Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Are You Looking For Grandma's Husband?

By Robin Foster   Posted at  1:40 PM   research 1 comment

"Are you looking for Grandma's Husband?" is an article I wrote as the National Genealogy Examiner where I showed how to find the husband of the widowed Grandma Emma Warner who has two daughters and her grandchildren living with her in Accomack County, Virginia in 1940.

I found her on the 1930 Census ten years earlier, but her husband was still not there.  I did find him with her on the 1920 Census, but by that time there were so many different children between those three censuses that it was hard to keep track of them.  I usually use a census tracker when there is such a big family group.

I created the chart below so that it would be easy to see which child I had found each year.  Now I can tell easily which children should show up on the 1910 Census.











Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Military Veterans Beneath Overgrowth in Farview Cemetery

By Robin Foster   Posted at  2:32 PM   William Nedwood No comments
In addition to cleaning Fairview Cemetery on 300 Holman Street in Greenwood, SC, we are working to document the people that are buried there hoping that any descendants looking for ancestors will be able to find them.  In addition to finding ministers and masons we are uncovering the graves of military veterans of World War I and World War II. 

We hope that we will be able to find churches and concerned people in the community that will help us to maintain Fairview Cemetery.  We feel it is our moral obligation to uncover these graves and save what history we can that documents the lives of those buried therein.  In a few cases, all we started with is a headstone.

Help us remember the men whose headstones we have found that served our country.  Hopefully they will not remain among the forgotten:

James Nelson Adams
James Nelson Adams. Photo taken by Jim Ravencraft, April 2014.

James H. Backus
James H. Backus served in Company A., 489th Engineer Battalion in Engineers Division from New York as a private first class. 

Emsey C. Boozer
Emsey C. Boozer. Photo taken by Jim Ravencraft, April 2014.  
Frank McGhee
South Carolina, Pvt Co B 534 SVC BN, ENGR CORPS, World War I & II
July 18, 1898
March 14, 1960

William Nedwood
William Nedwood.  This photo was taken by Jim Ravencraft, April 2014.

Thomas L. Puckett
Served as a Private First Class in the US Army during World War II.

This is not a complete list of veterans buried in Fairview Cemetery.  Research is ongoing.  If you would like to donate to the volunteer effort to clean and maintain Fairview Cemetery, please forward your donation to:

Greenwood Historical Society
P. O. Box. 49653
Greenwood, South Carolina 29649
C/O Carol Scales

Please specify that your donation is for Fairview Cemetery.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Help to Save Fairview Cemetery

By Robin Foster   Posted at  3:12 PM   Fairview Cemetery No comments
Prior to Saturday, May 31st cleanup.  Photo taken by Jim Ravencraft.
The Fairview Project Committee and community volunteers came together for the initial cleanup of the cemetery located at 300 Holman Street in Greenwood, SC. on Saturday, May 31st at 8:00 am.  A total of 32 volunteers which included Greenwood County Library genealogy room volunteers, members of the Greenwood County Historical Society, Faith Home, Rev. Furman Miller, and members of Weston Chapel AME Church in Greenwood worked to almost 12 pm clearing trees, briars, trash, and other vegetation.
Working to uncover the Backus grave.  Photo taken by Robin Foster.
Fairview Cemetery is an historic African American cemetery with hundreds of documented burials since 1909.  Over the years, it has been overtaken by vegetation towering 10 to 15 feet high.  No one wanted to assume responsibility for this great undertaking, but I could not just let this remain the plight of the family members that I have discovered on death certificates as being interred there.  Some I have found headstones for.  The headstone of my great great grandmother (Jane McCoy) which did exist at one time has not been found yet.  Now that I have become so involved in this effort, I have gained a respect for the whole community buried there and will keep going to honor their memory as well.

As chairperson of the project appointed by Greenwood County Councilman Gonza Bryant, I was thrilled with everyone's effort.  They had a good portion of the cemetery cleared in 90 minutes. We would not have come as far in that amount of time if it had not been for Faith Home volunteers who brought their own equipment.  A member of Weston Chapel AME brought her daughter.
After initial cleanup.  Photo taken by Jim Ravencraft.
 My husband had not entered the cemetery previously for fear of snakes, but he worked with two other volunteers clearing trees.  We saw a fawn in the cemetery, and deer have also been sited which probably explains why we have not seen snakes.

We discovered a few new graves beneath the undergrowth, and they have been documented.  I was so disgusted to see all the debris over Rev. L. S. Burnett's grave (beers bottles, trash, a bra, medicine bottles).  That is one spot that I want to see cleared soon so that it can longer be used in that way.
Robin Foster, Saturday, May 31st.  Photo taken by Ellis McClure

We have a long way to go until this cemetery is brought up to standard.  To learn more about Fairview Cemetery, click here.  We are hoping to find people to donate labor and money that can be used to clean and maintain the cemetery.  Our next cleanup dates are:
  • June 10, 2014 at 8 am
  • June 28, 2014 at 8 am

If you would like to send a donation, please forward it to:

Greenwood Historical Society
P. O. Box. 49653
Greenwood, South Carolina 29649
C/O Carol Scales

Please specify that your donation is for Fairview Cemetery.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Facing the Hard Part of History with Descendant of Anthony Crawford

By Robin Foster   Posted at  10:28 AM   Sgt. Phillip Crawford No comments
Abbeville Courthouse, 2013, Robin Foster

Some of those who embark upon researching family history have a dark cloud that constantly looms overhead waiting to burst open unexpectedly at first and expected thereafter.  Sometimes my own heart has become faint from the hard parts of history that I must trudge through in the discovery of my African American heritage. Those are the times I must pause to find the courage to keep going.

Descendant of Anthony Crawford

I have often contemplated upon my ancestors' lives within the context of those who were contemporaries to them.  Some stayed and braved out difficult circumstances.  Others fled in hope of something better while some were slain. Such is the case of Anthony Crawford, one of the richest African Americans in the state of South Carolina, who was lynched in 1916.  I had the rare opportunity recently to interview the great grandson of Anthony Crawford, Sgt. Phillip Crawford of Abbeville. 

Portrait image of lynching victim
Anthony Crawford, lynched in
Abbeville, SC, 1916.
Image was taken around 1910 (LOC).
After pouring over the propaganda that gets published in books and historic newspaper articles surrounding such events, I felt fortunate to be able to glean from the personal perspective of Sgt. Crawford and to gain further insights into the experiences of my own ancestors who were emancipated in Abbeville County.  I am blessed to have a couple of Senate testimonies of my 2nd great grandfather, Beverley Vance as well as a few mentions of him in books such as One More Day's Journey, and Freedom's Lawmakers.  I do not however, have any history that details the reason why so much of my family vacated this area near the turn of the century.

Anthony Crawford, the man

I am coming to understand from scholarly publications the violence and brutally suffered by African Americans especially if they enjoyed a higher measure of financial success or were seen as pillars of their community.  Anthony Crawford was just such a man.  He was totally self-sufficient having a school on his land and the ability to produce all his family needed.  He was a large landowner as opposed to being a tenant farmer like so many others who still worked the land on which they had been enslaved.

It was important to understand that the underlying resentment to symbols of economic success incited mobs to riot and murder people they targeted like Anthony Crawford who were not free from the daily acts of retaliation of folks who were bitter at the perceived freedoms enjoyed by a people who were considered by ex-slavers as inferior.  Sgt. Crawford explained that Anthony Crawford was the strength that held his family together, and there were those that believed that if you cut the head everything else would fall apart.

Roots of violence and oppression

African Americans would try to avoid altercations because they knew that one incident between them and the agitators would bring unwarranted consequences upon the whole community through random acts of violence and oppression that could last for days. African Americans were not push overs though.  They defended themselves, their families, and other white sympathizers.

 According to Sgt. Crawford, his ancestor went to town on October 16, 1916 to sell his cotton because on the following day the prices were going to drop.  They tried to force him out of line to allow others to be able to cash in before an African American.  I appreciated learning about the circumstances that led to the altercation which lead to things getting completely out of control.

Living history

I will meet to interview Sgt. Crawford again to understand this history from the perspective of someone who lived.  For that reason, I am not interested right now in others who have told the story.  I learned that many of the descendants of Anthony Crawford migrated to leave after the lynching when mob rule forced all African American businesses to close in Abbeville and lands of family members were confiscated.  Sgt. Crawford spoke of his cousin, Doria Johnson, who researched to discover her ancestor, Anthony Crawford, and reconnected to family in Abbeville.  Many descendants migrated to Evanston, Illinois.

I was pleased to see descendants of Anthony Crawford actively keeping his memory alive. See Evanston's Living History.  In 2005, the descendants of Anthony Crawford were present for Resolution 39 passed by the 109th Congress of the United States Senate which apologized for Congress not passing any form of anti-lynching legislation. 

If you have questions that you would like me to ask of Sgt. Crawford when I interview him again, please send them to robin.savingstories@gmail.com.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Surprise Waiting Deep in Fairview Cemetery

By Robin Foster   Posted at  12:46 AM   Fairview Cemetery 7 comments

"One can tell the morals of a culture 

by the way they treat their dead." - Unknown

UPDATE:  "Within many African American cemeteries "headstones" were not the only way graves were marked. Metal pipes, solid and hollow ones, various sized stones, seashells, and wooden markers. Extra care must be given when finding "odd" items within an old cemetery. What may look like trash may be a grave marker.
I am the caretaker of an all African American Cemetery were bricks were used as grave markers. At the turn of the 20th century piles of damaged bricks from a nearby brick factory were easily accessible to the poorer Black families of the neighborhood."  
---- Jack Robinson, Resurrection Mission.

I am still trying to absorb the experience I had today.  I spent the morning researching in the Greenwood County Courthouse, and I arrived early for my shift at the Greenwood County Pubic Library.  It seems so many of my fellow volunteers there have been so concerned about restoring this cemetery.

