finding your roots

No black roots in the south at all in family tree.

Dell Jackson April 19, 2012

From talk around the family I,m the only black person in America with no roots in the south. My father’s people are from Kansas and my mother’s people are from Canada. Here is the kicker from my mom’s family. Her grandmother came from the state of Washington in the mid 1850′s, how is this possible when black people were not freed until after the civil war. Please help I believe she was half black and half Native american would love to know how true this story is. If you decide to research this a hint would be that my mom had a famous uncle from Canada that was an olympian who ran track in the late 1920′s to the 1930′s and he and Jessie Owens were great freinds and competers. Please help yours truly Dell Jackson

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  • ErinS

    April 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Actually, lots of black people have no roots in the South. The part of the US that was first populated by non-native people, was the Northern states. There were a large number of enslaved and free people of color living in NYC, Mass, NJ, and Pennsylvania, going back to probably the 1600s. Also remember than during slavery, Canada was a ultimate destination on the Underground Railroad. You maternal family could be one of the many black people who escaped American slavery by heading North.

    As for your father’s family being from Kansas…most likely they migrated there from the East. And most likely from the deep South: Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, In the early 1800s was when people started migrating from the eastern part of the US, to the west. Depending on when your father’s family came to this country, they could have been part of the westward movement.

  • G Atkins

    April 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    For Dell Jackson. You probably could not go back far enough or records only available up to a certain point. My mother’s family is from Kansas. Some came from Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia. Unless you have info other than census, it would be hard to know where they came from so don’t rule out southern roots.

  • Edward Sanders

    April 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Where does the census records indicate your oldest Kansas relatives where from? Many Southern blacks migrated to Kansas after the Civil War and others after Reconstruction.

  • April 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Do you realize that “slave” and “black” were not synonymous? Among mixed race people, free status was very common during the antebellum period.

  • garth tuttle

    April 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    1. There was York, a slave brought on the Lewis and Clark expedition; 2. there was a famous Black Mountain man – whose name escapes me – See William Loren Katz’s “Balck Indians” and other good sources ; 3- the first Blacks in the colonies which became the U.S. were free; 4 for many, the Underground Railroad ran to Canada; 5: many Balcks served on Wailer ships; 6 a few people baught their own freedom, some just left (Washington was a free territory/state) ; 7 there were, or so I read, also some Chinese and Polynesians who lived amongst the Natives of the North West Coast. – Also, some Natives were enslaved, mostly after being sent to the Caribbean .

  • Mary Ellen

    May 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    There were blacks brought into the Northern Colonies in the 1600s that were treated as indentured servants. What that meant was that at the end of a set period of time, usually seven years, their debt for the sea voyage to America was paid off. And they were freed by contract. So that by the 1700s there were a lot of free blacks who had free black ancestors for several generations.

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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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