Invitation To Tell Your Story Sample Article


 Call for papers, tell your story, if approved we will contact you.

Slavery and my Virginia Johns’

Submitted for Publication, Authors Identity not Provided. Send papers to

Arthur Morris Johns was born on the 4th of July 1871, in Blair, Washington County, Nebraska, the son of Anson Tinsley Johns and Mary Ann NewKirk. Arthur was a farmer, of English descent. He and his wife Hattie Garfield Bradley, also of English descent, had 9 children. Their daughter Isabel, my grandmother, had an interesting set of papers discovered in her belongings after she passed away. It was entitled, “Songs Mamma Used to Sing.” Several of the songs surprised me because they were Civil War Era slave songs. What were they doing in her stuff, and why on earth would her Mamma be singing them? Perhaps it was not her mother’s, but passed down by her paternal great- grandmother.

Arthur’s father, Anson was born in Amherst County, Virginia. He was born on 18 Apr 1828 into a family that owned slaves. He was the third of 15 children, but the last to have been born into a slaveholding household. In 1830, his parents John S. Johns and his wife Caroline Matilda Tinsley, lived in Amherst County and owned 21 slaves. John’s mother, widow Oney Garner lived close by and she owned 2 slaves, both of them children. Ugh, all pride in this family was lost! I wanted to stop searching and move on to another family- but this is reality. I decided to look this issue straight in the eye and keep searching.

John and Caroline’s 4th child, Naomi was born in 1833; not in Virginia but in Franklin County, Tennessee. This Johns family had left Virginia, and their slaves, and moved to Tennessee. By just before the Civil War, John Johns had moved again to Indiana. He died there in 1858. His wife and some of her children then settled in Nebraska, where my great grandfather was born, raised his family, and worked his farm. At least one of John’s sons, Wade Morris Johns, fought in the Union Army during the Civil War. After 1830, no record could be found listing this John Johns as a slave owner.

In 1840, the Amherst County census recorded only 3 Johns households: Richard Johns, John Johns, and James Johns. All of them listed only free colored persons in the household. Oney Garner had died, and most of the Johns family had left for Tennessee or North Carolina. Could these Johns’ be the former slaves of John S Johns? Did he free them? Did they buy their freedom? Were they given their freedom by Oney Garner at her death? Did they now own the land? I’m still looking for answers to those questions. I know one thing for sure, I can be proud of this Johns family for not just leaving slave ownership behind, but leaving it 20 years before the Civil War. I hope that he treated them well. I hope he left them in good spirits. I hope to uncover more of the story, and find all of their names. Those slaves may or may not be related to me by blood, but their lives were shaped-good or bad-by my family, and their descendants deserve at the very least, an equal portion of my tribute. I would cherish the opportunity to meet their descendants and call them family.

I was sad to find that my ancestors had been slave owners. Like many Americans seeking to build their family trees, I had hoped to be descended only from non-slave owning stock. We tend to want to pretend that slavery didn’t happen, or it did not affect us. The truth is, it did. However ugly it is to think about, America was not built just by white pilgrims and revolutionaries, and not just by the poor and huddled masses who came by choice, but it was built on the backs of American slaves.

“Oh, darkies say, hab you seen de massa

Wid de moustach on his face?

Go long de road sometime dis mawnin’

Like he gwine t’ leab de place!

He see the smoke way up the riber

Where de Lincolm gunboats lay-

He took his hat an’ he lef’ mighty sudden,

And I tink he’s runned away!

The massa run, ha ha!

De darkies stay, ho ho!

It must be now dat de kindom’s comin’

In de year ob Jublio!

…” author unknown

The National Genographic Project Genetic Markers



Dr. Spencer Wells, explains how genetic markers can be used to build a family tree for everyone alive today.


