Category Archives: Genealogy Research

Why African American and POC Genealogists and DNA Small Segments Matter!!!!

I have been busy writing my book, The DNA Trail from Madagascar to the Americas.  However, I had to take a break from writing to respond to two of Roberta Estes’ blogposts which were written in the last 2 weeks that angered many as well as Ancestry’s decision to eliminate <8 cM DNA cousin matches.

Please read my blogpost Listening to Our Ancestors This Time: M23 is NOT a Native American Mitochrondrial Haplogroup written 6 years ago as it shows Roberta Estes’ modus operandi is still the same then as it is now. I was dismissed by her even though I have been co-admin of FTDNA’s Malagasy Roots Project with CeCe Moore , descend from Malagasy ancestors, and help people discover their Malagasy Roots. What could I possibly know? It’s Estes’s refusal to address things in private and disregard the contributions of African-Americans and POC genealogists, within the larger genetic genealogy field, that make some of us go public in order to correct her genealogy ignorance, however “benign” Estes considers it to be. Not giving credit where credit is due is also a MAJOR problem for us. I don’t even know Roberta Estes personally so is not “Roberta bashing” to offer VALID, CONSTRUCTIVE criticism which she would get in any peer reviewed scenario.  We say ENOUGH is ENOUGH because African American and POC Genealogists Matter!!!!

While African American genealogists can appreciate Roberta Estes speaking out in favor of AncestryDNA keeping small segments, we DON’T appreciate the manner in which she went about it. Making outrageous statements like the one below is indicative of her lack of experience with African American genealogy and history. Given her blog audience, it is critically important for African American and POC genealogists to correct gross MISINFORMATION like this.

 

She is still very dismissive of African American genealogists whom I appreciate for calling her out for her inaccuracies immediately. As of this morning, she has still failed to issue a retraction or delete the inaccuracies she is perpetuating.

 

 

 

By the way, did I mention that Nicka Smith is Roberta Estes’s DNA cousin???? Did I mention that Family Tree Magazine voted BlackProGen LIVE one of their 10 Best YouTube Genealogy and History Channels? Did I mention that Megan Smolyenak  awarded Nicka Smith and BlackProGEn LIVE a 2020 Seton Shield’s Genealogy Grant? I encourage everyone to check out my BlackProGen LIVE page to see all of our panel’s genealogy credentials and blogs. While you are also on my website, Please check out my AfricanAmerican/African Descent Genealogy Blogs as well as my LatinX, Caribbean, and Cape Verdean Blogs. Mind you, African American genealogy has made quantum leaps and bounds since Roots. We have been here for more than a quick minute. No amount of clicking your heels three times, wishing us goodbye, and twirling around will make us disappear. We have always been part of the larger genealogy community even if that community has failed to recognize us. We SEE you! The question is, “Can you see US now?” We truly hope so!

As many people know from reading my blog, I have been a panelist on BlackProGen LIVE the past few years. BlackProGen LIVE , Midwest African American Genealogy Insitute (MAAGI)  and the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) have classes that are taught by qualified African American genealogists (and others) who consistently break down pre-1870 brickwalls — some of those walls go back to the 17th-18th century. It also goes without saying that WE ARE experts in searching for our own ancestors and the communities they lived in across space and time. In fact, I have gone further and believe it is our moral obligation, as descendants, to be the voice of our ancestors in our lifetimes. #FactsMatter

On Using Small DNA Segments

As an African American AND Puerto Rican genealogist with Native American family and ancestral ties to many nations up and down the East Coast due to my deep colonial roots, I believe in the inherent value of small segments in certain situations and always in conjunction with traditional genealogy methods. Because my family has tested 30+ family members, if any or some of them match an individual between 8-20+ cMs, then chances are that my 6 cM or 7 cM match may not be just “noise.” It may be indeed “real.” I am not alone in believing that eliminating <8 cMs will be devastating for us. Fonte Felipe, a Cape Verdean Dutch genealogist/genetic genealogist, published a blogpost this week that describes in depth why Afro-Descendants are rightly concerned with losing their matches. He calculates that 50-75% of our matches will disappear. Fonte’s research also shows how people in the African and Native Diaspora use AncestryDNA matches in creative ways. His breakdown analyses of various African regions at the micro-level per country is one GREAT example. Shannon Christmas, a well-known and respected African American genealogist/genetic genealogist, has also published a blogpost titled What Genetic Genealogy Needs Now —Priorities, Problems, Solutions” That gives a great overview of the issues facing African American Genetic Genealogy with all DNA testing companies.

For many of us, DNA testing has allowed us to finally discover some of our ancestral truths by revealing these 5th-8th DNA cousin matches. For someone like me, just knowing that an ancestor was Lenni-Lenape, Ewe, Nipmuc, Fante, Pamunkey, Malagasy, etc. is something I want to know because I consider it to be my birthright!  That being said, as long as I have my African – and Native American DNA cousin matches, I have peace of mind knowing that I found something that was supposed to be lost forever due to all aspects of slavery. The existence of  my ancestors’ lives, in the archival records and elsewhere, is a testament to the fact that my Black, Brown, and Red ancestors were consummate survivors of a global capitalist system of slavery that devalued them for centuries. Their “soul value,” as Daina Ramey Berry has written, however, has always been incalcuable to me.

Below are some blogposts that African- and Native American descended genealogists/genetic genealogists have written that highlight how genetic genealogy has been a godsend for people with African, Native, and Asian ancestry.

 

Dutch Woman in Search of West African Forefather 1

Dutch Woman in Search of West African Forefather 2

Dutch Woman in Search of West African Forefather 3

Discovering Igbo Roots Through Genealogy and DNA

A Puerto Rican Look at: Y-111 (Correa)

Using DNA Painter to Verify Igbo Origins

Decolonzing My Family Tree: Revisiting Juan Eusebio Bonilla Salcedo

Got Roots in Madagascar?

Confirming African Matches: Abuelo’s Peul (Fula) Relatives

Finding Your Wakanda Africa With DNA Testing

Ghana, Kassena: Finding Safiah’s Diaspora Relatives

Slavery Freedom and the Babilonias of Puerto Rico: Re-visioning a Family History: Part 1

Slavery Freedom and the Babilonias of Puerto Rico: Re-visioning a Family History: Part 2

 

On Using Full Sequence mtDNA and Autosomal DNA to Discover Enslaved Malagasy Global Migration Dispersals

Slavery, colonialism, and genocide were never designed for Black and Native family reunification. On the contrary, it was meant to obliterate the ties that bind FOREVER. While many people know that 12 Million people of African descent were forcibly imported into what became the United States during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, many are unaware of the fact that between 2-4 Million Native Americans, primarily  men, were forcibly exported from their Turtle Island homeland and they were the first people to be enslaved by British colonizer settlers. Ships that sailed from ports laden with colonial merchandise from the American colonies transported shackled enslaved Indigenous Americans around the world. On these same ships returning from the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, West and East Africa, were enslaved Africans who occupied the same hellish spots that many Indigenous Americans previously occupied only months before. As a descendant of Native American, North/South/West/East African, and Malagasy people, any one of these enslaved people who were forcibly removed from their homelands could have very well been my own ancestors.

