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Cousin’s homegoing sparks call for information about black women from Yalobusha County

by Dottie Chapman Reed

My second cousin, George Adams, died recently after a very brief illness. I considered him a big brother because of how lovingly he treated me when I was four and five years old. I last saw him at his wife, Pearlie’s family reunion in Atlanta. We picked right up where we left off, as cousins do.

George’s late mother, Cleala Mae, was my first cousin. He and I took pictures at the reunion. To my dismay, I was unable to locate the photograph before attending his funeral in Rock Island, Ill. (I found it recently.)

I had talked to George after my sister Faye’s transition on October 25, 2016 because George talked to her almost every day. He, like many of us, had spoken to her on her birthday, the day before. Faye kept up with everyone and all the family history. Her death left me the sole surviving child of Helen and Alvin Chapman. Thus my first and second female cousins made it known that I would be hearing from them more often.

Unfortunately, I had to cancel a trip to Chicago (in early 2016), where I had planned to surprise George’s older sister, Minnie, with a visit. Upon George’s death, I had to be there for Minnie and his baby sister, Mildred.

George had told me where he was situated in the Quad City Area. It was not an easy trip for me. I was two days into a four-day conference at Clark Atlanta University. I took a late-night flight to Chicago and after a few hours of sleep, drove the three hours to Rock Island, arriving with perfect timing for George’s homegoing service.

When his son, George Adams III, spoke, he talked of his father’s love for our hometown, Water Valley, and how his dad never ever missed an opportunity to travel home. I was a tad surprised since their early home had been in a neighboring county.

The next speaker’s last name was Bastrop, which sounded like a name I remembered from my home church, Miles CME. Mr. Bastrop recounted he and George going to my mom’s Sunday School Class. I was astounded and flattered to hear that she always picked them up for Sunday School and that there was a memory, a story, an experience that Mr. Bastrop remembered and felt appropriate, so many years later, to share with us on this occasion.

Instantly, I realized there was more of a reason for my being there that day. I would have missed this tribute to my mom. Later, I learned that a large van was chartered from Water Valley and that many with Water Valley roots and connections came from across Mississippi, Memphis, Davenport, Milwaukee, Chicago, etc. Sorry to say that I did not get to see everyone, but I did share with the congregation what George meant to me.

This merging of home folks and families, coupled with George’s love for Water Valley, gave me an urge to hear more stories like the one that Mr. Bastrop shared. That’s why I am soliciting biographies, stories and pictures of black women of Yalobusha County, Miss. – your mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, aunties, teachers, etc. who impacted your life and others in a positive way.

Please email to reed2318@bellsouth.net or fax to Dottie Chapman Reed at 470-539-4954 or mail to 5398 Rosser Rd., Stone Mountain, GA 30087. Please include: full name including maiden name, date of birth, date of death, occupation, employer and level of education. All pictures will be returned upon request and special permission will be requested prior to publication.

Contact me with any questions at 678-825-2356 and thanks in advance for making this a successful project.

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