Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sorting Saturday--emails, timber companies, deeds and the AMEZ

I don't know about you, but when I'm on the search for information, I set out a barrage of investigations from every source I can think possible. I start out with the facts at hand and then email as many of my research contacts to see if they have anything that might answer the question at hand.

While I'm waiting for responses, I plunge into my own investigation of online sources, as I did with this bit of collateral research on timber companies and the formation of Piney Grove AME Zion in North Harolwe, Craven, NC. Recently I noticed that my pile of emails, reprints of online books and articles was piling up. So, the sorting began.

Actually, I started out with one topic: lumber companies in North Harlowe, Craven, NC at the turn of the 20th century, and ended up having to group my materials into four catagories: Timber, Church, Family & Farming. As the emails were sorted by category and then again by date, new patterns began to emerge which led to more serious reading.

The History of Piney Grove African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church: 1864-1992, by Eilatan, notes that the arrival of Rev. James Walker Hood to New Bern in 1864 led up to the the organization of our ancestral church's establishment in 1865. The church's first structure was built on land purchased from Mr. John George. The original church building was destroyed by fire somewhere between 1911-1913, and on "February 14, 1914, the trustees of Piney Grove Church. . . purchased and secured from the Tolson Lumber Manufacturing Company, certain properties totaling $444.21."

That led me further into my timber companies research. I was already aware of the J.B. Blades, John L. Roper,  Neuse, and Munger & Bennett Lumber Companies, and now Tolson was added to the list of operations in North Harlowe. Even now, after the preliminary sorting of emails, I find that the one from Craven County Register of Deeds concerning Tolson Lumber was misfiled into the "Family" section, rather than the "Timber" or "Church" sections.

It seems that Tolson Lumber, according to Michelle L. Toth, Assistant Register of Deeds, Craven County, NC, "was in bankruptcy proceedings around this time because I can find other parcels ordered to sell. . . You may be able to find something filed with the court around this time if they were in bankruptcy. . . ." 

While I waited to hear from the Register of Deeds, I began reading about Rev. James Walker Hood. I started with UNC's University Library's Documenting the American South Collection; then, a short biography in the African American Registry, and The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. After reading Sandy D. Martin's book, For God and Race, my questions about Rev. Hood as a missionary and pastor in New Bern and Craven County only increased. I noted that Professor Martin had used sources found at Livingstone College and decided to contact them.

An email, which took ten days to receive a response, encouraged me to contact Rev. Armstrong of the Historical Society Office. Unfortunately, they do not hold the old records. . . they are kept at Livingstone College. Rev. Armstrong encouraged me to contact President Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr.; but, when I called, he was in  a meeting, and his secretary told me that Heritage Hall, the archive which housed the documents I desired, was closed for repairs and that the volunteer archivist had left for other employment. She recommended I contact Dr. Gwendolyn Peart, the Library Director, to see if they had any non-archived materials. I am still waiting to receive a response to that email.

In the mean time I caught an early Summer cold, which has zapped the energy right out of me and left me with no desire to read at any length. I find, as I sit down at my computer, that there is still a pile of papers on top of the printer, and another on top of my file box. . . .a deed, some and Facebook message print outs, more emails. . . .

It seems the filed piles are merely replaced by new ones which seem to spring up spontaneously. Perhaps after this head cold clears I will continue to wade through the remaining piles, and create some new ones. New piles = new info. That can only be a good thing . . . unless I can't find what I need when I want it.

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