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Advice for Breaking Through Your Brick Walls!
Ask Christine: Genealogy Help and Advice!

Has your family search stalled, because you have hit a brick wall? Need advice to get it jump-started again? Ask Christine!

Christine will choose questions to answer on this page, and will provide helpful advice for sticky research problems. Christine has had incredible success at brick-wall busting: she recently reunited a family that had been separated for 126 years!

If you would like to submit your brick wall question to Christine, you can send her an email message at!

Photo Image: Elnora Hunter Yellowhair, ca. 1880s, Tallahassee, Florida
With Kind Permission of the Florida State Archives Online

Hello Christine,

I am a mulatto female and have been searching for my ancestors for years. My family has Shellys, Shelleys, Shirleys, Carnees, Mornings, and Tatums. After all my searching I still have yet to find the slaves or Indians in my bloodline. I am frustrated. I found all of the whites though, but they weren't what was important.

What will be my next step to finding these lost people?

Luther or Jack Shelly (great grandfather)
Luther or jack Shelley (grandfather) 5-29-1930 B-date
Nora Tatum (great grandma)
Viola Cherry (great grandma)
Wilemhemina Cherry (grandma) 1-25-1930

I do have some Shelley's that are still living but they are not concerned with finding the background of lost relatives. I was doing research for my class at school and was embarrassed because when it was time for me to present my family tree it was empty. I have been searching ever since for my indian and African ancestors. Thank you for your concern.


My Findings:


I did some searching today and here is what I have found. Let's begin with your Great Grandfather Luther Shelley.

Luther Shelley was born in 1909 and died on June 3, 1944 at the age of 35 in Edgecombe NC, his parents (your great-great grandparents) were

1910 Census Edgecromb NC, Swift Creek

Shelley, David Sr b. abt 1864 died Nov 25, 1933 age 66 in Edgecomb NC
Lucy born 1883 states his wife
William age 25
Margaret age 23
Earlie age 20
Chowan age 18
Richard age 6
Cassaline age 5
Luther age 2
David Jr. age 6 months

David Jr. married Ruby Dee (not sure of her maiden name yet) he was born Oct 16, 1910 and died August 28, 1990, his last address was [omitted for privacy], he was widowed when he died but there may be relatives living at his residence. O.K. onto Luther and Nora (Sonora) Tatum:

Luther Jack Shelley married Nora Tatum. He is sometimes referred to as Jack and other times as Luther.

1930 Census Pitt County NC, Falkland

Shelley, Morning age 69 born in 1861 in NC
Cora age 32 single b. 1898 died Aug 4, 1970 unmarried in Pitt County NC
Jack grandson age 21 married
Nora wife age 22 married born in 1908

As you can see Morning Shelley who is referred to later as Mollie (a misspelling perhaps) is your great great great grandmother, I think I have that correct.

Now, Nora Tatum was born August 17, 1908 and died feb 18, 1997 in Greenville, Pitt county. She is sometimes referred to as Sonora Tatum.

They had children, these are the ones I have found:
[Names of living relatives, sent to reader but omitted here for privacy]

Onto Luther Douglas and Wilhelmina Cherry. Wilhelmina was born on Jan 25, 1929 her parents were Oscar Cherry and Viola Carney, here is their family:
[Names of living relatives, sent to reader but omitted here for privacy]

Oscar Cherry was born on Jan 1, 1906 and his parents were John Cherry and Lula Taft from Greenville NC.

Luther and Wilhelmina's children are:
[Names of living relatives, sent to reader but omitted here for privacy]

1910 Greenville, Pitt County NC Census

Shelley, Mollie age 39 widowed
John H age 17 born 1893 son single
Cora age 20 daughter single
Minnie age 8 granddaughter
Viola age 6 granddaughter
Clara age 4 granddaughter
Lutha age 2 granddaughter
Peter age 11 months grandson

Viola Carney and Oscar Cherry are the parents of Wilhelmina who married Luther Douglas, here is what I have on Viola and her parents. Violas family is as follows:

1920 Pitt County NC Census, Carolina

Carney, Bittel (is actually Berthal) b. 1880 Mulatto
Cherry H. wife born Dec 10, 1889, died June 15, 1966 Greenville
Ernest, son age 14, black
Jesse, son age 13, black
Mattie, daughter age 11, black
Carrie, daughter age 9 black
Viola age 8, daughter black
Henrietta age 7 daughter black
Laura M. age 4daughter black
Isolne age 3 and a half, daughter black

1930 NC Pitt County, Bethel Census

Carney, Cherry widow married at age 17
Jessie born Nov 2, 1906
Mattie age 20
Carrie age 18
Henrietta age 17
Laura age 15
Jerkan age 13
James B. born 1922
Cherry B born June 31, 1920
Bettie Pearl born May 12, 1926
Tillie N. age 1 (you will later see she is Matilda Mae born March 22, 1928 in Pitt County)

So, Violas parents are Bethel Carney and Cherry Hines. I will get into Cherry Hines in a few minutes. In the records for their births it states on some that the parents are Bethel Mooring and Cherry Hines, and on others it's Bethel Carney and Cherry Hines, I found that interesting that you had said that Morning or Mooring was one of your family names.

1880 Pitt County, NC Pactolus Census

Carney, Henrietta born 1842
Tildy (this is Matilda) age 18 born 1863
Mary Jane born 1866
Ernest born 1867
Oscar age 8
Emanuel age 4
Bithel age 2

As you can see, I have now taken you back to 1842 with Henrietta being your oldest now known relative, pretty neat.

1900 Pitt County NC Greenville

Carney, Berthal age 22 listed as brother in household
Oscar P. head born 1874 married
Maggie B born April 1880
Nannie daughter born Aug 1897
Sam born 1875
Suowdy born 1881 grandson
Emma born 1864
Ernest born 1867
Henrietta born Oct 1845. She is listed as head of household and she was born in North Carolina.

Now onto Cherry Hines parents.

1900 Pitt County NC Bethel

Hines, John born Oct 1866
Laura born Nov 1873
Cherry born Sept 1886 (She married Bethel Carney)

I truly hope this helps you finish some of your family tree. I will continue to search for you and I wish you the best of luck.

You most likely have tons of relatives out there and many of them probably have some wonderful memories to share with you.

Do you have a question for Christine? If you would like to submit your brick wall question, you can send Christine an email message at!

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