Sunday, May 26, 2019

Masonia (Scott) Worthen: A Timeline

Masonia Scott is my 2x Great Grandaunt, the younger sister of my maternal 2x Great-Grandmother, Scoatney Scott. Put otherwise, she is the sister of my mother's mother's father's mother.



Abt 1863: Masonia Scott is born to Solomon and Cherry Scott, most likely in Hancock County,
Georgia. The Civil War is raging and Sherman's March to the Sea is still about a year away. Masonia's family is probably enslaved.

1870: Five years after the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment, Masonia
 is about 7 years old. She and her parents, plus her older and younger siblings, are still living in Georgia's "Cotton Belt," in Hancock County. Father Solomon is a farmer and older brother Fed is a field hand. Mom Cherry is a house servant. None of these three are listed as able to read or write. Older sister Scoatney is "at home," but Masonia and her younger brothers Daniel and an unnamed baby are too young to have any occupation listed.

Bet. 1870 and 1872: Masonia's mother Cherry likely dies.

1872, November 16: Masonia's father Solomon remarries, when she is about 9 years old. He weds
 Nelly Little in Putnam County, GA, and in doing so, gives Masonia a number of step-siblings, both younger and older.

Bet. 1890 and 1900: Masonia's father Solomon passes away.

Abt. 1887: Masonia marries Henry Worthen. Henry is from a family of farm laborers in Glascock
County,GA, just to the east of Hancock County,where Masonia lives. He's been married once before, to Hannah Wilson.

1900: Masonia and husband Henry are living on a farm in Hancock County, GA, the county of
Masonia's birth. Also in the house are 20-year-old Samuel Worthen, likely Henry's son from his previous marriage, who helps with the farm labor, as well as Solomon, Cherry Ann, Thomas, Henry and Mack (possibly actually Grant). The middle children are attending school, but the two youngest are not. Next door to Masonia are her brothers Fed and John Scott, and her step-mother, Nelly.

Bet. 1900 and 1910: Masonia is either widowed or she and Henry separate.

1910: Masonia has moved her children off of the farm, north and west to Atlanta, and has purchased
a home on Foote Street. She works as a washerwoman, taking in work at home, and her sons are working as well: Solomon and Grant are servants for private families, Thomas is a wagon driver at a lumber yard (Edgewood Trading Co.), and Henry is an elevator boy in a wholesale house. Cherry Ann is not working outside the home, but is probably assisting her mother or doing vital work around the house.

Bet. 1911 and 1917: Masonia and sons Thomas, Henry and Grant Worthen move across the country

to Shelton, Mason County, Washington, where the young men work as loggers and laborers at a logging camp.

1913, January 25: Masonia's younger brother, James Solomon Scott, welcomes a daughter with his
wife Sarah. They name her after his sister and mother: Masonia Cherry Scott.

Bet. 1914 and 1917: Brother James moves his family to Portland, Oregon, foreshadowing Masonia's
move several years later.

1917, June 5: Two months after the United States officially enters the Great War (World War I), three
 of Masonia's son's - Solomon, Thomas and Henry - register for the draft.

1918, September 3: Son Solomon ships out from New York on the USS Karmala, headed for France
with Company B of the 539th Engineers.

1918, September 12: Masonia's youngest son, Grant, registers for the draft.

1918, October 11: Sons Thomas and Henry ship out from Hoboken, NJ on the USS Maui. They are
headed for France with Company F of the 815th Pioneer Infantry.

1918: Sometime after he registers for the draft, son Grant gets a job as a porter at the Golden West
Hotel, in Portland, Oregon. He is never called to fight.

1918, November 11: Armistice is signed and the Great War officially comes to a close.

1919: Sons Thomas and Henry head home from Brest, France on the USS Aeolus and reunite with
their mother, younger brother Grant, and sister Cherry Ann in Portland, OR. Solomon sails back on the USS Troy and returns to Atlanta, GA.

1920: Masonia, sons Thomas, Henry and Grant, daughter Cherry Anne (Worthen) Hillsman and
granddaughter Lena Mae Hillsman are living together in Portland, Oregon.

1920 - 1951: With the exception of Solomon, in Atlanta, the family remains anchored in Portland,
three generations living in a shared home, and worshiping at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. Masonia does domestic work off and on, son Thomas works as a janitor, son Henry transitions from logging to railroad work, daughter Cherry Ann first works as a maid and domestic helper in private homes, then moves on to work as a helper in dry goods and retail shops. Granddaughter Lena attends and graduates from the University of Oregon, then takes a job at the U of O Medical School.

