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Gather Records in Your Home or a Relative’s Home

Gather Records in Your Home or a Relative’s Home

A lot of us start researching by jumping online, and we do not start by using our own family archives. You could miss the best information that would keep you routed in the right direction to find your family. All that you need to do to start is look through this checklist and find things in your own house that can tell you about an ancestor. Gather all the records in your house that have a name of a family member on it. If you have never done this, you may not realize the number of items that you will find.

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Wayne OBryant Tells of His Family’s Relationship with Rev. Simon Miller (1819-1875)

Wayne OBryant Tells of His Family’s Relationship with Rev. Simon Miller (1819-1875)

I have always believed we need community to come together to share what they remember about our history and genealogy. As I sit here in Fayetteville, NC writing about Rev. Simon Miller and only having a feeling about his importance, once again someone from the community in Charleston, SC living in North Augusta, SC has helped. We have lost a lot of history, but with community we can recapture quite a bit. I think about what we have captured here: freeman, education, the trade of carpentry, a legislator, AME Church, preacher.

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How I Found Laura Johnson (abt. 1864-1927) and Who She Married

How I Found Laura Johnson (abt. 1864-1927) and Who She Married

These are my great grandparents, Andrew Johnson and Jane Smith Johnson. I have spent quite a bit of time researching them and their children, but some I have not found besides here in this 1880 Census. At first, I thought Laura Johnson was Lula Johnson Vance, wife of my great grandfather, Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance. Have you ever tried to find a female family member and only knew her birth name?

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Rev. Simon Miller (1819-1875), a Presiding Elder and a Freeman, Served His Community

Rev. Simon Miller (1819-1875), a Presiding Elder and a Freeman, Served His Community

In looking for Rev. Simon Miller from the historic newspaper article with Richard Harvey Cain (1825-1887), I admit I had to start from scratch. When I wrote Richard Harvey Cain (1825-1887) Served in South Carolina Senate, I knew I would try to find out more on Rev. Simon Miller because he was the one who chosen Secretary of that Conference. Little did I know I would find how important he was.

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African American Genealogy: Is There a County Record of My Ancestor Voting in Georgia?

African American Genealogy: Is There a County Record of My Ancestor Voting in Georgia?

Yesterday we identified one place your ancestor might have been recorded as voting in Georgia in the blog post Did Your African American Ancestor Register to Vote in Georgia, Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1868? In this post you could be led to another place to find him, Georgia, County Voter Registrations, 1856-1909. All colors of people are available in this database, but this might be one of the first times your ancestor was recorded by name because it contains the names of emancipated people.

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Did Your African American Ancestor Register to Vote in Georgia, Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1868?

Did Your African American Ancestor Register to Vote in Georgia, Reconstruction Oath Books, 1867-1868?

After the Civil War, Georgia was divided into forty-four districts of three counties. To register, a voter had to take the oath of allegiance to the United States government and to swear he had never supported the Confederate States of America. Over 95,000 white and over 93,000 African-American voters became registered in the Georgia, Reconstruction Registration Oath Book, 1867-1868. They can be searched at FamilySearch.org.

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Florida State Census, 1885

Florida State Census, 1885

Today’s featured collection is the Florida State Census, 1885. This searchable collection contains population, agriculture, manufacture and mortality schedules for a special federal census for Florida made in 1885. The census was taken at the request of the federal government, and with the federal government’s assistance. All Florida counties are represented except Alacuhua, Clay, Columbia and Nassau.

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South Carolina, State and Territorial Censuses, 1753–1920

South Carolina, State and Territorial Censuses, 1753–1920

Today’s featured FamilySearch collection is South Carolina, State and Territorial Censuses, 1753–1920. This searchable collection consists of several state and local census records for South Carolina, including City Council of Georgetown census, 1920; South Carolina state censuses, 1829-1875; Union County census, 1869; City Council of Aiken census, 1868; and Village of Edgefield census, 1891.

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Louisiana, Orleans and St. Tammany Parish, Voter Registration Records, 1867-1905

Louisiana, Orleans and St. Tammany Parish, Voter Registration Records, 1867-1905

Today’s featured FamilySearch collection is Louisiana, Orleans and St. Tammany Parish, Voter Registration Records, 1867-1905. Early voter registration records can help you locate your ancestor in records made before the 1870 U.S. Census. Voter registration records can also help you fill the twenty year gap between the 1880 U.S. Census and the 1900 U.S. Census (most of the 1890 U.S. Census was destroyed by fire).

