Look Out to Look In: The Search for a Living Descendant

Henry Sams 1955

Henry Sams (1915-1975) b. Jacksonville, Florida d. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Half-brother of the Flowers children

Born to Henry Sams and Nancy Sawyer Sams, Henry Sams Jr. spent his childhood in Jacksonville, Florida before his family’s migration to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Throughout his lifetime, he excelled in sports since his time at Overbrook High School. He also participated in pre-Olympic meets in an effort to qualify for the Olympics in the high jump, long jump, and track. His sports accomplishments made the Philadelphia Tribune weekly. After his time in the Pennsylvania National Guard, he set his eyes on a new sport-archery.

“Whether it’s target practice you’re after or the hunt for game, archery’s in a class by itself. Experience drawing a bow and watching an arrow speed through the air, and you can count yourself as one of the thousands still devoted to the sport.”

Henry Sams, “Jack Saunders Says”, Philadelphia Tribune, April 22, 1975


Philadelphia Tribune, 1955

He was the first African American to join the Philadelphia Archery Club and the New Jersey Aldebarans and placed a close second to the international archery crown. Yet, he won the Pennsylvania Archery Tournament, the first African American to capture the Philadelphia crown. He attended multiple colleges and universities, Drexel University, Pennsylvania State University, Chicago State College, and Temple University. He married Eleanor Johnson of Willingboro, New Jersey and together they had one daughter Cathy Sams. Sam and his second wife, Edna Sams were only married for 13 months until his death on February 18, 1975.

As I have found minor leads in my pursuit of a living descendant of the Flowers family, I decided to look outside of this family’s immediate tree and into the life of Edna Sams who passed away in 2004.

Edna Sams’ Obituary

EDNA C. WIGGINS SAMS, age 77, on March 12, 2004, of Media, PA, born Twin Oaks, PA; wife of the late Henry Sams. A graduate of Temple University, where she received a BS and Masters Degree in Education, she taught Reading and English at Chester High School and Cheyney University for 30 years retiring in 1996. She received numerous awards in the field of education; sister of Jesse O. (Naomi) Brooks of Claymont, DE; stepsister of Mary Ellen Davis of Scotland Neck, NC; godmother of Kay Anderson of Media, PA. Funeral Service 11 A.M. Thurs., March 18, 2004 at Murphy A.M.E. Church, 7th & Yarnall Sts., Chester, PA, 9 to 11 A.M. Int. Chester Rural Cemetery, Chester, PA. Contributions may be made to Taylor Hospice, P.O. Box 147, Ridley Park, PA 19078 and Abounding Grace Family Worship Centers. Arr. by CATHERINE B. LAWS FUNERAL HOME, 610-494-6565.

With a quick search, I found the obituary of her brother-in-law Jesse O. Brooks

1936-2015 Jesse O. Brooks, Jr. Mr. Jesse Brooks passed into peace on November 3, 2015 at Crozer Chester Medical Center. He was the son of the late Jesse J. Brooks and Flossie Savoy Brooks. He was born and raised in Chester and attended Chester public schools. Mr. Brooks was formerly employed for many years with Scott Paper Company, now known as Kimberly Clark. He was a former member of Murphy AME Church. He was predeceased by 2 sisters Edna Sams and Vivian Butler. He leaves to cherish fond memories his wife Naomi P. Brooks, children Michael Brooks and Veronica L. Brooks, 2 grandsons Paul and Jeffrey and 1 great granddaughter Mya Nocho, a host of other relatives and friends. Service: Saturday November 7, 2015 at 10:00a.m., Murphy AME Church, 7th & Yarnall Street, Chester, PA. Viewing: 8:00a.m.- 10:00a.m. at the church. Interment: Haven Memorial Cemetery. Arr: Catherine B. Laws Funeral Home – See more at:

The family attended the same church, which I will contact this tomorrow. Hopefully, Naomi and her family still attend and perhaps know the whereabouts of Cathy Sams, the daughter of Henry or even the descendants of the Flowers family. It is a stretch, but an option.

Until the next post,


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