Monday, May 10, 2010

CARNIVAL of AFRICAN AMERICAN GENEALOGY: HE SERVED WITH HONOR!

As a child I grew up with this picture of my Grandfather Robert L Smith sitting on my Mom's China Cabinet.
I always knew that my Grandfather served in World War II, but never knew exactly what that service was.

 I can imagine him leaving his hometown in Brookhaven, MS going North for a better life and ending up in Chicago.

Then there was a call for men to join the Service and serve their country. Most men were drafted but my Grandfather enlisted.

U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 about Robert L Smith:

Name: Robert L Smith

Birth Year: 1906

Race: Negro, citizen (Black)

Nativity State or Country: Mississippi

State of Residence: Illinois

County or City: Cook

Enlistment Date: 8 Apr 1942

Enlistment State: Illinois

Enlistment City: Chicago

Branch: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA

Branch Code: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA

Grade: Private

Grade Code: Private

Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law

Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)

Source: Civil Life

Education: Grammar school

Marital Status: Separated, without dependents

Height: 72

Weight: 165

According to his enlistment record he was seperated, but not from my Grandmother. His wife's name was Esther(which happens to be my Mom's middle name). I can see him joining to serve his country and looking toward the future.

Talking to Mom she told me that my Grandfather fought overseas and did see some kind of action. In fact she said he had seen one of his good friends killed. She said it messed him up really bad. I set out to see what his service was and why it had such an impact on my Grandfather. I know War is bad on any Human Being, but I needed to know exactly what my Grandfather did.

First I applied for his DD214(report of seperation), but of course his Army Records were burned in the fire at the Archives.

I was able to obtain his final pay record. At first everything was so foreign to me. I called my brother(who is in the Army) to try to help me make since of the record. He couldn't. In fact he told my Sister-in-law that I was yelling at him because he could not help me. I did not.

Just so happen that when I was waiting on my son to pick me up from Union Station from my trip to Savannah, I met a really nice man which happens to be an Veteran Advocate. I told him what I knew and what I had tried to do. He gave me his email address and told me to email him the Final Payment Record and he will see what he can do.

He was able to determine that my Grandfather was processed out at the Old Camp Grant, IL post on 10 Nov 1945. He was last in ARS staging detachment(APO 980). His actual date of transfer was 21 Oct 1945 and his Service no#36 399 247.

As you can see from his enlistment record he went in as a Private and came out as a Corporal.

I am still trying to get his actual service record and currently working on a FOIA Letter.

No matter what my Grandfather actually did, I am so Proud to know that my Grandfather fought to defend his country to make it more safe for You and I.

Although our African American Men were not given the recognition that they deserved for their Service and the sacrifices that they made to help keep this Country safe. I will always remember their efforts.

I just want to say Thank You and you're service will never be forgotten.


Source cited: Beverly E Smith-Mathis, United States Archives, John Weiss, and Ancestry.com

Saturday, May 1, 2010

SURNAME SATURDAY: CLOSING IN ON THE MATHIS/MATTHEWS MYSTERY!!

Earlier this week I recieved a call from a Mathis Cousin.

We were talking and shooting the breeze when she mentioned that my Uncle was turining 86 and my Aunt was having a Fish Fry for his 86th Birthday. (Catfish no Doubt)

I told her to call me when she get there because I have some questions about Family History for my Uncle.

She then said "Yeah, because I need to know about this Mathis/Matthews thing, I seen the Marriage Certificate".

Wow!! I was Blown Away, I never knew she even read my Blog and for to be concerned about the last name just blew my mind.

The night of the Fish Fry I recieved no phone call (Cousin's phone was dead), but nethertheless there was a lot of talking about Family History going on without me.

From what my Cousin told me when she brung up the subject of Genealogy and the Marriage Certificate the whole room was silent and she relayed some very interesting information:

Looks like there is a picture floating around of my Great Grandmother Alice Casey Matthews. My Uncle says he gave the picture to my Aunt to make a copy and she lost it. My Aunt says she just can't find it! LOL

My Uncle was able to name all of his Matthews Aunts and one Uncle, but did not mention of any children that they might of had.

My Uncle also said that Virgle Matthews Jr. was the one that used the Mathis name, as a matter of fact he used both. I'm thinking since Virgle was my Grandmother's older brother and he used that name maybe she just changed her name to Mathis. From what my cousin said "Grandmuh used to always talk about her brother Virgle, with Glee in her eyes. (My cousin said at that point someone was a little tipsy and was stating how they have been a Mathis all of their lives and did not want to change their name to Matthews)

But where did Mathis come from? Was it a name that Vigle was familiar with or was it a misspelling of Matthews? One thing is for sure that Virgle is the one that introduced the Mathis Surname and I have to find out WHY?

Since my Uncle is getting on up in age I need to get some oral history.

My Aunt is planning a big party for her birthday at the end of this month. Spoke to Mom and she is on for a road trip. See no matter what I find out she listens to me and is getting more interested day by day.  She is excited as I am.

I now need to go call my Aunt letting her know that Mom and I will be at her Birthday Party and make room. I will be keeping everyone posted . Plenty of Tweets throughout the trip and lots of questions for my Genea-Fam on what kind of questions to ask my Uncle and a whole lot more.

Until Next Time Fam!!


Source Cited: Dionne Mechelle Mathis Akerson