Did He Take His Wife’s Enslaver’s Surname?

Recently, I excitedly stumbled on a case where a husband appeared to have changed his surname to that of his wife and children’s enslaver. I personally had not experienced this before. Enslaved and freed people’s surname selections were based on a number of reasons. Some took their last enslaver’s surname after slavery. Most did not. …

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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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The Ancestors Who Greeted Chadwick Aaron Boseman

Disclaimer: Others have likely researched branches of Chadwick’s family. However, this post is based on my personal curiosity and research, and I have deemed it a great slave ancestral research case to add to my blog. I joined the millions who were deeply saddened when I learned of Chadwick Boseman’s shocking passing on 28 August …

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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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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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