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On February 27th I sent in my mom’s DNA. The allotted time given for processing was six to eight weeks but some received their results as early as two weeks. This DNA testing was so important to me. The last time anybody had gotten this far in my family was my Uncle John. The story is he traced us to Haiti and we were direct descendants of Alexander Dumas. He found all of this out before DNA testing even began. DNA testing began in 1985; he died in 1961. That is 24 years earlier! Can you imagine the time that he had to spend on his research? Being a Black American during the 1940s and into the 50s while trying to conduct an in-depth research of his family the restrictions he probably came across were phenomenal. Given the time period the information was definitely not as available to him as it was and is to me.
There were so many different stories; we were descendants of the Huguenots (http://www.huguenot.netnation.com/general/huguenot.htm); we were slaves of the Yeldell farm in SC (hence the name); my 2x great-grandmother Martha although owned by the Brooks family was born a Yeldell. All of these stories needed some type of answer and I just knew these results would help in some kind of way. So to say that I was waiting impatiently was not even a partial description of how anxious I was. The wait was as long as the wait for my son Marcus to make his debut into the world and Marcus had started my labor pains in February but was not born until May (but that is another story). I had great support from my fellow genealogist telling me things like “stop watching the pot boil.” Although that was great advice I never stopped watching the pot and finally it boiled. I am going to do the breakdown of the findings. Now for family members who might be reading this it is a huge step in learning who we are and where we come from. Here are the results:
“The Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 22 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago, before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.” (direct quote from 23 and me website)
My mom is 87.3% sub-Saharan, 11.2% European, .4% East Asian & Native American and 1.2% unassigned. When I originally and as I alluded to early on in this post I had hopes of finding out more about my 2x great-grandmother Martha Brooks. I thought that I would finally prove one of my Uncle’s theories that we were from Haiti. I figured that since the type of test that had been conducted on my mom’s saliva would be testing her DNA from all of her grandparents I would be able to get my answer. Well I wasn’t wrong but I wasn’t right either. Yes some of my mom’s DNA came from Martha but it would be by luck if it was from the strain that connected us to that island. Also since the main test that gave where all the mother’s were from could only be tested from my mom’s maternal side this would exclude Martha altogether since Martha was the paternal grandmother. So I learned pretty quickly that the mystery of Martha’s origin would not be discovered; at least not in this go around. I also realized that Mama Lula was still not finish with what she wanted me to discover. So, the information I did learn came from the mother’s of the Senior, Peterson, Williams women and beyond.
My mother’s Haplogroup is L3e1a2 this basically means the L3e1 branch of L3e likely traces to present-day Mozambique. We come from Bantu-speaking people from Central to South Africa. When I looked up images of the Bantu tribes I came across one article that states calling these people Bantu is consider a racist comment. Why because
“the term “Bantu people” is used to describe the roughly 60 million Africans who speak languages in the Bantu language family. Given that there are approximately 400 of these closely related languages, it should come as no surprise that these people are incredibly diverse, and that societies and governments among Bantus can be radically different. Some people feel that the term may not be entirely appropriate, since it encompasses such a huge group of Africans; these individuals may prefer to identify individual communities instead. (found at http://www.wisegeek.org/who-are-the-bantu-people.htm)
I also found that Shaka Zulu the illegitimate son of a minor chieftain who sparked a revolution that changed the course of southern Africa’s history, and one of my mother’s favorite person’s in history, was also apart of this group of Africans. The most important thing that I found was how the women had a striking resemblance to my great-grandmother Mama Lula.
In the picture to the left Mama Lula is holding a pipe. My mom and her siblings spoke about her and the pipe. In the image on the right these women as well smoked a pipe. Could this be where this came from for her? Did her mother Ann smoke a pipe as well? Although the pipe was the first thing I noticed I also saw the bone structure of the women and my great grandmother. She favored these women. I strongly encourage you the reader to do more research on the Bantu name.
Another group I was interested in was .4% of East Asian & Native American. As Blacks or African-American we all say or hear how somewhere down the line there is Indian in our family. If you listen to Professor Henry Louis Gates he states “that 99.9% of African-Americans have 0% Native American in them. He also states that out of all the African-Americans he has had DNA tested .01% had any trace of Native American in their genetic makeup and that Native Americans would not mix with African-American.” well in my family’s case, although it doesn’t seem to be as much as I thought it would be, we are that .1% that do have it. The ancestry composition breaks the .4% down even further by saying that .3% is of East Asian descent while the Native American is .1%. Now you are asking, “Why do you think it should have been more?” Well because my mother’s maternal grandfather, according to her and others, was full-blooded Cherokee. Johnie Senior a.k.a. Papa Johnie had beautiful long hair that he always kept braided. Given the fact that half of my mom’s DNA came from her mother and half came from her dad I really thought this percentage would be a lot higher. Now this is not to say that it won’t be higher in the next person that I test. I just have to make sure the next person must be from the Senior side. Let’s move on to the next area of the 23andme site.
