Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A Visit at Hope Cemetery, Worcester MA

A visit to Hope Cemetery, Worcester MA on April 2, 2011. Visiting my Great Grandmother Nora Ann Cully and her son Willie Elander Cully. One headstone for two Ancestors; engraved on both sides.

Nora Ann Cully

Nora Ann Cully
At Rest

William "Willie" E. Cully
Died Young

Willie Cully

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Joseph A. & Jane B. (Ellis-Nelson) Collins

On April 2, 2011, My daughter and I arrived at the Hope Cemetery in Worcester, MA. We were on our Family History Trip to research and visit the gravesites of our Cully, Collins and Gilliam Ancestors.

It had been a wet, cold and windy day, but it happened to warm up a little bit when we arrived at the cemetery.  I prepared a few months before coming to Worcester, MA from San Diego, CA by printing a map and inquiring to the office the locations of where my ancestors rested.  

When I began looking, I thought that I was not going to be able to find the location as the weather kept shifting.  Even though I had a map, it was still very difficult to see the signs and compare them to the map.

Hope Cemetery was spread out, and I had to drive around to find the location. I am so thankful for my daughter Victoria, as she read the map much better than myself and guided me to where I needed to go.

Of course, we eventually found some of the headstones.  The headstones for my family were very tiny and the engraving was difficult to read as they were limestone markers.

Here is a headstone of my Great Grand Uncle Joseph A. Collins, born in North Carolina and migrated to Worcester, MA in the early 1870's after the Civil War.

Joseph A Collins
According to the marriage registrar of Craven County, NC,  Jane B. Ellis was married to Joseph A. Collins prior to Aug 20 1866. They were cohabitating as husband and wife.  In the 1900 Census, they reported they were married in 1860.

In the 1900 Census, Joseph is listed as being born in 1831 and Jane being born in 1830.  The year is difficult to determine as I have found various years.

Jane B Collins
Jane B. Collins was the sister of my 2x Great Grandmother Hannah D. (Singleton-Nelson) Gilliam.  They both carried the Nelson surname, but they both had different slave-owner surnames.

When My Great Grandmother Nora Ann Gilliam Cully, Sr. passed away in 1911, my Great Uncle Raymond Mansfield Cully, Sr. and Great Aunt Nora Ann Cully, Jr. were raised by their Aunt Jane Collins.  

According to my Cousin Ray, his father Raymond Cully dropped out of school as a teenager, so he could help provide for his Aunts household. He also took care of his Aunt Jane when she became ill.

(Note)  Jane B. Collins was mentioned in First Fruits of Freedom, by Jeanette Greenwood.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Nora Ann Cully, Jr.

Nora Ann Cully, Jr.
15 years old
Harlem, NY Rooftop

This post for some reason is a difficult one for me to write.  I have spent a good solid eight years researching my Cully family, and because of this, I have really tried to understand who they were when they were living.  As a family historian, I feel that we as genealogists have been honored with the task of putting flesh upon the bones and breathing life into the ancestors that have passed on.  We set up time-lines and we search out the stories of these individuals that lived and walked before us.  We try to imagine how they celebrated, and how they suffered their losses.

My last post was the postings of my Great Uncle Osborne and his wife Gertrude who died in 1936 and 1937.  Seeing that Osborne and Gertrude died right after the other, and knowing that Nora, Osborne's little sister died in 1936, moved me to tears. [I will need to do a time-line of all the siblings and their elders to see how many more died so close together].  It is difficult for me to imagine having to lose so many in a short period of time.

The photo above is my Great Aunt Nora Ann Cully, who was my grandmother's [Agnes] younger sister.  Nora was born on November 4, 1911, and was named after her mother Nora Ann Gilliam, who died November 7, 1911 from complications from giving birth to Nora Jr.

The only records that I have been able to find on Nora is her birth record in Worcester, MA.  I knew that Nora died young.  The family story that was told to me by my mother, is that Nora who was a Jazz singer in New York, had been brutally raped and left for death. I was also told she died at 21 years.

After visiting Worcester, Mass Hope Cemetery, I had found from her burial records that she died at 24.  This was all I had on Nora.

Recently, I was on ProQuest and found a few notices pertaining to Nora, and wanted to share.  ProQuest has given me lots of information so that I could put dates to events that I had no prior knowledge.

