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Introduction-The Origin of a Quest
"A family is love" once was said by my great grandmother, Evangelist Emma Elizabeth Parker Gary, the mother of 15 children and over 100 grandchildren, and numerous great grandchildren. I visited her house in Seaboard, North Carolina at the age of four. I remember going to her house with my step-father, George Eley, Jr. and my five brothers. I remember going down a long, winding, dirt road. I fell asleep on a chair in her sitting room. When I woke up, we were back at home in Portsmouth, Virginia. Thirty-two years has past. She is gone but the memories of her has lasted in my memory for all these years. This was the beginning of a story which would last for the length of my life.
"A tree is not a tree, if it doesn't have any roots" that was once said in 1975 when I was watching the Sanford and Son show at a young age. You have to be able to add the branches and leaves so that if someone is every walking by they can see all the beautiful of its splendor. A family consist of many intricate parts that would culminate into one network of people and events, combining to become the history of a race, tribe, clan, etc. We live and breathe together for the survival of our family through the will of God. The desire to find these people becomes a life-long search for the over thousand of people who were born, married, had children, and careers, and later died, with the memories of their lives continues to be told over and over again. They lived a legacy and created a legacy by the many people who have descended from the collection of ancestors that has been researched for the past twenty-three years of my thirty-seven years of my life. This became a life-long journey into genealogy and family.
A family is defined in Webster's dictionary as "the basic unit in society having as its nucleus two or more adults living together and cooperating in the car and rearing of their own or adopted children." A consist of people who care about each other. Family are concerned with the general well-being , health, and security of other family members. If a family is in trouble and seeks help for the problem, the family is already there to lend help and guidance on their loved one. A family should be a representatives of love: Love is an important factor in a family, certain things are needed for sharing, caring, and communication to build a strong family.
Genealogy, or the study of family and its past, came to me in many shapes and sizes but none so vast as the history of the Bracy-Demaree-Mungo-McDow Families of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and the many areas of the Northeast United States such as, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. They are my ancestors, my aunts and uncle, my cousins, nieces, and nephews, great nephews and nieces and the many people who has helped me reach a milestone in African American Genealogical Research. After researching the past generations of my family, I have a vast a collection of over 2300 people from all walks of life but sharing the same genealogical lines as myself. For my two living grandmothers, Vera and Gladys, and to my mother Betty, I give them a reflection of the past. A look into the wonderful past that has lead to this awakening moment in history. From the inspiration and advise of Alexander Palmer Haley, my research came alive and here is the story of my family.
The names of my grandparents, Vera Bynum Faison, Roger Gary, Gladys Mungo, and Gonzalo McDow has lead to the total family compilation of all their families. Discussed in this book are these four families. The Bracy family were the family members I knew the most so I feel that they should get the distinction of being the first discussed family. My mother, Betty, my grandmother, Vera, and all my siblings were the only known family in my life until I turned fourteen years old and began to explore the possibility of tracing my family history. The Demaree Family of Nigeria came to the United States, a free Black Family. From the many years of their heritage, the family came to be known as the Demory Family of the same background in the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. This is my grandfather, Roger Gary's family. The Mungo Family has a history of people living to a ripe old age. Take Easter Mungo for example. She lived to be 110 years old. While my grandmother has reached her 85th birthday, Gladys Mungo McDow, shines on after 21 years of her husband, Gonzalo McDow's death. The McDow Family stems for many branches which includes the Hueys, Massey, James, Hood, and Johnson. This book gives an extensive view into the lives of the people who has populated one of the largest African American families in the United States. This book is about the many generation of these four people, my grandparents.
