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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Free, But Not Free: Uncovering Surprising History in Court Records

Genealogy research involves more than just collecting names, places, and dates. It also should entail a diligent attempt to uncover more about our ancestors’ lives – the good and the not-so-good – in order to understand and to provide more insight into our family history and American history. I continuously find it amazing at what …

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Genetic Genealogy Rebuilds a Dismantled Enslaved Family

I am very passionate about undoing what these slave ads helped to do – tear families apart. I am continuously fascinated at how DNA can help to prove and rebuild some family relationships, that were permanently severed during slavery, when even the basics of DNA and genetic genealogy are interpreted correctly. This is another one …

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A Tuskegee Airman and His Civil War Soldier Grandfather

I have a big regret. I didn’t drive down to Warrenton, North Carolina to meet the late Joel Foster Miller. He had taken the AncestryDNA test, and he shares a significant amount of DNA with me, my mother, and her siblings. When I say “significant,” I don’t mean that he was probably their unknown half-brother. …

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There’s Always More to the Story! (Part 2)

When my “new” cousin, Najeeullah (pictured left), first appeared as a high DNA match to the Reed side of my family, I immediately pondered, “How on Earth is he related?” I soon saw on his family tree that his paternal grandfather, Benjamin Thompson Sr., was from Abbeville County, South Carolina. I followed the DNA trail …

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There’s Always More to the Story! (Part 1)

Readers of 150 Years Later: Broken Ties Mended read about my genealogical challenges and successes and overcoming big obstacles to piece together the story of my mother’s paternal grandfather, William “Bill” Reed. He was permanently separated from family members during slavery, including his father Pleasant Barr, his paternal grandmother Fanny Barr, and other family members. …

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The 1838 Indictment of Nancy Flood for Cohabiting with an Enslaved Black Man

While reading the 1838/1839 estate record of Bryan Randolph of Northampton County, North Carolina, I found several documents that uncovered the case of Nancy Flood, a white woman, who had an illegal “common-law marriage” with Davy Horn. Davy had been enslaved by Randolph. Relationships between southern white women and enslaved Black men were relatively uncommon, …

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