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Virginia Slave Birth Index, 1853-1866

Virginia Slave Birth Index, 1853-1866

Welcome to the first of a series of blog posts highlighting new or important research collections at FamilySearch! We will be posting a highlighted collection every day during February. For each collection, we’ll give you a general overview of the collection and what information it contains, show you a sample image from the collection and offer some hints for researching from the highlighted collection.

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United States 1860 Census Slave Schedules

United States 1860 Census Slave Schedules

Today’s featured FamilySearch collection is United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1860.This searchable collection includes an index and images of slave schedules listing the names of slaveholders and the age and gender of those they enslaved in 1860. The 1860 Census Slave Schedules were made at the same time the 1860 Census was made. With very few exceptions, the slave schedules list only the name of the slaveholder. The schedules are arranged by enumeration district, just as the 1860 U.S. Census was arranged, and information reported was for the official census enumeration date of June 1, 1860.


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US, Texas, Harrison County–Delayed Birth Records, 1860-1933

US, Texas, Harrison County–Delayed Birth Records, 1860-1933

Today’s featured FamilySearch collection is US, Texas, Harrison County–Delayed Birth Records, 1860-1933. This collection contains delayed birth records for Harrison County, Texas for the years 1860-1933. Some of the pages are damaged and some of the title boards are incorrectly labeled. The original records are housed at the Harrison County Courthouse in Marshall, Texas.

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United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934

United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934

Today’s featured FamilySearch collection is United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934.

This is a searchable collection with images. The collection contains images of the National Archives’ carded name index to pension files for veterans who served in the military between 1861 and 1916 and applied for a military pension. These records are part of the National Archives record group RG 15, Records of the Veterans Administration and were taken from the National Archives microfilm publication T288. To learn more about the records in this microfilm publication, you can access the descriptive pamphlet here.

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Descriptive Recruitment Lists of Volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri,1863-1865 : NARA, RG94, M1894

Descriptive Recruitment Lists of Volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri,1863-1865 : NARA, RG94, M1894

This collection consists of descriptive lists for black volunteers recruited for the army from the State of Missouri, 1863-1865. The original records, held at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland consist of 55 descriptive recruitment books and 3 bound indexes. The records are part of the records of the Colored Troops Division, 1863-1865 within Record Group (RG) 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917 and were taken from the National Archives microfilm publication M1894. For more information about these records, please see the descriptive pamphlet prepared by the National Archives.

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Mississippi Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957

Mississippi Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957

Today’s featured FamilySearch collection is Mississippi Enumeration of Educable Children, 1850-1892; 1908-1957. These records are lists of black and white students prepared by the counties and school districts for the years 1850-1892, 1908 to 1957 to determine each county’s education funding needs. The early records include only the names of students and the school attended. More recent records added the age of the child and a parent or guardian’s name. School records can be a viable substitute for birth records and can bridge the gaps between U.S. Census years. To learn more about these records, please visit the collection’s Learn More page.

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United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946

United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946

Today’s featured FamilySearch collection is United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. This collection was built from a database provided by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and is a name index to Army Serial Number Enlistment Card Records, which covers the years 1938-1946, excluding officers, in the United States Army including the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the Enlisted Reserve Corps. This index, which is not complete, covers about nine million men and women. The collection’s Learn More page notes that the collection may contain scanning errors.

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Documenting William H. Heard (1850-1937) 1905 Until His Death in 1937

Documenting William H. Heard (1850-1937) 1905 Until His Death in 1937

I feel that it has been well worth our while tracing resources along the timeline of Bishop William H. Heard. This section covers about the last thirty or more years of his life. He has been a great person to take a look at because the records found on him mention many other people who lived in the same places he did. So, you can once again like the other blog posts, pick a period along the timeline and read about the event I found and find the names of people he was involved with. The last blog covering the timeline of Bishop Heard was Documenting William H. Heard Between 1881 and 1904.

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Alabama Deaths and Burials, 1881-1952

Alabama Deaths and Burials, 1881-1952

Alabama Death and Burials, 1881-1952 is an index of records that may have appeared in previously recorded International Genealogical Index or Vital Records Index collections. The records are not complete for any particular time period, place or region. It is strongly recommended that you verify any records you find with original documentation. See Legacy Collections. For more information on this record set, please see the collection’s Learn More page.

