finding your roots

Taking Pride In My Heritage

Rhonda Postell September 5, 2012

Pardon the familiarity, but after hearing you called “Skippy” for several decades, I feel fairly comfortable in doing so. I met you only once when dining with “The Princesses” in Keyser (Mexican). I am the life partner of “Princess Debora”, your childhood schoolmate and lifetime friend. You and I had a brief interaction at the restaurant… but there were so many people there and you were spread thin trying to talk with all your hometown buds. My “story” begins several years ago when I was gifted a software program that included a 6 month subscription for I had always been interested, so the opportunity turned out to be a surprising, yet proud experience for me. My mother’s family was from Franklin County in southwestern Virginia (do you know where this is going?). My research, (if accurate), traced my maternal heritage (Mother: Elsie James) ultimately all the way back to a merchant who came over on the Mayflower. But, more intriguing was my connection with the Burroughs plantation in 19th century Franklin County and a very special man by the name of Booker T. Washington who was a result of a plantation owner and slave girl. Was it possible that I could be his descendant? 9th cousin? With little maternal family left who might be able to provide or confirm any of this information, I contacted my mother’s youngest sister (now 83 and living in Martinsville), to ask questions. She knew that we could, in fact, possibly be related to the Taliaferro’s (the “T” in Booker T. Washington) . When I went over what I had uncovered, she could recall her grandparents and great grandparents names. This is what I had to go on that started me on this quest:
Maternal grandparents: Samuel James, Ruth (Mollie) Setliff
“Samuel”, his father was Samuel James, his spouse Ruth Wright
The name “Samuel James” was repeated in the linage several times. There was Samuel T., Samuel R., etc. If you think this is worth further research, I would appreciate any assistance you can offer. I look at a picture of my mother’s youngest (now deceased) brother, and see a likeness with him in facial structure. I guess you could say… I am wanting to “validate” my heritage. I am hoping you can corroborate my information.

A proud, Caucasian descendant … Rhonda… Ellicott City, Maryland

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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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