Friday, November 29, 2013

Blog 161: Dr. Clifford A. Jones, Sr.: A Candidate for President of NBC, USA, Inc.

By Vernon M. Herron

     Dr. Clifford A. Jones, Sr. the eminent pastor of the renowned Friendship Missionary Baptist Church of Charlotte, NC is a candidate for President  of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. The 134th  annual session of the convention will convene next September 1-5, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana at at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

     Dr. Julius Richard Scruggs, Senior Pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama since 1977 is the current President and has announced that he will not be running for reelection. The President’s term is 5 years.

     Candidate Jones has a vision for the convention; it is a Spiritual Pilgrimage. It is a calling from God because there was no intention of seeking this office. It is reported that God wrestled with him until he finally accepted the calling to seek this noble office.

     His campaign and his presidency will be one that is Progressive, Practical and Principled. He will expand on a foundation already established by former presidents. That expansion will “strategically address the concerns of many, i.e., young and established pastors, small and large churches, ministers’ wives and all women, youth and church leadership, with a plan which will unfold over the next 20 to 30 years.” An example of how this expansion could unfold is his passion. It centers around preparing young pastors to be leaders, establish a leadership institute that Pastors could be involved in for two to three years.

     It is also noted that Dr. Jones intends to set goals which will be addressed from the national level and down to the churches. He plans to challenge the Convention to deal with issues and concerns which are relevant in the lives of its Christian base and “true to the original constitution set forth when NBC was first established.” NBC—are you listening?

     The following is a supportive resolution of the Deacon Service Ministry, and is presented on behalf of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, a Charlotte mega congregation.


Let it be known that Dr. Clifford A. Jones, Sr. has served as the senior pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church since October of 1982;
Whereas, under the visionary leadership of Pastor Jones, the membership has grown to more than 8,000, therefore expanding mission and ministry of this Christian body;
Whereas, this work and facilities have grown to include: 110 additional acres of land and a new church complex; My Sister’s House, a facility for homeless women, operated by the Friendship Community Development Corporation; Central Children’s Home of North Carolina, Inc. for orphaned children located in Oxford; construction of 10 Habitat for Humanity homes at a cost of $500,000.00; mobilization for catastrophic relief efforts in Princeville, North Carolina from Hurricane Floyd, and in Pamplico County from Hurricane Irene, as well as disaster efforts in Mississippi and Alabama;
Whereas, global initiatives have expanded to include: Jamaica, Guyana, Zimbabwe, Haiti and South Africa through the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention; and Friendship’s International Children’s Outreach Ministry (ICOM) which has brought over 200 student ambassadors from South Africa to the United States since 1998.
Whereas, the Spirit of Christmas has provided for hundreds of homeless children each Christmas season, and the Community Table offering has fed thousands throughout the Charlotte region, as a result of monthly food donations at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
Furthermore, Dr. Jones has served as President of the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Inc., President of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, Vice President of the Baptist World Alliance, and is currently serving as Chairman of the Governance Committee of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
Now, this visionary servant of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church embarks on this calling from God and his spiritual pilgrimage, to become the President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
Be it resolved that today, October 27, 2013, I, Carl M. Flamer, chair of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Deacon Service Ministry Council, on behalf of the entire membership of Friendship Missionary Church, offer our full-fledged support of Dr. Clifford A. Jones, our First Lady, Mrs. C. Brenda Jones and their entire family as he begins this monumental journey. To God be the Glory and may He offer you continued grace, peace and blessings.

Contact Information

C Jones NBC 2014
3301 Beatties Ford Road
Charlotte, NC 28216
Phone: 704-391-6603

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blog 160: Meet 2nd Lieutenant Fred L. Brewer, Jr.


By Leon S. Gill
Guest Writer

     Before the Tuskegee Airmen, no African American had ever been a United States military pilot.  The Jim Crow laws, a series of racist laws that enforced the “separate but equal” treatment of African Americans, were used as justification for blocking previous attempts by African American soldiers to become pilots. 

