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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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Louisiana 1900s Louisiana family members research; oral history

I actually have three family histories to discuss. My cousin Steven Bowie has researched the Bowie lineage and has a web site, www.jamesbowiefmc.com. The history, which I only touched the tip of, is amazing. My GGGGGrandfather James Bowie was a possible relation to the Bowie family that is very well known. He owned a few slaves in Louisiana and had legal dealings with the white Bowies. I don't want to restate what is on the website but the mystery that must be solved now is: who were the parents of James Bowie, Free Man of Color from Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

My second history is just as interesting. My cousin, Vickie, basically provided the family with her grandfather's history and that of his descendents. We have not been able to find out who is the father of my GGGrandfather, William Cage, Sr. I have found him in the area even in the 1870's with Reilly Cage, but that was it. It is oral history that he worked on a steamboat before he married Nannie Gilespie. He owned 365 acres up until his death and it went to his children, but William Jr. stayed on the land until the family lost it in the 1960's. It was said that he was given the property from his slave owner. It was also stated that he called a man named Mr. Byrd his father. This is as far as we have gotten, but I plan to look further.

The third family is the Criner family from Alabama. Most migrated to west and I have found my GGGGGrandfather Reason Criner in Arkansas in 1870. I researched this information for my grandmother who is currently suffering with Alzheimers. Not much is known about the family, but I have found other Criner's throughout Texas and Oklahoma. We have one thing in common, gray hair appears very early.

I hope that I can find out more about all branches of my family. The hardest tree to research is the Mercy family from Louisiana. I have hit a brick wall, mainly because of how the names have changed, Mercy, Mercer.... I hope I can find some strand of information on this family as well.

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