Resource: The Nstional Geongraphic “The National Genographic Project, accessed May 1, 2017,


NEHGS Cemetary New Database



New post on American Ancestors Database News

Update to North American Cemetery Transcriptions from NEHGS Manuscripts

by Don LeClair

Ten new volumes have been added to the North American Cemetery Transcriptions from NEHGS Manuscriptsdatabase covering cemeteries in Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire. Our hard-working volunteers have captured over 1,700 page images, 50,000 records and 200,000 searchable names in this update! Through these efforts, you can now view and search these new volumes:

  • CT, Hartford: Enfield (MSS A 6115)
  • CT, Tolland: Union (CT UNI 7)
  • CT, Windham: Eastford (MSS A 2408)
  • ME, Androscoggin: Various (MSS A 4722 Vol. 1)
  • ME, Androscoggin: Various (MSS A 4722 Vol. 2)
  • ME, Cumberland, Lincoln, Waldo: Various (MSS A 4723)
  • ME, Hancock: North Brooksville (MSS A 7944)
  • ME, Somerset: Various (MSS A 2746)
  • NH, Strafford: Dover – Pine Hill (MSS A 2835 Vol. 1)
  • NH, Strafford: Dover – Pine Hill (MSS A 2835 Vol. 2)

The indexing for these records includes birth and death records with full names, cemetery locations, and names of parents and spouses where available.

Please note: This database is available to Individual-level and above NEHGS members only. Consider membership.

Don LeClair | March 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

Ancestry.Com Launches Genetic Communities Beta

Genetic Communities™ are groups of AncestryDNA members who are connected through DNA most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors, even if they no longer live in the area where those ancestors once lived.

For example, some Genetic Communities trace their roots back to groups of people who were isolated geographically. Mountains, rivers, lack of roads, or other barriers made it likely that each new generation would marry someone who lived close to home. Others have their roots in groups who typically married others of the same religion or ethnic group. In each case, these groups came to share a significant amount of DNA. Modern-day descendants who inherited some of that DNA make up Genetic Communities.


Genetic Communities™ are groups of AncestryDNA members who are connected because they share fairly recent ancestors who came from the same region or culture—even though they may have had different ethnic backgrounds. We find these Genetic Communities using genetic connections between groups of AncestryDNA members.

Ethnicity estimates show your ancestry going back hundreds or even thousands of years ago. We calculate an ethnicity estimate by comparing your DNA to the DNA of a carefully selected reference panel. This reference panel is made up of people who have long-standing, documented roots in a specific area.

Both use your DNA to help you learn more about where you’re from and the people of the world you’re connected to.

Source: access 28 March 2017/DNA

Invitation To Tell Your Story



Consider this to be an invitation extended to you anywhere in the world; regardless of religion — whether young or old, male or female, Black, White, East Indian, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Native American Indian…well, you get the picture.
Working with the Arnett family in Kentucky, I became involved in their stories about their past. I laugh with them and felt a deep kinship with them without meeting them face to face. Their stories were so vivid and told a story of family members without pictures. I could see the story so clearly in their words and how they gave their story life and breath.
I decided to do it again by just putting out this invitation. As with the Arnett’s, nothing will be published without the family permissions. I will send the written stories back to the family genealogist I met for possible inclusion on their family website.
The Arnett’s are a multicolored family whose location for most of them is in Salyersville and Henderson, KY.
Even though I will be specific about the details of each story, the main targeted in this endeavor doesn’t have any particular skin color, gender or geographical location. The Enemy to be unmasked/exposed in this uplifting endeavor is Prejudice, Bigotry, Racism, and Narrow-Mindedness — wherever prevalent — which is embodied in a person who does have a particular skin color, gender, and geographical location.
To be perfectly honest, I have had to come face to face with my feelings of race, prejudices, narrow opinions about others of color not my own. I have processed the fact that some of my relatives were slave owners, fought with the Confederate Army and wrote slave laws long ago. I know a family who gave up their slaves and worked to abolish slave and were a part of the underground railroad from Florida to Canada. This is my family and I have worked through my own feelings about events and places. Without the courage of my ancestors, I would not be who I am today. This is where I come from, this is how I got to be, this is me.
The truth is the main friend of this endeavor. Truth-centric. I want the readers to feel the heartache inflicted by prejudice. I also want the reader to feel hope. I see myself merely as a storyteller through which very private pain can be communicated, along with the wisdom lessons that somehow emerge out of grief. That is the purpose of this endeavor, The Moment
My interest in this project was enhanced during my research for the mother of Mary Arnett born in 1821 in Kentucky. I was inspired by Joyce McCullum my cousin to research her GGG grandmother. I am an African-American who’s great great great great grandfather was a plantation owner in Wake County, NC and his father a plantation owner in Powhatan, VA.
When I interviewed the Arnett’s, they volunteered to talk about themselves and the racism they faced from both sides black and white. During these interviews I was becoming more and more interested in the idea of people sharing their earliest memories of prejudice and how they were affected by it — mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally and spiritually.
“Do you remember The Moment, when you realized that because of
the color of your skin that the rules were somehow different for you?”
It was this question that unlocked the door for people to share some deep experiences. Asking you to answer a question like that or having to do with other aspects [nationality? gender? class? language? religion? physical characteristics?]. But also please consider going deeper, by answering some additional questions. I am putting together stories for future publication.
How did you feel at The Moment in the past? Plus, how have you dealt with The Moment since it occurred? What wisdom lessons do you want to pass on to the next generation? I am looking for storytellers. I am also asking you to draw a picture (No, I’m not an artist either) in 3-5 minutes that best depicts the scene during your experience of The Moment. This picture may represent your memory either symbolically or literally. Call me if you need more clarification. Cell: 240-678-6076.
Are You Open to Participating in this Project?
“A family journey in the past to the present”. This going to be very similar to reading the “Slave Narratives”

