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.

Everything takes longer than I think

dancing snowman

snowmanExcept for the fortnightly link post, I’ve all but stopped blogging in the past couple weeks. There are several reasons for this:

UNO. I’ve started to do genealogical research. It’s very interesting, but it is a massive time suck. In addition to Ancestry.com, I’ve gotten my results from 23andMe. These have lead me onto some fascinating journeys. I’ve since gotten trials with Archives.com and Newspapers.com, and tripped over more things.

The curse when you find one piece of information is that it’s difficult to decide which one to pursue next. Something about high, low road, and Scotland. Do you go for depth or breadth in a certain area?

I wrote a blog post about my findings. I’m going to have to rewrite that one and create another one, or two.

DOS. I had end of the year financial insurance stuff to do. It’s stuff where frankly, MEGO. This, in particular, is the source of the title Everything takes longer than I think.

TRES. I’ve had technological problems. It generated a “well, stuff happens” post. But then one of them became a major snafu. One element is that I’m unable to print from my copier, which has made the first two items on this list incrementally more difficult. So I need to rewrite TWO more posts.

CUATRO. The holidays. It’s hard for me to write when there are people I love in the house. Blogging is a solitary task, and I don’t want to be up in the office when the family is up and about.

This post, BTW, I wrote after I woke up at 3 a.m. Thank goodness for my vaunted writing ahead. About a month ago, I had 55 completed posts. Now I have, ostensibly, 42, and probably fewer since I’ll have to recreate a few. This is not a complaint, just a fact.

A legitimate use of Q-Tips

So expect a lot of movies reviews in the beginning of 2020, four movies I saw in December I haven’t even had time to evaluate.

Lest this entirely become navel-gazing, I want to point out Arthur’s solution to a corrosive problem: “I worked out that one of the batteries had leaked, and, I thought, that was that: I’d have to replace the unit.

“But then I decided to Google it to see if there was a way to clean the contacts, and there is: White vinegar or lemon juice removes the battery gunge from the contact—or so the Internet told me. And, it actually did. I put the batteries in again, and the unit worked perfectly.”

I did exactly the same thing with my daughter’s dancing snowman that she loved as a child. Fortunately, she didn’t play 14 times in a row, the way she used to.

Clarence Devan Williams: grandfather

I don’t remember my maternal grandfather

I’ve seldom mentioned my maternal grandfather, Clarence Devan Williams. It’s because I don’t remember him. He died in July 1958 in Owego, Tioga County, about 20 miles from Binghamton, Broome County, at the age of about 71.

From what I knew, he was the son of Margaret, or Marguerite (1865-1931) and Charles Williams, who was a year older or a year younger, depending on which Census you check.

Clarence had a brother Charles Nathaniel Williams (1885–1923) who was about two years his senior, and they both reportedly played Negro Leagues baseball somewhere.

In 1900, they lived on 103 Paige Street in Owego.

But there’s a record in the New York, Census of Inmates in Almshouses and Poorhouses, 1830-1920 suggesting that a Clarence Williams was the “illegitimate child of Mary Williams – December 20, 1887.”

Someone suggested in a note in Ancestry.com that Clarence might have been adopted. Presumably Mary was the sister of the elder Charles.

Clarence was a laborer at some point in his early twenties. I have no idea how he met Gertrude Williams in Binghamton, but they apparently got married in 1927 and had two children. One was my mother, born in 1927, and the other was a female child who died in early 1929.

The family lore suggested that Gertrude’s mother somehow drove Clarence away. But Lillian Holland died in 1938, yet he mostly stayed away.

There’s a guy, a black male, named Clarence Nat Williams, who had a 1942 draft registration card, though he was 55. If it’s the same guy – by then he was living in Deposit, Broome County, with a Charles Williams. Did he take his brother’s middle name as a tribute?

This was just a quick and dirty search in Ancestry for less than an hour, and it was like falling into a wormhole. I acknowledge that some of my assumptions may be wrong.

This is why I need to retire, in order to track these and other familial mysteries down. I have a feeling it’s going to take awhile, especially since I have no contact with the Williams tribe, and, of course, I can’t ask my mother.

