African American history buried in unusual places

Katie Brown Bennett was whirling through reel after reel of microfilm when she found her great-great-grandfather Squire Cheshier.

It was not a birth certificate that genealogists love to get their hands on.

It was an 1843 bill of sale.

Squire had been sold for $525 to Tennyson Cheshier.

“I will remember that moment forever. I knew about slavery conceptually, had studied it in school. But here he was 27, probably sold away from family. When I saw that, all I could do was cry.”

Since then, Bennett has found a wealth of information, including her father’s line of Joneses on a 1772 slave list.


  1. Stephanie McClain says:

    Hi, I have a question .How do you fill in the gaps when researching your family history especially when there’s more questions than answers and nobody in your family knows anything, I find myself getting very frustrated and stop and. Start again lol on my family. I start again on another family members name to research and see how far I can go back and I can’t proceed because I don’t know what to do.

  2. Earl Burrowes, Sr. says:

    It's a on-again, off-again, hit-and-miss labor of love (and respect) for our ancestors who are now "of the ages" but still live deep within us Stephanie. Seriously.

    My quest started – over 15 years ago – as a "favor" to my now 96 year old Mom who wanted to track down relatives who she'd lost contact with after relocating half a world away from home, and has now turned into a (loving) monster of a project.

    Interestingly, I'm married to a McClain (from West Africa) which branch has an interesting link to a McClain branch in the US. Small world.


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