     In spite of these blocking attempts, early in World War II the Army announced the formation of the first all-black Air Corps, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, later named the 99th Fighter Squadron. By 1943, the 99th Fighter Squadron was sent to North Africa to attack the Italian Island of Pantelleria in preparation for the Allied Invasion of Sicily. The Tuskegee Airmen were successful in bringing the island to surrender.

     The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps to become America’s first black military airmen.  They accepted the challenge during a time when many people thought that black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism. 

     They were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama.  From 1941 through 1946 approximately 1,000 pilots graduated from Tuskegee Army Air Field, receiving commissions and pilot wings.  Three hundred and fifty-five of these pilots served overseas in the all-black 332nd Fighter group, which included the 99th Fighter Squadron, 100th Fighter Squadron, 301st Fighter Squadron, and 302nd Fighter Squadron.  During the 332nd Fighter Group distinguished wartime action in Europe, the Tuskegee Airmen were recognized for its outstanding work by earning awards such as Distinguished Unit Citations, Silver Stars, Distinguished Flying Crosses, Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, and Air Medals. 

     The Tuskegee Airmen came from every part of the country; each one possessed a strong personal desire to serve the United States of America.  There were about 15,000 Tuskegee Airmen in all, which included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, doctors, nurses, instructors, maintenance, and various administrative personnel.

     Fred L. Brewer, Jr. graduated in 1938 from Second Ward High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the 2007 North Carolina General Assembly’s Joint Resolution, which honored the Tuskegee Airmen for their service in World War II, Brewer was the only Tuskegee Airmen pilot from Mecklenburg County. 

     Brewer matriculated to Shaw University, in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated in the class of 1942. While at Shaw University, he was listed in the 1941-42 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.  Brewer was editor of the Shaw Journal and Bear during his junior and senior years at Shaw.  He was a student representative at the National Intercollegiate Christian Council at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in 1941, and was a delegate to the National Conference of Negro Youth in 1942.

     After graduating from Shaw, Brewer enlisted in the US Army on November 1943. On March 12, 1944, he completed pilot training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, graduating in Class SE-44-C, as a 2nd Lieutenant and was awarded his pilot wings.  Brewer soon deployed to Italy with the 332nd Fighter Group’s 100th Fighter Squadron.  

     During a bomber escort mission over Germany on October 29, 1944, 2nd Lieutenant Brewer’s P-51 Mustang airplane, which he had nicknamed “Traveling Light,” experienced engine trouble and stalled out, disappeared into the clouds, and was never seen again.  His remains were never recovered.  

     His name is included on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial in Italy.  2nd Lieutenant Brewer was awarded an Air Medal with an oak leaf cluster and a Purple Heart for his military service.  2nd Lieutenant Brewer was the son of Fred L. and Janis Brewer, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and was a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blog 159: Meet Leon S. Gill, Sr.

By Vernon M. Herron

     Leon Samuel Gill, Sr. is a native of Charlotte, NC and was born the same year I finished Second Ward High School, in 1947. He and his wife, Wol, now reside in Madison, Alabama with their two sons, Leon, Jr. and Sean.

     In the year 1966, Leon  was drafted into the U.S. States Army, and served honorably for the next 21½ years, retiring as a Sergeant First Class in 1988.  Following his military service he continued to serve his country for another 19 years with the U.S. States Government Accountability Office (GAO), as a GS-14, Senior Analyst. 

     Mr. Gill’s military assignments include a combat tour in the Republic of Vietnam from 1967-1968, where he served as a combat infantryman with the First Cavalry Division.  Other overseas assignments include tours of duty in Saudi Arabia and Korea.  In addition to his combat tour, Mr. Gill served as an Army Drill Sergeant, Army Recruiter, Career Counselor, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Advisor, Army Training Course Manager and Instructor, Army Commissary Officer, and Operations, Plans, Training, and Security Noncommissioned Officer.

