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Historical Marker for Rev. Pharaoh H. Benson

At its meeting in October 2016, the Tennessee Historical Commission approved 4 new historical markers for the state. One of the newest additions was a marker for Reverend Pharaoh H. Benson.  Rev. Benson (1841-1905), was a former slave who was the founding pastor of Mt. Nebo Baptist Church.  He was ordained by Rev. Nelson G. Merry.

Yesterday, I went to Mt. Nebo, located at the corner of Clifton Avenue and 26th Ave N, to take a picture of the marker.

I also did a little research on the family. Pharaoh and his wife Ellen would have at least 12 children, of which only 4 were alive by the time of the 1900 census.  Their daughter Jane married William Henry Fort Sr. and their son, William H. Fort Jr., has a scrapbook of his time at Fisk university that has been digitized by the Tennessee State Libary & Archives.

Many thanks to all those involved who helped make this historical marker possible.  It is a great testament to continuing the quest to preserve African-American history here in Nashville.  If you are interested in keeping up with the work of the Historical Commission, you can learn more about them on their website where you can also sign-up for their periodic newsletter.

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A Day of Discovery

Yesterday, the LDS Family History Center in Franklin, TN hosted a wonderful day of genealogy presentations as part of their Family Discovery Day Event!

Franklin Family History Center

The day began with a welcome and introduction by Murray Johns, a member of the Franklin TN stake presidency.  After his introduction, the day was divided into 3 segments, each offering multiple tracks of genealogy & family history instruction and education.

Murray Johns welcomes participants

Example topics included – understanding why Mormons do genealogy research, using DNA for understanding ethnic origins, leveraging deed books & non-population schedules, getting started on FamilySearch.org and using Family Search Family Tree, breaking brick walls & military research for African American genealogy, writing your personal and family history story, using cemetery and grave records for research, and more!

a sampling of the day’s activities

Representatives from local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution, Williamson County African American Heritage Society, Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society, and the Friends of Tennessee State Library & Archives, were also available to provide information.  AAHGS Nashville also represented and shared information about our organization too.

Our chapter president, Chajuan, begins the process of transferring her family tree into FamilySearch Family Tree
AAHGS member Taneya with Tina Jones of the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County

The Family History Center plans to conduct another Family Discovery Day next year, so keep an eye out for future announcements.  We also include regional happenings on our Calendar, so be sure to check that list from time to time for upcoming events.

Many thanks to the Franklin Family History Center for a wonderful day of learning and education!

Meeting Recap: Music History & Genealogy of Jefferson Street

Many thanks to our guest speaker yesterday, Mr. Lorenzo Washington of Jefferson Street Sound, for a wonderful presentation about the history of music along Nashville own’s Jefferson Street.

Mr. Washington has long been a part of the music scene on Jefferson Street and during the meeting yesterday shared his reasons for establishing the “Mini Museum” at Jefferson Street Sound at 2004 Jefferson Street. The goal is to preserve the musical legacy of Jefferson Street and in this endeavor, Mr. Washington documents and shares information about the many clubs that used to reside on the street.

Of particular note, Mr. Washington created this genealogy tree to showcase the interrelationships of the music clubs. The two side branches, representing Maceo’s Club and New Era Club – both of which were located off the main Jefferson St. corridor. Then, along the trunk of the tree are the others which were on Jefferson proper – Prices, Club Baron, Black Diamond Club, Club Stealaway, Good Jelly Jones’ place, Fisk (for the Jubilee Singers), Fireside Club, Brown’s Diner Club, Del Morocco Club, and Tennesse A&I (for the many musicians that came from the school).  Along the trunk, specific locations are mapped too, and the leaves of each branch highlight some of the many names associated with each location.

We learned so many insights! For example, the first Jefferson Street musician to have a hit single across the country was Gene Allison with “You Can Make It If You Try.”

I have not visited the museum, but will definitely make plans to do so now. I recommend you do so too – you will be in for a treat.  Thank you Mr. Washington for the work you are doing to preserve this segment of Nashville African American history!

 

April 1st Meeting: Music History & Genealogy of Jefferson Street

The city of Nashville has a long-established and well-known history of music. The musical underpinnings of the city reflect a rich and multi-layered tapestry of sound, to which our guest speaker, Lorenzo Washington, is no stranger. As the owner of Jefferson Street Sound & Museum, Mr. Washington is highly dedicated to preserving the internationally-known musical legacy of Jefferson Street – a mecca of the Nashville jazz, blues, and R&B music scene from the 1930s-1970s.

Join the Nashville chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society in the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library for our April 1st monthly meeting at 9:30 am as we hear Mr. Washington share with us his passion and drive to preserve the musical history of Jefferson Street. For those with a genealogy interests, come learn about a different type of genealogy as Mr. Washington details the musical “tree of life” and interconnections of the Jefferson Street music scene.

After the meeting, we welcome you to ask questions about your own family history, or spend time at the library doing research; AAHGS members and a collection of genealogy books will be available to aid you. Please RSVP to let us know you are coming. The meeting is free and open to the public. We look forward to seeing you there!

Meeting Recap: Filling Gaps in the Story

At our March monthly meeting, guest speaker Betsy Phillips, local author, and columnist for the Nashville Scene, shared with us her tips and strategies for researching various aspects of history related to Nashville.

Tips that she shared included ways to assess the composition of the enslaved in antebellum homes and plantations, the importance of visiting physical locations whenever possible, and being sure to remember historical context when analyzing and evaluating information that you’ve found.

Bud Rogan newspaper death notice, 1905

In a timely example, she also described her search for Bud Rogan – an over 8-foot tall giant from Gallatin, TN. Betsy’s search and process were illuminating and insightful as she took us through her own journey to learn more about Bud.

In today’s Nashville Scene, you can read more about Betsy’s quest – we are lucky to have had an early sneak peak!

We Want to Hear From You!

Hello Members & Friends!

checklist-1643784_640AAHGS Nashville is conducting a survey and we would love to feedback from our members and friends! We are eager to hear from you and will use the information you share to shape our programs and services. The survey takes about 5 minutes.

As a thank you, we have a special incentive.  If you answer each question and submit your responses by March 31st, you will be entered into a special drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card! The winner will be announced at our April 4th Quarterly Meeting.

Click on the button below to get started!

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Finding and Filling the Holes in the Story – Guest Speaker: Betsy Phillips

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The history of African Americans in Nashville and it’s surrounding area is both rich and complicated – but there are many stories awaiting discovery for us all. Local author and Nashville Scene columnist,Betsy Phillips, has spent many hours in relentless pursuit of this history and finding and filling gaps in these stories.

Over the years, Betsy has written about many individuals, places, and events related to African Americans in Nashville – including local businessman and civil rights leader James Carroll Napier, the old historically black school Roger Williams University, and recently, the history of Fred Douglas Park in East Nashville.

We invite you to join us on Saturday, March 4th at 9:30am at the Nashville Public Library to hear Betsy’s work and learn about the research strategies and sources she uses – you may find that you can use some of them for your own research! As we explore our African-American family connections it is important we all stay on top of techniques that can help us learn more about our ancestors and the environments and events that helped shape their lives.


After the meeting, we welcome you to spend time working on your own family history research; books will be available to aid you. If you are able to join us, please register to let us know you’re coming. The meeting is free and open to the public and we look forward to seeing you there!