Recently I was on hot on the trail of my great grandfather, Francis Walton Batchelor. This is my father’s father’s line and goes back through Harris County, Georgia. I have to admit, I’ve procrastinated on researching the Batchelors, in part because of the challenges of researching Black family genealogy back through slavery.
I was blessed to have known my great grandfather. To my childhood eyes, he was a frail but handsome old man who loved to sit in the front room of my aunt’s house and regale us with stories from the old days. Great Grandpa died in 1961 at the age of 91 years old. Here’s a picture of him back in the day with four of his daughters:
I haven’t gotten into the DNA side of my genealogy yet but it is a way to discover more detail about my African American family history that’s often hard to document, my European roots and maybe even the Native American ancestors Great Aunt Clara said we have.
As I get closer to the ordering that little kit that’s supposed to map out my genetic DNA, I wanted a little more info. So researcher that I am, I started poking around and found a great series of videos that explains a complicated scientific principle in a user-friendly (and kind of cute way). Here they are for you to watch at your leisure.
One of the problems I’ve had over the years is that it is sometimes impossible to uncover details about my female ancestors. This isn’t just a problem in doing African American family history. It comes with the territory when you do genealogy. So I was really excited when I discovered that I can identify my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s and, well – you get the drift.
What this means is that on my mother’s line, I’ve found my women ancestors 10 generations back. In their honor, I’ve listed them here so they will never ever be lost in time.
You’ll notice that I introduce my female ancestors by their maiden names and that’s a tip for you. Always identify women in your family tree by their maiden, …
Everyone needs a mentor. I’ve been blessed to have several amazing ones including the late James Dent Walker from the National Archives.
I was introduced to “Jimmy”, as he was known to friends, in 1977 when I wasn’t having any luck with my application to DAR – the National Society of the Daughters of the Revolution. No local chapter in my neck of the woods would invite me to become a member even though I had documented my eligibility. That may sound strange these days but that was back where there weren’t any African American members in DAR.
So many times, Jimmy and his wonderful wife, Barbara opened up their home in Washington, D.C. to me when I came in town to do research. That little bedroom …
Tonight on the season premiere of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, Grammy award-winning singer Lionel Ritchie searches his African American family history. If you’re into genealogy like I am, you don’t want to miss this program at 9pm EST. Here’s a preview: