Rev. Ralph Edwards 1916 – 2013 ,Gone but not forgotten.

Rev. Ralph Edwards 1916 – 2013

This month on the 20th of July would have been the 100th birthday of my beloved Great Uncle Ralph Edwards. He went home to be with the Lord on January 30, 2013 at the seasoned age of 97 years old. He was the Pastor of my church and a quiet and steady influence on our family.

Uncle Ralph was born in Indiana  and raised in Kentucky. He was the oldest child born to Elonzie &  Eva. The oldest brother of Bloyd.

He was baptized as a teenager in Kentucky.  For many years he was a singer in a traveling gospel group.  He was also active in a Masonic lodge in Indianapolis.

He retired from Chevrolet Motor Company after 28 years.

He joined a local church, New Mission Missionary Baptist Church, in the 1950’s as an ordained deacon, under the pastorate of Rev. Thomas Cleveland, Sr., his father in law.   He and other church members helped to build the current church building during its first major renovation. Rev. Edwards acknowledged his call to the ministry in 1963 and preached his first sermon in January 1964. He served diligently as the assistant pastor of New Mission Missionary Baptist Church, for many years.  Later he graduated from the Central Baptist Theological Seminary with his Bachelors of Theology degree.

Rev. Edwards was called to pastor New Mission Missionary Baptist Church in December 1996. He was ordained as Pastor on April 13, 1997. During that time he led his flock as a distinguished man of God. Pastor Edwards served in this capacity until he was called home to be with the Lord. He was known as a Christian man with a quiet strength and humble spirit.

Uncle Ralph (he’s my uncle-in-law growing up I didn’t know that term) married my Aunt Zet and lived their entire married life in Indianapolis where they nurtured their son, granddaughter and grandson as well as the extended family.

His  Favorite Bible Passages were:  Psalm 24 & Psalm 150. His Favorite Hymn was Amazing Grace. He would often sing this while he stood in the Pulpit.

Uncle Ralph Edwards was called home to be with the Lord on January 30, 2013 after an extended illness. During that time of his illness he remained faithful to the Lord. He would often say when being asked how he felt, “Like Paul I am pressing on toward the mark for the high calling of Christ Jesus and I won’t complain.” I often reflect on those words when I’m feeling overwhelmed and tired. Uncle Ralph showed our family us by his example the importance of hard work, loyalty and faith.  Uncle Ralph is gone but not forgotten. He is missed.

Anna Mae’s Oldest Grand-baby

Nichelle ~

Ralph Edwards, Sr. perhaps 2 years old. Riding in a wagon pulled by a goat.
Uncle Ralph & Aunt Zet
HPIM0296 copy
Uncle Ralph 90 Years Old.



Community Celebration and Remembrance ‪#‎Bethel‬ African Methodist Episcopal Church of Indianapolis

If your ancestors worshiped at a particular church, have you documented that church and how long they were members? See below for information on historic Bethel AME in Indianapolis. If your ancestors worshiped their this might be a good time to visit and take pictures before it is sold.

Bethel AME
Historic Bethel AME Church Indianapolis, IN

Experience ‪#‎BlackHistory‬: Community Celebration and Remembrance ‪#‎Bethel‬ African Methodist Episcopal Church of Indianapolis
414 W Vermont St, Indianapolis, IN 46202
July 24, 2016 – Time: 12pm to 3pm

The event is a collaboration between the Bethel AME Congregation and the IUPUI’s JustIndy: Tracing Race and Place Project.
On July 24, the greater Indianapolis community is invited to join in the celebration of the physical place that is currently home to the oldest African American congregation in the city. The congregation is relocating and starting a new chapter in its long life.
Bethel, the oldest African American church in the city of Indianapolis, founded in 1836, was once a vital part of a thriving African American community located in the heart of the erstwhile Indiana Avenue Jazz District. Over its 180 years of existence, the Bethel AME Church has played a vital role in the Underground Railroad, the founding of the NAACP in Indiana, the founding of the first formal School for Black children in Indianapolis, and the development of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States.
The church building and the property are in the process of being sold.
Transition and change are a part of any vital society but so is honoring and remembering those that have made those changes possible.
Visit the sanctuary, see and hear the A. B. Felgemaker Co., Opus 878, 1905, one of a kind organ, and take photos, share stories, and participate in this historical moment. At 1pm, Joyce Moore from the Urban Patch will speak on the importance of communities using their histories to enrich their futures. For more information, please contact Kisha Tandy, and Andrea Copeland,

Finding Records for African-Americans Prior to 1870

Slave Schedules
Tax Records
Databases – Louisiana
Probate Records
County Records
Plantation/Farm Records
Manumission Records

Enslaved persons were not noted (by name) in the, most, census schedules prior to 1870 (the first census after the Civil War and Emancipation.) This is known as the 1870 Brick Wall. Over the next few weeks, I’ll talk a little more how to break down brick wall. It is critical to start with yourself and then work your way back with proper documentation. This is critical so that you don’t spend time researching a family line that isn’t yours. Some people are fortunate enough to have oral history passed down which tells which ancestors were enslaved. Others have to do the research the hard way. To find out about enslaved people you must also research the life and records of the enslaving family. Enslaved people were considered property so often their names were listed with other farm resources, tools, animals. Enslaved person were often times used as collateral for loans. Names were also listed in wills and probate records. In South Central KY Sandi Gorin and Michelle Gorin have transcribed many county courthouse records that are available for purchase. See if anyone has done this for the area you are researching.
Anna Mae’s Oldest Grandbaby

More pictures from Midwestern Roots Conference 2016, Indianapolis, Indiana. IAAGG (Indiana African-American Genealogy Group) had a huge contingent of  members attend the conference. The group also had a booth in the exhibit which was well attended. Here are some more pictures.



Midwestern Roots Conference 2017

This year’s Midwestern Roots Conference hosted by the Indiana Historical Society was very exciting. There were over 400 attendees and some amazing presenters. The staff and volunteers did a wonderful job of making sure everything went smoothly.

I want to personally thank all of the people who attended my session this afternoon. I really enjoyed the questions and research stories. A group of members from the The Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago are doing some exciting work indexing a treasure trove of information regarding African-Americans in Kentucky. I can’t wait to learn more about this project.

Anna Mae’s Oldest Grandbaby