The results of researching my family history have been very rewarding to me in many ways and I am pleased that I decided to start my genealogical research in the early 1990s. To be honest about the matter, I have been pleasantly surprised about the results of my research and I encourage anyone who is considering learning more about their family history to take that first step and get started. I think in most cases, similar results will be realized.
Although more and more records are becoming available for research each year especially with the aid of the Internet, many sources of information are also lost forever each year as family members and others with knowledge of our past pass away. I know for sure that has been the case with me. I often think of how my chances of getting answers to genealogical questions that have been stumping me for years would increased if only I could talk with "Big Mama," Cousin Theodore, Uncle Haywood, Aunt Mary and others.
Image: Gordon L. Redd, Sr., Mable L. Redd and Willie L. Robinson
July 6, 2004 Hattiesburg, Mississippi
I am very thankful for the assistance I have received from many sources that have been available to me. From time to time, I am able to fill in a pieces of the puzzle with information I received many years before the questions presented themselves. Family photos that we may have seen since early childhood tell stories that are often significant to our existence but we need the help of knowledgeable individuals, usually senior family members, to explain things to us.
In preparing for doing my research, I had an opportunity to take a genealogy class at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee. The class was taught by Ms. Shirley Wilson, whom I consider to be an excellent genealogist. I learned a lot from her class. I was the only African-American of the ten participants in the class. The other nine members of that class were Caucasian as I recall. I clearly remember Ms. Wilson's suggestion to the class to consider members of both races as a sources of information when doing research. I have found much value in what Ms. Wilson suggested in that respect.
My Robinson family has roots in rural Lincoln County, Mississippi. In fact, I was born in that county and my ancestors are found in the 1870 census as residents of the newly formed county. I have been fortunate to learn much about my family's history and roots in the area because of the assistance of others including members of Caucasian families who were acquainted with some of my ancestors and other relatives.
Members of the Redd family, a Caucasian family, were neighbors and had a close and long relationship with members of my Robinson family. It is because of the knowledge and generosity of members of the Redd family that I learned things about my family that I may not have known otherwise. It was from the late Rembert Morris Redd that I learned much about his paternal great-grandfather, Constantine Montgomery. Rembert showed me the home where his great-grandfather lived until his death in 1919. I was told the house dated back to the 1700s. I learned a lot from Rembert. I feel certain that had I consulted him as a source for information earlier, I would have learned much more about my family from him.
Rembert told me stories about his family and showed me pictures of his great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Arcada Elizabeth Moak Montgomery. He also showed me the family cemetery located near the house. Rembert mentioned several times that he believed some of my ancestors and other family members were also buried in the cemetery in some of the unmarked graves. He had his reasons for making that statement. Whenever I traveled from Tennessee to the part of rural Lincoln County where Rembert lived, I tried to make arrangements to visit with him after learning how helpful to my research he could be. I especially appreciate the time he spent with me and the information he provided.
As time passed, I learned more about Mr. Montgomery and his connection to my Robinson family. In closing, I wish to share, A Black Mississippi Family and Constantine Montgomery.
Willie L. Robinson
December 4, 2005
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