My SanKofa to AlaBaMa

I wanted to re share this Note I had laying aroundI wrote this back after I took a trip back to my Ancestral Home, I was reflecting. Before I had a inkling what "Blogging" was, I had shared this on Facebook with my Genning group, Our Black Ancestry. A friend from D.C. named Annette encouraged me to write a NOTE abt my trip. So here it is.......

I wanted to share my trip back to Alabama. I had been pondering what to do with all my genealogical research. I had helped create the family website along with my cousin Lisa at , I wanted to take it to another level where people could see the work besides me. I was always talking to them one on one trying to explain individually. I needed a format to keep the conversation going, find a visual where all can see the names and dates. I wanted them to see the "DASH". The Life in names "We Speak".  So there I went and searched on the Internet for someone who specialized in documenting family history. I wouldn't have been satisfied with my 8mm video camera which is out of date!

On a sunny Monday morning, October 3rd, 2011 I started my journey to Sweet Home Alabama. My trek, prior to all this, I took a lot of mental notes on index cards and did much preparation as I could, there was so much I needed to get done. 

Sometimes in our research one has to go to their Ancestral Place of Origin to get information that you just can't do over the Internet. On top of everything it was a personal journey for me also after my Parents passed in 2008 and 2009, their Souls are resting.
It was a time of getting things done along with reflections. I arrived in Birmingham which is in Jefferson County, I went to the New Grace Hill Cemetery, which on a 1946 death certificate was called Mason City Cemetery.  3 weeks of trying to find its location and the history. I was there to locate one of Daddie's brothers, named Rev. Obie Lewis. 

Next it was on to Bullock County, Midway and Union Springs! This is where my earliest ancestor William 1812 and Minty 1834 (Ivey) Ivery where to make their roots. They seemed to start using Ivery after Emancipation even though I have both spellings on documents. At times during my visit I felt like was taking a step back into time. Not much had changed. If it wasn't for my family I would of  had to stay in Montgomery, Midway is my Color Purple. 

I went to our family church Mt. Coney Missionary Baptist, which was founded in 1875. It's 137 years young! 
Ike Ivery is my Great Grandmother's father, I find it ironic Granny Eddie is buried right beside her father. Which was befitting from all the stories I have been told about how close their relationship was when they were living. I had written permission a month in advance prior to my arrival for  video taping the church. Pastor Robbins was more than welcoming and very accommodating, he gave the history on the church and cemetery which a lot of my ancestor's are buried.
Bullock County Courthouse Union Springs, Alabama
I got to stand outside Bullock County Courthouse which houses a lot of my family documents and I got to spend 2 wonderful days just beyond belief research, I felt as if I was finally at home. I have so many letters and envelopes from the courthouse I was in what my Mom would say "Hog Heaven"! I was taking in every moment and just enjoyed myself walking around and going thru all the index and map plat books, marriage registers and old Union Springs Herald from all the way back! All the times I had been down home I was seeing it thru a different pair eyes this time. I thoroughly enjoyed the rich history and town.

Inside Bullock County Research Room
I rummaged thru a lot of books that you  had to actually walk to flip the page over they were so big and huge. I saw books I wouldn't have been exposed to over the Internet or mailings, it was something you have to go there to experience. I was a dust bowl by the time the day was over, my calves were sore from climbing the ladder to get at some book tucked up high, I just had to see, even if it didn't have anything to do with my Ancestor's. I couldn't get enough. 

ADAH= Alabama Department of Archives and History was on my Bucket List. I finally made it! Beyond Words I shed a tear when I got there, how silly!

Me and Mr. Spratlan
After almost 8 years of seeing this man's name and corresponding over snail mail and numerous amount of phone calls and a missed visit in 2009 because of a storm, I finally got the pleasure and honor of meeting my Mentor Mr. Dean Spratlan, 72 who is also the President of the Bullock County Historical Society, which next month I'll officially be proud to say I am a Member of ! This man has taught me patience above all else in doing family research. He guided me, showed me things and shared so much with me over this time I will be eternally grateful. I really feel a kinship to him now that we have met, and he expressed the same to me also. That made me know for sure I was doing the right thing with my life and research. 

