Archives for February 2010

Carnival of African-American Genealogy

On March 19th Restore My Name – Slave Records and Genealogy Research, will kick-off the first of an ongoing series of African-American themed carnivals, intended to be a gathering place for the community to share and learn about African-American genealogy. Read more at Our Georgia Roots … [Read more...]

Iconic stories of slavery and the South leave out many black family histories

One day late in the summer of 1956, when I was an undergraduate, I walked a few blocks to my grandmother's house and sat my father's mother down at her round wooden table. I was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., and her house at 106 Walnut St. had been a family home for generations. I asked Grandma to tell me about our family. As she spoke, I took notes and began a detailed chart on a large sheet of paper. Names, places, relationships, personalities -- I wrote it all down and marveled. Grandma personally knew ancestors of ours whose lives reached back before 1850. She recalled that there … [Read more...]

Bound By The Past

When Michael Saahir and Anne McWilliams crossed paths over coffee between Sunday services at her Northside church, they easily could have passed from each other's lives without another thought. But Saahir noticed her nametag and made a comment that there were McWilliamses in his family. The overture could seem odd, given that Saahir is black and McWilliams is white. And even stranger, Saahir is Muslim -- a kufi-wearing imam, in fact -- and at the time, McWilliams was an administrator at a Christian seminary. Yet McWilliams couldn't help but come back to Saahir, who was the guest … [Read more...]

Researcher discovers real name of famous Petersburg slave

PETERSBURG - One of the most fascinating characters in Petersburg's African-American history is Isaac Jefferson, an ex-slave of former President Thomas Jefferson, who worked as a blacksmith in Pocahontas until his death in 1847. For decades, the story of Jefferson's slave was forgotten. Last year, local historian Richard Stewart began his search for Isaac's grave site, which he believes to be at the People's Memorial Cemetery. Ronald Seagrave, a historian from Dinwiddie County who is currently working on a book about Isaac Jefferson, has recently discovered new, previously unknown … [Read more...]

Family’s dilemma: Gas rights vs. black heritage

Denise Dennis' ancestors were among the first farmers who settled in northeast Pennsylvania, in 1793. They were free African Americans, extraordinary because they became integrated in a largely white community, 70 years before emancipation. Their 153-acre farm has remained in the family for seven generations. The Smithsonian Institution has taken an interest. The National Trust for Historic Preservation called it "a rare and highly significant African American cultural landscape." But as Dennis strolled last week through the snowy burial grounds that include the remains of her … [Read more...]

African-Americans find it difficult to trace history

For many African-Americans, family history can be difficult -- in some cases nearly impossible -- to trace. Now, new technology allows people of African descent to trace their ancestry by analyzing their DNA. Our own Judi Gatson was curious about her own history beyond her immediate family. Judi's parents were married in 1964. She says she spent plenty of time with both sets of grandparents. On her mother's side, there was Emily and Jim from Daphne, Alabama. On her dad's side, there was Dorothy and Charles lived in St. Louis, Missouri. Through family research, we've discovered some … [Read more...]

Nationwide Insurance Launches Family Heritage Campaign to Support Black History Month

In recognition of Black History Month, today Nationwide Insurance is providing African American families with a unique online experience that helps them connect with their ancestry, celebrate their past and work together to honor the present, while at the same time support the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). It's all part of Nationwide's ongoing effort to reach African American consumers. This particular campaign created by McKinney, Nationwide's advertising agency of record, includes the Family Heritage Tree website ( where visitors can create their … [Read more...]

Black Livseys With White Roots

In Snellville, Ga., a city about 25 miles east of Atlanta racial strives are being made by a prominent family mending their historic roots. White and Black Livseys becomes One Family... Its our purpose to promote the heritage of Gwinnett County, Georgia. We feel its our duty to educate its citizens, students,and visitors of the influences and effects of the Civil War. While history books illustrate grand battlefields, like Gettysburg, Vicksburg or even Chicamauga, where fathers and brothers fought to the death against each other. The bloody and the dead were left to rot where they … [Read more...]