The Yeldell Family (Through My Eyes)











{February 21, 2012}   The Journey Continues…

My journey has been long, hard and definitely rewarding. I have learned about illnesses that run in the family, a family member who died during the Vietnam War and spoken with new family members from my Granddaddy side. The most rewarding thing I have learned was the connection between the church in Edgefield and the Church here in DC. To get to the connection I first need to give you a little background.

My grandparents left the Edgefield area in or around 1925. They had six children with the oldest estimated age being 11 and the youngest 2.They lived in Asheville NC and had their seventh child David there. For whatever reason they did not stay in Asheville long so they decided to move to DC. To show how strong and powerful my grandparents were between 1927 and 1939 they had six more children owned two houses and founded Springfield Baptist church along with 5 other people.

Now most of the information I get comes from my mommy but with her being, the youngest there were things told that… well… could be incorrect. I mean let’s face it she was the last-born and we all know as information passes down something is added or taken away. She told me one thing that definitely sparked my interest. She told me that my grandparents named the church they founded in Washington DC after the Church they attended and eventually married in Edgefield SC. I decided to look into this. I tried time after time to reach the church with no answer. I couldn’t even leave a voicemail message. It angered me so much. My mom said, “Baby that is the south so working in the church is not a 9 to 5 job.” I told her “I guess” but it was frustrating. So finally, sometime last year I found an email address and sent the church a message. While waiting for a response I looked at the history of the Edgefield Springfield Missionary Baptist Church. The website talked about the first pastor Ned Starks, and how he brought Springfield Missionary into existence, along with four other associates. The site also spoke about a Rev. W.M. Peterson.

W. M. Peterson was the second and longest officiating pastor of the Edgefield Springfield church. He was the pastor from 1882 to 1947. Getting this information let me know he married my grandparents. Then I read more into the history and I realized the Peterson’s were there from the beginning. It raised a question is it possible one of the four unknown is a member of my family? Peterson is my great grandmother’s maiden name and she was born in 1867.  The church was established in 1870. In addition, one of the first deacons of the church was Josh Peterson. Moreover, momma Lula (that is what they called her) had a brother with that name born 3 years before her.  Is it possible they were all connected?  Edgefield is to small a place for them not to be especially in that day and age. In my ten years of researching, nothing would be more exciting to find that my family was responsible for founding not one but TWO churches! Now because my family is so large it is not hard to meet someone and they be a part of my family especially if they are from the Edgefield area. When I learned there were two sisters and a man that lived in the same building as my mother from Edgefield I knew we had to be kin. The man who I am talking about is Johnnie Peterson.  He is confirmed to be my cousin on both my grandmother side and my grandfather side of the family. He would share great stories with me about the Petersons and their rich history. He said to me the same thing I assumed. One of those four unknown founder’s was a Peterson family member.

Learning this information, I understood. I got it. I got why Springfield in DC was so important to my grandparents. Their roots ran deep on a spiritual level in Edgefield and they continued those roots here in Washington. They instilled the same teachings there parents gave to them. By the time Jeff and Annie established Springfield in DC the children born in Edgefield were grown, out of the house and had their own families.  This left seven in the house to take care of and out of those seven; I am going to say four were the most active in the church. My Uncle Rob and Aunt Margaret were representatives for the church.  They attended seminars and conferences in different states. Uncle Rob was president of every organization established for his age group at Springfield. Aunt Evelyn chaired the Mr. and Mrs. Springfield contest and my mom (Juanita) who was the baby grew up in the church. When they marched in to the church building, she was 8 months old. She sung on the choir and paralleled her brother Rob by being the leader of every organization in her age as well.  She was active until she became an adult and left DC. It is safe for me to say that all of my Aunts and Uncles played some type of roll in the Springfield of DC.

Because of my grandparents, my family was among and surrounded by people who we now look at as the reason why black history month exist. People like Addison Scurlock, Aretha Franklin, renowned gospel singer Edna Gallmon Cooke and Thurgood Marshall to name a few. These people in one way or another played a roll in my family life. Whether it was singing at the church with Aretha and Edna or posing for a picture taken by Addison my family knew them personally.

I am so proud of what I have found so far. I now know that my strength did not come from just my mom but from everyone. Every action made in their life had a reaction in my life. From my Grandfather moving his family to DC to my Uncle Brother being appointed by the president of the United States in 1967 Lyndon B. Johnson to the first DC council. To my Uncle John having an award named after him by the Distinguished Gentleman of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity to still trying to find out what happened to my great grandfather Peter Yeldell. My strength, intelligence and the way I carry myself-runs deep. Oh and by the way, I did get that call from Springfield finally and it has opened a new door with new things to discover. My journey is ongoing with new information for me to find.  So stay tuned and be blessed.

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