This section of the 23 and me site is the best part. Why? Well here is where your DNA is entered into the database of hundreds of thousands of people to see if you are related via DNA. I got my full results about two days ago and because of this feature I now have over 370 new cousins that I am trying to meet and talk with. These cousins range from 1st cousins to distant cousin, but all relatives nonetheless. When talking with some genealogist they say they don’t reach out to the distant cousins because of the long shot. But if I want to find out more about my family especially the family that started this journey (the Yeldell’s) I don’t think I have a choice. Out of all of those 370+ people there were only three Yeldell’s and I already knew two of them.
The DNA testing did not answer the questions I originally had instead it let me know that it needed more information. I am not discouraged nor am I upset at what I have found so far. I mean to know that my people come from the same group of people as the Great Shaka Zulu is amazing! And I was able to find one additional Yeldell. My job now is to get others to get tested. I know that I have to grab as many elders as I can. Pay for their kits if need be and get them sent in. I am also asking for those who think we are related to get tested. This is the only way that we will have some inkling of knowing if we are related.
Until Next time…
When I started this journey I did so with my eyes open. I knew the things that I would find; like slavery, rape and possibly incest. It is expected given the time period, the small town my family was from and the closeness of African Americans during the slavery time. They were truly all that each other had. I prepared my mind for everything. Little did I know that although you take the precautions, you meet the slave owners but there is no amount of preparation that can be done when you find the incest.
Now I am not going to divulge which family this happened with, but knowing that all of the people that I have found are not further than 3rd cousins (dead or alive) it truly bothers me. I pose this question to fellow Genealogist. WHAT DO YOU DO? How do you react when you know the family members that this has happened with? What do you do when you know there are others that are researching that same group and they find this information and come to you for confirmation? How do you answer those questions?
My nerves are bad but in the same instance conducting this type of research helps you to stop these types of instances from happening at least knowingly. Being faced with all of these questions and more would deter some people. I know that even if I wanted to stop here I couldn’t because my ancestors have more to say. So to all of my fellow genealogist What do you do? comments and opinions are truly wanted.
Until Next Time…
Okay so you all know that my great grandmother Mama Lula was a little tired of me working on my 2xgreat grandmother Martha Brooks. I think she felt that she was more than patient given how long it took me to really grasp this genealogy thing. She was subtle with her entrance by every now and then poking in my dreams and interrupting my thoughts on one family by placing in thoughts of her family. Then she got down right mad when she just started throwing her family in the mix when I was looking for a totally different family. It makes me wonder was she like this when she was alive. So as you know from my post the Peterson family of Edgefield is humongous but in spite of its size it still may be two sets. So when researching them I have to be very careful. The problem however is this; the same names that run in my Peterson family also runs in the other. This makes it harder to tell the difference and it makes me think that maybe it is not two sets of Peterson’s.
Mama Lula had a nephew named Bishop Peterson. Bishop was the son of Enoch Jr. Enoch Jr. is the one with 10 children by one woman and 10 children by another. Mama Lula’s husband Papa Johnnie had a niece named Rosa Lee Senior and she was the daughter to his brother Moses Senior. Bishop and Rosa Lee although cousins by marriage only could not fight the love they had for one another, got married and had 11 children together. All of this happened in the early to mid 1900′s. Now let’s fast forward to 2013. My cousin Kyle had just read a post from me about the Homeplace Newsletter for the Edgefield African American Genealogical Society and he posted this comment:
“When I was 8 years old, I was in the Higher Achievement Program in DC, a gifted and talented program for DC public schools. One day, my dad comes to pick me up and this woman stops him and says “Hey aren’t you Uncle Moody’s son?” They start talking and the woman was picking up her granddaughter Ja’Nelle. We knew each other (she went to Randle Highlands ES and I went to Anne Beers ES). From that point on she was my cousin. She went to Banneker for HS, raised in SE and went to Xavier (LA) for college (even stayed at my house for weeks during Hurricane Katrina). When we asked her grandmother years later how we were related, she said verbatim “Well we’re cousins on one side…and married to each other on the other side.” I shared with her some of the findings after I saw the last names Peterson and Blocker (her grandmother’s maiden name is Peterson and Ja’Nelle’s last name is Blocker). I think this PDF and other information would help bridge some gaps for her and for us.”