Any discussions of African- and Native American genetic genealogy must be viewed within the lens of slavery and capitalism. Commodities like gold, silver, coffee, sugar, tobacco, spices, timber, cotton, wine, and enslaved people were traded between the 15th and 19th centuries by the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, British, and American colonial powers. The wealth of nations was literally made off the extraction of forced enslaved labor. The disposibility of enslaved Black, Brown, and Red bodies has always been calculated for maximum profit with losses always taken into account. It was the overall exchange of merchandise that allowed colonial empires to prosper and which has led to repeated calls for reparations today (and yesterday) by the descendants of those who were formerly enslaved.

Looking at global macro-histories allows us to see the conditions which led to our ancestors forced migrations. Likewise, a mtDNA analysis of Full Sequences matches, along with autosomal DNA matches, gives a “micro-history” of how slavery dispersed enslaved people around the globe. Using my extended M23 DNA family as a case study, my 1st book,The DNA Trail From Madagascar to the Americas, will discuss how genetic genealogy can be used to flesh out the silences of our ancestral pasts. I will be updating and expanding on my four blogposts below. In addition, I will be discussing the micro-histories of many of our ancestors in the locations where they ended up with the sole intention of inserting them into the historical record and adding to the growing literature witinh the subfield of history that is focused on the historiography of enslaved people.

 

As of today, Andrea and I have been able link a majority of our M23 Malagasy matches to the NY/NJ Hudson River Valley Region going back to the mid-1600s and a subset of that group to VA, AL, LA, and MS. Three of our M23 cohort members are connected to the French Hugeunot Devoe Family of Uslter County, NY, Middlesex County, NJ, and Pennsylvania. They are also descendants of Rose Fortune, a Black Loyalist, who ended up in Nova Scotia at the end of the Revolutionary War along with 5 Thompson women —possibly our own ancestors— from Newark, NJ.  Another member traces his ancestry to St. Helena Island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, an island that received thousands of enslaved Malagasy. As part of the Islamic Slave Trade, 1 cohort member’s family ended up in Antigua, before moving to  St. Croix via India and another member’s Malagasy ancestors ended up in Yeman.  Three members, and possibly a 4th depending on mtDNA test results,  are the descendants of NY/NJ ancestors who were kidnapped and sold South to enslavers in AL, LA, MS via the illegal Van Wickle Slave Ring to work on sugar and cotton plantations. Like many Malagasy women who ended up as concubines, another of our M23 cohort member is linked to the Ragland and Merriweather Families of Colonial Virginia whose descendants migrated to KY, TN, and TX.  Moreover, four other cohort members are linked to the African American Timbrook/Ten Broeck Family who were enslaved by the Buckelew Family of Middlesex County, NJ. Lastly, our own family is tied to the Dutch Blauvelt, Haring, Schmidt, Demarest, Mabie, DeWitt and Ackerman families of Bergen County, NJ who left New Amsterdam and settled the Tappan Patent in 1678. Though a mtDNA test will never help us identify our common M23 ancestor, we are still able to learn “micro-histories” about the lives of our Malagasy-descended DNA cousins by finding more about their family origins.

Her Name Is Sophie/Sophia Legars Henry (1805-1868) : A Malagasy Migration Micro-History in Small DNA Segments

When categorizing our small DNA segment matches on Ancestry, several of my family  members shared DNA  with K.W. When Andrea reached out to K.W. inquiring about her Malagasy ancestor Sophie/ Sophia Lizard Henry.  Andrea was told that, “Sophie was born in Madagascar and was sold into slavery. She was sentenced to death in Mauritius but it was overturned and she was sent to Australia with her son.” There was nothing else known about her parents or siblings. We had so many questions as to what Sophie did to get a death sentance. How did she end up in Australia? Was Sophie related to us? Possibly. We hope this  DNA cousin will take a mtDNA test since Sophie is her maternal ancestor and may also have a M23 haplogroup.

 

 

Sophie was sent to New South Wales,  Australia on the Ship Ann, as a convict in 1825. She was described as being – 5’2″ tall with copper skin and black eyes, black lips, a broad nose, and stout. Her migration micro-history definitely caught our attention.

National Archivrs of Mauritius., Court of Assizes Procceedings, April 1823

 

After a bit of deep digging to see what I could find on Sophie, I came across a University of Tasmania dissertation by Eilin Friis Hordvik titled “Mauritius Caught in the Web of Empire: the legal system, crime, punishment a nd labour 1825  that described all the events that led to Sophie’s banishment to New South Wales, Australia.  Sophie had been a personal child slave to Madame Francoise Legars (not Lizard) before her marriage to Amedee Bonsergent, a Medical Officer in Mauritius, in 1818. At 18 years old, Sophie was in a relationship with Jean Gombault, a Free Black Creole and was pregnant with their son Jean, Jr. Below describes the events as they were reported at the time.

 

Hordvik, p.85
Hordvik, p.86

For his receiving of stolen money, which was returned, JeanGombault received 8 years in iron chains.

The Bonsergents wanted to  be compensated 300 piastres for Sophia and her son’s transportation to Australia as well as damages to their other property. At the time, the French IndoChinese piastre,  was the currency used in the Indian Ocean and Far East commercial trade. When the British took over Mauritius in 1810, they continued to use piastres. According to Hordvik, “The average price for a female slave at the time was 250 piastres. Negotiations between Bonsergent and the local government in the end settled on the sum of 80 piastres (including the child), which was the price fixed for a male slave in similar circumstaces. substantially less than the open market price. The Mauritian authorities were not prepared to pay extra for Sophie’s son.”  For the record, Sophie was the first Mauritian to be banished to Australia and her son Jean, Jr. was the only child to follow a parent to Australia when it was just a penal colony.

Sophie was probably assigned to work as a domestic for a free settler or assigned to work at the Perramatta Female Factory as a majority of female convicts had to do. Though Sophie and her son would technically be freed upon arrival in Australia, one has to question what degree of freedom (i.e., “unfreedom”) she actually obtained if she worked under the same harsh conditions as before her arrival. That she was female also opens up the question as to what, if any, sexual abuse she may have been subjected to during her banishment.

