Posts Tagged ‘Winnie Joe Brown’

Jefferson Brown

January 3, 2016

Here’s a photo of Jefferson Brown.

This photo is courtesy of his grand-daughter Francine. She said that he is all dressed up because it is his parents’s 50th wedding anniversary!  His mother, Zola Tolbert Brown, was an exquisite seamstress in an exclusive dress shop in New York City, and she made all the clothes in the wedding party.


Everyone looks so beautiful! Elegant!

Francine said this was made at Bethel AME Church in New York City, but no one in the family is clear about the date. At any rate, Zola’s husband Winnie Joe Brown died the year after the anniversary, but we don’t have the date of his death either. I’ve reached out to several total strangers on the Internet, because someone somewhere has got to know some answers, but no luck yet.

I do love a puzzle!

This Is The Year: Part Two

January 2, 2016

It takes a lot of cooperation and concentration to make a meeting happen. 

We found out that Jordan’s great-aunt Francine was coming to South Carolina to visit some cousins on her father’s mother’s side. We hoped that she was willing and able to find time with her father’s father’s side. 

She did, and brought a Tolbert cousin from her father’s mother’s side who was fascinated with the story. 

Francine is soft-spoken and reserved, but she volunteered during the course of the evening that her grandfather, the Lawton descendant, could not read or write until he was grown and married, and his wife taught him. He was born in 1881 and couldn’t go to school with the whites and was shunned by the blacks. He and his family moved to Savannah sometime between 1910 and 1920, and he had a general merchandise store, but he lost it all because he couldn’t count and make change. 

I showed Ftancine this document:

Where Winnie Joe Brown signed his name. 

What did we talk about during dinner? I only remember snippets. I was too busy enjoying the evening. And taking some stealth photos. 

 After dinner we posed for photos. 


Standing: Arthur Gilliard, YoursTruly, Libby Lawton Hromika, Francine Brown. Seated: Leslie Lawton Bateson.

Do y’all love this story as much as I do?


Thanks to Dennis Richard Hromika, the ever-patient and enabling photographer. Thanks to Jordan Carroll, the persistent genealogist, and to those Lawton cousins who welcomed him. Thanks to Francine Brown for visiting from NY and submitting the DNA test. Thanks to Arthur Gilliard, Francine’s Tolbert cousin, for his enthusiasm. Thanks to Libby Lawton Hromika for her gracious hosting. But mostly, thanks to Sugar Bateson for letting me come along for the ride.