Kyle introduced Ja’Nelle and I via Facebook and she got me in touch with her grandmother Maxine Peterson Blocker. When I spoke with Maxine she was able to provide me with her grandparents name…you guessed it Bishop and Rosa Lee Peterson. When she talked to me she said the same thing she said to Kyle and Janelle that we were related by marriage and by blood. But she didn’t know that happened because of her grandparents. We proceeded to talk and I learned more about the Peterson side. Because she lives in this area she also told me about other family members who live here. One name I learned from another cousin name Brandi. Brandi told me about Bishop’s daughter Lottie and stated that she lived in the DC area. Maxine is going to introduce me to Lottie and Lottie has pictures!!!!!!!! The other big deal about Lottie is she married another surname that I was told we were related too..that’s right Curtis Lottie is a Gilchrist. I am so excited and can’t wait to meet both Cousin’s Lottie and Maxine. Well Mama Lula has spoken and her voice has definitely been heard. I am on the Peterson’s Mama Lula I hope I am making you proud.
Until Next Time…
I bet my title seems rather weird to you but the first number is the total number of children my grandparents had while the second is the number of children that are still living. This week has brought about funerals, death and tragedy all around the world. From the funeral of Margaret Thatcher to the terrorist bombings in Boston, America has seen its share of pain this week. My family has also suffered a lost this week. My Uncle Joseph Philip Yeldell affectionately called “Brother” to his siblings left us this week. Known to his nieces and nephews as Uncle Brother he was an extraordinary man. He picked up where his parents and other siblings left off in cementing the Yeldell name into the hearts and minds of native Washingtonians. Where his father started in the early 40s by founding a church he picked up and continued for three to four more decades by making himself known in politics.
Like most families there are stories both good and bad but my personal story didn’t start with him until my research. I went to see my uncle one day just out of the blue. I was in his area and decided to stop thru just to see how he was doing. When I knocked on the door he answered and I said “Hi Uncle Brother, I was in the neighborhood and something told me to stop by.” he responded by saying “Hey Papoose! I don’t normally answer the door but something told me to do so.” We laughed and he said “we must have been meant to see each other.” I came in the house and proceeded to talk to him about my research. He was the one person that I wasn’t sure of if he knew what I was doing. I talked to him about what I had found about his parents and grandparents on both sides. I even showed him our family tree. He expressed to me how proud he was and encouraged me to keep going. We talked a little while longer and I received some really great advice and then I left.
Now like most parents, aunts and uncles they are always proud of their children, nieces and nephews, but I didn’t know how proud he was until I learned how he would refer others to me when talking about the family history. When his brother Robert died and a building was named after him my Uncle did a speech at the unveiling of the new name on the building. He called my mom to get his numbers from me as to how large our family really was in 2007. He stated in his speech that day how the Yeldell family was its own tribe. He also referred me to Springfield’s own Trustee Charles Cooke. Charles wanted my Uncle to help with working on the history of Springfield and he told him, “I want you to contact my niece Donya. She is the historian of the family and has all the information you need” I was so honored to hear that he called me the family historian. I was even more honored when he and my cousin Freddy spoke about actually sending me to his parents, my grandparents home of Edgefield, SC. But nothing floored me more when he agreed to do the DNA swab to help me learn more about the family so that I could share our history. Now although the trip didn’t happen through him nor the DNA it will however happen, and I will continue to research, learn and share the history of this great family. I will continue to make My Uncle proud of me and I am truly glad I was able to know him and get the advice he shared with me.
Uncle Brother leaves behind his loving wife, his daughter, two sisters, his son-in-law, three granddaughters, one grandson and over 250 nieces and nephews. In the bible John 14:2 says: ”2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Now I know that my uncle is not Jesus Christ but I believe he is helping to make sure that things will be ready for his family when we get there.
