Sunday, March 2, 2014

March 2014, Photo of the Month

Esquire Magazine, January 1959

Esquire's 1959 photo by Art Kane

In January 1959, Esquire Magazine published an all jazz issue.  In the magazine was an article on the golden age of jazz and this photograph taken by visionary art director Art Kane.  It is a classic photograph that captures four decades of 57 jazz musicians standing on a stoop in front of a brownstone in Harlem, New York.  In later years, Jean Bach created a documentary, "A Great Day in Harlem" released in 1994 about this jazzy day in Harlem, New York.

Jean Bach's documentary ad

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sepia Saturday - The Crowd

 Sepia Saturday

Chicago Freedom March, 1963

In celebration of Black History Month, I selected this photo of "the crowd" in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. This photo was taken on July 4, 1963, during the Chicago Freedom March era.  The rally was part of a larger six day NAACP Convention which began in the city on July 1, 1963.  Mayor Richard J. Daley led the march through the city, down State Street, and to the rally in Grant Park.

March down State Street, Chicago Tribune Collection, 1963

 At the rally, Myrlie Evers the wife of slain civil rights' leader Medgar Evers received the NAACP's 48th Spingarn Medal posthumously for her husband's outstanding leadership.  Mayor Daley opened the rally with a welcome address but was quickly booed off the stage by the crowd who did not favor his political policies.  Forty-five years later President Obama's election night rally was held in the same location. As  long-time residents of Chicago, my family has very fond memories of both events.


Please visit Sepia Saturday to see other amazing photo-posts. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 2014, Photo of the Month

African American Women, 1940's
photographer unknown

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Wheelers - Part III

I'm writing my family history story Feb 1-28, 2014 Family History Writing Challenge

Elijah crawled up on his lap and Uncle Rex began to tell their story. She was a soldier and they called her "Griff" which was short for Griffin.  She served 12 months in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Rex pointed to the coffee table where there was a photo of her receiving an award in her dress uniform.  She was in the U.S. Army and came from a long ancestral line of fellow soldiers.  Her three times great grandfather Isaac was born a slave circa 1839 in Chattooga County, Georgia.  When he turned 18 years old he escaped and became a fugitive slave.  His owner placed a bounty on his head because he was a skilled blacksmith and was worth every penny of $6,800.  Escaping slavery wasn't a choice for everyone.  It took courage to escape.  The kind of courage where the possibility of freedom was worth the risk of escaping.  Isaac had a spirit of determination and a relentless will, so he ran barefoot until he knew he was free.

He didn't know the land very well and he knew if he was caught life would be worse than before, so he  took safe refuge in the Underground Railroad.  His first station was in Virginia.  It took two months to travel north from Virginia to New England.  He said he wanted to be as far away from slavery as he could.  His last station was in Stratford, Connecticut where he met Asa Seymour Curtis who helped him get to New Haven.

The Connecticut War Record, 1864-02

After the Civil War began, the Governor of Connecticut called for men of color to make up the Connecticut 29th Regiment for Colored Volunteers.  Isaac Wheeler enlisted on January 29, 1864, the same day, Frederick Douglass addressed the soldiers in Fair Haven, Connecticut.  Isaac heard Douglass' famous speech and those important words, "You are pioneers of the liberty of your race."  He realized that those words spoke truth and he was about to be the pioneer for the future generations of his family.  Isaac served in the Civil War and was seriously injured in the siege of Petersburg, Virginia.  He returned home from the war a disabled “musket-man” with a limp and he and his wife received a pension from the government for the rest of their lives.