Please submit your stories.
This publication or story for the families involved will be filled with real/honest experiences, with a hopeful theme. The purpose:
A). To educate/sensitize readers regarding the realities experienced by minorities. “Post Traumatic Slave Disorder” (PTSD).
B). Offer a mental, emotional and spiritual roadmap for any reader who is experiencing prejudice.
(You may even want to function as a storyteller sharing the story of a friend who is considered a minority in your country…and what happened to make you first realize the rules for your friend are different. What has this understanding opened in your own heart and mind?)
Copy the following points and paste them into the main body of an email or as a Word Document. Focus your experience (s) upon the following items:
1. “This is my recollection of the first defining moment when, because of my __________ [color of skin? nationality? gender? class? language? religion? physical characteristics?], I realized that the rules were somehow different for me…” –Please cover the who, what, when, how, where and why aspects as you remember them. (If you can’t remember a specific moment, answer this the best you can. I am looking for the story of your earliest moment) — something like…”It was a hot August day and I was in 1st Grade, on my way home from the store…” or Moonbaby at 10 years old, her web name “confronting a rattlesnake on the bridge from her house to her aunt’s house and she ran and got her grandfather’s shovel and pound the snake to death. Her grandfather looked at the shovel all bent up and laugh about it. He was proud of her courage confronting the snake”. To be able to effectively communicate your story I need to know details about “the moment”, like weather conditions, what was said or not said, what you were wearing, the location, your immediate feelings, body language, how you responded, etc..
2. This is specifically what happened to me or to a friend (or how you became sensitized to this issue through someone else’s experience. For example — Do you remember The Moment when you realized that you have “Privilege” (because of skin color, class, gender, etc.)? When and how when did you vicariously experience that or come to that realization?)
3. Immediately and then over the years, this is how I was affected mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, spiritually —
4. “As I look back on my life in relation to all of this, the life wisdom lessons I have learned are…” — (In other words, what wisdom lessons do you want to pass along to the next generation?)
5. Explain what you currently see on the job, in your neighborhood, and at church with regard to prejudice
6. “This is what I would like to say to young people who will be facing the same types of things I confronted.”
7. “I am (hopeful) (not hopeful) about race relations/diversity in my country, because…” (I’m not looking for positive or negative — just your perspective. And I am open to you sharing your beliefs about how God views all of this) —
8. If you live in a country that profited from the labors of your ancestors in slavery, do you feel that your country owes you anything? Why or why not?
9. I need some specific information from you, like gender, race, age, part of the world you were raised in and where you reside now. And if you are in another part of the world, it sure would be great if you can share your perspective on human relations in that part of the world and the perspectives folks around you have about America.
10. I am also asking you to draw a picture (No, I’m not an artist either) in 3-5 minutes that best depicts the scene during your experience of The Moment. This picture (drawn on plain white paper with a black ink pen) may represent your memory either symbolically or literally. Please do not spend more than 5 minutes on the drawing. With honesty, try to put yourself back in the moment of the situation you are trying to capture on paper. I prefer that you scan the picture on at least 300 dpi resolution. I prefer to keep everything digital. and email it along with your story.
10. Here are the next steps:
a. After you have responded to this invitation, I will probably want to talk with you by phone if I have selected your story. If you are from another country, I will probably continue to dialogue by email.
b. I will then send you the final edit for your input. I will be using the literary license as I attempt to make your experiences more accessible to the reader. Most everyone will be known by first name and last initial unless you want your full name to be known (e.g. Brian K. or Susan G.). You can make up an alias if you want. I will also want to have a brief bio to introduce your piece (e.g. Susan K. — the 34-year-old woman, Sr. Vice President of Sales of a pharmaceutical company, living in Manhattan…)
c. I am also positive that if published my publisher will want you to sign a release, allowing me to use your story.
d. This process will take almost a year before it is completed, so please be patient…
e. If you have any friends from similar or different nationalities who might like to participate, please refer them to this page.
Thank you for your potential part in this project. I am pleased to mention that a percentage of the royalties from the sales of The Moment will be going to The Freeman Institute Foundation.
If your story is chosen, you will receive a complimentary signed copy of the story and or book as a token expression of my appreciation for your participation, along with a few extra signed copies to give away…Please send in your contribution as soon as possible. The sooner the better. Initially, you may send an email indicating your level of interest and when you believe you will have your story in written form.

