Maudie Sterling Edwards: Why I Called Her Name

Maudie Sterling Edwards

Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey

I can not begin to describe how I felt during the AAGSAR BLOGFEST2014 announcement of the New Kids on the Blog.  There were a lot of emotions all at once.  When the post was released, I clicked the link and waited in anticipation for the picture that I had chosen to come up in the slide show.  There she was, my grandmother, my inspiration.  To see my grandmother, Maudie Sterling Edwards, amongst the ancestors of my fellow New Kids on the Blog roster as representation for Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey, brought tears to my eyes.

I want to share the reasons why I chose my grandmother to represent the introduction of this blog.  See, this is not the first time that I have called her name.  I wrote a tribute to her when I was in college (I will share that at a later date) and she helped me with every word.  I truly believe that she must have known that I would be here, digging through records and helping to tend the roots of the family tree so that it grows to include the names of those before her that were unknown to me.

In addition to this, for as long as I can remember, I have been told that I look like her.  My mother and her siblings often look at me and say, “you look so much like momma.”  I know that I must bear a strong resemblance to her because elder relatives who see me for the first time look at me as if they have seen me before.  After the squinting of their eyes and cocking of their head, they too begin a sentence with “you look just like…”.  I just smile and say “I know”.

When I first started this journey, I started with her father, John Sterling, and her grandfather, George Sterling, both of Clarke County, MS.  Soon after starting, I made my first trip home to find out more.  My mom led me to the papers that my grandmother left behind and to my surprise, she had left me a treasure trove.  Amongst her papers were old funeral programs and even an old family reunion booklet for another line of the family.  I was delighted that she had kept these things and that no one had decided to throw them out after her passing.  I made a couple of trips home in 2013 and decided that I must go through those papers again, for fear that I have missed something.  And sure enough, I did.  With each trip I found additional papers to help with my research.  To top it off, I found a Bible of hers in which she wrote the names, death dates, and burial dates, and sometimes place of death of relatives.  Just recently, I referred to the Bible and realized that she had left the death date and place of a relative that I had been searching for.

Research continues on the Sterling line, but my focus was shifted to work on her mother’s line, Bessie Stokes Sterling.  Since connecting with the cousin that I mentioned in Collaborating with Cousins, I have learned that the family has been working on keeping and updating the tree for a while.  However, I am starting to understand why my focus was shifted to this line.  The research has brought me to the name of my 4th great-grandfather (her 2nd great-grandfather), Kelly Stokes.  I can’t say that I fully understand what it is that I am looking for, but I know she will help me just as she has done before.

Thank you Grandma for sending me to AAGSAR!  Also, thanks you to Luckie Daniels and the AAGSAR group for all of the continued support!  #BLOGFEST2014

Many Blessings and Happy Searching!

~AmyC.

© 2014 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey.  All rights reserved.

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Genealogy Year in Reflection: 2013

It’s the last day of 2013, so I have been reflecting on how the year has gone as it relates to my genealogy research.  As I think back, my year really started when I got the Exploring Our Roots & Finding Oprah’s Roots DVDs for Christmas.  That was followed by a mobile handheld scanner for my birthday on January 4th.  I was really excited because I had made such progress since I started in July 2012. But this year, I was determined to learn more about the process of researching genealogy and family history.

January 2013 – I watched every episode on those DVDs and made notes of comments that might help me in my research. I watched some of the archived webinars on Ancestry.com.  I also started organizing planning my first research trip to my hometown to gather documents and conduct interviews.

February 2013 – I conducted 3 phone interviews to prepare myself for the trip I was about to embark upon.  Toward the end of the month, I finally decided to order Black Roots: A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs.  I read parts of the book at the time, because I wanted to only review the parts that I would need for my trip.  Didn’t realize at the time that I really needed to read that book cover to cover before running off on a research trip!  Lesson learned.

March 2013 – I went on my first week-long research trip to Mississippi to my hometown.  I created a calendar and had everything planned out from visiting the cemeteries where my family was buried, the county courthouse (Clarke), the state archives (which is a 2 hour drive one-way from my parents), conducting interviews, and searching through the “family archives”.  I got to interview my 94 year old cousin, who was an absolute delight! I also got to meet some people on my Dad’s side of the family who I had not previously met, even though they only lived about 15 minutes away from my parents all my life.  My mom was my riding partner and she braved the cemeteries (deep in the woods of Mississippi), helped me dig in at the courthouse and the archives, sat through interviews and scanning sessions, helped me track down where funeral home records went, and contacted everyone she knew that could help me.  She is still helping me now with my questions and hunting down those that are living who can answer the questions that she doesn’t have the answers to.  March was an excited research month for me and I came back with lots of information for my research.  To top it all off, there was the birth of my 8th grand nephew (I have 5 grand-nieces as well)!

