Friday, December 13, 2013

George Peters - My Cattle Driving Great-Grandfather

(this is not a photo of my great-grandfather)

My great-grandfather George Peters was born in the early 1850s, about 1854.  His parents were born in Africa.  According to the 1870 Census they lived in the Lower Caney section of Matagorda County, Texas.  It is not clear to see who was the last slave owner from this record. He was my mother's paternal grandfather - the father to my grandfather Gillie Peters.

Father - Lemon Peters
Mother - Mary Williams, b. abt 1830

Sisters -

1) Emma, b. abt 1859. She married Charles Munro, but I believe she was married twice; she had two daughters: Thelma & Letha, and they had different maiden names.
2) Martha, b. abt 1857. She does not appear to have been married.
3) Onie, b. 1855. She married Alfred Clark, (they had no children)

A cousin once called George Peters a cowboy; my mother used to tell me what was told to her that he rode a large white horse.  According to the records I have researched he was a cattle driver along with his brother-in-law Alfred Clark, and his brother-in-law's brother, Jerry Clark.  I would love to find out which cattle driver (rancher) they worked for.  I wonder what things he experienced throughout his lifetime as a cattle driver. What trails did he ride on with the herd of cattle? Texas Cattle Trails Map

Death Certificate of George Peters
I can only imagine life must have been rough and rugged. The living conditions probably deplorable - equal to or beneath that of the cattle. I wonder what effect this had on him as a person, husband, father.

My great-grandparents, George Peters and Annie Round were probably together prior to their marriage in 1897.  While it is not known whether George Peters fathered children other than the three sons: Harrison, Marshall, and Gillie - he had with my great-grandmother Annie Round.  I do believe he may have been married prior to marrying my great-grandmother as I am certain that my great-grandmother was married prior to marrying my great-grandfather.

His death certificate shows he died 11 June 1931.  It appears that he was buried in Burr, Texas.  Burr, is also known as Lawson's Corner or Kriegel Switch, which is an unincorporated area of eastern Wharton County.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Great-Grandfather Calvin Bracy

I never met my great-grandfather, but growing up it seemed as if he lived,  he "lived", at least, in the heart and memory of my mother.  His name was Calvin Bracy.  He was the father of my maternal grandmother, Lena Bracy.

I believe he was born in 1870, but my mother used to say he was born one year or three years after Emancipation, which was in 1863, but because they lived in Texas, Emancipation came two years later in 1865, so it could have been 1866, or 1868.  If I were to say where he was born based on census records - I'd still be confused.  The 1900 Census says he was born in Mississippi, but thereafter census records show he was born in Louisiana.  My mother and grand aunt often spoke about Hammond, Louisiana, but no records have shown up to prove this.

I often wonder how he and my great-grandmother met.

He was a retired minister, I think he may have been a Baptist minister.  He had six children with my great-grandmother, Julia.  My grandmother being the eldest, but she also had older half brothers.  My great-grandfather had other children with Lizzie (Elizabeth), and perhaps other women.

After the death of my grandfather Gillie Peters in 1938, my grandmother, and her children would live with several relatives. My mother often spoke about living with her step aunts, and other times she spent with her grandfather and his current wife Sallie; my great-grandmother died in 1922.  She had had three children from a previous relationship.  Oral history, as I say, rumors that he fathered over twenty children.  Other relatives say 15-18 children. While, it is not impossible, I have not found any records to substantiate those stories.  I explain it, that he may have fathered that many children some who may have been stillborn or died prior to my grandmother and her sister were born; children unfortunately never mentioned.

According to census records he moved around quite a bit.  In 1900 I found him with his wife Lizzie, two sons C.B. and Josh Bracey in Quintana, Texas - a town in Brazoria County.  From there I found him in Walker County in the town of Dodge.  Then in 1940, he is enumerated twice, once with my grandmother in Harris County in Houston, and in San Jacinto County.

When I interviewed his youngest daughter about her father, my grandaunt, she described him having the skin complexion of peanut butter.  She described that he was a hard-working man who once owned a grocery store, and a farm.  She told me his mother's name was Lena Cline.  In addition, both she and my mother told me he had a sister, but I cannot recall her name.  She lived in Louisiana.

He died in 1945.

His name continues to resonate and be respected, and honored throughout the family.  My mother named my youngest brother in his honor, I have a number of cousins with the same first name - Calvin.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My 23andMe DNA Composition

Posted above are my new 23andMe results: 88.2% Sub-Saharan African, 8.9% European, 0.6% East Asian & Native American, 2.3% Unassigned. However, originally my results were:

  • 89.8% Sub-Saharan African
  • 8.5% European
  • 0.5% East Asian & Native American
  • 2.1% Unassigned
My experience with 23andMe has been great even with the recent FDA halt of the company's testing services. However, I appreciate being able to connect with others of the same haplogroup.

My paternal haplogroup (E1B1A8A) has many with ancestry from Alabama, which is where my father was from. While I am not surprised, I just find it enlightening and I hope somehow we can connect the dots.

