Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blog 173: Expressive Thoughts

By Ione D. Vargus, Ph.D.

     Not only has President Barack Obama sent words of appreciation for the Herron Speaks blogs but now, kind and reflective words have come from Dr. Ione Vargus, Professor and Dean Emerita, Founder/Director, “Mother of Family Reunions: Family Reunion Institute-Temple University.  Her comments are printed in their entirety:


     I am sorry that I did not know beforehand of the reception given for you in November.   You certainly deserved the acknowledgment of your contributions. I would have sent some kind of greeting, but at least I got a chance to read about it in your blog.  
      Talking about blogs, I will definitely miss your blog when you have accomplished your 200th. !  As a person who is not fond of reading articles and the like on the internet, I always opened up yours as soon as they came, even when the topic was related primarily to North Carolina. Then, I printed them out.
      I think it was more than the fact that the contents would be interesting.  I think it had to do with our connection. 
     You were a great supporter when we formed the Family Reunion Institute at  Temple University in 1990.  A few years before that,  I had heard you being interviewed on the radio about your family reunion by Rowena Stewart, the Director of the African American Museum in Philadelphia.  I was then in the throes of conducting research on African American family reunions and I was so excited to hear you talk about yours.  
      We  became part of Dr. Stewart’s planning committee to help Dr Stewart recognize the oldest Black families in Philadelphia and to  hold a conference for Black family reunions, funded by the city.   When the funding ceased, Dr. Stewart asked if I could carry on the conference through Temple.  I asked the planning committee, all of whom were people whose families had reunions, to become an Advisory Committee to me.
     We named ourselves the African American Family Reunion Institute and held our first conference in 1990. I’ve kept all of the minutes from that committee and I can tell you, that was a dynamic committee.  The ideas were so wonderful. You contributed so much to the discussion.   
     Although Temple gave us a number of in-kind services, we had to get operational money from outside and you wrote a great proposal.   You were a presenter at many  of our conferences  where  you shared so much on the how-to’s and resources related to genealogy.  
      We evolved from a one-day conference using classrooms at Temple, to moving to hotels so that people from out of state had someplace to stay and extending the number of days, to having conferences in other parts of the country.
     I still have a long 1993  article about you entitled "Digging up Roots is Vernon Herron's Business" written in the Philadelphia Tribune.  I have a photograph that included you when I retired in 1995 from Temple as an administrator.  (I  still run the Institute as a volunteer.)  I have photos of when you were at the conference and had a table sharing your family’s background.  We missed you when you moved to North Carolina but I was happy to be a part of the religious service given in your honor before you left.
     So, Vernon, I’ve enjoyed continuing the connection with you.  As you probably noticed, whenever there was some mechanical problem with your blog, I notified you immediately.   I didn’t think I could write a blog but you’ve inspired me and now I write a monthly one for a company called 
     You are to be congratulated for sticking with it and sharing with us for such a long time.   Thank You.

