Genealogy Wise

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This post has spawned a wonderful stream of open dialogue on my Our Georgia Roots blog today {PLEASE read the insightful comments!}. Here's hoping the coversation can continue...


Recently I realized that over the years, my personal prejudice in regards to the Civil War has prevented me from learning about the war & the significant involvement of enslaved & free, African-American men.

I confess, since middle school, every time I’d see or hear ANYTHING about the Civil War, I’d switch on my mental “mute” button!

Having grown up in a community where the issue of the Confederate flag was of constant debate & the KKK an accepted part of my personal history {my 4th Grandfather, James WINGFIELD was lynched in Washington-Wilkes 1885}, the Civil War always seemed like a reminder of the extremes men would go to maintain their ownership of others.

It’s only recently that I’ve allowed myself to “broaden” my viewpoints, understanding that our Ancestors are who they are, and that we all {black & white alike} have the right to research, love & accept them – as is.

Am I now in love with the Civil War? HECK no! But I do accept it for what was & acknowledge that there was shared loss all around.

Now, that said, I have to ask, is this the feeling some folks have in respect to Slavery? Like if we would all stop talking about Slavery {and its wounds}, it would just go away?

I wonder if this is what leads to descendants of slave owners not sharing what they know about a slave Ancestors history? Could this be what leads to all those unanswered emails, where we {the descendants of emancipated Ancestors} often plead for the most minute piece of information?

After more than a decade of being a Genealogist & a lifetime of being Black in America, I still want to spit when I see a tobacco or cotton field. I still cringe when I see images of a slave market {pictured above an Atlanta Slave Market 1864}.

Could ANYONE not feel sadness when they learn of “The Weeping Time” – Pierce Butler’s 1857 Savannah auction of 436 men, women & children?! Named for the tremendous despair it caused!

Shoot, I still have a difficult time today visiting Savannah’s Waterfront district because I know the blood & life sacrificed to build it. I know that most likely, some of my Washington-Wilkes & Alabama Ancestors traveled this path to their final destination.

If by chance you are a DICKEY descendant that happens upon this post or the descendant of another slave owner, I ask you but for a moment, step back into my shoes. Try briefly to look through a different lens, see what I see.

Of all the African Ancestored researchers I know, the only thing they seek is an answer – who were my Ancestors?

May we all open our minds & hearts to accept history as is but when afforded the opportunity, do what we can to heal some of the wounds it created.


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Comment by Elizabeth A. Klimas on January 1, 2013 at 5:27pm


I am Elizabeth and am a complete blogger ignoramus.  I have an interest in the Wingfield and Nisbet families because of a sad "weeping time" story involving my gggrandmother, Mary Bailey, who we believe was sent from Virginia to Georgia when she was eight years old as punishment for her mother's "misbehavior." The story in our family was that it was her owner/ father who sent her to either a sister or aunt in Georgia.  I am really just as interested in hearing stories about searching.


I also see that someone descended from the Grimke family is part of the blog. I believe that my grandfather knew some of the Grimkes in Washington, D. C.


So glad you have this blog.





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