Raymond Cone: biological grandfather

Agatha (1902-1964) was my paternal grandmother.

Raymond Cone.family treeIn checking my Ancestry DNA results, I noticed that there were ten people in the database that could be my first or second cousins. One was a Yates (my mother’s mom’s people), two were Scanks (mom’s dad’s people), and three were Walker (dad’s mom’s people). But who were the other four?

As it turned out they all had two people in common in their family trees. Carl Lorenzo Cone (1915 -1992) and his father Raymond Cornelius Cone (1888-1947). It has long been our family secret that my father was born out of wedlock. The stories were sketchy and apocryphal, though. It involved a minister. There was a scandal.

My friend Melanie found this article in the Binghamton Evening Press dated Saturday, January 8, 1927, page 3. “Negro pastor Exonerated of Girl’s Charges.” This alleged event took place on January 6, 1926 at his home, 147 Susquehanna Street in Binghamton and resulted in the birth of a male baby on September 26, 1926.

The first newspaper story was on Tuesday, September 28, 1926 Press on page 1. “Girl Accuses Negro Pastor. Rev. Cone, Arrested on Statutory Charges, Says He’s A Frameup Victim.” He said “a certain element” at St. Paul’s A.M.E. “was trying to get him out of the church” less than a year after he had arrived. “He denies that he was intimate with the complainant.” Her testimony, as noted in an October 29 article, suggests sexual assault.

Shotgun marriage?

Raymond Cone and three church members said he was leading Wednesday prayer services at the time the young woman said the pastor had “vowed his affections.” That according to the Tuesday, November 3 newspaper, p.3: “Defense Tries to Prove Alibi for Negro Minister.”

Rev. Cone testified that “he first heard of the charge… when her brother came to his home and threatened him with a gun.” In a Wednesday, Oct 27, 1926, Page 5 story, there’s the curious sentence. “Efforts have been made, it is said, to settle the case by marriage.” “It is said”? In any case, the minister would have none of it.

Also, there were character witnesses. “I do not know anything of Mr. Cone but that he is a Christian minister in the gospel of Christ” That was from Rev. H.H. Cooper, secretary of African Methodist Episcopal Bishop H.H. Heard. “Complaint against Rev. Raymond Cone Dismissed by Judge [Benjamin] Baker. ESTABLISHED ALIBI. Jurist, in decision, Says That Evidence Was Insufficient.”

The ministry

How did this North Carolina-born tenant farmer become a minister? Between 1918 and 1920, or maybe earlier, Raymond Cone attended Kittrell College. It was a two-year historically black college located in Kittrell, NC from about 1886 until 1975. The school was associated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Kittrell is about 60 miles northwest of Wilson, NC, where he grew up.

Raymond, widowed in 1918, had been in Norfolk, VA as a photographer in 1920. His four children, Lessie, Mary, Albert and Carl were staying with Raymond’s parents-in-law in 1920 back in Wilson County, NC.

Rev. Cone entered the Philadelphia annual A.M.E. conference in May 1921. He served in churches in Salem and Worcester, MA in the New England conference before coming to Binghamton in the New York conference near the end of 1925.

And who was that “Negro Girl”? It was Agatha Walker, 24 at the time of the trial, and mentioned by name in the latter three newspaper stories. She was the superintendent of the St. Paul’s A.M.E. Sunday school.

Mind blown

Of course, Agatha (1902-1964) was my paternal grandmother, who I remember fondly. The child she bore was my father, Les Green. And the denials of Raymond Cone at the time notwithstanding, it’s clear that something happened between him and Agatha. He was my father’s biological father. Meaning he’s my biological paternal grandfather.

THIS IS HUGE. Ask my wife how many times I said, “Holy crap!” when I read that first story. It has been a mystery for so long that I had all but given up figuring it out.

I’m fascinated by how Agatha managed to stay at the church. While Raymond Cornelius Cone moved on to another city after the May 1927 annual conference, she remained at that church, arranging the flowers for special events, something my father did quite frequently.

Expect that I’ll have more to say on this topic. You can find four articles mentioned at Fulton History.com. Search for Rev. Raymond Cone, because searching for Agatha Walker will provide more hits that are less precise.

Paternal grandfather McKinley Green, “Pop”

Though married to my grandmother Agatha (Walker) c. 1932, McKinley Green was NOT living with her or my father in 1940,.

mckinley greenSome months ago, this fellow named Jack, who worked with my paternal grandfather, sent me something on Facebook:

Roger, I have an old Binghamton [NY] Sun Newspaper dated May 23, 1959 that has a story about WNBF-TV-AM-FM and their move to the Sheraton Inn. They show pictures of the staff and a brief story about each. Here’s one on your Grandfather, Mac.