The Bracy Family began its roots in places such as Normandy, France, Great Britain, and Nigeria as far back as the 1100s A.D. They were the De Bresci Family of France and Nigeria which later became the Brassey Family of London, England. The Bracey Family came to the Americans to chase the American dream landing in a place called West Hartford, Connecticut. A son, Solomon Bracy married Betsy Heacock and decided to go to Northampton County, North Carolina where he settled in Garysburgh (later Garysburg). The family was later headed by Solomon Bracy, Jr. who married Mildred Williams who had no children by him but he had children by a Senegambian African woman, Esther. Four children were born to this partnership. One of the children, Jannie Bracy married Daniel , and the story of this family began to make shape. They had a daughter named Bettie who became a Davis by marriage. Her oldest daughter, Sarah was born in Garysburg, North Carolina and moved to Seaboard where she married Silas Bynum. The youngest daughter of Sarah Davis and Silas Bynum, Jessie Vera, is my grandmother, whom I love so much, who has encouraged me to do this family history. You will learn about the De Bresci-Bracy-Davis-Ungerhart-Bynum family with the story of the family and the descendant of Robert De Bracy.
Deep in the forest of Africa lived a family called the Demaree Family. They were a rich family that lived in the Yoruba tribe. They left Africa as a free black family. After settling in to the American way, they began to buy land and vote. Later they came to be known as the Mitchell-Lockhart-Rawls-Parker-Moody-Rival-Gary Family of Northampton County, North Carolina. You will learn about the diverse background of my grandfather, Roger Gary. According to a Nigerian native, they have populated Lagos, Nigeria to become one of the largest and most influential families in Nigeria. The colorful background of this family has reach its peaks as the late Roger Gary shall be proud of one of his grandchildren, whom he never truly knew. You will learn of the story of the Demaree/Demory family and the descendant of the family that it is today.
Easter Mungo was born in Flat Creek, South Carolina to Wil and Sarah Mungo. After 139 after he birth and her death in 1962 at the age of 110, she has a legacy that lived on with her daughter. Her daughter, Ellen Clyburn married Joseph Mungo, of no relations. They had many children who lived to a ripe old age. Despite the separation from my father, Richard Lee McDow for eleven years, I learn about my paternal grandmother's family through her eyes and her memories about her people. You will learn about the history of the Clyburn-Mungo family of South Carolina, who gave me the very powerful memory and grasp of facts that I possess today.
Price Huey was born in August 1819 and may have originated from the same Nigeria tribe, the Fulani, as Nelson Bynum, the grandfather of Jessie Vera Bynum Faison. He married Sarah. They had four children. Of these children was a son by the name of Alexander. He married Martha James. They had many children, some not recorded. They had a daughter, Daisey who was a strong woman who even warded off the KKK, after threatened to burn a cross in her yard. She married James Thomas McDow, and had a son, Gonzalo. Gonzalo married Gladys Mungo, and they had six children of one born in New York, the fourth child, Richard Lee McDow was born. For 71 years, Gonzalo enriched the lives of the people of his South Carolina home and the people of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York.
Richard, Betty, and Darryl
Richard Lee McDow met a woman by the name of Betty Eley. They fell in love, and had a handsome young son by the name of Darryl. God make his will happen, no matter what it takes to bring life and his purpose to continue. They met on an island with beautiful mountains and oceans breezes that filled the city of Honolulu. A little blue blanket, baby boy was born after a 4,000 trip back to the city that became the home of Betty and her children. Richard had to return to South Carolina to begin his tour of duty in Vietnam War. God made it possible for my birth to occur because he had a purpose for me that would not begin until I was mature enough to handle this task. Many different events began to occur that would assist in the achievement of the stories to follow.
I grew up in the mid-Atlantic in a place called Portsmouth, Virginia. After living in New York for two years with his godparents, I returned to his mother in Portsmouth, Virginia. They lived in the Lincoln Park section of that city. She moved to MT. Hermon in Portsmouth. In 1972, we moved to Chuckatuck, Virginia which my family and I lived for seven year. After returning to Portsmouth in the late 1970's, we made our permanent home to the place we called our home-Portsmouth. That year would mark the beginning of a series of events that would lead me to make one of the largest collection of African American family members in the United States.
In 1979, my family settled back into the life we called-Portsmouth, with the many tough issues of the day. But what would happen next would change my life forever. A boring day became a exciting day in a matter of hours. After a wonderful summer in Fort Dix, New Jersey, rediscovering my roots began with a vision which took place in mid afternoon. Most children have dreams and vision but may never get a chance to pursue the dream but this dream would continue to be a part of my spirit with its origin on this faithful day.