Email Address:
100,000 Blessings,
Duke B. Montgomery

Genetic Genealogy For Beginners – Chapter 6




BGA (Admixture) Explained

Source: BGA Admixture

BGA Basics And Science
BGA stands for biogeographical analysis. BGA tests are sometimes callAdmixture Tests. A BGA test basically tries to use your DNA to determine or pinpoint what part of the world your ancestor(s) originated. Using your DNA to show if two people have a common ancestor is valid. DNA contains information such as whether or not two people are related.

However using your DNA to pinpoint where an ancestor was born, lived, or came from, is entirely different.  Here is the idea behind a BGA test.

Suppose we have a population called the Handy Clan. The Handy Clan has 1000 people and is located on a remote island. Now let’s say everyone in the Handy Clan population has a rare DNA marker which we will call -> M. In other words, thefrequency of this DNA marker is 100% because everyone (1000 people) has the DNA marker M. Also, let’s assume that no one outside of the Handy Clan, which is on this remote island, has the DNA marker M.

Now Laurie lives in the US in Oakland, California which is located outside the remote island and outside of the Handy Clan population. Let’s suppose we discover Laurie has this same rare DNA marker M.

Can we say Laurie is from or has ancestry from the Handy Clan population?

Under simple circumstances, yes!!!  We can confidently say that. If no other population in the world has this rare genetic marker M, then we can say yes. Laurie is either from, or has had an ancestor, that originated from the Handy Clan population. That’s what a BGA does. It compares your DNA markers to a studied population. Since all one thousand people have the same DNA marker M, then Laurie must either have been born in that Handy Clan population or Laurie had an ancestor from that population.

However reality is not as simple as that!!!!!  Let’s see a more realistic scenario.

A More Realistic Scenario
Now suppose we have three separate populations, the Handy Clan, Williams Clan, and Henderson Clan. Each population is located in a different part of the world. Each population or clan has 1000 people in it. Every person in each of the populations has the genetic marker M.  In other words, the frequency of the DNA marker M is 100% in each population.

Now we discover again that Laurie, who lives in Oakland, which is outside each population, has the genetic marker M.

Question: Does Laurie has ancestry from the Handy Clan population?

Now things have changed. The question is now harder to answer. The fact that Laurie has a DNA marker M in multiple populations doesn’t necessarily mean Laurie has ancestry from the Handy Clan population.  Laurie could of had an ancestor that lived or was born in any of those populations.

That’s the problem with a BGA DNA test. As we can see, the truth is not so clear cut in tests of this nature. The truth is based on a probability.  Any newly introduced population can change things dramatically. Therefore, when interpreting the results from a BGA or Admixture test, please keep in mind that your results may differ or change tomorrow. Laurie would need a paper trail or some definitive piece of evidence to confirm the inference drawn from the BGA results. The BGA data numbers alone don’t necessarily prove anything.