Miss Nora Cully, sister of Mrs. Catherine Cully
is in the Belmont Hospital, where she is very ill.
Mar. 21, 1936

Miss Nora Cully is reported improved at the
Belmont Hospital
April 4, 1936

Miss Nora Cully
Worcester, Mass.-Miss Nora Cully
died Saturday morning in the Belmont
Hospital after a long illness
April 4, 1936

Miss Nora Cully
Worcester, Mass-Miss Nora Cully
was buried Wednesday.  The Rev. John
W. Marvin Gibson of the John Street
Baptist Church officiated
April 19, 1936
Some of the dates of report seem a little off.  On April 4th Nora was reported as improved.  I have documentation from Nora's burial record that she was buried on April 1, 1936, or this might actually be the death date.  Sometimes records are just not accurate. So even at this point, I wonder if Nora died in March 1936.

Burial Cemetery Card
Hope Cemetery, Worcester Mass.
Plot 6772 Sec. 76
Nora Cully

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sympathy Saturday: Osborne Ambrose & Gertrude Louise [Hayes] Cully

I had been wondering for some time what happened to my (Great Uncle and his wife), Osborne Ambrose Cully and Gertrude Louise Hayes.  They disappeared after the 1930 Census and there were no death certificates or index that I could find online.

 I was told by my cousin Karen Cully, Osborne and Gertrude's Great Grand-daughter that they both died young and that they left their only child Richard Clayton Cully, Sr. when he was under ten years old.  Since this was at least 20 years before Karen was born, she was not positive to the exact dates.

Recently after searching on Proquest during Black History Month, I came across Osborne's death notice and Gertrude's burial notice.  This helped give me closure as to their deaths.

Osborne Ambrose Cully & Gertrude Louise Hayes
August 4, 1918
[Osborne's Scrapbook]

[Gertrude's Burial Notice Transcribed]

Aug 22, 1936
The Baltimore Afro-American
Pg. 21

Mrs. Gertrude Cully, Worcester, Mass
Mrs. Gertrude Cully, wife of Osborne Cully of Clinton, Mass, was buried here Saturday.

[Osborne Cully's Death Notice Transcribed]

Sept 25, 1937
The Baltimore Afro-American
Pg. 23

Osborne Cully
Worcester, Mass-Osborne Cully
died last week at his home near Clinton.

Since I do not have exact dates of their deaths, I can pretty much estimate.  Gertrude was buried on August 22, 1936.  It was customary during this time that my family was buried by the third day, so approximately Gertrude died on August 19, 1936.  Of course I will need to order a death certificate to confirm the date.

Osborne Cully most likely died between September 12 and the 18th of 1937 as the death notice states he died last week and the newspaper was dated on September 25, 1937.  Knowing the proximity of Osborne's death will allow me to order his death certificate with a lot more ease.

Osborne was born on March 29, 1899 in Worcester, Massachusetts.  He was a master electrician and attended the Boys Trade School graduating top in his class.  Osborne's parents were Ambrose Elander Cully and Nora Ann Gilliam.

Gertrude Louis Hayes was born on April 22, 1894.  Her parents were Charles A Hayes and Henrietta Gray.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Ancestors Want To Be Known Part #4: Eugene Singleton Gilliam

This is a continuum of the Series: "My Ancestors Want To Be Known." If you have not followed you can go to #1,  #2,  and  #3.   In particular, I am sharing my discoveries of my Great Great Grandmother, Hannah [Singleton-Nelson] Gilliam son's family.  Hannah was married to Daniel Gilliam, of which I have not found any primary documents of him.  He is mentioned in birth and death records of Hannah and his children.  I have even found him mentioned as "Hannah, the widow of Daniel Gilliam in Worcester, MA city directories, but have been able to locate him.  This will be one of the greatest discoveries when I find his records.

The photo below is of Eugene Singleton Gilliam.  He is my 1st cousin 2x removed.  He was born to Leander Singleton & Flora Gilliam on August 26, 1894 and died in March of 1961.

Eugene Singleton Gilliam
WWI Military Uniform
(Not confirmed)

Since I had very little to go by with information on Eugene besides the Census Records of which I will present in a later post on the family, I decided to look for his military records.  I was not able to find anything that showed he served during WWI, even though I was told by my cousin that he did serve.  I looked up the WWII Registration Card as shown below.