Maybe sometime I’ll go to Evergreen Cemetery in Owego. I don’t believe I’ve ever been to the grave site of Clarence Devan Williams, unless my mom took me there when I was very young.

Am I one of the Irish of Munster, Ireland?

Interesting that none of the other parts of my genealogy specify below the region, but my Scot-Irish roots identifies Munster.

Munster
by Caomhan27 – Based on 1651 Arms of Munster, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
The last time I got results from my Ancestry DNA test, I showed to be 19% from Ireland or Scotland 19%. But then there was a specific reference to a place called Munster, Ireland.

The Wikipedia notes that Munster is one of the provinces of Ireland, in the south west of the island. “In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled by a ‘king of over-kings’ (Irish: rí ruirech).

“Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into counties for administrative and judicial purposes.”

The test also suggests a possible connection to Cork, its largest city. Cork County is the southernmost entity of the state.

There is a Munster Irish group. “To meet the project goals, we limit membership to males with one of the surnames (or variants thereof) listed below and EITHER a most distant paternal ancestor identified as having been born [there], OR a Y-DNA haplotype similar to those described under ‘The Ancestral Haplotypes of Munster’ on the Results page.”

Well, I don’t know about the latter criteria. I should work on one of those Y-DNA tests eventually. But Green IS on of the surnames listed as having “been identified as in use in Munster in pre-Norman times in various ancient works.’

Interesting that none of the other parts of my genealogy specify below the region:
Cameroon, Congo, & Southern Bantu Peoples 26%
Benin/Togo 22%
England, Wales & Northwestern Europe 20%

From this I infer that there are other people in the database from Munster with similar traits as I have. I find the slow peeling of the layers of my genealogy fascinating.

So Roger O Green can legitimately celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not one for green beer, so I’ll have to find other ways to celebrate.

Sister Marcia: contribution to the genealogy talk

Someone in the audience knew Charlotte Yates from her time in Binghamton before 1954.

Even though she hasn’t been to our hometown of Binghamton, NY in over a decade, my sister Marcia has contributed mightily to the genealogy talk our cousin Lisa presented recently.

Lisa spoke at the Broome County Area History Conference on April 21 at the Bundy Museum. She came all the way from Washington, DC to introduce two families, one Black and one Jewish, which my wife, daughter and I attended.

As she wrote in the precis, our “second great grandfather, James A. Archer, a free Black man who, along with two other family members, fought in the Civil War. They survived and returned to Binghamton to raise families and start businesses.” In part because of other photos Marcia put online, Lisa was able to ascertain that the post-Civil War photo I’ve posted to this blog included not only James Archer, but the brothers of his wife, Harriet Bell Archer.

“In the late 1800’s the Archer family purchased a house on Maple Street, which became a hub of family activity for several generations to come.” That was the house my grandmother and mother grew up in.”

She also told about her great grandparents, Isaac and Sarah Berman, who were born in Latvia and Lithuania, emigrated, first to Denmark then to the US in 1913 and settled in Binghamton. Isaac “started an egg business that eventually turned into a trucking company that was the first to offer overnight service from the Triple Cities to Boston.

“Both families grew and in 1937, the two came together with the marriage of Ernest Archer Yates and Charlotte Berman, my grandparents, who faced their own challenges as an interracial couple.” Ernie was my grandma’s brother and Charlotte the third child of Isaac and Sarah.

This picture also came from Marcia’s collection, with Ernie and Charlotte together in the back row, my mother’s arm on Ernie’s shoulder. Given the presence of three of their four children, I peg the photo in 1945 or 1946. Someone in the audience knew Charlotte from her time in Binghamton before 1954, when she and the children moved to Queens, NYC after Ernie died unexpectedly.

When Lisa came to Binghamton, she had to take a detour off Front Street onto Gaines Street and pass another Archer property at 5 Gaines Street, where MY nuclear family lived in the 1950s and 1960s.

So Marcia, even though she was far away, was an important part of Lisa’s presentation. Happy birthday, baby sister.