, not facing the audience, stumbling, fumbling, etc. There was something else, also. There was pride, improved self-esteem, and an awareness and upliftedness that comes from learning and knowing your ancestry. One student learned that there are skilled tradesmen on his father's side and college graduates on his mother's side. Another student had prominent ancestors from Haiti. Others had world class boxers, jockeys and footballers to point to. One student could trace his ancestors back to the 1700's. All of the students couldn't wait to tell me what they found out about their families. We also digressed a lot, talking about hippies, yippies, Black Panthers and all kinds of things. We had big fun.

At this juncture, I want to report that the school has all the attributes of an inner city facility in crisis. I could tell that they were probably near the bottom of the list for resources. One of the security personnel drove me between the school and the hotel. He explained to me what a tough job he and the teachers had in keeping the children safe and providing an education at the same time. Their saving grace came in the form of their progressive and dedicated principal, Marla Travis Jones.

It was Mrs. Jones, inspired by the PBS program, who figured that one way to make a difference in her students' lives was to shine a light on their family histories and have that reflection be part of their academic well being. And they got it; the students, parents and teachers! Mrs. Barbara Feracco, an eight grade teacher with a passion for genealogy, assisted the students throughout the year and was surprised by and proud of the students' efforts and parental participation. I was more than appreciative of her help in narrowing down the field to the top ten projects.

Well, I am the Lamberton school's official genealogist. That's an honor I'll cherish and respect for a long time to come. I'm already planning my next visit!

George Geder

"Guided by the Ancestors"