Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I started researching the Coleman family in 2005 when I found an old bible in my Aunt Elsie’s property after her death. In the back of the book were a list of names and dates of birth and deaths for the Coleman family. At first it did not make sense, why would my aunt have a book with someone else’s name in it. I decided to call one of my other aunts and see if she knew anything about it. To my surprise she did. My aunt Mattie started telling me the story of my grand dad. She told how when they were young, their dad used several names. One name she believes was Cooper, but I think it was really Coleman. But something happens before 1918 that made her dad change his name to Butler before he joins the war. I asked my aunt Mattie if she knew what or why. She told me her dad never talked much about his parents, so I will never know the reason he changed his name. I am at the point of finding out which of the Coleman son's was his father. I believe Howard was his dad, but he may have lived with Howard’s brother Charles R and he was named after Charles R. or it could be that Charles was his dad. I just don't know right now. What I do know is Eliza Jane was Charley B. Randof Coleman...aka Charles R Butler grandmother and Richard Green Coleman Sr was his grandfather. In my research of the Coleman family I have found more questions than answers. I took a trip to the register of wills in which I located what is claiming to be Eliza Jane Coleman's Estate papers. I have looked at them over and over. Still something just doesn't set right with me. I question if Susan, her daughter really sign them. I question why these papers were done 6 years after her death and I question the fact that her husband was still alive in 1887 when these papers were done yet he was not made the executor of her estate. The questions can never be answer since this was so long ago, there is no one left to tell us why. All I know now is this same land that the Brown family took from my family was then sold to Andrew Carnegie. When I look at the death of so many of these children, I feel there had to be so much sadness in the Coleman house. I don't think any of the women in this made it past the age of 30. Some so young as six months, lives ended so soon. The Coleman's first child was born in 1857 on Feb 15th. That was Charles R, Next came Mary Frances, who was born in Nov 26, 1857. Richard and Eliza would go on to have nine more children between the years 1862 – 1880.
John W Coleman: born May 20th, 1862 died of Convulsions on April 17th, 1870 age 6yrs
Susan A Coleman: born Nov 6, 1864 died of Consumption (TB) on Dec 5th, 1888 age 24
Richard G Coleman Jr: born Dec 7th, 1866 died of Arteriosclerosis on Jan 12th, 1921 age 55
George R Coleman: born June 29th, 1869 died of Hodgkin’s disease lymphoma on April 29th, 1939 unmarked grave age 69
Sarah C Coleman: born Aug 20th, 1871
Nettie B Coleman: born Feb 12th, 1874 died of summer complaint (diarrhea) on Aug 20th, 1874 age 6months
Lillie M Coleman: born Feb 17th, 1876 died Sept 8th, 1886 age 10yrs
Howard E Coleman: born March 3rd, 1880
Ellen Jane Coleman: born Dec 27th, 1879
So far I know that Mary F married George Aston and they had two girls before she died in 1886. Their names were Mary and Edna Aston.
Charles R went on to married Mary E Harris and they had 13 or 14teen children
Emma May Coleman: born Oct 2nd, 1893
Wm. Edward Herbert Coleman: born Nov 29th, 1895
Hazel Bell viola: born July 9th, 1898
Ollie G: born July 12th, 1900
Albert: born April 17th, 1903
Richard: born 1887
Walter E 1892
Harry died Feb 4th, or Jan 29th, 1891 age 4
Before Charles passed on Jan 15th, 1913.
I also know that one of his daughter’s, Hazel Belle married Harry Lawson and they had a son name Richard Lawson. Hazel died on April 6, 1932 and was buried by the second Baptist Church in Carnegie pa. Mary F, his sister married George Aston and had two children before her death in 1886.
I also know that Howard E. Coleman married a women name Loretta and I only know of one daughter at this time.
Viola Catharine Coleman: born Nov 21st, 1902
The Coleman’s lived in Mansfield borough and in the 1880 census is listed as Mulatto. Mansfield borough which is now known as Carnegie Pa was incorporated September 6, 1872, from the northwestern part of Scott Township. The town was laid out for Mansfield B. Brown, by J. B. Stilley, in August, 1870. It is unknown to me at this time if my family arrived in Mansfield before 1857 from Virginia. But I know that Richard was born in Virginia, the eastern part. And Eliza Jane was born in Virginia. I also am working on trying to find out what Eliza’s maiden name was before she married my great, great grandfather. On 11-17-06 I took a trip to the Carnegie Historical Society, as soon as I step out of my car I felt a profound feeling of warmth to be standing in the same place that my family first stood in the 1800’s. It felt like coming home, being lost is always a lonely feeling and when you find that missing piece. It all starts to make sense. Going back to the estate papers, I felt anger at the fact that Mansfield Brown’s son may have done something underhanded to get my family’s land. The little I have learned about Their Father, Mansfield Brown showed me that he tried to help some of the few blacks in his community. And I feel he would have never let his son’s do what they did had he lived. To know that the land that the Andrew Carnegie free library sits on is the same land that belonged to the Coleman family makes me sad. I believe whatever scheme the Brown brother came up with to take that land, destroyed my family. Soon after Susan who supposedly signs those papers in 1887, died of what it claim to be TB (consumption) in 1888. Just makes me wonder what really happen to her. There are so many questions that I can never have answered. I have a few blogs up and running. And on them I pose the same question. How sad it must have been for them all. I have found some old pictures, but I am sad to say I don’t know who they are. I can only quest that they are the Coleman’s. The picture on the next page is a1880 census of the Aston family. The daughter’s names are different, but I believe these to be the same people. On Eliza’s estate papers the name of Mary’s kids are Edna and Mary Aston of Mansfield, Allegheny, Pa. I never had a chance to know my Grandfather and that was not my choice. God choose to take him home in Oct of 1957. The name I knew him by was, Charles Randof Butler, but his real name was Charley B. Randof Coleman. Since my Aunt Elsie was the only one who had the paperwork that showed my granddad had in fact changed his name. As told to me by her sister Mattie, for whatever reason Elsie destroyed that paperwork. I don’t if the city would still have a copy after all this time but I will work on trying to find. I know my granddad was a member of the 7th co recruit camp 5 ww1 in 1918. I am working on getting more info about this company; so far I have found nothing. After his death in 1957 he was buried in a military grave in Allegheny cemetery, lot 302, section 38 under the name of Charley R Butler Sr. I know that he was much older than my grandmother was. The 1930 census show at that time he was 35 and Mattie Williams was 23. There is also an Ella Carter listed along with a granddaughter Mattie William age 1. I am still not sure if this Ella was his sister or his mother. I am hoping once I see a copy of his death certificate it will list his mother’s name. Charley and my grandmother stayed together until her death in 1942. They produced nine children out of there union.