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Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994

Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994

With Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994, you can determine when you ancestor migrated to Illinois. The record set covers the years 1878 to 1939 and 1955 to 1994. This record is an index that tells you the age of your ancestor and the date and place where he or she died. You will learn where he or she was born. If this is given, it can help to identify that you have the right person.

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US, South Carolina, Charleston–Birth Registers, 1901–1926

US, South Carolina, Charleston–Birth Registers, 1901–1926

How wonderful to have this primary resource for your ancestor. These birth registers give the names of their parents. So, you do not to need to rely on the death record of your ancestor as the main source for this information. 1901-1926 is rather late, and most would consider the information would be known by descendants. If you consider that enslavement ended only in 1865, many of these records represent the first generation or second generation born outside of enslavement. South Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston, Birth Registers, 1901-1926 can assist many African Americans who are unsure about the parentage of their ancestor born between 1901 and 1926.

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Oklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936

Oklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936

Today’s featured collection is Oklahoma School Records 1895 – 1936. This particular collection holds school census records as well as rosters for the counties that existed before and after Oklahoma statehood, which occurred in 1907. This collection is significant because it reflects the two territories: Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory. After 1907, the new state of Oklahoma is reflected with all of the new counties. For more about this collection one can visit the Family Search website to Learn More about this collection.

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Let Us Not Forget Those Who Paid the Price for Us: Mitchell Goggins (b. abt. 1850)

Let Us Not Forget Those Who Paid the Price for Us: Mitchell Goggins (b. abt. 1850)

Above you can see the earliest census documenting Mitchell Goggins. Mitchell Goggins as far as I have been able to tell as of yet was born about 1850 in Abbeville County, South Carolina. He was one of the eldest children of Columbus Goggins. Columbus and Margaret, not sure she is the mother of Mitchell Goggins, are buried in Tabernacle Cemetery, also known as Old Tabernacle Cemetery in Cokesbury, Greenwood County, South Carolina. Tabernacle Cemetery was established in about 1812. Other African Americans are buried there.

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African Americans are Documented in FamilySearch.org Database: United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980 – 2014

African Americans are Documented in FamilySearch.org Database: United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980 – 2014

You can search among the now 34,153,314 index and obituaries for a record of your ancestor. Records are added to this collection as they come available. The database can be found here: United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014. To see results from this database you will need to Find a Family History Center near you.

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Collection Just Released on FamilySearch.org: South Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston, Birth Registers, 1901-1926

Collection Just Released on FamilySearch.org: South Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston, Birth Registers, 1901-1926

I thought you would like to know about another collection released on FamilySearch.org containing birth registers for the city of Charleston, South Carolina, 1901-1926. It is entitled South Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston, Birth Registers, 1901-1926. This collection does give you the ability to find the parents of children. Many of these parents were not enumerated on a census because they were born after 1880.

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Restore the Ancestors Project – How to Index Charleston, SC Birth Registers

Restore the Ancestors Project – How to Index Charleston, SC Birth Registers

Our newest record set, “US, South Carolina, Charleston—Birth Registers, 1901–1926 [Part A]” is very information-rich. The birth registers record the baby’s name, place of birth, midwife or doctor who delivered the baby, the father’s name, the mother’s maiden name, the birthplace of both parents and the father’s occupation. These records will be invaluable for those researching ancestors born in the city of Charleston, and you can help us make this a searchable collection on FamilySearch.

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A Deed Documents Father and Daughter

Last week I shared, “How Using a Timeline Can Help You in Your Research.” I used the census and city directories to make out a timeline for Robert Lee Vance (1858 – ). He was born in Abbeville County, SC. After the death of his father, he moved his family first to Citrus County, FL and then to Columbia, SC. I wanted next to reveal more about his life in Columbia, SC.

