Slaves’ survival in the wilderness sparks generations of Black Foragers

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska and Chicago, Illinois, I am used to frequent ribbing about the Midwestern “foreign land.” It was while I was attending Clark College (now CAU, a HBCU) in Atlanta, Georgia, that I first became the subject of great humor about my Midwestern upbringing. It helped that my maiden surname is “Wead” (pronounced “Weed”) and for many of my Southern classmates, very little was known about the Black folk who lived in the Great Plains.

African Americans were integral to the forging of new territories in the great West. My family and hundreds of thousand of African American still live in every region west of the United States’ Mississippi River.

I highlight my beloved Midwest in a new e-book series. This month marks the kick-off of a Black Genealogy e-books that are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Books and our self-publishing book site, Lulu.com. https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/ann-wead-kimbrough-and-mark-owen/august-first-is-the-first-black-holiday-for-black-people/ebook/product-zv5pgd.html?page=1&pageSize=4

My cousin, Mark Owen and I, are the authors and the interior designer and coordinator is Veverly Byrd-Davis. The cover designer is an anonymous apprentice.

One of the chapters is about Nicodemus, Kansas, the first Black and only existing town west of the Mississippi that was settled by African American homesteaders who trekked from Kentucky during Reconstruction to establish a new life. It was tough and they were gritty. I also wrote about Nicodemus and other forgotten Black towns in the West in my other blog. See #25.

I love this NYT piece because it provides excellent sources who speak on the often neglected topics of everything from slaves’ inherent knowledge of wilderness to today’s harrassing and ignorant facts regarding those of us who will stop along the side of a road if we see a special bush that may be a healthy product when properly picked and cooked. There were a couple of stories over the last year that showcased the little-known relationships African Americans have with nature. There are African American outdoors enthusiasts who are hoping to break down barriers that exist about hikng, for instance.

While hiking in Indiana and in New York’s Central Park, violent and harrassing incidents captured global headlines based on ignorance from the inflicters.


I especially enjoyed the NYT references to the enslaved ancestors locating honey from trees and harvesting all sorts of berries and other healthy products from trees, limbs, bushes and from the earth.

Camp Lessons for Life

I was an early African American forager. I grew up as the only one in my household who went to every available that featured the great outdoors camp that my parents could afford. I recall taking our daily showers in stalls that allowed for the minor snakes and other creatures to share in the rustic settings. The campfire stores, especially the ones with scary outcomes in the stars-lit skies, were my favorites. I remember the silly and yet lasting chants such as those for catching ones’ elbows on the large dining hall’s long wooden tables. Here’s the chant:

"Ann ... Ann ... strong and able ... get your elbows off the table. This is not a horse's stall, but a first-class dining hall! 'Round the tables you must go, you must go, you must go. 'Round the tables you must go, you were naughty."

It was all in good fun and I learned valuable lessonson how to live with kids from diverse backgroounds. We celebrated our differences by sharing in all sorts of activities. It was the early “rope courses” and other skils and trust-building experiences I had as an adult member of teams ranging from the Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee to Harvard University’s Graduate Education certificate program

Black Girl in the Black Hills

I also recall riding the horses along the ridges of the South Dakota Black Hills, however, this wonderful path is no longer open to the public. It was probably not safe when I was riding on it in the late 1960s, yet it was worth it. It was beautiful to see all views of the Black Hills along the former horse trails.

As I suggest in my other blog that I write with my cousin, Good Genes Genealogy on WordPress, please take an active role in learning more about your ancestor.

Homework: Utilize the NYT article and my blog as motivation to research your family’s ancestries about the early foragers. Happy trails!

Historic Omaha’s Metoyer’s Bar-B-Que

Research a famous and historic food “joint” in your hometown …
The famous Metoyer’s restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska

… and, stretch your ancestral research outside of your immediate family. If you are like me, it will be a delicious journey because my reach led back to my family.

Growing up in Omaha, Nebr., I loved the wonderful taste of Metoyer’s Bar-B-Cue. I also knew that it was not and easy route to become a black business owner in any North American city during the 1950s. That could have been where my story ended. Yet, the lingering great taste of the “cue” kept my genealogy quest alive.

After interviewing my mother and father, I learned that the Metoyer owners were Civil Rights Movement pals of my family. Together our families protested several injustices that today are either long forgotten or trying to emerge. Whether lunch counter and retail dress stores’ boycott or marching in favor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Metoyers and Weads heped to bring positive change in our Midwestern community.

