February 21, 2017

African Holocaust and the Impacts to Our Ancestors

One thing I have noticed in my research in genealogy is the close to nonexistence of research of African ancestry over the years. Today more are interested as their DNA is providing a visual into their past; African ancestry.  People are now looking to find and understand and are faced with the ugliness that is kept out of history books.

I have hit a brick wall in finding my African ancestry until more records are made available online. I luckier than others in the sense that I will be able to trace through church records since the Roman Catholic religion was the only religion on the islands my ancestors lived on. I celebrate my African ancestry because they were forced to be my ancestors and I have nothing but pride to know that I descend from them. However I have issue with horrible treatment thrown at them and find myself wanting to know so much more about their lives.

Newton’s Law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This couldn’t be truer when we look at the African Holocaust that spanned 5 centuries. The complete destruction of the African family not only happened on the continent of Africa, but on the Middle Passage and if the enslaved Africans reached the destinations once bought. Millions of Africans were torn away from their motherland in order to die at sea and be thrown overboard. The results is the loss of connection to our ancestors and true culture. While many dishes connect back to our ancestors, it wasn't known until we started digging; an unspoken truth.

It is believed that shark migration patterns also changed as these creatures recognized that these ships were a source of food with the throwing overboard of the sick and dead, those that led revolts, and those that committed suicide; approximately 1.8 million African ancestors in the sea.


William Bosman author of A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea, Divided Into the Gold, the Slave, and the Ivory Coast (1705), wrote...
I have sometimes, not without horrour, seen the dismal Rapaciousness of these Animals; four or five of them together shoot to the bottom under the Ship to tear the dead Corps to pieces, at each bite an Arm, a Leg, or the Head is snapt off; and before you can tell twenty they have sometimes divided the Body amongst them so nicely that the least Particle is left; nay, not so much any of the Iutiails; and if any one of them to come too late for his share, he is ready eat up the others, and they attack one another the greatest violence in the World; and their Heads and half their Bodies above surface of the Water, they give one another forcible blows that they make the Sea a to tremble.
However one thing that is not discussed openly or not often enough, what occurred after the United States enacted the Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 Act that went into effect on January 1st, 1808. This act permitted slave trading within the United States but not permitting importation of slaves from outside of the United States. This act was driven by the successful revolts that occurred on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti & Dominican Republic) where our enslaved ancestors/genetic cousins, fought and successfully won their freedom in 1804. Another thing that this successful revolt led to was that United States slave owners became more strict and brutal towards the enslaved people.


This Act led to smuggling of slaves which also led to more deaths. Slaves were chained to metal balls that were thrown off the ship via a hatched door to avoid being caught with slaves aboard.


It was cheaper as these Slave ship owners viewed Africa as a non-stop resources for more Africans. They dumped Africans overboard to avoid being fined or captured.

Importing of slave would eventually be called piracy under another Act passed in 1819 called the Era of Good Feelings. Anyone caught would be given the death penalty or arrested and was enforced by the US Navy. This led to more African deaths off the shores of the United States and today it believed that is why there is such a high volume of sharks in the Carolina region.

The same thing was occurring in other parts of the world:
Last Tuesday the smallpox began to rage, and we hauled 60 corpses out of the hold.... The sights which I witness may I never look on such again. This is a dreadful trade...... I am growing sicker every day of this business of buying and selling human beings for beasts of burden... On the eighth day [out at sea] I took my round of the half deck, holding a camphor bag in my teeth; for the stench was hideous. The sick and dying were chained together. I saw pregnant women give birth to babies whilst chained to corpses, which our drunken overseers had not removed. The blacks were literally jammed between decks as if in a coffin; and a coffin that dreadful hold became to nearly one half of our cargo before we reached Bahia... Richard Drake, Revelation of a Slave Smuggler, 1860.

Over on the continent of Africa, Britain was enforcing their Blockade of Africa which outlawed British ships from transporting slaves, this also began in 1808. Britain’s Royal Navy established a presence off the African coast to enforce the ban and were called the West Africa Squadron. The ban included other countries but the United States refused to allow British ships interfere with American ships.Many were thrown off ships off the coast of Africa to avoid seizure of their ships or arrests.

Hope this post help others in understanding what happened to our ancestors as this is just the beginning of the struggles of our African ancestors and the African Holocaust that people refuse to recognize. This story doesn't end here and it is simply a minute view into what Africans faced.

Resources: 

  • E2BN - East of England Broadband Network. (n.d.). Suppressing the Trade. Retrieved from The Abolish Project: http://abolition.e2bn.org/slavery_155.html
  • Bly, A. T. (1998). Crossing the lake of fire: slave resistance during the Middle Passage, 1720-1842. The Journal of Negro History, 83(3), 178+. Retrieved from http://db24.linccweb.org/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.db24.linccweb.org/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=lincclin_spjc&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA54994009&asid=8f2a9d054c54098479d4d04873a1388d
  • Coughtry, J. (2009). The Journal of American History, 96(1), 205-207. doi:10.2307/27694775
  • Senie, H. (2009). The Journal of American History, 96(1), 205-205. doi:10.2307/27694774
  • Wolfe, B. Slave Ships and the Middle Passage. (2013, January 29). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Slave_Ships_and_the_Middle_Passage. 

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February 19, 2017

Slavery In Brazil - the African Holocaust

One of the harsh realities that we face is knowing how much the Roman Catholic Church ignored in the abuses and deaths that many Africans and their descendants were dealt. It is the ultimate holocaust that no one discusses nor views it as such; the African Holocaust.