About the author

Monday, January 27, 2014

Blog 172: A Reflection of Thornton Baker (TB) Haynes

By Rufus Spears and Vernon M. Herron

     When the 78 students who comprised the class of ’47, finished the Second Ward High School in Charlotte, NC, a prominent student, Thornton Baker (TB) Haynes, with a prominent family name, was in the number. TB passed on Sunday, 19 January 2014, leaving 13 of his original classmates to carry on. TB and Vernon Herron knew each other for 72 years.
     He was born in Charlotte, NC, September 3, 1929 to Ethel and Theodore Haynes. His mother was the popular President of Second Ward High School PTA, and a major figure with the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. His beloved and late wife of 34 years, Geraldine Bartley, was also a member of the class of 47 at Second Ward.
     At Second Ward, TB  participated in Track and Field.  In 1946, the Piedmont Colored High School Athletic Association (PCHSAA) started the sport of track in its member schools.  Second Ward High School formed a team. Thornton B. Haynes (TB) began his track career as a star sprinter.  He ran the 100-yard dash, the 220 and he was the anchor man for the 440 relay team.  The team won the conference and State Championships in 1946 and 1947.   
     After graduation from high school, TB attended North Carolina College (North Carolina Central University) in Durham, NC on a full track scholarship.  There he ran the 100, 220, 440, 880 and the medley relay.  He was later inducted into  Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.  TB graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.   
     Thereafter he attended Boston University to pursue advanced studies.  In 1952 he entered the U.S. Army and served until 1954; and received an honorable discharge in 1961.  TB received his Certification as a secondary school teacher from Johnson C. Smith University in 1956 and went on to teach biology at Voorhees College in Denmark, SC until 1959.  He started his career at the United States Postal Service in 1959, where he stayed until 1970.
     After obtaining his Master’s in Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill in 1971, he began his career with the City of Charlotte as a Public Health Educator.  He then went on to serve as a Program Manager for the Division of Health Services for the state of North Carolina.  While there he worked with the Sickle Cell Syndrome Program and received numerous certifications in the field. 
      He was considered a pioneer by those who worked in the North Carolina Sickle Cell Program.  He was one of the first four state employees in the program as the first regional consultant in the western thirty four counties of the state, beginning in 1973.  In 1975 he became the first state Sickle Cell Program Manager dedicated to just the Sickle Cell Program. Under his leadership, the program grew with nine Educator Counselors and a Secretary. Now every newborn child in the state is tested for the Sickle Cell trait and those diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease are provided proper medical care.   
     Governor James E. Holshouser, Jr. named December 17, 1975 Thornton B. Haynes Day.  TB served as the Public Health Regional Director for the Western and South Central Region from 1977 to 199­4. Upon his retirement in 1994, Governor James B. Hunt Jr. awarded him the Long Leaf Pine Award. 
     He was a Life member of Greater Bethel AME Church, where he served as a trustee, steward, and Sunday school teacher. TB was very active in the church and received the Man of the Year award for his numerous contributions.  As part of his service he and his wife, Geraldine, would tape the services for the sick and shut in and deliver them to their homes.  He picked up and dropped off anyone who had a desire to attend church.  
      He loved to attend musical concerts and was very active in the community.  He was a member of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum, Wednesday Morning Breakfast Group and Ministerial Alliance.  TB was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at North Carolina Central University on April 16, 1988 for his accomplishments with the track team. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blog 171: Learning From Exposure

By Vernon M. Herron

     There are many methods used for learning. Let there be no doubt about it, we can learn from exposure. A bank executive carried his son to his office one day, allowing him to sit in his big chair behind his desk and get the feel of being an executive; An engineer showed his son creative modules and designs which he had made in the hope inspiring the boy; while another father showed his son the different parts of an automobile and how to drive it once all parts were properly in place.

While my father died when I was one year of age, I was extremely blessed with the presence of an aunt who lived with us for the first eight years of my life and who was also my second grade teacher.

Aunt Leila exposed me to three great learning experiences which resonate with me even unto this day; they were a streetcar ride, an escalator ride and an airplane ride.

In the early
20s, Charlotte’s major transportation system was the  Streetcar, which traveled in the center of the street, when patrons could ride for 5 cents. I remember my first streetcar ride. Approaching automobiles would stop to allow passengers time to board the approaching trolley. I observed the operation of the conductor, his pulling the bell as his horn. I noted the interior of the car unit. The trolley car was powered not by motor and gas but by electricity overhead. My! What a ride and an experience!

Our destiny of having a streetcar ride was to visit the Belk Department store located in uptown Charlotte, NC. Here, I had my second great exposure. We traveled to the second floor by way of an escalator, (moving stairs) which I had not seen nor experienced before. That ride blew my mind!

Now, the third exposure was my first airplane ride. On a Sunday afternoon, one could pay $2.00 for a “joy ride” over the city of Charlotte, noting my residential community from the sky. The view, ride and the experience were awesome. I shall never forget those exposures. They were learning experiences.

Thank God for one who not only taught from the blackboard but also taught by exposure.        

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blog 170: Learn to Speak History, Including Dates and Facts


By Vernon M. Herron

     The Alexander Funeral Home in Charlotte, NC has produced its 2014 calendar which is most noteworthy. Its history is revealing, noting its beginning in 1914, celebrating 100 years of existence. It carries photographs of Zechariah Alexander, Sr., founder and past president; Zechariah Alexander, Jr., past president; Kelly Alexander, Sr. past president; and Alfred Alexander, present president. 

