This Week's Pod Cast


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

It is great to be home after an amazing week in Indiana where I attended the FGS Conference last week in Ft. Wayne Indiana. I had a great time, but glad this summer is winding down. I have been everywhere since June from the Atlantic to the Pacific as well as some time in the Midwest and the South! Whew! Time to slow down! And now this is Labor Day Weekend, and September is almost here!

But things keep happening, and I have also reflected on events from the past week. My workshops went very well, and I got to sit in on a few sessions as well. About 1200 or more people were there, and the big companies were there exhibiting, but I also enjoyed meeting small vendors, including Theresa Irish, who wrote a beautiful tribute to her father, through his “Thousand Letters Home.” Meeting her, and her enthusiasm was a special part of being at FGS.

Also last week I got a chance to go to the Allen County Public Library and ran into a fellow genealogists, Janis Forte from Chicago. I decided to take a look at their heritage book publication that her group produced. Their organization is AAGHSC (African American Genealogical & Historical Society Group of Chicago.
I actually remember when they were collecting data for this project about 3 years ago, and while at the library in Ft. Wayne, I got a chance to see the book. Wow—it is a beautiful book and what a joy to see such a fabulous heritage book produced by an African American organization. They did a remarkable job with it!! And what a great fund raiser this had to be. They are completely sold out so one cannot obtain a copy, however, they allowed the book to be fully copied by Family Search and you can find it there online.

The only problem is that the scanning was not very clear—and I hope that someone can convince the powers that be to re-scan the book. This work is too important, and the data is too valuable to be inaccessible due to a poor scanning process. The book itself was not blurred nor fuzzy, so I hope that it can be re-scanned.

You know, Chicago was one of those destination cities of the Great Migration. As a result, the members who contributed were writing about their ancestors, in Mississippi, Alabama, the Carolinas, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and so many more places! Take a look at the link online and you will get an idea of what I mean. This book is important, and many need to look at this book and examine it closely.

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Now here is a unique story—on Thursday September 12, a funeral service will take place in Waterbury CT. The service and burial will that of Mr. Fortune. What makes this story unique is that Mr. Fortune died over 200 years ago. In fact it was 215 years ago, to be exact. It is believed that he died by drowning, and instead of burial, his body was taken by a Dr. Preserved Porter, and his remains were used for scientific study. The skeletal remains were used by the doctor, and then passed down through generations as several descendants were also men of medicine.

In the 1940s his remains were put together as a full skeleton and then put on display for many years. It is not fully understood why Mr. Fortune’s family had no voice in terms of what would happen to his body and for over 200 years his bones have been analyzed and studied, and this humble man was not allowed to be at rest—even in death. In the 1970s it was taken down.

Twenty years later, the Black community in the area however, never knew of Mr. Fortune’s history. In the 1990s an effort was made to record the history of the Black community. Many elders in the community were interviewed and recorded and it was felt that a good summary of the black history was recorded. Until a letter was received from the Mattatuck Museum informing them that there was an older African American in the town—Larry the Skeleton.

Well almost 20 years later, Mr. Fortune will finally be buried and funeralized from the church where he was a member. St. John’s Episcopal will hold the service, in Waterbury CT, for it also turns out that Mr. Fortune was a member of that church, and even baptized there. A number of dignitaries will be there to finally lay Mr. Fortune to rest. Full wishes that his soul will finally be free and that he will now be in peace. No longer will he be an object, but he will be buried and remembered as a man. For more details click this link.

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Ok last night on Research At the National Archives and Beyond—Bernice Bennett’s show—her guest was Dr. Maggi Morehouse, discussing slave life as found in documents coming out of Edgefield SC. The focus was on primary sources and how to find them and the different kinds of data that one can find in such records. Of course those with ties to Edgefield SC are so fortunate, because those records are intact, and full of names of slaves in various stages of their lives. Ms. Bennett’s show airs every Thursday evening on Blog Talk Radio at 9pm EST.

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Coming up in SC in the fall—in November, in fact the SC Historical Society along with LCAfricana will present a day long African American introductory seminar at the SC Historical society. They will discuss how to decipher plantation journals, and in the afternoon they have have some hands on archival research with artifacts held at the SC archives. The event will be on Saturday November 9, and will be limited to only 30 people. It is free of charge and one must call this number (843-723-3225 ext. 11 ) to participate.

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Finally let’s go back to Edgefield SC—a group of family historians, have worked on a collaborative project to produce a book about their ancestors shared history in the Old Edgefield District of South Carolina. They call their group, “The Heritage Seekers” and they are going to begin to accept pre-orders of this book. The title of their work is called, “No Longer Forgotten.” I caught a glimpse of the cover, and they will be unveiling it either today or withing the next several days. They are telling their own stories about their ancestry, their own way. They have a wonderful structure, and I am delighted to see at least one group of people who are choosing to tell their own family story. This is likely to be something that will inspire others–and that is what should happen. I am quite excited for the Heritage Seekers, because the book is something that we all want to read, and should read, so that we can then turn and tell our own story as well. Congratulations to this group for their accomplishment!

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A special congratulations goes out to Janis Minor Forte, of Chicago Ilinois—she has one first place in the ISFHWE writing competition for 2013. (ISFHWE is the International Society for Family History Writers and Editors.)
Her category was for articles and she won for excellence in genealogical writing. Congratulations! Note that she also won honorable mention in another category for newsletters! Winners in all categories can be found HERE.

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Well, this is a holiday weekend and I hope that you have a delightful one and a safe one. In the meantime, keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find.

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