1923, April 3: Masonia's son Grant passes away after fighting tuberculosis for at least 2 months.
Ironically, he was the one son whose life had not been in danger during the recent war. He is about 24 years old.

1924, December 1: The Advocate, an African American newspaper published in Portland, notes
that the Worthen’s home is damaged by a fire on this day.

1927, May 11: Masonia's younger brother James Solomon Scott passes away.

1932, January 26: Masonia's older sister Scoatney (Scott) Cooper passes away in Burke County,
Georgia.

1934, May 29: Masonia’s (likely half-) brother, John W. Scott, passes away in Chicago, Illinois.

1936, January 14: Masonia’s younger half-sister, Lula Scott Crew, passes away suddenly in
DeKalb County, Georgia.
1939: Granddaughter Lena Mae Hillsman graduates from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor

of Science degree in Psychology.
 
1939 - 1945: World War II begins and ends, but none of the men in Masonia's immediate family are
of an age to serve.

1951, June 25: After being treated for pneumonia for several months, Masonia passes away. She is
laid to rest at Lincoln Memorial Park. She leaves behind her children Thomas, Henry, and Cherry Ann, granddaughter Lena Mae Hillsman, and extended family in Portland, as well as son Solomon in Atlanta and a host of other family in Georgia.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wedding Wednesday: Solomon Scott and Nelly Little




This is the marriage license and return for Solomon Scott and Nelly Little. Solomon is my maternal 3x Great-Grandfather – he’s Scoatney’s dad. But Nelly is not my 3x Great-Grandmother.

In 1870, Solomon is living on a farm in Hancock County, Georgia. With him is a woman named Cherry, the mother of at least five of his children, and my 3x great-grandmother. But by late 1872 – November 16th to be exact – Solomon has married another woman, Nelly Little. What happened to Cherry? I don’t know. But let’s explore Solomon and Nelly’s story.

When Nelly married Solomon Scott, she was a transplant from Virginia who had likely been living in Georgia since at least 1852. She was a mid-thirty-something mother of at least six, maybe seven, children: Rebecca, Turner, Alfred, Spratley, Mary, Nancy and Nellie. (It’s possible that Mary and Nancy are the same person.) In 1870, four of these children were under the age of 10. By 1872, her daughter Nellie would have arrived, and would have been 2 or 3 years old. However, no clear husband or father of her children is shown in the records that I’ve found. Nelly is the head of household in 1870. She is carrying the load.


1870 U.S. Census, Putnam County, GA, showing Nelly Little and family.

But Nelly wasn’t entirely alone in supporting her family. While Nelly worked as a house servant in or around Putnam County, likely doing domestic work in a nearby white family’s home, the 1870 Federal Census shows 18-year-old daughter Rebecca is also working. She is a field hand. So, too, is her younger brother, 14-year-old Turner P. Little. Their combined efforts are likely what put food on the table.

Solomon Scott, meanwhile, was a somewhat older man, about 52 years old, and a native of Georgia. He worked as a farmer in neighboring Hancock County. Like Nelly, he was also a parent, but as recently as 1870, and perhaps up until 1872, his children’s mother was still in the picture. In 1872, he was the father of at least 6 children: Fed, Scoatney, Masonia, Daniel, James Solomon, and Mary. 

1870 U.S. Census, Hancock County, GA, showing Solomon Scott and family.


How did the two meet? I don’t know. Perhaps they had already known each other, when Solomon’s partner was still around – it is possible that Cherry had been from Putnam County, the same county that Nelly was living in. Perhaps they had mutual acquaintances. Perhaps they met while running errands, picking up supplies, or the like. Maybe in Solomon, Nelly saw someone who could help provide for her family? Maybe in Nelly, Solomon saw someone who could help to raise his young children? Maybe it was something else entirely.

What I do know is that they formed a blended family that was still together eight years later. By 1880, they were living in Washington County, just across the county line from Solomon’s previous residence in Hancock County. Solomon was still a farmer, but he had many more hands to help: Fed, Daniel, Mary, plus step-children Alfred, Spratley, Nancy, and Nellie are all working on the farm. There’s also a daughter named Martha who is helping. (She is listed as a biological daughter rather than a step-child, which may be an error on the part of the census-taker; it’s possible the child is actually Masonia.) 

