Keep digging: Finding African Diaspora genealogy stories in Mexico

Today’s freebie is straightforward: Keep researching your ancestry in all regions of the world.

Around the globe, the remnants of African Diasporan appear in most cultures. In this quick installment, see the results of the African American slaves finding safety in Mexico.

When slave owners demanded that Mexico send back African Americans, the official response from Mexican government officials responded that there are no slaves in its country, only citizens.

Keep digging and learn of the great Gaspar Yanga. A huge statue in Vera Cruz, Mexico, is dedicated to the “Primer Libertador de America or “first liberator of the Americas,” (1545 – 1618) who led one of the first successful slave revolts in colonial Mexico. For years he negotiated with Spain on eleven points, including the ability to establish one of the Americas earliest free black settlements. The town, San Lorenzo de Los Negros was “officially recognized by Spanish authorities as a free black settlement,” according to Later, the Mexican town became known as Yanga in honor of its liberator and founder.

Gaspar Yanga statue in Mexico

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Floridians and nearby genealogy researchers: Meet up in Lake County

This wonderful event is from the Wilson Griot Legacy site:


The Wilson Griot Legacy is a modern enterprise to create new sacred storytelling to unravel information inherent in our genealogical past.


Posted byWILSON GRIOT LEGACYSeptember 9, 2023Posted inUncategorized

I will be joining with the Kinseekers Genealogical Society of Lake County, Florida in conjunction with the Leesburg Public Library in a special event on Saturday, September 23, 2023.

Both in-person and virtual event:

Saturday, 23 September 2023

9:45am – 3:30pm EST

Informal meet ‘n greet at 9:30am EST.

Event is free & open to all!!


Presented by Kinseekers Genealogical Society and the Leesburg Public Library.

To attend virtually, register here

To attend in-person, contact the Leesburg Public Library at 352.728.9790

MORNING SESSION (9:45am – 12:15pm EST)

Welcome & Announcements

– Researching Black Family History, 1900-1950: Essential Foundationspresented by Taneya Koonce

Context Matters: Researching World War Two Black Ancestors:presented by KB Barcomb

LUNCH BREAK (12:15pm – 1:00pm EST)

AFTERNOON SESSION (1:00pm – 3:00pm) 

–  Colleges, Clubs, & Cotton Fields: Researching Black Women, 1900-1950:presented by Adrienne G. Whaley

–  Open Round Table Discussion

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Remembering sports ancestors who broke color barriers and overcame hate

The ‘American Pastime” brought brutal results to Jackie Robinson and other African American professional baseball players
Photo by Steshka Willems on

Often, reviewing the hatred and violence suffered by African American ancestors, are tough matters to endure and often neglected in history books. Yet, the examples of persevering despite the sad circumstances, can spur on genealogy and ancestry researchers to compare and contrast the past with today’s societal practices.

Good Genes Genealogy Tip: Interview your family members about their sports histories. Some may share the good and also the unhappy times that they or their parents may have endured. Learn how they survived the taunts and personal risks to their families and themselves.

Overcomer Robinson

He broke the color barrier in United States’ Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson did it all, including suffering physical and verbal wounds from his colleagues:

Robinson nonetheless became the target of rough physical play by opponents (particularly the Cardinals). At one time, he received a seven-inch gash in his leg from Enos Slaughter.[135] On April 22, 1947, during a game between the Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies players and manager Ben Chapman called Robinson a “nigger” from their dugout and yelled that he should “go back to the cotton fields”.[136] Rickey later recalled that Chapman “did more than anybody to unite the Dodgers. When he poured out that string of unconscionable abuse, he solidified and united thirty men.”[137]

Overcomer Coachman

On her first attempt in the high jump during the International Olympics Games in 1948, Albany, Georgia native Alice Coachman won the gold medal. She became the first African American of any country to win a gold medal. Despite her instant fame and large celebrations back home in the United States, her hometown leaders treated her differently:

Yet these latter celebrations occurred in the segregated South. In the Albany auditorium, where she was honored, whites and African Americans had to sit separately. The white mayor of Albany sat on the stage with Coachman but refused to shake her hand. She had to leave her own celebration by a side door.

