(Fearless Females Blog Post) March 1-Favorite Female Ancestor

Today begins the 1st Day of Women’s History Month!  A month to celebrate the women in our life and those that made a difference in history past and present.

Once again, in honor of National Women’s History Month, Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

I have decided to participate in the Prompts:  So here we go!

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

Possibly Jane B. Collins Courtesy of Gail Cully Middleton

I have been passing this photo off as my Great Great Grandmother Hannah D. Nelson Gilliam as I just assumed this was her instead of my Great Great Aunt Jane B. Collins, who is Hannah’s older sister.  This picture came from my cousin Gail’s old photo collection, whose father, Raymond Mansfield Cully Sr. was raised by Jane beginning in 1911 when his mother Nora A. Cully died leaving 10 children behind.

My assumption was because Hannah lived in the Cully home and took care of the children until her daughter died, it had to be her.   The grandmother Hannah died in 1912.  Raymond most likely had in his possession a photo of his Aunt Jane since he spent most of his childhood in her home and cared for her in her elderly years. So, I now believe that this might actually be a picture of Jane B. (Nelson) Collins.  My goal is to research and find out if this is a photo of Jane or Hannah.

My favorite Woman Ancestor that I want to learn more about is Jane B. Collins.  Her slave names were (“Nelson & Ellis”).  Jane was born approximately January 1840 in North Carolina.    Jane was co-habitating with John A. Collins in 1860, and married him officially August 20, 1866 in New Bern, North Carolina.  In the late 1870’s, Jane migrated with her husband, immediate family, extended family, and other migrants from New Bern  to Worcester, MA in the  late 1870’s.

I found Jane listed in the book, “First Fruits of Freedom” (pg. 152) by Janette Thomas Greenwood.  A book about the migration of former slaves and their search for equality in Worcester, Massachusetts, 1862-1900.   She was one of twelve women from the AME Zion Church that organized “The Woman’s Progressive Club, of Worcester, Mass.”  She was active in the political and women movement of that day and a leader in the Black Community of Worcester.

I have found her mentioned in a few news articles coordinating events at the AME Zion Church through the Woman’s Progressive Club.  I would like to know more about her and what impact she had in the migration movement helping and supporting newcomers into Worcester, MA.

I am not sure of how many children Jane had if any.  Her sister’s children are shown as residing in Jane’s home in 1870, with Hannah absent.  I would like to find out her descendant family line if possible.  I would also like to do further document research on Jane by making another trip to Worcester, MA to see if I can confirm that this is a picture of her, and to possibly find her in a directory or newspaper article with her photo.

Jane B. Collins died in September of 1925.  My goal is to order her death certificate so that I have an exact date of death.  I have made a trip to the Hope Cemetery in Worcester and found her headstone along with her husband Joseph.

I am so intrigued by this mulatto, who was born a slave and despite her circumstances became a leader in her church and community.

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