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“Before the Court House Door: Finding Harriet Riggs” Joel Johnson

  • Broadcast in History



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Amateur genealogist Joel Johnson will share his 4x great-grandmother Harriet Rigg’s life story and along the way illustrate how traditional and genetic genealogy leads to a deeper understanding of his enslaved ancestor in Bulloch County, Georgia. His research into county records revealed Harriet and her family had 5 enslavers, all in the same town of Statesboro, GA, and their transition to freedom from clues within two key documents, an estate sale in 1847, and a labor contract with the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1866.

Joel Johnson lives in Silver Spring, MD with his family. He has roots in Virginia, Maryland's Eastern Shore, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. He is an amateur genealogist and family historian documenting his family's progress through history on his blog Struggle and Progress. He is a 25-year advertising industry veteran and one-time managing director of Spike Lee’s ad agency. Currently, Joel is a founding partner in Admirable Devil, a Washington, DC-based agency. Joel is currently focusing his family history research on relationships between his enslaved ancestors and enslaver ancestors before Emancipation.