Jim Ravencraft stopped by and informed me that he had begun (solo) making paths through the cemetery.  Jim has documented over 100 cemeteries, and he makes those records available on Find A Grave and in a database accessible to patrons at the library. This pre-cleaning will make it much easier to plan and organize further clearing and removal of vegetation. 
Fairview Cemetery, April 9, 2014 by Robin Foster
There was no way that I was going to pass up the chance to watch this unfolding.  I had to have a little assistance climbing in, and I followed Jim as he removed branches and vines in the way.  The pink tape in the photo above is how he marks the path so as not to get lost.  The place was pretty dense and took him some time to carve out an entrance.

I did not fear snakes or falling through an open grave.  I literally felt as if I had walked back in time as Jim recounted some of the birth dates of those buried there 1810, 1830, and so on.   I am more desirous to know their stories.  Lots of huge markers have fallen over.  I was most sad to see the headstone of Iola Rutledge had overturned with the inscription, "Gone But Not Forgotten."  There is no telling how long it has been this way:

Fairview Cemetery, April 9, 2014 by Robin Foster
I kept following closely and noticed there was a group of headstones off in the distance.  We had gone quite a distance from the road at this point.  All the headstones off in the distance had been completely covered with vegetation before I arrived.  Little did I know that this was the spot that I was being led to. 

Fairview Cemetery, April 9, 2014 by Robin Foster
Unbelievably, I was able to force back the tears as I recognized the names inscribed on the headstones which hours earlier were completely covered.

Johnson Family Plot, Fairview Cemetery by Robin Foster, April 9, 2014

Jim later forwarded photos taken after the cleaning around the stones.

Charlotte Vance Johnson is my great aunt:
Fairview Cemetery, Charlotte Johnson by Jim Ravencraft, April 9, 2014

At least three of Charlotte's daughters are buried alongside her:  Carrie Richburg, Agnes Nedwood, and Essie Gilbert, the mother of Senator Frank Gilbert, Sr. (D. 1999)

Fairview Cemetery, Carrie Richburg by Jim Ravencraft, April 9, 2014

Fairview Cemetery, Agnes Nedwood by Jim Ravencraft, April 9, 2014

Fairview Cemetery, Essie Gilbert by Jim Ravencraft, April 9, 2014

I have not found my 2nd great grandmother nor her daughter, Mahalia Williams, whom I know had markers here.  I have been determined to find a death certificate for everyone that I could that was buried in Fairview.  I realize that is not possible, so I was really happy to see headstones for people who died prior to 1915 before deaths were recorded in South Carolina.  I hope it leads to the discovery of my 2nd great grandparents. Some of them died before 1915. 

If you ever doubted the power of one person to make a difference, remember all that you see revealed in this post and many more photos to be made available on Find A Grave was made possible by one person who followed inspiration from above.  

We have much much more work to do, but on behalf of those with loved ones who no longer are hidden under the vegetation at Fairview Cemetery, "Thank you, Jim Ravencraft."

Jim Ravencraft, Fairview Cemetery by Robin Foster, April 9, 2014.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Truth Revealed About African-American Undertaker Buried in Fairview Cemetery

By Robin Foster   Posted at  7:23 AM   Theodore E. Percival 2 comments
Percival Family Plot at Fairview Cemetery, March 31 2014 by Robin Foster
Among those listed as interred in Fairview Cemetery that I have attached death certificates for so far includes James T. Percival, his wife, Ellen, and his son, Theodore E. Percival.  See Gone and Almost Forgotten at Fairview Cemetery. The Percival plot is one of the only graves visible from 300 Holman Street.

It has been accepted as a local historical fact that no African American funeral home existed in the Greenwood area before the 1930's, however, it cannot be overlooked that James T. Percival (1872-1937) who lived on Cemetery Street is listed on the 1920 Census as a proprietor of an undertaking parlor.  
"United States Census, 1920," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11576-35996-83?cc=1488411 : accessed 09 Apr 2014), South Carolina > Greenwood > Greenwood > 0077 > image 8 of 24; citing NARA microfilm publication T625.

The 1916 Greenwood City Directory also lists James as an undertaker and embalmer at 315 Waller Ave. At this same establishment it shows James and his son, Theodore, were owners of  Percival Printing Co.  Theodore, was actually Dr. Theodore E. Percival, a graduate of Lincoln University in 1924.  See page 2 of the Lincoln University Herald.
It is so promising to see that in the process of working to help make sure Fairview Cemetery is restored, we are discovering the stories of those laid to rest there.  Many thanks go to my fellow volunteers at the Greenwood County Public Library for their tireless efforts on behalf of Fairview Cemetery.

Please continue to follow and share to raise awareness. As I look back at the photo taken above, I cannot help but feel even more deeply now that something more should be done to better honor the legacy of James T. Percival, a successful business owner  born less than a decade after emancipation.  I hope to learn more about the story of this family.

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