     Mr. Gill received numerous awards and decorations during his many years of service to his country.  Among his military honors are the Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, seven Good Conduct Awards, the Air Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Device, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

     Mr. Gill’s civilian awards include the Comptroller General’s Meritorious Service Award, the Comptroller General’s Equal Opportunity Award, the Managing Director’s Meritorious Service Award, the Managing Director’s Distinguished Service Medal and numerous letters and certificates of commendation.

     He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with honors from St. Leo University, in St. Leo, Florida and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama. 

     Mr. Gill’s community and other organizational involvements include past membership on the Bob Jones High School Board of Trustees, Executive Committee Member of the Huntsville Chapter of Blacks in Government (BIG), Life Member of BIG, Life Member of the NAACP, and a Life Member of the Second Ward High School National Alumni Foundation.

     Leon will continue the blogging work of Vernon M. Herron once the goal of publishing the 200th blog is reached. He will have his own format. Vernon will guest write as inspiration leads. For those who have followed my writing on this blog, thanks for your interest. You may continue to “follow” it or not at your option.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Blog 158: The Comprehensive Genealogical Services in Action

By Vernon M. Herron
Photography by William Youngblood
Proofread by Barbara Hendricks
Edited by Joseph Burton

The Board of Directors of The Comprehensive Genealogical Services honored Vernon M. Herron with a reception on Sunday November 3, 2013 for his service as its founder and first CEO at the Beatties Ford Road Library in Charlotte, NC. The community room was filled to capacity; a delicious meal was served; cards, gifts, signed autograph were received; plaques and memorabilia were given; and many pictures were taken with the honoree. Commending remarks were given by Norman Mitchell and Linda Butler, the first two board chair persons.

Ralph Neely, a former board secretary also gave remarks which follows.

Thank you, Ms. Beatrice Cox, for inviting me to share in the celebration honoring my friend, Dr. Vernon Herron, as Emeritus Director of the Comprehensive Genealogical Services.

I met Dr. Herron during his search for his ancestors. That search brought him to Steele Creek Community, Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, and to Steele Creek Genealogical and Historical Society. We became friends. In fact, he is loved by many in the community.

The Isaac W. Herron Family lived just across the road from the old Steele Creek Church and were members of that church.  Dr. Herron examined many documents that were available in the church’s vault. He went through the cemetery to see Herron gravesites. Dr. Herron visited the church on several Sunday mornings. I was happy that he sat with my family in our regular seats near the back.

Dr. Vernon Herron was the first African American guest minister to fill the pulpit of the 250-year-old Steele Creek Presbyterian Church. That was an historical event. The pews were full! His daughter sat side by side with the enslaved master’s descendants. The press was there and pictures from the event appeared on the front page of The Charlotte Observer the next day. The pictures showed Dr. Herron in the pulpit. There were pictures of the family members in the pews. There was even a picture of me!

Dr. Herron would later use the press on many occasions to promote the Comprehensive Genealogical Services and the genealogical cause. It was a great day for our church. Since that day, several African American pastors have preached at Steele Creek.

Knowing how I like to ride around in my old truck (Ole Blue), Dr. Herron enlisted me to show him the historical sites in Steele Creek community. Here we go, this distinguished gentleman and farm boy Neely in this raggedy truck over hill and dale. We visited churches (McClintock 1865, O’Zion, Mount Olive and Ramoth 1800). We also visited old cemeteries, old schools and old family home places. One time I showed him the creek “Steele Creek” near its source. At this location it was about a foot wide and had just a trickle of water running through it. Dr. Herron looked down at it, and then said, “that’s it?” We laughed and laughed!

After Dr. Herron finished his family history, he wanted to share his genealogical skills and knowledge with others. Comprehensive Genealogical Services was born in Mecklenburg County. I was lucky to serve on the board of this prestigious organization in the early years. I was the biggest board member, the baldest, and the palest! (It was not so much different from today in this room. I am still the biggest, the palest, but after looking at some of these heads, maybe not the baldest!) CGS is a very well run organization, and I learned a great many business skills by being a part of it.

