Saturday, December 10, 2016


The Great Negro Migration North

The first great Negro migration was out Africa by force during the slave trade of peoples living along the West African coast. Between 1440 until as late as 1900 over 12.5 million Africans were transported against their will to North America, South America (Americas 10.5 million) the Caribbean and other Islands (2 million). If anyone has done their DNA more than likely you will see a West Coast African connection as part of your origins.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 less than 8% of Black Americans lived in the Northeast.  Between 1910 and 1970 about 6 million Blacks migrated north. The population of Black Americans in the state of Georgia during 1920 was 41.7% and in 1950 it was reduced to 38.9%.  New York and Chicago were the top destinations followed by Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit and Pittsburgh.

Many of our relatives made that trek. I would like to dedicate this blog to Roslyn Yvonne McBrayer Wall who passed away on October 15, 2016. Roslyn like many of our family members were first generation ‘northerners”.   Roslyn was born in 1926 in Washington DC at 166 Bryant Street to Willie Bell McBrayer and Joseph McBrayer. 

166 Bryant Street Today

Her mother Willie Rachel Bell was born in 1893 in Milledgeville, Ga to Mary Louise “Mollie” Reid and Warren Charles Bell.  When Warren passed away in 1901 Willie moved to Eatonton, GA to live with her Grandmother Katherine “Kate” Rainey, daughters Katie “Sissy” Reid, “Big Willie” Rainey, Anne Claudius Rainey, Jessie Rainey. Brother Tommie Lee Rainey, and nephew Ambrose Reid. Willie’s sisters Leo, Annie Laura, Ione, and Ella remained in Milledgeville while Mollie struggled to make a living as a seamstress. Mollie eventually headed north to Boston (1901 – 1938) to work as a seamstress for the Scarrett (not sure of the spelling) family.

Many of our relatives decided to leave the south behind and head north in hopes of better living and working conditions. I am not quite sure who was the first one to leave Milledgeville but as in many families, once one family member got settled it gave the ability for others to make an easier transition. I think the first stop for Willie was Philadelphia. Many others passed through Willie's home while waiting to get settled including my father. Ambrose Reid ended up settling Philadelphia after he finished playing baseball. We also had several relative settle in the Washington, DC area, but that is another story.

Other locations outside of Georgia where we find family include Red Bank, NJ, Chicago, IL, Detroit, MI, Washington, DC, Silver Springs, MD. New York City area, NY.  Las Vegas, NV, Cincinnati, OH, several locations in Florida and California.

This April I will be making the move to California. I will never forget my southern roots. As you tell people where you are from don’t forget that our roots run deep in Georgia.  As Warren Steele used to say “I got Georgia red clay in my blood.” We are true Americans. Our ancestors worked hard, fought, stood the test of time, we are still here!

 The Reid/Rainey Family

Grandmother Kate             Mollie Reid Bell                 Tommy Lee Rainey

                       Jessie Rainey Reid                Big Willie                         Annie Claude

Does anyone have a photo of Katie “Sissy” Reid?
Other News

I would like to welcome Lydia Marshall to our family blog.  Lydia and I connected via Ancestry.   Lydia’s is a descendant of another Reid family from Eatonton, GA.  It appears that Mollie Reid was related to a Reid family through the common ancestor of David Henry Reid (Mollie and Katie’s (Sissy) father). 

Through us talking we solved two mysteries.  I had a photo from Big Mama (Annie Laura) who told me (when I was 15) it was Fayette Reid.  I could never find Fayette’s name later in any family record. Reason being,  I spelled it wrong; it is Phette Reid. She was Big Mama’s cousin and daughter of Sofia and Richard Reid. 
Phette Reid
The second mystery is where Ambrose’s middle name came from.  Jessie Rainey (daughter of Kate Broyle Rainey and William Suther, sister to Mollie) was mother to Ambrose.  Ambrose’s father was Sidney Reid (Son of Richard and Sofia Reid). Richard and Sofia also had a daughter named Volia. Grandmother Kate had a son named Tommy Lee Rainey (Uncle Bubba).  Ambrose’s middle name was LeeVoila.  Voilà! I always thought that was such a strange middle name now it all makes sense. 

Ambrose Reid

This is where collective family historical research is so important.  Connecting and talking through these stories are important so we can continue to write and share our rich history.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season! Click on the video for a great holiday song written and performed by Trevor! Enjoy!


 Happy Researching! Please share your family stories and photos! 
Looking forward to a great 2017!

Friday, June 10, 2016


Hello Family! I started this blog post in January and was never able to finish it.   I am not sure if many of you know but for the last year I have worked on a documentary researching the History of Vocal Harmony called Street Light Harmonies. It features some of the great Doo Wop artists still alive from the 50’s and early 60’s. I hope to complete it in July.

