Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Where Was Your Family in 1908?

Lisa, who has the energy to write several interesting blogs, posed the question, "Where was your family in 1908?" on, appropriately enough, her 100 Years in America blog.

A century ago, neither of my paternal grandparents had been born yet, although one, my grandmother Jessie Beatrice Bowie, was just a year away. Her parents, my great-grandparents, Hattie Bryant and Elias Bowie, Sr., had recently met and were living in San Antonio, Texas. Hattie's and Elias' parents were also in Texas. Guy Bryant and Maria Martin lived in Rockport, Aransas County, Texas, in 1908. Guy was a butcher. John Wesley Bowie and Amanda McCray made their home in the east Texas town of Longview in Gregg County. They lived at 114 Morgan Street and 63 year old John did "odd jobs."

My other paternal great-grandparents, Otis Manson and Bettie Sanford, lived on a farm near Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. My great-great-grandmother, Matilda Manson, lived near them. Bettie's father, Billie Sanford, a 98 year old former slave, was still alive, also in Milam County. Billie would live to be 106 years old.

My maternal grandfather, Eddie Gines, was 10 years old and lived with his parents, Richard William Gines and Sylvia LeJay, at 1540 Ashton Street, Shreveport, Louisiana. Great-grandpa Dick was a fireman at Shreveport's electric powerhouse. I know nothing of Dick's parents. Sylvia's parents were Lewis LeJay and Syntrilla Brayboy. By 1908, Lewis had probably passed away. Syntrilla, however, still lived in De Soto Parish, Louisiana, not far from where she had been held in slavery.

My maternal grandmother, Annie Florida Corrine Long, was six years old and lived with her parents, James William Long and Mary Elizabeth Johnson. Their house was at 2711 Wyoming Street, on the west side of Kansas City, Missouri. Great-grandpa James was a Baptist preacher and in 1908 was the pastor at Kansas City's Sunrise Baptist Church. His parents, Richard and Pauline Long, were deceased. My great-great-grandfather, Zeke Johnson, was still alive and well in Kansas City. My great-great-grandmother, Sarah Gilbert, may have been alive in 1908, but this is not certain. Zeke's father, Dan Carpenter, was alive at age 83, in Clay County, Missouri, just north of Kansas City. He died at age 95. There is some evidence that Zeke's mother, Harriet Mitchell, was alive and living in Johnson County, Kansas, but this is not certain. She would be about 83 years old as well.

In 1908, none of these ancestors could have foreseen me and life as it is today.


Lisa said...

I'm so glad to see that you took the time to look back at 1908 along with me, Craig. It was interesting to read about your family in that year, particularly your mentions of those that were formerly held in slavery.

I find it incomprehensible to fully imagine the world that they lived in. Looking back 100 years, I'm sure that they faced many challenges and much suffering at the hands of the prevailing cultural attitudes. It makes me wonder how much you've learned about your family before 1908 and if you have made it back as far as 200 years ago - 1808 - when slavery was fully imbedded into the society.

I look forward to reading more about your family's fascinating journey.

Craig Manson said...


This was a great topic and I enjoyed reading yours and others on it. Because the year 1808 has some legal significance in the history of American slavery, I will write about that soon.