Paternal family names on my father’s mother’s side include Bobo, Demings, Craig, Johnson, Chase, and Milbourn, Doman, and Jeffers.

Paternal family names on my father’s father’s side include Riggs, Moore, Davis, Corbin, Kent, Neville/Nevils, Donaldson, Love, Hall, and Parrish.

Maternal names on my mother’s father’s side include Mays, Sherman, Walker, Higdon, Ladson, Choice, and Strother.

Maternal names on my mother’s mother’s side include Washington, Redd, Morris, Black, Burks, and Steptoe.

The Bobo family record originates in Navasota, Grimes County, TX after the Civil War, but through DNA I’ve learned extends further back to the Bobo line founder – Gabriel Bobo (Baubau)  – a French Huguenot who immigrated to the US through England in 1761 and married a second-generation colonist of Jamestown, Virginia, and Mayflower descendants. Gabriel Bobo’s descendants migrated from Virginia to South Carolina and later spread through the South to Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi with their enslaved. I am a direct descendant of the enslaved of Gabriel’s Bobo’s great-great-grandson Sheriff Andrew Jackson Bobo (born in Kentucky, later lived in Louisiana and Texas) and an enslaved woman, presumably Cornelius Bobo’s unidentified mother. My 3rd great grandfather John Bobo was born enslaved to Cornelius Bobo and Emma Brown, but landed in Navasota in 1860. His parents Cornelius Bobo and Emma Brown are listed on his death certificate witnessed by Bessie Fredonia Demings, my great-great-grandmother who married John’s son Dave. Cornelius Bobo and Emma Brown are the eldest Bobos on the record.

The Johnson record originates on Maryland’s Eastern shore in post-colonial Kent Island and Queen Anne’s County with free men of color around 1830 in the 1830 Free People of Color of Maryland census. The census is an amazing document – driven by the Maryland Colonization Society’s effort to enumerate free blacks in order to ship them to the American colony of Liberia. Were it not for this record I never would have found the eldest Eastern Shore descendants, Philip Johnson b. 1787 in Queen Anne’s County my 4th great-grandfather, and Emory and Charlotte Chase, both born about 1805 in Kent County, my 4th great-grandparents on the shores of the Chester River. My 3rd great-grandfather Walter Johnson (grandson of Philip Johnson) moved his family from rural Sudlersville in Maryland on the Chesapeake to the rapidly industrializing city of Chester in Pennsylvania, as part of the great migration in the late 1800s and became a prominent leader in the Black community there.

The Mays record begins in pre-emancipation Greenville, SC, and Charleston, SC in census records. The Mays, Choice, and Walker families were enslaved by area-farmers and held a close association, living, and farming along the southern “frontier.” From Paris Mountain to the Gant area on the Reedy River in what is now downtown Greenville, the endogamous families intermarried, built lives, farms, businesses there. The eldest on this line appears to be Alex Choice, born in 1770 in Africa, according to records. James Mays (the first Mays on record), my great-great-grandfather was born a slave. Many families stayed, but my great-grandfather Van Matthews Mays b.1883  migrated his family to Cleveland Ohio in the early 1900s for new lives and opportunities.

The Redd record begins in the early 1800s post-colonial Virginia in the heart of the Shenandoah valley with both enslaved and free families of color in records from Roanoke and Staunton. I have a great deal of work to do on this line.

The earliest of the Morris family was enslaved to the prominent Baldwin family of Virginia and later played a key role in Reconstruction politics in Virginia. The Black family records begin with a court case in the late 1850s. Incredibly, most of the Blacks were emancipated by their enslavers in a will that turned into a hotly contested year-long court battle.

The Riggs family record begins in the early 1800s in Statesboro, Bulloch County, Georgia. My family was first enslaved there by Jacob Nevils, son of John Nevils, a farmer and one-time soldier in the American Revolution, who originally came from Nevil’s Creek near Beaufort, North Carolina. The Nevils descend from the English Nevils family. The other family are the Parrish family originally from England, settled in Virginia, then moved south to Georgia. Jacob Nevils likely raped in bondage an unknown enslaved woman who had my 4x great-grandmother, Harriet Riggs. The Riggs family were likely Gullah Geechee and worked expansive rice fields. After emancipation, the Riggs prospered during Reconstruction but faced terrible anti-black violence in the county. Henry Jackson Parrish is my biological 5th great-grandfather. He likely raped in bondage his enslaved woman “Elsie”, my 5th great-grandmother. The sons of my Riggs and Parrish line moved to Chester, Pennsylvania in the early 1900s.