Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Superstitions and Traditions

The week before January 1st, my mother always calls to tell me not to do laundry on New Year’s Day.  In fact she calls EVERY day to remind me and is really adamant about it.  I have never, not once asked her why, I just don't do laundry that day.  Here we are 29 years later and I'm just now asking why.  She told me why she does it and we started talking about her other New Year's Day superstitions.  She said she's been doing them since her grandmother showed her.  

My mother has been superstitious all her life.  She and my grandmothers practiced good luck traditions and superstitions.  They threw spilled salt over their left shoulder, didn't walk under ladders or split poles.  That last one always cracks me up because my mother has made it her mission in life to not split a pole with anyone.   Can you imagine a professional woman telling her peers not to split the pole?  Well I can because my mother did it all the time.  She would make us turn around and go back if we split the pole.  She would even pull on our shirts if she caught it in time. 
Here are her New Year’s Eve/Day superstitions and traditions.

New Year's Eve

     Midnight Kiss:  A kiss at midnight means a year of closeness and affection.

     Resolutions:  A promise to do something to make the New Year better.

New Year's Day

     Food:  Eating black-eyed peas and greens.  Her grandmother use to cook black-eyed peas and greens.  Eating them brings good luck and financial prosperity.  The peas represent good luck and the greens represent money.

     Laundry:  Do not do laundry on New Year's Day.  A member of the family could be washed away (meaning you cause a death) in the upcoming months.  She told me the story of her brother doing laundry on New Year's Day, which caused a panic in the family.  Their grandmother told him, "Now boy you know we don't do laundry on New Year's Day".  The following February, her grandfather passed away.  This is one thing that she will not budge on.  Hearing her story, I get it.

     First Footer:  The first person to enter your home has to be a man.  He has to knock and be let in even if he lives in the house.  A woman entering first brings bad luck.

Here are a few other superstitions that my mom and I have talked and laughed about over the years.

  • never walk under a ladder
  • itchy palm means money is coming in
  • baby's hair should not be cut before his first birthday
  • don't put your purse on the floor or you'll stay broke (I made this mistake once, everyone yelled so loud I jumped)
  • never buy your boyfriend shoes because he'll walk out of your life in them (my friend Elaina told me this one too after my ex-boyfriend bought me a really nice pair of heels, maybe she should have told him).
  •  Pregnant women carry girls high and boys low (I carried high.  Everyone said I was having a girl, they were wrong).
  • Splitting the pole brings bad luck 

My cousin Clarise says she cooks black-eyed peas and cabbage and has a man enter first.  Our friend Eboni says her mother always cooks beans on New Year's Day.  So I guess it's not just my mother!  I don’t know if I believe that what I do or say on January 1st will affect the rest of my year but I don’t see any harm is passing along the good luck superstitions/traditions.  

                                                               Happy New Year!

                                                                           Stevie Wonder ~ Superstition
                                                                                       (lozzagermain, 2009)

Every time I hear this song it reminds me of my mother.  He probably wrote it with her or someone like her in mind.

lozzagermain (2009, June 27). Stevie Wonder - Superstition. Retrieved December 31, 2013 from  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CFuCYNx-1g

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Just another Brick in the Wall

                                                                                     "Everything you need is already inside you" ~Bill Bowerman

Hitting a brick wall is not fun; in fact it can be extremely frustrating.  I hit a brick wall while searching for information on my paternal 3X great grandfather Robert Moses Hafford.  I could not locate anything on him before 1864.  I reached out to my genealogy group for help.  Help arrived in the form of Marlive Taylor-Harris, who spent an hour of her time pulling my head out the dark by answering my questions on research techniques.  I was able to see the light and understand what she meant when she said the information was inside of me.  Thanks to her tips, I was able to find the name of the owner of the farm (John Caldwell) that Robert worked as a sharecropper.  

It was during that search, when more good fortune fell into my lap in the form of Luckie Daniels's post in AAGSAR (African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research Facebook group).  She found information on her ancestors in the probate records on FamilySearch (something I didn't know).  I started searching in those records, during a break, I found myself in the Monroe County Death Index (RootsWeb).   I never would have found that database if it wasn't for Luckie.  In the index database, I found Robert’s information as well as his wives Anna and Alice.  Also listed in that index, was a woman named Sally Hafford.   I didn't know who she was or if she was related to Robert.  I started searching her name to see what I could find.  