Until next time…
I am putting questions along with necessary information you will need if you think you have come across a possible family member. We have several different names in our family. For a long time we only knew for sure that outside of Yeldell's there were Peterson, Senior and Ryan. Now we can add to our definite list Freeman. If you think you have come across a possible relative here are a few questions you can ask before you start the deep researching:
Every genealogist goes through something; I can’t call it by name what that something is. But whatever “it” is I believe it is the driving force that keeps us wanting to learn more. My something is my spirits. My ancestors continue to make themselves known to me. Most times it is my great and great great grandparents. Yesterday, it was something totally different. I have posted the picture above several times both on Facebook and throughout this blog. When you look at it you see what we all call Springfield Baptist church. You always hear me say join us, come fellowship with us. But did you know that once you get there you are walking into the building next door not the traditional building you see first in the picture. Now don’t misunderstand, both buildings are Springfield Baptist. The brown one however, is the more recent one built over thirty years ago while the more traditional looking church was the one they walked into in November 1941.
Between researching and creating the newsletter for the church a lot of memories were formed inside the first building. Memories of baptisms, careers were made in that building (renowned gospel singer Edna Gallmon Cooke), famous preachers and singers (C.L Franklin and his daughter Aretha) performed in that building, historical photographs were taken in and on the steps of that building. So much more happened right there. When interviewing and researching I always said I have to go in there one day. It’s not like I couldn’t the first Springfield is now home to the Kingdom Kids Childcare Development Center. Yesterday I had to go inside to get some information from Sister MacFadden and as I entered the building I was immediately overwhelmed with a strange feeling. It wasn’t a bad feeling but the kind that produced visible goosebumps on my arms.
While talking with Ms. MacFadden she saw something on my face that made her ask if I was okay. I told her that I had never been in this particular building but I always wanted to come in. And now that I am here I was getting this strange or weird feeling. She asked. ”You are related to the man whose name is on the building?” I responded, “Yes.” She then said, “It is him.” She proceeded to tell me that even parents who would walk in and would always state how they have a good feeling and vibe that they get while being inside the church. I smiled at what she was saying but was still truly mesmerized by the feeling I was receiving. I told her that it may be my grandmother because she always took care of the children of the church. She saw the awe in my face and said, “It is good to know that they are watching over us.”
I am still filled with that feeling. Realizing how my grandparents are not just watching over us but they are watching over the babies of Springfield Baptist Kingdom Kids Child Development Center.
Fresh and new things has been happening in my life. I am so excited to share. First things first. You may have noticed the website name has gone back to adding the wordpress.com with in. That is because I have been able to create a new and improved website. www.weareyeldells.com is dedicated to my family and finding new family. During my 17 years of researching I have learned that I am not the only one trying to find my family connection. We have several different surnames and they are all looking. So I want to make it easier for us to find each other and work together to get that connection.
The Yeldell family website is a gateway to give insight to those who are looking for their families with surnames similar to mine. I thought that because the last name Yeldell was so unique we could find each other easily. I was half way right. We could find each other but couldn’t find the connection. The time has come to stop that trend and I believe this website is the bridge.
The other great thing about the site is once we have found the connection the goal is to never lose it again. This site will allow us to forever be connected to those who are alive and those who have passed on. We have a virtual cemetery through http://www.findagrave.com. This is set up to see the parents connections and see the siblings. We will also be able to leave virtual flowers and notes on birthdays, anniversaries and special holidays like veteran’s day, memorial day, mother’s day and father’s day.
Finally as a Yeldell I already know that you are a great think and entrepreneur in the making. As family we should help each other get to where we should be in the world. So if you have a business and you want to advertise it for a very small fee you will be able to advertise on the web. This advertisement will allow you to display your logo that can link to and outside source and give you a page dedicated to you to talk about what you do. You will also get a personal email address showing your family name. If you don’t need an email address use it as a tracker to help you see just how much traffic comes to you from the site. Check out the video of my family the DC Yeldells – Our Beginnings
Did you think I was finish not by a long shot. I have been blessed to meet nine people with a common bond. That bond is Edgefield SC. We are joining together to write our story. How we are connected and our journey in finding our ancestors who eventually led us to each other. We are excited to write this book.
And last but not least I sent in my first DNA sample. I used my wonderful mother. This is exciting because the family that I have found so far is not far apart and DNA sampling states the closer the relation the better the results. So on February 27th I sent my mom’s DNA to 23 and me. As of right now it is being tested. So you see I wasn’t ignoring just so much has been happening. Stay tuned and be blessed.
Until Next Time…
This was supposed to go into the first issue of New Beginnings our family e-newsletter. It was a suggested article by our cousin Nicki to do a story about our grandparents. I thought to myself this should be easy. I have written so much about our family I was sure I could just use an old writing from my blog. I searched and searched and low and behold there is not a story written specifically about them. I never knew my grandparents personally, but the research has allowed me to chronicle their steps from birth through their death.
