RC

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I have been interested in my family history since I was a teenager. Being raised by my (maternal) Grandparents, I always loved hearing the stories they told about their parents…and in some cases, their aunts, uncles and cousins. Back in the 90s, I had some sort of family tree program that included like 10 CD-ROMs of Social Security records and other databases. However in the case of my family, that information (birth dates and death dates) was not really that enlightening in that my Grandmother was always pretty good with saving the obituaries from deceased closed family; and those gave a lot more information anyway.

A few years ago I started building my family tree on MyHeritage. With their premium account, which also links to Family Search website, I was able to start making some real discoveries in regards to my family. By reviewing and connecting to other family trees online, I was able to expand on branches that I really had no clue about before.

DNA Testing

Earlier this year I bit the bullet and did a DNA test with 23andMe. For me, the test was free due to signing up for a research study. The results mainly confirmed what I knew already…and also cleared up some questions — but as of now, it has not been helpful in finding any new family members. My understanding is that doing a DNA test through Ancestry.com would be more helpful in that regard. So I may do that sometime in the future.

I’ve also uploaded my DNA data to GEDmatch. My kit# is NM9485691 and is on their Genesis beta site.

Branches

My 3rd great-grandfather was Rev. Alexander Hill Thompson. I found out about him via the Ashley – Thompson website which was linked to a profile of one of his children on Ancestry.com. He was one of the founders of the Thompson Institute in Lumberton, NC. The school’s mission was to educate the newly freed Black locals and prepare them for careers.

Thompson family members and legislators at the historical marker dedication for the Thompson Institute

Alexander was married several times and had 27 children all together. His son, Isaiah, came north and eventually settled in New Jersey. However his daughter, my great-grandmother, ended up marrying and settling in Pennsylvania…where he lived and worked for some time.

My great grandmother, Lillian Allen (m. Thompson)

I can’t go back very far into the Allen line. My great-grandfather, Samuel Allen, came from a dysfunctional home and he did not get along with his father. He left home at around age 16 or so. His father’s name was Peter. Unfortunately for me, there were quite a few Peter Allens living in Virginia in the late 19th century. My great-grandfather was born in Spotsylvania county. But other then his birth, I cannot find any other vital or marriage records for his parents. His mother’s maiden name is Henderson (first name Mary…so also quite common). She may be related to Hendersons that settled in the Boston, MA area around the turn of the 20th century…I’m not sure.

Samuel only had 2 other siblings; my grandmother and her siblings only knew one of them (Aunt Mary). He himself turned out to be a very kind, loving, church-going family man who worked as a chipper in the National Tube Works in McKeesport (PA). He passed away in 1975.

(l-r) My grandmother Theretha, my great-grandmother Lillian, my mother’s 1st cousin Timmy, a fellow church member, and my great-grandfather Samuel in 1969 (full names withheld for privacy reasons)

The Marshalls are originally from Mecklenburg county, NC. Albert (also recorded in records as ‘Abirte’ or ‘Egbert’) married Lillie Jones in Union county, NC in 1914. Sometime after 1924 when his twin daughters, Mary and Martha were born, he left the south and relocated to Clairton, PA. His wife did not join him immediately. However my grandfather, Robert (in the picture above, he is front-center-right; his younger brother, Herbert, is on the far left holding the guitar), was born in Clairton in 1927.

Other than my great-grandfather’s marriage and death certificates and some census records, I haven’t been able to collect a lot of information on the Marshalls…yet. I am hoping that I’ll be able to pursue some DNA leads that will open up this branch of the family tree.

My great-grandmother Lillie Jones

The Jones family story begins in Lancaster county, SC, which is the birthplace of Charles Jones, a slave born around 1825. Later the Jones family set roots in both Chesterfield county, SC and Union County, NC.

My grandmother Inez (pictured above on her wedding day in the mid-1970s) was born in the late 1920s to East Indian parents, who were formally indentured laborers, in the Clarendon parish in Jamaica, West Indies. Britain had ended the indenture system in 1917, so by the time my grandmother was born, her parents were working for themselves. She was the daughter of her father’s second wife. Her father was previously married and lived in the Saint Catherine parish of Jamaica…where his eldest son, Esmond, was born.

In the late 70s, my grandmother immigrated to the US and her married name was Lawrence. I did not know her maiden name at all until she died. Even then, it was misspelled terribly on her obituary (which I found to be incredibly common with Indian names recorded in Jamaica), which listed it as ‘Torrie’. On her birth record, it is even worse….listed as ‘Ghorawi’. Due to this ignorance and non-standardization of Indian names, researching this side of my family is a nightmare (until this day, I have some cousins who spell their last name ‘Tewarie’, which is fine, but is a hint that people took leeway to spell their names as they saw fit). Thankfully her side of the family has lived in the same areas in Clarendon for generations. So oral history helps as does knowing that if someone says they are from a particular area, then you are most likely related.

Researchers have found that the majority of East Indian indentured labors brought into South Africa and the Caribbean came from the Uttar Pradesh region of India. I would love for DNA to support this claim one day. As of now, the data is not comprehensive enough to tell.

For the Campbell side of the family, I have hit a brick wall. Lynval, my grandfather, was on the Jamaican constabulary force. However he was not married to my grandmother and perhaps was already married when some of their children were born (I can’t locate any marriage records for him, but I found the death record of his widow).

My father was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. In the 1970s, Kingston was pretty violent and his father was shot and killed in 1974.

My sons' great-great grandmother, Josephine Denninger, is on the far right

My sons’ grandmother has done extensive research on her/their genealogy. Their tree is located on Ancestry.com here. I have taken on researching my sons’ family as well as a gift to them.

It’s impossible to summarize their entire genealogy, but the family has members that have resided in Western Pennsylvania since the late 18th century. They also have ancestors from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Alsace-Lorraine area of France, and England.