I recently came across some memorabilia for Armstrong High School in Washington, DC Class of 1918 and thought I would share.
Churches established clubs and organizations to provide constructive guidance for youth in the community. In the 1950’s Mt Carmel Baptist Church, located and 3rd and I Street NW, had a Boy Scout Troop (Troop 511) and a Drill Squad. I came across some pictures of these organizations while looking at a family photo album and thought I would share this bit of Washington, DC local history.
Boy Scout Troop 511
The other day I was looking through some papers and came across a picture of The Municipal Male Chorus. My grandfather was a member of the chorus. I decided to do a little research on the chorus and write a blog post to share this bit of Washington, DC history.
The Municipal Male Chorus was formed in the 1940’s and consisted of male employees of the District of Columbia government. The majority of the men were chauffeurs, messengers or elevator operators in the District Building. The director was Robert Hamilton. Mr Hamilton was also the music director at Berean Baptist Church that was located at 11th and V Street NW.
The chorus sang in a variety of concerts around the city. They frequently performed at churches and appeared on WINX Radio station. In April of 1941, they participated in the opening ceremonies for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Later that same month, the chorus joined several other choruses from the area to accompany the legendary Paul Robeson at a benefit concert for a crowd of over 5,000 people.
I did not find any information about the chorus after 1941 so it appears that the chorus did not last that long.
Would you like to help family historians and genealogist expand their family tree? You can by participating in the Freedmen’s Bureau Records Project and help to index nearly 4 million records to make them searchable online.
Freedmen’s Bureau records are a treasure trove for family historians and genealogist researching their African American ancestors. The Freedmen’s Bureau was created in 1865 to assist formerly enslaved individuals and war refugees become productive members of society. The Bureau reunited families, opened schools, managed hospitals, provided food and clothing ,as well as, offered marriages certificates for couples who were cohabitating as husband and wife. The Bureau’s records are on microfilm and contain information on an estimated four million individuals. The majority of the records are not indexed and therefore are very difficult to access.
The records are the property of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). FamilySearch purchased the microfilms and has rights to digitally publish and index them. They have partnered with several organizations for a national project to index the Freedmen’s Bureau Records. It will take tens of thousands of volunteers to complete the indexing in the desired 18 months.
I am participating in the Freedmen’s Bureau Project and am urging you to do the same. Indexing is fairly simple and any amount of time you can give will be valuable. Even if you can only give a few minutes a day, the time adds up and together we can accomplish this task. Please join me in helping to make these important records searchable online.
To learn more about the project visit www.DiscoverFreedmen.org
Here is a video from the site explaining the value of the project.
I have written about my genealogy buddy, Robyn Smith and her exciting family research in several of my posts. Robyn is the author of the popular genealogy blog, Reclaiming Kin where she uses her research as a tool to show others how to research their family history.
Robyn is a great genealogy buddy because she takes her research seriously. She is a stickler for using the proper methodology and doing due diligence to research family history. Robyn is an inspiration to many in the genealogy community.
She recently published a book titled, The Best of Reclaiming Kin: Helpful Tips On Researching Your Roots, with some of her most informative blog post. Her book is a valuable addition to the personal library of anyone who is interested in researching their family history
I urge you to visit her blog and see for yourself. Your research will be greatly enhanced by the knowledge she shares.
For many years, I was reluctant to build a family tree online because I wanted to protect the privacy of family members and control access to information on my tree. When I learned that I could use privacy settings to control access to my tree, I decided to put my tree on Ancestry.com.
I only put deceased individuals on my tree and used the ‘Private’ privacy setting to prevent other subscribers from viewing information on my tree. However, basic information (name, birth year, and birthplace) about deceased individuals is displayed in search results. If a person wants to view my tree, they must contact me anonymously through the Ancestry.com messaging service. You can learn more about ancestry.com privacy setting and decide what is best for you.
An added benefit of putting my tree online was I was able to take advantage of ancestry.com hints. This feature uses information from your family tree to suggest possible matches between people on the tree and historical records and/or other family trees.
I recently solved a genealogy mystery thanks to a hint from Ancestry.com. I have traced my Shakespeare family back to the 1840’s where Sancho and Lucinda Shakespeare and their children were enslaved by Elijah Wigglesworth in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Over the years I have made considerable progress on expanding my Shakespeare family tree but I had several people whose trail went cold.
Richard Shakespeare was one of those people. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1899 to Richard Shakespeare Sr and Molly/Mary Bailey. I believe his mother must have died when he was young because after 1900 he and his brother, James, lived in Caroline County, Virginia with their father’s brother, John Henry Shakespeare, and John’s wife, Sarah Ann (Sallie) Ferguson. Their father remained in Baltimore, MD where he died in 1927.
The latest information I had on Richard Shakespeare Jr. was from the 1920’s. He was listed in the 1920 Caroline County census with his aunt, uncle and brother. I could not locate any information on Richard after the 1920s.