Overcomer O’Ree

Willie Eldon O’Ree was a youth when he met Jackie Robinson. It helped to inspire O’Ree to pursue his sports passion and became the first African American to join the National Hockey League in 1958. He continues to speak positively about his experiences as a hockey player. Yet, O’Ree suffered many indignities by his fellow league members and fans before retiring in the late 1970s:

O’Ree faced racial taunts throughout his hockey career, including in the NHL, especially in the United States. [11] He noted that racist remarks were much worse in the U.S. cities than in Toronto and Montreal, the two Canadian cities hosting NHL teams at the time, and that “Fans would yell, ‘Go back to the South‘ and ‘How come you’re not picking cotton?’ Things like that. It didn’t bother me. I just wanted to be a hockey player, and if they couldn’t accept that fact, that was their problem, not mine.”[12]

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Mental health remedies found in researching ancestors

Maternal Grandfather Eugene Owen, Jr.

For many years, the Good Genes Genealogy team — Mark and Ann Lineve — did not know much about the man pictured above, our maternal Grandfather Eugene Gibson Owen, Jr. The short story is that Grandpa Owen moved away from the Midwest city and state, Omaha, Nebraska, when our mothers — Lyla and Angeline — were small children in the 1940s. The stories that were whispered around the family was that Grandpa Owen followed his desire to be discovered by Hollywood executives and become a music and movie star.

In 1982, Ann traveled to Los Angeles, California to locate her Grandpa Owen. She did. He was living in a nursing home as a double amputee. For three days, Ann and her husband learned all about the once mystery man in the Owen and Wead families. A few years after that visit, Grandpa Owen died. The deep wounds from his absence in the lives of our relatives were still there. Yet, it was made a bit easier to forgive because our ancestor’s explanations for following his passion, was remembered. Therein, lies the glimpses of healing.

There are mental health benefits in learning more about one’s family. The ancestry and genealogy researchers who are our clients and participated in our workshops, have had similar feelings of joy when learning more about their long-lost ancestors.

Here are a few examples from individuals’ recent finds in their family trees:

  • The Good Genes Genealogy team’s aunt-by-marriage located a family Bible that traces her tree through several generations to its African family members. The names and their geographical origins are included in this precious Bible.
  • A deceased father’s family was located and his maternal tree was greatly expanded to include three generations. His maternal great grandfather once owned hundred of acres in western Tennessee, was a decorated military veteran and highly respected in his community.
  • The enslaver and enslaved ancestral families were joined through a truthful communication exchange that was initiated by a novice genealogy researcher. It led to other discoveries that included finding the graves of great grandparents in an abandoned cemetery in Kentucky.
  • The dots were connected for another relative on her deceased husband’s missing high school years. It was discovered that he lived with other relatives as a high schooler before moving to Virginia where he met his wife.

In an ancestry and genealogy workshop conducted in 2022 and this year by the Good Genes Genealogy team, we reminded participants to find mental health benefits from their discoveries. We advise that the deep dives into family heritage is:

  • •A faith walk
  • •A spiritual relationship
  • •A healing experience
  • •Sacred work

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Part Two: The rest of the short story about the U.S. freedom order in Texas

Editor’s note: The first part of this blog was published on the Good Genes Genealogy sites two days ago. Here is the rest of the preview of our upcoming Juneteenth audiobook.

General Granger was assigned a difficult task that became worse for him after delivering the freedom message in Texas. According to historians, General Granger “became extremely unpopular among many whites in the state of Texas. He was blackballed and ostracized by many Whites, so much so, that after only six months in command of the Department of Texas, Granger was relieved of his command on August 6, 1865. On October 31, 1865, he was placed in command of the District of New Mexico.”

General Granger’s health also declined after his transfer in command. Source:

Texas came a long way from being the last state to recognize the Emancipation Proclamation to becoming the first state in 1980 to declare Juneteenth as an official holiday. With the determined, multi-year lobbying effort by famous Texan Opal Lee, in 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the nation’s official holiday of Juneteenth.

