Our “Kunta Kinte”: The Search for Our African Ancestor’s Origins

In 2011, as my cousin, Dr. Jeffrey Ogbar, and I were discussing our family connection via my maternal grandmother, he told me how his Edwards family knew the name of their "Kunta Kinte." In the 1970s, down in Panola County (Como), Mississippi, his great-uncle, the late Rev. Sidney Edwards, interviewed family elders. They shared with …

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Diggin’ Up Family Dirt

Let’s face it.  A good amount of our family histories aren’t “peachy keen.”  History involves humans, and humans aren’t perfect.  Consequently, many – no, everyone – will encounter some family dirt when they embark on a journey to unearth their family’s past.  Some family dirt can be quite earth-shaking that it may cause an array …

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Honoring the Slain Black Milliken’s Bend Soldiers Who Made A Huge Difference

Earlier this year, as my father, oldest sister, nephew, and I toured the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, we conversed about the participation of my father’s great-grandfather, John “Jack” Bass of Warren County (Vicksburg), Mississippi, in the Civil War. I had confirmed that he served with the 49th Regiment, formerly the 11th Louisiana Infantry, of …

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The Family Was Broken but the DNA Wasn’t

DNA technology is absolutely amazing in so many ways! One of the ways is it can serve as very strong evidence, confirming years of research. More amazingly, it can verify ties that were broken during slavery. In 150 Years Later: Broken Ties Mended, I wrote about how I discovered that a man named Pleasant (Pleas) …

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Research Tip: Check Your Assumptions

Researching and documenting many of my ancestors have not been accomplished without mistakes from time to time. Mistakes can easily come from drawing the wrong conclusions from one (or more) sources. In other words, some historical conclusions, assertions, or assumptions may be drawn from what many may feel to be from "obvious" research findings. However, …

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Cluster Genealogy Leads to Slave-owner’s Identity

“Brick Wall” is a metaphor used in genealogical and historical research when one reaches a point in their research where he/she is unable to progress further or “dig deeper.” All researchers and family historians encounter it. For those tracing African-American ancestors, this proverbial brick wall is commonly encountered at the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, a vitally …

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That Infamous 1890 Sinkhole

In 1921, a huge chunk of the stored 1890 census was destroyed in a fire at the Commerce Building here in Washington, DC. More can be read about that fire here. Genealogist Robyn Smith calls it “The 1880 Donut Hole,” as she brilliantly demonstrates its effect on her research in her blog post. However, I …

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