finding your roots

Griffin-Clark-Mollett Connection

Doretha E. Mollett April 5, 2012

Dr. Gates,

We are currently trying to put our family history in place. Most of our elder family members have passed.

I am an African American Female born June 12, 1953 in Edwight, W.Va., Raleigh County, a former Coal Camp. My Grandmother migrated to W.Va. in 1923 with her family via wagon train because the boweevil had destroyed the cotton crops. They first settled in Stirrat, W.Va., Logan County directly above Omar, which was a booming town in the ’20′s, ’30′s and ’40′s.

Edwight was a segregated coal camp and I’ve come to realize that most of the families were related.

My Grandmother, Bell Wilson, raised me along with 4 other grandchildren after raising 8 children. We’re trying to trace both sides of our family tree; Grandmother and Grandfather.

My Grandmother, born Savella Artella Bell Clark in 1907 in Cypress, Alabama to Daisy Ardella (Griffin) Clark and Will Douglas Clark. Her siblings were: Carrie, Violet, William Andrew, Luther Tanners & Ludie John Thomas (twins), Mary, Alice, John Douglas, Esadora

Bell married Walter Radcliff in the 1920′s in Logan County W.Va., no children. Bell married Felix Mollett (our Grandfather) in 1930 at the Logan County W.Va. Court House. Felix and Bell had 8 children, 2 of whom died as infants. James William Mollett, Daisy Ardella Mollett, Thomas Lee Mollett, Lula Bell Mollett, Felix Alexander Mollett, Jr., and Billie Ray Mollett. Felix, Sr. is said to have walked off in 1938 on the pretext of going to get some bread.

My Grandmother passed in 1991 and is buried at Boone Memorial Gardens, Madison, W.Va. My Mother, Lula Bell Mollett passed in 1981 and is also buried at Boone Memorial Gardens, Madison, W.Va.

Bell married Allen Wilson in the late ’30′s or early 40′s and had 2 children by him; Daniel Webster Wilson and Wilma Jean Wilson.

Daisy Ardella Clark (my Great Grandmother) was born 1875 in Alabama; died in 1948 and is buried at Boone Memorial Cemetery in Madison, W.Va. Will Douglas Clark was born in Alabama and is said to have died in 1923 or 1924 in Sharples, W.Va. We don’t have any further information on him.

When the coal miners began to organize and seek union representation, they often times were fired and moved around to other counties seeking employment. The NAACP opened a branch in Omar, W.Va. in 1907, which later moved to Logan, W.Va.

Many of the African American people in the W.Va. towns mentioned above were related or had some relationship with each other. For example, my Mother had 3 children. We each have a different father. My Aunt (Mother’s Sister, Daisy) had 2 children each with different fathers. My Grandmother raised the 5 of us as Brothers and Sisters though we knew our Mothers, who were a part of our lives.

My Brother Tanners’ Father is the only parent remaining out of us 5. He lives in Jamaica, NY.

Please accept my plea for you to help us. I’ve watched your programs on Ancestry and was tickled to find that you have W.Va. roots. Though the COAL CAMP Edwight, W.Va. is deserted, we continue to decorate graves there each Memorial Day. There’s a large sludge pond near that cemetery, which was written about by the Library of Congress in the late ’90′s. We’re told that it’s one of the oldest continuously decorated African American cemeteries.


Thank you.

Doretha Elaine Mollett

“Knowledge is Power!”

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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