The home cooked story gets better: Ray Metoyer, an award-wining journalist, and I are longtime friends largely based on our same chosen profession. We refer to ourselves as “homies” and we share ‘what we can remember stories that include my family’s treat of buying the best bar-b-cue from his parents’ restaurant. Ray and I also separately landed in the metropolitan Atlanta area. He was the TV anchorman; I was financial journalist for the largest metro newspaper and later, financial weekly paper. As such, Ray and I eptitomize the phrase “small world.”

Ray Metoyer, who also launched his blog a decade ago

My challenge to budding or skilled genealogists

Try it: Explore just one aspect of your hometown involving a popular food restaurant or store in your neighborhood. Once you are satisfied with your findings, look up one of the descendants and share your fondest for their families’ establishment. Next, record it. Tell it. Do something to keep the circle unbroken by sharing little known history.

Back to school: Unearthing African American injustices on U.S. college and university campuses

Check out the class session #24 Good Genes Genealogy blog for the full story.

A recent article about the University of Delaware’s findings regarding its New Jersey campus including the school’s 1950 stance against allowing African Americans their justified attendance. The students had to sue to attend the University of Delaware. The University of Delaware is not alone. Several universities are engaged in directed, meaningful research and results projects regarding its slave histories. These same institutions are creating architectural memorials of its enslaved histories such as the University of Virginia as shown below.

https://www.arch.virginia.edu/ien/projects-services/memorial-to-enslaved-laborers

Like me, many researchers rejoice when we locate our ancestors who attended colleges during post-slavery and during Jim Crow. Yet, as much attention should be directed to researching the ties African Americans and Afro Caribbeans have to universities and colleges through enslaved conditions. It may require that enslavers are researched first to link African American ancestors to the slave labor that was lent to building these institutions.

At the University of Georgia in Athens, recent developments led by the faculty and community stakeholders led to the unearthings and reburials of slaves in the cemetery behind its Baldwin Hall.

Archived video worth viewing. The discoveries of human remains in 2015 were recently completed.

What next?

I give a class assignment in the blog. Check it out and keep digging! https://wordpress.com/post/goodgenesgenealogy.com/2126

Who am I? Part African, European and more?

I’ve always been a sure and confident person who was fortunate to be raised in a family with positive messages from my mother, father, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and distant relatives. However, we — like most African Americans — have confusing, hidden and proud heritages that are often difficult to fully uncover.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

If you or others fall in the categories of mixed heritage, I am encouraging you to keep uncovering your ancestry. One way is through DNA testing and related results. Thankfully, about 10 years ago, I completed my DNA evaluation and discovered that although I have the appearance of a full African American, my mutual families’ backgrounds produced the following:

Summary of DNA results for Ann Lineve Wead Kimbrough, updated 2021


Read every drop of DNA backgrounders

The above image is a just snapshot. There is a whole lot of drilling down to review the estimates provided by the DNA scientists. Like all who engage in DNA testing, my results unfold with enormous information found in tables, linkages, background explanations, photos and important health and social characteristics.

There are so-called bright spots on my DNA tree. For instance, my DNA chart shows a 9 percent ethnicity linkage to ancestors who lived in Scotland. This northern third region of Great Britian, displays a highlighted region, as does the United Kingdom, Belguim and Luxenbourge.

As I expected, the largest gathering of my DNA estimated ancestral roots are found in Africa to include the regions of the Southern Bantu Peoples, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Congo and Western Bantu Peoples. The United States ethnicity estimates show that Virginia is the landing place for my ancestors during the slave trade.

“Your ethnicity estimate includes regions based on two different scientific processes: the AncestryDNA reference panel and our Genetic Communities™ technology.” That’s from the Ancestry.com DNA overview of my discovered heritage.

There is so much to learn from one’s DNA. My data is constantly updated as new 3rd, 4th and even more distant relatives are added to tree. Once I receive updates, I spend time tracking whether we are related and if so, how. For instance, one of my so-called 3rd or 4th cousins, did not have direct DNA linkage to our family. Yet, her information was always pulling on our family’s DNA. After several conversations, we figured it was because her son’s father is our family is my family member. I considered our realization a victory because I would not otherwise have known about this young relative.