Google search came back with an article titled, "Looking Back Hafford was the oldest woman in  the U.S." written by Rose Mcllveen in the Heraldtimesonline.com on July 29, 1989 (subscription needed to access the article).   After reading this article, I found that Sallie Hafford was the mother of Robert.  Sallie was born (1787-1800) in Richmond, Virginia.  Born into slavery, her first master was either Col. Archer Fletcher or Billie Wilson; her last owner was Col. George Hafford.   Sallie gave birth to 17 or 19 children and was sold seven times in her lifetime.  Her life as a slave was not easy; she said she suffered many hardships and abuse (Mcllveen, 1989).  A promise to her dying master put Sallie in charge of his large plantation in the years his son was growing up.  She stayed on even after the slaves were freed (honoring her promise to her late master).  He promised her five acres of land, a horse and a cow as a thank you/reward.  When the son she nurtured became of age, he sold her possessions and kept the money (Hine & Gaspar, 1996).  She left after that incident and went to live with her daughter in Bloomington, Indiana.  Sallie was either 116 or 124 years old at the time of her death in 1912.  Her obituary listed two children living in Bloomington, Josephine Wilson and Moses Hafford (1989).  The first census that I have shows a Moses Hafford living on West Seventh Street in Bloomingon, Indiana.  The Sallie in that article is my 4X great grandmother, the mother of Robert Moses Hafford.  She took the name Hafford from her last master, Col Hafford (1996).

Words cannot describe how happy I was when I found Sallie.  Thanks to her obituary, I now have the names of three of her slave owners which will help me search probate records and wills.  If it wasn't for the shared information in the AAGSAR group, I don't know if I would have found Sallie so quickly.  What I thought was just another brick in my wall, turned out not to be one.  It is just as Luckie once stated, "it is only a brick wall if you quit".  I may get frustrated when my search seems to hit a wall, but I will not quit.  Sallie Hafford, you are no longer forgotten.   One less brick in my wall!  I am working on the descendants of Sallie, below is just a snippet of what I have so far.
                                                                                        Sallie (Sally) Hafford Descendants 
1840-1848 ~ Sallie gave birth to Robert Moses Hafford (Mulatto) in Warren County, Kentucky
1870 ~ Robert Moses Hafford is married to Alice (1854-1885). They have three children Josephine (1871), Ada (1875), Robert (1878) and George (1879)
1890 ~ Robert marries Anna Walker (1849-1922)
1900 ~ Josephine, divorced (from George Barnes) and living with her parents. She and George had seven children only three were living, Robert (1890), Ethel (1895) and Ada (1896)
1904~ Ethel Barnes was married to Felix Parker and had given birth to my grandmother Edna Parker 

Here are a few of the articles that I found on my paternal 4X great grandmother Sallie Hafford.

                         Americana: Volume 7, Part 1, Page 329

Indiana Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania), page 17
          The Indianapolis Star(Indianapolis, Indiana)                          19 February 1912 Page 4                                                  

This post will update when more information on Sallie Hafford is discovered.

"Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history" ~Carter G. Woodson

Negress Saw Washington. (1912). Americana: Volume 7, Part 1. The National Americana Society. Retrieved from https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=4WUKAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&authuser=0&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA329

Hine, D., & Gaspar, D. B. (1996). More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=td2yIa7X6H4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=more+than+chattel&hl=en&sa=X&ei=T120Uu6pCsbeyAGlnoHQBA&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=more%20than%20chattel&f=false

Mcllveen, Rose. (1989). Looking Back Hafford was known as oldest woman in U.S. HeraldTimesOnline.com 1989. Retrieved from http://ww.heraldtimesonline.com//stories/1989/07/29/archive.19890729.2404b22.sto?code=92a3271a-68f4-11e3-b746-10604b9fc222

Negress Dies, Aged 124. (1912, February 21). The Indiana Gazette (Indiana, Pennsylvania), page 17.  Retreived from http://www.newspapers.com/image/#14356677 

Former Slave Dies At Age Of 116 (19 February 1912). The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Indiana), page 4. Retrieved from http://www.newspapers.com/clip/228696//