Saturday, February 13, 2021

Following Up on a Note to Myself


After being astounded, thanks to the week-long course at SLIG in January, at all the resources available for those determined researchers intent on finding their African American roots prior to the Civil War, I couldn't lose sight of the fact that the very next month is designated African American History Month.

Though it may or may not be on account of that designation, it just so happened that during this past week, I was engaging in a little early spring cleaning, and came across a note I had written to myself a couple years ago, regarding the division of several slaves according to probate records after the passing of Sidney McClellan. At the time, I had been struggling to identify one of them—whom I later realized was named King Stockton—so once I had found my answer, I had set aside the rest of the names.

Fortunately, I didn't toss that handwritten note, but kept it in a pile to follow up on. Now that I've learned about some tendencies in record keeping, prior to that Civil War, I know it may be possible to assemble names into family groupings, a most helpful first step. But I also realize that every name on that list represents someone else's ancestor. And someone out there now may be looking for that information.

If I can, if it is at all possible, with the records I've already found, I might be able to reassess those groupings, extract theories about those family groupings, and then test the idea to see if there were, indeed, such families living in the area the McClellans once called home.

Perhaps that all seems like an assignment to find a genealogical needle in the family history haystack of humankind. But now that I've seen it done, I have been witness to the actual possibility. That alone is encouraging. After all, not until we believe we can achieve something will we attempt to do so.

Not that the task won't be challenging. Some of the techniques I learned during that week at SLIG were based on theories and hunches, and then pursued through documentation. Just having this list, gleaned from probate records, will give me a head start. I'm interested in seeing how things go as I try my hand at what the experts demonstrated during class. Experts have this way of making the nearly-impossible look so easy.

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