Monthly Archives: December 2013

African Roots Podcast Episode #247 December 27, 2013

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast!  You can always reach me at

Well Happy holidays everyone and welcome to the very last episode of 2013. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday and best wishes for those of you celebrating Kwanza this week, and even better wishes for a year of peace prosperity good health, and happiness for the coming new year!

As the new year approaches it is time to renew memberships, subscriptions and make plans for the year. I plan to slow down with the travels just a bit to reflect, do some writing and preparing for the new year as well. And this holiday period for me is a good time to just pause, plan and prepare for something ahead.

I hope you made some memories on Christmas Day, and were able to practice some of those old family traditions, and if necessary I hope that you created some new traditions as well. As we move through this holiday season I do hope that you also will be able to take some time to truly slow down and reflect on the new year ahead as well.  You know—January is just around the corner, and lots of new events are being planned. I understand there is a blog fest going on with the AAGSAR facebook group, and the institutes such as MAAGI for the coming year, are going to have their schedules online within the next week. And we are all excited about Roots Tech coming up in about 6 weeks in Salt Lake City.

As you make plans for next year–why not consider something new? We are all on Facebook and Twitter, but have you considered connecting with genealogists in a new way? Take Twitter– why not try to participate in a Twitter stream conversation? There is something going on with a special hashtag group called #genchat. Every two weeks there is a twitter stream taking place on different topics in genealogy. It’s fun and moves quickly, but you can meet people, find some interesting links to come back to and just have some new avenues to explore. They already have their schedule up the for the year. Take a look at the topics for the first quarter:
Twitter Genchat topics:

Jan 10: Looking ahead: your goals for 2014.

Jan 24: Capturing all the details: one document at a time.

Feb 7: RootsTech 2014! What new tech have you discovered because of genealogy?

Feb 28: NARA Across the States

Mar 14: Early Census Years

Mar 28: Migration routes across the U.S.

Perhaps this a good time to consider launching Twitter chats on African American ancestry. Discussions about researching the era of slavery, finding slavery records and also Record group 105–the Freedman’s Bureau records. Let’s take 2014 and be creative and try to share things a bit differently.

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How many of you take advantage of webinars?

Check out Geneawebinars, to see what is out there. Genealogy societies offer webinars, and if you are able to catch it live, it is free. After some time, the sessions go behind the membership wall. But groups from the west coast to the east coast offer webinars, and many of them pertaining to African American genealogy. Consider attending them, which might help you increase your skill set.  Also check out Legacy Family TreeI am giving a presentation on Native American genealogy in June 2014, and in July, Telling the Family Freedom Story. Webinars are lots of fun and can also take you down a new path.

Here is an interesting idea –have you ever thought about doing a surname project? There are people who have intersting names, and have started to research variations of an unusual or interesting name. Have you decided to look into a formal study of a surname. There is something that could be interesting for those of you who have names unique to your community, state, or region. Take a look at the Guild of One Name Studies—not necessarily to join which is surely fine to do so, but look at their structure. But speaking from an African American perspective–we have some names unique to our own communities already.

Although this is based in the UK—there is an interesting array of African American surnames that have a rich legacy—and some of us are familiar with a few of them—Hairstons, Goins, Chavious, Quarles, Hemmings, and more—these are names that stem from an interesting historical setting and circumstance, and there is room for  a lot more encouragement to explore these names.

Well, as we become proficient in the histories of the various communities where our own ancestors lived, some of us have already unofficially been doing this anyway. Example—-I research Oklahoma—and many of the Freedmen families from the Five Tribes—Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole. There are certain surnames that pertain to those tribes and to those communities—if you are remotely tied to families in Oklahoma, you are most likely connected to Stevensons,  Cochrans, Hundys, Ligons or if you are Creek, the Perrymans, Barnets, Berryhills, are there, and Cudjoes, Bowlegs, Bruners, Barcus if you are Seminoles, and Cherokees have Vanns, Ross, Irons, Allens. Meanwhile the Perrys, Parkers, Burris, Darneals, Pitchlynns, Folsoms, McCurtains and so many other names are Choctaw names. As we study our histories and become proficient to the communities where our ancestors lived, we may want to focus on some of the unique inter-related families.  We also study the diversity of our lines, and we have to consider so many things. So that is something new in particular as well.