In December of 1913 Jefferson Davis Yeldell (age 19) married Annie Mae Senior (age 15) at Springfield Baptist Church in Edgefield SC. If they knew then what we know now do you think it would have made a difference? I would like to hope that it wouldn’t. The story says they met at church. They lived in the time of circuit preachers. What are circuit preachers? Traveled from church to church to spread the word. So it is said that granddaddy traveled to a different church each Sunday to receive the word of GOD. One Sunday they went to Springfield and he met Annie. Well I am not too sure that was the way they met. Granddaddy lived in Greenwood while Grandma lived in the city of Edgefield. They both however lived in the same county which was you guessed it Edgefield County, SC. The county was split up in to townships. Townships are made up of 36 sections each measuring one square mile. The 1910 Census states that both granddaddy and grandma lived in the same township called Blocker. Given the area they did not live that far apart. They could have met in the neighborhood or even went to the same school. No matter where they met their union created a legacy that should never be forgotten.
When they married grandma was pregnant with their oldest son Thomas. From 1914 to 1923 every 18 months to two years they had
six children. Out of those six, three of them were introduced to granddaddy’s mother Katie. Katie died in 1919 from what is now known as Congestive Heart Failure but back then it was called Dropsy. She was 52 years old when she left this earth. So far my count of grandchildren for her before she died was eleven. It is clear now why my aunt’s and uncle’s did not know her. Granddaddy’s mother lived with his youngest brother Gary and his family lived next door according to the 1920 census. Did you know that granddaddy and his younger brother both registered for WWI? This was the first time I saw his signature. So just
like us they lived around each other, worked together, went to school together, played together and just simply hung out. The census says that Granddaddy lived in Richmond for a time. My mother says that he traveled a lot for a year so I am guessing this was the time he did the traveling. In spite of the travel they found time to get pregnant again. So in 1926 his address was 1711½ Venable Street, Richmond VA, while grandma was living in at 90 Mountain Street, Asheville, NC. During this time Uncle Dave was born.
For whatever reason they did not stay in Asheville long and they moved to DC. I don’t know if grandma was pregnant with Uncle Rob when they moved to DC or not but he was the first of the second set of children to be born where we all call home. She did another 18 months to Two year trick with the children and by 1939 the entire set was born. Did you know that Aunt Josephine was a twin? Some say the twin lived a little while and even had a name, while others say the baby was stillborn. Well I have records from the “District of Columbia Deaths and Burials, 1840-1964″ that states the baby was stillborn and she was not given a name. After Aunt Josie and her twin but during the pregnancy with my mom (Aunt Juanita) the start of grandchildren had begun. There were five grandchildren before my mom was born. The grands were from Uncle John, Aunt Lula, Aunt Sis and Mama Nell. Uncle John had a son, Aunt Lula had a son, Aunt Sis had a boy and a girl and Mama Nell had a set of twins. Her twins died before my mother was born. Then my mother was born and around the same time two of her daughters had three more children Morris a.k.a Maurice, James a.k.a Monkey and Edna.
By 1940 they had birthed all of their children and had 6 grandchildren three of those six were older than their aunt by one year. Realizing this made me think of the Thanksgiving picture of our grandparents, their daughters, one son and their grandchildren. If we ever wanted to date it we could. Barbara Ann was the baby being held by the lady to the right in the picture and she was born in 1943. Looking at the picture she could not have been more than one or two years old so this picture was taken in 1944 or 1945.
With all of these children they still found time to found a church. In November of 1939 they decided to bring the church that we were told brought them together to Washington DC. Yes they made their own Springfield right here. They nurtured that church just like they did their children and 73 years later it is still in existence. When my mother spoke at the honoring of her mom at the Springfield of DC she spoke about how great her mother was. She was chairwoman of the Deaconess Board and Founder and President of the Women’s Auxiliary Club, Pastor’s Aid club, the Nursing Unit and the kitchen committee. In 1950, our grandmother passed. She left behind a loving husband 6 sons, 7 daughters and 18 grandchildren. Granddaddy remarried before the year was out and continued to take care of his family the best he could. He kept the church afloat and in 1964 he was called home to be with the Lord. Both of them were eulogized here in DC but their bodies were sent back to Edgefield and fittingly buried in the cemetery of the church where they began.
We can only guess at how they met or how long they courted before Jeff popped the question. But had he not done that we would not be where we are today. Right now they have over 400 hundred offspring. For every beginning there is an end. Because of the size of our family the end is nowhere in sight.