The short answer to the question in the headline is yes. But first a bit of background:
Coppinville is the section of Enterprise, Alabama where my paternal ancestors and relatives have lived for more than a century. In fact, if you take a drive down Coppinville Road, you’ll notice it intersects with Nance Circle and further down is Gilley Street. Gilley is my great-grandmother’s maiden name.
Anyway, Coppinville is named for Levi Jenkins Coppin, (1848-1924) a former bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. But why this guy? Well, according to this history, the Coppinville area was among the first areas in Coffee County where black people settled. Many of them belonged to the AME church, and Coppin was bishop of the church during the time Coppinville was being developed. He married Fannie Jackson, a writer, educator and missionary after whom the historically black Coppin State University is named.
This cliffhanger never seems to end, right? So remember this? And how I was anxious to find out its contents? Well, I tore open the envelope and searched feverishly for my great-great-grandmother’s name: Annie Nance.
Maybe Annie Cotton Nance?
OK. Maybe she got fancy and went by A.C. Nance.
No such luck. There was not a Nance to be found.
But I did see that a Claudia Tindall sold land to the government on Oct. 1, 1942. Tindall. This has to be a relative, I thought. As you may recall, my great-great-grandfather, Frank Gilley, was born Frank Tindall.
I immediately began searching Census records to get better acquainted with Ms. Claudia.
This was Claudia Tindall, nee Baxter– sometimes listed as Claudie. She was born in Alabama around 1889 and married Shirley Tindall (sometimes listed as Shellie). The couple had three daughters and two sons. At least two children died in infancy.
Shellie Tindall was the oldest son of Mack Tindall. Mack Tindall was great-great-grandpa Frank’s baby brother.
So yes, eminent domain did have a hand in my relatives move from Haw Ridge, but not the relatives I thought.
This is one of my grandmother’s older brothers, Brady Whitehurst (1903-1980). One of my cousins shared this photo with us, so I thought I’d share it here.
You know that whole six degrees of separation thing? The idea that everyone in the world is connected by six steps? Well, I’m convinced it’s true.
In this case, the six degrees of separation include marriages and bloodlines and leads us to Bobby Brown. Yes, that Bobby Brown.
Here’s the connection:
Bobby has an uncle named John. John married a lady named Charlie Mae Raines. Charlie Mae is my one of great-grandmother’s (Mamie Gilley Nance) cousins. Charlie Mae’s grandmother, Harriet Brown Brooks, and Mamie’s mother, Flora Brown Gilley were sisters.
The Bobby Brown connection had been casually mentioned at family reunions, and I had even heard rumblings that somebody had gone to the wedding. That somebody was Charlie Mae. From what I’m told she was close to Whitney and Bobby and Whitney would send her nice gifts at Christmastime.
I did some more researching on Charlie Mae and found out that she was born in 1921 and grew up in Enterprise. One of her brothers, Lenore, was a Korean War veteran. I know that Charlie Mae is no longer living. I don’t know when she died, but it had to have been sometime within the last 20 years.
In less than three minutes, I explain what a vital record is, how to get it and how a single death certificate helped me broaden my knowledge of my family tree.