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African American Genealogy: How Using a Timeline Helps in Your Research

African American Genealogy: How Using a Timeline Helps in Your Research

Last week, I shared how I knew Robert Lee Vance (1858 – ) was the brother of Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance in African American Genealogy: Tracking Lee Vance, Brother of Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance. I had also found him living in Columbia, SC with his family. This week I want to show you the timeline that I have been using for him. We will add to this timeline next week:

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African American Genealogy: Tracking Lee Vance, Brother of Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance

African American Genealogy: Tracking Lee Vance, Brother of Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance

We have a hard time tracking family of ancestors because some left the place they were living in droves due to persecutions or the search for jobs to take care of their families. One such person was Lee Vance of Abbeville County, South Carolina. He appeared on the 1870 Census and 1880 Census for Abbeville County as an elder child of Beverly and Matilda Dunlap Vance. Lee Vance was listed as third oldest in the household of Vance’s in 1880:

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Finding Mrs. Virginia Vance Lemon’s Marriage and Death in the Newspaper

Finding Mrs. Virginia Vance Lemon’s Marriage and Death in the Newspaper

To continue to find little pieces of history at a time, African American genealogists just need to patiently keep looking. History is just hidden waiting for you to uncover it in the right place. Mrs. Virginia Vance Lemon was my grandfather’s younger sister. I have found her living in Columbia, living in Greenville, South Carolina, and living in Charleston, South Carolina. Historical documentation is spread throughout the state.

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African American Genealogy: Martha Vance Sold Property to Alice G. Shiver

African American Genealogy: Martha Vance Sold Property to Alice G. Shiver

In Emory Wallace Vance, Sr. is Among the Richland County, SC Grantor Deeds, Emory Wallace Vance, Sr (1901-1973) gave Martha Vance, his step mother, his land and property after the death of his father, Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance for the cost of $5.00 and love and affection. Grandma Martha is someone I did not meet in this life, but the children of Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance referred to her as such. They were the children of two sisters, Nunia and Lula Johnson Vance.

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Taking a Second Look at Church Anniversary Book in Family History Library

Taking a Second Look at Church Anniversary Book in Family History Library

I could not wait to take another look at “St. Paul A.M.E. Church, 1873-1987 114 Anniversary Celebration,” which I first went through in 2007 when my daughter and I visited Salt Lake City. At that time, I scanned through quickly for the name of my great great grandfather, Beverly Vance, because I knew his family went to church here early on after emancipation if not before. I saw somewhat disappointed because his name was not mentioned. Neither did it mention his son, Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance, who would have attended when a child.

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Some African American Cemeteries Were Once Used by the Enslaver

Some African American Cemeteries Were Once Used by the Enslaver

Have you ever thought about how an old African American cemetery got started? It is usually hard to tell, but newspapers, libraries, and funeral homes are places you can start to find the history of a cemetery. I came across one such cemetery in Greenwood County, SC. It was called Save All Cemetery. I am always curious about when these cemeteries were used. Jim Ravencraft, photographed all the headstones, and I took a look at the birth and death dates that I could make out.

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African American Genealogy:  Finding Descendants of 2nd Great Uncle, Henry Smith of Laurens County, SC

African American Genealogy: Finding Descendants of 2nd Great Uncle, Henry Smith of Laurens County, SC

African American genealogy is not easy. Having an enslaved family makes it so difficult to trace your family, but I have been blessed to discover that they my family knew branches of the family back then. They kept in touch without the modern-day technology that we have today. I am more blessed to realize that my strong desire to piece my family together does not go unnoticed by those unseen visits I get when I am in the middle of figuring the relationships out. I am not alone in this research, and I am indeed grateful that I can prove it using historical documentation. This extra help, I believe, can be had by you if you so desire.

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Henry and Mary Smith Met on the Plantation of John Skinner Smith in Laurens, SC

Henry and Mary Smith Met on the Plantation of John Skinner Smith in Laurens, SC

After I had discovered that Henry Smith was the brother of Jane Smith Johnson McCoy from the letter of my grandfather, Emory Wallace Vance, Sr., grandson of Jane, I decided to look into the descendants of Henry and Mary Smith and the enslaver of Henry Smith, John Skinner Smith of Laurens County, SC. When working with African American genealogy, I knew I was so fortunate to have been given more clues with yet another interview.

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Emory W. Vance, Sr. Is Among the Richland County, SC Grantor Deeds

Emory W. Vance, Sr. Is Among the Richland County, SC Grantor Deeds

Of all my finds thus far, finding my grandfather, Emory Wallace Vance, Sr. among the Richland County, SC grantor deeds has been the greatest to date. The thought that I could find out what happened with him came into my mind in 1985. I had heard my grandparents talk of their life in South Carolina, and I had heard reminisces from their children over the years. The answers I needed were not forthcoming.

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African American Genealogy: Morris Brown AME Church and the Lemon Family

African American Genealogy: Morris Brown AME Church and the Lemon Family

Remember in Tracing the Lemon’s from Columbia to Greenville to Charleston Using City Directories I found Rev. R. I. Lemon and his wife, Virginia Vance Lemon, who is my great aunt. I was able to see that they lived in Columbia and moved to Greenville and Charleston. Virginia is someone whom I am definitely interested in learning more about; she is my grandfather’s sister.  A study of her life will help reveal more about myself.

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African Americans in Antebellum Church Records: Bethel United Methodist Church, 1804-1880

African Americans in Antebellum Church Records: Bethel United Methodist Church, 1804-1880

Antebellum church records can be an important resource for African American genealogy as the records often predate public records founds that document births, marriages and deaths. Last week, I shared three resources at the room for South Carolina History at the Charleston County Library,  Register of St. Philip’s Parish, 1720-1758, Register of St. Philip’s Parish, 1754-1810, and Register of St. Philip’s Church, 1810-1822.  This week I would like to also share another resource which can help identify enslaved ancestors and free persons of color who attended Bethel United Methodist Church from at least 1804 until 1880.

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“Old Abbeville:” Scenes of the Past That Are Not Forgotten

“Old Abbeville:” Scenes of the Past That Are Not Forgotten

This is how African American genealogy moves forward: slowly, methodically. When I moved to Columbia, South Carolina in 2005, I came across Lowry Ware’s name among the library book shelves at Richland Library. I looked for what I could find there on Beverly Vance (1832-1899), and I found the person who was his half brother and former slave owner. I found several books written by Lowry Ware and others. I learned early on that researching Beverly would be very hard on me emotionally. It involved reading books by Lowry Ware and others that were well spoken of except the formerly enslaved like Beverly.

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African American Genealogy: When the Pieces Come Together – Guyton Family Bible, Oakley Plantation, Berkeley, SC

African American Genealogy: When the Pieces Come Together – Guyton Family Bible, Oakley Plantation, Berkeley, SC

One of the biggest challenges in African American genealogy is the sometimes sparse body of documents we have to work in. We’ve been working for years to digitize documents in the Lowcountry, first as Lowcountry Africana, and now as the IAAM Center for Family History. Along the way, many archives, organizations and individuals have worked at our side to scan, digitize and index records that are significant for African American genealogy. Today, we experienced some of the fruits of our friends’ and colleague’s efforts when some pieces of a puzzle fell into place.

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African American Genealogy: Will John Drayton of Charleston, SC Please Step Forward?

African American Genealogy: Will John Drayton of Charleston, SC Please Step Forward?

Have you ever found yourself researching a person with a common name? One time I was helping someone research her family history at the South Caroliniana Library in Columbia, South Carolina. We located her ancestor’s will, and she was browsing through. When she got to where the enslaved that her family owned was listed, she called me over to take a look at what shocked her. The page was full of names of the enslaved, any every one of them had the same name. African Americans have a hard time when it comes to research.

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How Lower Richland Heritage and Genealogy Society (LRHGS) of Hopkins, SC Brings History Forward

How Lower Richland Heritage and Genealogy Society (LRHGS) of Hopkins, SC Brings History Forward

We attended this month’s Lower Richland Heritage and Genealogy Society LRHGS’ Kindred Connection: Sharing Our Stories. The funding for this project came from Richland County Conservation Commission. This meeting was hosted by Dedra Harvin at Jerusalem Baptist Church in Hopkins, South Carolina. As I sat the back, I noticed the place was packed. Everyone was listening intently to the recorded interviews being shown upfront.

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An African American Experience: Honoring Susie King Taylor and Her Journey of Escape

An African American Experience: Honoring Susie King Taylor and Her Journey of Escape

I read Susie King Taylor’s (1848-1912) autobiography where she told of her enslaved experiences with grandmother, Dolly, escaping to freedom, working as an army nurse and teacher, returning to Georgia to marry Russell Taylor, and moving to Boston. Over a week ago, I learned on Facebook that Hermina Glass-Hill has put together a commemoration to honor her life, and of course, I had to go. August 6 was her birthday. The celebration literally changed my life. We in South Carolina give some attention to Susie and the fact that she served with the 33rd US Colored Troops, but going to the place where she went to church and going to the site where she escaped from enslavement definitely had a huge impact on me.

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