[Transcribed] At the time of Eugene completing his WWII Registration Card.

  1. Name: Eugene Singleton Gilliam
  2. Place of Residence: 29 Dellwood Rd., Worcester, Worc., Mass
  3. Mailing Address: Same
  4. Telephone: 2-0366
  5. Age in Years: 47  Date of Birth: Aug 26, 1894
  6. Place of Birth: Worcester, Mass
  7. Name and Person who will always know your address:  Mary Gilliam, 29 Dellwood Rd., Worcester
  8. Employers name and Address: City Worcester
  9. Place of Employment or Business: Station #1 Police Headquarters, Worcester, Mass
  10. Signed Eugene S. Gilliam
At this point, I assume that Eugene was a police officer, but I have not confirmed this.  I like the Military Registration Draft Cards because they give you more clues to look for by disclosing their place of employment.  I will be contacting the City of Worcester to find out more information on obtaining some time of employment records to see what position Eugene held.

The back of the Registration card was dated on April 26, 1942.

Eugene identified with being white.  He was 6-1 and 175 pounds.  He had blue eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion.

I hope to share more about Eugene as I continue my research.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Ancestors Want To Be Known Part #3: Lawrence Singleton Gilliam

This is a continuum of My Ancestors Want To Be Known Part #1 & #2.  If you are interested in reading part one and part two, go to the links above.

This is a photo of  my 1st Cousin, 2x Removed.  He is the son of Leander S. & Flora Gilliam, born on August 20, 1891 in Worcester, MA.  

According to the 1930 U.S. Census Lawrence married a woman by the name of Rose, and resided in Brooklyn, New York.

Lawrence served in the military during WWI.  I am currently preparing to request documents and information on his service.

Lawrence died October 7, 1948 in New York.

Lawrence Singleton Gilliam

 I wanted to know more about Lawrence, so I began to dig a little deeper.  I found his WWII Draft Card (The Old Man's Draft).  This is what I uncovered:

Lawrence resided at 115-83 228th Street, St. Albans, NY [which is a part of Queens].  He was 50 at the time of his signing his WWII registration card on April 15, 1942.  Lawrence was married to Rose for at least 12 years by this time.

The best lead I got from the registration card was that Lawrence worked for the New York City Fire Department on Municipal Blvd, Lower Manhattan, Engine Co. 57.

Lawrence identified as white.  He had brown eyes, black hair, weighed 170 lbs, and was 5-9. What I found interesting is that his identifying complexion was marked light and crossed out and dark was marked.

I take note of how my family identified because it makes for an interesting story, and as people of color, black, negro, sometimes they tried to assimilate into the dominant society so that they can pursue a better life without having to deal with racism.

Below is an article that I found that mentioned Lawrence. I am hoping that I will uncover more information as time goes on.  I was able to purchase the article from the New York Times Archives.  The article was dated November 3, 1948.  The last part of the article mentions Lawrence as retiring as Chief engineer of fire fighter.

After reading this article again, I realized that Lawrence "Larry" Gilliam died...His body was found the next Thursday.  Is this correct?

As I began to continue researching , I found that Lawrence Singleton Gilliam was buried at the Long Island National Cemetery. (

Not so Wordless Wednesday: Agnes Cully Peters' Fashions in the Newspaper

I am so grateful to ProQuest as they made their African American History available for free during the first half of Black History Month to researchers and anyone interested in exploring their Black History Collection.  This was available a few years ago, and I had the opportunity to collect lots of articles connected to my family.  This year was different as I collected more that had not been in the database from the first time I researched.

I decided for this Wordless Wednesday, I would showcase one of the articles regarding my maternal Grandmother Agnes Mae [Cully] Peters.  I have shared before that she was a fashion designer in the 30's-50's in Harlem, New York.  I hope to actually make this into a series to showcase her many newspaper articles as I find them fascinating as the people in the community felt that the events were news worthy.

This is a gown my grandmother Agnes Cully Peters designed and sewed for the Winter Fashions Collection show.  Miss Ruth King was a regular model for Agnes and continued modeling even after my grandmother moved to Los Angeles in 1953.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Worcester, Mass The Old Ladies' Home

I purchased a couple of old postcards of the Old Ladies' Home located in Worcester, Mass on e-bay.  The 1st one was postmarked in January of 1914 and I included the back of the card.  The 2nd one had not been mailed but had been personalized on the front.

