Archive for November, 2017

Popping In at St. Philip’s

November 25, 2017

On the way from the parking garage to the French Huguenot Church in Charleston, Sugar and I passed by St. Philip’s. The doors were open, and Sugar suggested that we stop in on the way back to the parking garage. Of course, after lunch and the Huguenot tour, because food and Charleston.


This church has a roped-off area, which I completely understand, because I would be right up there photographing the detail otherwise.


At the rear of the church are the pipes for the organ. What you can’t see clearly is that some of the pipes project outward horizontally.


The enormous pipe organ is *amazing*. A normal Sugar-sized man is shown for size and contrast.


The pews are enclosed much like the Huguenot church.


The painting depicts the burning of St. Philip’s in 1835. I’m not tall enough to get a better photograph, and no one would give me a boost. Because some of us still have decorum, and some of us do not. You can sort out which category I’m in.



DIED JAN. 10, 1815, AGED 76 YEARS.








This is the mother church of the Diocese of South Carolina, which was established in 1680. The first location was at the corner of Meeting and Broad, the present location of St. Michael’s. In 1751, St. Michael’s was authorized to be built due to the large increase in attendance at St. Philip’s. You can find out all these facts and more by looking at their website.

So, the next time you are in Charleston, pop in to St. Philip’s and sign the guestbook. You don’t even have to be Episcopalian.

Revisited: The Blake-Grimke House in Charleston, SC

November 24, 2017


10 89


This Charleston double house was built before 1789 by William Blake, a planter and descendant of former Proprietary Governor Joseph Blake. By 1803 Mary Smith Grimke, descendant of Landgrave Thomas Smith, and Judge John F. Grimke, a planter and state Supreme Court justice, and their 11 children occupied the property. Among them were Sarah (1792-1873) and Angelina (1805-1879) Grimke who became leading advocates for equal rights for African Americans and women.

(Continued on other side)






C. 1789








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(Continued from the other side)

From 1836-1838 the sisters, the first female agents of the abolitionist movement, traveled the Northeast as lecturers and organizers. In 1837 they helped organize the first national convention of white and black women. Also in 1837 Sarah published a full-fledged argument for women’s equal rights. The next year Angeline became the first American woman to address a legislative body, speaking to a committee of the Mass. legislature. Neither sister ever returned to Charleston.



The only other time I’ve written about this House was on October 2, 2009. I had started writing the blog that summer as a college class assignment. The search terms for Grimke or the Blake House show this to be a perpetual source of interest.

Sugar and I revisited the house last week. We had heard that a historical marker had been installed. While I was taking photos, Sugar said, “Your people are going to love this.”

You know what they say: your vibe attracts your tribe. I do love that others are interested in the story of the Grimke family.



Longitude Lane, Lunch, and the Huguenot Church

November 18, 2017

I use FaceBook as a way to stay in touch with people that have similar interests. I actually learn things along the way.

One such learned fact was the tours that were being conducted at the French Huguenot Church in Charleston, free of charge. This event happens in the spring and fall. Sugar challenged me that we could go except I had to work. I promptly answered his challenge by getting a day off work.

We had advice from one of the tour guides that we should park in the Cumberland Street parking garage, and then we could find the church on Church Street within a few blocks.


Sugar had an excellent laminated map that I was unable to read in the car. The low, late autumn sun shining through the trees and around the buildings made a flashing light-and-shadow effect, like someone opening and closing the slats very quickly on a Venetian blind. I couldn’t focus, plus I got nauseous. I suggested that we pull over, but the traffic would make getting off the roadway and then back on very difficult. So we decided to wing it.

Sugar made a right instead of a left because he thought the church was south of the Broad. We wound around and found ourselves at Longitude Lane quite by accident. We had intended to make this the last stop of the day, so we’ll switch things up and make this the start of the day.


Sugar has a smartphone now and is taking photos of everything. You probably know that Sugar and half the natural population of South Carolina is descended from Thomas Smith.

