Taking Back What Was Once Lost

Posts in category Slaveowner Research

Beyond the Will and Inventory: Tracin...

Beyond the Will and Inventory: Tracing Enslaved Ancestors Through Probate

I talk alot on this blog about slave and slaveowner research because it’s one of my primary areas of interest. For those of us descended from enslaved ancestors, probate records are one of the first record sets we are taught to explore. If we’re lucky enough to discover that the slaveowner died before 1865, we […]

Records of Antebellum Southern Planta...

Records of Antebellum Southern Plantations

I remain convinced that there are still hundreds of thousands of documents that contain information on our enslaved ancestors that aren’t being widely used. Sometimes it’s because we can’t easily get access to the information, and sometimes it’s because the information itself is difficult to peruse and understand (court records and freedmen’s bureau records come […]

Ex-Slave Pension Records

Ex-Slave Pension Records

Recently, Ancestry somewhat quietly rolled out the Ex-Slave Pension database which contains Correspondence and Case Files from the National Archives. I was excited because I had always wanted to take a look at these records but hadn’t gotten around to it yet over the years. I first heard about these records when Mary Frances Berry […]

Maps Lead the Way To Better Understan...

Maps Lead the Way To Better Understanding

I’ve always known that maps are an underused but vital part of genealogy research. I think the difficulty in finding them and correlating them contributes to this for most people. Recently, I had an example where maps helped me to better understand connections between enslaved ancestors. My Prather family is from Montgomery County, Maryland and […]

Slave Research: Search the Slaveowner...

Slave Research: Search the Slaveowner’s Wife’s Family Too

Slave and slaveowner research is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. On top of all the genealogy methodology that you need to learn to do it well, there’s the emotional impact of simply looking at the documents that you have to deal with. After 14 years, my heart still bleeds every time […]

Historic Trust Inventories: Search th...

Historic Trust Inventories: Search the Land, Find the People

I’ve been given some gifts lately by the genealogy spirits. I think they are designed to gently ease me back into the fray after my maternity break of several months. This is another really good one. I have made many connections over the years with relatives, as we discover we are both researching the same […]

Researching the Slaveowner in Online ...

Researching the Slaveowner in Online Books

The slavery period remains the one of the most difficult for African-Americans to research. Maybe this is why that period is a particular point of interest to me, and why I spend lots of time on this blog on that subject. Recently Family Tree Magazine did a very good article on another research tool I […]

Slave Records in Washington, D.C.

Slave Records in Washington, D.C.

I have been thinking lately about how many states and locations have unique record sets that can really give a boost to those doing slave research. For example, how slave births in Virginia are recorded from the year 1853, and how Maryland’s slave statistics name the last slaveowner as well as surnames for most slaves. […]

Southern Claims Commission

Southern Claims Commission

I know, I know, I have been gone too long! A short word of explanation. I recently celebrated my 40th birthday with a party and a week-long trip to Barbados (check out my tan!). I’m feeling whole and happy, and fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family who love me. I have a such […]

My Terrific Tennessee Research Trip

My Terrific Tennessee Research Trip

I finally got back to Tennessee after 5 long years! And what a trip it was. I just have to share some of the major highlights with you. I flew into Memphis, TN and met in person not one but two cousins I had talked to on the phone a few years ago. Both Dianne […]

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About Me

I blog, teach, write and lecture about family history research and it's just as rewarding today as it was when I began 18 years ago. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my past and I've taken back--reclaimed- my kin and some of that lost memory.  

Post History

What I Talk About

Locations and Surnames

Hardin, Chester and Lawrence Counties, TN
Holt, Barnes, Harbour, Bradley Springer and Fendricks
Lawrence County, AL
Springer and Fendricks
Montgomery County, MD
Prather, Simpson
Somerset County, MD
Waters, Fountain, Curtis
Duval and Madison County, FL
Smith, Harris, Garner

Favorite Family History Quotes

"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
-William Faulkner

"Call it a clan, call it a network, all it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one"
- Jane Howard

"Friends are God's apologies for relations."
-Hugh Kingsmill

"No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?"
-Elbert Hubbard

"Families are like fudge; mostly sweet with a few nuts."

"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you might as well make it dance!"

"Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city;)"
-George Burns

"Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl. No superior alternative has yet been found."
-Winston Churchill

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never ever introduce yourself to had life not done it for you."
-Kendall Hailey

"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all the generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."
-Thich Nhat Hanh