Louisiana 16 project continues

And here I thought that six weeks would be more than enough time to bring the Louisiana 16 project to a conclusion. I have not let a moment pass but am concerned that there will not be enough time! As a reminder, I set out to close a few gaps in the documentation of the sale and subsequent lives of the sixteen slaves born and raised at James Madison’s Montpelier then sold to Louisiana. But that was not all. The other part of the project is to identify and connect with living descendants of these same men and women. Though the latter is the most important part of the story, it is also the most time consuming and complicated. I am working diligently on both and am finding much success.

Ultimately, the gaps needing as much research as possible will be addressed by the time I head home. There may not be additional data, but the available resources will have all been examined.

The effort to identify living descendants requires meticulous and methodical historical and genealogical scrutiny and is not constrained to repositories and electronic resources such as Ancestry.com or Family Search.

This component of the project is enhanced and facilitated by networking. I have attended church services, met with known relatives of the Virginia born ancestors, and given talks and presentations anywhere I have been allowed.

As you might imagine, scheduling these opportunities necessitates coordinating multiple times and availability, nonetheless it is working. With each opportunity, the story is shared and the possibility of reaching others, informing others and connecting lost families grows.

I have spent several hours over three days thus far sequestered in the local courthouse reviewing remarkable books one-by-one. I expect to spend as many hours to finish the review.

Fit into the remaining time is another day spent walking cemeteries- one fruitful day spent last week-seeking surnames that document the research, giving at least four more presentations and moving the research into the adjoining parish in search of the Virginia/Virgin family.

The outcome of this project is that the research related to the specific story of the Louisiana 16: The Domestic Slave Trade, the sale, the journey to Louisiana, life on the Taylor plantation and life after Emancipation will be as complete as available data will allow.     

                                                                                                                                                       My cohorts in the cemetery       excursion…could not have done it without them!!

The connecting of living descendants with ancestors will be ongoing. The outcome of this effort is multi-layered. It will reflect the individual and more commonplace situations; the determination of former slaves to find their estranged family members after Emancipation, and the resources to be tapped to bring success.

We want everyone- descendants, repositories and the general public- to know that reunification of the families torn asunder by the Domestic Slave Trade though not guaranteed, is possible.

Very exciting piece of news: Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB)-specifically Louisiana: The State We Are In- will run a story about the project a resulting heart-warming story regarding an ancestor and a living descendant. Hint: the interviewed individual is believed to be a direct descendant of Culpeper’s own Jenny Cook. Stay tuned.

Thank you all for your support!

Until next week, be well.

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