Thursday, January 23, 2014


I know I haven't typed here in awhile.  One reason is because I want to write a book and I feel that if I write in my blog there will be no reason to read my book, but this morning I am extremely choked up and this needs to come out. As most of you have come to realize when researching there is always a question or two (or many for that matter) that would bother you. One of the most pressing questions for me is why my 2x great grandmother changed her children's name only in 1880 to Yeldell.

It is said that after Emancipation freed people of color could change their name if they didn't want to keep the name of their last enslaver. Well in 1870 Martha did not change any names but in 1880 she changed her children's last name to Yeldell but kept her last name as Brooks. Yeldell is the surname of my family and since researching I have always wonder why she changed the name to that. I have been given several explanations but the one thing that sticks with me the most is she changed her children's name to their father's name but she kept her name because it was her actual maiden name. Yes I know by saying this that means that either Martha was fathered by someone in the Brooks family or one of  her parents were. Do I have proof of this not yet but right now that is my educated guess.

However because this question still bothers me I often read about surname changes and I wonder what others think about how their family came to have their own surname. So this morning I came upon a repost from another facebooker/genealogical friend. She posted a blog from another genealogist discussing how his family surname came to be ( His question was really similar to my own and although I read this blog to get his take on the name change issue it was something else that he pointed out that made my heart jump in my throat.

If you read his blog (and you really should) he realizes his ancestor's name was something different and as you read on he realizes there former enslavers name was the new name he had found. His research guides him to look at the 1850 Slave Schedule for South Carolina and this is what he finds:

"I found John & Anna Burnett residing in the Saluda district of Abbeville County, South Carolina. I then checked the 1850 Abbeville County slave schedule and found John Burnett with 18 slaves. Slave schedules only report the names of slave-owners and the age, sex, and color of each of their slaves.
Looking more closely at the schedule of John Burnett’s slaves in 1850, I noticed the unique way the census enumerator listed them in the slave schedule. An adult female was listed first with eight much younger slaves (children) listed after her. She was my great-great-great-grandmother,Flora Davis. A second adult female slave, likely Nelly, was listed next with eight much younger slaves (children) listed after her. John Burnett obviously had owned two adult females and their 16 children, collectively."
It was the second paragraph that caught my attention.  He talked about how the census enumerator listed the people in the slave schedule. I had my 2x great-grandmother in both the 1850 and 1860 slave schedule and I never really took notice or even knew to take notice to how they were listed. so I went back and took a look. I viewed the 1850 schedule first. Now before I go into my findings I already know you are asking the question if no name is listed like he said above how do you know that is your Martha?  Well its simple she is the only female slave that matches the age she would have been during that time. So I checked the 1850 Schedule under Martha's first known slave owner Whitfield Brooks (Preston Brooks father). He was right they were listed in a unique way. They seemed to have been grouped by family. My 2x great grandmother was born about 1834 so in 1850 she would have been about 16 years old. Now depending on when her birthday was and out of the 93 slaves he owned the 15 year old girl you see below was the only one that could have been my 2x great grandmother.

All I could do was grab my mouth. The picture above did not just show my 2x great-grandmother Martha as a teenager but this could have very well been her mother and father and her siblings. My heart is racing. I checked the 1860 census and it was not listed like this.  Instead they were listed from oldest to youngest. This was an amazing realization for me.  I then started to look at the book the Slave Records of Edgefield County by Gloria Ramsey Lucas. I looked at all of the names of the slaves Whitfield owned when he died. His slaves did not seem to have been sold or given to anyone outside of the family. They went to his wife and sons Preston and John. There was one set that was sold to a lady by the name of Nancy Blocker but I have reason to believe she was family from something else I had found (but that's another story) and I digress.

I compared the info from the book to the 1850 Slave Schedule and Whitfield seemed to have owned two complete families (that would mother, father and children). One family (Husband, Wife & three children) were given to his son John the other (Husband, Wife & six children) were given to Preston. Researching family history is like a science project so you make several educated guesses. The family pictured above was a family of nine Mom, Dad and seven children. Preston was given a family of eight. My Martha was given to Whitfield's wife who then passed her on to Preston. It is my educated guess that Martha was given to Preston because he was already the owner of her entire family.  If this is correct to my family that is reading this blog I want to introduce to you Charles, Crecy, Maria, Becky, Alfred, Sarah and Edney the parents and siblings of Martha Brooks.

Well I still haven't gotten my question answered about the name change but I think the latter will do for today.

Until Next Time...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Martha is On The Haunt Again

These past few weeks I have been thrown some reminders about my 2xgreat grandmother. So I think she is pushing her presence again. Whether it is talk about the Holloway's or some unexpected research Martha is on the Haunt again.

