Finding Gems Along the DNA Trails

(Source: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. (1902). Mayor and Councilmen of Hobson City, Ala., Retrieved from here.) When genealogist Tierra Cotton-Kellow advised her friend to take the AncestryDNA test and to also test her uncle, she inadvertently opened a door for …

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Deeds and DNA Took Me Back to ‘Old Virginny’

https://youtu.be/YOqWIS-QS-0 Short clip: Visiting the area in Lunenburg County, Virginia where my great-great-grandmother, Jane Parrott Ealy, was taken away from c. 1839 and brought to Leake County, Mississippi. DNA revealed that family still lives there! In the early 1990s, when I first found Robert & Jane Ealy, my great-great-grandparents, in the 1870 and 1880 censuses, …

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More Than Just Names: Incorporating Social and Community History Into Your Research

Click image to register or see Zoom link below. I am very excited about this opportunity to co-teach on this upcoming webinar with genealogist and author, Robyn Smith. We both have busy federal careers, but we have maintained an active passion for genealogical and historical research for over two decades. Like many researchers, we get …

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Free, Alone with Young Children to Raise

My grandfather's baby sister, Martha Reed Deberry (1891-1971), who passed down history about her maternal grandmother, Polly Partee, who was an enslaved cook. Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Galveston, Texas on 19 June 1865. The Emancipation Proclamation, that had an effective date of 1 January 1863, did not immediately emancipate …

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Did He Take His Wife’s Enslaver’s Surname?

Recently, I excitedly stumbled on a case where a husband appeared to have changed his surname to that of his wife and children’s enslaver. I personally had not experienced this before. Enslaved and freed people’s surname selections were based on a number of reasons. Some took their last enslaver’s surname after slavery. Most did not. …

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Don’t Sleep on Genetic Groups!

Picture courtesy of Theresa J. Carter; Used by permission. Please do not sleep on genetic groups! A recent family discovery has me floored, and finding a new genetic group (also known as a genetic network) within my father’s DNA matches on Ancestry.com was the clincher! A genetic group or network is a group of DNA …

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Slavery, the Church, and their Record-keeping

Padgett's Creek Baptist Church, Union County, South Carolina (photo source) In America, the carefully orchestrated process of converting Africans to Christianity began in earnest during the Great Awakening of the 1730s, intensifying in the late eighteenth century.  In their minds, white preachers and slave-owners aimed to “save” enslaved African Americans by showing them their perceived …

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I Ain’t Taking Massa’s Name

Stephen, Eliza, and their children were inventoried in the estate of John Hebron, 1862, Warren County, Mississippi. They selected the surname HUNT. Disclaimer: Most of this post was taken from my 2012 article entitled, “Ain’t Gonna Take Massa’s Name.” Because of the popularity of the topic and misunderstandings about the surnames of African Americans, I …

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The Ancestors Who Greeted Chadwick Aaron Boseman

Disclaimer: Others have likely researched branches of Chadwick’s family. However, this post is based on my personal curiosity and research, and I have deemed it a great slave ancestral research case to add to my blog. I joined the millions who were deeply saddened when I learned of Chadwick Boseman’s shocking passing on 28 August …

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Ten DNA Sleuthing Tips

In my recent webinar, The Second Middle Passage: Following the DNA Trails, I used colorful diagrams to show genetic groups. Each genetic group contains DNA matches who descend from the same ancestor or ancestral couple. I researched their common ancestors to determine how they could be related to mine, and thus justifying why some of …

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