Sunday, November 1, 2009

Black Genealogy Summit

Wow! I didn't know it had been so long since I blogged. School started the last week of August, enrollment is way up, and I am far behind in grading papers. Those are the reasons not the excuses for me not writing.

But I'm back. Not just to blogging but from the first International Black Genealogy Summit that was held this past week in Fort Wayne, IN. It was a wonderful conference. I learned a lot and met some wonderful people. I am inspired and energized to get back to work.

However, I also learned one disturbing fact. I have been searching for my Cotten ancestors for years now. Cotten is my maiden name. Napoleon Cotten is my great grandfather. Several years ago, I learned that Napoleon's surname on the 1870 MS census was Anderson not Cotten. That threw me for a loop and I've been trying to recoup ever since. Well, I learned at the conference that not only was it common for surnames to change constantly, the reasons for the different surnames are numerous. This makes it even harder to track down my ancestors' beginnings.

I searched the Allen County library, the second largest genealogy collection in the U.S., for hours. I came up with nothing, zilch, nada. Then on the last hour of the last day, I talked to a lady who sat across from me in the library. I was helping her locate the MS files so I asked what were her surnames and who was she searching. Her counties were close to my counties. When I looked at her family group sheet, she had the name "Anderson" as one of her ancestors. After talking with her, she said she had come across lots of Cotten's that were owned by H.S. or H.R. Anderson in Franklin County. That name sounded familiar. I checked it right away but time was waning so I couldn't verify the information. I will.

I also found, after her urging, that my family was using the last name Cotten in 1890. I found this on the school records of Pike County by Serena Haymon. It was a small fact but hey, it was better than nothing.

The search goes on. I'm not giving up. Genealogical pursuits are what I love to do.

1 comment:

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

Hi! Very interesting about your sarch for your family. It can be so difficult to sort out who's who and find them (my gr-grandfather, a Jones, married a Smith...) but I can't imagine how much more complicated it gets when your ancestors were bought and sold.

I need to learn How to research African American history, though, as I want to help my granddaughters learn about all sides of their family.