My internet connection had been down all day. I was beginning to get very perturbed—for a lot of reasons. One was that author and genealogist Sharon Morgan was going to help me scour the internet to look for possible linked ancestors on my father’s side of the family, a task I thought might be impossible. (I’ll describe our work toward this effort in another post.) I had “won” Sharon’s services at the Coming to the Table silent action in May of this year, and I was anxious to get started.
When I was finally able to get online, I had an email notifying me of a new comment from the blog BitterSweet: Linked Through Slavery to a post I had written called Looking for Links: First Steps”—the first in a series of three blog posts about my South Carolina Furman ancestors and their connection to slavery.
The comment was from a Trina Roach who wrote that she had evidence that her ancestors were enslaved by mine. She explained, “I just became aware of your site and series [on BitterSweet].…From a vintage newspaper article entitled Remembers Mexican War: Prince Taylor Tells of Dr. Samuel Furman, Founder of Furman University [March 15, 1916]….I know that he [Prince Taylor, her great-great-great grandfather’s brother] was enslaved by the Furman family.” Yep, I said to myself, this is definitely my family. (Note that Furman University was actually founded by James C. Furman, Dr. Samuel Furman’s brother.)
Our connection through the internet was truly a miracle. I had expected to do years of research before finding any present day African Americans remotely connected to my family. Fortunately, my new linked cousin is an excellent researcher. She discovered my family’s name in Sharon’s Our Black Ancestry site, which referenced BitterSweet: Linked Through Slavery and me.
So far, we haven’t planned to meet; she lives in Germany. Her response to me has been friendly but, perhaps, a little reserved. Right now I am satisfied with sharing information about our ancestors. I hope we can meet someday and explore our feelings about our connection and see whether there is there is an opportunity for a closer linked relationship.
In the next posts, I share some of Trina’s and my research about our families’ connection to slavery that provides names of enslaved people from mortgages, bonds, deeds of sale, a newspaper article and WPA interviews from the 1930s.