Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Renate on the Web - #2

 Hello! I hope this finds every reader doing well in these interesting times. Back in April, in the early days of this COVID-19 Pandemic we've all been living through, I wrote a post titled, "Renate on the Web." Because of the lockdowns that had been put in place, most of previously planned, in person events had been canceled, and I'd found myself suddenly enjoying a greater web presence than usual. Thinking it would be temporary, I decided it would be a good idea to compile and document all of my doings in one place, hoping to create a record for the future as well as an easy way for anyone interested in my work to find some offerings in one spot. Little did I know, at that time, that this was just the beginning of what was about to become the norm for most of us - living our lives (and our livelihoods) on the Internet. 

For a while now, I've been meaning to do another iteration of "Renate on the Web," as I've been busier than ever before with webinars, conference workshops, guest appearances on genealogy shows, and even creating a show of my own on YouTube! All of that, along with continued client work - with one big case being preparation for a Finding Your Roots type of "reveal" on our local public radio station - and writing newsletter articles and a guest blog post (coming soon), I have been very, very busy! In this post, and one to follow, I’d like to share a bit of what I’ve been doing.

Let’s Talk North Carolina Genealogy!

For quite some time, I’d been brewing an idea for a web show that would focus solely on highlighting the particulars of North Carolina genealogy research for the purpose of supporting and informing those working in this area. I also longed to bring together a community of North Carolina researchers, who would hence connect with and support one another, in our research journeys. The problem was, due to my own personal idiosyncrasies, I just didn’t have the confidence to get this started. That was until it occurred to me, one day, to invite a partner to join me in the endeavor – and that perfect partner was the incredible Taneya Koonce! One day, I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, and I came upon a post from Taneya, whom I’ve known for about 10 years. As soon as I saw her picture, it hit me – “I should see if she’d want to do the NC show with me!” So, I reached out to Taneya, pitched my idea, and the rest is history!

Together, Taneya and I created a plan for our show, which was to be a summer series, with episodes on the first and third Saturdays of each month. With more people home and digging into research during the pandemic, we thought this series might provide the perfect boost for researchers who may be either just starting or trying to get to that "next level" in their pursuit of family history. The show would stay tightly focused on topics related to genealogy research in the Tar Heel state, with Taneya and I doing the presentations. ๐Ÿ˜‚Well, shortly into our planning, we changed that! We decided to open our platform, inviting nationally known speakers who had experience in North Carolina research to be our featured presenters, with Taneya and I opening each episode with shorter, introductory presentations on each topic. With this format, we were able to highlight many of our gen-friends as “experts” on particular topics, thus giving our growing community of North Carolina researchers quality information and immediate links to connect them with proven resources that would aid in their work.

And, so, on June 6, 2020, the first episode of Let’s Talk North Carolina Genealogy aired! The show has been a big hit and has turned out to be even better than imagined. Despite some technical glitches here and there (which we choose to just laugh about), all of the episodes have been well received, and the feedback has been amazing! The entire purpose of this venture was to help others with their research, and that goal has been (and continues to be) met – not just for North Carolina researchers, but for others who are doing this work, everywhere! We had six LIVE summer episodes, and one very special, registration-only, Q&A episode, which has not been aired, publicly. Our viewers have indicated that they’d like the show to continue or to at least come back next summer, but the jury is still out on that. For now, we’ve added a special Fall episode, and will likely do one for each upcoming season… until summer comes, again. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Please visit our NC Summer Series channel on YouTube to view all of the previous episodes. In addition to a special THANK YOU to my amazing co-host, Taneya, I’d like to express eternal gratitude to our guest presenters, who helped to make this vision a reality. Kudos to:

*Diane Acey Richard (Episode 1: NC Birth Records)

*Drusilla Pair (Episode 2: NC Marriage Records)

*Lisa Lisson (Episode 3: NC Death Records)

Ari Wilkins (Episode 4: NC Manuscript Collections)

*Doug Brown (Episode 5: Research at the State Archives of NC)

*Shannon Christmas (Episode 6: DNA)


Judy Russell (Special Fall Episode: Law in the Tar Heel State)

And thanks to all with asterisks above, plus Michael McCormick, Connie Knox, and Craig Scott for participating as panelists on our very successful, registration-only Q&A episode! To stay up to date with our progress, please like and follow our Let's Talk North Carolina Genealogy Facebook page to join our community and get notifications about future events.

Legacy Family Tree Webinars – “Finding Calvin”

Also, in June, I was invited by Geoff Rasmussen and Marian Pierre-Louis to do my very first presentation for Legacy Family Tree Webinars, the ultimate web site for genealogy education! Their request was for my very popular talk, Finding Calvin: Following My Enslaved Ancestor Through Multiple Owners.”