Thomas Smith,

Governor of South Carolina,


Planter, merchant, surgeon, arrived in Charles Town in 1674 with his first wife, Barbara Atkins, and sons, Thomas and George. A cacique by 1690, he was created Landgrave by the Lords Proprietors on May 13, 1691. He died in his 46th year on November 16, 1694. His brick townhouse with a wharf on Cooper River was here on the corner of East Bay and Longitude Lane.

One of our landmarks to find was St. Philip’s steeple. The Huguenot Church is about a block away.


We finally found a spot on the 4th level of the parking garage, and made our way to the Huguenot Church where we found the gate and front door were locked. We called the number on the sign, and the person answering sounded surprised that no one was there to give tours and offered to come right away. I suggested that we wait an hour for the tour so we could get food because we were both getting crankypants. And so it was agreed.

At the previous advice of a Charleston friend, we found Fast and French on Broad.


The building is long and narrow with communal tables. No photos of the restaurant could be taken without getting lots of people in the shot, and I don’t like to put close-ups of people’s faces on the blog when they are simply out-and-about minding their own business.

Well, unless it’s a really once-in-a-lifetime shot. Or you wanted to pay me a million dollars.



The food is fresh and interesting. You could go just to look at the murals.


My plate used to hold a cucumber and yogurt soup, salmon on Canadian rye, and cream cheese on Canadian rye. Yes, that is a glass of white wine. Sugar ordered one of the many daily specials. He had a tomato bisque soup and fresh fruit and bread.


This is a non-tipping establishment. Unattended money will be donated to Lutheran Services Carolinas, a refugee resettlement service.

Now to the church.

How do you pronounce Huguenot? Do an internet search. You might be surprised.





You probably guessed that Sugar is descended from Pasteur Pierre Robert (Roh-BARE). Some of Robert’s descendants ended up in the present-day area of Robertville, SC, and if you have followed the blog before, you will know that we have taken Christmas poinsettias to the Robert Cemetery.


I probably could have gotten the entire chandelier in the photograph if I had lain down on the floor. Somehow, that seemed disrespectful.


The volunteer on duty said that the plaques around the perimeter were because of a fundraising effort of the church in 1899. You could have a plaque with your ancestor’s name if you donated money.


There were other, more elaborate plaques adorning the walls.


You probably know by now that you don’t pronounce the H in Horry. img_2887




Be ye doers of the word not hearers only.

Nine simple words.

And that’s the French Protestant Church.

The Most Scruffy Cat in the ‘Hood

November 18, 2017

There’s a new cat in the ‘hood. He is super-scruffy.

I’ve seen him off in the woods in the underbrush. He never comes nearer than 30 feet when he can see me. Sometimes when he is in the Treehouse, he is so engrossed in eating that he can’t see or hear anything else except the food. I can be that way with food, too, but this guy is starving.

A week ago, I was preparing to head out to the Heritage Days festival. I had things to move out of the car, like bags of cat food, so I was walking back and forth from the car to the shed. I had already fed the cats at all the feeding stations, and Mr. Scruffy took his opportunity to grab a quick bite, not knowing that I was going back to the car for good. He hasn’t learned that when the hatch is open, I’m coming back.


Then he spots me.


And he’s off the platform into the woods, sailing out into space like a tiny super hero.

He’s learned to sit in the woods and meow at me, as if to remind me to make sure there is extra food in the bowls, enough to include him.

One early morning as I was preparing to leave for work, I had already filled the bowls before going back inside. Mr. Scruffy Cat had still not caught on that the car hatch was open.



How adorable is this?

Taking My 2% to Heritage Days

November 15, 2017

I took a DNA test a year ago. The results showed that I have approximately 2% African. Nothing would do except to go to the Heritage Days celebration at the Penn Center.

Sugar and I went to the Penn Center last year as part of a history group that was taking a tour. This was going to be very different.

