I have the pleasure of introducing you to True Lewis and her blog NoTe’s to MySeLf … . True writes from the heart with an infectious joy and optimism that feel like a big hug. Her enthusiasm for the stories she shares and her appreciation for her family’s heritage are evident in every post. She describes her blog as “about Family History; it’s my personal diary on my slave granddaddy Ike Ivery and Miles-Daniel family along with my mother’s European heritage.”
A Little About True
“My name is True! Yes. That’s really my legal name. My ancestors come from Bullock County, Alabama and Houston County, Georgia; I also have strong roots in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. I was born up north in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I currently reside in Fort Knox, Kentucky, a Southern girl at heart. Just like my father and grandfather, I am a first-born child and served in the military. My son is a first-born also in the military. We are four generations of first-borns serving our country. I was in the U.S. Army but retired for medical reasons. Then my title went from Soldier to Army Wife and Mom.”
How True Got Started in Genealogy
“My love for genealogy started as a child. In 1977 when I was 9 years old, ‘Roots’ was on television and my grandmother Queen Daniel Miles passed away that August. I knew her and spent time with her in Alabama. After 25 years of marriage, my paternal grandparents legally adopted me. Their children were already grown and out of the house. I was raised around a lot of older people, and that had a profound effect on me. I was always in the shadows, sometimes behind a door, listening for stories. A few times my mother caught me under the table, one of my hiding places to listen to the elders talk. Something told my Soul when I was little, ‘Don’t forget. Keep what they say in your heart.’ I just never wanted to forget all the stories of long ago, so I would sneak to listen. I have held those stories close to my heart ever since.
“I just didn’t know what it was called. I think I really understood it had a name in 1998 after I retired from the Army and had more time on my hands. My quest began with formal oral history interviews. Then I set out to find the documents to the stories I heard along the way, which brings me to where I am now – blogging my oral history with documents.”
True’s Thoughts About Blogging
“I started my blog exactly at 2:32 on November 7th, 2012. That was the time and day my Dad passed away three years earlier. 361 days from my mom. At family gatherings I would talk one on one with relatives to share my stories and the research that I found. Everyone wanted to see and read. It got harder to talk without them actually seeing all that I had done.
“I decided after trepidation and nervousness. Where was I going to put all my work I had researched? I needed a place, a home for my ancestors, a safe haven in one place collectively where I could keep them in remembrance. Not just my family to see – for everyone. That is why blogging was the perfect choice for me.”
True’s Advice to New Bloggers:
“Always place the ancestors first. Do no harm to the living. If you do that, you won’t go wrong. Write as much as you can with a passion. Have several pieces before you start. Stay organized. Go at your own pace. Let your ancestors be seen. Let the documents speak for them.”
True’s Favorite Blog Post
“They are all my favorites. I have put a little piece of my heart and soul in each one. My favorite one was when I took a Sankofa Journey back to my ancestral place of origin in Bullock County, Alabama to do my documentary after my parents passed. I saw Alabama with a new set of eyes. I hadn’t really seen my ancestors’ town until my parents passed. I saw Alabama anew.”
True’s Time with Ancestors
“Every day. I don’t let up. I’m relentless in finding as much as I can. There is something always to be done. As the family historian for both sides of my family, it’s my responsibility to leave behind as much as I can. Ordering. Researching. Every year I take a few journeys to Alabama to go to the Archives in Montgomery. I attend my Historical Society meetings and go to the Bullock County Courthouse. I have to do this in the spring and fall to carry me over into my winter hibernation period when all I collected goes into organizing.”
True’s Favorite Ancestor
“I have to say since I spent time with Grandpa Sam and Queen Daniel Miles, I knew and touched them. They are my Inspiration. I felt someone from the 1800’s and didn’t know it until I was a grownup and found out about my Ol’ Slave Ike Ivery. He was married 3 times and had a total of 23 children. I belong to his first wife Mary Haynes. I have to keep up with him lovingly, his parents and siblings, his wives and their parents and siblings, and all 23 children and their descendants. He is who keeps me up at all hours of the night.”
How Genealogy Has Improved True’s Life
“Patience above all. I’m empowered by my history. I see my place in the world. I’m able to leave a genuine body of work to the unborn readers in my life: my descendants.”
What True Loves Most About Genealogy
“I’m glad to be part of a larger community who loves and understands what I do. I have many Blog Sisters and Brother Bloggers who I have met in these two years. I love communicating with them and discussing, sharing information and stories. They make me do better in my work. I’m grateful to be in a position were I can honor my ancestors and see life through their eyes.”
True’s Genealogy Bucket List
“To go back to Germany and Europe in general. I want to see as much as I can see on my mother’s European side. That side of me is very complex and fascinating. I want to be able to enjoy it this time around tracing my ancestors’ footsteps.”
True’s Time Capsule Message
“Talk to your elders. Get their stories. Once they go, the stories go. Oral history adds to your documents and stories. Document your family history in all avenues afforded you whether it’s in blogging, book form, a website or documentary.
“I’m a person of color with a German mother and African American father. I have the best of both worlds all my life. We are not so different in a lot of ways. All these histories of people are one person, me. Honor your ancestors and they will be good to you in your research. Help each other. It’s the Genealogy Community way. Do your part. Stay sincere. Share.
“For my future descendants, I hope I did right by you in my research. Take what I did and run with it. It’s your story. It’s your history. In the words of my Shero author Pearl Cleage: ‘We speak your names.’ Keep speaking the names of our ancestors, for when you do, they will continue to be remembered.”
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Please take a moment to visit True at NoTe’s to MySeLf… and leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Thank-you, True, for letting us inside your blogging world.
© 2015, copyright Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.
Wendy Mathias is a retired teacher who divides her time between her home in Chesapeake, Virginia and Smith Mountain Lake. She enjoys researching her family and digging for the story behind old family photos for her blog Jollett Etc. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Wendy via email firstname.lastname@example.org.