The reason is that a BGA test is attempting to infer information from DNA that DNA doesn’t define. An ancestor’s original location can be any where. DNA simply doesn’t reflect or store that type of information. From the frequency (or concentration) of those DNA markers in each population, we are making an inference which could be right or wrong. If a child is born in say Atlanta, Georgia, that geographical location and information will not be stored in the child’s DNA.

One of the biggest misconceptions out there, is that a BGA or Admixture Test, can pinpoint the exact tribe or small population someone is from. As one can clearly see, this is not necessarily true. DNA alone simply cannot do this as it’s advertised. This is one of the reasons, the scientific community as a whole has not embraced BGA tests.

Now let’s look at the basic BGA concepts.

BGA Concepts
In BGA terms, the DNA marker M, is called an ancestry informative marker or AIM. Each population is called a reference population. An example of a reference population is the Yoruba. The Yoruba is a West African ethnic group that is studied by population geneticists. Many African-Americans have DNA markers that match to the Yoruba group.

Now that we have the BGA basics, let’s look at the BGA process and engine which is known as PCA.

BGA Process and PCA 
The engine or workhorse of most BGA Analysis is PCA. PCA stands for Principal Component Analysis. PCA is a complex mathematical process that separates a bunch of data into its components. For example, let’s say we have a bag of 100 jelly beans that are of different colors. After separating the jelly beans by color, we see this -> blue=25, red=25, purple=25, and yellow=25. This means that each of the four colors make up 25% (25/100) of the jelly beans. PCA would essentially separate the jelly beans in the exact same way.

The BGA process starts off with about 300,000 AIMs or SNPs. These SNPs are found across the first 44 chromosomes in humans. The SNPs are matched to a number of reference populations. The results are percentages that represent theconcentration of the SNPs in each reference population. The engine running the show is PCA, which runs in the background of an algorithm.

Now let’s look at a few BGA tests.

BGA Tests: Population Finder, Ancestry Painting, McDonald
There are a number of BGA tests out there. Family Tree DNA’s BGA test is Population Finder. 23andME’s is called Ancestry Painting. The Population Finder is a BETA test so it’s a work in progress. Population Finder uses continental groups in addition to reference groups.

Here is an example of PF

Continent (Subcontinent)     Population              Percentage    Margin of Error
Europe (Western European)   French, Orcadian       28.53%            ±0.48%
Africa (West African)             Yoruba, Mandenka     71.47%            ±0.48%

There are four reference populations -> French, Orcadian, Yoruba, Mandenka. This person basically has DNA markers that match those reference populations. It’s likely this person has ancestry from some of those populations, but not necessarily all of them. A paper trail would be needed to confirm ancestry.

Because the Population Finder is a beta test and has limited reference populations (same for 23andME’s Ancestry Painting), many people turn to an Extended BGA Analysis. This is where Dr Doug McDonald comes in.

McDonald’s Extended BGA 
Dr Douglass McDonald is a chemist at University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois. In fact, he actually created the Population Finder for Family Tree DNA. McDonald has access to more studied reference populations which Family Tree DNA or 23andMe currently doesn’t have. Because of this, you can get a more “fleshed” out or “extended” BGA Analysis.

McDonald gives his results in the form of an email with four graphs. Here are McDonald’s results of my cousin Lonette Lanier’s extended BGA test as shown in quotes below:

Most likely fit is 27.9% (+-  0.1%) Europe (various subcontinents) and 72.1% (+-  0.1%) Africa (all West African).

The following are possible population sets and their fractions, most likely at the top

French= 0.279 Mandenka= 0.721
Hungary= 0.280 Mandenka= 0.720
English= 0.277 Mandenka= 0.723

There is also about 0.4% Native American that is strong and likely real, as well as other little bits on the chromosomes but they are weak and probably unimportant.”

Each line, “French= 0.279 Mandenka= 0.721“, is a population set. There are three population sets. Each population set gives a likely or probable ancestry for my cousin Lonette. Each population set is a combination that gives the best fit for Lonette’s data. It doesn’t mean Lonette necessarily has ancestry from say, the French. But she does have DNA markers that match the French reference population. The multiple population sets are the result of Lonette’s DNA markers that are spread across multiple populations. This is why it’s difficult to pinpoint a person’s ancestral origin to a specific tribe or single population via your DNA alone.

