The talk in the genealogy groups that I am a part of is the story about Bryant Gumbel’s lineage on the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates. Within those talks, a familiar subject begins to pop-up. The subject is of shows like Finding your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are conducting genealogical research for everyday people. Some believe it would be boring to learn about everyday people, while others think it would be fascinating. I am on the fascinating side of the conversation and let me tell you why.
Conducting research on everyday people and placing it out there for others to see teaches our children that our families had not just a hand in the forming of American History but was a part of its beginnings in other ways than just slavery. Yes, we know that America was built on the backs of slaves, but not every family comes from someone who was enslaved. Our stories are what is missing in history classes and history books. We have been left out so much that it is ingrained in some that we were never really good for anything except labor. We have been taught that we don’t have a history here in America and that the history we did have has been erased. If we can provide an answer, some closure in sharing the everyday Black/African American/Person of Color story why wouldn’t it be a fascinating story to learn.
My family comes from one of the best-kept secrets in American History, Edgefield, South Carolina. In my research, I have connected myself to over 200 surnames most by blood, some by marriage. To be honest the deeper I go into my research the more I have realized, if you are from that area of South Carolina originally called the Ninety-Six District we are all related by blood. The ancestor of Edgefield has given their descendants a task. That task is to tell and share their stories. In doing so, we are bringing them back to life just like Jefferson Davis lives on through history so should they and the descendants are doing their part. A fellow researcher and family member Gail Bush said:
“There is a growing list of books written by blacks that give revealing information on family history, connections and family lore in Edgefield County, SC. We must tell the stories of our ancestors' lives to fill the void in American History.”
She is right. Below is a list of books and their links if possible to information about the families of Edgefield, South Carolina. Some are just stories, but others are guides to get through those brick walls that we encounter so quickly and so often. I have the privilege to be on this list as well as Gail. I can state for a fact that both my book and the book that she wrote with my other cousin Natonne give newcomers to the researching field tips on how to find your family. So my suggestion to you is view the list, buy a book and see how they can help you. Each one is definitely a gem to any person who has family out of the Edgefield area. I personally haven't read them all but I plan too.
2017 There Is Something About Edgefield, Shining a Light in the Black Community through History, Genealogy and Genetic DNA, by Edna Gail Bush and Natonne Elaine Kemp
2017 Comes to the Light: Learning About the Entangled Families of Edgefield, South Carolina, Donya C Williams
2016 This Far By Faith, My Story Secrets and All, Lillian O. Washington
2016 A Guide to Researching African American Ancestors in Laurens County, South Carolina and Selected Finding Aids, by LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson
2014 Our Ancestors, Our Stories, Harris Bailey, Bernice Bennett, Ellen L Butler, Ethel Dailey and Vincent Sheppard
2012 The Way It Was, Mattie Brown
2011 Slave Records of Edgefield County, SC, Gloria R. Lucas (Not available for purchase)
2010 Brief Sketch Of The Life And Labors of Rev. Alexander Bettis
2009 Flowers in the Sand: The History of Bettis Acadamy by Wayne O'Bryant (Not available for purchase)
2008 Selected Newspaper Articles from the Edgefield Advertiser, Edgefield Chronicle and Weekly Monitor Relating to African Americans, from 183-1900, Sameera V. Thurmond (Not available for purchase)
2007 Coroners Inquisitions of African Americans in Edgefield County, SC, 1838-1920, Sameera V. Thurmond (Not available for purchase)
1991 The Thurmond Family: A Black Lineage, Sameera V. Thurmond (Not available for purchase)