I have come to realize that we are on the ancestors’ time. Therefore, when we embark on a genealogy journey to trace our family histories, we must have patience. We also must never give up. Everything that we want to know will not be found within the time frame that we imagine. If we get easily frustrated and decide that we don’t want to be bothered with genealogy research anymore, then whatever was meant to be found will remain buried. I truly believe that our ancestors want their stories told. At the same time, I feel that they ascertain the perfect time when to drop a major clue out of the blue.
I moved to the Washington, D.C. area in April 2013. Now, I honestly believe that my ancestors were waiting for that move to happen. They had a lot of things in store for me, and being in the D.C. area would be perfect. I needed to be here to also attend the 2015 Earley-Jenkins Family Reunion in Alexandria, Virginia. On the day I moved to the D.C. area, hearing “The Earley-Jenkins Family Reunion” would have meant nothing to me. I was clueless about my connection to this North Carolina family. Two months later, on June 18, 2013, the ancestors obviously stated, “It’s time!” A major clue was revealed. That major clue enabled me to break down one of my brick walls and learn more about my father’s great-grandfather John “Jack” Bass’ family, especially the plight of Jack’s mother, Beady Bass. Previous blog posts disclose the Bass discoveries in greater detail.
However, allow me to summarize in a nutshell. In or around 1849, my great-great-great-grandmother Beady Bass, her children, two brothers, their mother Rose, and possibly her very elderly grandmother Peggy were taken to Hinds County, Mississippi. Persistent research finally revealed that she had a younger sister named Brittie Ann Bass. Aunt Brittie Ann remained in North Carolina because their former enslaver, Council Bass, had bequeathed her in 1830 to one of his three married daughters named Charlotte Holloman; she stayed in North Carolina with her husband, while her two sisters migrated to Hinds County, Mississippi and Madison County, Tennessee with their husbands. Those sisters took nearly all of Aunt Brittie Ann’s siblings away from North Carolina. Sadly, Grandma Beady and Aunt Brittie Ann never saw each other anymore. She subsequently “jumped the broom” with a man named Langley Earley, and they had a large family who lived near Ahoskie in Hertford County, North Carolina after slavery. Aunt Brittie Ann died in 1914. Her death certificate reported that she was “about 100,” and she was definitely in her mid to late 90s when she died.
Shortly after discovering the whereabouts of Aunt Brittie Ann, I was fortunate to find a family tree on ancestry.com that contained one of her sons, Goodman Earley, the same son who was the informant of her 1914 death certificate. Andre Early of New York had uploaded his family tree there. Goodman was Andre’s great-grandfather, and Aunt Brittie Ann was his great-great-grandmother. Soon after making contact with Andre, he invited me to the Earley-Jenkins Family Reunion, a reunion of Aunt Brittie Ann’s descendants! He was the 2015 reunion organizer, and it was slated to be held right here in the D.C. area, practically in my back yard, in Alexandria, Virginia.
On this past Saturday, while I gazed into the eyes of Aunt Brittie Ann’s descendants, I was in disbelief. All of this happened within a short time frame – from uncovering Grandma Beady Bass’ family and her permanent separation from family members in 2013, to meeting the descendants of one of her long lost sisters in person in 2015! The ancestors were with me as I relayed this unknown history to the family. Mouths dropped while I gave my presentation. Everything seemed so surreal. I had purposely refrained from telling family members how I was related when I was asked before my presentation. I simply stated, “If I tell you now, it may be hard for you to believe, so let’s wait until I give my presentation.” Many understood why I stated that. They never imagined that my connection to the family would be in this manner. I was lovingly embraced, and I felt that North Carolina hospitality. Grandma Beady and Aunt Brittie Ann were happy. They had been reunited.
Here are some pictures from the family reunion:
Andre Early and me
Descendants of Goodman Earley (Brittie Ann’s son)
Descendants of Rev. D. Westley Earley (Brittie Ann’s son)
Naomi Murrell-Bunch of Ahoskie, N.C. delivering the Earley-Jenkins Family Reunion History. She is a great-granddaughter of Aunt Brittie Ann’s son, Rev. D. Westley Earley. Cousin Naomi told me that her grandmother talked about Brittie Ann a lot!
Cousin Naomi Murrell-Bunch
Look at that beautiful cake!
With Alice Medford, another descendant of Rev. D. Westley Earley
The Earley-Jenkins Family knows how to dance!
With Cousin Dana Early-Jeune, who wrote on her Facebook page, “Connecting the dots w/ a family member. Sisters separated because of slavery & never knew what happened to each other once the slave owner died & left slaves to his kids. One went to Mississippi & the other one stayed in NC. WOW!!”