Free Persons of Color

To Be Free, Discovering FPOC in My Family Tree

Image of Vintage American Flag

  I never considered that there might be free persons of color (FPOC) in my family’s history. I assumed that they were all  enslaved. After all, my family is African American, from the deep south, Louisiana, and there was no oral or written history to make me believe otherwise. My father’s people were able to tell me some things about my paternal line – that  Isadore McKee was my grandfather and that Charley McKee my great grandfather. But no one could tell me who Charley’s father was! It seemed as though any recollection of him, his generation, and preceding generations had already been lost. So it all began back in 2011 with question – Who was Charley Mckee’s father? A death certificate ordered from the Louisiana State Archive would yield  the name of his father James Mckee and his mother Virgina. Birth place of father was listed as Louisiana and birth…

Genetic Geneology - The DNA Reveal

Who’s Your Daddy, Really?

Victorian/Edwardian Era Family(no relation)

So who, really, is that man that you call your father? Perhaps he may be a great person with whom you have a wonderful relationship. Maybe he has  created fond memories with you and the rest of your family, or not!  He may have a great family pedigree on paper, but who is he from a genetic genealogy perspective? I am going to share with you my experience with Y-DNA testing , hopefully providing you with some strategies and things to consider before Y-DNA testing the men in your life. As we approach the celebration of Father’s Day on Sunday, June 18 this year, some may be seeking more information about their father or other men in their family tree.  In an earlier post I explained what haplogroups  assignments are and how they are used. Y-DNA Review Knowing ones haplogroup  assignments can be helpful in revealing relationships which may not be…

A Tribute

Mother’s Day, Honoring Maternal Matriarchs

Image of Maternal Line Matriarchs
Maternal Line Matriarchs

As Mother’s Day approaches, I would like to honor the women who represent my maternal line.  Autosomal DNA testing has revealed that the haplogroup for these strong God fearing women is L3e2a.  These women represent women who were proud descendants of African women who lived life and nurtured  their families and those in their community sometimes under the most difficult circumstances.                 They endured the first middle passage from Africa and then a second middle passage to Louisiana. They survived generations of enslavement, lived through wars, reconstruction, and endured the grave injustices of the the Jim Crow south.  My 4th great grandmother Lytha Bryant and her daughter Francis were both enslaved. Josiah Gray and Hardy and Caroline Perry  where among the owners. I will say that throughout all of this, the family of  Lytha Bryant and her husband Nelson Taylor (b. Virginia) remained…

Genetic Geneology - The DNA Reveal

Opportunity Mourned, Life Celebrated – Our Elders

Image of Funeral Procession by Ellis Wilson
"Funeral Procession" by Ellis Wilson

Lately, it seems as if  barely a week goes by without an elder in the family or community passing on. Last month it was Uncle Johnny, last week it was Mr. Jackson, this week, Uncle Buddy.  Our elders, especially the 80  and 90 somethings have really been bidding us adieu, like the carbonation bubbles that sit at the bottom of my glass and then suddenly release themselves , float to the top, and dissipate ,so these elders seem to be flying away at a rapid clip!  With advances in medicine and  improvement in overall quality of living , maybe there’s just more elders making it to 80 and beyond, and then dying.  On the other hand, perhaps this feeling of “lots more people dying” is just a naturally occurring phenomena for all of us as we ourselves age, as we continue on our own slow march toward death. I feel a…

Records, Resources, and Repositories

Those “Squeaky Wheel” Ancestors

Image of Freedman in line at Field Office

“There’s no sense in complaining!”, “Your complaining to the wrong people”, or “Your complaints will fall on deaf ears!”. These are phrases I have sometimes  thought, heard,  or uttered throughout my life. Well at least a few of my ancestors felt that even in the deep south, during reconstruction, that justice would prevail and they sought justice would by lodging their complaints with the “system”.  In my ancestor’s case, the “system” was the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands.  Popularly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, the agency was established in 1865 by Congress to help former black slaves and poor whites in the South in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War (1861-65). Some 4 million slaves gained their freedom as a result of the Union victory in the war, which left many communities in ruins and destroyed the South’s plantation-based economy. The Freedmen’s Bureau provided food, housing and…