1880 U.S Census, Washington County, GA - P1 of Solomon and Nelly Scott's Family
 
1880 U.S Census, Washington County, GA - P2 of Solomon and Nelly Scott's Family

 The family is either doing pretty well or Nelly’s labor is more necessary in her own home than in another family’s, because she is no longer working as a domestic servant – she is now “keeping house.” With a household of fifteen people – including three children born to Solomon: John W, Ananius, and Louisa – one can imagine that she had a lot of house keeping to do!

What does the rest of their time together look like? I don’t know. The destruction of most of the 1890 Federal Census means we don’t know what the household looks like that year. Tax records do suggest, however, that Solomon lived at least until 1890, and with some personal property to his name. Ten years later, in 1900, Nelly is living with her step-son Fed and son John back in Hancock County. Her step-daughter Masonia is living next door. Nelly is listed as widowed, and Solomon is not listed in any of his children’s households. Beyond 1900, I don’t find Nelly either.

1900 U.S. Census, Hancock County, GA, with Nelly Little Scott, son John, and step-children Fed and Masonia.

It would be easy to leave the story there, with two unknown deaths and a lot of mystery in between. But, perhaps the lives of Solomon and Nelly’s children can tell us something about the foundation their parents set? In fact, perhaps that’s true of Solomon and Cherry’s children as well. In that case, theirs were households where education, self-sufficiency, hard work and family were clearly prioritized. But those are stories for another day, and many more blog posts to come. Stay tuned!

Do you know something about Solomon Scott and Nelly Little, or their children? Let’s chat! Leave a note in the comments section to get the conversation started.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Mystery Monday: What Ever Happened to Great-Grandma Cherry?


I don’t know what happened to my 3x great-grandmother. In 1870, I know where she is and I know who she’s with, but by 1880 - *poof* - she disappears.

Let’s drill down a bit. First off, who am I talking about? Cherry Scott, maiden name unknown, if she even had one. She was the mother of my 2x great-grandmother, Scoatney Scott Cooper, and since I’ve decided to spend this year focusing on Scoatney and her siblings, it seems only right that I begin by posting about her mother. If only there was more to post.

What do I know? Cherry appears on the 1870 Federal Census living near Sparta, Georgia, one county east of Putnam County, where a daughter’s death certificate suggests she was born. Sparta was (and is) the seat of Hancock County, southeast of Atlanta and equidistant between Macon and Augusta, about an hour’s drive from the South Carolina border. According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Hancock County had been a “leading cotton producer” prior to the Civil War, which had ended just 5 years before. A historical marker for Sparta itself notes that that the town narrowly missed being destroyed during General Sherman’s crushing March to the Sea in 1864.

1870 U.S. Federal Census, Militia District 114, Hancock County, Georgia.

In 1870, Cherry is 45 years old, putting her year of birth at about 1825.  She is living with 50-year-old Solomon Scott, and three children: Scoatney (aged 10), Masonia (aged 7), Daniel (aged 4), and a baby (male, aged 1). There is also a young man in the home, Fed Scott, aged 18. While this census does not specify relationships among members of the household, other records – several of which you'll see in this post – show that this household was a family, with Solomon and Cherry as the parents. Given the large age gap – 8 years – between Fed and the next oldest child, Scoatney, it’s possible that Cherry is not Fed’s biological mother. The other children are each about 3 years apart.

Cherry clearly had her hands full, with four children aged 10 and below, and two men in the household as well. But she also worked outside the home, as a house servant. House labor was incredibly difficult work, and was fraught with various dangers for black women working in white homes, which Cherry likely was. I wonder how it compared to the work of the other black women in her community, most of whom were actually working as field hands, according to the census.

In her home, however, it was 18-year-old Fed who worked as a field hand, but even this is interesting. In most of the black households I looked at, going several pages before and after the Scott’s listing on the census, everyone who was old enough to work was a field hand. But not in theirs. Solomon Scott, Cherry’s partner and the father in this household, was a farmer. This title was almost exclusively reserved for white men in the community; “field hand” and “farmer” do not appear to be interchangeable terms. In fact, the instructions for census takers in this year state “Be very particular to distinguish between farmers and farm laborers” (p. 14). I may want to explore this further in another post.

1870 U.S. Federal Census, Militia District 114, Hancock County, Georgia.

The 1870 census is the only record I’ve found where Cherry appears as a primary figure. Otherwise, she's almost a ghost, or maybe an echo, seen and heard in other people's records. She is listed as the decedent’s mother on the death certificates of her children Masonia, Scoatney and James Solomon. And her name is carried on through several descendants: Masonia names her first daughter Cherrye, James Solomon names his daughter Masonia Cherry.

