Angela Y. Walton-Raji on January 29th, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast


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


Blizzard 2016 Mtn of SnowMountain of snow in front of my house.

We are now into the final week of January and in the heart of winter. Thankfully most of this region on the east coast survived the major snowstorm of last week! We still  have a lot to dig out, but it was an incredible storm that left us with 2 feet of snow. We were blessed to not have lost power, and all is well, but the big dig out continues and I now face a mountain of snow, thanks to a huge Catepillar tractor that came by last night. But glad the storm is behind us, and we are more or less back to normal.

RootsTech 2016Image Source

Well I am in a pre-travel mode! That’s right I am preparing to travel to Salt Lake City Next week and am quite excited about it! The schedule is quite full and there are quite a few workshops that will also be of interest to researchers of a wide variety of backgrounds. I have the honor of giving a presentation on researching Native American ancestors in the 19th and 20th centuries. The following day there will be a panel of professional African American researchers discussing some of their favorite online sites. And on Thursday evening there will be something new as well. We have all heard a lot about the major Indexing initiative that is underway. I hope that many of your are among the people indexing these records.


Well–on Thursday evening there will be an Index-A-Thon, coordinated by Thom Reed of Family Search, and it is hoped that many will be joining the initiative to participate in that effort. The actual Index-A-Thon event will occur in the computer labs at Roots Tech, but you can also index during the same time, from home.  Here is the LINK for more information.

StudentsFindGraveImage Source

A sobering, yet heart warming story came out of Georgia this week when some students from Emory University found a long-lost grave of  man who was murdered in the 1940s. The story reminds us of many such stories of terror that affected people for many decades. They were able to help an elderly lady find her father’s grave who was killed in front of her eyes when she was only 6 years old. Of course there was no prosecution of anyone for the crime, and for most of her life, the woman lived with a bitterness in her heart for her father’s murder. The story is heartwarming because thanks to students at Emory working on the Georgia Cold Cases Project, she is now at peace and has released the anger and faces the remainder of her life at ease. The tragedy of the incident is there, but at least as an adult being able to touch his grave has helped this lady to heal. Read the story HERE.



Last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s story was fascinating. Her guest was Alvin Blakes. He shared the story of his family, and how there was a systematized effort to prevent the minor children from receiving a pension from their father’s Civil War pension. The bias against the family was so strong, and a family of 14 children, most of whom were under 16, and qualified for support, it took decades for them to receive a retroactive payment owed them. The research conducted by Mr. Blakes was quite extensive, and he was quite thorough in pursuing the data and following every lead. If you missed this episode, tune in and listen to the show by following this link.



This week was the kick off for the 2016 Black Pro Gen Hangouts. The topic was an interesting discussion of the PBS program “Finding Your Roots. Discussion among the participants covered the use of slave schedules and the same surname for slave holder search. The genealogical process was discussed, and  the reaction of the researchers to what was shown. Here is a link to this week’s hangout, now on YouTube.


Well time to wind things up and get back to my preparations to travel to Salt Lake City. Stay tuned to social media as we will be tweeting and posting videos and interviews on Facebook as well as  YouTube. I hope that I will get to meet some of you there, as well.

And thank you all for taking time from your busy day to tune into the podcast! I may have a special podcast from Salt Lake City with a guest of two, so stay tuned for that as well! In the meantime, stay warm and dry–it is still winter and quite cold. And please remember to keep researching, keep documenting and keep sharing what you find!

Angela Y. Walton-Raji on January 22nd, 2016

This Week's Pod Cast


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

Blizzard 2016 1
Early view from my deck as snow begins.

Well we are truly now in the heart of winter and about to experience the blizzard of blizzards in the next few days. I have been busy in preparation mode, and have run all of the errands—plenty of bread, milk and other essentials in the house. That’s right most of the south central region, south east, and mid-Atlantic states are getting hit with the same storm. As a result, this is one of those storms of all storms that shall be unfolding! I know that many of you listening are also in the path of the storm, so I pray that you will all be safe, warm, and dry, and will not have to venture out into the frigid air. We are also expecting high winds over the next two days so I hope that you will all be safe as the storm moves in and hope that it moves out quickly.



Black Pro Gen Hangouts Start Next Week!

Everyone is invited to participate in the BlackProGen Google Hangouts next week! They will start on WEDNESDAY January 27th! (not Monday) and for info and the link to participate in the live chat click HERE. Black Pro Gen is an informal group of professional African American Genealogists who get together to share thoughts, strategies, projects and fellowship with one another. We started last year and we are beginning a new season of discussions, brick wall sessions, and exchanging ideas with each other.

The topic for the next two hangouts will be discussions about the PBS series Finding Your Roots. This is a two part topic and participants will share their opinions, thoughts, and reactions to the findings and records used.


Bernice's Logo

When Wills Don’t Go As Planned

Last night’s episode of Bernice Bennett’s show featured David Paterson, who shared with listeners some of the data that can be gleaned when a family challenged a will in the 19th century. The challenge to the will had dramatic and direct impact on the lives of the enslaved people who were often the prize when a will was contested. He shared last night the plethora of data that can be obtained from such files, and how researchers should study some of these contested wills. The information that he presented was outstanding, and one that stood out was the story of Macharine Bunkley who had an unusual relationship with her enslaved population, whom she educated and later freed, in her will.


Ealy Family Book

The Ealy Family Book Emerges!

Congratulations to Melvin Collier who has recently authored yet another book. This time his focus was the Ealy family to which Melvin has some amazing documentation on how various branches connect! The family today consists of the descendants of “Big Bob” who was taken south from his home in Nash County North Carolina, and his 12 children whom he had with wife Jane. The result is a very large clan with many branches today. Melvin has incorporated stories and memories from elders about their lives in the Lena and Tuscola communities. In addition he has incorporated information on three additional children of Bob Ealy have been found, and of course the quest to find more children and descendants still continues.  Melvin is an accomplished author and the book is sure to please many readers even beyond the Ealy family itself. Melvin is noted as a storyteller, and also as an accomplished writer.



Digital Public Library of America

I want to encourage you all to take a look if you have not yet done so, at the Digital Public Library of America. So much is there, I can only describe it as a place where you can survey the holdings of many libraries from one place–your own computer. This site is a collaboration between libraries and repositories around the country that are sharing links to their digitized holdings and the sites are truly amazing. The site is free, the images load quickly and the search experience is only limited to your own imagination! DPLA  (if link does not work simply type


For Cemetery Enthusiasts:
Architecture Writer is Looking for Cemetery Preservationists


A writer for Landscape Architecture Magazine is interested in individuals who have worked in the restoration or preservation of neglected African American cemeteries for a special article in their publication. The writer is also interested in learning of neglected cemeteries that were successfully restored, and if anyone used the help of landscape architects. If you are working in this area please feel free to contact Zach Mortice. He can be reached at 773-654-3611, or via Twitter @zachmortice. His website is htt://


Thank you all for tuning in this week. As we are all being blanket by more than a foot of snow, please stay safe, warm and dry, and remember to keep researching, keep documenting, and please keep sharing what you find.