One family's multi-cultural genealogy"
A history of a blended family from Missouri of
African American, Native American, Irish American, and French Canadian descent.
Jane Turner, Researcher
I believe some of my family migrated from Canada and Maryland and lived in the historic area of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., an area explored during the Louisiana Purchase, by Lewis and Clark. It was also an area where French Creole lived. My grandfather, Jesse James, son of Joseph James, is listed in the 1910 census in this area. Many Blacks and bi-racial family migrated from this area and then into St. Francois, Washington and Jefferson County, MO.
We grew up in a predominently white area, of MO in the small town of Herculaneum. It is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and about 35 miles south of St. Louis, MO. The biggest employer was the St. Joseph Lead Company, now known as The Doe Run Co. My great-grandfather, grandfather, father and brother all worked for this company. Blacks were allowed to work factory jobs and many worked there.
When I grew up, I was the only black girl in the whole town my age. I had one white friend that would visit with me and we played together without problems, but there came a time she never returned. Two other black students were in my class in the one room school-house. In the 1950's my sisters and brothers and I, along with other black students desegregated the public schools (The Herculaneum Public Schools). This was not easy, but we all made it! As times began to change, my sister was the first Black Home Coming queen ever at this predominently white school. Her nick-name was "Pocahontas." I guess others realized the Native American in us when we didn't.
When I graduated in 1964, I received two awards, the School's Journalism award and the Library award. This was the first time a black student received them. I wanted to go to Lincoln College to pursue a career in journalism, but my parents lacked the funds and I went to a local college.
In 1965, I was one of the first few blacks to attend the newly organized Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Mo. I was one of the first blacks to work in the Jefferson College Library and Bookstore. We had evening classes at the Hillsboro High School building, while the college was being built. I became ill during the school year and didn't return.
In 1968, I became a nurse and worked some 30 + years, until I retired.
My sister Linda, received her associate degree from Jefferson College. My sister Alma, received her Master's degree from Webster College in St. Louis, Mo. One of my brothers in a postman, one retired from the telephone company and one has been employed for the same mining company four generations of our family have worked. All six of us graduated high school. About eight years ago, our family started a scholarship fund at Herculaneum High School to honor our parents. A cash grant is given to help a student with books, supplies, etc. We wanted to honor our parents for all their sacrifices.
In 1995, I became a pastor of The Mt. Pilgrim Free Will Baptist Church located in Festus, Mo. After being pastor for 3 years, my cousin, Penny Madison -Lewis, and I started a new work in The Ste. Genevieve County area. She became a co-founders and I became a co-founder and pastor of this new church. We called it ' The Rock' Free Will Baptist Church. The church has been active these 7+ years and although we have been small in number, we have been blessed to worship with different nationalities of loving and kind people.
As I think about my life, I experienced many things. I remember feeling intense racial hatred because of the color of my skin, being poor, living in substandard conditions, being cold but never hungry, my father and mother working long hours, helping to raise my brothers and sisters, the loneliness that comes from only having a few good friends, and leaving the area I grew up in to better myself. I remember some historic events like The J.F.Kennedy Assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy assassination, the first man in orbit, the first man on the moon, The Vietnam War, The Gulf War, The fall of Communist Russia and the Berlin Wall, the reign of several different Popes and Kings, racial barriers cease, and my children and my grandchildren mature. How grateful I am to be me!