Picture it. Mississippi. 1862 – 1863. The Battle of Vicksburg brings the union army into the Deep South and into the heart of the Confederacy. As the Union army fights, many black slaves flee behind Union Army lines for protection. At one plantation, protected by Confederate soldiers, a slave by the name of Isser Price is on the block being sold away from the only family he has ever known. The slave owner has very little time to gloat at how high of a price Isser will fetch as the Union Army comes charging in and kills every Confederate soldier in the area including the slave owner. And in the end the plantation land is divided up among the slaves—including Isser Price.
Isser Price was my great-great grandfather. And thanks to Ancestry.com I’m trying to learn more about him and where my family history lies beyond him.
When I was in 8th grade I got the standard ‘where did you family emigrate to the US from?’ family tree assignment. My WWII Army Veteran grandfather, Isser Price’s grandson by blood, really encouraged me to research my family tree and get it written down as so much has been passed on through oral tradition. But no matter how many relatives I spoke to for my assignment, I couldn’t get any detailed family history past slavery circa 1850. And while I was proud I was able to show my family tree had roots in three native American tribes (Cherokee, Seminole and Creek), Jamaica and possibly England, so many of the other kids in my class could trace their family roots back to coming to the US on the Mayflower as Puritans and Calvinists leaving mother England, the Irish leaving because of the potato famine and Russian and German Jews fleeing the Holocaust. All I had was the continent of Africa and of Europe and a big giant question mark as to exactly where from those two places my ancestry definitively came from.
Ancestry.com has this invaluable DNA test which is a godsend for people trying to get some verified results about their ancestry. The kit cost about $90 and comes with directions, an online activation code and a saliva specimen collection kit. I’ve mailed mine off already so in about 6 – 8 weeks I should have my results back to me and will reveal them here for you.
Are my ancestors from Cameroon? Angola? England? I’ll soon find out. Feel free to follow my journey with the Twitter hashtag #ExPDAncestry
Dear God, I hope I’m not French.
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