AfriGeneas Writers Forum
The Triumph of the Human Spirit (Update)
Several years ago I attended the Mid-Atlantic African American Genealogy Conference at the Cherry Hill Family History Center of the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of the distinguished presenters was Martin Luther King III, the second oldest child of the slain civil-rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King. I was inspired to return home and gather dna from my mother’s second brother and to continue the search for her oldest brother. But to no avail.
My mother Cleo Wilkins was born in April of 1930, during the Great Depression.
Her parents met and married at a very young age and added seven children to their bragging rights. Unfortunately tuberculosis hit Georgetown, South Carolina in the late 1930’s. My grandfather Ed. Sr. a hard working plumber could not shake the disease and would pass in January of 1940. My grandmother Christina would depart in July from the disease the same year. My great-grandmother Elizabeth would try to keep the children together but she too passed from tuberculosis, leaving my mother and her siblings orphans.
Now the division. Who would take in all seven children? No one. They were separated from their parents, grandparent and now each other. My Aunt Lucille, Mary and Janie Bell passed from one incident after the other, before reaching the age of 16. My mother migrated north and was raised by my great Uncle Tom and great Aunt Florence. My three uncles were adopted and their last names were changed from FRASER making it almost impossible for my mother to trace them.
As an adult my mother re-united with her youngest brother Thomas Reed who currently lives in North Carolina. She had the pleasure of returning to South Carolina to celebrate my Uncle Willie’s 70th birthday. Thirty-seven years ago my Uncle Eddie, Jr. sent my mother a letter. Unfortunately it was mis-placed.
Three days shy from my mother’s 82nd birthday, I sat in front of my computer in search of my Uncle Eddie. After making numerous phone calls and several hours later, I found myself on the phone with a young man who shared the same name as my uncle. He called my new found Auntie Jean to the phone who assured me that her husband had been looking for his sister for thirty-seven years. In the background getting ready for work he confirmed that his sister name was Cleo.
In all the excitement my Uncle thought that he could take off from work immediately. He would later learn that he would have to wait another month to see his sister. In the meantime I decided to travel to Miami, Florida to make the family connection.
My uncle shared his birth certificate with me. A document that I found to be alarming. His birthday and the name of his mother was incorrect. Something that I would have to share with him once we met in Philadelphia.
On my 60th birthday my Uncle Eddie and my mother re-united with each other for the first time in over seventy years. As he walked towards her at the airport, she giggled like a little girl who missed her pigeon toed brother. He in return smiled as he watched her walk in the same manner in front of him. My youngest brother was amazed to see that he shared the strong family resemblance. Uncle Eddie made a phone call and spoke to my Uncle Thomas who is now seventy-three. My Uncle Willie passed two years ago so I called his oldest daughter so that she could speak to our Uncle Eddie. Mae confirmed with tears of joy that Uncle Eddie sounded just like her dad. I assume it’s in the dna.
The time came when it was time for me to share the death certificates with my Uncle Eddie. He learned that his parents died in 1940 so it was impossible for him to be born in 1941. He also learned that his cousin’s name was on his birth certificate instead of his mother’s name. Uncle Eddie gave me permission to call South Carolina Vital Records. The woman who answered the phone was a blessing. She made the necessary corrections and mailed the amended birth certificate to me immediately. My Aunt Jean thanked me for taking care of this important matter. The pleasure was all mine.
I’m glad that I was able to attend the conference and was inspired to get Uncle Willie’s dna. I feel like all four siblings were able to make history in one way or another.
How is my mother and two uncles doing, you may ask?
The rest is Her/Story - His/Story
Yours in Stories,
Joann Frasier Dasent