Monday, January 31, 2011

Civil War Ancestor of Vanessa Williams on WDYTYA

I am extremely excited about the beginning of Season Two of the Who Do You Think You Are television series which airs on NBC this Friday night, February 4, 2011 at 8 p.m. I am especially excited about seeing what actress and former Miss America, Vanessa Williams, learns about her great great grandfather’s Civil War career during her visit to the National Archives in Washington, DC. How amazing it is that she found a photo of her ancestor in his pension file. I look forward to visiting the National Archives soon to read through the pension file of my newly adopted USCT soldier, Madison Lewis. To preview four video clips of Vanessa Williams' episode of the WDYTYA show, click here .

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Adopted USCT Soldier

Just like I never imagined becoming interested in researching the Civil War, I definitely had no interest in researching soldiers, regiments, and stuff like that. Read more about The Origins of My Civil War Research Interest.

Researching Others
I learned years ago from researching my own family to research others associated with the focus person or family. Those others may be kinfolks, neighbors, or friends. My research of James A. Fields began this interest in studying the Civil War era, but researching others in his family has taken me into whole new unintended direction.

United States Colored Troops
Much of what I know about the United States Colored Troops (USCT) comes from my friend and fellow genealogist, Angela Walton Raji. I communicate with her regularly through email and participation in the chats of the Afrigeneas website. One of Angela's genealogical passions is the USCT'S and every time I tell her that I’m going to visit a cemetery, she always says “Look for USCTs!” So far, I have not discovered any USCTs in the cemeteries I have visited.

Afrigeneas Chats
Angela and a few other Afrigeneas chatters have discovered several USCT ancestors and other African American kin who served in the American Civil War. "Adopt a USCT," Angela said to those of us in the chat who have not found a USCT ancestor. At the time of this conversation, I was contemplating starting a new blog focusing on my ancestors who were alive during the Civil War. I was also actively engaged in researching the Fields family who were former slaves who had escaped from slavery during the Civil War. At the time of this chat, I really was not interested in researching a USCT or anything military related. I’ll leave that type of research to Angela and others, I thought as this conversation was going on during one the Afrigeneas chat. Angela is so passionate about USCTs that she launched a new blog on January 1st of this year and in her first posting, she writes about her reasons for starting this blog, The USCT Chronicle --150 Years Later Getting the Story Right!.

My Adopted USCT Soldier
On another occasion, I did say to the chat group that if I found a USCT through my research of James A. Fields, then I would adopt him. Shortly after I make this declaration, I discovered a USCT named Madison Lewis who was a brother in law of James A. Fields and since that time (last weekend), I have been consumed with researching the military career and regiment of Madison Lewis who was born into slavery around 1835 in Spotsylvania County, VA . In March 1863, he escaped from slavery in Hanover County, VA with the mother and some of the siblings of James A. Fields. They arrived to Fort Monroe in early April 1863 and later that year in December, Madison Lewis enlisted in Company B of the 1st Regiment USCT Calvary which was organized at Camp Hamilton near Fort Monroe, VA and the campus of Hampton University.

To Be Continued . . .

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Let Freedom Ring!

"My country,' tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing" is not a song that my enslaved African American ancestors who were alive 150 years ago in 1861 could sing. But after the end of the war, they could for the first time in their lives, begin to sing a song such as this, and no doubt they understood the true meaning of the words in this song "From every mountainside let freedom ring! "

This blog, Let Freedom Ring!, is a celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War. As an African American, I have a lot to celebrate during this anniversary because if the Civil War had not occurred and resulted in the freedom of my people, my life would be totally different and I would undoubtedly be "working on somebody's plantation." This blog is designed to document my personal journey and research discoveries of the People, Places, Events, and Other Things Related to the Civil War Era. Not only will I talk about my ancestors, but I will also talk about the others not related to me who were alive during this era. I hope that other American bloggers and genealogists will take some time to commemorate this anniversary in some type of way.

Today, there is much debate about the causes of the Civil War. Irregardless of the causes, I am more concerned with the outcome which was the freedom of my ancestors.

LET FREEDOM RING! I wish I could sing it like Aretha Franklin, but since that's not my talent and I want you to visit my blog again (LOL), just listen to her sing the song and reflect on our nation's FREEDOM.

Aretha Franklin MY COUNTRY 'TIS OF THEE Inauguration Day 2009