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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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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