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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Six Degrees of Separation and Genealogy

Dr. L. M. McCoy (1882-1960)Picture Source: Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church , “Mission Photograph Album - Portraits #05 Page 107,” UMC Digital Galleries, accessed July 5, 2020 This picture of Dr. Lee Marcus McCoy reminds me of the theory known as “six degrees of separation.” This theory contends that everyone in the …

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“Y’all Are As Free As I Am”

The old plantation home of Lemuel Reid, just north of Abbeville, South Carolina, as it stood in 2009. On September 22, 1862, five days after the Union won the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that as of January 1, 1863, "all persons held as slaves …

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Madam M. E. Hockenhull: A 1914 National Negro Business League Convention Presenter

The picture caption: “Madam M. E. Hockenhull as she stood before Dr. Booker T. Washington and thousands of others (both white and colored) and demonstrated millinery, dress-making, and beauty culture, at the National Negro Business League, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Aug. 19-21, 1914.” (Source: Book of Introduction of Improved Method in Beauty Culture, Mme. Hockenhull's System, by …

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