Last month, I received an email from ancestry.com with a hint for my Shakespeare Family Tree. I clicked on the link which took me to Richard Shakespeare’s death certificate. From this document I learned that Richard lived in Beaver County, Pennsylvania and his wife’s name was Jannie.
Armed with this new information I began to search for Richard in Beaver County, Pennsylvania and located information on Richard, his wife and their children. Using other ancestry.com hints, I attempted to locate and contact some of Richard’s living descendants.
I used resources outside ancestry.com to obtain death notices for Richard, his wife and their children. I learned from their death notices they were members of Love-Hope Baptist Church and wrote to the church to see if they had any information on Richard Shakespeare and his family. The church was gracious enough to forward my letter to Richard Shakespeare’s great granddaughter who contacted me. We recently met and exchanged information. They shared this picture of Richard Shakespeare with me.
Thanks to a hint from Ancestry.com, I was able to solve the mystery of what happened to Richard Shakespeare, expand my Shakespeare Family Tree and meet some new cousins!!.
Descendants of Sancho and Lucinda Shakespeare
Richard was the grandson of Sancho and Lucinda’s son Beverly. In addition to Beverly, they had seven other children: Eliza, Richmond, Louisa, Nancy, Matilda, John, Martha. The family was separated in 1845 when their slaveowner, Elijah Wigglesworth, estate was settled and his property was distributed among his wife and children
I have not located any information on Eliza. I am not sure if she used the Shakespeare surname after slavery. She may have been taken to Tennessee when her slave owner, Andrew J. Wigelsworth, moved to the state.
Richmond and Nancy
Richmond, Nancy and Matilda were enslaved by Jefferson Flippo of Caroline County, Virginia when Almira W. Wigelsworth married him. Nancy had a daughter named, Susan. The three of them escaped from Jefferson Flippo in 1862 but I have been unable to determine what happened to them. . I am not sure if they used the Shakespeare surname after slavery.
Matilda Shakespeare were enslaved by Jefferson Flippo of Caroline County, Virginia when Almira W. Wigelsworth married him. She had several children during slavery. One of them was John Henry Lewis. . I met the wife of John Henry Lewis’s youngest son who shard this picture with me.
After slavery Matlida married Dingo Rollins and they had several children. Two of their children were Rachel and Marry Rollins. I met Mary’s granddaughter who share these pictures of Matilda’s daughters with me.
Louisa married William Woolfolk. They are my 2nd great grandparents. They had several children, Overton, my great grandfather, and Susan. I have not located a picture of Overton. I located Susan’s granddaughter who shared this picture with me.
Beverly Shakespeare had several wives and several children. John Herbert Shakespeare is also a descendant of Beverly.
John is listed in the 1870 census with his parents. I have not located any other information about him.
I wrote a blog post about Martha.
My grandfather, Sylvester Roy Woodfork Sr, was a World War I veteran. In my 2011 post titled The Importance of Performing Thorough Research I mentioned the discrepancy between the family oral history regarding his military service and the information contained on the military records I received from the National Archives. As I continued to locate more information on my grandfather’s military service I become more confused because the information on one set of documents was different from the information on another set of documents.
I sent a letter to the National Archives to see if they could help me understand why these documents had conflicting information. I recently received an explanation. This blog post demonstrates the importance of locating the original documents when performing research and explains why there may be a discrepancy in a person’s military records.
Below is a summary of the various documents with information on my grandfather’s military unit:
- The NA Form 13164 (which can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act) provided by the National Archives in St Louis indicates he served in 52nd Company 13th Battalion 153rd DB Camp Dix, NJ.
- A Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed Discharge dated December 11, 1958 indicates he served in Battery F, 351st Field Artillery.
- The original discharge papers that were issued on March 15, 1918 indicate he was a Private in 52nd Co 13th Bn 153rd DB Camp Dix, NJ.
- The Remarks section of the enlistment record that accompany the original discharge indicate Service 351st fa 1/13/18, 52nd Co, 12th Bn, 153rd DB 2/22/19
Below is the answer I received from the Archivist explaining why these document contained different information:
There are usually two units found on different military separation forms. When in the service a veteran would have served with one main unit for the majority of the war. In this case Mr. Woodfork spent the majority of his service with the 351st Field Artillery as of July 13, 1918.
Towards the end of the war, or when a veteran was to be discharged/separated from service, each veteran was sent to a certain unit or place (in this case Camp Dix) that was specifically utilized for discharge or out processing. In this case, on February 22, 1919 Mr. Woodfork was transferred to the 52nd Co for out processing to be discharged from the service. This notation is shown in the enlistment record notes in which you referred.
The difference in the documents issued later depends on who and what criteria was used. The certificate in lieu of discharge and transcript of military record was issued directly from the Army in 1958. The Army was putting the emphasis of his service on the unit it which he spent the most time and that was really the primary unit in which he served.
The Information Releasable Under the Freedom of Information Act was issued by the National Archives and Records Administration, National Personnel Records Center. They tend to list the final unit, the out processing unit, as the place and unit of separation.
If you have a question about research or records obtained from the National Archives, you can contact them by completing an Inquire Form on the National Archives website.