Not Far From the Tree🌳: my Mom’s, mom and dad

Airlessa Bass with Dennis in November 1954

My mom’s sultry voice was a husky alto like the actress Isabel Sanford of the television show the Jefferson’s who played the character Weezy. She would get so frustrated when she’d talk over the phone and people would mistake her for a “Sir” she grew tired of correcting people. In person, she was sociable, friendly, and a good conversationalist.

The first time she is found in a census is 1940 Scuffletown, Lauren’s South Carolina, she was seventeen making her birth year about 1923. Her birth year would always be a subject of debate in the family since birth records were not kept. She would write 1924 as her birth year, and other family members would count back and argue for the dates inaccuracy. She isn’t listed in the 1930 census.

She told me about the colorism which existed in her immediate family upbringing. She thought her mom Alma Holland favored the two older lighter skin sisters Geneva and Lillie over the last three JemmieRee, herself Airlessa, and Helen. She was beautiful, but in those days, she would say, most people preferred light skin. How I wish that she would have had the opportunity to visit Africa in her lifetime, where the standard of beauty is much different, than in America.

Alma Holland was born in 1879 Lauren’s South Carolina, her father was Lewis Holland born in 1846 Lauren’s, South Carolina, and her mother was Clarissy ‘Classy’ Owens born in 1852 in Cross Hill, Lauren’s, South Carolina. The first census Alma Holland was found in is 1880. She was one year of age living in the household of her parents with two female siblings.

Alma Holland-Sheppard

Lewis Hollands’ paternal haplogroup as confirmed by his great-great grandson was haplogroup E-M263.2 which is of African origin. We have many European Holland DNA cousins which suggest to me that our paternal Holland line descended from a female Holland who passed the name to her sons. The first census Clarissa Owens and Lewis Holland are found in are in 1870 living apart as single individuals.

For those who don’t know what a haplogroup is, it’s a DNA scientific term meaning groups of families of lineages that descend from a common ancestor. Males carry both a Y-DNA paternal line haplogroup and a mitochondrial (mtDNA) maternal line haplogroup from their mothers.

The Y-DNA traces a direct line back son to father, to father, to father, all the way back to a proverbial Adam which would mean Lewis Hollands’ direct line is of African origin. Even if an African male was brought to Europe and mixed with the local Europeans and his complexion grew consistently lighter generation to generation.

The mtDNA comes from our mothers’ and traces directly back child, to mother, to mother, to mother. Alma Holland’s maternal haplogroup is the same as mine L3b1a11 of African origin. If you share a haplogroup with someone you share an ancient lineage thousands of years in the past with them. All Y-DNA haplogroups, branch out from the same phylogenetic lineage, as well all mtDNA haplogroups branch out from the same phylogenetic lineage of the same phylogenetic tree that traces distantly back to Africa for all people.

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