Joel R. Johnson to speak to ‘Discovering Riggs’ lineage at Telfair Museum/Willow Hill Heritage Event

I’m delighted and honored to announce that I’ve been invited to speak at the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center (WHHRC) on September 3rd, in Portal, GA, northwest of Savannah.

“Archival Silence: Closing Gaps in African American History in Bulloch County, GA” is day-long event, led by Dr. Alvin Jackson, historian, Board President and co-founder of WHHRC, in association with the Telfair Museum in Savannah.

Telfair Museums explore Savannah’s place in “our collective American past through art, history, and architecture,” including the historiography of the Owens-Thomas House, and the enslaved in Savannah, among other sites.

My own history is deeply intertwined with the WHHRC, as I’ve discovered in the last several years. The founders of Willow Hill include my 3rd great-grandparents Daniel Riggs and Audelia Parrish-Riggs, and 3rd great uncle Isaac Riggs, and aunt Harriet Lanier-Riggs. I will present on my journey to “close the archival gap” and discoveries that led me to discover my Riggs Parrish heritage, through archival research, oral history study, and DNA research.

Students of SE Georgia genealogy and history, won’t want to miss this event! It is free and open to the public.

Learn more and register.

Explore my Riggs journey:

 The Riggs Family (part 1): New Kin

The Riggs Family (part 2): Harriet Riggs the Matriarch 

The Riggs Family (part 3): Finding Fathers

The Riggs Family: Forced Labor During the Civil War


One thought on “Joel R. Johnson to speak to ‘Discovering Riggs’ lineage at Telfair Museum/Willow Hill Heritage Event”

  1. Mr. Johnson, I somehow ran across you about two years ago and I have been fascinated by your story and your history. My ancestors are from Bulloch County, arriving from NC, via Screven County in the late 1700’s. My mothers family were Brannen’s, and although I do not think we were related to the Riggs, we knew part of the Riggs family very well. Arthur James Riggs was my father’s best man and we always called his mother Grandma Riggs. She was from Blue Bird Springs. Their home was in Jimps off of 301. I also moved to Fort Pierce 2 years ago from Georgia and today I was able to talk to Larry Lee, Jr who family is also from Bulloch County and have been instrumental in the restoration of the school and the creation of the museum. I have been so intrigued with the Willow Hill School and its restoration. I was excited to see that you will be there September 3. Unfortunately I cannot come but certainly hope too some day. My grandfathers home was between Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church and Portal. His name was Pleasant Burton Brannen, or Mr. PB, or Mr. Pleasant. He married Daisy Akins, who lived down the road from him. My mother Mary Nell Brannen was one of their 14 children, and the youngest and only surviving sibling Betty Sue will be 90 in October. Not sure exactly how, but I do think the Brannen’s were somehow related to the Donaldson’s. I will have to go back and check the research I did in the early 1970’s. Thank you for such a fascinating story. Robynn Holland.

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