Three years after she arrived, Sophie, now  known by the English version of her name Sophia, married John Henry, another convict of color who arrived in New South Wales onboard the Earl St. Vincent in 1818. Of the 160 men who boarded in Cork, Ireland on August 7, 1818, he was one of 157 survivors who landed on December 16, 1818. He was born in Suriname which was then part of British Guiana and was mostly likely from a mixed-race background.  We don’t know when or how she met John Henry, but he was sent to Parramatta where worked on a Farm Factory until his term expired. These two convicts were married in St. James Church  with a marriage bann with the consent of the Governor on March 21, 1828.

 

John Henry later adopted Jean Gombault,Jr. after he married Sophie and together they also had a daughter named Sophia Emma Henry. In September of 1833, both John Henry and Sofia Emma were baptized together in St. James Church in Sidney.

Sofia Emma Henry (1833-1905), K.W.’s ancestor, married John Hemson (1814-1887), a convict from Suffolk, England who arrived on  Ship The England in 1835. They had the following children: John, T., Sophia, Louisa, Emily, Agnes, Walter, Alice, Eva, and Lenard. John was able to purchase land after completing his sentence and later became a police constable.

At this time, we know little regarding Jean Gombault Henry, but this may change in the future.

Louisa Hemson Atkins (1855-1943), daughter of Sophia Emma and John Hemson, and granddaughter of Sophie/Sophia Legars Henry

Conclusion: Will the loss of Our <8 cM DNA matches result in a Genetic Paper Genocide?

As a family historian and genealogist, I constantly remind others that they need to dig deep. By that, I mean that we MUST explore all avenues of research to locate our ancestral stories which are buried and submerged leading to the mistaken belief that everything about our ancestors’ lives have been erased when, in fact, their histories have been just waiting to be found.  Genealogical research on African and Native American ancestors is not easy because of the historic trauma they were subjected to as enslaved human beings and the dearth of documentation. However, our duty as descedants also requires us to muster up  the strength to soldier on and not get discouraged. Our ancestral stories EXIST!

With Ancestry doing away with <8 cM DNA matches, African and Native American descendants will lose, not only DNA cousins who may, in fact, be related to us via slavery, but we also could lose thousands of  “micro-histories” in the process. Sophie’s life story is just one exmple of what could be lost to people who share DNA matches o they no longer have access to because they have been subjected to a genetic paper genocide. I define  “genetic paper genocide” as a deliberate and systematic erasure of DNA matches that results in the obliteration of ancestors’ and family history. I understand that Ancestry’s decision was made to increase the accuracy of DNA cousin matches. However, it is clear from their decision that they did not consult with the very people who would be disproporiately impacted. It makes you wonder if Ancestry realizes that they are in fact telling us that OUR ANCESTORS DON’T MATTER!  Given their public statement in support of Black Lives Matter, it would be a major blow if they allow it to become just a corporate slogan and performative action with no real value other than the optics behind it

.To prevent genetic paper genocide, I recommend the following:

  1. That Ancestry reach out to well-known African American and Native American genealogists who have a large number of followers, like the genealogists on BlackProGen LIVE, AAHGS, Shannon Christmas, Fonte Felipe, Ellen Fernandez-Sacco, Terry Ligon, Bernice Bennett,  Angela-Walton-Raji, Melvin Collier,  Andre Kearns, Colleen Robledo Greene, Luis Ariel Rivera, among others to get advice on how to move forward.
  2. That Ancestry either rescind their decision to remove any <8 cM matches immediately or extend the time period for people to group their low matches for at least 6 months due to the pandemic.
  3. That Ancestry seriously consider that they are preventing family reunification not only due to slavery, but also due to adoption, genocide, famine, etc.
  4. That ancestry fix their Timber algorithm so that it does not treat all “pile-up” cMs as IBS and thus already limit the amount of small DNA segments that could in fact be IBD.
  5. That Ancestry find other ways to fix any broken systems they have presently.

 

The Insidiousness of Slavery: No Justice and the Van Wickle Slave Ring

This blogpost is written as a supplementary addition to the December 16th, 2018 historic Day of  Remembrance at the East Brunswick Public Library as part of The Lost Souls Public Memorial Project. A special thank you goes to Rev. Karen Johnston, Mae Caldwell, the NJ Council for the Humanities, The Unitarian Society, New Brunswick Area Branch of the NAACP, Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society – NJ Chapter Sons & Daughters of the Us Middle Passage Society, East Brunswick Human Relations Council, East Brunswick Senior Center and the East Brunswick, Library. Additional thanks goes to my BlackProGen geneabuddies and fellow Truth Seekers, Muriel “Dee Dee” Roberts, Shannon Christmas, James Amemasor and the staff at the NJ Historical Society, Junius Williams, Rhonda Johnson, James J. Gigantino II, Calvin Schermerhorn, Joshua Rothman, Grahan Russell Hodges, and others who have supported my research over the years. I am most indebted to Rich Sears Walling for his endless quest to bring this horrific travesty to light and to seek social justice for these 177 Lost Souls.

This blogpost is dedicated to all my ancestors and to my M23 cousins who decided to take mtDNA  and autosomal DNA tests that have enabled us to reconnect with our DNA cousins who share our Native-American, Malagasy, West African, and European ancestry and find out our true family history. A big shout out to my  cousin-homie-sister- genealogy partner Andrea Hughes, Mildred Armour, Robert Armour, Sharon Anderson, Ray Armour, Tashia Hughes, our late Cousin Helen B. Hamilton , Alan Russell, Frances Moore, Lois Salter-Thompson, Dorothy Miller, Brenda Ryals-Burnett, “Donnie”, Sharon Baldree, Rhoda Johnson, and Barbara Pitre and her mother Pearl Kahn.

On Insidiousness….

The Van Wickle Slave Ring was insidious from its inception. The word origin of insidious comes from the Latin insidiosus meaning cunning, deceitful, artful and from  from insidiae (plural) meaning to plot, snare, and ambush.

In 1818, there was a conspiracy of slave speculators who stole African-American and mixed-race free, enslaved for a term, and enslaved for life people out of New Jersey and New York and transported them to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama with the full collusion of Judge Jacob Van Wickle and his judicial cronies. They operated in full violation of a 1812 New Jersey state law that clearly stated that no person of African descent or other person of color who was a servant, slave for life or slave for a term could be taken out of the state without their consent if they were of age or their parents’ consent if underage. This law was put into effect to further strengthen the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1804 that declared that any child born, after July 4th, 1804,  to a slave mother had to first serve a term  — 25 years if male and 21 years if female — as a servant for their mother’s owner and then they would be free. In order to make a profit from slave speculating, Van Wickle and his devious gang devised a plan where they would procure People of Color in New Jersey and New York by any means necessary and sell them South as slaves for the rest of their lives without their knowledge or consent. Most of the 177 individuals that we know of today  were in their teens or early 20s though there were many children under the age of 10 –the youngest two being just 2 days and 6 weeks old. Freedom was snatched from all of them with a blink of an eye and with Jacob Van Wickle’s signature all over the place. Among them, were some of my maternal ancestors. Any emblem of justice was denied to them.

