Researching Slave-Owning Ancestors

There are two topics that are guaranteed to come up in just about ongoing discussion of American family history research: slavery and slave ownership. Genealogy television shows frequently explore the subject: of course you would expect to see that on Henry Louis Gates’ excellent African-American Lives. But, it’s remarkable how many celebrities (not all Southern) […]

Will of Nathan Harris, 1793

I’ve recently been working on the family of Patsy Dicken, wife of Thomas Bembry. Her grandfather was Nathan Harris, from whose will I inadvertently established Patsy’s last name. This line goes back to colonial Isle of Wight County in Virginia. Nathan was the son of another Nathan Harris who died in 1793. I found a […]

Will of Joseph Sumner, 1784

This Joseph Sumner was my 6th great-grandfather. The Margaret mentioned in the will is supposedly Margaret Chesstnut (also spelled Chesnut, Chessnut, and Chestnut) however, I have not yet found a primary source for this information.  In the name of god Amen I Joseph Sumner of Onslow County in the provence of North Carolina being weak […]

Lewis Lashley Will 1815

Lewis Lashley was my 6th great grandfather. I am fairly certain that the “Holleman” men named in the will are most likely Hollands, as Lewis’ wife was Mary Holland and they all lived near each other.  A slave woman, Nell, is named in this will.  She is not found on 1800 census, and I can’t […]

Will of James Holland 1787

James Holland was my 7th great-grandfather. The phonetic spelling is interesting in this will. Clearly, they pronounced “kind” as “coind.” This sounds Irish to me, and according to this Wikipedia article, the name Holland may derive from Houlihan, and variant is found in County Cork. There are no given names in the family that sound […]

An Earlier Bembry?

I recently visited the Local History room at the Arlington County public library just to see what might be available there. The area of North Carolina in which Miles Bembry lived was originally the Albemarle District of Virginia. Many of the residents came from what now call Virginia to North Carolina. So, I checked the […]