As a Professional Genealogist, writer, and researcher it
is pleasure to see a show such as Who Do You Think You Are. The show is
entertaining, however it does not show the hard work, which goes into
doing research. There are people behind the scenes pouring over records, and
charting the family history of celebrities. Our family lines go deep in Virginia,
Pennsylvania, and South
Carolina, and are a mixture of African, Native, and
European. Like Emmett Smith there was race mixing in my family in Virginia,
find his ancestors in Virginia. Although
things are changing, there is resistance to my connecting my lines to
Historical figures like, George Washington and James Monroe.
My female DNA test proved a
relationship to George Washington’s Grandmother Mildred Warner-Washington
through her mother Elizabeth Lewis-Warner. Those who do not want me mentioning
the connection, do not attack my research, they attack me. Their attacks are
not to me personally, but behind my back. I let my research speak for itself,
and am no prouder of links to Washington and Monroe, then I am to my
Great-Great Grandmother brought here as a slave from Guinea.
My Native Ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, and proved themselves many
times over, before being shipped to Reservations in Oklahoma.
Lisa Kudrows' story was heart
wrenching and I felt her pain and joy at finding answers. The difference is
that I did my research on my own, and each line that was proved, required hours
of research. This was especially true when I traced my female Lewis line back
and the Royal Family. There were no cheers, or recognition of my research
skills. The satisfaction I received came from holding the history of my
ancestors in my hand. That is a feeling that is hard to describe, but the look
on Emmett Smiths’ face, and Lisa Kudrows face told me they shared my journey. It
feels good as an African American to be able to prove the naysayers wrong, and
trace my family beyond the Civil War.
ancestors, like Emmett Smiths were mixed raced, and were related to George Washington and President James Monroe.
They were Native, Africans, and Europeans, who managed to skirt the laws and
create Mulatto children. In Westmoreland
I proved lines to my oldest European Ancestor, Lydia Hilliard. She was born
about 1690, and was a servant to William Monroe. She had a child, named Mary,
about 1710, by an unknown Negro man. That child was the subject of a suit
against Reverend Shropshire by William Monroe Senior. The suit claimed that
Rev. Shropshire was holding the child illegally. William Monroe Senior stated
that the child was Indentured to him, since her mother, Lydia Hilliard was his
servant. William Monroe won the suit, and the child was sent to live in his
By 1730, the child, now Mary
Monroe, was a young woman, and in a marriage to William Monroe Junior. However,
when she had a daughter (Mary Bowden), she was summoned before the Grand Jury
on a charge of Bastardy. The indictment against Mary Monroe was thrown out, but
the marriage did not survive. The courts stated that Mary could not enter into
a legal marriage with William Monroe, because she was Mulatto and he was
White. In 1737, Mary Monroe was deceased;
and William Monroe Junior was married, thus making the daughter, Mary Bowden an
orphan. She was, at that time living with her Uncle Thomas Chilton, who was also a relative to the Westmoreland
County Monroes. William Monroe Senior was the Grandfather of President James
Monroe. Mary was indentured to Augustine Washington Senior, the father of
George Washington. Our family will gather at George Washington Birthplace on June 19, 2010, to celebrate the life
of Mary Bowden. She remained at Pope’s Creek for almost forty years after
frequent runaway attempts.
The above was only one of the
many lines I have traced, there are many more, some of which go back over
thousands of years. I was accepted into the Daughter’s of the American
Revolution (in 1998), after proving lineage to Charles Lewis. I am a member of
the Monacan Indian Nation in Amherst County
Virginia after proving my native
lineage. I traced an African Ancestor, to Guinea West Africa, and to the
Malinke Tribe there. They have welcomed us as descendants of their loved one
who was enslaved in 1830. There are lines in Pennsylvania
(Native/European/African), which were proved after much hard work and
diligence. Maybe someone will come up with a show for those of us who are the
Grunts, to share our stories. In the meantime, Kudos to the show, “Who Do You
Think You Are?”
My books, Notes and Documents of
Free Persons of Color, and Pieces of the Quilt: The Mosaic of An African
American Family, are available at Amazon.com. They are a must-have for African
Americans, researching mixed raced lines.
The Mary & Patty Bowden Foundation
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It's good to talk.
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