The Beginning of the Journey
It was hot and steamy on August 15, 1979. Like all teenagers, the word "I'm bored" will run across the lips at anytime. I fell a sleep and was awakened into a dream with the backdrop of a cemetery. I didn't know what was going on and I became afraid. I walked cautiously around the graveyard. A voice came from the distance saying "find the spirit within, find the spirit within". The vision confused me in the beginning but as time past, I understood the message. I woke up and ran quickly downstairs. I was interested already in writing poetry, essays, autobiographies. I had been writing poetry since September 1974 and was ready for a new experience in my life. I asked my Aunt Jean, my mother's sister, to tell where the local library was located in Portsmouth. She told me where it was so I got permission to go to the library because the Holy Spirit was guiding me to go to the library. The second message came as I entered the library. "You are here", the spirit told me.
I entered the Portsmouth Public Library which was located on Court Street in the downtown section of Portsmouth, Virginia. The library was larger than any library I had ever seen in my life. I walked in and went to the front desk for assistance. They directed me to go the Reference Desk, which was located in the middle section of the library. A Caucasian lady was sitting at the desk. Her name was Susan Baker, a librarian. She asked me what I needed help in finding anything. I wanted help in finding a book on writing autobiographies. She said, "Well we don't have any books on writing autobiographies, but we do have some books on genealogy". She reminded me of the story of "Roots by Alexander Palmer Haley". She walked me to the shelf where they were located and I began to get eager about getting the right books.
He picked out about four to five books on the same subject. The first book that he read was "Genealogy for Beginners" The book was very informative. It gave a detailed description of how to interview older members of the family and how to search for records on the local, state, and federal level. The book also gave forms such as Pedigree Charts, Individual Records, Family Group Sheets, and location of Genealogical Libraries and History Centers.
I began to realize that this was my calling. I believe that God commissioned me at this time to do this project. For all the questions that had to be answered, I asked them all. Some question were answered and some were not answered. I began to put together the history of my immediate family which included his mother and her siblings. I wrote the known facts about my grandparents, great grandparents, mother and father. I wrote all the information about the children of the union that were already known. I called all the relatives that I knew who lived in the surrounding area of Portsmouth, Virginia. I got some of the names of the extended family but I had some of the most crucial interviews with members of both my mother's parents' families. I began to run out of information from my main sources, my mother and grandmother. The history of my father's family was few if none at all. I decided to give up, until the Christmas of 1979.
After having the first Christmas in Portsmouth since 1971, my family and I had a wonderful time at our grandparents house, Jessie and Joseph Faison. I wanted to begin writing about the family as I interacted with everyone. My zeal to trace family history was getting stronger and stronger. My family was closer than ever and I wanted to do them proud by tracing the family history as far back as I could trace it. I told my family that I was about to trace the family history and they were happy. My dram came back alive. I wanted to find the oldest relative that could give me information about our family and my grandmother told me about her sister, Alma who lived in Portsmouth.
On April 12, 1980, I visited his grandmother, Vera's sister, Alma Carrie Bynum Davis who lived in the Effingham Plaza Senior Community on Madison Street near the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She was about 78 years old at the time. I rang the button on a intercom which rang to her apartment. She came to the speaker and asked who I was and she let me upstairs. I took the elevator and as I was walking down the hallway, I saw a lady standing at her door in the hallway. It was Aunt Alma. Alma Davis gave him information that carried him back to the days of Solomon Bracy and Jane Bracy , his Negroe daughter who was born in Garysburg, North Carolina. They talked a while about events that happened in the family and then Darryl left for home. He analyzed the information and came up with a plan to get all the information. Alma died in May 1981 and was buried in Olive Branch Cemetery near City Park-Portsmouth. I visit her grave every time I am near the area for the great help she did in saving the dream.
