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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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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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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A Census Visit to Ms. Julie

My sister often tells me to put my imagination on paper. This fictitious scenario shows how discrepancies in census records were inevitable. So here goes …. On July 2, 1900, the census taker for Enumeration District 24 of Tishomingo County, Mississippi visited Julie Braselton. Her neighbor forewarned him of her colorful personality. His visit with …

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