I know, long time… no posts. But I’m happy to say it’s more because of projects than because a pandemic is occupying too much of my attention–which is a major improvement.

One of the things I worked on at the beginning of the year is about to see the light of day next month and I’m very thankful to have gotten an early look.

Cover of Black Homesteaders of the South by Bernice Alexander Bennett, available October 24, 2022

Black Homesteaders of The South by Bernice Alexander Bennett is a wonderful collection of Homesteader stories about families that didn’t necessarily head west for their land. These homesteaders took up property in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The project grew out of Bennett’s coordinated efforts to solicit contributions for Black Homesteaders at the National Park Service site–in an effort to broaden the understanding of Black Homesteading beyond the Exodusters in the Great Plains states. I contributed the story of Levi Hampton, Harrison Trotter’s uncle, who homesteaded in Bradley County, Arkansas and granted some of that land to Harrison.

Grab a copy from your favorite vendor: https://bookshop.org/books/black-homesteaders-of-the-south/9781467152303?fbclid=IwAR34fhXjco5jEzHHg1RwKzICe_PFkdhfGeaj0w6st_I09P7qKkm8YPynodM

Happy hunting,


Here’s my first follow-up post from research inspired by sessions from the Michigan Genealogical Council’s 2011 Family History Month Workshop.

As I noted in an earlier post, Pamela J. Cooper’s Homestead Act session encouraged me try requesting a selection of the Federal Land Entry files for my ancestors.  On October 30th I started out by ordering the file of Levi Hampton who was listed in the 1900 Census as my Great Grandfather’s uncle and is one of the few members of my Arkansas family to have a patent listed in the BLM database 

I searched the BLM database for Levi Hampton in Bradley County, Arkansas (one can further limit a search under the “Miscellaneous” section switching the drop down menu beside “Authority” to “Homestead Entry Original”). I took the information in that entry to fill out the NARA order form. The request is currently $40—but it should be noted that this is a flat fee regardless of the size of the file. The deliverables can be photocopies or a digital copy.  I ended up requesting a digital copy to save myself the time scanning.

I was thrilled to receive the disk within 11 days—which is a little funny because it still shows on my NARA account as waiting to be sent. Levi’s file is 44 pages and includes his testimony, as well as that of two distant relatives—Wil Newton and Wilson Terry. I will admit that I really got my hopes up because Levi initially named my 3rd great-grandfather Sam Trotter, his brother, Rial, and their stepfather James Newton all as witnesses. But when the time came for the hearing Newton and Terry were the only witnesses. But regardless, there is a lot of information that I can cull from the file and I’m looking forward to spending more time on it.

Maybe the most interesting moment for me in reading the file was when I got to the presiding Judge, W. J. Hickman’s note on the change of witnesses. He comments, “I think myself that this witness is as good as either one of the others as he has been raised in the neighborhood of the said claimant. They are all Colored and one is as good as the other not withstanding his name does not appear in the publication.” I’m not sure why but it momentarily took my breath away to see that stated so plainly in a federal document. But as my parents noted when I shared it with them… it was a different time.

These files are definitely worth the price and slowly but surely I’ll start ordering Shea, Cunningham, Wilfong, and other family files.

Happy Hunting,


I’m playing a game of catch-up as this happened two weekends ago but… I genuinely enjoy going to genealogy workshops and conferences because I get to talk to fellow researchers, bounce ideas of people and reconnect with friends. But, more than anything I pay very close attention to my sessions because even when the topic is a resource I feel comfortable using I always come out with a new way to search, a new trick or just a fresh perspective that leaves me reinvigorated and ready to research.

This year’s Michigan Genealogical Council’s Family History Month Seminar was no exception. I attended five informative sessions—two by keynote speaker Pamela J. Cooper (one on finding church records and the other on the Homestead Act of 1862); a great intro to the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library by the Coordinator fo DPL’s Special Collections, Mark Bowden; a session on search strategies for SeekingMichigan.org given by State Archivist Mark Harvey; and a session on Fold3.com (formerly known as Footnote.com) by Kris Rzepczynski of the Library of Michigan.

I’m not going to give a rundown of the sessions other than to say they all are great presenters. In many ways everything covered was really practical but I came out of all of the sessions with plans on how to use what we discussed. At the top of my “To Do” list after the workshop was to order the Land Entry File for Levi Hampton (my great grandfather Harrison Trotter’s uncle) to see what that might include—I’ve had the patent for years but never taken the step of ordering the rest of the file. I’m also very interested in heading back to the Burton to further my Massy family research—I’m still trying to find Naturalization records for Henry or his brothers. And there’s a lot I haven’t done on SeekingMichigan.org and Fold3. And if you read this Kris—I have deleted Footnote  (in place of Fold3) more times than it shows up in the published blog post—but really, it hasn’t been that long since they changed their name!

Anyway, I would definitely suggest the MGC Workshops (usually held in October and July each year at the Michigan Historical Center) for beginners and veteran researchers alike. I always come home with new information and a renewed energy in my research.

Now, if I can just carve time for all of my plans!

Happy Hunting,