Ancestry uses lost letters to reunite a former slave’s family more than a century later
, 2022-06-20 02:00:00,
When Houston natives Kelley Dixon Tealer and her mother Alva Marie Jenkins embarked on the journey to discover their ancestral roots, they had no idea they would soon realize a dream that was more than 150 years in the making.
The quest to discover one’s family lineage can sometimes be difficult for some Black people throughout the African Diaspora due to the historical complications brought about by slavery. Finding records can be a daunting task.
Tealer says she spent most of her life not knowing the full extent of her family’s history, but the passing of an elder loved one inspired her to start a search through Ancestry, a Utah-based genealogy company that says it has helped millions of people discover their roots.
“I wanted to stay close to my grandparents and when they both transitioned, I just wanted to keep that piece of history. I wanted to dig more,” Tealer told “Good Morning America.”
It was then that Tealer connected with Dr. Nicka Sewell-Smith, an Ancestry genealogist who discovered through the Freedmen’s Bureau records that Jenkins and Tealer were second and third-generation granddaughters of Hawkins Wilson, a man who was born into slavery in Virginia, and separated from his family when he was sold as a boy.
The lost letters of Hawkins Wilson
The Freedmen’s Bureau records are a collection of records compiled by Congress following the Civil War to “help formerly enslaved people make the transition from slavery to freedom and citizenship,” according to the…
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