Two years ago, I wrote my blogpost Part II: The DNA Trail from Madagascar to Manhattan & Our Family’s Malagasy Roots where I discussed my maternal ancestors’ migration out of New Amsterdam to the Tappan Patent (Bergen County, NJ/Rockland and Orange Counties, NY) and our Full Sequence M23 mtDNA Cousin matches at that time. Two years later, this blogpost expands on our most recent findings. We now know that while Lewis Compton, James Brown, Charles Morgan, Nicholas Van Wickle, and others, on November 13th-17th, 1818,  were in a Pennsylvania courtroon answering to the charges of removing People of Color from New Jersey and New York without their consent, my ancestors were  among the 48 individuals already on their way to serving lives of involuntary servitude in the South. Crammed onboard a ship outfitted with plantation supplies and equipment, they were on the last documented slave ship out of South Amboy, the Schoharie, which sailed on October 25th, 1818. That they were unwitting pawns in a system designed to further dehumanize them is the epitome of the insidiousness of slavery indeed!

 

If Fred Could See Us Now: On the Uses of DNA Testing for Slave Ancestor Research

In 1855, the late great Frederick Douglass stated, “Genealogical trees do not flourish among slaves.” Boy, if Fred could see us now. DNA testing has opened wide doors for those of us who are seeking to find out more about our formerly enslaved/enslaved ancestors. The 1870 brick wall that has blocked us from discovering our ancestry in the past no longer exists as a barrier. DNA testing, along with a host of other documents that help us trace our enslaved ancestors has proven that walls are meant to be broken down. Thanks to mtDNA, Y-DNA, and autosomal DNA testing, what was once impossible to prove has now been rendered possible. The pepper in salted histories can be now seen by all and can no longer be denied. DNA testing also allows us to see the true humanity inherent in earch individual and to connect us with our DNA cousins of all backgrounds.

In addition, DNA testing provides us with DNA migration maps that document where our ancestors originated and the geographical areas they dispersed to over time. I live in NYC where my Native ancestors have resided for the millenia and where my West/East African and European ancestors have lived since 1620. That’s a 400+ year family sojourn that speaks volumes about our family history and resonates in #NoEllisIslandHere. We are, and have been, true Americans before America was even America. Facts matter!

Early Colonial Native and African-American Endogamy in Rural Communities

Our ancestors were the descendants of Native and African people formerly enslaved/enslaved by Dutch, Swedish, French Huegenot, and Puritan/Quaker slave owners in colonial NJ, NY and CT. These colonial rural communities were tri-racial and multi-racial from their inception as slave owners migrated up and down the Hudson River Valley and into New Jersey in search of land, wealth and religious freedom. They, of course, brought their formerly enslaved/enslaved servants with them. Though there were laws on the books and societal sanctions against interracial relationships of any sort, these types of relationships did in fact occur. The migration journey that our ancestors took was out of New Amsterdam (including Westchester County, NY and Greenwich, CT which were also intrinsic parts of the Dutch colony), to the Tappan Patent, and then migrated up and down the Hudson river during the 1600 and early 1700s. They later migrated further into New Jersey ending up in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Somerset, Middlesex,  Hunterdon, Monmouth, Burlington, Gloucester, and Cumberland Counties in the early to mid-1700s just before the American Revolution  before finally settling in the city of Newark in the late 1780s and early 1800s.

State of NJ, County lines 1753-1824. Based on map created by R. Ryan Lash with information from Minnesota Population Center, National Historical Geographic Information: Pre-release Version 0.1, 2004. Reprinted in James Gigantino II’s The Ragged Road to Abolition: Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey, 1775-1865.

DNA testing confirms that the same surnames and shared DNA shows up in our DNA cousin matches across color lines which would be expected in small rural communities. These surnames can be traced to the founding families of all these counties. To date our list of our NJ and NY colonial surnames include the following: Ackerman, Anderson, Banks, Banta, Beekman, Blanchard, Blauvelt, Bogardus/Bogart, Bolin/Bolling, Brower/Bouwer, Brown, Barkalew/Buckelew, Chapman, Cisco/Sisco, Claeson/Clawson, Clarkson, Conover, Cook, Corlies, Cortelyou, D’Angola, Day, De Vries/DeFreese, Degrasse, DeGroat/DeGroot, Demarest, DeWitt, Deveaux/Devoe, Dey/Deyo, DuBois, Fortune, Francis, Francisco, Groesbeck/Goosbeck, Gould, Hampton,  Haring, Hedden, Hendricks, Hicks, Hill, Hoagland, Hopper, Hooper, Huff, Jackson, Jennings, ]ohnson, Lewis, Lyon/Lyons, Mabie, Mandeville, Manuel/Mann, Mathis, Moore, Morris, O’Fake/Feich, Phillips, Pickett, Ray, Remson, Richardson, Rickett, Schmidt, Scudder, Schenck, Shipley, Slater, Smith, Snyder, Stillwell, Stives,  Stockton, Suydam, Ten Broeck/Timbrook, Ten Eyck/Teneyck, Thomas, Thompson, Titus, Turner, Van Blanck, Van Buskirk, Van Clieff/Van Cleef, Vanderzee, Van Dunk/VanDonck, Van Duyne, Van Dyck, Van Horn, Van Gaasbeek/Van Gasbeck, Van Liew/Louw, Van Ness, Van Riper, Van Salee/Van Surley, Van Wickle/ Van Winckle, Washington, Wheeler, Williams, Wortendyke,  Wyckoff, and Zabriskie, among others.

1850 Newark Census that shows my ancestors (Thompson, King, Hedden, O’Fake, Gould, Brower, Jackson, and Francis) living next to other people whose ancestors came from Middlesex County.

The issue of endogamy within colonial America must be discussed as it relates to formerly enslaved/enslaved people in these Northern states. Given that so few People of Color resided in these states in the 17th-19th centuries, it is not surprising that intermarriages and/or relationships were very prominent among the same African-American and mixed-race families in those places. Unlike endogamy among Ashkenazi Jews and Puerto Ricans due to close cousin or family intermarriage,  People of Color at this time tended to marry or form relationships with people living nearest to them just like everyone else. Because of the nature of slavery and lack of genealogy records on formerly enslaved/enslaved people, descendants of these people would not necessarily know that they shared a common gene pool with the same families, especially as they migrated away from these rural communities towards burgeoning cities, like Newark and NYC, where they increased their pool of marriageable partners and became less endogamous. As descendants of these people, we need to be cognizant of the fact that we may be related to a person based on many shared ancestors and not just one or two. 

