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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Harris in Henry and Patrick Co. Virginia

Interesting story, and shows what can happen. Actually I have great respect for the oral tradition..for the majority of researchers that is how we start. We take those bits of pieces of what we heard, what people say, bits of paper, or whole articles and use it as the starting point for genealogical research.

Many times there is "truth in those stories", that can and do guide us. But sometimes like your example it is "His" story (and why shouldn't he have HIS story, he didn't know you were going to try to dig it up) I bet he was most proud of that picture.

Genealogical research for me means taking that oral history and identifying as best I can the people that I am researching in the context of "the time frame and place (family, community, county, state) and space (their status in that time frame and place), in which they lived and died, and not imposing what I think was happening, or what I would like to think was happening.

When I started looking for Dolly I had already read the Black Laws of VA and enough other Virginia historical material to know that white women were having a number of "spurious issue" (as these children were called) and it had caused concern beginning in the colonial period (your original book just confirmed what I was seeing). The fact that white males were producing the majority of these children was not of concern, because for the most part they were not making families but a labor pool and these children were enslaved based on the status of their mothers, to put it quite bluntly. But these children of white women were Born Free (indentured till age 31 but free nonetheless.) I was just looking for Dolly..and I tried to make every white Dolly I found fit and when it didn't, I went where the records took me, which was to "Milly and her son Nathan".

Even now that does not mean that the basic story of a Dolly is not true, Milly or Milly's mother could have been the child of a Dolly, a white women. But my focus will still be to go where the records take me, if I can find them..I figure I owe Milly and Nathan that.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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