“McKinley Green, Maintenance – A World War I veteran, McKinley hails from Bloomsburg, Pa., and now lives at (yes, they actually posted his home address) He has a 32 year old son who is a World War II veteran. McKinley is a member of the WNBF Employees Club and of the Elks. His Wife belongs to the Order of the Eastern Star.

Thanks, Jack. I’ve not done as much searching on Pop, which is what we always called him, than I did with other branches of my family.
Continue reading “Paternal grandfather McKinley Green, “Pop””

A picture of two relatives

classroom.mom.malcolm
My sister Marcia posted this picture of my mother. I assume it’s Daniel Dickinson school in Binghamton, NY. Can you find her?

But it was the black youth in the back row that intrigued me. He looked familiar. Specifically, he looked like a Walker, my paternal grandmother’s people.

My dad’s cousin Ruth confirmed that it was indeed Malcolm Walker, son of Melissa Walker Jackson. Melissa was the sister of my grandmother, Agatha Green, but she died when I was very young. He is first cousin to my father (Les Green), Sheldon Walker, Sydney Bullett, Gene Walker and Ruth Lewis.

Oh, my mom is in the third row, on the far left.

So this is a surprising piece of my genealogical puzzle. At some point, Dad’s first cousin went to school with my mom. It’s not shocking, but I never knew this.

BTW, yesterday was my Grandma Green’s birthday. When she died in 1964, she was the first significant person to die in my life.

G is for the Greens

NO ONE left IBM in those days, and certainly not for some likely short-term government job.

rog.leg.meg.1962aprI grew up in Binghamton, which is in the Southern Tier section of New York State, not far from the Pennsylvania border. I had, and have, two sisters, Leslie Ellen Green, born about 16.5 months after my birth, and Marcia Elayne Green, born a little more than five years after me.

We grew up with our parents, Leslie Harold Green and Gertrude Elizabeth (nee Williams) Green, at 5 Gaines Street in the city’s First Ward. When I was born, my parents Continue reading “G is for the Greens”

Grandmother Agatha Green, found at last

Her greatest contribution to my development was that she taught me how to play canasta.

When my parents moved downstairs at 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, my paternal grandparents, McKinley and Agatha (nee Walker) Green moved upstairs. Her name, BTW, was pronounced a-GATH-a, not AG-a-tha. Yes, it is I who she is holding.

Grandma Green was almost certainly my first Sunday school teacher at Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church, only a couple short blocks from our home. She had a certain refinement and bearing. While my maternal grandmother would nag me, this grandma gave me the parameters she expected, and I pretty much did it.
It’s rather like some Bill Cosby routine. Grandma Williams was Cos’ mom, “Go to bed, because it’s important for…blah, blah.” Grandma Green was like Cos’ dad: “Go to bed.” OK, grandma.

Of course, I visited her and Pop (my grandfather) virtually every day. One time when I was three, I fell down the flight of stairs from their dwelling to mine. To this day, the hair will grow on an area of chin, just below my lower lip. (Also odd: two of my co-workers fell down flights of steps when THEY were three.)

She was the eldest child of some half dozen kids, and I recall when her father died; I was around 7, so it would have been about 1960. He was this little tyrant, even at his advanced age, and all of his kids were afraid of him, though he was nice to my father, and to me.

Red threes

Her greatest contribution to my development was that, when I was six or seven, she taught me how to play the card game canasta. It’s an arcane game, but I learned to love it. I then taught my great aunt, my mother’s Aunt Deana, how to play. I’ve been playing cards ever since, though the last time I played canasta was against my high school girlfriend’s father over four decades ago.


Then suddenly, at the age of 62, she died. I no longer know from what, though I assume now it was a heart attack. I remember going to the funeral, and the burial. What I don’t recall is ever going to her gravesite afterward, even though her husband and her son lived in the area.

Floral Park

In fact, I pretty much couldn’t remember precisely WHERE she was buried until my niece came across Paul R. at Find A Grave, who is “retired so I have time to walk through the cemeteries and take pictures. In mid July 2010 I started a project to record as many memorials for the cemeteries in my county (Broome, NY) with pictures that I could.” He added this record on 10/29/2010. She’s buried in Floral Park Cemetery in Johnson City, the village adjacent to Binghamton, and within walking distance of the house the family moved to in 1972.
Thanks, Paul R. You’ve cleared up part of a family mystery.

When I went to Binghamton in mid-July, my family went to Section M and found the headstone. It was next to a newly-dug grave of her sister-in-law, Jesse Walker, who had died a few days earlier. The SIL was known as “Earl’s Jesse”; my grandmother had a sister named Jesse Walker, and so their brother Earl’s wife got the odd appellation.