     According to North Carolina State Board of Health- Bureau of Vital Statistics, the Alexander Funeral Home, Inc. which handled my maternal grandfather’s burial, had been in existence for 21 years at the time of his death. 

     I knew each of the former presidents personally. When my father died, Zach, Sr. enrolled all of the Herron children in the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Sunday School; his beloved late wife, Louise and my mother were neighbors and friends; his sons, Zech, Jr. and Kelly inspired me through organizational life known as the NAACP; his grandson Alfred is my personal friend while his late grandsons, Zech Wilbur and Andrew were my childhood playmates. 

     From the Bureau of Vital Statistics, copy of Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death Certificates can be obtained. From these documents, we learn personal identification, personal and statistical particulars, and medical records. Dates are given along with age and environmental conditions at the time of events. These documents contain much genealogical materials which give authenticity when we speak. That is why one should speak history as dates and facts and not necessary as an expressed opinion or belief.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Blog 169: No Scam Zone

By Leon Gill
Guest Writer

Senior Citizens Protect Yourselves from Affordable Care Act Fraud
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning that convincing sounding callers are attempting to perpetrate healthcare insurance frauds on American citizens.  According to the BBB and Federal Trade Commission, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (“Obamacare”) scams are especially targeting the elderly, people with disabilities, and owners of small businesses.  Since the launch of the ACA, residents nationwide are finding themselves targets of ACA scams.

The scams come in many forms—such as e-mails, phone calls, and imposter websites.  Some rely on ignorance about what the ACA law actually covers, such as touting that recipients could qualify for cheaper auto insurance. Hint: The ACA does not affect car coverage.  Most of the scams are in reality designed to steal from people.  The official government sanctioned website for ACH is: (

In North Carolina if someone calls you on the phone offering you discount health insurance at $29.00 a month, hang up and report them to the North Carolina Department of Insurance.  Beware of scammers who may try to persuade you to buy insurance outside of  
The Legal Consumer author at  provides the following list of common “Obamacare” scams:

·       The “Obamacare Card.” No such card exists.  If anyone tries to sell such a thing, it’s a scam.

·       Unidentified callers asking for sensitive personal information.  Watch out for scammers claiming to be from the federal government who request information such as bank routing numbers, your Medicare ID, your social security number, or even credit card numbers.  If a government official calls you, they will not ask for this information because they already have it.

·       Arrest Threats.  If you get emails, phone calls, faxes, or test messages saying you could be arrested for failure to purchase health insurance, it’s a scam.  Even if you break the law by going without health insurance, you won’t be arrested.

·       Cheap Insurance.  Be alert to fake websites, faxes, or other communications promising insurance for prices too good to be true.  As mentioned above, if someone tries to sell you “Obamacare” insurance for $29.00 per month, ignore them—or better yet, report them.

·       Imposter navigators and counselors. The ACA created funding for trained “navigators” and certified application counselors to help you purchase health care insurance.  Scammers have already begun to prey on senior citizens and low-income individuals by falsely claiming to be navigators and extracting personal information from confused citizens.  If you want to work with navigator or counselor, look for one at an established community organization (such as a health clinic) and ask to see their certification.

If you think someone has tried to scam you, alert the North Carolina agency that regulates insurance:  The North Carolina Department of Insurance at or call toll free at 888-680-7684.  The department can also be contacted via email at

          Don’t be fraud victim! Protect yourself and your love ones.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blog 168: Blogs Which Brought Laughter: Some Were Humorous

By Vernon M. Herron

Blog writing is serious business. It can be thought-provoking, meditative and sometimes humorous. Reviewing the 167 blogs, so far written, I found six of them made me chuckle. Let me note brief excerpts from the six to see which tickle    your fantasy.

