Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Upcoming Speaking Engagements: Fall 2018

It's been pretty quiet over here, but don't worry - things are absolutely happening behind the scenes in KINterested Land!

For one thing, I had the great fun of attending my biennial Cooper-Cummings Family Reunion last month, celebrating and reconnecting with my mom's maternal family. Expect a post on that soon.

I've also been continuing to research the Worthen family - the sister and children of my maternal 2x Great-Grandmother, Scoatney Scott. Specifically, I've been trying to learn more about Masonia Scott Worthen's sons, Thomas, Henry, and Grant, and their time first as loggers near Shelton, Washington and then as servicemen in World War I. To that end, I've got a new book on my shelf:

and have borrowed a few others from the shelves of the Free Library of Philadelphia:

with a list of other resources to check as well!

In my "spare time," I've also got a few exciting things to look forward to: opportunities to share my passion for black history and black genealogical research with other enthusiasts, beginners and experts.

First, in early October, I have the privilege of delivering the keynote address for the Pennsylvania Hallowed Grounds Project (PAHGP) Annual Meeting. PAHGP is an organization dedicated to preserving African American cemeteries across the commonwealth and honoring the local burial grounds where many United States Colored Troops soldiers were laid to rest.

The following weekend, I am one of three members of the African American Genealogy Group (AAGG; full disclosure: I'm the current President) who will be presenting as part of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society's Annual Conference, hosted just outside of Philadelphia. I'll be giving two presentations, one on AAGG's partnership with Philadelphia's historic African American burial ground, Eden Cemetery, and the other on researching African Americans in the era of the American Revolution.

Finally, in November, I get to travel down to Leesburg, Florida to offer an intro to black genealogical research for members of the community through their local library. This one's part "business" and part pleasure - I'm hoping to sneak in a mini vacation down there, reconnecting with a fellow genealogist I met at the National Genealogical Society conference a few years ago and maybe even popping into Disney!

It's shaping up to be a busy fall - I work a full-time job that I truly enjoy, after all  - but I'm jazzed that it'll be full of things I love. If you attend any of these meetings or presentations, be sure to say hello!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Case of the Second Masonia, Part 2: Finding the Smoking Guns

In Part 1 of this post, I introduced a "new" name to my family tree: Masonia Scott. But, of course that name is not that new - it's the same name as my 2x Great-Grandaunt. And just for kicks, they were both born in Georgia and both moved to Portland, Oregon, but were not mother and daughter. So, what was their relationship? Were they aunt and niece, as I suspected, or was there some other relationship here?

Google got me one very significant step closer to an answer. See, I believe that contextual information is *key* to understanding the names, dates, locations and events of our ancestors' lives. So parallel to my research into both Masonia Scotts, I was also trying to learn more about Portland's black community in general. What was life like when "my" Masonia moved to Portland around 1920? What did she and her children encounter? What institutions were there to support them, and what opportunities were available to them?

My puttering around on the interwebs brought me to a treasure of a document, and I hope any genealogists reading this have the same kind of luck in their locales of interest: I came across a PDF of a report called Cornerstones of Community: Buildings of Portland's African American History.

Downloadable PDF available here.

Published in 1997 by the Architectural Heritage Center of the Bosco-Milligan Foundation, a Portland-based historic preservation agency, this report summarizes the development of the city's African American community from the early 19th Century to the late 20th and highlights buildings of community significance. The best thing about this report, however - at least at the moment I discovered it - was that it lists several hundred Portland African American individuals and institutions in an index that gives their addresses, key personal information, and a reference for the original source.

And guess who was listed? Almost every member of my Scott family, plus collateral relations!

The younger Masonia, for instance, is listed as the daughter of James and Sarah Scott.

Cornerstones of Community, P. 158.

This confirmed a lot of my earlier findings, though it still didn't explain why her father was listed as Solomon Scott on her 1943 marriage license application.

And then, James Scott! Now, as a part of my sleuthing, I had looked both for both Solomon Scott and James Scott in Portland City directories. I'd found a James S. and Sarah Scott listed from 1921 through 1927 pretty consistently. But James did not appear in 1928. And as I wrote in my previous post, Sarah had remarried by 1930. In fact, she'd married Joseph Dickerson in 1928. So if something had happened to James Scott, it was between 1927 and 1928.

Some time on had brought up several likely candidates: 6 James Scotts and 1 Solomon Scott who had died in Portland in 1927 or 1928. But the certificates are not available online - you have to order them from the Oregon State Archives - and they cost money, so I didn't want to cast a wide net. This is where Cornerstones of Community was truly key - it listed James Scott's death, and referenced a May 1927 edition of The Advocate (an African American newspaper in Portland).

