Monday, February 17, 2014

That Old Time Religion

I called my Uncle Al who’ll be 80 next year to ask about some of the grand church meetings they must have had back in the day. My grandfather was Bishop J.H. Galloway and when he was alive he was the only bishop of Texas, so you know what that meant for his church; it was always busy with meetings. I found several photos from my grandfather’s church - The Church of God and Christ on Center Street, in Houston, Texas - and since my dear mother is no longer with us, I knew that my Uncle Al would have plenty to share with me and could explain some of the church pictures. 

Here’s a photo of an Annual April Convocation Meeting at my grandfather’s church in Houston, Texas in 1950. In July a larger annual meeting was held in Waco, Texas.

Here’s a photo of my grandfather presiding over one of the meetings.

Before the actual dinner, here’s a photo of some church folks in my grandparents’ dining room. 

Here’s a 1944 photo of the church choir. The names of the members are listed below. Maybe some of you will be able to recognize family members. I hope so.

First Row from left to right: Thelma Baker, Gussie Robinson, Loretta Logan, Bishop and Mother J.H. Galloway, Corrine Price, Lillie Marilyn Williams -Daughter to - Ceola Williams.
Second Row: Reverend Butler (Chicago), Erma Galloway Ighner (my mother), Louella Williams, Ben Hilliard, Eunice James and her sister Orelya Lane, Rosa Lee Galloway, Sister Franks, Ollie Masteron, Lucille Lewis, Willie Lee Johnson, Mother Graves.
Third Row: Esther Williams, Dorothy Hilliard, Junior Baker, James Harold Galloway, Eva Crawford, Esther Galloway Jenkins, Willie Leah Williams, Audrey Galloway Fejey, Vivian Ighner, Charles Graves, Ronald Galloway. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Maternal Grandmother

My grandmother, Elma Mildred Wade Galloway was born 31 years after the abolishment of slavery. She was born March 25, 1896, in Lavaca County, Hallettsville, Texas. I remember her very well. Mamaw - as we called her - was a very important person in my family. Being my mother’s mother, I had always thought of her as being old. Today, however, old enough to be a grandmother myself, I’ve decided to explore Mamaw’s life through her photos.

I don’t know what I would’ve been like as a young woman during that post slavery era. Would photos of her be truthful enough to narrate Mamaw’s personal life experiences? I really don’t know, but we’ll take the journey together.

I call this picture of my grandmother, Elma in the Roses. The time of it seemed to have been around 1909. Remembering that she loved beautiful surroundings, I see her here as a young teenager standing amongst the beauty of roses in her family’s garden. It looks as if she was caught dreaming of a perfect life despite the life that African Americans were expected to live during that time.

Elma, in the hat, looked to be an older teenager soon to approach womanhood. In around 1914, she sat in a field with friends and cousins. I can’t help but to see the confidence she wore. The tilt of her hat and the knowing small smile on her face reminds me of the times I’d see her waiting to go on one of her missionary excursions. Here, she seemed to have locked onto her life’s path. Elma seemed to have been an important member of her young dreamy soulful circle.

Newly married, Mrs. Joseph Houston Galloway - August 3, 1915 - the bride of a new minister took on a life of spiritual dedication. Her realized dreams brought on a life of humility. Here I can see the reality of her dreams settling in.

Sitting outside the Church of God in Christ on Center Street in Houston, Texas, where my grandfather served as Reverend for at least 10 years into their marriage, my grandmother - dressed to the nines - clearly had not abandoned style.

Years of serving as the pastor’s wife and as a very active missionary, my grandmother stands here with Sister Dorothy Webster, a missionary from Haiti.

After raising nine children, and serving in the church for many years, my grandmother had become Mother Galloway and the widow to Bishop J. H. Galloway. A sure sign of endurance played in her eyes. 
What a life she lead! She was a lover of God, family, and the church. Mamaw was quite a woman. On July 28, 1965, Elma Mildred Wade Galloway died 100 years after slavery as a successful woman. I believe she lived her girlhood dreams. Thank you for your strength Mamaw.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Do You Know This South Carolina 'Caldwell' Family?

The other day I saw mentioned in an excerpt from the 1892 Newberry Observer that on March 17th of that year, quadruplets were born to a black man named Christian Caldwell. His wife’s name wasn’t mentioned. Quadruplets, born to a black family in 1892?! I had to know more about them. I got in touch with a friend who lives in Newberry, S.C., and asked him if he would go to the library there to find the rest of the story for me. Unfortunately, both microfilm machines were inoperable. He kindly struggled with the broken machines for an hour or so, but to no avail.

Not ready to give up on what looked like a fascinating story, I took to searching for the family in the 1900 Census. I found them in Orangeburg, S.C.! There they were, Christian and Elenora Caldwell along with 8 children. Upon examining the group I noticed that only one child was listed as having been born on March 1892 - Harry S. Caldwell, 8 years old. I was crushed at the thought that three of the quads had died. According to that census report, Elenore had given birth to 13 children and only 8 were alive; 3 of the quads plus 2 others had passed on.

Looking at the birth dates of the eight remaining children, I spotted something v-e-r-y interesting. There were 2 sets of twins! And on top of that, 2 of the daughters were born 7 months apart in the same year! What a family!! If anyone out there is a descendent of this family and knows more about them, PLEASE leave a comment.