Several miles north of Galveston near the Navasota River in Groesbeck, Limestone County, Texas, General Granger’s Order No. 3 reached the homestead. The Pleasant Retreat Plantation was owned by Logan Stroud, a slave owner who inherited the property upon the death of his father, Ethan. The father and son had acquired plantations that resulted in 5,000 acres used for raising cotton, corn, oats, wheat, hogs, sheep and it served as a ranch. At the time of Civil War, the younger Stroud was the largest slave holder in Limestone County, owning more than 100 slaves. It was recorded that he had 150 slaves on the day now known as Juneteenth.

According to the property records, the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Limestone County from the porch of the Pleasant Retreat Plantation, on Saturday, June 19, 1865.

On Saturday, June 19, 1865, in Limestone County, Texas, plantation owner Logan Stroud stood on the front porch of this house to tell more than 150 of his enslaved workers that they were free. | Photo: Historic American Building Survey. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

Newly freed Blacks in Texas set the tone for celebrating the early days of June 19th with recognitions of their former lives and the memories of their loved ones who endured enslavement. However, there were some Blacks who thought the Juneteenth and Emancipation Day celebrations should put the awful days of slavery behind and instead, look forward with celebrations of hope and aspirations. During the years of Jim Crow, Juneteenth celebrations were confined to the Black communities from coast to coast in the United States.

The photos (see below) are from Mrs. Grace Murray Stephenson, a lady who recorded her June 19, 1900 day of celebration. She sold her diary to the San Francisco Chronicle, which printed her memories.

While awaiting the arrival of the Good Genes Genealogy’s Juneteenth audiobook, learn more about the June 19th holiday and the other “Black” holiday, August 1st. Check out our e-book that is available on all book buy sites.

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The DNA and Mental Health Benefits in Genealogy and Ancestry research

Join us for the free, final weekend workshop

The Good Genes Genealogy Services duo and Atlanta’s Hillside International Truth Center team up for the last weekend of the free genealogy workshops. The hour-long session is designed to inspire the beginners to seasoned genealogy researchers, and provide everyone with the tools to dig deeper into their families’ colorful histories.

Join us, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023!

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How to interview your family members

It’s tough to ask tough questions

Have you ever wanted to ask questions of your relatives and backed away because it was not “a good time?” We have.

It’s time to get busy. Grab a notepad, make sure your audio and video recorders are sufficiently stocked with new batteries, put on your listening ears and initiate your family research.

It may be uncomfortable for some relatives to open us. That’s natural. Learning what to ask and who to ask questions of, are key to your success. Before you get knee deep in researching family history, make a list of your prospective interview subjects by simply asking, “do you mind if I interview you (or discuss with you) about our family history?”

Once you get to “yes,” you are on your way to discovering the gems and rough spots in your family.

How to handle interviews

You should seek information from everyone in your family, friends, neighbors, clergy, co-workers of your loved one. Whoever is willing to open up and share, are great informants.

  1. Often the oldest person you can speak to in your family, is the best source for robust information about your loved ones.
  2. Daughters and sons of elderly parents are often great sources of information to aid in your genealogy research.
  3. Neighbors, cousins and other relatives of all ages are great sources of information. Our maternal great grandfather’s delayed birth certificates lists a relative and neighbor as informants for Eugene Gibson Owen, Sr. to obtain his official documentation some 56 years after his birth. See below:
Great Grandfather Eugene G. Owen, Sr.’s delayed birth certificate from the state of Tennessee. He was 56 years old when received.

Who should your interview?

  1. Ask your interviewees if they are comfortable being recorded by video and audio devices, or other means. Negotiate for your best mutual benefits.
  2. This is not the time to pretend you are Oprah Winfrey or another celebrated interviewer who may garner as much attention as the interview subject.
  3. Remember that some matters are touchy subjects. Be sensitive to the questions that may not immediately or ever yield you answers from the person(s) you interview.
  4. Be humble. Humility goes a long way in family discussions.
  5. Listen. Listen. Hear them. Listen. Don’t overtalk your interview subject.
  6. Do not judge their comments. Their comments may not agree with today’s understanding of similar situations. For instance, some of our relatives stressed the importance of being silent against stiff situations involving racist behaviors towards them. Some interviewers may prefer to speak up, or vice versa in such situations.
  7. Organization matters. Establish your goals in interviewing your loved ones through a series of inquiries you have developed out of natural curiosity and “things” you may have heard or been told through family grapevines.
  8. Be flexible. Your established goals to glean certain information may not be forthcoming. In some cases, you may have to adapt your interview collection methods to meet your relatives where they are. For instance, I provided one of my loved ones with the opportunity to record their story. He mailed the cassette recordings to me. I had to locate a cassette player to download the important family data.