Cornerstones of Community, P. 178.

So I was looking for the candidate who had passed in May of 1927. Who was that, according to the Oregon Death Index? The one, the only, Solomon Scott! (That's right, not a James Scott. Still following?)

So I sent away for the death certificate, hoping for a smoking gun. Lucky me, I found it! Look who his parents are: Solomon and "Charry" Scott, of Georgia!

James Solomon Scott's Certificate of Death. Date of Death, 11 May 1927.

Now, the newspaper carrying the obituary referenced by Cornerstones of Community does not appear to be online and I haven't yet followed all the leads to try to get a copy of that document. But, I was able to find a a funeral notice listed in The Oregonian, the newspaper of record for Portland. And it is the second and most perfectly complementary "smoking gun" I could have wished for. Notice who it lists as two of his sisters: Scoatney Cooper (my 2x Great-Grandmother) and Masonia Worthen (my 2x Great-Grandaunt)!

The Oregonian, 12 May 1927, P22.

And note the name: James S. Scott. So, I found my answer and confirmed my hypothesis: Who is this "new" Masonia Scott and how is she related to "my" Masonia (Scott) Worthen? She is the daughter of "my" Masonia's brother, James Solomon Scott, making her the niece of both my 2x Great-Grandmother Scoatney (Scott) Cooper and my 2x Great-Grandaunt Masonia (Scott) Worthen. Or, in graphic form:

Of course, every answer brings new questions. Who are Lulu Crew, and Dr. (Drs?) S.B. and J.W. Scott??? Those will be questions for another day, and of course, more research!

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Case of the Second Masonia, Part 1

A funny thing happened while researching my 2x Great-Grandaunt* Masonia (Scott) Worthen in Portland, Oregon: I came across a second Masonia Scott.

Who was this woman, and with that name, what was her relationship to "my" Masonia Scott?

My Masonia Scott had been born in Georgia about 1863 to Solomon and Cherry Scott; had married, had children with and then somehow separated from Henry Worthen; and then moved across the country, first to Washington State and then to Portland, Oregon.

I first came across this new Masonia Scott in the 1920 Census, when she was living with her sister Ruth, her parents James and Sarah Scott, and James Hunter, probably her mother's brother.

She's 7 years old, born about 1913 in Georgia. So was her father, about 1875, putting him in the same state and roughly in the same generation as both "my" Masonia Scott (born about 1863) and her sister, my 2x Great-Grandmother Scoatney Scott (born about 1861). This was enough to send me back to the 1880 Federal Census for my Georgia Scotts, but there was no James, only a Solomon, born about 1879.

Okay, so what else could I find out about this younger Masonia that might help me figure out a connection. Census records? No luck. By 1930, this Masonia's father is out of the picture and her mother has remarried, this time to Joseph Dickerson. But Masonia and her sister Ruth both keep the Scott surname.

1930 Census, Portland. OR

Other possibilities? Marriage records, death records, Social Security applications - all might include her father's name. In 1943, this Masonia marries Earnest Rudolph. Interestingly, it gives her middle name as Cherry!

Snippet of Clark County, WA Marriage License Application, Masonia Clark to Earnest Rudolph, 1943.

So not only does she carry the name of my 2x Great-Grandaunt (Masonia), she also carries the name of my 2x-Great-Grandaunt's mother (Cherry). Not only that, my 2x Great-Grandaunt Masonia had named her own daughter Cherrye, after her mother! So this new Masonia Cherry Scott, she has to be family!

And, tantalizingly, her father's name as listed on this marriage certificate as none other than Solomon Scott. This, of course, is the name of "my" Masonia's father. So, are James Scott - her father in the 1920 Census - and the Solomon Scott on this marriage record the same person? And if so, is this the same person as the Solomon Scott from the 1880 Census? Is her father named after his father, part of a tradition of passing along names?

I kept searching to see what else I could find. In 1964, Masonia married again, this time to Arthur Lee Pierce. Her father's name: J.S. Scott. James Solomon Scott, perhaps?

Record of Marriage, Masonia Scott Rudolph to Arthur Lee Pierce, Oregon State Board of Health, 1964.

I searched for any marriage records for her sister Ruth for corroborating or conflicting information, but though I found one, I struck out - it didn't ask for the names of her parents.

I turned to death records next. Masonia and her sister passed away too recently for me to be able to order their death certificates online, but I was able to find obituaries. However, Masonia's only said that she had been born a Scott, and Ruth's didn't list parents. What it did list, though, were the names of her two sons: James and Scott. Interesting... And the Oregon Death Index confirmed that Masonia's middle name was Cherry, the given name of my 3x Great-Grandmother.

