Sunday, June 16, 2013

Findings That Make You Go “Hmmmmmmm”

The research of my great-great-grandfather John (Jack) Bass’ family roots has been met with the infamous 1870 Brick Wall.  However, there seems to be some clues to possibly tearing down this brick wall.  In genealogy research, theories are often made first based on research findings.  Researchers and genealogists conduct research to prove or disprove theories.  This particular blog post is to solicit your theory based on the information I will present.  Let me warn you, this particular genealogical case involves many different surnames!  You’ve been forewarned.  But, there may be something significant behind each surname?  I will present the findings in a series of exhibits.  Hopefully, you can follow along and develop a theory based on all of the exhibits.  I would LOVE to read what your thoughts or theories about this are!

Exhibit AJohn Bass’ Freedman's Bank Application dated Jan. 16, 1871, Warren County, Mississippi: The following information was provided. See image below.

Where Born: North Carolina
Where Brought Up: Mississippi
Residence: Warren County, Mississippi
Age: 25
Complexion: Black
Occupation: Farmer
Works for: Daniel Canon (I believe this was supposed to be Daniel Cameron and possibly Jack’s last enslaver. He was also born in North Carolina. See sixth and seventh paragraph in this blog post, Boom! The Brick Wall Came Crumbling Down!)
Wife: Francis Ann
Father: Tom Bowdin
Mother: Bedy
Brothers: Oscar Birdsong  (Note: Never found an Oscar Birdsong in the censuses; I found an Oscar Hatcher.)
Sisters: Mimy Hatchel (suppose to be HATCHER), Eliza Newman

Exhibit B – 1870 Hinds County, Mississippi census of the Bass and Newman Households, page 586A:  Prior to finding his bank application, I had found Jack Bass in the censuses. Turns out, the Newman family living adjacent to him in 1870 was his sister and her family.  Notice that his sister Eliza named one of her sons Senaker. In 1880, Eliza’s children’s surname was Potter, so apparently George Newman was the stepfather.

Exhibit C – 1870 Hinds County, Mississippi census, Senaker Hatcher and Jackson Bass, page 772A: These two men were next-door neighbors. However, Senaker’s birthplace was reported as being South Carolina and Jackson’s birthplace was reported as being North Carolina. Are they related to each other?  Are they related to my Jack Bass? Where did the name “Senaker / Seneca” come from? This is the transcription of those two households since the actual census image is very light:

Exhibit D – 1880 Alexander County, Illinois (Cairo) census, Senaca Hatcher: Emiline Bass, who was in Jackson Bass’ household in 1870 and presumably his daughter, was in Senaca’s household in 1880 in Cairo, Illinois. She was noted as his niece. Her parents’ birthplace is noted as South Carolina.  Therefore, were Senaker/Senaca Hatcher and Jackson Bass brothers?  Also, Jack Bass’s sister, Mimy Hatcher, was also in Cairo, Illinois by 1900. Like Jack and his sister Eliza Newman, Mimy/Mima’s birthplace was noted as North Carolina.

Exhibit E – 1880 Richmond County, North Carolina census, Thomas Bowden:  Since there wasn’t a notation on Jack Bass’ bank application that his parents were dead, as I have seen on other applications, I checked to see if I can find someone named “Tom Bowdin,” either in Mississippi or maybe back in North Carolina if Jack had been separated from his father.  This Thomas Bowden in Richmond County was the only one who was of age to possibly be his father.  In the 1870 Richmond County census, I found that his name was reported as Thomas Capel after I couldn’t find a “Thomas Bowden”. 

Exhibit F – The location of Richmond County, North Carolina: Notice in red that it is located on the South Carolina / North Carolina border. The next county just south of Richmond County is Marlboro County, South Carolina.

Exhibit G – Hatchers in Marlboro County, South Carolina: There are many Hatchers in this county, as well as Richmond County, North Carolina. In fact, they are considered the Waccamaw Hatchers of the Waccamaw Indian tribe.  See

Assessing all of the exhibits, what do you theorize about my Jack Bass’ roots? Why did he take the Bass surname?  Yes, this one is a hair-puller. LOL!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

African Americans and Mexicans Are Cousins

Many African Americans and Mexicans are distant cousins, indeed. There’s no doubt about that. I have known for quite awhile that many Mexicans have African ancestors.  Transatlantic slave trade statistics show that at least 200,000 enslaved Africans were imported into Mexico from West Africa. They arrived in the Mexican territory during the three hundred years of the colonial period (1521–1821). Sadly, the indigenous and European heritages are what most Mexicans embrace; the African legacy is overlooked. When actor and comedian George Lopez took an admixture DNA test, his tests results revealed that he’s 55% European, 32% Native American, 9% East Asian, and 4% Sub-Saharan African.  See this video clip of his DNA results announcement. Much can be read about Africa’s silent legacy in Mexico on the Internet. Here’s a link to one of many interesting articles on the subject.