Heritage Days Celebration is a three-day cultural event celebrating the Gullah/Geechee/Sea Island history, folk arts, food, music, crafts and West African cultural legacy.

Located at Penn Center—formerly the Penn School, one of the first schools for formerly enslaved Africans and their descendants living on St. Helena Island—visitors can experience the unique setting of the 50-acre historic campus of Penn Center.

Sugar wasn’t sure he could go to the festival because he has crowd anxiety. I made it easy for him to decide that he shouldn’t go by saying that I was meeting Toni Carrier who was representing the International African American Museum and it might be hard for him to hang around, what with the crowds and meeting people. So he stayed home with the dogs and cats.

There was a parade scheduled on Saturday from 9-11am, so I figured I’d go after that since they block Martin Luther King Drive on St. Helena. I didn’t know that the road STAYS blocked, and you have to park on the Sea Island Parkway and walk the mile or so to the Penn Center. Yet I found out when I got there, and I walked it anyway.


There is a center stage with activities going on all day, like singing, storytelling, dancing, and music. There are vendors of arts and crafts, and produce, and food. Oh my. The food.


There was a line at every food vendor. The one with the shortest line featured grilled and curried foods, like chicken, shrimp, and goat, plus rice and cooked cabbage, and other things that I can’t remember now.


I visited with Toni and looked at her great handouts regarding research. You can follow her on Facebook along with the progress of the fundraising and construction of the IAAM.

There was an enormous crowd of hundreds of people under the live oaks. Perfect crisp fall weather reminded us how good it was to be here.


Vendors were selling local produce. I waited in a line to buy some rutabagas for Sugar. This particular stand was also selling turnips and turnip greens, collards, persimmon fruit, apples, oranges, sweet potatoes, and sugar cane, and probably more that I can’t remember. People were actually walking around eating sugar cane. I’ve never seen that before.


On the walk back to the car, there is a section of marsh, and I spotted a great egret sunning himself. If you zoom in on one of the photos, the images start to fragment and look like an oil painting, as if you can see the actual brushstrokes.

A couple of men walked by, and one of them called out, ” Did you get it?”, meaning did I get the photograph of the bird. I could only nod yes, and could not speak because I was so full of contentment of this wonderful experience.


From the other side…


Across the road…


So y’all know what you need to do next year.


A Sixty-Year-Old Secret: the Mystery Deepens

November 14, 2017

Two Friday evenings ago, I was poking around in the online newspapers. Doesn’t everyone spend their Friday evenings doing research?

I discovered that my in-laws actually married 3 years later than they said they did, and that they had both had previous marriages. Mr. X had a mystery biological father. My FIL brought up Mr. X as his own.

I brought the other family members up-to-date. They didn’t know this story at all.

What was my FIL doing in Warwick, RI? How did he meet this girl? A little more picking around on shows that he and his family had moved to RI by 1956.

Apparently they were back in Springfield by 1958.

More poking around, this time by my SIL, found a photo of the 1st wife on FB that was posted by her niece. It appears that she didn’t remarry and kept using her married name. I contacted the niece. Things got interesting.

Joan had a child 3 months before she married the young man that became my FIL. If the child were his, wouldn’t he have married the mother before the child was born? That child was brought up by Joan’s mother. Joan had 2 more children and gave them up for adoption. Joan had a twin sister Joyce who also had a baby that she gave up for adoption. That baby? Was the woman that I contacted on FB. No one knew who their fathers were.

This looks like a case for DNA testing…

They Took It to the Grave: In Which I Find a Sixty-Year Secret

November 11, 2017

When I was a little girl, I noticed that my father called his mother-in-law by a formal name, “Miz Packett”. I asked my mother why he didn’t call her Miss Ruth or Mother. Why so formal? Mom said that her mother really didn’t like my father when she met him. I was indignant. Who couldn’t like my daddy? I demanded an answer. Mom said that her mother said that any man that old already has a wife and children somewhere. 

