Tag Archives: family history

Sunday’s Obituary: Carey Blanton (1838-1891)

obituary

Colorado Citizen, August 27, 1891
Blanton, Carey
Eagle Lake Item

Carey Blanton, one of our best freedmen, died at his residence in town last Saturday night, after a long illness. Carey was an honest faithful and industrious darky and will be missed by the community.”

I truly appreciate Gina Hefferman, the Texas Archives State File Manager, and all the volunteers who donate their time transcribing records and contributing to the Texas USGen Web Project! As a result of their work, I was able to locate the obituary for my maternal great-great-grandfather – Carey Blanton – that appeared in a local county newspaper via the Colorado County TexGen Web Project where over 11,000 obituaries are now online!

Carey Blanton is my great-grandmother, Carrie’s father who was born into slavery around 1838, but died a Freedman on August 22, 1891 in Eagle Lake, Colorado Country, Texas.  Though the obituary above is not very flattering with regards to calling him an “industrious darky,”  – it is, what it is, and those were the times in which he lived. But despite the reference to his race and physical features, he was a man of “good character” and appreciated by those in the Eagle Lake community.

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Source Citation

“Obituary of Carey Blanton,” Colorado Citizen, Columbus, Colorado County, Texas, Tuesday, November 18, 1922, Eagle Lake Item section, available in print and available online at <http://www.txgenweb5.org/txcolorado/obits/obits_b/obitsb1b.htm#Blanton,%20Carey>, accessed 10 April 2011.

Sentimental Sunday: Joseph Chapple (1902-1966)

It’s Sentimental Sunday, and this daily blogging prompt allows genealogy bloggers a chance to focus on a sentimental story or memory about an ancestor, or a wonderful family tradition.

Joseph Chapple in New York Summer 1947

I had the pleasure of visually introducing my maternal grandfather, Joseph Chapple, to the World Wide Web community on Wordless Wednesday, February 16, 2011. Joseph is the son of Louis and Carrie Blanton Chapple. He was born in Eagle Lake, Colorado County, Texas on June 2, 1902.

Even though he was born in the city of Eagle Lake, according to the April 1910 United Stated Federal Census, at age 7.5, he was living at 1609 Saulnier Street in Houston’s 4th Ward – Freedman’s Town community with his parents. Joseph’s baby brother, Lewis, was born October 19, 1910, but died a month later from lung complications. Baby Lewis’ death certificate indicates that his death took place at the family’s home at 815 Schwartz Street in Houston’s 5th Ward community. It is this death certificate that confirms the year, Grandpa Chapple came to live, work, and raise his family until his death in this area of Houston.

According to the Social Security application Joseph filed on March 12, 1937 below, he was employed by Texas & Northern Railway as a Blacksmith Helper at the Englewood Yard, one of the largest Hump yards in the United States.

He worked as a Blacksmith Helper for many years. When the older white gentleman he worked with retired, he applied for the position but was denied the job. The reason they gave for turning him down was — a Blacksmith was a white man’s job! So instead of the company recognizing him as a competent and skilled Blacksmith, they decided to hire a white college graduate for the job. Then expected Joseph to teach him everything and “show him the ropes.” When he refused to be a master teacher to someone with no experience who was to be his boss, the company closed the blacksmith shop. Little did they know closing the shop was not a problem. Because of his excellent work records, Joseph was able to transfer to the Creosote Yard where he spent his days applying creosote to train track cross-ties. He remained in the Creosote Yard until he fell off of a ladder and broke his back while painting the garage apartment he built behind his home. This fall forced him into retirement. According to the letter I received from the Railroad Retirement Board in 1994, he worked 111 service months before 1937, and continued working in the railroad industry until 1958. When he retired, he received full Railroad Retirement until his death.

Joseph met, fell in love, and married Estella Smith on 23 May 1921. I’m not sure when they met, but how they met was probably due to them both living in the 5th Ward community. It is also possible they met by association. Estella’s father, Richard Smith, worked at the same railroad yard Joseph did for years too. Regardless of how they met, they married and from that union came six births — 2 miscarriages and four children – Ella Louise, Joseph Lee, Estella, and my mom, Carrie. Unfortunately, at age 26, Estella died from Tuberculosis on July 30, 1930, and left Joseph with four young children to raise. With the help of his beloved mother, Carrie (Blanton) Chapple, all of his kids grew up happy and healthy despite the loss of their mother.

When I ask family members to recall their fondest memories of Joseph, they said:
“He had a great sense of humor!”
“He was known throughout the community for being a very reliable and honest man.”
“He sure did love his mother.”
“He was an excellent cook!”
“He was trustworthy – a man of his word.”

