finding your roots

Histories & Mysteries of an Enslaved Samuel Arthur Reed

Sheila L. Reed Findlay May 30, 2012

My great grandfather Samuel Arthur Reed came to Portsmouth, NH circa 1864 out of slavery. He was brought there by a Union Officer Captain Matthew T. Betton. Samuel died there in 1929. My family has been there ever since. In 2008 I tested a Reed uncle’s dna. I learned we were Pattersons, not Reeds. Since then I have been researchingf Virgifnia for Patterson records that might indicate who owned and/or fathered my Samuel. Ind that same year the Betton descendents in NH, who have always been supportive of my search for Samuel’s roots, gave me a letter that they found dated September 1865. This letter was from Cambridge, MA, penned by a Goodrich Dayton and his wife Isabelle. It seems that had had Samuel for awhile and were schooling him. I do know from Betton family lore that samuel had been ‘sneaked’ out of VA via wagon and under Mrs. Betton’s skirts prior to arriving in Cambridge. In this letter the Daytons are emotional and do not want Samuel to leave Cambridge just yet. The letter poses even more mysteries than I already faced. In June of last year People Magazine published an article on ‘race relations’ 150 yrs. after emancipation. They interviewed my new dna cousin Sherrie Patterson and me for that article. I continue to try and solve the mystery of Samuel Arthur Reed’s history every chance that I get. Right after the People Magazine article came out, I was informed that our Reed dna had an exact match with a Patteson branch who left buckingham, v a for areas that are now West Va. More mysteries to the history. Where in the world are the answers?

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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