From blog 59- “My Adopted Family”

Related to identifying oneself with people of note, I remember enrolling at Shaw University as a freshman in 1947. I met a sophomore whose name was “Gibbs.”
After looking me over, the following dialogue ensued.
            Gibbs: “Who are you?”
            Herron: “Don’t you know who I am? Have you heard of Roland Hayes?”
            Gibbs: “Yes”
            Herron: “Why, that’s my cousin!”
            Gibbs:  “Wow!”
            Herron: “Do you know of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.?”
            Gibbs: “Yes!”
            Herron: “Why, he’s my uncle!”
            Gibbs:  “Wow!”
            Herron: “Have you heard of Joe Lewis?”
            Gibbs:  “Wait a minute, you freshman. You are about to lie!”
So I had, because of my desire to be associated with people of note and who were making a significant difference in life.

Blog 66 speaks of our mothers who had never attended a football game.   

The other factor is that our mothers visited us at the time of our school’s Annual     Homecoming, when the football team would be contending for the CIAA National Championship. It was Ruth’s and my responsibility to give both mothers a “crash course” for a typical football game. Cramming was required at this time!

We explained the essentials of football in the follow manner:
            A football field.
            Goal-post zones.
             Teams-dressed alike-running in opposite directions, like they are trying to
                     avoid “stepping in something.”
            Making a “touch-down” for points and a goal.
            Extra points.
            A victory and a Winner.

Yet, when the two mothers showed visible signs of incomprehension of this mass material and the inability to “cram,” we quickly thought of and suggested an easier way. Our proposal was, “just stand up and yell, ‘hoo-ray’ and ‘right-on’, when we do.” They did! They enjoyed the game, especially being on the winning side.

Leaving the stadium, we overheard conversation between the two mothers: they said, “the football game was a thriller and a Diller.” “It was the first and only one I have attended.” “We did not know the game at first, but we learned fast.” “God is good to allow us to be here this day to see our children start their college life with a ‘bang.’” “It is our hope that they will succeed.”

Blog 101 speaks about an experience with a psychiatric patient.

The latter was near the Dix campus one day and was “chased” by a patient all the way through town and onto the Shaw campus. The faster the Shaw student ran, the harder the Dix patient pursued. By the time the student reached the Shaw campus, stopping at the first bench, he was out of breath and wondered, what’s would happen next? As the patient approached the student, he simply touched the erudite scholar on the shoulder and said “tap, I got you” and returned to Dix campus.

Blog 124 is about a pace maker.

Today, how blessed we are to have “pace makers” and other prostrate limbs to aid the body. This point is well illustrated in the following story.

On the first night of his wedding, a new husband watched his new bride undress for bed. She removed her head piece and laid it aside, showing her bald head. Then, she removed her teeth and placed them in a glass of water. Later, she removed her right arm and laid it aside, followed by the removal of her left leg. Lastly, she removed one breast and one hip pad.

The new husband who could take no more, rose up and said “woman, get yourself ‘together’ and get out of here!”

Thank God for the Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, the Pace Maker.

Blog 132 is about Contending for Mental Alertness.

Recently, I said to my primary health care doctor, “I take 14 medications a day. Each one has a description on “side effects.” In fact, of one medication, the following warning was given, “… is a very potent medication which may cause serious water loss, thirst or confusion.” Now, I really wonder if the consumed medication is affecting my mental alertness. I continued this revelation with my doctor. “I cannot recall as I once did. I cannot remember my date of birth, address, social security number, phone number or my wife’s first name!” The doctor said, “Oh yea? How long have you had that condition?” “What  condition?,” I asked.   My good friend and care giver continued his proposition, “let me ask of you a profound question, which will be a good indicator of your alertness.” I agreed to the strategy, where upon the physician stated the following premise, then, asked his question.

“You are the bus driver with 15 passengers headed for Asheville, NC. The bus stopped along the way when three persons got off. It later stopped again and two persons got on. How old is the bus driver?” For some reason, I could not remember that I was the bus driver, thus my age! Well, that got me! Never again would I be caught!

The next Sunday, the first lady of our church said to me, “I have six questions for the ‘retired theologian.’” This time, I was not to be out done. “Say on madam,” I demanded, “ask your six questions.”

Q. Who was the greatest comedian in the O.T.?
A. Let me see. It was Sampson, who brought the house down.

Q. That’s good! Now try this one. What car was used by the disciples?
A.  Honda, because the disciples were on one accord.