This presentation is an overview, in a (loose) case study format, of the methodology I used to document my great-grandfather, Calvin Yarborough’s, 25 years of enslavement under several different owners. The invitation was to participate in Legacy’s inaugural “Free Webinar Weekends in June – African American Track.”  I had a great time recording the webinar with Geoff and then listening to it, when presented by Marion on the appointed date. If you’re a Legacy subscriber or would like to become one, I’d love for you to check out Finding Calvin!

Zoom, Baby!

Like just about everyone, I’ve been spending a LOT of time on Zoom calls, for all kinds of meetings and events. I can’t begin to recall everything I’ve done on Zoom, during this pandemic, but one of the most memorable was cohosting a family reunion meetup, for the very first time. Yes, in collaboration with two of my cousins, Willa-Jo Green (of Maryland) and Jamila Taylor (of Washington State), the first-ever Hawkins-Green Descendants Virtual Family Reunion Meetup was held. I’m so glad we did that when we did, because, since then, we’ve lost our 101-year-old family matriarch, my cousin, Florine Green Edgerton. May she rest in peace.

I actually blogged about this event, so just click here to read all about it!

Well, that’s it for this update. I’ll be back, soon, with another post about Renate on the Web! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Yes, Philadelphia Dunstons - We ARE Related!

 I need to vent.

I am a DUNSTON descendant. This is not a line I knew anything about, before I started my research in the 1990s. My grandmother, Anna Green, was the daughter of Susan Georgiana DUNSTON, who married John Wesley Green. That is where my Dunston line begins.

(As is the case with most of my lines, I have no photo to show of my great-grandmother, so I will just use this clipping from Ancestry to represent her.)

Researching the DUNSTONS
My Dunston line has been tricky to research, but I've done so with extreme care for over 20 years, now. What makes it trickiest is the fact that so many of the names are used over and over, sometimes within the same generation, and many of those names are common ones, like James, John, Anna/Annie and Laura. Because of this, I've been extremely careful about who actually gets a spot on the tree. I must be able to prove, with documents, that I have the right people in the right place - at least to the best of my ability. Anyone I'm unsure about either has a research note added to their profile on my tree, or they don't make it onto the tree, at all, but instead earn a place in my Ancestry "Shoebox," until such time that I can find definitive evidence that they actually belong to me.

Over the years, I've communicated with many Dunston descendants, all of whom have an ancestral connection to the area of North Carolina where my Dunstons are from: Franklin County. For some, the connection to this county is immediate, and for others it takes a few generations into their ancestry to get back there. Branches have conglomerated in nearby Wake (Raleigh) and Vance (Henderson) Counties, as well as a very large contingent, which migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early part of the 20th century. And, quite a few of the Dunstons remained in Franklin County, mostly in the town of Franklinton, but with a few families in the county seat, Louisburg. (The Pennsylvania group originated in Franklinton.)

Through my research and also as a result of interactions with others in the genealogy community, I've met numerous Dunston descendants, who hail from various of the above-mentioned locations. Most of us were told, once upon a time, that all of the Dunstons from Franklin County were related. But, proving that has been a challenge, as we've worked collegially to try to explore how we might be - must be connected. In some cases, we've been successful, but the MRCA (most recent common ancestor) is so many generations back that we are not sharing any DNA to prove it. Therefore, we must rely on our carefully constructed family trees for documentation of our connections. And, in a few cases, we are not seeing any matchups on our trees, so we continue to wait, hoping one day a relationship may show us to be connected, but, if it doesn't, we continue to support each other's research and say that we are "cousins" anyway. :)

My Dunston Line
My own DUNSTON line goes back 9 generations (yes, NINE!) to my sixth great-grandmother, Patience Dunston, who was born in 1734. I first learned of Patience through the work of Paul Heinegg, the award-winning author of Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Delaware. My direct line (below) is well documented from Patience, all the way down to me. I continuously search for, find, and add additional sources that support my findings - or, if they don't, changes are made. 

Troubled Waters
There is one line of my Dunston family that refuses to acknowledge their connection to me, simply because "they don't have those names." This is the branch that moved to Philadelphia, which is a line that descends from my third great-grandfather, Wilson Dunston (Sr.). This line, which descends from Wilson's son, James "Jim" Wilson Dunston, is documented on my tree and has come up as the connector between several of my DNA matches and me, as well as for people whose trees reflect that connection, just as mine does. There is just one problem though: it seems that the Philadelphia line, which boasts of having at least 3 family historians, has only been documented up to the generation that includes James "Jim" Dunston.  Because they are unaware (apparently) of James' parentage or deeper ancestry, they choose to denounce it or to even acknowledge and/or learn about his familial origins. So... Houston, we have a problem.