What about Social Security records? When they applied for Social Security Numbers, both Masonia and Ruth would have needed to list the names of their parents. I lucked out, though of course there's always a twist; Ruth's application lists her father as James Scott, which matches up with the original 1920 Census Record.

Masonia's lists her father as Joseph James Scott, combining the name of her stepfather with her birth father.

Nevertheless, I now had a series of records that said Masonia was the daughter of either a James, a Solomon or a J.S. Scott, and that she and he were both from Georgia.

So, how could I get closer to a solution? How could I figure out exactly what the relationship was between this Masonia Scott and my 2x Great-Grandmother of the same name? How could I prove or disprove my working hypothesis, that these two women were aunt and niece?  

Stay tuned for Part 2, when I pick up the story!

*In my everyday life, I would just call her my 3x Great Aunt b/c I don't call the siblings of my grandparents grandaunts or granduncles, but rather great aunts and great uncles. However, in writing I'll follow genealogical conventions here in case you're consulting a relationship chart.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Work and War on the Road to Portland

I began and ended one of my recent posts with the question: How did Masonia Scott Worthen, sister of my 2x Great-Grandmother Scoatney Scott Cooper, end up moving all the way from Georgia to Portland, Oregon in the early 1900s?

She didn't. Well, at least, not all at once. It turns out that Masonia and three of her sons* actually made a pit stop in Washington State along the way. How do I know? World War I records provide the answers.

On June 5th of 1917, just 2 months after the United States officially entered into the Great War (World War I), three of Masonia's sons registered for the Selective Service draft. Solomon, the oldest, was in his late 20s. Thomas, next oldest, was about 24. Then came Henry, somewhere between 21 and 23. Grant Worthen was not yet old enough to enlist, but by the time of the third round of draft registrations, when men ages 18-45 who had not previously registered were called, it was his turn. He registered on September 12th, 1918, aged about 19 or 20.

Looking at their Draft Registrations Cards, we get the story of their geography pretty quickly: Solomon is living in Atlanta, Georgia in 1917. (The family had moved here between 1910 and 1911.)

(Page 1 of 2)

But Thomas and Henry are residing in Shelton, Mason County, Washington State in June of 1917.

By September of 1918, Grant absolutely was as well.

What of Masonia? She's right there in Washington State with her younger sons - whereas Thomas and Henry's forms don't make this clear, Grant's thankfully does. Take a look at his nearest relation's name and address:

Snippet of Grant Warthen's WWI Draft Registration Card, P1.

Taking another look at their forms and you'll see what Grant and his brothers are up to in Shelton: logging! I'll dig into that another day (there's lot's more research to be done), but it's a likely guess that these young men were recruited or otherwise heard of available work in the logging camps in Washington State while still in Georgia and made their way across the country seeking opportunities. (Perhaps mom Masonia was the catalyst, or maybe she was simply in tow.)

Thomas, Henry, and Solomon down in Georgia all served during World War I. (Grant was lucky - he registered for the draft just 2 months before the Armistice which ended the war on November 11th, 1918.) During this time and immediately after, we know that Masonia continued to reside in Shelton; passenger lists for the U.S. Army Transport Service returning men to the United States in 1919 list her as the emergency contact for each of her serving sons, and as you can see on Thomas's, she is reachable at Box 4:

How, then, do they make the move from Washington State to Portland? It seems that Grant got to make the first move, quite literally. While his brothers were away at war, Grant learned of a job at the Golden West Hotel, a black-owned business that had been open in Portland for about 12 years by 1918. Somehow, he landed himself a position as a porter and shows up employed there in the 1918 Portland City Directory.

By 1920, his mother Masonia, brothers Thomas and Henry, sister Cherry Anne, and her daughter Lena Hillsman, had all joined him. And, if this record is correct - I haven't ordered land records yet - they'd already purchased a family home. So in the end, Masonia traveled:
  •  from Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia (where she was born about 1863) 
  • to Atlanta, Georgia (where she parented a brood of teens and tweens in 1910 and 1911)
  • to Shelton, Mason County, Washington (where she waved her sons off to World War I)
  • to Portland, Oregon (where she established a home about 1920 and was laid to rest in 1951)

You'll probably have noticed a few things in this story: First, Masonia Worthen is widowed. Second, so - apparently - is her daughter. Third, several of Masonia's children who had appeared in the 1900 Federal Census are not mentioned. These are all stories for another day (and more research), but do stay tuned - there's more coming!

