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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Reuniting a Son with His Father

Sadly, the horrible act of splitting children from their parents is deeply entrenched in American history, especially African American history. Rather if we know the specifics or not in our family histories, it happened a lot. One of my passions has always been unearthing and reconnecting those lost ties that have been unknown for generations. …

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Different Research Approaches, Same Successful Results

Hector & Lucy Davis, Panola County, Mississippi Fortunately, my uncle had this picture of my great great grandparents in his attic. It had belonged to my maternal grandmother, Minnie Davis Reed.  The couple are her paternal grandparents, Hector Davis & Lucy Milam Davis, who had been born into slavery about 1842 and 1846, respectively. I …

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Read the Entire Probate File: Don’t Miss the Storytelling Gems

North Carolina Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina; Picture taken on 28 June 2013 while researching there. When slave-owners died, their estates had to be probated in order to properly distribute their property to lawful heirs. The executor, who was named in the will or who was appointed by a judge, has to prove the validity of …

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Grandma Lucy and Her Puzzling History

Believed to be my great great grandmother, Lucy Kennedy Cherry of Leake County, Mississippi (Picture courtesy of Perry Bishop) When my cousin Perry e-mailed this picture to me, he was wondering if this was a picture of his great great grandmother, Isabella "Bella" Kennedy Hansford Dillard (1851-1930) of Lake Providence, Louisiana. Aunt Bella was Grandma …

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Just Another Cool DNA Story

Ms. Hattie Abram (1909-2002), Picture courtesy of Angela Moses Many people are often captivated by their admixture results from Ancestry.com, 23andMe, MyHeritage, FTDNA, etc. However, I am most fascinated by those revealing autosomal DNA matches – people who share identical DNA with me and my family. DNA can also be heart-breaking. It can certainly unearth …

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Fishing for Roots in a Lake

I'm at Lake Cavalier in Madison County, Mississippi. Nestled in the rural southwest corner of Madison County, Mississippi is a 200-acre lake called Lake Cavalier. Until 29 December 2018, I had not seen it, but I always knew that it was there from county maps. Located a mile from the Hinds-Madison County line, Lake Cavalier …

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Newspaper Research Can Be Very Tale-telling

If you are conducting historical or genealogical research, you may be doing yourself a disservice if you aren’t researching old newspapers. In recent years, many old newspapers have been digitized and are accessible online. Check out FamilySearch’s list of online newspaper databases here. Newspapers can enrich your family stories by painting a fascinating or revealing …

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Striking Gold with Freedmen’s Bureau Records

On 3 March 1865, Congress established the Freedmen’s Bureau, formally known as the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, to help millions of freed African Americans and poor whites in the South and the District of Columbia in the aftermath of the Civil War. The Union’s win of the Civil War had emancipated over …

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