I have enjoyed writing the trilogy of E’ton’s Black Heritage. My sister and I have researched many of these surnames for our Gone But Not Forgotten books, but we didn’t attempt to put together three to five generations when we did those.
I have lived in this small town for three-quarters a century and find each day that I knew little about our black community, the businesses and the many amazing achievements of our inhabitants. Spencer Brewer called me this week to let me know that as our longest-running (maybe walking) mailman that he was familiar with most of the surnames I’ve printed.
He said since he is one of Kentucky’s experts (actually my description) on W. Ky’s Civil War battles and companies he was intrigued with my black Civil War veterans. He did further research on them by using ancestor.com Fold military site. He says he has additional information he can give me at his next White Plains program.
I thought I did a pretty credible search, but I confess I forgot to check the military site. I had decided I was finished with Book 1 and maybe Book 2, but I’ll revise that statement until I have Spencer’s thorough research and check with my sister on a few points.
I also heard from Councilwoman Barbara Ann Hopson Shelton when I asked for information on pastors and those individuals who have excelled and once lived in E’ton but moved away. She sent me this information about her son. I remember Kelsey from a number of years ago and was happy to hear of his accolades.
His mom is, I bet, his number one fan. This is the paragraph I wrote in E’ton’s Black Heritage Book 3. “Rev. Kelsey M. Hopson, E’ton native, received his BA in Business Admin from Ky State Univ & was conferred a Master of Divinity with Specialization in Wesleyan Studies from St. Paul School of Theology in Leawood, KS. Rev. Hopson served as pastor in Ky 8 years & in Kansas City for 7 ½ before being appointed to the historic Mt. Olive AME Zion Church (the oldest black institution in Waterbury, CT) in 2018 where he currently serves. He serves as the CEO of the Mt Olive AME Zion Sr. Citizens Center, Inc, and he serves as a Cultural Ambassador to the Yale Clinical Research Program.”
I also heard from one of my late daughter Kim Su’s best friends Carlisha in Lexington. The two were buddies since kindergarten. When Carlisha moved away, one of the events she cherished and missed the most was placing a wreath of flowers on her grandmother Mary Louise Johnson’s grave in the cemetery next to the Hopkins County Health Department.
Kim Su volunteered to take Carlisha’s place and place flowers on Mary Louise’s birthday. One year, Kim waited to late to get flowers. She asked me if I would go with her to the cemetery. She said she’d promised Carlisha she wouldn’t forget. When we arrived, she asked me to wait in the car while she walked to the grave. She stood there for a bit and looked around at the loose flowers and some of the arrangements.
Kim was always artistic and could create beautiful thing out of practically nothing. She gathered small branches and locked them together and whatever she could find and began pushing loose flowers here and there. She couldn’t find enough to finish. I cringed when she pulled a few flowers here and there from several nearby wreaths. I shouted for her to stop. “Give me a minute. It’ll be ok.” In just a bit, she had created a beautiful arrangement and then took out her phone and made two pictures. After standing there for a few minutes, she replaced the flowers the had removed from wreaths.
Then she straightened up remaining flowers in each of the wreaths until they looked new. The few flowers she used which were blowing around the cemetery she rearranged with some stones to make a sparse bouquet. She came back to the car and said, “Before you say anything, which picture do you like the best?” She pulled up the two photos.
I knew I had to choose one or she’d keep asking. I picked one although they looked the same. I said, “You shouldn’t have taken those flowers. Why did you do that in a cemetery?” She answered, “I promised Carlisha I wouldn’t forget. Now she’ll know I didn’t and she’ll have a nice bouquet to remind her and not worry she couldn’t be here to do this herself. Besides I straightened all the wreaths and tightened the flowers and fixed the bows. Now, they’ll last longer and look prettier.”
She was right. The wreaths looked professional. Still, it didn’t seem quite right and Mary Louise still didn’t have flowers. “Come on, Mom. Carlisha has a picture of her grandmother’s flowers. They don’t last forever and she had them on her birthday and the other people’s wreaths got refreshed. Everyone wins.” I seldom drive by this cemetery without thinking about Mary Louise’s birthday on that nice sunny day a decade ago.
I’m always glad to get a call from Carlisha. She said she heard that I was doing a genealogy on the black community for a fundraiser for the Purple Waves and I needed information on her grandmother. I told her that Margaret Radford was sending me some information.
Carlisha said, “Well, I’m typing out something now that my mom wrote up last night. I’ll get it together if you’ll let me know the deadline.” She added, “You know that Margaret Radford is mom’s sister.” I did know that because Margie Bowman used to tell me when I mentioned Carlisha that “Carlisha’s mom and I went to school together.” I suppose we never forget those with whom we attended school.
Sometimes when a name is mentioned of someone we haven’t thought of in years we picture a young girl in pigtails or a freckled face boy with chopped off hair sticking out in spikes before spiking was popular. I think it would be nice when people look at one of these upcoming books that they smile and remember a few of those pictures in a similar manner.
Thanks to all those contributing to these books on the history of the black community in E’ton.