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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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other family researchers French Louisiana Mobile, New Orleans, Opelousas 1780s Louisiana louisiana archives published research

Through research of my dad's Creole Louisiana roots, I have recovered the forgotten story of my 6th great grandmother, an African slave named Marguerita, who was born sometime in the 1740s. She was the Louisiana slave and mistress of Gregoire Guillory, the grandson of a French immigrant to Canada. In 1770, He manumitted Marguerita and her three mulatto children in a record that wasnt legally binding.

This meant that when he died, his white children could claim my relatives as property. Well, it turns out that Marguerita got wind of this and fled to New Orleans for a few years as a "fugitive" until she was arrested in New Orleans along with her Spanish employer. She decided to take her case to the Spanish courts (Spain ruled Louisiana briefly) and pleaded for the rights of her freedom as well as her children's.

Against all odds, she won and all of my relatives were given their freedom. I am a direct descendent of her son, Jean-Baptiste Guillory (born 1766) who eventually settled in the Opelousas region of Louisiana. Interestlly enough, this case came out of a famous 1970s Louisiana case between a white woman who wanted her birth certificate to be changed to white from colored (she and i share the same ancestors).

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