Category Archives: African Roots

African Roots Podcast Episode # 291 October 31, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


Welcome back to the African Roots podcast. You can reach me at

Well, today is Halloween and if you are going to be out this evening driving be extra careful as children are out walking around after dark. Remember to take photos if you are with children or grandchildren as they go about their way ringing doorbells and collecting their treats. But most importantly keep them safe.

And November is right here at our doorstep! The holiday season is close by. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are quickly approaching, and most events are now occurring on the local level.



Maryland Celebrates Emancipation!

Here in Maryland, many museums and historic sites are celebrating Emancipation, as it will be 150 years since freedom came to so many. And next year-2015, is a milestone years for many states, as the end of the war brought freedom to so many. Well, tomorrow historic Sotterley Plantation in Hollywood Maryland there will be a ceremony to place a marker remembering those that perished during the Middle Passage at 10:00 am.  The public is invited to attend this ceremony to remember their own ancestors on Saturday and to honor those  ancestors that perished and those that endured to seek their freedom.


Cecil County Genealogy Symposium

Whether you’re just getting started or are a seasoned researcher, the 3rd Annual Cecil County Genealogy Symposium at the Elkton Central Library on Saturday, November 8th might attract your attention. Several groups are working together to participate in this county symposium. Among some of the groups are, the Upper Shore Genealogical Society of MarylandMaryland State ArchivesMaryland Department at the Enoch Pratt Free LibraryHistorical Society of Cecil County and so many more. The point is–take a look at the local groups-as so much history could be there waiting for you to discover. We must remember the story is a larger one where we study the region where the ancestral family lived, not just their names.


Last night on Bernice Bennett’s show, the featured guest discussed the process of preserving the history of a community in a unique way. Ms. Bennett’s guest last night was Margo Williams. Many of us know Margo, through AAHGS, and her writings and the many classes that she has taught. She spoke about her efforts to have an area in a community designated as a cultural heritage site. This is different from the process of having a building or landmark put on the National Register of Historic places. But is is equally has demanding in terms of documentation and history. This is something that perhaps many of us need to consider doing. Some of the old schools, churches and businesses are gone, but the area is still there. Listen to last night’s show as you may get some wonderful ideas to explore in your own ancestral community. The show airs every Thursday evening on Blog Talk Radio.


The Magic Door Should Not Be Televised by Nicka Smith

I urge you to look at Nicka Smith’s blog. She wrote a good piece about the fact that ordinary people can create their own Book of Life, and can research their own story with full documentation.  One does not have to be a celebrity to have their history told. Well she points out that we all have access. And so many are in the public domain. It is just a matter of knowing where to go to find them. And of course it is important to know how to do it properly. The need to know how to properly use a record, avoid guessing and assumptions. As she pointed out there is no magic wand, just as there is no magic door. One does not have to be a noted professor who hires a genealogist in Utah to pull out stories. You also have access and can do this research, and do it properly.  And has one already been done on the family? Well perhaps it is time for Volume II.


Well thanks for listening again this week and do be careful if you are out this evening as many children will be out after dark in costumes knocking on doors for their treats. 

In the meantime, remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!


African Roots Podcast Episode #290 October 24, 2014

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Well I hope you are enjoying the beautiful autumn weather as October moves into the final week! Hard to believe that fall is going so fast and we are almost into winter! Hope you have had a great week!


Virtual Genealogy Fair is Next Week


October 28 – 30th the annual Virtual Genealogy Fair will take place offered by the National Archives. What a great chance to watch some live video streams that will unfold next week. The Archivist of the United States will give the opening presentation. I caught the live streams last year and I am looking forward to them again this year. The live streams are of good quality and are easy to load and to watch. So I hope you get to catch some of the presentations as well.

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Wishing Bernice Bennett a successful presentation as she addresses the African American History and Genealogy Society of St. Louis, tomorrow. She will be talking about her work, documenting her ancestors in South Carolina. I am sure she will be enjoyed by everyone who hears her.

And–last nights episode of Bernice’s show, Research at the National Archives and Beyond, featured Dr. Rebecca Scott who told the story of the Tinchant family from St. Domingue, now Haiti and the story then became a Louisiana story and later a story ending in Europe. The neat thing is that the story itself was captivating, but also the research process is part of the second story. We all have that second story to tell as well–the process of how the data was captured. That was also shared as Dr. Scott spoke about the family that she was following and their efforts to remain in freedom during trying times.  We should all remember to tell the story of the process–that is often what genealogists want to hear even more. What happened and how did you find it. I hope that you as researchers tell the story of how you found what you found.


This week, we had a neat experience online. Nicka Smith hosted a discussion among  African American genealogists. We are all watching the various televised genealogy programs, and we are all talking among ourselves. Well Nicka decided to provide a platform where we could chat in real time with each other. She created a Google+ video chat about the first five episodes. Good discussion as we talked about the first five episodes of FindingYourRoots. We had good discussion and there will be another planned for early December. When I have the date, I shall let you know.

I mentioned last week that the Maryland State Archives presented a Family History Festival. Well if you missed it,  you can still have a chance to get some data from the speakers. On the website, you can obtain the handouts and the presentation slides from the event. So if you missed it,  you can still download the handouts and save those among your notes as well. I am putting a link for you as well.


A new Facebook group was shared with me about the  “Freedom Colonies” in Texas. I was thrilled to see this group and that they are researching their history, of the land owners and land squatters that formed small settlements in the decades after the Civil War. The population of east Texas saw an increase of more than 30% of African Americans moving west and seeking a new way of life. Harris County, Barrett was one of those areas, and St. John Colony and more communities. Glad to see that they have formed a Facebook Group and they are working about preservation of this little known history. So check out the history of the Freedom Settlements of Texas.


October 30th is Ask An Archivist Day! A group of Archivists from around the country are taking their presence to Twitter. Check out this site They will be there to answer questions about their holdings, under the hashtag group #AskAnArchivist. Follow the chat–and people from various repositories will be there to assist. These are the people who protect the very records that we need. So join the fun, ask questions, and hopefully get some useful answers.

This week I have had a great experience blogging and researching an unusual story about a man said to have been in the Civil War. Sometimes a story grabs your attention, and you feel almost obligated to pursue it. That happened to me and I wrote about it on my blog.

The story is about the efforts to document the story of a native Hawaiian who served with the US Colored Troops. His name was J.R. Kealoha. He is buried in a cemetery in Oahu, and this man died in 1877,  and was buried without a headstone. Efforts to secure an official marker from the Office of Veteran’s affairs. But his service has not yet been confirmed. That is possibly because he may have served under a different name. Apparantly a letter appeared about the soldier in a publication in the late 1890s. The letter penned by Col Samuel Chapman Armstrong, who was born in Hawaii, but served in the Union Army in the Civil War. He mentioned in his letter that he met two native Hawaiians, including Mr. J. R. Kealoha. I have devoted my recent blog post to his story and the quest to find out more about his history, and his service.
For me—this quest to learn about him, reflects the need to sometimes allow the new story to take some our time. On one level it was a distraction, but on another level, this effort to look at his history was worthwhile. I am thrilled that researchers in Hawaii are telling his story and they are revealing a little known fact–that US Colored Troops often welcomed men of color from other countries who fought, bled, and in some cases died, in the fight for freedom.

Another part of the story—tomorrow in Honolulu, there will be a special dedication of the headstone that was donated by a local monument company. So J.R. Kealoha a mystery soldier of the US Colored Troops will be honored.


Well time to wind down, and thanks for sharing your messages, links and announcements with me. In the meantime, please continue to do what you do and remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and keep sharing what you find.