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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Slavery, the Church, and their Record-keeping

Padgett's Creek Baptist Church, Union County, South Carolina (photo source) In America, the carefully orchestrated process of converting Africans to Christianity began in earnest during the Great Awakening of the 1730s, intensifying in the late eighteenth century.  In their minds, white preachers and slave-owners aimed to “save” enslaved African Americans by showing them their perceived …

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I Ain’t Taking Massa’s Name

Stephen, Eliza, and their children were inventoried in the estate of John Hebron, 1862, Warren County, Mississippi. They selected the surname HUNT. Disclaimer: Most of this post was taken from my 2012 article entitled, “Ain’t Gonna Take Massa’s Name.” Because of the popularity of the topic and misunderstandings about the surnames of African Americans, I …

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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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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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