Friday, February 24, 2017

Law and Order of a Matriarch

Have you ever been in a courtroom with a judge that delivers his/ her verdict with a resounding bang on the desk with a gavel? That’s how I think of my great aunt, Marilyn Cheatham-Darby. Not only was she the matriarch of my family, but she was also a counselor, advisor, comedian, and Get-The-Job done person. She definitely took care of business. As a child, every summer was spent in California with Auntie and her family. We would have so much fun laughing, going places, and just enjoying family. Auntie Marilyn was like the family switchboard lady at the telephone company. She had every family member’s number and kept in contact with them. She also introduced us to relatives that we had not known.
She was definitely the glue that held our family together.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Conundrum of Edwin Johnson

According to Winston dictionary, a conundrum is a riddle or puzzle.

My paternal family has always had questions about our ancestor Edwin Johnson. Now, Edwin is the elusive father of my grandfather, Charles Johnson. You see grandpa didn’t have fond memories of his father because Edwin fled from Kinloch, Missouri when my grandpa was just ten years old in 1925 or around that time. Victoria, Edwin’s wife, was left to raise five children by herself.
Edwin Johnson was born between 1877 and 1879, according to census records. He married Victoria Leonard in Ashley County, Arkansas on December 23, 1914. In 1915 their first son Charles was born and in 1918 their first daughter Eddie Mae was born.
In 1918 in Arkansas the Elaine Race Riots were going on. This was a very violent event with hundreds of blacks being killed. It could During this time, Edwin and his pregnant wife move the family to El Centro, California. It could be a possibility that Edwin and his family fled from Arkansas because of these race riots It was in El Centro, CA that Victoria gave birth to Lloyd in 1920.
The Johnson family did not stay long in California because by 1921 they were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. According to the city directory , Edwin and his family lived at 109 North Maybell Avenue. Victoria was a stenographer and Edwin was a barber.  My grandfather, Charles, remembers there being an earthquake that split the sidewalk in Tulsa. In 1921, Victoria gave birth to another son, Jules. Unfortunately, in 1921 in Tulsa there were race riots, so maybe Edwin and Victoria moved their family back to California for safety. In 1922 in Blythe, CA, their fourth son, Abraham was born.
 A year after the move to California, Edwin and Victoria moved the family to Kinloch, Missouri. In Kinloch, Victoria had another daughter named Sallie in 1924.  A year later, Victoria and Edwin divorced. After the divorce, Edwin left his family in Kinloch, MO and went to an unknown location. Here is where the mystery of Edwin gets interesting.
There are three stories circulating in the family as to why Edwin fled Kinloch, MO:
#1- Edwin got into a bar fight and thought he killed a white man. So he ran.
#2- Edwin and two other guys from Kinloch made a deal that they were going to leave their families and start a business in another state. Well, the other two guys backed out of the deal at the last minute, leaving Edwin. I guess he was pretty determined to leave because HE DID.
#3- Edwin got into an argument with another man over a woman. He got his pistol and shot the man in anger. Then he ran.
All three stories bring up the question: Where did he run to?
Some family members think he might have gone back home to Arkansas and others think San Francisco or Imperial, California.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Struggling to Win

When you think of fighting to survive, you may think of struggling, persevering or striving for a better life. This is why we celebrate Black History Month. In remembrance of all the African Americans who have fought throughout their lifetimes to overcome the obstacles placed in their way. Not just overcoming, but breaking down racial walls, injustices, and inequality. Being the victor and not the victim. Living a life well deserved and thriving no matter what the circumstances were. Yes, this is our history and we proudly honor those that have gone before us and are still living.