Thursday, January 31, 2013

Genealogy in Local News

The Wichita Eagle reprinted an interesting article from the Kansas City Star about some genealogists who solved a riddle that more mainstream historians hadn't resolved (not clear whether the historians couldn't solve the riddle or just hadn't bothered.)  Benjamin "Pap" Singleton was born a slave, escaped to freedom, and was instrumental in encouraging former slaves to move to Kansas and other states to escape the Jim Crow south after the Civil War.  The riddle?  What happened to him after his prominence faded?  Some Kansas genealogists and historians found his death certificate and cemetery records.

It's an interesting article that gives genealogy a positive shout out.  Read it here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing of our recent discovery of Benjamin "Pap" Singleton's ["Father of the Exodusters"] burial place in Union Cemetery in Kansas City, MO. Marcia Schuley of Manhattan and I were the genealogists who made the discovery last month. It was so exciting, but it took lots of persistence--checking with various cemeteries and funeral homes,searching old newspaper, etc. for 18 months. And finally it required checking back twice with both the cemetery and the funeral home to eventually find his final resting place.

    The first time we called Union cemetery more than a year ago, we were told that there was no listing for him. Then last month we called again and this time they again found no Benjamin who died 17 Feb 1900 but they did mention a "Berry Singleton" whose funeral was handled by Wagner Mortuary on 26 Feb 1900. Hmmm, we wondered. Could "Berry" really be "Benny?" But the hand-written name looked like it contained "r's" rather than "n's"

    After we got a lead on where the old Wagner records are now housed, we contacted McGilley Midtown Chapel and were told that there was no Benjamin Singleton who d. 17 Feb 1900 in the records. We contacted them a second time and asked them to check for "Berry" Singleton, bur. 26 Feb 1900 whom we suspected could have been one and the same as Benjamin.

    This time they located Benjamin's mortuary record showing he was buried in Union Cemetery on 26 Feb 1900. There was no "Berry." Our search was over! We realized that the poorly-written name "Berry" was really "Benj."

    What we have learned: Persistence pays off. Never give up. Ask a second time. Be open to all possibilities when reading handwritten names.

    Our next goal is to ensure that Benjamin "Pap" Singleton [1809-1900] has a marker/memorial at Union cemetery.