Another point—it is no secret that we have mixed ancestries. DNA tests are now revealing what the composition of our ancestry is—including African, European, Native American, and some are becoming interested in studying the migration of our ancestries. Well perhaps the Guild of One Name Studies might be the platform from which you can launch your own name project. There might be some unique strategies on how to explore and to present the migratory data that you find.

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So let’s make the new year in which we try something new. We are doing the same thing, but using a new technique to get it all done. Let’s take the next week to plan, make a commitment to do something differently. All of these new things will help us to do the same thing but to do it better. And we know that is to tell the story.

Well thank you all for making this a great year, and thank you for allowing me to be a participant in the genealogy community. You have allowed me to come into  your lives, and thank you for listening. I appreciate you, I know you are busy with family and work, and community so your taking time out means a lot to me. Thank you for this year, I wish you all the best for the coming year and look forward to meeting you all. Let’s all continue to grow in new directions. Have a wonderful and blessed  and Happy New Year.

And next year, please remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find.

African Roots Podcast Episode #246 December 20, 2013

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots Podcast!
You can reach me at

Only 5 more days till Christmas and I hope you are ready for the holiday. I know many of you have a full house with sons and daughters home for the Christmas season, and when you have a chance–talk to everyone. Talk to the elders, and also talk to the children. Capture their voices when they are young. Pull out those tape and video recorders and capture those precious moments.

This is a great time to assess where you are in terms of reaching your genealogical goals. Take time to stop and assess your accomplishments, and where you are with your research.

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So what is happening with everyone as the year winds down?
I hope that you will take note that on Monday Bernice Bennett will have a special Monday broadcast of her Blog Talk Radio program and her guest will be Sarah Cato, retired attorney and current researcher, who will be talking about her project to honor soldiers of the 56th US Colored Infantry. You have heard me talk about the project in the past and in fact Ms. Cato has been a guest here on the podcast as well. This special show will air on Monday, since next Thursday will be Christmas Day. So tune in at 3pm on Blog Talk Radio for the broadcast.

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Speaking of Blog Radio last night’s episode featured Michael Williams, author of Native Womb. Motivational speaker and genealogist Michael Williams will share his epic 17-year adoption search and how he was able to unravel the mystery to his past. As he describes it, he spoke about the Kinship Village. In addition to his research success he also spoke about his experiences with DNA. So tune in and you can download the show from ITunes, and also from Blog Talk Radio page for Bernice Bennett.
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Have you reached an impasse in your research? Perhaps the next clue might be right there on the soil where you ancestors are from. Go back and look closely and look around your known ancestor. Look at the neighborhood, the entire enumeration district or perhaps the entire country. Those friends, neighbors and acquiantainces are all important and our ancestors’ lives were intertwined.

Also I urge you to not assume that African Americans did not generate record between 1870 and 1900. I think that there were many of records generated by people of color. There are marriage records, court house records, homestead records, records of the Southern Claims, co-habitation records, school census records, and more. If they resided for many years, they had to go to the court and those transactions created records. In addition there are other specialized records that contain data on African American families.

So beyond census and vital records there is a lot–Freedman’s Bureau, Freedman Savings, Homestead applications, Educable children’s census, and the military–lots and lots of record. And I have not even mentioned the Oklahoma or Indian Territory records. And their names are on labor contracts, school records, land records. Look at the neighbors and telling their stories. Your ancestors can sometimes jump off the pages especially from state census records, chancery as well as probate records, Southern claims commission records and much more. And the military left lots of records, such as tho pension files. And they cover the years from the 1860s through the early 20th century records.

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Do you research local history? Well the work of Joseph McGill who has initiated the Slave Dwelling project. I read an interesting article about him and the issue of slaver in a midwestern state. The statement was made that sometimes history that becomes forgotten or erased, is due to a lack of physical remnants, the people who lived there, are sometimes eliminated from the story. Today visits to plantation mansions often includes stories of only the enslaver and the families who lived on the big house. When those slave dwellings are gone–is it possible that the stories disappear as well? That made it clear to me, that the effort to preserve these humble dwellings in the effort to preserve the story of those people–those men, those women, those children, whose fate was sealed in those homes. We must remember them, and tell the story so it won’t be forgotten.
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Well as time is running out, do make an effort to make this holiday a special one, and in the meantime, I hope you get some time to follow up with what you have begun with your genealogy research. So keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find. Have a Merry Christmas!