Lillian Yates Holland

The problem is time. It’s always time.

hollandRight after my mother’s death half a decade ago, I had this renewed interest in my family genealogy. For one thing, the family Bible had lots of information, some going back a century and a half. The matriarch of the clan was my maternal grandmother’s mother, Lillian Yates Holland.

This picture was reportedly taken when she was still Lillian Archer, and was sixteen, though she looks older to me.

She had five children, four of whom survived childhood: Gertrude, Edward, Ernest, and Adenia Yates. Gert, who married Clarence Williams, was my grandma and lived with Deana in the house I went to every day for lunch growing up. Ed lived up the hill from Gert and Deana. Ernie, the father of my mom’s four first cousins, died when I was an infant; apparently, I was afraid of him, because he reminded me of my pediatrician, Dr. Israel Rosefsky.

Lillian was married to Edward Yates, Sr., before he passed away circa 1910. She married again, to a man named Holland, who, according to various Census records, was from Texas. Or Mexico. There’s a lot of that contrary information in the minimal digging my sisters and I have done.

It’s clear that Lillian had a not-distant ancestor who was part Irish. Or English. I’ve not dug far enough back to ascertain this. I suppose I assume it was Irish because of the real-life story of a black man and Irish woman in the book The Sweeter The Juice.
Some people fret about what they would do when they retire. Surely one of my tasks would be to fill out the family tree more fully. It’s not that I don’t currently have the resources; I’ve had a membership with for at least a couple of years.

The problem is time. It’s always time.

The other thing my sisters and have vowed to do, sooner than later, is to get a headstone for Gert and Deana. Deana died in the mid-1960s, and Gert in 1983, but my parents, for whatever reason, never got a marker. They’re buried very near where Lillian was laid to rest, in Spring Forest Cemetery in Binghamton, NY, not two blocks from where Lillian, and Gert and her sibs, and my mother all grew up.

I really am Irish, I guess

This is fascinating, because all the Census records I came across suggests that she was black.

I discovered only recently that my maternal grandmother’s brother Ernie, born in 1904, was arrested in 1928 near Syracuse, NY and that he spent nearly five years in prison in Auburn, NY. Apparently, he was spending time with a young white woman, her father didn’t like it, and helped manufacture a charge of rape against Ernie.

In the mounds of papers filed in anticipation of him being paroled in 1932 was this “social history” such as his education, his military service (none), religion (Catholic – I did not know that), marital status (single), and family background. His father, Edward Yates, had died in 1910 at the age of 58. His mother, nee Lillian Bell Archer, remarried to Maurice Holland in 1911. (His Census track is fascinating, born either in Texas or Mexico, depending on what Census one checks.)

This, though, was the kicker for me. It indicates that she was of Irish descent! This is fascinating because all the Census records I came across suggests that she was black. Surely she was partially black, but as the rules of the time would suggest, anyone partially black was considered black. And that’s still largely true of most mixed-race people; see Barack Obama, Halle Berry, etc.

Lillian, my great-grandmother though, at least on this document, was Irish, and that’s reason enough, besides my name, to be wearing the green. Oh, and Ernie, who agreed to live an “honest and upright life” married Charlotte Berman, a white woman of Eastern European descent, in 1937, and did just that until he died in April 1954, just 50 years old, when I was but one. I have no first cousins, but most of the second cousins I’m close to, including the one who retrieved this prison record, are his grandchildren, who, I suppose, are all a little Irish, too.
Creepy old Simon and Kirby comic: Nasty Little Man

Green Light, Red Light

Arthur’s maybe a little Irish

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