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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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 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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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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Colorado’s First Black Licensed Female Barber

Entering a barbershop, people usually see a business full of men who specialize in cutting and styling men and boys’ hair, shaving faces, and grooming facial hair. Barbering is and has always been male-dominated. In fact, a USA Today article published that only 16% of the 135,000 barbers on record in the U.S. in 2017 …

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