Looking at both postcards, you will notice that the Old Ladies' Home on the outside was decorated differently, from color, to window awnings to the fact one has an electric pole outside and the other one doesn't.  What else do you see that is different?

Old Ladies Home

Later Picture of the Old Ladies Home

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

My Ancestors Want To Be Known Part #2: COL. William Singleton Gilliam

Continuing from My Ancestors Want To Be Known Part #1.....

For those of you reading my post series for the first time, I received photos and other items from my cousin's husband of my Gilliam ancestry line.  I have been researching the Gilliam family for awhile, as they merged when my Great Grandfather Ambrose Elander Cully married my Great Grandmother Nora Ann Gilliam.

 Nora was the sister of Leander Singleton Gilliam and the children of Hannah Singleton-Nelson & Daniel Gilliam.  The sons and grandson's of Hannah carried the slave name "Singleton" as their middle name.  I am not sure why her daughters did not carry the slave name, and I hope to find the reason through further research.

In the following posts, I will present Leander S. & Flora Gilliam's sons as I seek out more information on them.

William Singleton Gilliam
William Singleton Gilliam was the middle son of Leander and Flora Gilliam.  He was born on March 24, 1893  in Worcester, MA and Died on April 9, 1946 in Boston, MA.

When I spoke to my cousin's husband, he informed me that William had been a director of the Worcester Boys Club in Massachusetts for many years, and that he heard there was a photo of him in the building.  With this information, I contacted the Boy's Club, now named the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester. I spoke with the current director and inquired about the photo and the possibility of any information in their archives.  He stated that he would send me some information through my e-mail, but as of date, I have not heard back.

Continuing with the research, I found an obituary for William S. Gilliam in The New York Times, published on April 10, 1946 through the NY Times Archives.  I had to pay a small fee to read the obituary.

Knowing that William served in the First World War, I thought I would find more information regarding his enlistment on  I was not able to find anything except for a copy of the Old Man's World War II Draft Registration Card.   If you notice, William identified as being white, although he was of African ancestry.  To learn more about the Meuse-Argonne Offensive go to this link.

I found this e-book Official List of Officers of the Officer' Reserve Corps of the Army on Google Books that lists William Singleton Gilliam in the Reserves.

I also found a mention of a description of William's office space in The Worcester Magazine digitized in Google books.  insert below:

William worked at the Boys Club on Ionic Street:

Worcester Boys Club
Ionic Avenue

I was informed that William S. Gilliam was buried at the Hope Cemetery in Worcester Ma.  I made a request online for confirmation and hope to hear back soon.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Leander Singleton Gilliam, Knights of Pythias

This is an article that my cousin sent me on my Great Grand Uncle Leander S. Gilliam.  Leander was mistaken for white and during his life in Worcester, MA he and his families identified with the white population even though they knew they were of African descent.  

It is so important not to allow race and ethnicity keep you from your family research.  Our families are made up of many multi-cultural backgrounds.  The way someone looks, does not determine their DNA.

Racism, Segregation and Passing, has kept us from embracing our selves.  We need to begin to look beyond the skin and look into the character of a person.

Race Gleanings
Freeman Newspaper
October 14, 1905

At Washington D.C. and other cities that have a large Negro population a recent decision of Charles E. Shiveley of Richmond, Ind., supreme chancelor of the Knights of Pythias is causing much comment.

Leander S. Gilliam, a Negro, who is so light of complexion that few people are able to detect his African blood, joined Freedom Lodge, Knights of Pythias, of Worcester, Mass.  Gilliam was such a good fellow that Freedom Lodge refused to drop him from its rolls, even after the fact of his surreptitious advent into the lodge were known.  Charges against the lodge were preferred by K. Warner Kelso, and now, under a decision of Mr. Shiveley, unless the lodge drops Gilliam, it may lose its charter.

Leander Singleton Gilliam
Great Grand Uncle

The Singleton name is the surname of the Slave Master my family belonged to.  My Great Great Grandmother, it was told me was a child of her Slave Master.  I am still in the stages of proving this, but it is very clear that my Gilliam's were of African and European descent.    I hope to uncover more of this information so that our families can have a coming together.  It is time for us to embrace our histories and heal and forgive the past.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

My Ancestors Want To Be Known Part #1: The Gilliams

On February 3, 2012,  my cousins' husband sent me a message with some attachments.  Two of the attachments were the map of Hope Cemetery in Worcester MA and the back of it.  I posted to this link here.