I have an estimated 767 4th cousins or closer relations. The DNA results are the first major step towards conducting additional research and can serve as a confirmation about whether the individual is related to you. I caution that even if limited or no DNA exists regarding a relation, consider the investigation on the linkage because slaves were often mortgaged and sold to keep their enslavers in business. For instance, in some cases, slaves from neighboring plantations were paired up with another group and sold, thereby breaking up blood families of slaves. Yet, those same individuals may have served as a “family member” in the slave community structure.

Centimorgans in your family tree

Each person who has received her/his DNA has a special number and that places you in the range or numeric grouping of your family member. That numbering is known as centimorgan The chart below supplied by FamilySearch.org, gives the numbering range for individuals to prove whether they are blood relatives.

Centimorgans or the DNA numbering system to connect relatives

According to FamilySearch.org: “All the testing companies now provide the total amount of DNA (measured in centimorgans, or cM) shared with each genetic match, information that can be vital for determining the genealogical relationship. A cM is a measurement of the distance between genetic markers on the DNA based on the expected frequency of recombination with each generation. On average, one cM equals one million base pairs, although this can vary.” This is from Family Search.org to explain the importance of cMs or centimorgans in connecting genetic matches.

I am actively researching my family and along with my business partner/first cousin, Mark Owen, we will explore many African American and Afro Caribbean tenealogy family topics with more depth in our upcoming e-book series.

Stay tuned to this blog for more information about our August 1, 2021 debut!

Best quote for the week in honor of ancestral research: Thank you, Prof. Karen Hunter

“We don’t know who we are … it makes it impossible to know who we are going to be.”

Just heard her on the Sybil Wilkes and George Wallace show with Myra J as the fill-in for Comedian Wallace …

Let’s do the work and build our family’s genealogy tapestry!

Best quote for the week in honor of ancestral research: Thank you, Prof. Karen Hunter

“We don’t know who we are … it makes it impossible to know who we are going to be.”

Just heard her on the Sybil Wilkes and George Wallace show with Myra J as the fill-in for Comedian Wallace …

Let’s do the work and build our family’s genealogy tapestry!

Hero and S/Hero Ancestors honored by my Dad in his long-awaited memoir

Not even a harrowing bout with COVID-19 or horrific beating by racists in the 1960s could keep this good man down! On his birthday, support Dad’s book debut that honors our collective heritage with encouragement and solutions.

https://aboveandbeyondweadchronicles.com: Read all about it in our hometown Omaha Star newspaper!

Our past deserves a pass: Guide to living in the present and future

Deep into our genealogy research about ancestors we knew and others we learn more about through our “detective” work, there are lots of opportunities for spiritual understanding and growth.

I know.

Seek balance. Forgive what you know such as learning an ancestor was imprisioned or moved away for work and never returned to the community where the researcher lived. Negative remembrances place us in mental and spiritual jails.

Give a pass to the ancestors and be willing to dig deeper to recover all of the facts. Sometimes history got it wrong. In Elaine and Helena, Arkansas — the home of my paternal ancestors — the headlines of the day reported one thing. Uncovering of history revealed something else.

Be willing to pass through those genealogical brick walls. Pass the test and know that life for our ancestors requires putting ourselves in their moments in time.

Enjoy the reseach and love the process. Merge the good past to your great future.

SATURDAY, JUNE 26, 2021 I RELEASE THE PAST 
(From Atlanta, GA’s Hillside International Truth Center’s “Daily Thoughts from the Hill”
      Our past miss-steps are a part of where we are. Life’s challenges are lessons from which we can learn. But when the outcome is not what we expected, consciously or subconsciously, it can shake our belief. So we may tend to play it safe, but see God in it. God is available.       God cannot disappear from your life any more than you can disappear from yourself. God is Life and the life of God is in you. Let the past stay in the past and move forward.       I do not live in the past; I let the past live there. Divine vision shows me abundance without fear. Nothing controls me, including my past. My imagination shows me how God would have me see my life. I live in the now. Thank you, Imagination, in me, through me, as me, around me, through the Christ within. And so it is. Forgetting those things which are behind, I strive for those things which are before me.Philippians 3:13
 Daily Thoughts from the HillCopyright: Hillside International Truth Center, Inc.Bishop Dr. Jack L. Bomar – Executive Bishop
Bishop Dr. Barbara L. King – Founder