Do you know anything about how or why Masonia and her family got to Shelton, Washington or Portland, Oregon? Please connect with me in the comments below!

*Daughter Cherry Anne was in her late 20s at the time, and may or may not have been with them. Cherry Anne's daughter, Lena Mae Hillsman was born in Georgia in 1915, so Cherry Anne had not yet left the state at that point.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Many Names of Masonia (Scott) Worthen

Sometimes your ancestors are hard to find. Sometimes that's because they have the most awesome names, and no one writes them correctly. And for them, well, sometimes it's just fun to keep track of all the ways you find them along your research path.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, my top 10 favorite misspellings of Masonia Scott Worthen (ca.1863 - 1951) far!

1. Mason Scott

2. Missonie Worthen

3. Mesoni Worthen

4. Mrs. Maassonia Worthen

5. Masonia Worttn

6. Mrs. Massoria Worthen

7. Masonia Scoort

8. Mosorua Worthen

9. Mrs. Sonia Worthen  (Maybe just her nickname?)

10. Masonia Walthen

Many thanks to all the census enumerators, city directory staffers, and others whose work contributed to this post!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Finding Scoatney's Family: An Unexpected Migration

Masonia (Scott) Worthen Funeral Notice. The Oregonian (Portland, OR) 27 June 1951, P27.

On June 28, 1951, my maternal 2x great-grandmother's sister, Masonia Scott Worthen, was laid to rest in Portland, Oregon. Born in Georgia about 1863, she somehow came to live in Portland between 1910 and 1920, widowed and with 3 sons, a widowed daughter and a granddaughter - all born in Georgia - living with her. How did they come to make this move all the way across the continent - and frankly, across climates - and what was life like for them as they tried to make new lives on the West Coast?

As my Cooper Cumming Family Reunion approaches - this being the family that Masonia's sister Scoatney married into, or was matriarch of, depending on your chronological starting point - I'll be exploring the answers to these questions and more.

My exploration into this branch of the family started with Scoatney, anyway. I've always felt like I've known more about July Cooper, Scoatney's husband, though this may simply because I've seen the name July Cooper so many times - there were at least four of them!* But what about Scoatney? Who were her people and what could I learn about them?

I started by going back to the first record I find Scoatney in, the 1870 Federal Census for Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia.

I've always focused on Scoatney and her parents, Solomon and Cherry ("Chansy," here) in this record, but I recently took a closer look at her siblings: Fed, Mason, Daniel, and "Baby" Scott. I figured I'd start with Fed and so, a few clicks later, I'd come across an 1880 Census with a 32-year-old Fedrick Scott whose father was Solomon Scott.

Notice that Cherry is no longer listed as Solomon's wife - Nellie Scott is. A quick search on brought up a marriage record for a Solomon Scott to a Nelly Little in Putnam County, Georgia in 1872.

I don't know what happened to Cherry - presumably she passed away, though I don't yet have proof - but this explains Solomon and Fed's 1880 household. Solomon and Nellie had married and blended their families, making Fed the eldest of 13 siblings living in the home.

What does this have to do with Masonia Scott, the subject of this post? Skipping ahead 20 years - thanks to the (mostly) destroyed 1890 US Census - I found Fed Scott again, this time in Hancock County, Georgia in 1900. He's living with his brother John Scott, and his stepmother, Nellie.

But notice who's living next door: A woman named Mason Worthen, born in 1863, with her husband Henry and their six children. A woman named Mason... Huh, I thought, and clicked back over to the record I'd started with, Scoatney's 1870 Census listing. Sure enough, she and Fed had a sister named Mason, born about 1863. Could they be one and the same? Searching for Mason Scott didn't prove terribly useful, but switching to her husband's name (after whom one of her sons was named) got me to their 1910 Census record, where she is listed as Missonie Worthen!

Once I had this tidbit, Ancestry's Hints opened the floodgates!** And the floodwaters pointed me straight to...Oregon! I was able to track Masonia's family through quite a few records online - census records, city directories and the like - but in order to cement this Masonia Worthen as my own, I needed to send away for her death certificate. And there, in boxes 12 and 13, I found what I needed: the names of her parents: Solomon and Cherry Scott.

So how did Masonia (Scott) Worthen end up in Portland, Oregon? What was life like for her and her family? Keep checking back as I share more of what I've found!

Do you know anything about Masonia? Better yet, do you have any PHOTOGRAPHS of her and her family? If so, please contact me below!