After graduating from high school, in June 1983, I had the dream becoming a lawyer but those dream when changed when problems in high school caused his grades to fall in 1980-81. But, I continued on as a genealogist, singer, worker, and the many other things that shaped my life. But the next series of events, opened the door for the future of an African American family.
A lady but the name of Mildred Potts was living at the home of my mother, were I learned that he had relatives in the area of Brighton were I reside in 1984. Around the corner was the Pearson family of Peach Street. One of the children owned a real estate company and many of them lived all over Portsmouth. That same year, Norwood Pearson died harshly when he was murdered on the school campus of a university in North Carolina. Their mother and three children lived on Peach street. They were raised on the
end of Peach Street. When I met her, they were planning to begin having family reunions. The first family to have the reunion was the Pearson family. I missed the family reunion. My cousin Bernice Vaughan said something that hurt me so dearly that it motivated me to continue on "You act like you aren't part of this family". I didn't attend the reunion until July 1986.
In 1986, the Davis Family had a family reunion that I will never forget. It was held at the YMCA on Effingham Street in Portsmouth. That was the day that for the first time, I presented my findings to the family. I was recognized as the family historian from that time on. I began to build relationships with my family that would last till today. Thomas Davis and his family would be one of the closest family that would help me move on in learning about the Davis family.
The family was getting bigger so I decided to concentrate on other side of the family such as my grandfather-Roger's family.
My grandfather had a sister in Portsmouth. Her name is Minnie Pollard, the mother of six children. I learned alot about my grandfather's family through the eyes of the people who were a part of that family. Her siblings lived in the larger cities such as Chicago, Boston, and Detroit. She told me about my great grandparent, Dorphus and Emma Parker. I have spoken to my great grandmother and told her what I was doing and she said for me to do the family proud. She died in October 1984 at the age of 87 in Detroit, Michigan. Her name has been the cornerstone of conversation about the unity of this family even today. My grandfather died when I was 7 month old in Dorchester, Massachusetts, but the family began to expand in its history as time moved on. I learned all I could know about my grandfather's family.
The reality of most of Black America was the absence of the paternal guidance of the biological father. My father had to fight the Vietnam War which may have been the factor in taking away the only true connection with my father. We were separated until 1968, when he returned for Vietnam. My father was never the same. He suffered from post-dramatic stress disorder which made it difficult for him to cope with his family and friend with being reminded of his experience overseas. After a brief visit while I was living in Chickatuck, my father, his sister Nettie, her husband, Jimmie and their children, Vanessa, Karl, and Shonta, my father and I were separated for eleven years. At the age of 17, I decided to do all I could to find my father. I asked my mother many questions that would lead to finding him. After many tears and alot of searching, a vision came on January 8, 1985 to go to the same library that I started my research. I went upstairs were the telephone directories were located for selected cities and all the boroughs of New York City. In the Bronz Directory was my father name. I called the number and after 11 years, we talked for the first time.
I visited my father in New York City and for the first time in eleven years seen my Aunt Nettie who lived in Suffolk. I learned alot about his family. For nine years, we had the chance to know each other because of February 16, 1994, my father died from complications of cancer. We buried him at Crossroads Baptist Church and I truly believe I was at the Crossroads of my life.
I stood in front of my father's grave with tears in my eyes wondering why. I said, "Pop, its over. I love you. No matter what you ever done, I still love you. I will represent you to the best of my ability. God brought you in my mother's life to have one child. I am going to make you proud. I see you soon. I kissed my hand and touched his grave and walked away. The test of my true identity began.
I began to help children by working for Portsmouth Park's and Recreation as a Recreation Aide III. While working there, I began to perfect the desire that still burned in me as I worked and wrote and lived in Portsmouth. I formed an organization called H.I.G.H. I.M.P.A.C.T. Entertainment which lasted from 1993-1995. I decided to put my family history on hold until I got my life back together from many year of substance abuse. While performing I learned to discipline myself to learn how to control thought and mental repetition. In 1996, I felt like I was in control of my destiny now.