Mattie Brosier, march 24th, 1928
Ella Jane Malone, Feb 22nd, 1933
Elsie D Butler, Feb 1932 Died 2002
Charles R Butler, Feb 6, 1934 died 2006
Albert Butler, Jan 1st, 1935 died
Louis Butler, Feb 4th, 1936
Mary Jane Butler, 1938 died 1949
Danny Butler, Feb 23rd, 1942 died Dec 19th 1991
Danny’s twin Moses Butler died in child birth along with their Mother in 1942. Soon after the death of my grandmother the state felt that my grandfather could not care for his children and they were sent to the Davis Home for Colored Children. I am still looking for info on this place; the only thing I know is that it was in east liberty.
I talk to my dad and told him about what I had found out about his father… he didn’t seem too surprised about it, for that fact my aunt Mattie was not surprised at the new herself. So I don’t really know what they knew or didn’t know about their dad’s name change. I was told by family members that granddad was a garbage man in Carnegie Pa; this had to have been after the 1930 census because he is listed as a worker for a private family. There is so much more I need to learn about the Coleman’s, Aston, Anderson, hill, Pulpress and the Johnson families and I hope to learn more very soon.
Tonight I turn to C-span2 and found that a hearing on the unsolved civil rights cases was being conducted. It made me wonder even more about what my own family had to go thru during the days of slavery and into the days of the civil rights movement. It pains me to think of all the hurt, fear death and sadness my people (family) must have endured in those days. I think of the Coleman clan coming over from W.VA and VA and I wonder how they made thru, who help them survive it all. Not all blacks were free at that time and a lot found during the civil war, if you lived in VA the only way to live was to run. I know my great, great granddad Richard G left VA in the 1850’s. I wonder when he left, did he leave family behind or was he the only one left. I wonder about his wife Eliza Jane, she had family too. Did she have to leave them behind or did they all come together to find freedom in a new land. These things I want to learn and hope I can. To be able to trace the steps of our fathers and mothers is a wonderful thing. As I listen to this committee on c-span2, it strikes me that they talk of the past as if no other crimes go on. Then I remember Jay Abatan, a black man who was murdered in a racist attack on 24th January 1999 in Brighton and I then remember the Black church burnings and bombings in the 1990’s. The hate is alive and well. I also think about people who claim to be civil rights leaders, who just turn out to be fake. One name comes to mind and that is Al Sharpton. I remember if no one else will the shame of the Tawana Brawley hoax, insisting heatedly that a 15-year-old black girl was abducted, raped, and smeared with feces by a group of white men. He singles out Steve Pagones, a young prosecutor. Pagones is wholly innocent -- the crime never occurred --. He never apologized for that and he should have. This man likes to pour gasoline on the fire but he always finds cases that don’t reflect the real cause, so he makes one up. That is shameful in my eyes and makes the black community look bad. People like Sharpton do not represent the black race, they represent themselves. The young people of the world need to understand what we lost because of slavery. We lost a home, we lost a people and we lost a name. Those people who call themselves leaders of the black race need to start remember what the fight was about. It’s not just about Emmitt till, or Schwerner or even Evers. It’s about all the African Americans as we are now called... It’s about teaching our young to respect life and themselves, it’s about teaching our young to love others. The black family was lost the moment the white man put those chains on the first slave who came here. Where do we go from here, we can’t go back and we can’t stay where we are. So what do we do, I will tell you. We as a black people must fight to get those who call themselves leaders, but do nothing but hurt us out of the spot light. We as blacks in this country need to speak up for ourselves and not let these people keep speaking for us when the words they speak are not truth. We have a voice and we should use it. This is America and like it or not this is now our home. I don’t know where my family came from, I wish I did. But this is where we are, so what are going to do about it. I say we fight, we fight with love, respect and pride in ourselves and in teaching our children that there is a better way. Teaching our young that you don’t need to stand on a corner and sell drugs in order to buy nice shoes. Teach our young, you don’t have to pull that gun out and kill your brother or sister. Stop fighting each other because the only to win a fight is with your mind, not a bullet. Teach your child that school is the road to glory. Never giving up is the road to success. When we do that we all win.
When I started this journey for the Coleman’s I never thought it would make me feel the sadness I feel. I think about what my family had to deal with during this time and before. My Grandmother may not have been a slave, but my grandfather and his father surly were. I hope to soon locate some proof of that.
After more research I found that most of the Coleman families are buried in Chartiers Cemetery in Carnegie pa. The sad thing is I haven’t found one grave yet. The people who now own it have the books from the early 1800’s and all of the names I have been looking for are there but, no graves have I found.
? So now all I can do is wait and hope that i find someone. wish me luck