I got a lot of work done. I was given documents on my family that I wasn't expecting. I learned things from all 4 of my Aunts over the ages of 80-95. The oral history they gave me was invaluable, all the talking over the phone was nothing compared to sitting and fellowshipping with them in person.
Even one of my cousins just through a casual conversation led to finding out a family member had written a book which I ended up ordering on Amazon.
Issac Robbins published a 50-page book on Life thru a Black Soldier's Life in  Midway, Alabama. Called: Glimpse of Providence: A Black Boy's Experience in Foreign Lands. Who Knew?

Another highlight was when I happened to mention my own father James E. Lewis, he was mentioned in a book about all the soldier's in World War 2, in a book called "In Freedom's Name": The War Years 1941-1945 WW2 Bullock County Veterans. There was Daddie's name! 

Any person from the county doing war service is mentioned there in the back of the book which will be a genealogical gem for researchers in a book called Soldier's and Sailor's Discharge Records for Bullock County and it tells you what page they are on, so now I can order it from ADAH, another document to add to my Fathers history. A added bonus is I can give and share also if you have an Ancestor in Bullock County and you need to know the page number to order for yourself. Mr. Spratlan personally signed the book for me which he was a part of the research in 1996 when this book was written.

I have been wanting to make this trip for a long time and came to a point in my research as I mentioned before where sometimes you have to make that trek and just pack up and go.It was not only good for my research but it did my Soul good as well. I needed to go walk the land, see and smell and get a feel for what life mighta been like for my Ancestors but also for the family who haven't left there.

 As I was leaving Alabama on Sunday after a whirlwind week for me and I was on County Road 82 which leads to HWY 110 out of Union Springs on to Montgomery a truck full of cotton was leading the way. At first I didn't know what it was blowing all over the place like snow. I realized it was cotton. I pulled over and took some home with me, along with a bag full of pecans from my 91 year old Aunt Sallie Bea. I also got some Alabama red dirt, that in the following week I took to Pennsylvania to place on my Parents grave. They were born and raised in Midway, Alabama, they might have been part of the Great Migration and left Alabama but Alabama never left them. 

As the sun was going down, I'm leaving town. I hated to leave. There will be another time. I started reflecting, I felt a inner peace like no other, like the Ancestors where riding with me. I started to see their faces in everything driving down that highway. What Sun was left on the horizon blaring in my eyes, I felt like my "People" where smiling on me from above.

A song came on my Sirrius radio called "Secret Place": by Jai Reed and Bishop Love that was right on time and appropriate for my Documentary it was just what I needed to make it complete. 

I just let the tears fall from joy....

It was an Honor.

I am grateful for Susan. She helped me with my vision and saw what I was thinking and helped me bring it to fruition. She guided me with grace and patience, allowed for me to learn and make mistakes. She encouraged me to  go with my instincts. You can see a 4min excerpt at her website undering Samples, called Honoring Ike.You can let Susan help you also to leave your family a heirloom as a gift at

Finished Work on my Documentary can be found at: Granddaddy Ike to True's Story!


  1. Very Nice....I can identify with what you have said. I have visited the court house on numerous occasions. Met Dean there and have visited him at his home library. Where in Pennsylvania are your parents buried?...Emily

  2. Thank You Emily. My Parents are buried in Harrisburg, PA. They are on the 1920 and 1930 and 1940 census's from Midway, Alabama.

    1. This was a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing with us. I know what you mean regarding walking the places our ancestors once walked and breathing the same air. There is nothing quite like it for the soul.

  3. I have to echo what Andrea said, beautiful post!

    1. Thanks Andrea and Kristin.......I love when people are able to go back to their Ancestral Homes. That was just my story.

  4. Sounds like you had great fun and wonderful luck researching in the court house. How exciting for you.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)