It’s important to always backup DNA evidence with documents or other pieces of evidence to validate a claim. The numbers alone don’t always or neccesarily identify the truth.

Now let’s look at the issues the scientific community has with BGA Testing

Issues With BGA Or Admixture Testing
The scientific community as a whole hasn’t really embraced BGA or Admixture Testing. Using your DNA to establish whether two or people are related via a common ancestor is valid. However using your DNA to locate where your ancestor(s) originated is quite a different task. An ancestor could have been born or lived in any part of the world. More important – DNA simply doesn’t define or contain information such as ancestor’s geographical location or point of origin. That type of information is NOT an attribute of a genetic mutation. Therefore BGA or Admixture tests don’t have a basis in genetics. That’s the scientific community’s main objection to BGA or Admixture tests. The results from a BGA or Admixture test are used to make inferences from observed correlations. A correlation can be dangerous in science because it can lead to an incorrect inference from an observed set of data.

There is a very big difference between a casual relationship (correlation) versus a direct relationship between two variables.

This doesn’t mean BGA tests aren’t valuable. A BGA test can lead one into finding insight into their past. However you must understand that the results from a BGA test aren’t final. The results from a BGA test are tenative and can easily change tomorrow.There are at least three main current hurdles with a BGA Analysis1) Populations can change location and identity. They are not static. What we know about a population’s history is limited and based on what we currently know. Moderns humans have been here for approximately 200,000 years. No one can know the entire history of any population. We can have approximate knowledge, but NOT complete knowledge.2) We simply don’t at this time have a complete set of reference populations to make any final judgment calls as of yet. (I will explain this shortly)3) Different algorithms can produce different results.For example suppose Dr McDonald gives me the following simple BGA results:

Finnish=.100 and Yoruba=.900.

This is based on the fact that the scientific community has studied the Yoruba and Finnish etc. This would lead one to believe that one has a large Yoruba ancestry. The Yoruba ancestry may be true with a paper trail.

Now suppose the scientific community has studied and approved a new reference population, C, in say a few years. Now a rerun of Dr McDonald’s results yields the following:

Population C=.450, Finnish=.100, and Yoruba=.450

Now as you can see, things have changed. My ancestor now could have lived in the Yoruba, or could have lived in the new reference population C. This scenario could happen. As you can see, none of these results are absolute or final in the sense that they can’t change.

In addition, different algorithms can produce different results. An algorithm is simply a method or set of steps to solve a problem. The algorithm is very important. It’s what produces your DNA results. Right now there are a number of tools out there that claim the ability to produce valid BGA results. Each of these tools may run under different algorithms.

For example – I have taken three BGA tests: Ancestry Painting, Population Finder, and McDonald. Each has produced different results. The analysis from 23andME stated I had 7 percent Asian ancestry. Now this could be significant or it could be noise. Neither FTDNA’s Population Finder nor McDonald’s findings gave 7% percent ancestry. The bigger question is which one is correct? Population Finder is a BETA test. So I can assume that it’s findings are approximate. Can the same be said for 23andME’s Ancestry Painting results or Dr McDonald’s BGA findings? The truth is that at this time – it’s impossible to tell which one is correct or is incorrect.

The most important point to take from this tutorial is that a BGA can yield valuable information not necessarily definitive information. Technically, the only factual based information that can be produced from a BGA test is that a person has DNA markers (AIMs) that match a reference population.




Common Threads that Bind

Recently with DNA testing and a match on 23andme, I discovered a new relative and her name is LCP for confidential reasons. Our numbers match on the 20th chromosome and we share 0.17% our DNA. 5th cousin predicted relationship. We both share Sub-Saharan African ancestry at 84.4% for me and LCP shares Sub-Saharan African ancestry at 81.5%, European ancestry for me 14.2% and LCP 17.1%. Maternal haplogroup for me L2a1a2 and for LCP L2c. After comparing notes and surnames I discovered we do have relatives in common. This discover opens up a new group of relatives I never knew existed before now. We both can trace ancestors back to the 1600 century and I am hoping to a specific location within modern Nigeria.
Many African-American are finding their roots in Africa due to DNA testing and it gets better all the time.Whatever your goals, take the right test to meet your expectations. Need help. email me. Go to to connect and subscribe.

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