The DNA Trail from Madagascar to Middlesex County, NJ: The Case of the Slave Ship Schoharie

An October 26, 1818 Schoharie slave ship manifest listed the names of  48 individuals who were stolen away from their families, their communities, and their home state. The ship first  sailed to Norfolk, VA and then to La Balize on the Mississippi River where the human cargo was checked before traveling onward to New Orleans and elsewhere.  Unlike the other Van Wickle Slave Ring victims whose names were changed to hide their true identities or who forever remain nameless, the 48 individuals on the last documented slave ship out of New Jersey had their real names written down. At the time of their departure, those responsible for their removal made no attempt to hide who they were or what they did. They were very transparent in their conniving ways knowing full well that the laws were made by them and for them. Our ancestors’ lives weren’t worth anything beyond their production labor value. They were seen as no different from any work animal or old tool — easily replaceable and disposable.

These innocent victims were:

William MClare, m, 25, 5;8:, light negro
Jafe Manning, m, 21, 5 5 ¾, black, same
Robert Cook, m, 17, 4 9 ½, light, same
Ben Morris, m, 22, 5’1” black, same
Sam Prince, m, 19, 5’10”, light, same
Sam Peter, m, 30, 5’4”, black, same
George Phillips, m, 18, 5’3”, black, same
James Thompson, m, 5’5 ¼” light, same
Edward Gilbert, m, 22, 5’3 ½” blk, same
Dan Francis, m, 20, 5’1” light, same
James, m, 15, 4’11” black, same
Charles, m, 19, 5’2 ¾” black, same
Susan Wilcox, f, 36, 5’2” light
Nelly, f, 18, 5’ ¼” black, same
Betsey Lewis, f, 28, 5’1” black
Jane Clarkson, f, 23, 5’5” black, same
Eliza Thompson, f, 21, 5’ 1 ¾” light, same
Jane Cook, f, 15, 5’ ¾”, light, same
Ann Moore, f, 29, 4’ 9 ½”, black, same
Julian Jackson, f., 21, 5’ ¼” dark, same
Jane Smith, f, 33, 4’ 10 3/4” light, same
Peggy Boss, f, 21, 5’ 3” dark, same
Mary Harris, f, 21, 4’ 10 ½” light, same
Sally Cross, f, 20, 5’1” blk, same
Rosanna Cooper, f., 22, 5’3” blk, same
Mary Simmons, f, 18, 4’11” dark
Hannah Jackson, f, 18, 5’ 1 ¼” do
Hanna Crigier, f, 18, 4, 10 ¼” black
Harriet Silas, f, 15, 4’11” light
Fanny Thompson, 14, 4’7” dark,
Elizabeth Ann Turner, 16, 4’8” black
Susan Jackson, 20, 4’8” black
Hanna Johnson, female, 20, 4’9” black
Hannah, eighteen, 4’9 ¼” dark
Cane, m, 22, 5’1/2”
Jack, m, 22, 5’6” dark, same
Lewis, 22, 5’8” black, same
Peter, 14, 4’ 6 ¾” black, same
Frank, 21, 5’2” dark
Caleb Groves, 50, 5’ 2 ½” dark
John, 21, 5’3” black
Collins, 35, 5’3” blk
Othello, 16, 4’10” light
Anthony Fortune, 21, 5’2 ¼” dark
Joseph Henricks, 19, 5’5”, dark
Jane, f, 23, 5’5 1/4” light
Susan, f, 21, 4’10 ½” light
Lena, f, 38, 5’2” dark

When I first saw this list of names, I cried tears that were based on my belief that there is no separation between us, the living, and those who came before and those who shared a journey with us when they were among the living. Death is nothing but a natural happenstance. Nothing has changed. My tears flowed knowing the historic trauma all 48 people went through torn away from their family and community to labor in the sugar and cotton plantations of the South. And I cried most of all because the surnames were ones I knew all too well because they were our own.

Over the past two years, we have been working hard to discover how our Full Sequence mtDNA cousin matches are related to each  other. Looking for these ancestral connections is not for the faint of heart. Unlike Y-DNA where paternal surnames stay the same and paternity can often be established through male cousin matches, mtDNA cousin matching is a different beast due to women changing surnames upon marriage. Now, just add the institution of slavery, colonization, and genocide which were crimes against humanity that interrupted our family trees in a massive way for centuries, and you got a genealogical puzzle with a million missing pieces. Just ponder that for a minute. Despite this, with both mtDNA and autosomal DNA testing, we were able to connect many surnames to other enslaved/formerly enslaved families as well as to their slave owners. Oh, if Fred could see us now!

Please note that the screenshots below are taken from AncestryDNA which I use to unearth family connections among the many family trees of known relatives as well as our DNA cousin matches. They also show the colonial endogamy I’ve spoken about above. Because AncestryDNA does not have a chromosome browser, we are all prevented from doing the level of DNA triagulation that is necessary for 100% certainty which is a shame. At this point, all we can do is compare surnames among our DNA matches and see what surnames and geographical areas we have in common. We have had some luck with DNA cousins who uploaded to Gedmatch, but with the recent changes there, I know that Gedmatch’s triangulation usefulness for People of Color who have enslaved ancestors has been compromised (Please see Nicka Smith’s blogpost on this topic).

As children of the African Diaspora, we are considered to be “admixed” and are rarely 100% of any one ethnic/racial group. As I have said many, many times before, ethnic admixture itself doesn’t tell you anything beyond the continental categories of Sub-Saharan African, Native American/Asian, and European. You MUST be committed to digging a whole lot deeper to find your family truth and that involves connecting with your DNA cousins whoever and wherever they are in addition to looking at genealogical records and local history! Click here to see my Genetic Genealogy page for the necessary tools/website links to do so if you are up to the challenge and I am challenging you all to do so. Now, you know.

Here are some examples of early African-American colonial endogamy and clearly show some of the surnames of those whom were sold South from Middlesex County.

 

Reclaiming Our Lost Community of Ancestors and Their Descendants

In 2015, my cousins Andrea and Helen took FTDA’s Full Sequence mtDNA test to see what else we could find out about our maternal Malagasy line. Three years later, we have 14 Full Sequence mtDNA cousin matches who share our M23 haplogroup. I have been in touch with 9 of our 14 FS mtDNA cousins.We have learned that 4 out of our 9 mtDNA cousins have ties to the NY/NJ area along with my family. Three mtDNA cousins, Brenda, “Donnie”, and Dorothy are actually 5th cousins who share the same set of 4th great-grandparents who were born in Nova Scotia. Their 5th great-grandmother Rose Fortune was born in VA and who, as a 10-year-old girl, boarded a ship in NYC to Nova Scotia in 1783 at the end of the Revolutionary War. Her parents were Black Loyalists and their family is documented in The Book of Negroes. We have found some documentation that their 6th great-grandparents were from Philadelphia and were owned by the Devoe family.