Grandpa Joseph Chapple was indeed a favorite of mine and his death on 23 August 1966, was very sudden! He died 28 days before my 7th birthday and the week before his death; we spent an afternoon together eating cotton candy. He introduced me to this sugary treat and then spent the whole time laughing at me as I complained and pouted about how the stuff melted in my mouth before I had a chance to really chew and enjoy it. Today when I see a bag of cotton candy, I’m reminded of my wonderful last day with Grandpa Joseph Chapple!

If you have  — Joseph Chapple — in your family tree (especially if he’s a native Texan and lived in Houston until his death in 1966) let me hear from you because —  I’m Claiming Kin!

Online Family History Industry Trends at Archives.com

Online Family History Trends

Archives.com recently published their Online Family History Industry Trends Report, along with corresponding info-graphics which offers some very interesting data about the steady rise in family research among those 45 years of age and older. According to this report, the interest in family research for this age group is due to significant advances in content digitization, social networks, and Internet tools available to genealogists today. Not to mention interest in family research is partly fueled by NBC’s popular television series,”Who Do You Think You Are?” and the new “Searching for …” documentary on OWN TV.

I’ve been involved with family research since 1989. But around 2004, my research slowed down a great deal when I was no longer able to travel to family locations and state archives to verify my findings due to college and my career. But hearing how many organizations were making more information available online at ‘no-cost’ or ‘low-cost,’ I decided 2011 was the perfect year to resume my family research . . . and I’m so glad that I did!

So check out Archives.com’s Industry Trends Infographic Report  about Online Family History!

Saulnier Street, Houston, Texas

My New Year’s Day 2011 Roadtrip

My New Year’s Day 2011 consisted of a fabulous soul-food meal prepared by my mom, and a quick road trip across town to a community where my maternal grandfather,  Joseph Chapple, and great-grandparents, Louis & Carrie Blanton Chapple lived around 1910.

Last week on Ancestry.com, I was able to download and review a copy of the 1910 United States Federal Census that gave specific details and valuable information about the lives of my grandfather and his parents at that time. [1]

Chappel Family in 1910 Census

One bit of information that was responsible for my road trip today was that it listed their physical address in Houston back in 1910. To determine which side of town their house was located, I typed the address into Google’s search field, and Trulia.com, a real estate search engine, came back with a description and photos of the shotgun house that sits exactly in the location where my grandfather lived, and it is for — SALE!

 

Saulnier Street, Houston, Texas

According to the description provided by Trulia.com:

This Single-Family Home located on Saulnier Street is in the Fourth Ward neighborhood in Houston, TX and zip code 77019. The average listing price for Fourth Ward is $279,916. This house has two beds, one bath, approximately 713 square feet, was built in 1928, and list for $124,999.

This description of the house and location of their community was just the information I needed to fill in the gaps about how my grandfather and his parents lived at that time. The Fourth Ward community where they lived was called Freedman’s Town and was one of the first and oldest and black neighborhoods in the city of Houston. According to the Texas State Historical Association, black settlers selected that area of the city which ran southwest of downtown along the southern edge of the Buffalo Bayou because it was inexpensive and White citizens didn’t want to settle in that area which was like a swamp and prone to flooding. Black settlers paved the streets of Fourth Ward with bricks that they made by hand. Because of segregation, black settlers had to create their services and utilities throughout the community. Many blacks worked as tradesmen, day laborers, or in the service. My great-grandmother worked in the service industry as an excellent cook for a boarding house in the downtown area, and my great-grandfather was a tradesman who assembled, maintained and repaired piping systems for a gas company.

In 1910, 17,000 blacks lived in the Fourth Ward area making it the center of black cultural and professional life in the city. [2] But my road-trip today in 2011 depicted a community that has become the poorest black area in the city. But despite this neglected community, investors seem to be pumping lots of capital in this ward again as expensive lofts, condos, and townhomes are on the same blocks with dilapidated and boarded up shotgun houses.

So if you have the surname — Chapple–falling out of your family tree (especially if they lived in the Houston area) let me hear from you because — I’m Claiming Kin!

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Source Citation

1. Year: 1910; Census Place: Houston Ward 4, Harris, Texas; Roll: T624_1560; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0071; Image: 30; FHL microfilm: 1375573.

2. Wikipedia. (2013, July 12). Fourth Ward, Houston. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Ward,_Houston

Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com

Ancestry is the world’s largest online resource for family history, with more than one million paying subscribers around the world as of December 2009.

Yep, I’m officially a paid subscriber!

I must say that my decision to use this paid service was a very smart move on my part because just entering a few family members for the past two weeks via their digital proprietary systems, have yielded some great information about relatives that would have taken me much longer to find if I was doing it via my paper-based research method.

So in 2011 I will blog about my genealogical journey with Ancestry.com and other online resources I use to shake down my family tree. So if you are an Ancestry.com user, connect with me and let me know your thoughts about this software and how your family research is going!