My father was in his late twenties when he married my mother. I took a DNA test almost a year ago, and I’ve been waiting for a half-sibling to show up. The only one that showed up was my full sibling older brother. It looks like Grandma was worried for nothing. 

This post is not about my side of the family. 


Everyone that knows me knows that I am obsessed with genealogy. I have limited funds, so I spend them judiciously. I have a subscription to ancestry, fold3, and newspapers. Recently I discovered GenealogyBank. I subscribed to the 7-day free trial. After 6 days of intense searching and finding, I considered cancelling the subscription before the membership fee was sucked out of my bank account the next day. What the heck; let’s give it one more search. Now, who haven’t I searched for? Ah, yes, that one. 

I entered  my father-in-law’s name. 

Some of you might think that he is my EX-father-in-law. I didn’t divorce my in-laws, though, only their scoundrel son, and not until he had moved out after 23 years of marriage. (There’s more, but that is another tale.) Mr. X is a troubled soul who could  tend toward mood swings and violence. 

I got a lot of results. The first one, from the Springfied Union, Springfield, Massachusetts, confused me. You know when you are reading something and it doesn’t compute, and you stare hard at the words, not ready to read more, even though your eyes see the words on the following line? That moment happened to me when I read the first couple of lines. 

My in-laws were married on January 2, 1957, and their first child was born on September 14, 1957. Those of use that can do math can see that the child could have been premature. My mother-in-law apparently was not acquainted with calendar math, because she always insisted that the baby was 2 weeks *late*, which did not help her case. That baby became my Mr. X, not to be confused with  algebra or a superhero. 

Do you see how my father-in-law was divorcing someone named Joan Daniels in 1958? And that they married in 1956? 

My mother-in-law’s name was Barbara. 

Then, a few search results later, I find this in the Springfield Union, Springfield, Massachusetts, January 2, 1960…

So not only had FIL been married before, MIL had, too. Mr. X was her child by a man whose last name was Simon. 


When my daughter was born, my in-laws said that they had heard that in order for a child to have red hair, both sides had to have red hair in their background. They didn’t know who had red hair in their lines.

When my son was an infant, my FIL pointed to my son’s pronounced cowlick on his forehead and declared that he had the same cowlick. I thought that was sweet even though I didn’t agree. My father had said the same thing about his own cowlick and the baby. 

I sent  my FIL’s sister a  message. She confirmed that  there were two marriages, and that Mr. X is from his mother’s first marriage. 


I called my daughter to chat with her. You know, a little informal conversation  to say that you are not who you think you are. Your grandfather is not who you think he is. 

The next morning I started a group text with my daughter, my son, my brothers-in-law, and my sister-in-law. No one knew this story. 


Years ago, I asked my MIL who Mr. X had been named for. Her two other sons, who both looked exactly like their father, had family names for their middle names. Mr. X, who looked exactly like this mother and her father, was named Paul Alfred. There was no one in their family named Paul Alfred. 

She took a long drag off her cigarette, exhaled, and said, “He was named for a family friend.” Seriously? What family friend. I didn’t force the issue. 


I discussed this with Sugar. A few years ago, while going through some photos, I came across a group photo with Mr. X and his parents and siblings. Sugar thought that Mr. X didn’t look like the others. I said, “But he looks exactly like his mother who looks exactly like her father.” He said, “Ok.”

After reading the newspaper results, I called Sugar and said, “ You can say I told you so”, and I told him that it looked like Mr. X was born to a marriage of my MIL and a man named Simon, but I didn’t know his first name. He said, “Try Paul Alfred.”

You can try it, too. You’ll get an obit for Paul Alfred Simon. A search on social media of the surviving children shows a man who looks enough like a younger version of Mr. X. When I saw the photo, I said, “Oh my goodness, that could be his bro…”

I wrote to the potential sister, but haven’t had a reply. If they don’t reply, that is okay. 

But this Sixty Year Old secret is out of the box now. 

Back to the Newspapers: Runaway Slave Ads

November 7, 2017

While looking for references to George Mosse in the early Savannah newspapers, many advertisements for runaway slaves can be found. The ironic part of these ads is that they are helpful in identifying people who wouldn’t have been identified. These ads list the slave name, physical description, and contact person, in addition to the amount of the reward. The higher the reward, the more valuable the person.

From the Savannah Republican, December 24, 1808:

75 Dollars Reward.

Absented themselvessome months ago, the following NEGROES—

Sampson, 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high; well made, though rather slender; has an impediment in his speech; about 28 years of age.

Caesar, about 5 feet 6 inches high; between 35 and 40 years old.

Tom, about 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high; about 30years of age.

Adam, about 5 feet 4 or 5 inches high; extremely slender; 17 years of age.

Beaufort, 5 feet 3 or 4 inches high; muscular form; face very ugly , and countenance surly; about 18 years of age.

The above reward will be paid to any person who will seize said negroes and lodge them in any gaol in the state of Georgia, or deliver them to Mr. Kesterson, on Kilkenny-Neck, adjoining Mr. John Morel’s, or to the subscriber, on Skidaway island.

R.B. Wylly

N. B. If taken separately, the reward will be given in the following proportions–For Sampson, 25 dollars; for Tom, 2 dollars; for Beaufort, 10 dollars; for Adam, 10 dollars; and for Caesar, 5 dollars.

October 18—124

Then this one…

125 Dollars Reward.

Seventy-five Dollars will be paid to any person delivering to the subscriber, or lodging in Savannah gaol, a NEGRO WOMAN, named BELLA, who has been absent near three years, during which time she has been lurking about the plantations on Ogechee, and in the neighborhood of Thunderbolt; but latterly, it is said she has been harbored about or near Mr. Polock’s brick-yard, and that she has a ticket. —

She is about five feet four inches high; full face; strait and well made; has lost one or two of her fore teeth; hollow foot, high instep; her complexion rather yellow. She formerly belonged to Mr. Charles Harden, deceased, and may probably say she belongs to col. Edward Harden, who has a woman of the same name. A reward of Fifty Dollars will be paid for convicting a white person of harboring her.

Philip Ihly.

If Bella returns of her own accord, she will be forgiven.

October 18.–24.


Twenty Dollars Reward.

Ranaway from the subscriber, on Saturday evening last, his mulatto girl, POLLY, late the property of Mr. John Waters, of this city. As she is well known in Savannah, a particular description of her person is unnecessary. All persons are forbid harboring her, as they may depend on being dealt with according to law.–

A reward of Twenty Dollars will be paid to any person that will give information of her being harbored by a white person, and Ten Dollars if by a negro.

Levi Sheftall.

October 23 –127.

And at the end of the column (keep in mind that this is just ONE column in ONE newspaper in ONE day in ONE city)…

10 Dollars Reward

Will be paid to any person who will apprehend and secure in Savannah goal, my fellow BEN. He has been runaway since April last, and is supposed to be with Mr. Richard B. Wylly’s negroes, which are advertised in this paper.

G. W. Allen.

December 1–143


10 Dollars Reward.

Ran away this morning, my Negro Fellow ISAAC, who is well known in this city. If brought home to me, I will give the above reward; and if he should be apprehended in S. Carolina, and lodged in any gaol of that state, or brought to me, I will pay a reward of 30 dollars and all expences.

Thomas U. P. Charlton.

December 3 –144

These ads were everywhere. Here’s one from May 1769 from the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg. Tom Salter has run away from Henry Lee.

What is most astounding to me is that, even as dangerous as running away must have been, there were so many people who risked the dangers for freedom, men and women alike.

I suspect that this post will become an ongoing project.

Rest well, travelers. We can learn from your bravery.