October 26 [Thursday]
Uncle Fisher had ten kids, and their descendants still live in the area. Here’s how it happened: I went to the Abbeville Cultural and Historical Alliance Center. Mr. Maynard is chatty, knowledgeable, informative, and unprejudiced. There was an exhibit of African masks done by the children on display. A woman named Lynette Robinson taught them a dance to go with the masks. Mr. Maynard said her ex-husband was a doctor in town and got me a phone number. I called from the courthouse.
The secretary said, “He’ll be in at 2. Come on down.” She told me I had driven past the office to get to the historic district. I arrived – they ushered me in ahead of the patients. He listened for a bit, then said he was from Chicago. “But if you want Petrys, go to Imam’s.” He gave me directions, and I walked into a beauty supply store/hair salon.
Here’s a photo of my dad’s older sister Rosa, who died when he was twelve.
Two women were sitting behind the counter. I told them my name, and they both nodded. We’re cousins, one on the Petry side, the other on both Petry and David – because Grandfather Walter and Uncle Fisher married sisters.
It was exhilirating, exciting, moving! And I found a Robinson who really is a relative. Jeretha [Petry Ardoin] directed me to “Uncle Eldridge.” (They pronounce it “Erich”). One of his grandchildren came into the salon and said, “He’s sittin’ on the front porch.” I tried to call, but no one answered. Jeretha said, “Just go on over,” and of course by the time I arrived, he had heard about me. He is a copper-colored man, not tall, but when he turned sideays, he had the profile of Geronimo.
He confirmed that Fisher and Walter’s father was George Petry who married a white woman and who also had a family with Combrey/Combery/Cambery Brown who was “mixed Indian.”
[The other woman at Imam’s, Lois Petry Jordan, lives next door to Jeretha and around the corner from her sister, Elsie Petry Dorá, whom I met on a subsequent visit.]
The rest of my notes are lists of names and phone numbers, disjointed records of property transfers, and a few notes on vital records.
But I received an invitation to another family reunion, and this time I know I’m related!