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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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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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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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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