Death Certificate for James Solomon Scott, 11 May 1927. Multnomah County, Oregon.

Death Certificate for Scoatney Scott Cooper, 26 January 1932. Burke County, GA.

Death Certificate for Masonia Scott Worthen, 25 June 1951. Multnomah County, OR.


Cherry doesn’t appear in the 1880 census. In fact, in November of 1872, Solomon marries another woman. Nor can I find her in 1900, 1910 or 1920 (when, admittedly, she’d be approaching 100). So what happened to Cherry? I don’t know! I can make a few reasonable guesses:


  • Perhaps she died. I haven’t found a death record yet, but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. One very specific guess I have is that perhaps she died in childbirth. James Solomon Scott (who often goes by Solomon throughout his life) does not appear in the 1870. The few documents I have for him before he dies in 1927 suggest he was born in 1875 or 1877, though his mother's name is listed as Cherry. However, the 1880 Federal Census lists a Solomon Scott, 8 years old, in the older Solomon’s household. This would make his birth year 1872. If this is our James Solomon Scott, it’s possible that his mother passed away in childbirth or shortly after, and his father Solomon remarried later that year. In this scenario, James Solomon giving his daughter the middle name Cherry makes much more sense than if he was born to a different woman.

  •  Perhaps they separated, divorced, or otherwise went their separate ways. If she remarried and changed locations, that would explain my trouble in finding her.

  •  Perhaps she’s living with an adult child. She’s not with Scoatney, Masonia or James Solomon, but there’s Daniel, who I haven’t tracked down yet as an adult, a Mary Scott who appears to have been born in 1870 (per the 1880 census) and the mysterious “Baby” Scott, born in 1869. Maybe she’s with one of them?
  •  Perhaps she moved away. I’ve focused my search on Georgia and adjacent states, but I’ll be the first to say that I haven’t made this a “Project with a capital P,” so maybe if I deepen and broaden my search, I’ll find her elsewhere.


Clearly I’ve got some more research to do. But in the meantime, Cherry remains a mystery to me.

Do you know something about Cherry, or about the Scott family? Do you have a suggestion for resources or people to connect with? Leave a note in the comments and I’ll be excited to follow up!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Genealogy Goals: 2019



It's 2019, y'all! And somehow, it's already the middle of January, that month of goal-setting and fresh starts and hopeful ideals. As I wrote in my last post, I learned last year that the mental load of my job means I don't always have a lot of mental energy (or sometimes, time) to work on my genealogical research. I tried to set goals for how many posts I'd write each month, but that definitely fell by the wayside. And you know what? That's okay. I still did research, I still wrote about (some of) it, and the project at large continues!

This year I'm setting no such goals for posts per month. In fact, I'm not setting any kind of SMART goals for my research and writing. Instead, I'm simply setting a research focus:

This year, I want to learn as much as I can about the siblings of my 2x Great-Grandmother Scoatney Scott Cooper.

This is work I've already started on. Last year, I did a fair amount of exploration around the surprising story of her sister Masonia Scott Worthen, who ended up first in a logging town in Washington State with several of her sons and then in Portland, Oregon for the remainder of her life. Through her story, I was able to learn about another sibling, a brother named James Solomon Scott. Researching him has created leads for several other siblings, and I'm excited to continue digging. These men and women were born between the 1850s and the 1880s, a time of radical change in American society, including the Civil War, Reconstruction and the roll-back of rights known as Redemption. Imagine what they saw and experienced in their lifetimes.

Through their stories, I've got a number of interesting topics to explore:

- logging in Washington State, especially African American loggers
- African Americans in World War I
- meatpacking in Portland
- Black Portland
- Pullman Porters and African American railworkers
- Delta Sigma Theta in Oregon
- Blacks in higher education
- Reconstruction Georgia
- and much more

And there might be opportunities to take research trips to several places, including:

- Portland, Oregon
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Chicago, Illinois
- and Nashville, Tennessee

Hopefully, by the end of this year, I'll have shared a number of research posts, as well as a number of Timeline Biographies (found here) for you all, my family and friends.

And, as always, I hope that if you all have any info to add to the conversation, you'll share it with me here or through any of the other ways you know how to contact me.

Onward!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 - My Genealogical Year in Review


Sankofa Bird Gold Weight. The concept of Sankofa reminds us to "go back and get it," to remember our past as we move towards our future. Brooklyn Museum [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]


It's that time of year, when we take stock of what we've done over the last 12 months and think about what the new year might bring. In the spirit of reflection and accountability, in this post I'm looking back at what I did - or didn't - accomplish in 2018 in terms of my family history work. I'll post again after the new year with my hopes for 2019.