The exception to this of course is those who recognize what occurred and those that face the outcome of it every single day. The destruction of a rich African culture spanning over 500 years with slavery being abolished just over 100 years ago.  It is still felt today as Africans and their descendant still face oppression throughout the world.  It is human savagery that went unchecked that started with a religion that chose to look the other way.




So how does this play into ancestry? Many ways. Many of these same Brazilian Africans are genetic cousins that connects to many of us throughout the Caribbean, South American and the United States.

I also have matching genetic cousins who descend from enslaved Africans from the southern United States.  Nothing like throwing a bucket of cold water onto your tree and reality.

While I know which lines on my paternal side descend from Africans, I have yet to figure out exactly who were the ones on my maternal side as I have inherited African DNA from both my parents. I have luckily determined that I have a line on my maternal grandmother that is of African descent but I need to continue drilling further down.

In my search I came across this collections of enslaved people photos of Brazilian Africans.  Brazil was the last in the Americas to emancipate slavery in 1888:



Understanding what our ancestors faced is very important so that we can document correctly and share with our families and our future descendants.


And finally a video of how Africans lived in Brazil:


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February 2, 2017

US Virgin Islands - Census and Land Records

A wonderful individual on Ancestry by the username awiewall provided me a link to many records available about the islands that were once under Denmark.  Thank you again awiewall for sharing this information.  

The islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas were sold to the USA in 1916 under the Treaty of the Danish West Indies for US$25 million in gold. Since then, these islands have been part of the USA.

There are many projects underway in having records index for the islands. I'm hoping that those that are researching the US Virgin Islands will consider assisting in the projects. 

The records on this website include Census records going back to 1841, land records, copybooks of letters to the King, military muster rolls, police proceedings, court rulings, and other miscellaneous records.


The project is under way at the following link:

https://cs.sa.dk/collection/3?locale=en

You can see the collections by scrolling down.  As the website states in the intro screen, once records have been indexed they will be made available for all at https://www.virgin-islands-history.org/en/ at no cost. I recommend that you visit both websites to help you with your research into your ancestry.

St. Croix Sugar Mill 1800's
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January 31, 2017

Video Tutorial: Looking at Digital Records on FamilySearch

If you have written to me and I have not responded, it is not that I am ignoring you.  It simply means that I cannot keep up with the questions being asked. So knowing how frustrating it can be in researching your ancestry, I created a quick tutorial on how to view digitized records.  Yes a long time ago I was right there with you in frustration but hoping that I can assist in removing some of it.

Keep in mind that the video is done on collections I am very familiar with but that this applies to all records on Familysearch.  So if you're looking in Jamaica, Barbados, or even Brazil, you'll be able to easily navigate the images.

I recommend that you have to separate windows if you are on a computer to follow along. If you're on a mobile device, you may have to watch it a couple of times before venturing on your own.  Just know that the video will remain on the website. 




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How to Find Ancestors on Family Search Website

I get many private messages on how to find records.  I wanted to post a video that will help everyone to find records no matter where your family is from.  The below video is the first that provides you with instructions on searching on the website. It is meant to be basic so that you can get comfortable with the website.

There are many that enter the world of genealogy and tend to feel lost.  I know that feeling as I started off this way years ago. I wanted to take away the frustration for many.  I hope this video helps you along with the many other videos I plan to post.



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January 26, 2017

Digitized Brazilian Slave Church Records

One of the struggles with those who descend from enslaved Africans in the USA is trying to connect the dots to determine where you came from.  One pattern I have noticed in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America is that religion was the key controller of documentation. I am posting images for those who are not aware they exist and are no longer under copyright since they are extremely old. All images are from the 1800's in Brazil.

Slavery in Brazil by Jean-Baptiste Debret (1834–1839)

The Roman Catholic Church was known to document every person via baptism, marriages and deaths.  This included people who were made slaves and there was nothing good about the slavery that occurred to our ancestors.  Believe me that they fought just as hard for their freedom just like we would today so don't think otherwise.

Today I get many requests about African culture and where to find records which is why I make it a point to post these records.  I too have many questions as I now have African cousins on both my paternal and maternal side.  It seems that people from Gambia are testing the most as I now have a Gambia cousin who is 100% African on both sides.

I was able to determine what line my Gambia cousins are coming from on my father's side and tonight I was able to determine the same for my maternal side.  Without a doubt the Gambia cousin is coming from my maternal grandmother.  I am still researching to determine if this Gambia cousin comes from my grandmother's father, which is Cartagena, or from my grandmother's mother, which is Rivas.  Either way the Gambia cousin is definitely from my maternal grandmother. I hope as I continue to build my tree I can place this person on my tree.

I had completely forgotten that there are actual church books that are available online and are digitized by Vanderbilt University for Brazil. The access is free and you do not need student access.  You will need to use Google Translate as the records are in Portuguese.

1824 Slave Market in Rio de Janeiro Brazil - Children Being Sold

For Antonio de Sa, there are 2,745 images to go through.  The books start off in 1761 and ends in 1861. There are many other regions and churches so Antonio de Sa isn't the only collection.  Just scroll down to view more records.


This collection has baptisms, marriages, and death records for both Africans and African descents enslaved as well as those that are free.  There is also books with Wills and Obituaries for both slaves and freed blacks so these images are a great resource to do research if you're looking for ancestry in Brazil.




Slave Ship on Way to Brazil in 1800's
Most important there are other posts on this blog for Brazil so don't think that this is the only post.

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