I met Esther L. Taylor Jenkins in February 1996. I felt that it was time to settle down with some one who would strengthen the body of the story by allowing me to live and use my thought as freely as possible. She stuck behind me in the good and the bad times, despite the many drawbacks for me. No matter how tough it got, she still continued to stand beside me. Her kids, TJ, Shawn, and Kimberly respect me as a father despite their own father absence out of their lives. Together, they are the strongest force behind what I was doing. My job situation was getting worse and worse. Virginia wasn't the place to be at the time. She said, "Don't worry about what people are saying, they don't want you to make this project work. Keep going forward until you fulfill your dream. She persuaded me to go to New York to find someone who could help me reach my genealogy goals. In 1998, on a five week trip to New York, from July 5, August 14, 1998, I met a man who gave me a chance of a lifetime.
While living in New York to find the person I was looking, my oldest brother George directed me to go to the Moshulu Library in Riverdale, New York. They didn't have alot of family history information. I was about to leave the library when I found the address of a Family History Center for the Church of Latter-Day Saints on Columbus and 65 St. near the New York Center of the Arts. At the same time a couple from Provo, Utah was on a mission for the Head Church in Salt Lake City. They were volunteers at the Family History Center. I went in the library before it closed. A man was standing at the front desk greeting everyone who came in the Center. His name was Elder Ellis Hancey. His wife, Dora also worked in the Library. He asked me if I needed assistance, I said no. He gave a short tour of the Center and showed where they had the Computer". He and Elder Hancey began to talk about my family history and the many names that he had already written down but not in a record by itself. I began inquiring about a program he saw in Portsmouth at the library called "Personal Ancestral File". The file would organize all his names into one family. Mr. Hancey pulled up the program and began teaching me how to use the program.
Elder Hancey left me in the room as the many names in Darryl's head began to come out on the computer program. When the Elder came back he had about 100 names already in the file. He was amazed how Darryl never had to pick up paper for the first 100 or more names on his program. He sat down and says, "You really don't know what you are putting together do you?" I said, "No, I don't". "You may have been brought here for a reason because I have never seen a Black family history as large as this and you have about 1000 names to put in this program", said Mr. Hancey. I was invited to dine with the couple. They took a picture of me to take back to Utah when they leave after their mission. They discussed about the possibility of getting a file sent to Salt Lake City as the largest Black family history submitted to the Family History Center. I agreed to send a copy to the Church of Latter-Day Saint only if I do the submittal through Elder Ellis Hancey. He wrote me many letters that inspired me to continue on with my family history compilation. If it wasn't for Mr. Hancey, the level of my research would have never got me this far.
Introducing African American Griot, Darryl Eley.
After five weeks in New York, which lasted from July 3, 1998 to August 14, 1998, I was about to celebrated my nineteenth year in genealogical research, I returned home to Portsmouth, Virginia to prepare for the end of my research and the beginning of my compilation. From August 15, 1998 to May 15, 2002 which is my thirty-seventh birthday, I compiled the names of the members of my parents' family. The family compilation was destroyed in September 1999 but was re-compiled and has come to be a record of over 2300 names of African American descendants along with all other connecting races of people, cultures, ethnic groups, creeds, color, and personality to culminate into a collecting of one of the largest of it kind. I give to you my family.
My memory is filled with the history, heritage, tradition, and family traits of a family I come to know as the Bracy-Demaree-Mungo-McDow Family which comprise of My mother, Betty, and my father, Richards' families. For years, the names of all the members of the family was stored in a large memory bank that was given to me at birth and has given me the ability to attain millions of memory sensors in my brain which allow me to keep these names. Back in Africa, each tribe had a man who had the distinction of keeping the history of the family as far back as the memory could carry the individual. Many hundreds of years have past since my family lived in African and the same type of Griot mentality has arise in me. I can remember days months years and can even give the day that a particular day is on a day of the week.