This photo was shared with me by the one Philadelphia Dunston cousin who believed and allowed me to share my research findings - the late Karen Serene Dunston. May she rest in peace. 
On the left is James Wilson Dunston, who was the son of my third great-grandfather, Wilson Dunston. He was the great-grandfather of the cousin denoted by the green dot, above. 
On the right is his wife, Harriet Ellen Fields.

This chart, created using my tree on Ancestry dot com, shows the relationship of one of the Philadelphia-born Dunston cousins and myself. (Said cousin is represented by the green dot.) The relationship, based on the sourced and documented work I've done on my tree, is undeniable. However, because this family has never heard of our common ancestor, Wilson Dunston, he, to them, does not exist; and therefore, we are not related. This stance has been taken by three different members of this particular family, over the course of a few years. I'm not going into the particulars about the difficult attempts I've made to communicate with them - even, most recently, as a result of this cousin reaching out to me - not vice versa. I understand that not everyone understands this work that we're doing; but I'm not in this to be mistreated, talked down to, dismissed and/or disrespected. I simply want to find and learn about my Ancestors, and sometimes that means encountering people who are unexpectedly (and unabashedly) ____________. (You fill in the blank.)

Concluding with Gratitude
I'm very thankful that what I've experienced in dealing with this family line has not been the norm during my 23 years of formally researching my ancestry. I've met so many relatives, on several different lines, and these are the only ones that have behaved in this way and not wanted to know or discuss anything about our shared ancestry. This Dunston line, for whatever their reasons, chooses to stay in the dark about their own pedigree. That has nothing to do with me. I thank God for the Hills, the RossesYarboroughs, Davenports, the Tredwell/Littlejohn descendants, and several other cousin connections I've made over the years - some due to the blessing of good solid traditional research, and others thanks to irrefutable DNA evidence (which doesn't lie).
I was told that this is my second great-grandmother, Laura Dunston, who was a Dunston already before she and Wilson "Wils" Dunston married. This is the only known photo I have of one of my direct Dunston ancestors. 

Walk in the Light - Beautiful Light!
Today was a slap in the face; but it will take more than this to stop me from my quest to find my ancestors and to connect with those who share them. I started this journey to find out who I am and what I'm made of. Like Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for President of the United States said in his nomination acceptance speech, as he quoted my (Ross descended) cousin, Ella Josephine Baker: "Give people light and they will find a way." And, like Joe, and like Ella, I choose to follow the light. Why? Because, just as Joe said, "Light is more powerful than darkness." 

If any of my Philadelphia Dunstons happen to read this, know that I love you, because you are my family. If you want to reach out to me, I'll be ready to share and move forward; and, just as I've told the three that I've spoken to, if you have evidence that is contrary to what my research has shown, I am open and willing to hear and consider it.

I needed to vent. 

Thanks for reading.


                                      (I do not own the rights to this music.)

Permalink to this post: https://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2020/08/yes-philadelphia-dunstons-we-are-related.html

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Pre-1870 African American Genealogy Research: Oh, YES, We Can!

Are records available about black Americans prior to the 1870 Census? You’re darned tootin’ they are! Many believe that the so-called “1870 Brick Wall” stifles the research of those of us who descend from these Ancestors, but that is absolutely not the case! Check out these slides from some of the presentations I do that address this topic.

Image 1

From “Researching Free People of Color in Antebellum North Carolina” Slide 12, updated June 2018. Author, Renate Yarborough Sanders. All rights reserved.                      Except for the “freedom badges,” the other record types mentioned on this slide are mostly extant, and provide helpful documentation of the lives of emancipated or free-born Blacks.

Image 2 

From “Researching Free People of Color in Antebellum North Carolina” Slide 15, updated June 2018. Author, Renate Yarborough Sanders. All rights reserved. These are two samples from the very rich collection of slavery related petitions, collected by UNC’s Digital Library on American Slavery.

 Image 3

From "Researching Formerly Enslaved Ancestors" slide 15. Updated Feb. 2020. Author Renate Yarborough Sanders. All rights reserved. These are just a few sources that can be accessed to discover records of our Ancestors of color. 

Image 4




From "Finding Calvin: Following My Enslaved Through Multiple Owners - A Case Study Ancestor" Slide 12. Updated July 2020. Author, Renate Yarborough Sanders. All Rights Reserved. People often say that there’s no such thing as a slave record, but this slide shows records which certainly give us information about the enslaved.

Image 5