Under Dr. Herron’s guidance, CGS members and associates discovered and saved from destruction, many enslaved person’s gravesites (about one half of known enslaved in the area). This was a huge accomplishment. Many people were involved in this effort.

In my opinion, the greatest accomplishment of Dr. Herron and CGS is teaching others how to find their roots, their ancestry. I know one African American woman who has been able to trace her family all the way back to Africa!  I expect there are many in this room who have done the same thing. I hope that I can do this with my family tree someday.

On a personal note, I received a letter from Dr. Herron which warmed my heart! His pastor at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church suggested to the congregation that they should send a commending letter to three friends. Dr. Herron honored me by sending one of his friendship letters to me. I was greatly appreciative of the sentiments which he conveyed.

Dr. Herron is a great man and a great friend to all. We love you!

I love you, Dr. Herron

With sincere and utmost respect

Ralph Neely

After audience participation, Dr. Herron gave the following remarks:

To the Board of Directors of the Comprehensive Genealogical Services, to my many friends and relatives, I greet you on this auspicious occasion, a reception of appreciation, for the many years of service as its first CEO. Thank you for this experience.

Twenty years ago, in 1993, the Comprehensive Genealogical Services, (CGS) was organized in King of Prussia, PA and sponsored with the support of the Shiloh Baptist Church of Philadelphia, PA. and the Institute for Non Traditional Ministries of Washington, D.C.,  Sixteen (16) years ago, in 1997, here at this library, CGS was organized and incorporated in 1999. So you see, this is a homecoming for an organization which has come full circle and has meant much to black families in the pursuit of corrective history.

The purpose, mission, and program emphasis of this unique organization can be found in its name, discussed in reverse order: Services, Genealogy, and Comprehensive.

CGS is an organization of services including information, collaboration, inspiration and affirmation. The nature of its work is genealogical, i.e., it deals with the scientific study of family life. It recognizes that accurate and historical facts are necessary due to an enslaved heritage, lost and unrecorded records and a period of family disruption.

The scope of its work is comprehensive, assisting individuals, families and other non-profit organizations in research and development including:
            Enslaved genealogy
            Pedigree development
            Family history
            Family reunions
            Family organization
            Family communiqu├ęs

This reception has been eulogistic and gratifying. It does not matter now, that I’ll hear your kind words, like I’ve heard today, to be given at my funeral. But it does matter, to hear my Lord and Savior say at that time, “well done.”

The history of CGS is defined; the present status of CGS is unique; the future of CGS is uncharted. The rest is in your hands. Where do we go?

For more photos from the event, please visit:
(Courtesy William Youngblood)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Blog 157: Genealogical Education (6): Research Techniques: Part II

By Vernon M. Herron

     As a methodology in research, a case study is used to illustrate genealogical research principles and concepts. Genealogical research is time-consuming, expensive and is a life-time commitment. In most cases, it is easier to research Whites than Blacks. Better records for whites were kept, especially on males, because they were considered head of their families and their names were listed in public documents. (See 1790 Censuses). Next, in terms of quality are records, are those on white females, then on free Blacks and finally on descendants of the enslaved.

     As you research Black genealogy, there are some principles you might follow. Those principles are the same when researching back to 1870, but different techniques must be used for the period prior to the Civil War when researching the enslaved. Here are the basic principles for researchers:
1. Start with oneself and work backward. That is, fill out a genealogical chart on oneself and
 then trace backward to as many generations as possible.
2. Try to reconstruct only one family line at a time.
3. Talk with older relatives, older members of the community and the griot. Take good
     notes and, if possible, use a tape recorder. This is one form of oral history.
4. Consult family Bible for records of births, marriages and death dates for ancestors.
5. Locate the county of your birth (your parents and grandparents) and learn something  
    about its geography and history.
6. Check public records such as wills, deeds, marriages, estate inventories and
    deaths. (County Court House)
7. Separate traditions and legends from facts. Find Documents to support as much  information as possible.
8. If your ancestors were free Blacks, check the federal census records prior to 1870.