Thanks for allowing me to review your family tree on  You are doing a terrific job in tracing your family history.  I downloaded Hannah's death certificate, which is the one item I didn't have.

I have attached several items that you may find interesting, although they do not pertain directly to your family lineage.  The first 2 items pertain to the Hope Cemetery map my cousin's dad (Lawrence Singleton Gilliam) had.  The notations on the back obviously collaborate the linkage to Hannah. 

The third item is a photo, that we believe to be Leander Singleton Gilliam.  The next three photos are Leander's sons: Lawrence Singleton (Lynn's father), William Singleton, and Eugene Singleton taken during WWI.  The last item is a very interesting article (1905 Freedom newspaper) that I found in a genealogy database.  I haven't yet been able to find the end results of this dispute.

Will keep in touch, especially if I find additional info on the Gilliams.



Below is the likely picture of Leander Singleton Gilliam.  When I saw this photo, I was amazed because I saw my mother in his face.
Leander Singleton Gilliam
My Great Grand Uncle

Leander was a very fair man that individuals in Worcester, MA could not distinguish him for being Black.  There were rumors in an article sent to me regarding the race of Leander.  I will post this for Part #2, as I had believed that Leander was my ancestor, but I wasn't positive as he was listed as White.

When I look at Leander's sons pictures below, it is clear to me that they are people of color.  They look like they are of African, and European descent.

Lawrence Singleton Gilliam
My 1st Cousin, 2x Removed

William Singleton Gilliam
My 1st Cousin, 2x Removed

Eugene Singleton Gilliam
My 1st Cousin, 2x Removed

I have done some research on each of these men and their families.  The "My Ancestors Want to Be Known," will be a post series, so that I can go into detail as to what I have discovered.

Pictures courtesy of Gilliam family

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Not So Amanuensis & Mappy Monday: Hope Cemetery Map And My Ancestors Buried There: Part #2

     On January 10, 2012, I received an e-mail message from My Cousin's husband on my genealogy website contact form.  He stated to me, "I have recently started to trace our family tree and believe there may be a connection to my wife's grandfather 'Leander Singleton Gilliam' through your great-grandmother 'Hannah Gilliam' (as described in your genealogy blog).  If interested in more info, please contact me."

     I responded to him via e-mail and then on the phone.  We quickly discussed the fact that my Hannah [Singleton-Nelson] Gilliam was my Great Great Grandmother and that Leander Singleton Gilliam would have to be her son.  Hannah carried her slave name Singleton, and Gilliam was her married name.

  My cousin's husband informed me that his wife was white and they were surprised to see mulatto on one of the US Census records for Leander when he lived in North Carolina.  The Census records in Worcester, MA for the years 1900-1930, Leander and his family are listed as White.  I informed Hank that my 2x Grandmother Hannah was very fair and so was her sister Jane B. Collins, as they could pass as White.  Some family members chose to pass and others did not.

     Even though I was having this conversation with a Gilliam descendant, I still was not positive that this Leander was Hannah's son.

     A few day's ago, I was sent me a map of Hope Cemetery that had writing on the back of it in Leander's (assumed) handwriting. This map clearly proved that my Cully, Gilliam, Collins family were related.  I was also sent  photo's of Leander and his three sons, as I will present on a later post.

Hope Cemetery, Worcester Mass Section Map
Markings of where family is buried
Plot 76 is where my 2X Grandmother Hannah Gilliam & My Cully, Collins family is buried.

Writing on the Back of the Hope Cemetery Section Map


Perpetual Care See Mr. Burbank, Superintendent

Hannah Gilliam  1839-1914
Lot 5817
Sec 76

Joseph A Collins
Jane B. Collins
Lot 6772
Sec 76

Nora J Cully [wrong Nora...see note below]
Sec 76


There were one discrepancy as Nora J A Cully was the daughter of Nora A Cully and she was the one buried in Plot 6772, Section 76.  She was born 1911 and died in 1936.  The mother was buried in Plot 6767, Section 76.

See my prior post Hope Cemetery-Part #1 at this link.

The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011