Schedule time to meet

The more your relatives age, the more questions arise about what the loved ones know that can add value to your family’s history.

  1. Schedule a mutually convenient time to hold a virtual or in person meeting.
  2. The interviewer should make the request and establish the approximate length of the meeting. In person meetings tend to be longer than online meetings. Allow for the extra time.
  3. Plan for multiple meetings to gain a wide berth of information about your family.

Location matters

  1. Where you meet is key to the success of the information you obtain.
  2. In person meetings should also be guided by where the interviewee wishes to dish out the desired family information.
  3. In some cases, the interviewer may wish to recommend the location for the discussion. For instance, I asked my father to take the most comfortable chair in my home to begin our series of discussions. My maternal grandmother preferred a lunch date. My maternal grandfather was confined to a skilled nursing facility. That’s where I retrieved, we spent three days discussing our family.

What you should ask

There are myriad of questions to ask your loved ones in anticipation of great information about your family. One half of the Good Genes Genealogy team — Ann Wead Kimbrough — is a career journalist who’s interviewed perhaps thousands of individuals.

  1. Start with the basics in questions and allow it to build from there. The basic questions are “who, what, when, where, why and how?” Samples of what to objtain from your planned family discussions are found on the information sheets that Good Genes Genealogy Services has provided via its Genealogy Store.
  2. The questions provided in our e-workbook that was designed for the two workshops held on Feb. 11 and Feb. 18, 2023 in partnership with Atlanta’s Hillside International Truth Center, are designed to get at the core of the results needed to effectively conduct genealogy and ancestry research.

Interpreting results

It’s time to edit.

  1. Download your interviews onto another device as soon after your interviews as possible. In journalism circles, we were encouraged to review our reporting and begin writing while the information “was still hot.”
  2. Add notations in the margins of your written notes, or highlight your online reporting, or mark the time codes on your broadcast recording equipment when key points are made.
  3. Check out the information that you obtained. It is easy to get addresses or street names incorrect by your informants. There are plenty of historical maps, street directories, church records, ancestry, governmental and other data available to check the facts.
  4. In some cases, check back with the informants after interviews to help clarify the matters discussed.
  5. Produce your results in formats that are comfortable with you and family members. There are several genealogy books, other guides and even family Bibles that are great sources of recording the information from your well-earned interviews.

Happy researching!

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Key to breaking “brick walls”: Ancestry and genealogy information collectors

Some genealogy and ancestry guides and books used by GGGS’ Ann Wead Kimbrough for her research.

Get forms for family research

Go to the Good Genes Genealogy Services website and utilize the forms that we made available especially for participants in our two-part Sankofa Genealogy workshop in partnership with Hillside International Truth Center.

Since the first workshop on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, several participants have telephoned, texted, emailed and visited their relatives to gather information needed for their individual family searches. It is healing and helpful for your family and friends to discover their histories.

Way to get the book?

  1. Go to Good Genes Genealogy Services‘ website.
  2. Then go to the Genealogy Store link.
  3. Select e-book.
  4. Customer information will be available to be populated for completion of the $5 workbook.

Thank you!

Please join our Hillside family in this month’s Sankofa activities and fellowship.

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Helping children plant and build their photo and other modern family trees

Ann of the Good Genes Genealogy Services team began her interest in family genealogy at the age of 10. After asking her mother and paternal grandfather separate questions about their childhoods, siblings, families and more, Ann did not receive the replies she expected. In both cases, I could hear crickets (old schoolers will get the reference).

Yet, as a child, I could have been building the bits and pieces of information that I was able to glean from family gatherings. I was also nosey and wanted to hear the stories from the elders and cousins about what life was like for them in settings different than mine in Omaha, Nebraska. Child-friendly genealogy chart builders like the free ones featured on the National Archives sites are a great start for the young people.

Check out the other freebie from the National Archives. It’s a fresh look in the genealogy tree building exercises.

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