     When tracing descendants of the enslaved, one of the most effective approaches to identify enslaved ancestors is to identify the plantation where the ancestor worked and the master of the enslaved family.
     To trace the descendants of the enslaved prior to the Civil War, is to locate and study the family history of the enslaved master. In doing so, blacks may find their own ancestors. This task is hard and difficult. 
     When the enslaved were sold and families were separated, they took on new identities; their names were disregarded and changed; they were given only first names such as Tom, Eliza, Old Big Tom, Big Jim, etc. When the Civil War ended, the enslaved legally adopted surnames and made a final choice at the time they were emancipated.
     Once you have established the enslaved master, try to go back to previously searched records and look for emancipated ancestors under the surname of the master. Searching for enslaved ancestors always requires a thorough investigation of the White/Black master owning families in all public and historic records.
     In blog 150, we noted the distinction between primary and secondary sources. We observed that primary records are created at the time of, or shortly after the event or circumstances. Such records are noted by someone with personal knowledge of the event. They identify the date, places or events which establish personal identities and family relationships, including births, marriages and deaths. To see this technique demonstrated, please note the genealogical summary of the second generation of the Richard Herron family as recorded and published in the family history book. (Richard and Minerva were my great grandparents) It reads:

Second Generation

2. Richard Herron was born in Steel Creek Township, Mecklenburg, North Carolina c1810 and died in said county c1890 in his 80th year. In Mecklenburg County in c1843, Richard married Minerva (--) She, too was born in said county c1820 and died there in c1875 in her 55th year.

The following children of Richard and Minerva (___) Herron were born, died and buried in Mecklenburg County North Carolina.

+  3  I  George Herron, b. c1844 and died c1874
+  4  ii Anderson Herron, b. c1846 and died c1891
+ 5  iii Green Herron, b. c1847 and was sold to a Grier family
+ 6  iv Samuel Herron, b. c1850 and died c1889
+ 7  v Amanda Heron, b. c1852 and died c1892
+ 8  vi  Sally Herron, b.  c1854 and died c1902
+ 9  vii Lawrence Herron, b. 1858 and died c1905
+ 10  viii Thomas Herron, b. c1862 and died c1906
+ 11  ix Joseph Herron, b. c1865 and died c1919
+  12  x Maggie Herron, b. c1867 and died c1891
+ 13  xi Harriett Herron, b. c1869 and died c1899

     For the continued study of research techniques, let us focus on the data given for Minerva. She was married to Richard Herron; was born c1820, died c1874, and was the mother of 13 children. The question is this: Is this information primary or secondary material? Is this data calculated or verifiable?

     Well, let us begin! “C” before a date means “about.” The dates for Minerva’s birth, marriage and death can be calculated from other secondary sources. For example, the dates of her birth and marriage are calculated from the ages of her children.

     Recognizing that the 1870 census is the first time all persons are listed by names and by household, the Richard and Minerva Herron family is now listed with seven of their children: Anderson, Samuel, Amanda, Sally, Lawrence, Thomas and Jake. According to family tradition, Green had been sold and was not listed in this census. However, a 1874 marriage license was found for Green, listing his parents not as “Griers” but as Richard and Minerva Herron.

     Remember in blog 150, I told you about Green Herron who was sold to a Grier family and whose name was changed from “Green Herron” to “Green Grier.”  

     Now, there is more specificity with the date of Minerva’s death. Here is the scenario. Her death date is c1875 calculated from the marriage certificates of two of her children, Green and Maggie. Green’s marriage certificate issued in 1874, states that his mother, Minerva Herron was alive. But Maggie’s marriage certificate issued in 1876, states that mother Minerva was dead. Thus, the half-way year for Minerva’s death is c1875.

     Research techniques are legion. This blog is only a beginning.

     Best of luck!