Honestly, 2018 was hard! My paying job, which I love, is at the intersection of history and education, which explains why I love it. Unfortunately, it requires so many of the same skills as my genealogical research - and can take up so much of my time - that I don't end up with much brainspace or free evenings (and sometimes weekends) to actually do my own historical research. What time is left gets set aside for relaxation, chores, or time with family and friends. Entrepreneurs and social media influencers love to tell us that we shouldn't spend all our time and energy building someone else's dreams, but 1) burning the candle at both ends is exhausting, a lesson I learned this fall after a string of speaking engagements, and 2) I actually care a lot about both ends of that candle - I not only love my job, I believe it matters. All of that to say, I didn't have a lot of time for genealogy this year, and it showed on this blog. My last post was from August, and I only posted 10 times over 4 months.

That doesn't mean, however, that I wasn't doing, or learning, anything. So, here's what I did in 2018, genealogically-speaking.

  • Discovered a fascinating family migration: At least two of my 2x great-grandmother Scoatney Scott's siblings migrated to Oregon from Georgia in the early 19teens. This kind of a move would be a big deal today, so imagine undertaking this back then! I've written out some of my research and findings on the blog - search for posts labeled "Worthen." I should note, though, that I "discovered" this story the way that Columbus "discovered" America - asking around at the family reunion revealed that a few elders knew about the migration and are, or were, in touch with 2 cousins out there. One of my goals for 2019 is to make contact myself, with their help.

  • Attended the biennial Cooper-Cummings Family Reunion: This was a great chance to catch up with my mom's maternal family from across the country, ask questions of some of my elders, and explore the AMAZING new National Museum of African American History and Culture. I'm way overdue to make a recap post, so stay tuned for that in the new year.

  • Presented at the PA Hallowed Grounds Conference: The Hallowed Grounds Project connects people invested in supporting African American cemeteries and burial grounds across the commonwealth with each other and with resources to maintain these spaces and connect them with their larger communities. I had the privilege of giving their keynote address, but honestly, it was a pleasure for me to be able to be in the presence of people so dedicated to preserving this aspect of our history.
Mid-thought at the PA Hallowed Grounds Conference, 2018.

  • Presented at the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society Conference: A great opportunity to spend time with people excited about, experiencing the same pleasure and confronting similar challenges in researching African American ancestry. Again, I was lucky enough to be able to present here - twice! - but getting to hang out with and hear from other attendees and presenters was equally rewarding.
AAHGS 2018 - Taken by S. Jordon

  • Traveled to Florida and presented for the Leesburg Public Library: Yes, another speaking engagement! Shout-out to the Kinseekers genealogy group, with gratitude to the friend I made several years ago at the NGS conference in Fort Lauderdale who made this year's trip possible. My goal was to convince the audience that African American genealogical research is possible, and I think I was successful, since they've invited me back for next year!

  • Continued my term as President of the African American Genealogy Group: I love this organization so much! I've been a member for about 10 years, and currently have the pleasure of working with a team of wonderful family historians to shape and fulfill a vision for serving our members, current and potential. After a year of goal-setting and transitions, we set a plan for 2018-19 and have brought in guest speakers from the Moravian Church Archives and the National Archives and Records Administration, prepped our members for the AAHGS conference, and brought in one of our favorite professionals to talk about getting organized for the new year. Onward!

  • Contributed hundreds of photos and memorials to FindAGrave.com: For the past 3 years, I've spearheaded a partnership between my genealogy group and the historic African American burial ground, Eden Cemetery, where some of Philadelphia's most prominent 18th and 19th century people of color are laid to rest. In that time, dedicated and amazing volunteers have transcribed burial books, photographed headstones, completed spreadsheets and uploaded records to create over 6,000 memorials on FindAGrave. This year, I personally have processed several hundred photos and created another several hundred memorials, all while wearing pajamas and lounging on my sofa! It's easier than doing my own research, but still has a meaningful result, so I don't feel too bad when my own work doesn't get done.


So, I may not have posted a lot over the course of this year, but it's fair to say I wasn't exactly dormant. Still, I wish I could have done more of my own research and writing and I do hope to do more of this in 2019. Stay tuned for my next post, with some of my genealogical goals for the new year, and perhaps a few of the steps I'll be taking to facilitate reaching them.

What about you - how did you do in 2018, and what are your goals for 2019?

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 FamilySearch.org 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!