Elijah asked, “Why was he a fugitive slave?”  Uncle Rex continued with the story.  Isaac was born a slave and had never been free.  His owner Ebenezer Herron sold Isaac’s mother Matilda when he was eight-years old.  She was taken from the plantation by her new owner and Isaac never saw her again.  He learned at a very young age that family was important, and he believed the only way he could have a family again was through freedom.  So he escaped and became a fugitive slave.  Much later in life, he told his wife and children that he had to make many sacrifices for the next generation of his family to have a life of freedom.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Wheelers - Part II

I'm writing my family history story Feb 1-28, 2014 Family History Writing Challenge 

"Come here Elijah.  Come and sit on my lap.” Rex said.  Elijah was his cute curly haired five-year old grand-nephew.  He was precocious and everyone loved him.  He was the kind of kid you enjoyed being around because he always seemed happy and content.  He had an old soul like he had been in this world before.  His two front teeth were missing but he had a grin like a Cheshire cat.  If he wasn’t flashing a smile he would charm you with those big beautiful brown eyes.  “Here I come, Uncle Rex.” Elijah said as he ran with all his force into the family room.

The family room was a large rectangular space with cathedral ceilings and crown molding.  It had just been newly renovated.  There were seven large oak windows that faced the west, and the best sunlight filled the room at this time of day.  The fireplace was centered on the north wall and on the mantle were 18 framed pictures of family members over several decades.  The frame in the center was larger than the rest and contained a sepia wedding photograph of a couple in 1926.  Above the mantle hung a triangle glass box with an enclosed military burial flag.  On the south wall were French doors that led to a screened-in porch and an outdoor deck.  Ironically, you could feel the coziness of the extra-large space that sponsored many family gatherings, parties, holiday festivities but most of all storytelling.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Wheelers - Part I

I'm writing my family history story Feb 1-28, 2014 The Family History Writing Challenge

It was June 12th a clear sunny summer day and Rex Wheeler had just returned home from his daily walk in the neighborhood.  This was a community where the Wheeler clan had established deep roots and had lived in the same home for 84 years through five generations.  As Rex walked in the house he couldn’t help but to reminisce about the day Medgar Wiley Evers was assassinated.  Fifty years ago to the date, he thought.  On that day, just like today, Rex walked the same route to the same house. He remembered how the news saddened the community.  It was the first time he had ever seen his mother cry.  He felt like he should have cried too, but he was too angry to pursue his grief, so instead he sat in front of the RCA console and watched the news in silence.

When the NAACP Convention came to the city, he walked in the Freedom March and participated in the rally in Grant Park.  He saw Medgar Evers' widow receive the NAACP Spingarn Medal in her husband's honor on July 4, 1963.  Six weeks later, he participated in the March On Washington.  He was only 16 years old at the time, but his parents encouraged him to go because they knew that he would learn the value of sacrifice.  Rex glanced at the clock in the kitchen as he walked through the dining room on his way to the family room.  As he read the time, 2:27 p.m., his mind was quickly brought back to the present day.  It was Elijah’s time now, a time that Rex often looked forward to.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Surname Saturday - Pritchard

The following information has sources.  If you are a relative or have information about this line of the Pritchard family, please get in touch with me.  I am interested in learning more and willing to share information to help others continue their research.

Storyline:  It's all in a name.

My maternal grandfather is Ernest Lee Pritchard Sr.  He was born 16 March 1901 in McMinn County, Tennessee, USA.  He died on 10 Jan 1975 in Cleveland, Bradley, Tennessee, USA.  I have traced his ancestry back three generations:  his father Robert Dodson Pritchard, his grandfather James Pritchard, and his great-grandfather Alfred Pritchard.   Circa 1835, the family migrated from North Carolina to eastern Tennessee.  The family settled in McMinn County, Tennessee circa 1855.

Robert Dodson Pritchard
           b. Jan 1862 in McMinn Co., Tennessee, USA
           d. 28 Apr 1924 place unknown
James Pritchard
b. 1836 in Tennessee, USA
d. unknown
Alfred Pritchard 
b. 1805 in North Carolina, USA
d. unknown
The name Pritchard is of Welsh origin and is derived from ap. Richard which means son of Richard.  The name is found in ancient records with various spellings, for example Prichert, Prichart, and Pricherd.  The most common usage in modern times is Pritchard and Prichard, and in my family line they have used both spellings. It is said that the ancient Welsh Pritchards were related to the Pritchards of London who were noble.

Early colonial history of America has shown many Pritchards who have emigrated from Wales, but there is no evidence that any of these individuals are related to my Pritchard family, at least not yet.