Q. My! You are alert. Number three, Who was the greatest female financier in   
A.  Pharaoh’s  daughter, who went to the Bank of the Nile and pulled a little

Q. Why did the people not play cards on the ark?
A.  Noah was standing on the deck.

Q. You are good!, now tell me, who did not have parents in O.T.?
A. Joshua, son of nun.

Q,  Did you know that, it’s a sin for a woman to make coffee?
A.  Yup, it is in the Bible. It says He-brews.

“My you have answered all six questions correctly. 100 for you!” said the first lady.

I discussed all six questions and answers with my care giver who said, “you are a long way from Alzheimer or dementia. Your recall memory is good. What I do find is the problem of age, which causes us all to forget at time.” “Whoa! that is good news to hear,” I said.

Now, I reread the warning and restriction given on the potent medication bottle. It said, “take for 14 days only.” I have discontinued taking that medication. Now, my recall is instant and better. I remember well that my date of birth is 5-6-40; my address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.; the last four digits of my social security is 7607; my phone number is 704-333-4444; my wife’s first name is Michelle. So you see, I am doing o.k. What about you? Do you remember everything which I have told you?

Blog 143 deals with the right “inquiry” but with the wrong person.

Recently, one day in the a.m., I emailed a message to an addressee listed in the file as  “Dee Walker”. I thought that I was speaking to my niece, Dee Bloomfield. (It’s o.k. to call names.) The message said, “I thought that I had your telephone number but I can’t find it. At one time, you told me that your husband was ill and I want to hear about his status.”

That same day, in the p.m., I received the following reply from Dee Walker. She asked, “What husband? You found me a husband?! Thank the Lord! You must be referring to another Dee. (And I was) But if you find someone looking for a wife, tell him to get in touch with me.” Ha-ha, Ha-ha, Ha-ha.

Did you laugh?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Blog 167: Desiderata is Pragmatic

(A repeat of blog 102)

     There are four documents which have inspired me greatly over the years. They are The Bible, The US Constitution, World Literature and the Desiderata. It is about this latter document which I want to share with you today. Desiderata, (Latin “desired things”) is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945), largely unknown in the author’s lifetime. The text became widely known after being found at Adlai Stevenson’s deathbed in 1965. For maximum benefit, may I suggest that you read the poem slowly for comprehension.
– Vernon M. Herron

By Max Ehrmann

     Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

     As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
     Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

     Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.

     If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
     Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

     Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

     Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
     Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

     But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
     Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

     And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

     Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

     With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Blog 166: The History of the Comprehensive Genealogical Services: Its Origin, Structure and Program

By Vernon M. Herron and Linda Hinton Butler

In 1993, the Comprehensive Genealogy Services (CGS) was organized by Dr. Vernon Herron while living in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and sponsored with the support of the Shiloh Baptist Church of Philadelphia, PA. and the Institute for Non-Traditional Ministries of Washington, D.C. After retiring, Dr. Herron returned to Charlotte, NC and organized the Comprehensive Genealogical Services December 13, 1997 at the Beatties Ford Road Library. CGS was Incorporated in NC in October 1999 and has been a vital source of information for history, genealogy and culture of the African ancestral population.

The first board chairperson was Norman Mitchell who served for one year, from December 1997-December 1998.  The second board chair was Linda Hinton Butler who served for 13 years, from 1998-2011, after which Konrad Broussard became the chair. Not only was Vernon M. Herron the founder of CGS but he served as its first CEO for ten years, 1997 to 2007. He was followed in that office by Beatrice Cox and Iris Chandler.

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

One of the super programs of CGS is its Cemetery Work. According to the social statistics of the 1860 census, there were 6,541 enslaved persons in Mecklenburg County, NC. Here, they lived and died, but where they were buried is another story. Today, there is a continuous effort of the Comprehensive Genealogical Services and others, to seek the location and identification of the burial grounds of enslaved persons willed to obliteration. The Township of Huntersville was in the middle of building a new road near Bethesda which would have gone through a cemetery and destroyed many unmarked graves, but CGS arrested the case.

In 2001, Mecklenburg County gave CGS a Grant for 3 years to research enslaved cemeteries with documentation.
The history of CGS is defined; its present status is unique; its future is uncharted!

Historical Portraits in Review