I have not utilized the African Ancestry DNA testing, but two responses, one from Cameroon and the Republic of Congo has sparked my interest to see where my paternal family originated and see exactly where and how I am connected in Africa.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tracing My Mother's Paternal Side: ROUNDS of Matagorda County


I have always found it easier to trace my father's side of the family even with the few brick walls I have encountered. On the other hand, my mother's ancestry and especially her paternal side has and continues to be full of brick walls.  Recently, I have been determined after I discovered a website that I know my mother's paternal side resided, and prior to this discovery I would avoid researching this side.

I was aware that the family lived in Matagorda County Texas in the town of Matagorda, in the Lower Caney section of town.  I knew my great grandmother, Annie Rounds, lived there with her parents and siblings.

A Mother Lode - The Discovery

The age of computer technology should not be overlooked. I do agree that if something cannot be found online, if possible, these records should be found at the courthouse or university libraries that have numerous collections.  Or if there is a library-sharing program and you do not mind looking through rolls of microfilm, which is what most did before the dawn of technology, by all means do so.
My discovery came from searching online. I found a website after thinking that I'd never find any genealogical information about my family ever online - boy was I wrong! I did a search for Matagorda County Texas.  I found information about what possibly may have been Jesse Rounds, my 2 x great grandfather's, last slave owner on the 1867 Voter's Registration List, I found out who my great-grand uncles and great-grand aunts married. In addition, I found when my great-grandparents married. I was able to find information about my great-grandfather and his sisters.
This discovery made me keenly aware that the ancestors speak to you! I heard about an aunt, Onie Peters, that I never met, but heard her name over and over. I found her on the marriage records list below.  She lead me to find her. I never knew her married name, let alone that she had been married.
Matagorda County Slave Database

1867 Voter's Registration List
1870 US Census Matagorda County Texas - African American & Mulatto Families
Matagorda County Marriage Records

Newfound Fulfillment

Since those discoveries I have found it enjoyable to doing research on my mother's paternal side.  I have been able to tackle my mother's maternal side, it too fraught with brick walls, and those too have come tumbling down.  It has been so fulfilling to discover my past and to verify and document my mother's paternal ancestry.
Admittedly, I was overjoyed with what I thought might have been my 2 x great grandfather's last slave owner, who I thought was J L Thorp, but I understand now that some online indexes may have errors or that they do not give accurate information. However, I welcome the challenge to locate other owners he may have had.  I look at this as turning lemons into lemonade.


I have thoroughly enjoyed what I thought was something I wanted avoid to an activity that still fascinates me, finding my mother's paternal ancestors. I used the county website for Matagorda County that was full of information from: African American churches, slave database, baptisms, marriages, brands, that verified and documented their existence for me.  Although further research will turn up more I look forward to digging deeper.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day: Honoring My Great Uncle Isaac "Jack" Bracy

My maternal grandmother had several brothers; most were recollections of past memories because they had already passed on before I came into existence. However, the two grand uncles I did know; one lived in California and the other I met as a child in 1972 while on family road trip from California to Houston, Texas.

Born 22 May 1907, His name, Isaac Bracy, and no doubt he was named for his maternal great-grandfather, Isaac Anderson. His parents: Reverend Calvin & Julia Bracy welcomed their firstborn son!

Growing up we called him “Uncle Jack.” By this time, he was a retired school bus driver, but always had some hustle (some kind of side business). In the family, the Bracy men, were always referred to as hustlers - hardworking.  His wife Carrie, I recall, was in the hospital, but being so young didn’t fully grasp what was going on with her.  He stayed in a storefront apartment. My younger brother and I were eager to spend time with this new uncle we barely knew. He came over nearly every morning. It was storming outside one particular day - thunder and lightning. I was so scared, but I remember he came over to my grandmother's, I told him I wanted to go next door and he walked me over next door to my cousins’ house! Me and my younger brother wanted to stay with him one night so we spent the night with him. It was sort of odd because he didn't speak much, no games to play, but it was just amazing to be able to see where and how he lived.

Uncle Jack became very ill - and it may have appeared that no one could care for his needs or perhaps a bit of manipulation may have been in order. My parents drove down to Los Angeles to meet my mother’s eldest brother, who was carrying my great uncle. From there they took him up to Sacramento to my grandmother’s baby sister’s house. After she could no longer care for him, he was transported to the VA Hospital in Martinez, Calif.  I think although he was not able to speak he was glad to see his family there. Sadly, there he passed away in his sleep on 4 Aug 1978.

He was not a highly decorated soldier, but a Veteran nonetheless. He served his country in the United States Army from December 1942 to October 1945.  He was a Corporal. If I had been older when I first met my great uncle, being the family historian I am, would have asked about his service in the military, about his parents, about life growing up in rural Texas.

He is laid to rest at the Sacramento County Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Sacramento, CA.

(Photo: Grand Uncle Isaac "Jack" Bracy and his maternal Aunt Mary P. Jones)