News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 28, 2007

Genealogy: Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society prepares for 29th annual conference

By Tamie Dehler

TERRE HAUTE — The Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society Inc. was founded with the goal of preserving the family histories of those individuals with African ancestry. The organization promotes cultural diversity by its focus on genealogy and historical research. Its national headquarters are in Washington, D.C.

Annual AAHGS membership fees are $35 for an individual, $40 for a family, and $45 for an organization. Members receive the semiannual Journal of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society (published in the spring and fall) and the AAHGS News, a bi-monthly newsletter. Members also are entitled to a reduction on the fees to attend the annual AAHGS conference. All members also have access to others who are researching their history and genealogy. Currently, the AAHGS membership is working on three special projects: a memorial quilt, a cookbook and a veterans history project.

The AAHGS has three local chapters in Illinois, but none in Indiana. The Illinois chapters are in Carbondale, Cherry Valley and Chicago, and their full addresses and contact information can be found at

The Society plans to stage its 29th annual conference this year in the Boston area. Titled “What’s in a Name … The Voyage of Discovery,” the conference will be staged Oct. 25-28 in the Boston Marriott Burlington Hotel, Burlington, Mass. The conference will feature more than 30 sessions, six historical tours, and a workshop on National Archives records. More information and the registration brochure can be downloaded from the above Web site.


n I am looking for the grave and obituary of Mary (Mathews) Leslie. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1807 and died in December 1880, supposedly in Vermilion County, Ill. She was married to John Menoher in Pennsylvania; they had a son and a daughter. He died, and she married widower Jacob Leslie in 1832; he had five sons and a daughter from his first wife. Jacob and Mary had three daughters who survived infancy. The 1880 census shows her as Mary Lesslie in Rankin Butler, Vermilion County, Ill., age 73, occupation “resting up,” born in Pennsylvania, as were her parents. Also in the household were Mary Wade, age 35, keeping house, born in Ohio, and Elizabeth Ritchie, age 44, born in Pennsylvania. Both Mary Wade and Elizabeth Ritchie were her daughters, although from different marriages. Elizabeth was also listed with her husband, Samuel Ritchie, in Ohio for this census. She was probably visiting and helping care for her mother at the time of the census in Illinois. Mary Leslie probably moved to Rankin with another daughter, Sarah Isabel Leslie Torrence. Sarah’s husband was the Rev. James Templeton Torrence. He was a United Presbyterian minister. He went to Rankin in July 1875 and the rest of the family moved there in September 1875. The Rev. James and Sarah Torrence were the parents of Mary Ella, born Nov 18, 1862; James Edwin, born March 3, 1866; Nettie Maria, born July 31, 1867; William Leslie, born March 5, 1871; Grace Elvira, born Nov. 29, 1874; Flora Belle, born Oct. 25, 1877; and Laura Lucretia, born June 12, 1881. Both the Rev. James and Sarah Torrence died at Tarkio, Atchison County, Mo. They are listed on the 1880 census in Vermilion County, Ind., and in 1900 in Atchison County, Mo. Information on the Torrence family also would be appreciated. Contact Lorraine Leslie Besmer, 1006 Needles Drive, Custer, SD 57730, e-mail Use “Leslie genealogy” as subject.