Miss Nita

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Eigners - My Family's Story

The Eigner family descended from the Ibu tribe in Africa. The family began back in the days of slavery when the state of Virginia was in the business of breeding slaves. The first known member of the family was a woman named Adeline. There is not much history on Adeline's life before her arrival in Virginia, however, what we do know is what followed in her life after the birth of her first child, John.

John was sold at birth to a slave buyer from South Carolina named Eigner. In those days people traveled by wagon, buggy, etc. They started from Virginia one night and made camp in the next morning. John's mother followed him to each camp to nurse him. That happened several mornings until they decided that they would never get home, and so they also bought the mother of the baby boy.

John grew to manhood and never took a whipping. He was a talented cabinet maker, shoe cobbler, basket maker, and a good field hand. He was too valuable to be killed.

John saved his money and bought his mother so that she could be a free woman. Later he married Nancy (Horsey) Suber, a part Indian girl who was a slave of the Suber Family. Her father's name was Horsey.

John and Nancy were the parents of  eight children; three boys named John Riley, David and Orlando and five girls named Adeline, Annie, Idella, Mae and Ella. his children and his children's children all called him daddy.

John Eigner loved to attend church and would walk about eight miles on Sunday to attend a white Baptist church where he had to sit in the gallery along with the other slaves. The slaves did not have a church of their own and he always longed for a church for black people.

When freedom came, he was given land by the Henderson family to build a home for himself and his family. Instead, he built a church which was named Fellowship because he wanted everyone to fellowship together and worship God in their own way. Fellowship Baptist Church has come from its humble beginning as a brush arbor to the present edifice located in Pomaria, South Carolina.

Here is a photo of my 2nd Great-Grandfather Orlando Eigner. Orlando is the son of John Eigner. In the photo of my Great-Grand Uncle Asa and his family; Asa is Orlando's son.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A One Hundred and Ten Years Old Family Tragedy

I decided to start up another genealogy geared blog after having deleted one about six years ago. I was tired and overworked at the time. But now, I'm not. Even though I've got the time to work on it, my first post is making me waffle a bit. The question is not about what I'm going to write...actually...I know what I'm going to write; it's about whether I want my first post to be so sad. I've decided to go ahead and share the 110 year old family tragedy anyway. And I'll tell you why; number one, I doubt if anyone in my family - today - has ever heard of it, and number two, I don't want any of my ancestors to be forgotten.

Ten years ago I visited the South Carolina Archives in Columbia, to sniff out ancestors. I sat at a table with an old giant leather bound book - The Sheriff's Inquisition Book - spread out before me. Page after page I poured through badly handwritten eyewitness testimonies pertaining to deaths, to find anyone with my family's surname and I did.

On December 24, 1903, Robert Norris, Dr. J.W. Vinyard, R.M. Taylor, Pink Harrington, and Dr. W.G. Houseal were sworn in to give testimonies about witnessing the death of Sam Eigner. I later found that Sam was my 1st cousin 2nd removed. In reading about his death, I was surprised to read that most of the men who witnessed it had a sense of care about the situation. Most of them even knew Sam's name. Let me remind you, it was 1903, South Carolina, and they were white men.

I don't know if it still happens the way did years ago in South Carolina, but on Christmas Eve night, many people were congregated downtown to celebrate with the firing off of guns and fireworks. The aforementioned men were all standing near the same area when they witnessed a skyrocket whizz pass them, nearly missing a couple, and into Sam's eye. I won't go into the gory details. R. M. Taylor said that he called out for help right away and did everything he could to help Sam. Mr Pink Harrington said that a 'Mr. White' - a store owner - had him come into the store to get water for Sam because it seemed he was still alive. When Taylor returned to Sam, he was dead. Dr. W.G. Houseal gave Sam a final examine and confirmed him to be dead. Poor Sam!! My heart gets so heavy - still - while reading this story.

A couple of years after finding that information, I was reading through some articles in the Newberry Observer from 1903, and there was the story of Sam's tragic experience. It read, "Eigner, Sam 22 years old, was hit in the eye by a flying rocket on Christmas Eve as he was walking down the street. It then exploded killing the man. There was an inquest. Mr. Eigner's wife and two children all have died within the past year."

WHAT?! So I went back through the old articles and found this:
"Eigner, female, black twin, delivered by Harriet Counts, at Newberry City, on 11/26/1902. Parents Sam Eigner, laborer and Florence Eigner of Ward 2, Newberry City, SC."


"Eigner, Florence, female, black died 7/30/1903 of Bright's disease. Born in SC, she was 20 years old and lived in Newberry City..."

I don't know how those precious babies died, but then this...

"Suber, Perdita was suing J. Guy Daniels for $5,000 for the death of Sam Eigner by a skyrocket, said to have been left off by the defendant in Newberry the night before Christmas. Page 8, Newberry Observer 6/14/1904; Perdita Suber sued J. Guy Daniels for $5,000 for the death of her son Samuel Eigner who was killed by a roman candle Christmas Eve 1903. While fireworks were going off on the streets that night a sky rocket struck Eigner in the eye, penetrating the brain and causing instant death. The Plaintiff alleged the rocket was set off by the defendant. The jury brought in a verdict in favor of the defendant. Page 8, Newberry Observer 7/14/1905"

Tragically, in a matter of a year Sam Eigner, his wife Florence and their twin babies passed away. Though that tragedy happened one hundred-ten years ago, I had to retell the story because now that I know about them, I can't let them become forgotten.

Miss Nita