After walking around a certain section of the cemetery and taking photos of interesting looking grave makers, I decided to drive around the rest of this huge 100-year-old historically black cemetery. As I reached a dead end, the grave maker below caught my attention.
“Michaux” (pronounced like “Miss-Shaw”)---I always loved the sound of that name when I heard my grandmother say it as she talked about a minister in her community. As I looked closer at the grave marker, I discovered that this was the final resting place of the Elder Michaux and his wife that my grandmother remembered. This is quite an elaborate grave maker especially when compared with the others in this huge cemetery. The large size of this marker is what caught my attention.
Later, I showed my grandmother the digital photos of the grave maker. She was surprised that the Michaux’s were buried in the Hampton Roads area because she thought that they had been buried in Washington, D.C. She commented that Michaux was the “Happy Am I” radio preacher and that he and his wife Mary looked like white people. “Happy Am I” was the song that became Elder Michaux’s theme song. Even though I didn’t think that a black preacher would have been on television during Elder Michaux’s lifetime, I still asked my grandmother if he had been on television. “Yes,” she said. I was amazed and impressed and excited about finding more information on the life of this great preacher.
Later that afternoon, I searched the Internet for more information and found Elder Michaux’s obituary listed in a newspaper index. I can’t wait to go to the library to read and copy the obituary. I also found other biographical websites and learned that Elder Michaux was not just a local preacher, but his ministry had spread worldwide, to large cities such as Washington, D.C. and that he was on both radio and television.
My best and most treasured finding on the Internet was a YouTube video of Elder Michaux and his congregation singing. Since I found it, I have played it continuously, downloaded it to my computer, and shared it with some online genealogy friends and my grandmother. As my grandmother watched the video, she commented that Elder Michaux was much younger in the video than she remembered. By the time she knew him, he was elderly and gray-haired. This would have occurred after the mid 1940s when she moved to the neighborhood of Elder Michaux’s church. Grandma also commented that the way the ladies in the audience jumped to the music was a common practice she observed in this church when she visited them at the Newport News church and at tent meetings on 16th and Jefferson Avenue.
“Do you think this video was recorded at the Newport News church? I asked her.”
“No,” it must have been at the D.C. church,” she replied.
For more information on Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux, visit the following websites.