In September 1999, I began working for the Public Works Department of the City of Portsmouth. I met a man by the name of Robert Revell, a very down to Earth man who was also verse in Black History. He heard all of the conversations that I had about my family history and how I could tell the stories without picking up a piece of paper. He said that I was a griot. I asked him what was a griot. He reminded about the man that told Alex Haley about his family in Africa. He said that I had been a Griot from the start and may being carrying on my heritage right now today. He gave me information about black history and that would help me get a better understanding of my African Heritage. Later, I found out that he was a part of my family. Destiny touch my life once again by meeting this man.
I wanted to take what I had learned and take my message to the people that after all the years of people saying that black family history was hard to do, I decided to show the world that after all these years, I have finished with the names as far back as the 11 century. I asked the newspaper in Portsmouth but they said that the story was about a family so they couldn't run the story. I called WTKR-TV Channel 3-News and on February 13, 2001, I was on television for the first for a story about my family. The story gave me a chance for people to see what I was doing.
On October 9, 2001, at the residence of Richard and Dorothy Davis, I submitted a World Tree Disk of the members of my extended which included over 1725 names. The number 2118 family came on May 15, 2002, my thirty-seventh birthday. Today, I am about to unleash the finding of the Histories of All My Families. In January 2002, at the death of my cousin, Chad Hall, I completed my book. I had to continue to revise the book because family members began giving me more information about relatives who weren't included in the book. Today, there are over 2350 names in my book with three children, Gerel, China, and Azaria, my great nieces and nephews, in a generation alone. Family history will always be an ongoing pursuit but you have to have a cut-off point. I have reach the cut-off with the birth of my great neice, Azaria Parker Watkins, born on August 19, 2002. I was hoping that she was born on August 17, 2002, my grandmother Vera's 83rd birthday, but she was born two days later. The family history has weeks of reading and lot of information to cover so enjoy.
Let's travel through the men, women, boys, and girls who make up the Bracy-Demaree-Mungo-McDow Family.
Contents of the Book
This book give you information about the immediate and extended family of Darryl Eley, my family. The book will begin with an overview, about the book, a family letter, and a family poem. The Ancestral Lines of Darryl Eley will guide through the many ancestors from which I came from. You will be presented with most recent finds in ancestry with the ancestral charts for each of my grandparents:
1. Jessie Vera Bynum-The Bracy-Davis-Ungerhart-Bynum Family.
2. Roger Gary-The Demaree/Demory-Rawls-Parker-Moody-Rival-Gary Family.
3. Gladys Mungo-The Clyburn-Mungo Family.
4. Gonzalo McDow -The Huey-James-Massey-McDow Family.
They will be done in that order. Each side of the family includes the genealogical lines beginning with Betty Mae Bynum Eley's mother and father. The next two section with be on the genealogical lines of Richard Lee McDow. Each section have a copy of the ancestors and all the ancestral charts without information. The history of the family and a Registered Report of the Earliest Ancestors shall following the Ancestral charts. Because of the extensive family group sheets which may consist of over 600 individual family units shall not be included in this compilation. In looking at the information, if you have not contributed to this book the program Family Treemaker 7.0 chose an estimate date for each birth date missing and location of birth. If the information is incorrect feel free to contact, Darryl Eley at the attached address which you ordered your information. The history of Northampton County and the history of Portsmouth give you information the places that Betty Eley's family came from and many photograph of its people.. Little is known about the history of Lancaster County, so it shall be included in the addendum for this book.
Do you want to learn how to put your own family history together well let me show you how. With the advent of databases in computer networking, I have mastered the skills of tracing other persons' family histories. Through record attainment, birth, marriage, death, and many other important record from the local, state, and federal level, I can point you in the right direction in the path of tracing your family history. Read the section on "How to Trace Your Family History". Vital Statistics shall give selected information about how I got the information about my family. There are many sources that this information came from and you will be given a detailed account of the many as 30,000 records available for this research project. The book is index so you can find the members of the family by page numbers. In my conclusion, I shall give you my analyzes of my research and some of my thoughts about the future.
So sit back relax and enjoy my book "From Roots to Branches-Why I Went So Far To Come So Close". The heritage and tradition lives on. Thank God for his continue guidance toward the final product of this family compilation.
African American Griot
Page 7 of 225
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