In First Lady’s Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery

In 1850, the elderly master of a South Carolina estate took pen in hand and painstakingly divided up his possessions. Among the spinning wheels, scythes, tablecloths and cattle that he bequeathed to his far-flung heirs was a 6-year-old slave girl valued soon afterward at $475. In his will, she is described simply as the “negro girl Melvinia.” After his death, she was torn away from the people and places she knew and shipped to Georgia. While she was still a teenager, a white man would father her first-born son under circumstances lost in the passage of time. Read More … [Read more...]

DNA research finally confirms ‘Roots’ author’s ties to Alabama

Author Alex Palmer Haley knew he had roots in northwest Alabama, he just couldn’t prove it. He had only an oral history passed down through generations of his family and a family legend that a plantation overseer in Marion County was the father of slave Alec Haley, Alex Haley’s grandfather. Chris Haley, the son of Alex Haley’s brother Julius, may now have lent truth to the story, simply by swabbing cells from his cheek. Read More … [Read more...]

History in black and white

Chris Haley has always been interested in genealogy. But at least when it came to his father's side of the family, he figured things were pretty much covered thanks to his uncle, "Roots" author Alex Haley. "It had been done," Chris, 46, said last week. "What would I prove that hadn't been proved before?" How wrong he was. Read More … [Read more...]

Up Close: Tangled Roots

You hope for a surprise or two when you map your genealogy: an exiled count, perhaps, or a plank-walking pirate. But when journalist David Wilson, 32, began to trace his roots six years ago, what he found was even more intriguing. As his project moved backward from Newark, New Jersey, to North Carolina and Virginia and finally to Ghana, where his ancestors were put on a slave ship bound for America, he discovered not only his family's slave master but also their modern-day descendants. Read More … [Read more...]

White senator discovers family’s African-American roots

It's often said that a real Southerner can "claim kin" with anyone. Tony Rand realized the same could be true for him. Rand, whose family can trace its roots back to the 1700s, is a Democratic state senator in North Carolina. Until he watched the 2008 CNN documentary "Black in America," he had no idea that some of his relatives were black. Read More … [Read more...]

Connecting to African roots

In celebration of Black History Month, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society sponsored a research day at the Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City to help black Americans connect to their roots. Read More … [Read more...]