The link between Africa and Mexico became more evident to me when a Mexican guy, Kamel Perez, appeared in my Relative Finder database on 23andme. What was quite surprising to me is that our connection is not very distant, in my opinion.  He wasn’t my eighth, ninth, or tenth cousin.  Because of the amount of DNA we share, 23andme predicted that we are fifth cousins. See image:

Although I have little hope of ever figuring out exactly how we are related, I want to give a visual perspective to how our common ancestor was likely born during the last quarter of the 18th century (late 1700’s). Kamel and I share 0.10% (8 cM) of DNA across 1 chromosome segment. As mentioned before, our predicted relationship is fifth cousins. Geneticists have calculated that fifth cousins share an average of 0.049% of DNA.  We share twice that amount. The definition of fifth cousins is people who share the same 4th-great-grandparents. 4th-great-grandparents are just six generations back, and I have estimated that many/most of my enslaved 4th-great-grandparents were likely born during the last quarter of the 18th century.  Here’s an example to show the relationship of fifth cousins.   

Based on a number of sources, I ascertained that by the last quarter of the 18th century, there were very few imports of African slaves into the main Mexican port of Veracruz, if any at all.  One source notes that the transatlantic slave trade to Mexico reached its peak between 1580 and 1640, “when imports from Africa averaged better than 1,000 slaves a year and two out of every three slaves bound for Spanish America were destined for Mexico” (Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Africana, p. 1294).  Other sources note that in the latter 18th century, mill slaves in Mexico were phased out and replaced by indigenous labor. Slaves were nearly non-existent in the late colonial census of 1792.  Therefore, if Kamel and I share common ancestry, probably having the same 4th-great-grandparents, what scenarios could have occurred that caused us to be this closely related? Here are several possibilities that I thought of:

Scenario 1:  Kamel had an African ancestor who was indeed a “late import” into Mexico from West Africa and/or the Caribbean and may have been a sibling to one of my third or fourth-great-grandparents, who was transported to the United States. If that’s the case, then one of my third or fourth-great-grandparents was directly from West Africa or the Caribbean.

Scenario 2:  The connection might be on my maternal grandmother’s father’s side. Interestingly, I bear a strong resemblance to my great-grandfather, John Hector Davis (1870-1935). His father, my great-great-grandfather, was named Hector Davis, who was born in 1842 in the Saluda area of Abbeville District, South Carolina.  Grandpa Hector’s parents were Jack & Flora Davis, my great-great-great-grandparents, who were both born around 1815 in South Carolina, according to the censuses. They were all enslaved by John Burnett, who brought them to Panola County, Mississippi in 1861, shortly before the Civil War started.  Hector and Flora are names of Spanish origins. What if Flora wasn’t really born in South Carolina?  Or perhaps one or both of Flora’s parents had been born and enslaved in the Caribbean or Mexico and somehow was later sold and shipped to South Carolina, leaving children behind, and perhaps one of those separated children was Kamel’s third-great-grandparent who settled in Mexico.  Interestingly, I also share DNA with a Jamaican, and 23andMe noted the following:

Scenario 3:  Not much is said about it, but Mexico was a sanctuary to many enslaved African Americans during the 19th century.  During the summer of 1850, the Mascogos, composed of runaway slaves and free African Americans from Florida, along with the Seminoles and Kikapus, fled south to the Mexican border state of Coahuila. The three groups eventually settled the Mexican town of El Nacimiento, Coahuila, and a number of descendants are in Mexico today.  Perhaps, one of my third or fourth great-grandparents or a sibling was sold away to Florida, was with that group out of Florida who escaped to Mexico, and that was Kamel’s third or fourth-great-grandparent.  Kamel hasn’t accepted my invitation on 23andme to communicate. However, if he does, and if I learn that part of his family is from Coahuila, then this possible scenario becomes more of a reality.

Scenario 4:  Perhaps, the connection is through my Mom’s paternal lineage?  As part of our family reunion project in 2004, my uncle John “Sonny” Reed, Sr. took African Ancestry’s PatriClan test to reveal the paternal African lineage of my Mom’s paternal grandfather, William “Bill” Reed (1846–1937), and his father, Pleasant “Pleas” Barr (1814–1889), my great-great-grandfather.  Uncle Sonny was a perfect match to the Mbundu people of Angola. Sources note that approximately two-thirds of the Africans who were shipped to Mexico were from the Angola/Congo region of West-Central Africa. Indeed, the majority of Angola/Congo captives were transported to Central and South America, particularly Brazil. My mom's direct paternal line has been traced to my third-great-grandfather, Lewis Barr (father of Pleas), who was born around 1780. Generational lengths on this side of my family are longer due to my forefathers having children at a later age, hence why Lewis is only my third-great-grandfather. He was enslaved on Rev. William H. Barr’s farm in Abbeville County, So. Carolina, where he died in September, 1846. I don’t have any documentation about where exactly Lewis was born – likely in S.C. or maybe in Africa?  Perhaps, his name was really “Luis”, the Spanish form, but was later Americanized to be and sound like “Lewis”?  If indeed Kamel and I share a fourth-great-grandparent(s) who were born during the later part of the 18th century, perhaps Lewis’ father or paternal grandfather was from Angola, shipped to Mexico where he fathered several children, and was later shipped to South Carolina?