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Archive for June 2012


Blog Talk Radio: Great Lineup for July on "Research at the National Archives and Beyond" With Bernice Bennett

Did you know that you can listen to free, live genealogy talk shows online on BlogTalk Radio? BlogTalkRadio is the largest and fastest growing online talk radio network, where you can listen to thousands of shows on such topics as history, education, social networking and many other topics.

One of our favorite BlogTalkRadio shows is Research at the National Archives and Beyond, with host Bernice Bennett. Every Thursday evening at 8pm Central, 9pm Eastern time, Bernice Bennett hosts engaging conversations with experts who share resources and stories for individuals who are thinking about tracing their family roots; beginners who have already started and others who believe that continuous learning is the key to finding answers.

Bernice Bennett and her guests will also answer your genealogy questions via the live chat room, or you can call in to speak with Bernice and her guests live.

Below is the July lineup for Research at the National Archives and Beyond. We hope to see you in the live chat room!

Thinking Out of the Box - Creating Things with Genealogy, With Drusilla Pair

Thursday, July 5, 2012 09:00PM
9pm Central, 8pm Eastern, 7pm Mountain, 6p, Pacific

Is genealogy only about who begat whom, or would you consider thinking out of the box by creating a new way of researching and sharing your genealogical stories?

Special guest Drusilla Pair, aka “Professor Dru” is a Genealogist, Technologist, Educator, and Lecturer who has been tracing her family history in Virginia and North Carolina since 1994. She is a native of Newport News, VA and is the author of several blogs including Professor Dru’s Blog,, Find Your Folks,, and Let Freedom Ring,

Her most recent genealogy accomplishments are several programs entitled “Sunday Crowns” which focus on the legacy of church hats in her family and in African American churches and the development and teaching of the Back in the Day, a Faith-Based Institution Historical Research Program for youth in her community. Her current community history projects include research of United States Colored Troop Soldiers from Fort Monroe area and research of James A. Fields and his family, slaves from Hanover County, VA who escaped to Fort Monroe, VA during the Civil War.

The Black Harrises of Orange County, North Carolina, With Gwendolyn Olson

Thursday, July 12, 2012 09:00PM
9pm Eastern, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6 pm Pacific

Join family historian Gwendolyn Olson for a discussion of her genealogy journey to find her ancestors enslaved in North Carolina and beyond. She traces the Harris roots branch of the family back to her 4x great grandmother Lydia 'Roberts' who would have been born around 1770. She is successful in locating her with the collaboration of the great great grand daughter of the man who owned and enslaved her 2x & 3x great grandmothers.

Genealogical Resources in Alabama, With Frazine Taylor

Thursday, July 19, 2012 09:00PM
9pm Eastern, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6 pm Pacific

Join host Bernice Bennett and special guest Frazine K. Taylor for an interesting genealogical journey through records in Alabama.

Frazine K. Taylor is the author of Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama: A Resource Guide (2008) and researched Tom Joyner’s and Linda Johnson Rice’s family roots and ties to Alabama for the PBS series, African American Lives 2.

She obtained her Master in Information Studies from Atlanta University and has over twenty years experience as a librarian, archivist, lecturer and writer. She is also the former Head of Reference for the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) and was an expert on Alabama records at ADAH.

Ms. Taylor is currently the Coordinator for the African American Research course for the Samford University - Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Historical Significance of Genealogy- Pearl-Alice Marsh

Thursday, July 26, 2012 09:00PM
9pm Eastern, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6 pm Pacific

Dr. Pearl-Alice Marsh began her genealogical research 20 years ago as an oral history project. As her parents and their friends grew older, she realized their stories were not only their family and community histories but also important to the history of the Depression-era African-American migration to the Pacific Northwest and of America's labor history in the logging industry. After recording and transcribing over 1000 pages of material, she found African-American genealogy organizations and resources through the Internet and began genealogical research in earnest.

Her research focuses primarily on north-central Louisiana where she is researching the story of black land ownership in Jackson Parish during reconstruction and post-reconstruction periods. She is also documenting the 20th century family history through oral interviews with family elders ages 84-92 still living in Louisiana and California.

Dr. Pearl-Alice Marsh currently serves as the Global Health Policy Director for ONE and is responsible for developing and coordinating the global health strategy. She also serves as the U.S. Policy Director for ONE and is responsible for coordinating US policy initiative with the global policy efforts.

She was also instrumental in getting legislation passed and signed by President William Clinton to preserve the Freedmen's Bureau Records. The records are microfilmed, and available for genealogical researchers. The bill, The Freedmen's Bureau Preservation Act of 2000 (HR 5157) was signed into law during the 106th Congress.