*They are: My 2x Great-Grandfather July Cooper (abt. 1858-1935); possibly his father (dates unknown); his nephew, son of his brother Ely Cooper (dates unknown); and his grandson, the son of his son Flag Cooper (1913-1974).

**You can't always trust Ancetry's hints - due diligence is required - and sometimes you don't get any hints at all, but Ancestry definitely gets the win here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Scoatney Scott: A Timeline

Scoatney Scott is my maternal 2x Great-Grandmother. More specifically, she is my mother’s mother’s father’s mother. Here’s what that looks like:

Scoatney Scott  →  Noah Cooper  →  Elnora Cooper  →  Mom  →  Me

For as long as I can remember seeing my mom’s Cooper-Cummings family tree, I remember seeing her name, with her husband July Cooper, right up near the top of the tree. But I’ve never really known that much about her. With another family reunion coming up this summer, I decided to see what more I could find about her life and her family.

Shared by cousin F. Davis.

I’ll use this timeline for the basic details of her life, updating it and adding links as I find more info and write more posts.

1860 or 1861, December: Scoatney is born to Solomon Scott and Cherry (??) in Hancock County, GA. This is
either just months before or less than a year after the start of the Civil War. It is likely Scoatney and her family were all enslaved at the time of her birth.

1870: Five years after the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment, Scoatney is now 10 years
old and living with her parents Solomon and Cherry, plus older brother Fed and younger siblings Masonia, Daniel and an unnamed baby Scott in Hancock County, GA. Her father is a farmer, her mother a house servant, and brother Fed is a field hand.

1870-1872: Scoatney's mother likely dies.

1872, November 16: Scoatney's father Solomon remarries. He weds Nelly Little in Putnam County, GA, and in
doing so, gives Scoatney a number of step-siblings.

1880: Scoatney is about 19 years old and is now married to 22-year-old July Cooper.
They are living with and working as laborers for Andrew and Silvy Tucker, an older black couple.

1884, February: Scoatney and July welcome a daughter, Mandana.

1885, September 2 or 3: Scoatney and July welcome son Flag(g). He will remain close
to home with his wife for many years, living as a farmer and Baptist preacher, but will eventually move to his daughter's home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

1887, September 29: Scoatney and July welcome son Daniel.

1889 or 1890, November 3: Scoatney and July welcome son Noah. He will later move to
Washington, DC with his family, work various labor and janitorial jobs and purchase 2 homes in the city.

1894,  January 19: Scoatney and July welcome another son to the family, Benjamin. He will later
move with his wife to Washington, DC and work various jobs, including as a janitor for an apartment building and a butler for a private home.

1899 or 1900, December 18: Scoatney and July welcome son Andrew. Scoatney is now about 40.

1902, July 19 or 29: Scoatney and July welcome son Willie. He will later become a merchant
marine and eventually settle in California.

1904, December 19: Scoatney and July welcome son James. He will eventually move to
Washington, DC.

Abt. 1906: Son Flag marries Em(m)eline Ward.

Abt. 1907: Son Daniel marries Marie Williams.

1907, September 4: Scoatney and July welcome their final child, a daughter, Julia.

1910: Scoatney and July are living with five of their children (Noah, Ben, Andrew, James and Julia).
Scoatney and the oldest children are helping July on the farm. 

Abt. 1914: Son Noah marries Nancy Thomas.

1917, June 5: Sons Daniel, Noah, and Ben register for the draft for World War I.

1917-1920: Son Benjamin marries Alice Gardner.

1918, September 12: Sons Flag(g) and Andrew are a part of the 3rd round of draft registrations
for World War I.

1920: Scoatney and July are still farming in Burke County, though Scoatney is now listed as the
head of household. Noah and Ben are no longer in the household, but sons James, Willis and Andrew, and daughter Julia, are still in the home and helping out with the farm.

Abt. 1922: Son Andrew marries Hattie Smith.

1924, October 11: Scoatney, about 63 years old, has her will witnessed in Burke County,GA, where
she and her family live.

1926, April 1: Son Willie marries Daisy Anderson in Mecklenberg, North Carolina. He is widowed
just over 3 years later, when his wife dies of Hodgkin's Disease.

Abt. 1927: Daughter Julia marries John Hildery Davis.

1927, December 8: Scoatney's daughter Mandana (Cooper) Sheely passes away. She is buried
at home in the Cooper-Thomas Cemetery.

1930: Now about 70, Scoatney continues to live with husband July on land that they own in
Burke County, GA, with children Daniel, Andrew, Julia and their families nearby.

1932, January 26: Scoatney passes away at the age of about 72. She is buried at home in the
Cooper-ThomasCemetery in Gough, Burke County, GA.