finding your roots

The Watkins of Lancaster Virginia- Free Inhabitants

Anita Sutton May 29, 2012

My immediate family had no idea of how rich our history was and were not originally interested until I presented them with some specific information about our family. I have been researching our roots for about ten years and had not clue to the significance of being a part of a family that was listed as free inhabitants in 1850. My family name, “Watkins”, has been researched by several individuals with relating to the history of a man Armistead Nickens who was the first Black American to respresent Lancaster County, in the Virginia State Assembly. Armistead was my third Step-Great Grandfather. Although, this information made my research resources more available, I still remain amazed by the stories about the Watkins family. My third Great-Grandfather Holland Watkins was listed with his brother Thomas Watkins on the 1850 Census of Free Inhabitants living under the estate, I believe, of William Henderson. I have not been able to connect some of the other family stories, such as, Holland’s relation to the great Native American, Hiawatha, however I have been able to complete some extensive connections in my family tree. I have connected with some of my family members in the Maryland area, one being, my 7th grade teacher who was so structured and stern with me and having no idea we were 3rd generation cousins. I was able to really understand how special our family was when I watched the episode with Wanda Sykes. Wanda, although our families are from the same locations, I am not looking for any money. I would really love to do more research and make some of the connections my family has shared with little documented support. Any additional help, guidance, or documents you could provide would be very much appreciated. I am so intrigued and completely proud of my roots.

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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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