April 2013 – I started to attend genealogy seminars that were being held here in Atlanta. My first seminar was a lecture by Tony Burroughs and he signed my book!

May – September 2013 – I attended more seminars and even got my feet wet in The National Archives at Atlanta.  It was during these months that I realized that I was seriously unorganized!  I begin to catalog, scan and file.  I am still working on the organizing part (computer issues).  Didn’t realize I had so much stuff.  I did some research as well, adding to the pile! 🙂  I also started to join Facebook groups looking for guidance. It was through one of the groups that I was able to get the death certificate of my 2x great-grandfather, Henry Stokes, which included the names of his mother and father, taking me back another generation.

Richard Edwards, Jr.

Me and Uncle Richard

October 2013 – I lost my Uncle Richard.  Richard Edwards, Jr., born February 19, 1940 to Richard Edwards, Sr. and Maudie L. Sterling Edwards.  He passed away October 7, 2013.  We were hurt, but we know he is at rest and that we were blessed to have encountered him.  I cried as I recorded the date in my tree.  That was the hard part of genealogy for me.  I can still hear his laugh.  I am thankful that my sister and I were able to sing a joyful medley at his funeral.  I also got to meet his youngest son, a first cousin that I didn’t know existed.  October was hard, because my mother lost her brother and 2 cousins that month.  That is 4 deaths in all for my family for the year (1 on my dad’s side a few months earlier).

November 2013 – I refocused and started to research the Stokes side of my family.  I conducted a couple of phone interview and tasked myself with gathering vital records again.  On Thanksgiving Day, I met a cousin who added to my collection of funeral programs and even gave me a copy of a fictitious account of the lives of my Great-Granduncle Charlie Moody and Aunt Libby Stokes Moody.  The book is called Paw Charlie’s Triumphs by Roy Conner. I read it a day’s time…I was that excited!  I finally decided to finish reading Black Roots: A Beginners Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree by Tony Burroughs!  After I finishing that book, I also read Got Proof! by Michael Nolden Henderson in two day’s time. I love reading, can’t you tell!  November was also the month that I was able to obtain the death certificate of Taylor Stokes, father of Henry Stokes.  That death certificate had the name of his father, Kelly Stokes, taking me back yet another generation.

December 2013 – I started to focus on how to properly document my research.  My 9th grand-nephew was born!  I was connected to a cousin who is the keeper of the Stokes family tree.  Lastly, I joined AAGSAR and started this blog to share my research.

I’d say that was an ok year in genealogy, wouldn’t you?  I’m pretty excited to take it to the next level and see what my ancestors will show me in 2014!

Happy New Year & Happy Searching!

~AmyC.

© 2013 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey.  All rights reserved.

The Debut of Tracing Amy

Welcome to my first blog post!  My name is Amy L. Cole.  I am the 4th child born to Lee Roy Pruitt & Jerlean Edwards Pruitt of Quitman, Clarke County, Mississippi.  Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey is about my quest to learn more about my family history.

I started the blog after reading the appeal by Luckie Daniels, founder of African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research, to make more of the research of African-American ancestry available online.  After much consideration and a nod from my family, I decided to start blogging!  My goal is to be able to provide a space where family members can follow and participate in my research.

Now that the blog history is out of the way, I think I should tell you a little about the names and places that I am researching.  I decided that I wanted to do research on both my paternal and maternal lines.  From what I know, both lines have deep roots in Clarke and Jasper Counties in Mississippi, post emancipation.  My paternal lines are Pruitt, Dukes, & Carr and the maternal lines are Edwards, Sterling, Shanks & Stokes.  I will tell you more about what I have found for each line in other post.

I have been able to take 3 of the 4 maternal lines back to the 1870 Federal Census giving me the names of ancestors that were possibly born into slavery.  I was able to accomplish this by sifting through family records, conducting interviews with family members, visiting cemeteries, and collecting obituaries.  Although I believe I have the name of the ancestors who would have been born into slavery, I have not yet started slavery research for my maternal line.   I want to ensure that all of my information post civil war is correct.  So, I am busy collecting birth marriage and death records as well as other records that will assist the search for my grandparents and great grand parents generation.  I plan to continue to go back one generation at a time collecting these records and learning as much as I can so that I have a solid beginning to enter into slavery research.

On my paternal line, I have only been able to get back to the generation of my great grandparents.  I will have to gather more information on this side because not much is remembered by those still living.  So I have some…..lets call them speed bumps on the paternal side, they haven’t turned into brick walls just yet. 🙂

So that is a summary of how far I have gotten on the family tree as a whole.  I have a couple of family reunions coming up in 2014, so I will probably focus on those lines the most in the coming months.  I will try to keep you posted along the way.

~AmyC.

© 2013 Amy L. Cole and Tracing Amy: My Ancestral Journey.  All rights reserved.