As long as I have been researching this family there is always something new to learn. A couple of days ago I was told about a different type of census record. Those records are called State census. They were taken in years between the Federal Census and were designed to collect specific data. Dependent upon the state data could include needs of communities; tallies of school-age children; censuses of military strength, cavalry horse resources, and even monitor African Americans moving into the northern cities.

A fellow historian and newly found out family member via DNA spoke to me about the 1869 South Carolina State Census Record. While conducting some research for her own family she found what we think is my grandfather Jefferson Yeldell Grandmother and a possible Aunt. This census does not list everyone in the household by name but only those 21 and older. The census list Martha Brooks (my 2x great grandmother) with two women and five men (I believe that is the number she gave me). This is possible because by 1869 Martha had a daughter and five boys. It goes into more detail by giving approximate ages listed like 6 and under and so on. Now as important as this is there was something else even more important and that was the finding of two more Black Brooks.

The first one was a Becky Brooks. Becky had young girls in her household but I am not sure of the number. At first I thought she was Martha's daughter Rebecca but I realized that she would not be old enough to be listed so I realized this could be a sister or maybe even a mother to Martha Brooks. Exciting Right! Well there is more.

There was also a male found who was old enough to be mentioned. Natonne may have shared with me the amount of people in his household whether they were boys or girls or men or women. But it all went away when she told me his name. You see his name was Jefferson Davis Brooks....When I heard that name she kept talking but I really didn't hear her. All I could do was wonder is this my grandfather's grandfather or maybe his father's peter's uncle either way I knew that this was where my grandfather got his name.

So now that I have learned of other types of census records I will be making my way to Columbia, SC when I go to Edgefield in September. It is there that I have to find the state census records where I will look for all of our ancestors born before 1850. Going to SC is definitely going to be an emotional time for me. I only wish someone would be able to go with me.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Remembering The Fallen

The Memorial Day Holiday is more about honoring those that fought in the different American wars.  We remember their service, their dedication, their commitment to our country and their family.  There can't be a stronger more dedicated group of people. I am honored to know some and to know of some that were in my family.

But when you celebrate the Memorial Day holiday are the ones that fought in the Wars the only ones you remember?  There were other wars.  Wars with no official war name.  The holocaust for example yes it was caused by a war but it was also its own personal war for those that I had to live through it.  Do you remember them during this weekend?  Then there is slavery there personal war eventually caused a war do you remember your ancestors?

Today I read an article posted by who I would like to call one of my colleagues in genealogy.  The article (posted below) talks about the problems between blacks and whites after the civil war. 

.  When slaves were freed and the Emancipation Proclamation took effect whites and blacks trying to work together was to put it lightly difficult.  Of course you had some of those ex-slaves who went to look for their families they were separated from, but there were some who didn't.  More than likely all of those that were enslaved wanted to find the family members that were sold off but it wasn't possible for all so they stayed where they were and were now paid to do the work even though it was a small amount.  Due to not being educated some still went on not even knowing that slavery had ended. These problems that occurred were so disruptive that it caused what is now known in history as the first Great Negro Migration out of the south.

From 1910 to 1930 Black people African Americans left the southern states in droves.  My grandparents were apart of that Exodus.  According to my mother her sister told her "Daddy left the south with shades pulled down in the car.  It was like he was smuggling us out."  Learning about all of this makes me realize they need to remembered, they should be remembered they deserve to be remembered on this day.  So today I remember my fallen.  I remember and I call out the names of my fallen family to before the First Negro Migration and those that served in the American Wars both alive and dead:

The children of Martha Brooks who she had specifically for her Slave Owners to simply make more slaves
Priscilla and Dave children who were sold to Lemuel Brooks along with Martha in 1856
Martha Brooks b. 1834 d. Unknown
Ezra Adams b. 1844 d. Unknown
Joyce Ann Holloway b. 1847 d. Unknown
Rebecca Brooks b. 1856 d. Unknown
Robert Brooks (Yeldell)  b. 1864 d. Unknown
David Brooks (Yeldell) b. 1864 d. Unknown
Peter Brooks (Yeldell) b.1865 d. Unknown
Thomas Brooks b. 1868 d. Unknown
George Brooks b. 1868 d. Unknown
Katie Adams (Yeldell) b. 1867 d. 1919
Rhody Adams b. 1862 d. Unknown
Elvira Adams b. 1865 d. Unknown
Ellerape Adams b. 1870 d.Unknown
Gary Adams b. 1875 d. 1937
Mattie Freeman b. 1888 d. 1933
Jefferson D. Yeldell b. 1894 d. 1964
Annie Mae Yeldell b. 1898 d. 1950
Lt. Col. Thomas Yeldell b. 1914 d. 1994 (Korean War, World War II)
John Carlton Yeldell b. 1915 d. 1961
Edward Yeldell b. 1917 d. 1997
Ida Mae Yeldell b. 1919 d. 1971
Lula Robertson b. 1921 d. 2008
Jeannell Turner b. 1923 d. 1981
Staff Sgt. Davis Yeldell b. 1926 d. 2000 (Korean War)
1st Lt. Joseph Yeldell b. 1932 d. 2013 (was the third person in Washington, DC awarded the Medal of Honor
SP4 David Yeldell b. 1948 d. 1970 (Vietnam War Panel 11W - Line 119 )
Johnie Senior, Sr. b. 1834 d. Unknown
Jane Williams (Senior) b. 1835 d. Unknown
Versey Senior b. 1854 d. Unknown
Agnes Senior (Harrison) b. 1858 d. 
Allah Senior b. 1858 d. Unknown
Alice Senior b. 1860 d. 1938
Henderson Senior b. 1862 d. Unknown
Moses Senior b. 1864 d. Unknown
Johnie Senior, Jr.  b. 1867 d. 1944
Elvira Senior b. 1866 d. Unknown
Job Senior b. 1875 d. Unknown
Jane Senior b. 1877 d. Unknown
Enoch Peterson b. 1835 d. 1909
Ann Shefford b. 1842 d.Unknown
There are more than 70 Peterson children and grandchildren who were born prior to the first Negro Migration not listed but most definitely honored.  

