This week was the start of a new subject. After hitting a dead end with the Margaret Lane Cemetery I got the go ahead from my supervisor to move back onto researching the African American History of Hillsborough. Instead of the overall approach that I was taking before, I have begun researching a specific aspect of the history in Hillsborough first and then once I am done with that subject I will move onto the next one.
I am starting with the Dickerson AME Chapel. The chapel was the third Orange county courthouse, and was purchased by the Reverend Elias Dodson Jr. I was able to look through the Ancestry.com documents to find a sizable amount of information on Elias Dodson, but there are enough Elias Dodson’s that it is difficult to sift through the information and come out with verifiable proof that this is indeed the correct Elias Dodson.
I also continued to expand on the research of the chapel itself. The changing owners of the building is fascinating. Dodson bought the courthouse and then moved it to another more central location in downtown. from there the chapel changed hands 4 times before becoming the AME chapel it is today in 1886. I have almost exhausted the resources that I have at my disposal for the Chapel so I will be moving onto other subjects this week. A local Hillsborough resident who is knowledgable about Elizabeth Keckly’s history will be coming in to talk to me on Monday and I think that will be beneficial to my research on her. I definitely need to take advantage of those people that already have all the information I need readily available in their head. I look forward to seeing what my research reveals this week.
This week went in the books as a frustrating one on the research front. The week began with my continuing to research the history of the Margaret Lane Cemetery. However, this proved to be a dead end. I searched through the deed records that are available to me for Orange County, but was unable to get any where with that. Although there were sales of land to the owner of the Cemetery, none of them were the correct plot of land and none of them were sales from the town.
With this portion of the research hitting a dead end, I moved onto researching those who were buried in the cemetery. First I tried online research through the information that I could gather via third-party websites. This information only went so far when coupled with the books that I had on the History in Hillsborough. The one moment of excitement came when I was able to put a crude family tree together that linked two family members who are supposedly buried in the MLC. However, this theory was contingent on either a misprint or a nickname that was given to the woman that was buried there. While this is entirely possible, it is not probable.
From that point I went on to go to the library. While there I looked through the resources available to me through their ancestry.com account. This proved unhelpful apart from finding a few possible census entries that could be related to those buried. I was then able to look through the microfilm for the local newspaper for the dates of death. However, there is a large portion of the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s that is not there due to the paper moving and the new paper not installing itself yet. The few dates that did match with the newspapers I could view did not yield any information. I can only assume that this is because the obituaries, which seemed few and far between, were expensive enough to prohibit the families of those being buried from publishing one. Although I did learn a great deal about using resources this week, they did not prove helpful in the avenues I was pursuing.
This week was short. I was unfortunately only able to go into the AHH office for 1 day this week. However, that did not stop me from getting work done. On Monday I was able to revise a few more of the itineraries. After that I continued, from home, researching the African American history of Hillsborough. I was able to find a great deal of information on the local history.
Elizabeth Keckly is often known as the dressmaker and confidant of Mary Todd Lincoln. Before her relative fame she was a part of the Burwell School in Hillsborough. As a slave there she was often abused by the neighbors of the Burwell School. She was even forced to bear a son that was conceived with a local white man. Her son, George, would later die in the Civil War. Elizabeth Keckly isn’t the only famous African American with roots in Hillsborough and I look forward to continuing to gather that history.
The new assignment that I have on my radar is collecting information on those buried in the Margaret Lane Cemetery. The cemetery dates back to the 1800’s and the most recent burial was in 1931. After that the cemetery was largely neglected and was vandalized. There has been an effort to preserve what is still in the cemetery. There was also a monument erected in memory of those in the cemetery. Because many of the original graves are no longer marked, it will be more difficult to compile information on those buried there, but I have a great number of resources available to me. Hopefully I will be able to put all of this information together into some form of booklet that will be available to those visiting Hillsborough.
This past week was the most hectic, so far, in my position as intern for the Alliance. On Monday and Tuesday I was able to revise some of the itineraries that I had written in June. I then began work on researching the African-American History of Hillsborough so as to begin building a self-guided tour based on the Black history of Hillsborough.
In the midst of those responsibilities the preparation for the July 4th Picnic in the Park was steadily increasing. On Wednesday afternoon there was a meeting of the Alliance and the interns to discuss the responsibilities and duties for the day of the 4th. I was able to create the program that would be handed out for the event, and that became the basis for the scheduling of our responsibilities.
I was nervous about how the day was going to go, but there were hardly any snags and there was even some time to stand back and see how successful the event was. The morning started off with setting up at the Farmers Market Pavilion for the picnic that would take place in early afternoon. Meanwhile the parade had started up on Tryon St. and the judging for most patriotic person and pet had begun. The parade ended in front of the old county courthouse where the community chorus that I sing in during the summer performed a selection of songs including the star-spangled banner. Then we were ready for the reading of the declaration of independence. After the reading (which had a fantastic attendance) there was music, food trucks, pony rides, and face painting for all those who came down to the farmers market pavilion.
There was a glowing review in the newspaper and I heard nothing but positive comments from those that spoke to me about the event. I am thrilled with how it turned out. We will have a meeting later this coming week to discuss the outcome and the potential improvements for future years to come.