Monday, July 20, 2015

Discovering North Carolina Free Persons of Color Ancestors

As a Literature and History Major I became interested in African, Native, and British American History and Literature. These studies led me to an interest in Genealogy and the search for my ancestral roots. Though much research has been developed on Free Persons of Color before the Civil War, I noticed a gap between those years immediately preceding and following emancipation. This gap caused me much distress during my research and the years between 1850 and 1870 are the most difficult to locate and designate ancestors of color. Yet, these are the defining years for connecting the dots.

It is not by accident that many people of African and Native American descent keep hitting "brick walls" during genealogical research. There was, and still is, a concerted effort to block our discoveries because of the so-called American "Taboo" that discourages individuals from acknowledging and embracing their rich heritage. As long as these secrets are kept the true history of America will never be told and people who contributed much to the building of this Nation we call America can not receive proper credit for their ancestor's contributions to the building of this Nation.

It has been said that most Americans whose families were in America preceding the Civil War have "People of Color" in their family trees. So, we are more alike than we are different. Many people may admit to their Native American Heritage, but will not admit to their African Heritage. Many Americans are not aware that the ancestors they thought were Native were, on many occasions, African.

As a descendant of Free Persons of Color in North Carolina and Virginia, I discovered that my ancestors fought in the Civil and Revolutionary Wars and they included Native, African, and Europeans. Before I began my research, I was proud of my ancestors that I knew served from World War II and later. I originally thought, like many people of African descent, that the Civil War had nothing to do with me. As we make these ancestral discoveries we realize that our ancestors fought bravely in all wars fought on these American shores.

This blob was developed to help individuals bridge that elusive gap and discover their true ancestry. I will begin with Surnames in my family of known Free People of Color Melungeon. Feel free to contact me with any information or photos that you may have on these Free Persons of Color and with the Surnames of  Locust, Lucas, Grice, Bunch, Artis, Best, Pettiford, Roberts, Archer, Newsome, Hamilton, Mitchell, Walters, Warters, Campbell and connecting families. I will post the information to my blog and share with others in hopes that we will find the connections we seek.

Happy Researching and Be Blessed

Gigi Best

Lumbee, Croatan, Cherokee of Eastern North Carolinas

The Lumbee or Croatans are considered a multi-ethnic group who are of Native American Ancestry. This blog is being created as a venue for discussion of discovery of our ancestors who were Free Persons of Color before 1860 and to trace their ancestry through Eastern North Carolina. Many of the counties where they lived include: Sampson, Robeson, Randolph, Caldwell, Chowan, Warren, Halifax, Edgecombe, Chatham, Northampton, Nash, Cumberland and Lenoir. These ancestors are said to be connected to the Lost Colony of Roanoke in North Carolina and therefore share the same surnames of many of the members of that expedition began by Sir Walter Raleigh from England.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Gigi's Debut Book has Published and is Available For Purchase

This is the story of “Thomas the Melungeon,”a brave young man who enlisted as a Civil War Union Soldier in North Carolina on his eighteenth Birthday. Thomas fought for years to receive his military pension and his life and family are chronicled here in many generations. 
 Some of Thomas’s ancestors were said to be Catawba-Cherokee and Lumbee Indian.  His family was born into freedom, during a time when many people of African descent were enslaved. The Lucas family defied many obstacles and challenges of their day.  Being “Free” did not exempt them from the trials and tribulations of being bound out, forced into military service, sued, physically attacked and the kidnapping of their children and themselves.  Their history is related here from a variety of sources garnered by me, Thomas’s second great granddaughter. I performed extensive research motivated by a family surname puzzle and in search of my second great grandmother, whom everyone had forgotten.

In this book, I trace their lineage from the Colonial period in 1646 to the present day. Melungeon lineage has been documented by DNA, yet it still fosters heated discussions, disputes and tales of Native American and Portuguese ancestry.