Dr. Marsh holds a Ph.D. in political Science and Master of Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley, and B.A. in Social Welfare from Sacramento State College.

On Demand Episodes: A Sampling

Miss an episode? No worries, you can listen to past episodes anytime, at your convenience. Here is a sampling of some shows that may be of interest to Lowcountry researchers:

Sharing Your Genealogy Research Through Blogging!

Join host Bernice Bennett and her special guest on blogging! Angela Walton-Raji is a nationally known genealogy researcher and advocate for other genealogists to join the blogging community. MORE

Slave Records of Edgefield County, SC with Gloria Lucas

Join guest host Natonne Elaine Kemp for an engaging interview and discussion with Mrs. Gloria Ramsey Lucas concerning the Slave Records of Edgefield County, South Carolina. MORE

Edgefield, SC Genealogy Resources with Tonya A. Browder

Guest Tonya A. Browder - Director of the Tompkins Memorial Library discusses the rich history and historical documents and genealogical information available in Edgefield County, South Carolina. MORE

The African American Odyssey of John Kizell - Kevin Lowther

Host Bernice Bennett and co-host Natonne Elaine Kemp lead an engaging conversation with author and historian Kevin G. Lowther about the the life of a Sierra Leonean who survived slavery in Charleston, South Carolina, and served with British forces during the American Revolution. He eventually returned to his homeland, where he campaigned among his people to end slave trading. MORE

About Blog Talk Radio

BlogTalkRadio allows anyone, anywhere the ability to host a live talk radio show online, simply by using a telephone and a computer. BlogTalkRadio’s unique platform, powered by Cinchcast, empowers citizen broadcasters to create and share their original content, their voices and their opinions in a worldwide public forum.

Today, BlogTalkRadio is the largest and fastest growing online talk radio network. A truly democratized medium, BlogTalkRadio has tens of thousands of hosts and millions of listeners tuning in and joining the conversation each month.


Slave Dwelling Project Visits Heyward Washington House

I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery.

George Washington

No stranger to tourists, arguably the Heyward Washington House is the most historically significant stay to date for the Slave Dwelling Project. If one can overcome its biggest obstacle, that is, finding a parking space close by, they could easily be amazed by all the site has to offer. Its website states the following:

“Located in the downtown Historic District, within the area of the original walled city, this brick double house was built in 1772 by rice planter Daniel Heyward as a town-house for his son, Thomas Heyward, Jr. The City rented it for George Washington's use during the President's week-long Charleston stay, in May 1791, and it has traditionally been called the "Heyward-Washington House."

Thomas Heyward, Jr. (1746-1809) was a patriot leader, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and artillery officer with the South Carolina militia during the American Revolution. Captured when the British took Charleston in 1780, he was exiled to St. Augustine, Florida, but was exchanged in 1781. Heyward sold the house in 1794. It was acquired by the Museum in 1929, opened the following year as Charleston's first historic house museum, and was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

Here you will experience a magnificent collection of Charleston-made furniture including the priceless Holmes Bookcase, considered to be the finest example of American-made furniture. Other buildings on the site include the carriage shed, with an 18th-century well just beneath, and the kitchen building (the only preserved kitchen of its time open to the public in Charleston), which was constructed in the 1740s. The exquisite formal garden features plants familiar to Charlestonians in the late 18th century, and the picturesque surrounding neighborhood was used by Dubose Heyward as the setting for Porgy and Bess.”

It is those other buildings mentioned on the website that gives the Slave Dwelling Project its purpose that is to tell the rest of the story. Of those other buildings, the kitchen is where I along with Terry James and Paul Garbarini would spend the night on Friday, June 15, 2012 but more about that later. Who made the bricks to build the Heyward -Washington House and other houses in the city of Charleston prior to the emancipation of slaves? Who physically built the houses? Who serviced the houses? It is questions like those that inspire me to carry on with this project.

Heyward Washington House, Charleston, SC

35 stays in 11 states has allowed the Slave Dwelling Project to become more refined. I now insist on conducting at least one public program to accompany each overnight stay. This works well for properties that are open to public visitation on a daily basis. It has also proven successful at some properties that are privately owned however, that choice will continue to be at the discretion of the property owner.

The Heyward-Washington House presented a great opportunity to conduct a public program before the stay. This stay was also an opportunity for the Slave Dwelling Project to further enhance its collaboration with the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor. The publicity leading up to the event generated a respectable diverse audience of project followers, neighbors and new comers who in my opinion, made the question and answer period more interesting than the lecture itself. The weather cooperated to provide the best open air class room for the project. Me, the audience seated comfortably, the “big house”, the kitchen and all the other buildings were all within fifteen feet of each other.

JosephMcGill Converses with Visitors, Heyward Washington House, Charleston, SC

The space where we would sleep was adorned with many of the items that may have been found in a functioning kitchen of that period. We did not have access to the second level of the structure but it was historically used for sleeping space. Like many stays before, the invitation was open to anyone wanting to share the experience with me. That night, I would be joined by “Old Reliable” Terry James and Paul Garbarini.

This would be Terry’s 11th stay and of course Paul’s first. Terry did not get here until very late into the night so it gave Paul and me ample time for quality chat. Some subjects of note were the tourism industry in Charleston; the freedman’s tag recently found on a plantation in the Charleston area; my interaction with the group Coming To The Table; and many more matters of interest. Terry’s arrival enhanced the opportunity to broaden the conversation. It was not long before the three of us were asleep in the tranquil environment, Terry again sleeping in the slave shackles.

Paul Garbarini and Terry James, Heyward Washington House

The following morning was met with haste. Paul’s invitation for the three of us to have coffee at a nearby establishment had to be declined because of a prior commitment that Terry and I made. We had to be in Cheraw, SC by 11:00 am to participate in a Civil War encampment at the Southern African American Heritage Center a trip that would take three hours. With that in mind, Terry’s usual routine of meticulously taking pictures had to be hastened. To the best of our abilities, we left the site just as we found it.

It was my desire to interact with descendants of those who were enslaved at the Heyward-Washington House. With the challenges that exist for conducting African American genealogical research, I should not have been surprised when I found none. I am often encouraged by followers of the Slave Dwelling Project to connect the places that I stay to people who were enslaved there. Despite not finding any descendants of the enslaved, I was encouraged by an email that I got a few days prior to the Heyward-Washington House stay.

The sender of the email reminded me that we both met at the national gathering of the group Coming To The Table and regretted that they could not be joining me for the stay as they had wished. They further reminded me that they were a descendant of one of the slave owners of the Heyward-Washington House. Moreover this person was more than willing to share additional information but I will let them be more forthcoming with that information in a manner with which they are comfortable.

The Heyward-Washington was no Mount Vernon but George Washington did sleep there. I did not find any descendents of those who were enslaved at the Heyward-Washington House but I did find a descendant of the enslaver. I also got to further my research into urban slavery. It is my hope that other opportunities like this are presented in the future.

It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.

George Washington

Reflections: Paul Garbarini

Paul Garbarini Speaks to Visitors, Heyward Washington House, Charleston, SC

Thank you, Joe, for creating the Slave Dwelling Project. The importance of your work was obvious to me the first time I heard of it. The slave dwellings in danger of neglect and loss need you, need all of us, to keep the memory of who lived there alive.

While this home to enslaved people is not in danger of loss, the clarity of Charleston’s slave dwellings is sometimes muddied by calling them by other names. Out buildings. Servant’s Quarters. Carriage house. Dependencies.

Servant quarters is not necessarily wrong. Some indentured servants almost certainly slept away from the main house. Carriage houses also housed the enslaved grooms and drivers charged with care of the tack and horses.

My favorite is “dependencies”. Who was dependent on whom?

In Charleston, from 1800 - 1850, the majority of the population was enslaved. Slave dwellings were everywhere. A few blocks away from here, according to the 1861 Charleston census, #33 Church St was inhabited by slaves and free blacks. #35 Church the same. In # 59, slaves lived there by themselves. #75, the same. I still need to confirm the houses and addresses because numbering changed. But the relative distance from here is the same. I do know that #20 Church was owned by tinsmith Robert Forbes and housed all but one of his slaves. The one slave was William and he lived with Forbes at #12 Tradd just around the corner.

I am a tour guide. I’ve studied and researched historic properties. Any house in Charleston which was here before 1865 could have been a slave dwelling at one time or another. It was probably built in part with slave labor.

The Akan people of Ghana use the Adinkra symbol of Sankofa. It means, “go back and get it.” or "It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”

Why am I here? For clarity. I’m here for clarity.

Paul GarbariniCharleston, SC

After our overnight stay, I was compelled to find out who really lived there and maybe track their descendants. Melanie Wilson, of the Charleston Museum, clarified the address and the name of one of the owners. A widow, Margaret Munroe, owned the property in the mid -1800’s. She died in 1847. Her estate carried on and ran it as a boarding house.

In the 1861 Charleston Census the occupants were listed as “slaves”. It was a common practice at the time for slave holders to rent property in the city for those slaves who were “hired out.” The owners would profit from the labor of skilled craftsmen and women and pay them a very small amount for their efforts.

In 1847, at Mrs. Munroe’s death, some of her property was sold including the following people.

Say their names out loud:

Peter Mathias Henry
Louisa Martha Margaret
Eve Clarissa Daniel
Clarence Alfred Sarah and two children

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