A random look at the 2020 blog

Thank Allah for music

while blackSome blogger buddy used to do this look at the previous year. He’d select a post date and a sentence from that post at random.

I’ve found it interesting to see how well, or poorly, it reflected the past year. So, the 2020 blog in one post. Sort of.

January: “Willis was the son of people identified only as Jacob and Charlotte.” This was the first of two posts that week about Raymond Cornelius Cone, who I had just discovered was my biological grandfather. Willis was his father.

February: “Those particular matinees mean three things: cheaper tickets, a lot of older patrons, and best of all, a discussion with the cast after the shows.”This was back in the days when I was going to Thursday matinees at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady.

March: “She had to go into work on Monday and Tuesday last week, which I thought was crazy.” An Ask Roger Anything answer about retirement. I was referring to my wife’s school’s COVID methodology.

April: “Yet, and ‘Holy Crap This Is Insane’: Citing Coronavirus Pandemic, EPA Indefinitely Suspends Environmental Rules.” The 50th anniversary of Earth Day. I was pessimistic.

May: “The United States was allegedly staying out of it.” The music of 1940. The “it” was WWII.

June: “In light of the nationwide outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, movies like Just Mercy and I Am Not Your Negro are available to stream.” Juneteenth links.

Caesar months

July: “He believes the continued popularity of white depictions of Jesus is ‘an example of how far in some respects the United States has not moved.'” He being Edward J. Blum.

August: “He often combined the two.” Another Ask Roger Anything answer about why I’m a duck. “He” was the late Raoul Vezina, who combined his love of art and music.

September: “The moderator said a particular bill meant X.” A discussion of the Federalist Paper No. 62 of James Madison and how far we’ve moved from it.

October: “The search committee was afraid that these folks wouldn’t cotton to working with a black person.” This was the job I held for over 26 years but almost did not get.

November: “Freedom for the Stallion – the Oak Ridge Boys.” A link to a song by the legendary Allen Toussaint.

December: “If I were to have major surgery, such as for this situation, one doesn’t want to deal with the complicating factor of this patient having a bad reaction from the antibiotic.” So, I’m NOT allergic to penicillin!

People who do not read this will ask, “What is your blog about?” Other than About Me, I have no retort. So maybe, just maybe, this shows what was reflected in 2020. Music, COVID, race, genealogy, health, politics. I guess that’s about right.

The will of Thomas Eatman, Jr.

three bee hives

will and testamentThomas Eatman, Jr. (1755-1840), the DNA says, is my 4th great-grandfather. Raymond Cone, my newly discovered grandfather, is the child of Willis Cone and Sarah Eatman (1850-1935). Sarah’s parents were Alfred Eatman (1812-1880) and Mahala Price. Alfred’s folks were Kinchen Eatman (1783-1860) and Susannah Gaines.

Kinchen was a son of Thomas Eatman, Jr. His mother’s identity is unclear to me. What IS obvious is that Thomas Eatman was white and Kinchen’s mother was probably black. The nature of this relationship is fuzzy.

I have 13 4th to 6th cousins in Ancestry.com with whom I have a common ancestor. Six of them are related to Thomas Eatman, Jr., and they are 5th half cousins once removed. This means that their 4th great-grandmother is not the same woman as my 4th great-grandma. The former woman was almost certainly white.

A couple more cousins I’m related to via Thomas Eatman, Sr. and his wife Frances Robinson. It is through the Robinson line that my daughter found that heraldry linkage.

My more distant cousins are largely through Thomas Eatman, Jr. (8 of 14), Thomas Sr. (1), or Sarah Eatman/Willis Cone (3). It’s strange that the family line I didn’t even know about six months ago has been so genealogically fruitful.

Last will

Thomas Eatman, Jr.’s will, which I found on Archives.com, bequeaths his son Kinchen the sum of one dollar. His daughters Zilla, Delily, and Isley, and his son John also received a dollar each.

More favored were Liby (?) Eatman, who got five head of hogs, a dutch oven, an earthen pot, a pewter basin, three pewter plates, a table, a loom, three bee hives, a feather bed, and more. Daughter Cally Boykin got 100 acres of land, five hogs, one flax wheel and one bee hive.

Tealy Eatman, another daughter received 175 acres. Her son Calvin Eatman got 10 cider casks, all of Thomas’ working tools and three head of cattle. Calvin and his cousin John Boykin got to share the use of the blacksmith shop.

“I also leave my negro Peter to be equally divided between my two daughters Cally Boykin and Liby Eatman.” Ideally, they came up with a Solomon-like solution.

Lydster: here comes the knight

one could

mountney-coat-of-arms-mountney-family-crest-7The tricky thing about redoing the family tree is to be representational. On one hand, I have this whole new biological tribe to represent. On the other, I don’t want to ignore the import of my non-biological grandfather McKinley Green.

As it turns out, Ancestry.com has a mechanism by which one could change McKinley Green from grandparent to step-grandparent. Then one could add Raymond Cone as biological grandfather. And by “one could,” I mean my daughter could. Even when I read the instructions, nada. She did it in a couple of minutes.

Then she became a bit obsessed. Once you add a name on an Ancestry tree, it suggests Hints. Some verify what I already knew. Others are frustratingly unclear. Two different names of people with similar names but different dates, e.g. Was that guy a bigamist with wives with the same first name? That sort of thing.

But some Hints, usually coming from Census or other family trees, seem credible. And as she went further and further back on one strand of the Cone tree, the more people from England she found. And there were other Ancestry folks who were keeping track of them.

Ye Jolly Olde

William Garret “Garrard” Sir, Knight of Derby, Brickmason, Immigrated to Jamestown-1607(First ships)
B:1583 Derby, Leicestershire, England
D:1640 St Botolph Bishopsgate, London, England
That’s eleven generations back. And through his wife’s line, she got back to:

Thomas Mounsey V
–1573
Birth 31 JAN • Mountney Plain, Norfolk, England
Death 1573 • Mountney Plain, Norfolk, England
14th great-grandfather
I’m actually thinking it’s Thomas Mountney V from some hints – crests and, more importantly the geography – which suggests investigating even further. I’ll have to double check some of these, but wow.

My daughter worked on this for at least three hours straight. This in lieu of doing homework, I later discovered. The trick is that the more names you accept, the more Hints you’re provided. I had over 300 Hints when she started, and now there are over 600. It’s rather like an infectious disease.

And all of this on this brand new genealogical strand that I didn’t know about until extremely recently.

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.