Jane Turner, Researcher
Surnames: Taylor, Fulton, Murphy, Kelley, Brown, Casey, James, Janis, St. Gemme, Jackson, Swink/Swank. . . and many, many, others!
Several years ago my sister Linda began to research our family genealogy. She spent many hours searching, and researching . The oral history of our family, handed down through the generations let us know we were of Black, Native American, Scotch-Irish, and French Creole, ancestors.
Two years ago I began to search for answers to my fatherís side of the family. It is still a work in progress, and shall be updated, as time allows. Many Black Americans or biracial families long for answers about their heritage, and the truth is, it is often hidden from curious eyes and is very difficult to research. So Iíll start with the things I know.
My Fatherís side of the Family:
Frank Taylor-My great-great- grandfather. Born about 1832
Jerome C. Taylor, my great-grandfather was born about 1853 in Mo. He was the son of Frank Taylor and Spouse Unknown. He is listed on the 1880 census as being mulatto and our oral family history; told us he was of Black and Scotch-Irish descendents. He lived in Washington County, MO, St. Francois County, and Jefferson County, MO. He was an Underground Miner and laborer. He fathered 10 children. He died in 1918 from influenza.
Spouse: Mary F. (Fulton) Taylor, was born about 1862 in MO. She worked as kitchen help. She was the daughter of Henry and Vilettie Fulton. Her father was a miner in the local lead mines and he fathered 13-14 children. She was the daughter of Henry and Vilettie (Taylor) Fulton.
Alonzo/ Lonnie/ Lon Taylor: My grandfather was born in Washington County, MO, to Jerome C. and Mary F. (Fulton) Taylor. He also lived in Washington County and Jefferson County, Mo. He worked in the lead mines and for The St. Joseph Lead Co in Herculaneum, MO. He died in 1961, shortly after retiring for health reasons. He had many bouts of high blood pressure, heart disease and severe nosebleeds. He loved to plant garden and had chickens that laid eggs. I was fascinated by the hen house, and the way eggs were collected.
First Spouse: Marie Casey, daughter of Harrison and (Nellie) Bell Casey. She died at the very young age of 18 or 19. Marieís father, Harrison, worked in the mines in the Washington County, MO area and died young. My Grandpa and Grandma had three children, Mabel (Taylor) Jackson, Ray R.Taylor, and Russell Taylor, who died in infancy. They were born in Washington County and lived in Jefferson County. Some of our family members are buried in the Rankin Cemetery in Herculaneum, MO.
Third Spouse: Ina (Boykin) Taylor. Iím not as sure about her background or where she came from originally. They lived in Jefferson County, Mo. They had no children. She was a homemaker, faithful church member and had eccentric ways. Some avoided her because of that reason.
My Father: Ray R.Taylor, was born in Washington County, MO in Tiff, Mo. He was about 3 years old when his mother died. After the death of his mother, his maternal grandmother, (Nellie) Bell Taylor, raised him. My father was a father to six children, three boys and three girls. He was an Army Air Force, World War II Veteran who was stationed at Chandler, AZ and worked in the mailroom. He worked for the St. Joeseph Lead Co (Now known as The Doe Run Lead Co, in Herculaneum, MO. He worked in the blast furnace most of the time, and just before retirement, he became a gate keeper. My Dad retired after 40 + years. He worked in the Conservation Corp Camps in the St. Francois County area of MO and one of the projects was the improvements done at The St. Francois State Park. He was a dedicated, hard working man who hardly ever met a stranger, and he believed in caring for his family. He died in 1999, and is buried at The Jefferson
Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Mo.
His Spouse: Thelma James, was the daughter of Jesse James, Sr. and Alice (Jackson) James, (both now deceased.) My mother was one of 14 children and to this day, all are alive except one. My mother was a very family orientated person, who would seldom go anywhere when we were young, except on occasion, to visit her parents and other family members. My mother was the eldest girl and often helped take care of the other children and helped with a lot of the housework. As we matured, she worked for some families in the area, and also for the Teamster Camp. Our Mother was very kind to others, loved to work with her sewing, knitting, embroidery work, and ceramics. She would often sew many hours a day and well into the night just to finish our holiday clothing, dresses, coats, our beautiful gowns for Prom night, wedding attire, and accessories. I believe I inherited her love for sewing.
Our parents faced many challenges living in a small segregated town, living in a small home and dealing with six children, and low wages. I was 4 years old when my Mom delivered twins, a boy and a girl. How that changed our lives. I became big sister and helper over night.
Most of us attended a segregated school, named The Douglas School. It was a one-roomed schoolhouse located in the Black section of town. We attended this school until the late 1950ís, when we helped desegregate the all white public school. This was a definite challenge because at the time, I really didnít understand why this had occurred and we were treated as inferior individuals. There seemed to be a lack of understanding of our culture and background. We were often chosen last for different teams, seldom asked to participate in outside activities, or sleepovers, and being the only black girl in the school for 4 years, was depressing at times. There were times, I longed to be back at our one-roomed schoolhouse. That old school building still stands!
Mrs. Margaret Burris, the teacher at the old Douglas School, taught grades K-8th grade. Our school day started with the Pledge of Allegiance, some patriotic songs, and prayer. Before desegregation, when students graduated from the eighth grade, they were to attend a segregated High school about five miles away. We were taught to cook, read and write, to sew, made homemade ice cream, and candies. Great emphasis was placed on manners, being polite and respecting others. We would worship at the local AME Methodist Church in the black community and we had some social events at the church and at our school.
The black cemetery, now called The Rankin Cemetery, was close to the school. Our school had a small library, playground equipment, a basketball goal, and swings.
I can remember the days before having a television set. We listened daily to our radio and the soap operas, comedies, news and special programs. I also remember our first television. It had one channel. I remember the old cars, cold winters, coal & wood burning stoves and oil space heaters we used to keep warm. I remember the crowded conditions, and a father and mother that worked hard to look after us. In all our trials, I never saw a hungry day and always had a place to stay. I thank God for our parents and grandparents.
Dadís Sister: Mabel (Taylor) Jackson, was born in Washington County, MO. She married Russell Jackson, a brother to Alice (Jackson) James, my grandmother. They had two children who are still alive and those records are private.
My Aunt, Mabel Jackson, worked for many years for two different doctors and other families in the area, doing house keeping, and also for the Teamsters Local 688 Health Club. She loved to be creative with ceramic work, loved her family and grandchildren, loved to travel and found time to help raise me. She died in 1991. Her husband, Russell Jackson died after being burned in a tragic accident.
My motherís side of the Family/ Thelma (James) Taylor.
Her great-grandfather: Richard James. The James family came from Baltimore Maryland and lived with the slave master, William James in Ste. Genevieve County, MO.
Her Grandparents: Joseph James married Mary Tucker and they had 13 children (Bertha, Mose, Richard, Ida, Peter, Dora, Ima, Walter, Albert, Maggie, Luther, Wallace and Jesse. They lived in the St. Mary, MO area, then later moved to Jefferson County, MO.
Her Father: Jesse James, Sr. was born in 1907, in Ste. Genevieve County, MO and was the youngest of the 13 children. His children attended the Douglas School in Festus, Mo. Blacks were bused from different surrounding counties and attended Douglas High School in Festus, MO. Her Father was a member of the local band and played the Alto Sax. The band played in the community and for special holidays. My grandfather worked for Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company as a glass polisher, until he retired. After having a stroke, he was partially paralyzed and was confined to home for a period of time. He died in 1978.
Her Mother: Alice (Jackson) James, was the daughter of George Jackson and Mary (Swink) Jackson. The Swink Family was of Black and Native American descendants. Her parents were Wm. Patrick Swink and Alice Bryant. Her mother was often quiet, thoughtful, and both parents were strict. She had a stroke and was in failing health for many years. She died in 1985.
Momís great-grandfather on her motherís side, was George Jackson and wife unknown. They had three children, George, Charlotte, and Harvey. Their son, George, married Mary Swink Jackson, they had 14 children ( Harry, William, Dora, Izetta, Ada, James, Alice, Ruth, Andrew, Howard, Lottie, Harvey, Ralph, and Russell).
Jesse and Alice (Jackson) James had 14 children ( Jesse James II, Thelma, Earl, Charles, Mary, Homer, Janet & Eugene (twins), Marva, Alice, Ronnie, Madeline, Patricia, and Sandy. Her mother was often quiet, thoughtful, and both parents were strict. In later years, she also had a stroke and was in failing health for many years. She died in 1985.