Current Soldiers
Theresa Carter  (currently in Afghanistan)
Tekisha Green (War in Afghanistan, Iraq War)

All who have been listed or not listed I honor on this day and every day. I thank you for doing what you have done and what you are doing which has allowed me to become who I am and continues to protect my rights.

Until Next Time...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Ancestor's are Compromising

Well this is the first post on the new blog site.  It is a work in progress but please be patient with me as I learn how to maneuver.  Well as you all know my research went from focusing on one family to learning about several more families.  Since the past three years of writing this online journal I have gone back and forth between my 2x great-grandmother on my grandfather side and my great grandmother on my grandmother.  With most of my focus on the 2x great-grandmother Martha my great-grandmother Mama Lula began to force some things upon me.  She allowed me to find out about Martha being a slave who her owner was, learn that she was a breeder and learn about the other two children.  I found a huge and significant amount of stuff for Martha more than I ever could dream of and since I feel that she felt that same sentiment Mama Lula started to make things more and more difficult to find something on the Yeldell side.

Martha understood but I did not but no matter how much I tried to stay on the Yeldell's Mama Lula would always bring me right back to her. For example every time I thought I found something for the Yeldell's it would always get turned around and be about the Senior/Peterson side. So on my last post I gave in I realized that the Senior/Peterson voice was going to be heard and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  Because of her persistence and the inclusion of other family members Mama Lula made it possible to learn and meet her brother Enoch Jr. children. We were able to add Maxine and her children to our clan as well as learn more about the children of Enoch.  There are still two of Enoch's grandchildren still alive today that I will hopefully get the chance to meet real soon one of which is I believe 102 years old.  We were also connected to Mama Lula's great-grandchildren.  Her daughter Essie grandson Derek Harrison was found at the beginning of the year.  He is the son to Annie Lou Ryans and John Harrison and according to Derek's wife they had been trying to find Mama Lula's family for years.  Mama Lula had definitely taken her turn in the spotlight.

Now that I have done this DNA testing it seems that Mama Lula and Granny Martha are kind of battling it out.  Because of them I am connected to people that I never even thought about being connected to (people I actually know) and there has been a definite battle for my attention.  I guess they realized they were driving me a little crazy and came to a compromise.  Today through the DNA testing I met a cousin by the name of Steve Handy.  Steve is probably related to us on Mama Lula side because of some mutual cousin between the two of us and he has this DNA stuff down to a tee.  He gave me websites and helping me with other links that I never even knew about.  Now don't get me wrong my cousin Charles was excellent in helping me and now with the two of them together I know that I will never not understand again.

On Martha's side I shared genomes with a person who is definitely related to me on the Yeldell side.  I know that it is the Yeldell side because of how he matches with other Yeldell cousins.  he, my mom and her two cousins information are stacked on top of each other like you stack bricks on the same chromosome. What makes it even more interesting is this is a man of Caucasian background.  This brings me closer to my goal than I have ever truly been.  Sure we have met several whit men and women  Yeldell's.  There is one set that we both claim each other as family even though we don't have definitive proof, so to get in touch with this man gives proof.  It gives a name for other white Yeldell's to compare too, it gives a starting point.

I know he may be related through my grandfather's mother side but then again he might not.  Either way this is a step towards my original research finding out about Yeldell's.  I wrote this family member a lengthy email explaining my excitement what this could do, how I feel and how my ultimate goal is to just bring our families together as one.  I will keep you posted on his response.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

We Are Yeldell's has moved

Welcome to the New and improved We Are Yeldell's blog site.  As you can see I have changed the name because the Yeldell's are so much more.  We have many family names who should all be recognized. My goal is the same but just a bit larger.  The site has changed but the contents of the blog is still the same.

Until Next time...