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Saturday, September 27, 2014


Each Tuesday night beginning on September 23, 2014, PBS will air the series, “Finding Your Roots” hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  This documentary traces entertainers from “all walks of life.” The first episode highlighted three entertainers researching their fathers:

Courtney B. Vance
Gloria Ruben
Stephen King

No, this is not the celebrity version of one of Maury Povich's shows titled "Who's My Daddy" or "Help Me Find My Daddy". Instead, this episode show how these 3 celebrities are just like your everyday person who is researching their family tree, their paternal family tree. For instance, Courtney B. Vance’s father was adopted after Courtney’s 17 year old grandmother gave him up. While Gloria Ruben’s father died when she was young and Stephen King’s father deserted his family when Stephen was very young. In fact, Stephen had never seen a picture of his father until Dr. Gates found a copy; Stephen and his father could had been twins.  Through my research, I have met a lot of “DNA” cousins who are looking for their biological family and some cousins are simply looking for their fathers. 

In Gloria’s segment, we learn that when she was born her father was 73 years old. That was shocker for me!  But my mom reminded me about her grandfather, John Pate who was almost 60 years old when my grandmother Classie, his last child, was born. In fact, in those days it wasn’t unusual for older men to start a second family.  

Dr. Gates' research was able to trace Gloria’s maternal ancestor who was born in Africa. He pointed out that this find was something that not too many researchers are able to achieve. This is possibly true in 95% of cases but not all!  Early this year, I went to one of my paternal grandfather niece’s birthday party and her son James ask me to see what I could find on his grandfather, Walter Williams. I researched Walter’s family and gave James my findings.  I wrote a post about Walter which I used as one of my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. My post was seen by another researcher whose ancestor own slaves in the same area where James’ great-grandfather was a slave.  This researcher sent me a few documents, including a document which was a list of slaves that the Williams Family brought from Barbados to Greene County, North Carolina from 1812-1834. This slave list was divided into seven sets of what appear to me to be families. None of the slaves were born in America all but two were born in Barbados. The other two were born in Africa. Although this research was for my cousin and it doesn’t appear that I have any direct ancestors with the “Williams” surname; I’m keeping this list for two reasons.  First, it’s a great find for anyone researching in Greene County because the courthouse was burned in 1876; therefore a lot of the records were destroyed. Secondly, a number of my relatives were born or raised in Greene County, so this list may come in handy one day and I can say my ancestor was born in Barbados or Africa. Needless to say, in this genealogy journey, you never know where you will find your Daddy or your ancestors.

This document was provided by Henry A. Williams descendant, Melanie Williams.

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