Brenda, her mother and Grandmother Mary who was Rose Fortune’s 2nd great-granddaughter

The Devoe family were French Huguenots who arrived in New Amsterdam in the late 1600s and who settled up and down the Hudson River before some of their descendants moved to NJ and PA, including Philadelphia. Clearly, the Devoes had acquired Malagasy slaves in NY and the children of those slaves would have been inherited by their descendants.

The Alice Applyby DeVoe House in East Brunswick, NJ

The DeVoe family was also in East Brunswick, South Amboy, and elsewhere in Middlesex County as were the Fortune family. Could Rose Fortune’s maternal line come from the this line of the DeVoe family? We can’t say for sure at this time, but it may be worth further study.

My 2nd great-grandmother Laura Thompson, Frances who represents Lois Salter-Thompson’s line, Dorothy Miller and her maternal aunt.

We have identified the family line of the two other M23 mtDNA cousins, Lois/Frances and Dorothy, who also match my family along the Timbrook-Titus line and this line originates in the Greater New Brunswick, NJ area. In the 1870s, my family has a Rev. Isaac B. Timbrook living with our Thompson-King ancestors in Newark, NJ and his niece Violet Timbrook is living in a house owned by our 3rd great-grandfather Cato Thompson, who was married to our  M23 3rd great-grandmother Susan Pickett. In 1850, Isaac was a laborer on Judge Van Wickle’s nephew, Stephen Van Wickle’s farm.

The Timbrooks are related to our Malagasy descended Thompson-Pickett-Snyder-Scudder line from the Tappan Patent. Lois’s 4th great-grandparents were Thomas Titus and Sarah TenBroeck/Timbrook. Isaac is her nephew, the son of her brother Edward Timbrook. We have been able to identify the slave owner who purchased Sarah and Edward’s mother, Phebe. His name was Abraham Barkelew hence the B. in Rev. Issac’s name is most likely Barkelew. We have also come across Frederick Barkelew’s 1791 will that mentions “a free negro” by the name of “Fortune.” We also found Abraham Barkelew’s 1809 will  where he bequeathed a “negro woman Phebe” to his granddaughter Anne. Dorothy is connected to a Fanny Titus who is related to this family line as well. We are still sorting out the family relationships due to the sharing of many surnames (colonial endogamy), but it is now fairly certain that this is the extended family line that links us to our common Malagasy ancestor.  In addition, it should be noted that our line sided with Patriots during the Revolutionary War.

Alan Russell, his daughter, and mother whose M23 line comes from St. Helena Island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

Our mtDNA cousin Alan has a maternal grandmother who was half-Malagasy/half British and who was born on the island of St. Helena. This island was the first stop on the return trip from Madagascar. An import tax was paid in the form of Malagasy slaves on ships that arrived in St. Helena’s port. For Alan to be related to all of us means that we either shared a common ancestor in Madagascar whose descendants ended up in two different locations or maybe two females ancestors became separated when a ship from Madagascar stopped in St. Helena on its way to New York. Alan’s connection to our M23 cohort is of particular interest as it shows the importance of St. Helena as a stopover point on the way from Madagascar to New York. Alan can trace his maternal ancestry back to his 3rd great-grandmother, Sarah Bateman, who was born in 1815 on the island of St. Helena. Her maternal ancestors were Malagasy for certain.

Rhoda Johnson, Barbara Pitre-McCants, and her mother Pearl Kahn whose ancestors were sold South from New Jersey in the Van Wickle Slave Ring.

Through mtDNA testing, we have now FOUND our cousins whose ancestor were sold South in the Van Wickle Slave ring. Rhoda, Barbara and her mother Pearl’s ancestors were bought by the John Morrisette Family of Monroe County, AL and passed down to their descendants as property. Their ancestors ended up in Monroe, Wilcox, Dallas, and Hale Counties in Alabama. Today, Hale County, AL  is a 4 hour drive to New Orleans, but their ancestors would have walked in a coffle there to labor in sugar and cotton plantations.

Barbara also tested at AncestryDNA as well. She has numerous DNA cousin matches that link her maternal side to New Jersey via some of the same  surnames we have like Ten Broeck/Timbrook, Slater, Conover, Van Ness, Deyo, Schenck, Shipley, Wyckoff, and many, many more. We have also been cross-checking with many other DNA cousins who have MS, AL, LA, and VA familiar roots and they are highly likely related to some of these other individuals who were sold South. We can rest assured that it is possible to flesh out our family trees despite slavery. In the future, I hope and pray that the more People of Color take DNA tests, the more we can prove that slavery was not 100% successful because we are still here to represent those who came before us.

On Being A Descendant of Survivors of Slavery…

I tell people that I do  “ancestor-guided” research and that my ancestors are with me wherever I go.  I consider it an honor to dig up and tell their true stories. I am a proud descendant of the enslaved and the free. My ancestors lived in households that were of mixed status where some were free, some were slaves for a term, and some were slaves for life in NJ, NY and CT. In 1818, they knew without a doubt who was sold and where these folks ended up. They were the witnesses to this atrocity at the time that it occurred. They did not sit back and accept their place in history.  Instead, they made America greater by becoming early abolitionists who built schools, churches, joined fraternal organizations, mutual aid societies, and then got to work on the Underground Railroad. We have been blessed to have 4 Underground Railroad homes (Newark, NJ, Peekskill, NY, Greenwich, CT, and Buffalo/Rochester/Upper Canada West) operated by both sides of the color line. In due time, I will be writing a book on our larger family history.

Today, all of us are  witnesses to the Van Wickle Slave Ring episode in American history. The 177 individuals who were smuggled out of  NJ can rest in peace knowing that they are remembered and that their historical erasure is no more.

In addition to the above 48 individuals, there were 129 other people smuggled out of the state of New Jersey in 1818.

First group sent Louisiana on March 10, 1818/*Mothers are grouped with their children

Peter     15

Simon   no age listed, free man

Margaret Coven, no age, free woman

Sarah     21

Dianna 7 months

Rachel   22

Regina  6 weeks

Hager    29

Roda 14

Mary     2

Augustus 4

Florah   23

Susan    7 months

Harry     14

James   21

Elmirah 14

George 16

Susan Watt         35

Moses  16

Lydia      18

Betty     22

Patty     22

Bass       19

Christeen            27

Diannah  9

Dorcas  1

Claresse               22

Hercules   2

Lidia       22

Harriett Jane      3

Bob

Rosanna

Claus

Ann

                Rosino

Jenette

Charles   (child)

Elias       (child)

Robert  (child)

Thirty-nine  individuals.

