The Open Book, An Avon-Washington Public Library Publication, Avon, Indiana
September 2005 Volume 8 Issue 8 www.avon.lib.in.us
Always a Blessing in the End: The Chronicles of the Four Ancestral Lineages of Ben Ivy & Ruth Thompson – While the United States Government ignored protests to end slavery or to deal effectively with emancipation’s aftermath of racial inequality and bigotry, Avon author Paulette Ivy Harris’ African American ancestors were enduring a society that tried to discourage them.
However, by researching her family history, she discovers the depth of her ancestors’ faithfulness and perseverance and reveals the ways their lives were blessed.
Anyone who is seeking to write their own family history will also be encouraged by the author’s research methods and narrations. – end
–By Susie Grover, Reference Librarian
Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, Indiana, June 2, 2005
Book is a ‘blessing in the end’
AVON – Every time she smells a Noisette rose, Paulette Ivy Harris says she gets a whiff of her past.
After spending 14 years researching her lineage, a rose named after her ancestor, Frenchman Philippe Noisette, who came to South Carolina via Haiti, is one of many stories Harris is passing on to her family and others in her book Always A Blessing In The End: The Chronicles of the Four Ancestral Lineages of Ben Ivy and Ruth Thompson.
“It is a tremendous reward,” Harris says of the completion of her book. “This is the blessing that was the end of a long spiritual journey of sifting through data, looking through dusty files.”
When Harris began her research in 1990, she said she didn’t have the convenience of surfing the Internet for information, but rather had to search through microfilm and sound decks [Soundex], among other things.
“I began with ordering birth and death certificates from the states where everyone was from and where they died.” She said. “I used oral histories. I used census data.”
Eventually, she said, she came up with a genealogical data book with names and dates, but no real detail about the lives of people and she felt that there was more to tell.
“I searched more, I got more data, and I wanted to tell a story,” Harris said.
The book is in five parts. The first explores the history and the evolution of slavery, and then the last four tell a story of each of her grandparents’ lineage. And, she said, she tries to keep each story individualized to each grandparent so the stories don’t get mixed.
By piecing together the information she gathered, she said, she describes what they did for a living, the children they had, how they endured, how the laws of the nation have impacted their lives, how they struggled, and how they were blessed.
“The theme that runs through my book is, yes, they persevered, but they were blessed,” she said.
With perseverance from God, Harris said her blessing was the spiritual connection she formed with her ancestors. And now a rose, a book about slavery, or learning about sharecropping are all things she can relate to.
But she said her book isn’t just for African-Americans or member of her family. She’s hoping the book will encourage others who are on a journey to find where they came from. – end
–By Carly Nation