The last 20 years my life has been in and around entertainment. As I thought about my career it made me reflect on how much music has influenced and been a part of our ancestors and current family lives.

The funny thing is that I did not grow up in what I would call a musical household.  It was years later that I realized my mother could even play the piano.  We all took the obligatory band lessons. I chose the flute (never really learned to play), my sister Audrey the saxophone, Bubba the trumpet (marching band!), and Frank drums. My brother Billy fiddled with the guitar, Holly was a majorette, and Woody was always trying to get us to form a group. It was not until my father was getting older that stories of music and the connection within family came out.  There were so many great stories that I wish I had known as a child. For this blog I want to highlight a few stories of music from our ancestors that continue to resonant in our current lives.

Augustus Brooks Steele (1846 – 9/15/1903) the son of Sally Brooks Keen and William Steele was a tinsmith by trade.  He was also a popular violin player. In his obit of 1903 it showed how loved and well known he was in the community. To receive this kind of mention in the Union – Recorder as a Black man was rare.

September 15, 1903Union-Recorder
Guss Steel, a well-known negro, died at this home in the city Thursday night. He was a tinner by trade, having served his apprenticeship under Mr. Joseph Staley, and worked for him a long number of years. Guss was a violin player of local reputation, and played and called at dances through many years, in this city. His remains were buried Friday afternoon.

The First Boy Band

These amazing looking guys are none other than the Steele boy’s musical group.  They are the sons of Martha Tompkins (8/19/1852 – 4/16/1927) and Frank Steele (4/1848 – 6/28/1904).  From left to right: Johnnie (1890 – 1941) James (1870 – 1902), George (1884 – 1973), Frank (1886 – 1943 sitting on wheel), and Leo (1894 – 1948 on ground).  Backstreet has nothing on them! 

I am not sure what happened to their musical aspirations but we do know from cousin Kathleen that George went on to form another group and embarked on a tour. Here is a great photo of George on one of his tour stops in Saratoga Springs, NY. 1907

Cousin Kathleen has a complete book of all the places he played while in his vocal group.  I can’t wait to see all the locations.

Mary Steele (sister Mary) daughter to Frank P. Steele and Martha Tompkins taught piano lessons.  Cousin George Jarrett remembers her piano and many of the photos that adorned the top of the piano.

Mary Steele and Sarah Steele Jarrett

Warren Bell Sr. (father to Warren C. Bell) came to town possibly from Alabama in a traveling band.

Daddy told me that my grandmother Annie Laura Bell Steele (daughter to Mollie and Warren C. Bell) played so well and “had such a light touch” on the piano that people would turn off their radios at night to hear her play.

Annie Theresa Steele, my namesake taught and played piano.  I have several pieces of sheet music that belonged to her.

Rosa Steele Houston (daughter of Charlie Steele) played piano in her husband’s church.

Rosa Steele Houston

This photo came from Laura Pauline.  I am positive there are a few relatives  in the crowd. If anyone recognizes anyone please let me know.  I think the two men on the far right are probably Steele’s.  Maybe the one standing is William Anderson Steele?  Also the gentleman in the center with the suit looks like Rev. Houston (husband to Rosa Steele Houston).

Music continues to live on in this generation as well.  Kara Elsye (Bebe Henderson’s granddaughter) is a talented singer and songwriter.  Here is a link to her website.

My son Trevor Page is also blessed with great musical talent. Here is a link to his website.

Ariel Steele (father Warren ‘Bubba’ Steele) is an accomplished pianist.

Warren Bell Steele III (Trey) (father Warren ‘Bubba’ Steele) can belt out a song that will make everyone stand and take notice.

Tria Steele (father Frank Steele) has a beautiful voice.

Barbara Braddock’s grandson is part of a rap group. Barbara send us a link!

Everyone please share other family member’s musical talents!  Let’s support and share these talents in our family!

Other Family News

On January 30 cousin Denise hosted a great Birthday party for our beautiful matriarch of the family Roslyn Wall.  Roslyn is the daughter of Willie Bell (Mollie Reid Bell and Warren Charles Bell). Roslyn turned 90 this year.  

Attending left to right was Karen Braddock, me, Bonnie Miramontes. Roslyn, a very nice neighbor, Denise Wall, Kathleen Lloyd, and Holly Burns.

I just turned in my application for the Daughter’s of the American Revolution.  For you Reid’s we have a connection through Samuel Reid, the great grandfather of David Henry Reid.  You may be asking why?  Well, we are part of a great American story and should be represented in all aspects. I will keep you posted on the process in case anyone else would like to join.

Lastly I wanted to post an unknown photo.  The same gentleman was in my grandmother Annie Laura Bell Steele's photo album and Laura Pauline Johnson’s photos.  If anybody recognizes this handsome man let me know!

 Happy Researching! Theresa