Fearless Females: Best Friends Forever



As a genealogist, I’ve spent a lot of time over the years focused on family. But for generations, women have expanded their families with an important addition – their best friends. My mother, Alice Vivian Batchelor, taught me by example about the extraordinary value of best friends.

Her best friend was Sitella Glenn and she and Mom were BFFs for well over 40 years. Here’s a picture of them back in the day – Mom in the big hat and Sitella on the right with the beautiful smile.

mom and sitella2 Fearless Females: Best Friends Forever

That’s my mother in the big hat and her best friend, Sitella on the top right.

These two friends met through their husbands when Sitella had moved to Detroit from Cuba after she got married. What initially brought Mom and Sitella together was their love of Spanish. My mother had studied Spanish in college and was fluent but had no one to talk with. A mutual friend introduced them and Mom and Sitella became friends forever.

They went through life’s ups and downs together, raised their children, lost their parents, empty-nested and lost their husbands. But friendship sustained these two fearless females. And it was an important lesson because I saw firsthand how, as this anonymous quote says better than I ever could -  

Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.

As the years went by, the friendship was challenged when my mother started declining from dementia. But even as the fog of dementia grew thicker, the one thing that could lift it for Mom was a visit from her best friend.

I remember the times when Sitella would come to visit and my mother would light up with a big smile of recognition. Her friend was there and that much Mom was sure of.

mom and sitella1 Fearless Females: Best Friends Forever

Forty years later when Mom, on the left, was in her nineties and Sitella in her eighties – they were still best friends.

In January, 2013, my mother became very ill with the flu and pneumonia. She was in the hospital for a few days and then back home to recuperate. Of course, the first person to come and visit was Sitella.

Sadly though, Mom didn’t recover and she passed away on January 20, 2013. And her BFF was there for us – as friend and family. 

song of friendship Fearless Females: Best Friends Forever

Just this past Thanksgiving, Sitella came and had dinner with us instead of her own family. As I look back on that day, we were all comforted by her presence, bright smile and enduring friendship.

She is truly a best friend forever.

52 Ancestors: #9 The Alice Bangles



This post #9 in the 52 Ancestors blog challenge is about my great-grandmother who was a woman from the island of Bermuda named Alice Dickinson. I know she had at least three children – Frederick, Clarissa and Renee. Frederick was my maternal grandfather and he was born in Bermuda on December 12, 1889. Years later, he would honor his mother by naming two of his daughters after her. One was my mother, Alice Vivian.

I don’t know if “Dickinson” was Alice’s maiden or married name. But I have heard family rumors that she was somehow related to a “Dr. Tucker” from Bermuda who may have been related to her. Sadly that’s all I know this side of my family.

Except that at some point, one of her …

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52 Ancestors: #8 A Prince of a Man



In this 8th post of the 52 ancestors I’ll write about in 2014, the focus is my great-grandfather, Prince Albert Weaver. I’ve always wondered where he got that name. When he was born November 24, 1860, there was a more famous Prince Albert living, who was the beloved Prince Consort to England’s Queen Victoria. Maybe Great-Grandpa was named after him.

My Prince Albert was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Nathaniel D. and Cornelia C. Weaver. But by the 1870 United States Census, Nathaniel was deceased and Cornelia was living in Washington, D.C. as a widow with two children – Ellen C., age 16 and Albert, age 10.

From the census records, it looks like Prince Albert spent his entire childhood in D.C. because he’s still there as …

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Make Black History Personal: #25 Family History from the Inside Out



When I was a little Black girl growing up in Detroit, Michigan, the last thing I was thinking about was genealogy, family history or anything beyond my little world of people who loved me and who I loved back.

But pretty early in life, I became interested in history. When my parents subscribed to National Geographic, that magazine really jump-started my evolution into the history nerd I am today.

From the many issues of National Geographic I read over the years, I was most intrigued by the articles on anthropology – the scientific study of human races, origins, societies, and cultures.

The history of human beings.

I devoured everything I could find on anthropology and what’s now called the Read more

Shopping Saturday: My 18th Century Shopping Trip



Last Saturday, after being cooped up for over a week with a bad cold, I was feeling better and decided to treat myself to a little outing at the Kalamazoo Living History Show that someone told me about recently.

This is an annual event held in Kalamazoo, Michigan for historical reenactors, educators, collectors and genealogy/history nerds (like me) who are interested in what life was like in pre-1890 America. The theme this year was the War of 1812.

Since Kalamazoo is only a couple of hours away, the show seemed like a great outing for a sunny and finally snow-free day. I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never attended a living history event before. So what I found …

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