This post is about family history crossing into American history. Both histories get lost and forgotten over time. I’m certainly more aware of how my history drives my present and my future.
Today I’m posting a snippet from the archives of the Suffolk County Historical Society on Long Island, NY. I stumbled on this a short while ago when researching my husband’s “Smith” ancestry on Long Island. The small world factor was overwhelming to me when I learned of the connection between Henry Highland Garnet, abolitionist, activist and minister, and a distant ancestor of my husband, Epenetus Smith. It was that first name, Epenetus, that jumped off the page at me.
Henry and his family escaped slavery lived in New York City. There Henry was educated at the African Free School. After some time there, slave catchers attempted to capture the family. Henry ended up with Quaker abolitionists who sent him to Long Island to escape. Henry ended up in Smithtown as an indentured servant of Epenetus Smith. Henry worked in the tavern and was tutored by Samuel Smith. The two remained friends for the remained of their lives.
Once the slave catchers had given up, Henry was able to continue his education and grow into a remarkable African American. – PJN
From The Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives:
“Although one of the most well-known African Americans of the nineteenth century, Henry Highland Garnet, sadly, is little remembered today. Even less remembered are his connections to Long Island and Suffolk County. As a young fugitive slave and an outspoken abolitionist, Garnet was given shelter by sympathizers on Long Island for several years. Quakers in Westbury took him in, and later they arranged for him to go farther east and be apprenticed to Epenetus Smith of Smithtown.
Despite his birth into the bondage of slavery, the loss of a limb, and the persistent discrimination and bigotry he faced, Garnet went on to achieve great successes: he was an effective orator and writer, prominent clergyman, educator, and diplomat. He was also one of the first African Americans to be appointed as a U.S. ambassador.
Henry Highland Garnet has the notable distinction of being the first African American to speak at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. On Sunday, February 12, 1865, within days of Congress’s adoption of the 13th Amendment banning slavery, Rev. Garnet delivered a sermon in the Hall of the House of Representatives.”
I had trouble concentrating because our beloved family dog was ill. Rocky was diagnosed just after Thanksgiving with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). This disease is clinically similar to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in people, I was told.
I’m writing this now with tears in my eyes because Rocky passed away quietly in his sleep early this morning.
Rocky was waiting for me at the door last evening but he did not stand up right away. He wagged his tail and lifted his head to tell me hello. When he finally did rise, he let me know he needed to go outside. We did so very carefully because he had trouble walking. We came back inside where he settled into a favorite spot until he needed to go out again. I sat on pillows next to him on the floor as we watched the evening news. Rocky liked to watch TV.
My husband and I took turns going out with Rocky last night and we both knew Rocky would not be with us much longer.
We went to bed with Rocky on the floor at the foot of our bed. He had been sleeping there for the past couple weeks, instead of the living room couch. I had gotten used to waking up during the night to listen to his breathing which had been labored up to that point. At a little past 2am, I awakened to silence. As I rose from the bed to check on him I knew he was gone. I rubbed his back and covered him with a blanket.
I waited for the alarm to go off to tell my husband about Rocky. I spent the hours between 2 and 5 talking to Rocky and thinking about all the things he would be doing now in heaven. I thought, by that time all our other family pets that passed up to heaven must have greeted him.
I spent the rest of today thinking about how much we all loved Rocky and how much he loved us. We will miss him and we do already.
Merry Christmas and may you always have peace and a view from your window.
I’ve spent most of yesterday catching up on emails, cleaning up my office writing area and actually working on a manuscript. I’m working on a piece that is a little different from the picture books I generally write. This one is historical and biographical. Writing about a person’s life is harder than I thought when I began. But once I’m into something, it’s hard for me to drop it. And why would I drop this one? This character has become my friend. I refer to him as my 300-year-old friend. I have questions for him that I ask out loud as if he is going to answer me…Sometimes he does. Continue reading “Catching up.”→
This weekend I was blessed to be included in the reunion of my brother with his biological brother. That’s right, my brother met his brother.
I should have mentioned that my siblings and I are all adopted from different biological families. DNA testing kits made it possible for this event to happen. One of my sisters located her mother a few years ago. I’ve located very general information of my own biological beginnings so I’m still digging. This reunion this past Saturday affirms for me that it can be very satisfying to meet the long-lost relative or family.
This was a very special day!
My picture book, David’s Flamingos was released on May 1, 2018. I’ll be working with my publisher to host a Facebook Live event in September. I’m also working on presentations for school visits. Hopefully this will be a busy few months as we speed towards the end of the year.
The official release date for my picture book, David’s Flamingos. It’s been a journey and I’d do it all again (and again). Multiple revisions, multiple submissions and plenty of hope, prayers, and love, now finally I’m published.
Thanks to my critique groups, publisher (Spork) and the wonderful illustrator, Jeanne Conway. You are my village.
I am very much behind on any marketing that I should be doing but thanks to a very loyal group of colleagues, the day was spent with many verbal reminders and other conversation about the book. All of that has fed my ambition to get something together SOON to get the sales rolling.
I’ll be at the Highlights Foundation for the North East Pennsylvania Pocono Retreat this weekend. I’ll be participating in workshops throughout the weekend but there will be time set aside for book sales. I can’t ask for a friendlier forum for my first direct sales. Wish me luck!
David’s Flamingos is a heartwarming multi-generational story that speaks to the connection and love between grandparents and grandchildren. Jeanne Conway’s illustrations are soft and endearing. She brings the text of Pam Jones-Nill to life from the very first page.
David’s Flamingos – Available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com
I can hardly believe that I’m lucky enough to be here on the fringe of a book launch.
My book launch.
I received my proof copy and cried when I saw my name as author on an actual press printed bound hardcopy book. I first wrote this story three years ago and with the support of my wonderful critique group, multiple revisions and persistence, my manuscript was purchased by Clear Fork Publishing for their Spork imprint.
Special thanks to Jeanne Conway whose illustrations have brought my characters and story to life.
Since its black history month, I’m sharing my DNA results. Not because it only revealed my African ancestry but because it also reveals my non-African ancestry. 500 new cousins also share some versions of my DNA, according to ancestry.com. I connected with some via email. I’m very pleased about that. Afterall, aside from learning where in the world one comes from why would you not want to make connections.
Being adopted, I learned why one would not want to connect. I imagined numerous scenarios about my biological beginnings before I got my DNA results. None of them reflected the actual results of my DNA spit test.
What my DNA results confirmed for me – Why?
Love the color green
Adore to Irish / Gaelic music
Love to hear bagpipes
Crave Corned beef and Cabbage on March 17th
I’ll look forward to more connections but in the meantime, I will reflect on what I’ve learned so far.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. I remembered to purchase cards thatI’ll mail out on Monday. I even send my husband’s in snail mail. I do keep a backup card in case snail mail is too slow. That’s a lesson learned kind of thing…
I’m happy to say that I’ve also remembered the Valentiny Writing Contest that author SUSANNA LEONARD HILL hosts. It’s the 3rd Annual, I’m not sure where I was for the last two – but I’m in now! With Hopeful Heart! – The 3rd Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!!! Here is my contest entry – wish me luck!
Cleo was sitting with her grandmother and her three older sisters in the hospital waiting room.
Their parents were with the doctor in the labor room and odds were that the new arrival was going to be another girl.
The girls chatted and giggled about the new baby girl. “We could play dress up and dolls,” said Stella. “Tea party would be so much fun,” added Julia.
Cleo stared out the window. “Oh how I wish for a baby brother,” Cleo thought. She imagined playing baseball, tag, and fort. Cleo whispered, “If only the baby would be a boy for Daddy and a brother for me.”
The door to the labor room opened and the girls eyes opened wide with anticipation.
The girls gathered around the doctor all asking questions. “Does she have curly hair?”, “Are her cheeks rosy?”, “Are her eyes green like mine?”
The doctor lead everyone to the nursery window. Their father met them there. The sisters all took a spot at the window and a surprised look appeared on their faces, even grandmother.
“I can’t see!” exclaimed Cleo. Her father lifted her up to look through the glass.
“I knew it! I knew it!” shouted Cleo. “Daddy look, we have a boy!”
This year I’m proud to be participating in the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, January 27, 2018. In celebration of that special day, I am posting a review of not one but two beautiful picture books. Check out all the wonderful Multicultural titles available with the links posted below.
Hats of Faith – Written by Medeia Cohan and Illustrated by Sarah Walsh.
Published by Shade 7 Publishing 2017.
In Hats of Faith, Medeia Cohan starts a basic conversation with the youngest of readers about religions and culture.
What parent hasn’t found themselves scrambling to answer that question, “What’s that on her head?” or “Why is that man wearing a hat in the summer?” As any parent knows, kids ask questions all the time – waiting on line in the grocery store, on a bus or simply walking in the park. Hats of Faith is a concept/board book that helps provide a simple platform to discuss, with respect, the varied articles of clothing worn as head coverings and pairs them with their specific religion. That connection helps make the book complete and meaningful. The phonetic pronunciations provide confidence for parents or readers throughout the board book.
Sarah Walsh created beautiful, colorful illustrations that help focus attention on the unique head coverings with simple text that helps open communication and give parents a tool to help answer the most curious children.
Diversity in our world is as necessary as air and water. We need both air and water to survive as much as we need diversity to help us thrive. Hats of Faith helps us start at the beginning to teach diversity and ultimately empathy.
Wash Day – Written by Barbara H. Cole and Illustrated by Ronald Himler.
Published in 2004 by Star Bright Books.
Ms. Cole has captured a world where blacks and whites coexist very naturally. Yes, Miss. Ett, is black and is working for a white family as a washwoman but the commonality of life in this story is that they are all poor and they look out for each other. Wash Day uses parts of our history and finds a warm story to share. Miss Ett goes about her job with care and pride. The Grandpa, of the white family for which Miss Ett is working, shares his love of music with his granddaughter but also Sherman, the grandson of Miss Ett. Even Miss Ett is touched by his music, noting that the work is harder once the music stops because he is not able to play any longer.
Wash day may be just another day of the week…sure; but this story is a warm, reflective, gentle story. Mr. Himler’s beautiful watercolor illustrations are full of joy.
As the daughter of a WWII Veteran, I found the details of the American flags on every grave familiar and comforting. Himler’s soft and muted colors are a fabulous paring to the words of Ms. Cole.
Although it takes place in the Depression-era United States, current events of 2018 make Wash Day a good resource illustrating that caring for the people around you, no matter the color, race, or other physical difference they may have is an important life lesson.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in the home and on school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.