Wednesday, The New York Times published a fascinating article dealing with Michelle Obama’s family history from slavery to First Lady of the United States.  I highly recommend that you read it, click here for the story.  Two of the interesting features of the article is a paper trail that shows original documents of Michelle’s ancestors being willed to successive generations.  Some of the documents have a yellow box that allows you to get detailed information of what each page says.  The other feature is an interactive family tree with some narration included, click here for that page. I bring this to your attention not only because it is a good read but to ask the question, what exactly do we know about ourselves and our family histories?

One of the most horrific practices of the slave trade was the practice of separating the slaves in the indoctrination period, this was done to specifically destroy any tribal or familial bonds that the slaves may have had.  That had the disastrous effect of ensuring that slaves with different dialects could not communicate with each other and had no genuine affinity for those in the same plight other than they were all black.  This same behavior was employed once the slaves were introduced to life on the plantations.  Family units were constantly being destroyed by the selling of one’s children and often their mates.  I am not a social scientist but I have long suspected that the dysfunction of some black families have become predisposed to troublesome familial relationships.  But that is not the track I want to take here.

What I would like to ask is how many of you, black or white can trace your family past two or three generations?  I am fortunate that on my maternal grandmother’s side I can go back three to four generations.  In fact, she put together a report before she had her stroke that I hope to make available to my family on DVD very soon.  That has all of the elements of black, white, and Indian blood.  I’ve read that the Indian blood is highly exaggerated in most cases.  However, my great maternal grandmother was indeed half Cherokee.  She had the scalps to prove it. LOL

I want to know more about the paternal side of my family.  They were practically wiped out during the tuberculosis epidemic in Washington, D.C. during the 1940’s.  Only four of seven children survived and my paternal grandmother was not one of them yet she is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.  If only by photograph.  Human curiosity is a wonderful thing and I will continue to explore it until my dying breath.

I am not famous, nor do I suspect that The New York Times will champion my cause like they did Mrs. Obama’s.  But I would like to take that National Geographic DNA test to determine exactly where from Africa my roots lie.  But I’d also like to know where I got the name Hardy.  If he’s rich, I want my fucking inheritance.



Filed under Politics, Society

9 responses to “Identity!

  1. I can trace most of my family line, Patrimonial and Distaff, back to the mid-3rd Century AD.

    One note though – The media was largely silent on the fact that her husband could trace – with the help of the Mormons – his lineage back to slave traders on his Patrimonial line.

    I’ll give them credit though, the media did note that that he could trace his lineage to slave owners via the Distaff. 😉

  2. BTW: If you wish, email me your grandmother’s name – and any other of her generation – and I’ll search for what I can.

    Due to an odd occurrence involving being mistakenly contacted by people looking for a namesake of mine, I’ve gotten pretty good at finding leads about families.

  3. MzCynic


    I’ve been doing family research for 40 years and now have hired a researcher to help pull it all together for 4 different books – my 4 grandparent’s lines. I had 2 genealogists in family, one on each side, who did much work in the 1930s-60s. We have been in SC, VA, MA, CT, etc. since the 1600s. I even have the names of boats they came over on – mostly French-English.

    However, in my own research, I have gone back as far as 150 AD and know if I do more research on more lines, I’ll get back to BC.

    Under famous relatives of ancestors, there are many mainly free Blacks I am related to via a g-g-g-uncles/aunt. I am not putting down any sibligs, just grandparents.

    Funny you talk about “show me the money”, as I have some royalty way back when and I want to reclaim my palaces/castles!!! And, my titles.

    In Charleston, SC, one g-g-grandfather had 4 houses on Tradd St. (below Broad) and one in Greenville (summer home). I’d really like to know where his money went – gambling, I understand.

    Of interest, my paternal grandfathers were mostly doctors or Methodist ministers/bishops. In circa 1829, a school for Black children was started in Charleston by my family and taught by a grandfather. Forward thinking in that era in SC.

    I get my liberal roots from some wonderful women in the family, who did much for women’s rights.

    Enough. Good luck in finding that cash. LOL

  4. > trace your family past two or three generations?

    I’ve never understood the genealogy interest. I have no interest in what my relatives were or were not. That has nothing to do with what I am or am not now. Only my own accomplishments matter.

    And if I was related to some great historical person and someone were to say: well of course he (me) is a great achiever, his family was (whatever),I’d be insulted. Because that takes away from what I, and I alone, accomplished.

    So I am mystified by the DAR, etc. What does it matter now if their family did this or that way back? It does not reflect on them at all.

    Must be my anarchistic individualism!

  5. floridacat

    Hi Nick. Another amazing post. My parents always told me that we could all boast a king and a slave in our heritage. I hope you get your inheritance, and a Pulitzer!! I also really hope that somehow, somewhere, you and I are related. BTW, great picture of Michelle Obama. She rocks my world!

  6. eehard

    @ jonolan, it’s amazing that you can trace your family history that far back. Based on the relatives that I know about, I’m not so sure that I want to know more. LOL. It was just a passing thought after reading about Mrs. Obama.

  7. eehard

    @ Cynic, thanks for letting me know that Hardy is Irish. I am now thinking about changing the name of my blog to MickSpade…. ROFL

  8. eehard

    @ Anarchist, you make some really good points. What it all boils down to is what I accomplish. Besides, if I was related to anyone famous, it was probably Jack the Ripper.

  9. eehard

    @ Cat, it is so nice to hear from you. We are related, you’re my sister blogger. I know that I have a few of your blogs to catch up on. I hope you and the family are well.

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