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  • Betty A. Burnett

What About Going on a Journey

A Heritage to Be Proud of! 9-26-2023

· Knowledge about some of my ancestral roots came many years ago. I had a dream while residing in New Jersey: the Lord was telling me to do research on my mother’s father side of the family.

· After relocating back to North Carolina, my ancestral journey started at the courthouse. At that time (in 1994), records of births and deaths could be obtained at the courthouse. Since there were no computers, I used microfiche. According to Wikipedia, didn’t get its start until 1996.

· One day, during my research, I met a man from a Community College in the hall of records at the courthouse. He asked me what I was looking for. No doubt, our meeting was ordained by God. As we continued our conversation, he told me that many slaves did not have names, but they had numbers. So, I needed to find a name. He also encouraged me not to give up, because everybody had skeletons in their closets.

· If found out quickly when some family members knew that I was doing research, they started saying “Why is she digging up dirt” Little did these unlearned people know that if you don’t know where you came from, how do you know where you are going.

· When I told him the family name, the man had knowledge of the slaveowners. He asked me to come to the community college where he was employed, and he would provide me with additional information. And that is exactly what I did. I traveled to the college and more information was provided to me, names, and a place.

From there my treasure hunt really started - I went to the courthouse, Praise God, I hit a gold mine, records of the slave-owner came up with the name of my great-grandfather. I had his death certificate that was obtained in the county where I resided, along with many other family members’ birth and death certificates.

· The slaveowner had a list of his slaves on yellowish parchment papers of his last will and testament. Listed was a nickname that was given to my great-grandfather who was about eight years old at that time. That information would eventually take me back to the county where my great-grandfather migrated and lived there until he died. This is what grabbed my interest on his death certificate, he was an old slave.

· Eventually, I went to the property of the slaveowner and the caretaker provided me more information, a short tour of the property and I was able to see the graves of the slaveowners.

· Someone gave me information about the people whose property my great-grandfather had lived on. I found a phone number and started my inquiry. The person told me there was a photo, and she agreed to let me see it. I called again, and again, to set up a time to meet with the lady to see the picture, but she never answered my call; I was feeling some kind of way about this. About twenty-four years later, I was told that the lady who had the information had died.

· Then I struck out on a journey again with a friend and we went to the house unannounced (that was nobody but the Lord). When we got out of my truck and knocked on the door, this friendly lady greeted us. After telling her the reason I was there, she said she came across the photo and believed she could get her hands on it. She left for a few minutes and came back with the picture (she was told that the person was my great-grandfather). I took a couple of pictures with my phone.

· This took place not long before I moved back to New Jersey. During my research, in calculating years, I could only trace this part of my ancestry to 1835. I believe my mission was accomplished and the God given dream was fulfilled. That’s history! I kept it moving by traveling back and forth from one county to the other for what seems to have been forever. What a journey! Thanks for traveling with me via internet.

But that was just the first part, Join me tomorrow for Part 2 of My Ancestral Roots

~ Betty A. Burnett~

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