Second Group, departed May 25, 1818

Leta       21

Dorcus  16

Sam Johnson     32

Margaret             21

Jane       25

John 4

Mary Davis          23

Phyllis   25

Charles   1

Jack        16

Harvey  22

Elizer (f)               19

Frank     21

Hester  18

Peter     21

Susan Silvey  30

Jacob 18 months

Betsey  22

Jonas     16   free person

Sam       16

William 22

Henry    21

Amey    22

Juda (f) 26

Samuel 2

James   22

Sam       32

George Bryan    18

Hannah                16

Nancy   22

Joseph  2 days

Peter     17   free person

Hannah                14

Jack Danielly       21

Jude [no judicial certificate]

Caroline, 18

Ann, 18

Jeanette, 12

Mose

Thirty-nine individuals.

Third Group departed in late August 1818 and arrived in New Orleans in September.

39 unknown individuals.

Fourth Group departed in mid-October overland through PA, 1818

George 35

Cain       22

Frank     21

Lewis     22

Elijah     31

Mary     27

Law        21

Phebe   21   free person

Susan    23

Charles 43

Pettes   14

Jane       23

Twelve names.

Let us say their names so that they will ALWAYS be remembered!

 

Off the Battlefield, But Still Suffering from PTSD

This blog is dedicated to our cousins Helen Hamilton, Keith Lyon, and Raymond Armour who were on this jouney with us from the start and whom all joined our pantheon of ancestros within the past 8 months. They are now our newly-appointed Ancestor Angels and biggest cheerleaders. We will keep saying their names so that they will always be remembered.
L Cousins Helen Hamilton, Keith Lyon, and Raymond Armour

On behalf of the extended Lyon-Green-Merritt family, we would like to thank the Town of Greenwich Board of Selectmen, State Representative Michael Bocchino, the Conservation Commission, Nancy Dickinson, Christopher Shields, and the rest of the Cemetery Committee of the Town of Greenwich, The Office of the Town Clerk, the Greenwich Preservation Trust, CeCe Saunders, Brian Jones, and the staff of Historical Perspectives, Inc., the Greenwich Historical Society, and the Rye Historical Society for their help over the past four years. A special thank you goes to Josephine Conboy and the Greenwich Preservation Trust who worked hand in hand with State Rep. Michael Bocchino to advocate for a new CT cemetery law that will protect other ancient burial grounds from the descecration our family experienced. Another thank you goes to Jeffrey Bingham Mead who challenged me years ago to research and preserve not only the history of Greenwich, but also to write about a history he knew was important for people to read. Finally, I owe a big thank you, to Eric Fowler, Anne Young, and the Law Department of the Town of Greenwich for dealing with me directly these last two years as it was not an easy thing to do and I admit it.

When the Battle Is Over, I’m going to SING and SHOUT!: We Claim Victory!

They got to keep their driveway. It was never about their driveway or their property for us! NEVER!

We GOT EVERYTHING WE WANTED!!!!

It was all about preserving OUR cemeteries, especially the “Colored Cemetery” section of Byram Cemetery, and making sure all our ancestors would be remembered and properly memorialized. It was about making sure that our ancestors in the “Colored Cemetery” would be able to rest in peace, alongside their kin, after having their section of Byram Cemetery made into someone’s front lawn. It was about making sure our Lyon ancestors’ original intention for the “Colored Cemetery” to exist where it always has been was RESPECTED and given the historic, accurate name it always had. It was about making sure OUR LINEAL RIGHTS as descendants were finally acknowledged. Most importantly, it was about paying tribute to the Native-African presence that has always been in Greenwich and which has always been reflected in the Lyon-Green-Merritts of Color who have the DNA, oral, and written history to back up their Native-African heritage — no one ever had the right to tell us what we always have been. Finally, it was about paying tribute to the history of slavery that was personified in the North which led to our ancestors working together on the Underground Railroad and engaging in the social justice/resistance acts of abolition.

We Were NEVER the PROBLEM/http://www.timidmc.com/shop/

After almost a year of being on the Cemetery battlefield, on August 6th, my 5 cousins and I learned that the judge DENIED The Stewarts their 2nd Motion to Strike us from The Jeffrey M. Stewart et. al. v. The Town of Greenwich et. al. lawsuit. We had been waiting for the day for a judge to read all our documented evidence. Then, on Wednesday, August 8th, we were asked to send a letter indicating our support for the Town of Greenwich’s Stipulation of Settlement as the Now Named 6 defendants. The next day, on August 9th, the Town of Greenwich Board of Selectmen approved the Stipulation of Settlement at 10.42 am. I was at the funeral of my Uncle/Cousin Raymond Armour where I had the honor of announcing the Settlement to my family and to him directly. It will now be sent to the judge. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of this case.

The “Colored Cemetery” is where our Native-African ancestors were buried. Make no mistake, our ancestors ARE BURIED there and have been for centuries. The Stewarts’ constant and continued denial of our ancestors physical presence in the “Colored Cemetery,” speaks volumes about THEM more than it does our ancestors. In my blogposts on my Green-Merritt ancestors and on the now resurrected, hidden historic community of HangrootI documented our ancestors lives in Greenwich, CT and noted how they were the ONLY family of Native-African descent to live next to their former slave owners and slave owner descendants for over a century. In fact, they made up the majority of People of Color in Greenwich in the mid-1800s. DNA also links us to the Lyon, Merritt, and Green families. But, The Stewarts want others to believe that not one of our ancestors were ever buried there??? Please…

The “Colored Cemetery” at Byram Cemetery

In my many blogposts on the “Byram African-American Cemetery,” I documented how our extended family felt upon learning about the desecration of our “Colored Cemetery.” We have been waiting for justice to be served for four years. We always KNEW The Stewarts didn’t have a case. I mean how do you abide by a Cease and Desist Order in 2014 after you desecrate the “Colored Cemetery,” then invite the descendants of people buried there into your home to discuss putting a plaque on tree in honor of the “Colored Cemetery,” and then wait over a year to file a lawsuit that denies the existence of the same cemetery? We won’t even discuss my epic 277-page response, three 1890 contemporary newspaper articles mentioning the first desecration of the “Colored Cemetery,” the 1901 dated, time-stamped, and accepted copy by the Town of Greenwich Clerk map, Historical Perspectives, Inc.’s documentary study, or all the letters written by my cousins which were submitted to the court as proof. If you are interested, you can read all the evidence here  (Docket#: FST-CV-17-6033549-S).

The Privileged Don’t Pay the Price, But Others Have to…

A lawyer friend asked me recently how I felt about the process that led to the settlement and what were the things that troubled or concerned me about the settlement? I told him that I did what I had to do to protect the rights of my ancestors to rest in peace and not be erased from history. That being said, while I am happy about the outcome, I do feel that the Stewarts and the Town are now able to just walk away and both entities act like everything was done for “due diligence” and can say “let bygones be bygones.” They can easily both “go home with footballs,” as Attorney Marcus stated in the Greenwich Time newspaper on 8/11/18. Obviously, they never considered the racial and class dynamics that were being perpetuated in prime time that were no different from what my ancestors experienced. They had the power once again to deny us everything and that was not lost on us —not for one second, one minute, one hour, one day, one year nor for centuries.

Meanwhile, I am battle-worn, battle-scared, and suffering from PSTD feeling like I was forced against my will to run thousands of miles to the top of a mountain and now some people feel that I should run down the other side of the mountain immediately when I am physically and mentally exhausted. No, that is not going to happen. I need time to deal with the past two years and especially the past 8 months. I don’t have the luxury to just walk away now, as others apparently do, because my ancestors CHOSE ME to be their unified voice to articulate their pain, loud and clear, with my head held high…just like they showed us all when they walked towards freedom. It was a burden I willingly carried and I did it to protect my ancestor’s burial site and elucidate their RADIANT lived history that should NEVER be erased. I need time to breathe clean air again and re-charge my batteries. I would like to think that I’m like Timex and can take a lickin and keep on tickin,” but I’m not. Vegatron does have her limits. Don’t worry. I will be just fine in the end. His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.

Both The Stewarts and The Town’s Law Department put my family under tremendous, unnecessary stress. The Stewarts knew it was a cemetery from the beginning. The Town did not follow proper procedures in acquiring abandoned cemeteries. Both entities threw The Stewarts’ wealth in our faces like hot bricks just out the fire. The “no disparagement clause” in the settlement is for their mutual benefit. At no point, have they even offered an apology to my family —not privately, not publicly. Though that is something I know they would never do and I am not holding my breath for, it’s those little things that sometimes matter most.

My family and I worked out our issues with The Town in early April and this has allowed us to move forward. From the beginning until present, The Town said, and now will do, what they said they would do when they actually acquired the abandoned cemeteries. Our family will be active partners with the Town going forward to create a historic “Colored Cemetery”. However, The Stewarts are another matter. As of today, there will be NO Kumbaya moment. I want nothing to do with people who have no integrity and show no respect for the sacred resting spaces of others.

There are NO Statutes of Limitation on Historic Trauma/Historic Erasure

Desecrating an ancestral burial ground for greed is traumatic. Arguing that we must excavate our ancestors to satisfy that greed and morbid curiosity is traumatic. Denying that our ancestors ever existed and trying to erase their physical presence in this world is traumatic. It is traumatic because you KNOW that slavery was never designed for Native-and African-American family reunification. It was designed to sever the ties that bind. And then, here we were in 2016 and just as we located our oldest ancestors, we found out that the couple, who made our ancient burial ground into their front lawn, tried to use us against The Town. You realize that had you not had Guardian Angels in Greenwich who immedately notified you of The Town’s actions, they would have gone with the photos you sent them, selfies included, with the letter you unknowingly wrote in their favor to the Town of Greenwich meeting on 9/22/2016 and act like they had secured the approval of the descedants of the enslaved/formerly enslaved buried there. Duplicity in action!

I strongly feel that The Stewarts need to be held accountable for their actions that led them to desecrate our burial ground. Two years ago, I wrote that no one should expect us to be neutral on this matter and we meant it. Since Section 34 was part of their lawsuit— though the “Colored Cemetery” has been in existence for centuries as part of Byram Cemetery — and is now forever etched in our collective memory, we will continue to tell the truth that their lawsuit was an obvious land grab to increase the value of their waterfront property. It was also a racist lawsuit since they could have argued their case without mentioning race in the first place. They are the ones who DECIDED to go there and WENT there! We are the ones who always told the truth.

 

Jeffrey M. Stewart et. al. v. The Town of Greenwich 

 

August 28, 2016 Is The Day Our Ancestors Decided This Very Outcome

The Stewarts made several wrong assumptions back in 2016. 1) That we would not know anyone in Greenwich because we didn’t live there. 2) That we weren’t educated and couldn’t detect the gaping holes in their story on Day1; 3) That we would never be united with our Lyon cousins. Our ancestors, on both sides of the color line, decided that would not be the case. They chose me on that day to repeatedly ask the all important question which was “If no one owns the land as you indicated by doing a deed history search, then why are you following a Cease and Desist letter?” Our ancestors chose my cousins Pat and Eddie to bare witness on that particular day, too.

I believe in many things. I believe that that my God is an awesome God who loves everyone unconditionaly. I believe that in my Father’s house there are many mansions. I believe that my ancestors are with me wherever I go. I believe that death is but a necessary happenstance. I believe that there is no shelf-life in the Hereafter and that, as descedants of originally enslaved people, family reunification happens automatically upon transitioning — even if it never happened during our years on Earth. I believe in the power of God to direct my path. Like Assata Shakur, ”I believe in living, I believe in birth, I believe in the sweat of love and in the fire of truth and I believe that a lost ship, steered by tired, sea sick sailors, can still be guided home to port.” On August 28, 2016, I KNOW my ancestors guided me to THEIR ancient burial ground here on Earth to help guarantee that our side of the family would be represented at the September 22,2016 meeting alongside our Lyon kin.  A family UNITED will never be DEFEATED. My cousins and I will continue to make them proud.
We are the Lyon-Green-Merritts

 

My Research Is My Therapy: Next Up On the Agenda

I will be contiinuing my research to get state and federal recognition for the Green-Twachtman House — the house my 3rd great-grandfather built in 1845 at 30 Round Hill Road (Hangroot) —as a confirmed UGRR site. My 3rd great-grandmother, Mary Johnson, was a self-emancipated woman who arrived in Greenwich, CT in the mid-1820s from Virginia.

In Closing…His Eye Is On the Sparrow and I KNOW he watches ME

Let it be forever known that I am the daughter of Joyce Greene Vega, the granddaughter of Richard W. Greene, Jr., the great-granddaughter of Richard W. Green, Sr., the great-great granddaughter of George E. Green, the great-great-great granddaughter of Allen and Mary Green, and the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Anthony and Peg Green.

I’m going to leave this Walter Hawkins video right here so I can go back to singing amd shouting! We got the VICTORY! 

 
 
#DaughterOfJoyceGreeneVega #BaptizedInMessiahBaptistChurchByRevMichaelWayneWalkerIn1981 #80LegionParkwayBrocktonMA

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