History, Tradition, and Culture

Black History Revealed in a Local Cemetery

Recently, while  listening to a genealogy program on Youtube  called BlackProGen Live about free people of color (FPOC), the host, Nika Smith asked  the panel about resources for researching these families. I immediately thought about a book that I had read by African American historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson (b.1875- d.1950). I jumped over to Wikipedia (yes, over there) to get the name of the book and saw what I thought was an odd reference to Suitland, Maryland! Wait, what? Indeed, the father of Black History month and author of many books on black history, Dr. Carter G. Woodson , had been interred  at one of Suitland’s three cemeteries, The Lincoln Memorial Cemetery. Perhaps I am the last to know, but this was an amazing discovery for me! I honestly did not believe it so I  jumped over to Find A Grave and looked it up and sure enough some one had created…

Genetic Geneology - The DNA Reveal

DNA Testing for Genealogy. Autosomal Testing Demystified

AncestryDNA Ethnicity Estimate

My DNA testing journey began back in 2011 when  free tests were offered to the public via the Roots Into the Future Program – 23andme’s partnership with the National Urban League. They were looking for data, and many of us were looking for family history clues and more details regarding our ethnicity given our history in this country. We in the genealogy community were grabbing them up like…well, like they were free! With some of us,  “free” turned into “free-nzy”.  Needless to say , I am sure 23andme received more than enough  genetic data to fill their DNA coffers, I mean databases. I took the bait and ordered a few kits for family members. We received our kits, registered them, surrendered our spit, sent off the kits, and a number of weeks later we got an email saying our results were ready! We were then able to log in and see our…

Military Service

Our Veterans Revealed

Like so many so many American families, we have a number of men and women in our family who served this country and we are still discovering who they are! Today, I wanted to honor a few that are known in our family. These are just a few.           James McKee, a free man and eastern Ohio native, served in the Civil War at Port Hudson, LA . Many of his descendants continued the tradition of military service. Those that did not enlist or volunteer supported our service men and women through monetary contributions.  I will blog about them later.   Test you knowledge by taking quiz below. African Americans in Civil War History   Learn More about African Americans in Military Service (click/tap title below)

History, Tradition, and Culture

DO, Believe the Hype

Was it me or was the hype machine in full effect in anticipation of the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)! For months they have been serving up full press promotion amplified by social media! Needless to say, according to the Washington post, the tickets are all sold out until 2017! Congrats on a job well done by Lonnie G. Bunch III and the publicity team! Contrary to what the Rapp group Public Enemy and front man Flava Flav may have crooned when they performed their flagship hit “Fight The Power” at the opening ceremonies, I would say,  DO believe the hype! I recently visited the museum on the Monday after the official grand opening weekend and I  admit that it did not disappoint! Thanks to the kindness of a good friend, I will call her Dar, I got the ticket hook up that…

A Tribute

Remembering Walter Edward Grimes

F is for Father   F is for father you gave me your name, you made me your child and loved me the same. F is for the fun we had during our family times. Wrestling, playing, listening to music from your K-Tel/Columbia House collection- Aretha to Miles Davis to Simon & Garfunkel. Listening to and watching comedy and variety shows together, from Laugh-In  and Flip Wilson, Sammy Davis, Della Reese, Sonny & Cher to  Carol Burnett and Hee Haw. F is for a firm but fair disciplinarian. The only time we feared you was when we failed to obey Mom. F is for fast. You were the man I could never catch in that continuous game of tag that we played for years. F is for fishing which you enjoyed so much. Whether at one of the many lakes around Grayson County near the Texas/Oklahoma border, the little creek in Halawa,…