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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In Search of Our Roots -- Buy the companion book now from ShopPBS
Sharing Stories: One Family's Story
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STORYTELLER LOCATION YEAR TOOK PLACE TELLER'S PLACE OF ORIGIN HOW YOU HEARD
Martha A. Harris my mother. Bedford County Pennsylvania She was born in Johnstown, Pa apr. 26 1916 I first heard about my the family name Burgess from my mother

My mother had always told me that her uncle would take them every weekend on a trip to beford Co. to see her relatives and that her and her brother and sister lived with her Grand mother, Martha Berry who she was named after. Her mother and her older brother was born in Bedford co. And that her mother and grandmother was born on the Family farm. She always said that her grandfather was a foot soldier in the Civil war. So When I reetire I began reseaching the Burgess Family and found out a few things that were amazing to me. I found out that my mothers great grand father owned a farm in Bedford County and had lived there since the 1950's. I was stuck for a while because i did not consider that they may have come from elsewhere. I contacted the Bedford Historical Society and recieved a lot of very good information and found that my mother's great grandfather was born between 1817 and 1820 in Franklin Co. Pa. when I started reseaching Franklin Co. I found that sure enough they had plenty of Burgess families there and I found a Jonathan Burgess in the 1790 Census all other free persons. Tthere was 8 in the family in 1790 and in thee 1800 census it showed Jonathan Burgess with 11 in the family. Ii also found a tax schedule for Jonathan Burgess for the years 1794 and 1796. I read that the reform Church in Virginia issued an edict 1n 1777 that held that any member of the church that held slaves would be excommunicated from the church. So those that freed thier slaves had to find a way to free them. I understand that at the time in Virginia, if slaves were freed they could not live in the county they were freed in. I understand what the hire agents to go into southwest Pennslyvania and buy land for thier newly freed slaves. As for the Burgess family in Franklin Co. two was in the famed 54th Mass. at Fort Wagner William and Thomas. Both men had distinguished service and were wounded. Joseph Burgess was in the 55th Massand had a distinguished service, he had been a school teacher before entering the service.

I am real curious how this branch of my family lived at that time through all those years of slavery right on the Maryland boarder owning property and farming with slave chasers taking people slave or not.

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Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional corporate funding is provided by Buick.
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