Monday, March 31, 2008


On Saturday, March 29, 2008, we celebrated the 75th birthday of my mother, Lottie Burney in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Mirage Hotel.

I did a poem as a tribute to my mother. She was very happy with both the poem and the party.

People came literally from all over the country to honor my mother on her special day. This included family and close friends that she had crossed paths with over her life time. Some of the friends, she had known since early grade school! She is just one of those people that when she makes a friend, you are a friend for life! She is also very special to all of her family because she is just a naturally sweet person.

It was so nice to see all of the people come out to celebrate my mother. I know it meant a lot to her. There were lots of tears of joy but mostly a lot of laughter and smiles.

There was a video in which she recalled the journey of her life. It was very moving. She grew up in rural Louisiana during a time when racial tensions were high and she recalled how the 1960's civil rights movement never made it to her hometown. It remained very segregated and oppressed. It forced her family to relocate to California where for the 1st time, she attended school with all races of people. She was so overjoyed. Anyway, the short of it was that she have experienced a lot in life good and bad but she has learned to find joy in the midst of sorrow especially during her Golden Years!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter 2008

Easter came early this year on Sunday, March 23rd but I am late writing about it.

It started with me arising to the sound of the television ministries and sounds of praises around the world.

In honor of this very holy occassion, I read the story of Christ's journey to the Cross, his Crucifixion and Resurrection.

The previous week leading up to Easter, I attended a week long annual City-Wide Revival at St. Pauls Baptist Church. The event ended on Good Friday with a soul-stirring evening of praise, worship and sermon by a visiting pastor.

Praises went up and blessings and the holy spirit came pouring down!

It is so awesome to me to think about how many generations of not only my family but sooo many other family have been praising God around the world for over 2,000 years on Easter Day!

The day gives hope to multitudes of people, brothers and sisters of various colors, races, creeds and tongues who have a chance at eternal life through the blood of Christ. How awesome!

Imagine, finally meeting the long-lost ancestors that you have been researching for so many years? It was made possible all those many years ago with a selfless act by the Lamb of God!

I just want to say, thank you Christ for dying an agonizing death on a cross for the sins of mankind. I love you always. YOU LIVE!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Louisiana African American Heritage Trail

A friend recently shared with me some information regarding Louisiana African American Heritage Trails.

Apparently, Louisiana tourism officials have unveiled the first 26 sites on an African American Heritage Trail running from New Orleans to northern Louisiana.

According to Chuck Morse, assistant secretary of the Louisiana Office of Tourism said in a recent article, "It will tell the stories of African Americans who have made contributions to Louisiana, to America and to the world."

However, it is a means of boosting the economy.

Initially, there will be 26 stops on the trail but there are plans for expansion.
The trail tours will include plantations with details about slaves' lives, and the early roots of jazz and unexpected stops such as Melrose Plantation, built and owned and operated by a former slave, who in turn became a slave owner.

Heritage tourism trails are routes that lead visitors to specialty points of interest. They constitute a fast-growing type of tourism, Morse said. Louisiana is in the process of developing a series of such trails, ranging from a Culinary Trail to a Civil War Trail.

These tours are designed to attract travelers who are seeking the authentic American experience offered through cultural and heritage tourism.

Other places on the trail include the Hermione Museum in Tallulah, which is currently hosting an exhibit on the famously successful hair-care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, who was born in Delta, Louisiana, in 1867, shortly after slavery ended; the state capitol in Baton Rouge, where, in the 1870s, P.B.S. Pinchback briefly served as the first black governor in U.S. history; and Congo Square, in New Orleans, where slaves were permitted to assemble on Sundays. The St. Augustine Catholic Church in Natchez, Louisiana, and the St. Augustine Church in New Orleans' Treme neighborhood have both been spiritual centers for the black community for generations. Grambling State University in Grambling, and Southern University in Baton Rouge, both traditionally black colleges, are also on the list. The schools celebrate their rivalry at an annual football game called the Bayou Classic.

Some of the sites on the trail are associated with prominent individuals, such as the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson's grave in Providence Park Cemetery in Metairie; and the Arna Bontemps African American Heritage Museum in Alexandria, the family home for a writer who went on to become important in the Harlem Renaissance.

Other places on the trail in New Orleans are the New Orleans African American Museum, St. Louis Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2, the French Market and the Amistad Research Center. Elsewhere in the state, the list also includes Laura Plantation, Vacherie; Evergreen Plantation, Wallace; River Road African American Museum, Donaldsonville; Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum, Hammond; Port Hudson Battlefield, Jackson; the African American Museum, St. Martinville; the Black Heritage Art Gallery, Central School Arts and Humanities Center, Lake Charles; the Creole Heritage Folk Life Center, Opelousas; the Cane River Creole National Historic Park-Creole Center, Natchitoches; the Multicultural Center of the South, Shreveport; Southern University Museum of Art, Shreveport; and the Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Heritage Museum, Monroe.

It all sounds very interesting and being a Louisiana native, I plan to explore the new tour. I will let you know how it goes!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Prince Burney


Prince Burney was born around 1830-1834 according to the 1870 and 1880 census in Florida. At the present time, I do not know who his parents were but I do know that he was of native american ancestry according to his son and my great grandfather, Anderson Burney who himself was said to resemble an Indian Chief. Prince is listed on the 1880 census as Mulatto. Please note that Native Americans were often listed as mulatto on census records. I do know from census records that his mother was born in South Carolina.

He relocated to the Brundidge/Monticello area of Pike County, Alabama where he and his family resided until his death.

Prince married Jennie Burney who was born in Georgia and I am not sure at this point what her maiden name was. What I do know is that had at least 8 children including Charlotte, Sarah, Caroline, Elbert, Levi, Anderson, Nancy, Lula and possibly another girl named June.

Prince was listed in census reports as a farmer while Jennie kept house.

What is also unclear at this point is how they got to Alabama. In particular, were they brought as slaves or came as freed persons of color. According to oral family history and census records, Jennie was of african american origin.

All evidence thus far points to them being slaves at some point although for Prince at least it might not have started out that way. I researched and found that a wealthy slaveowner by the name of Guilford Burney was living in the same area of Pike County, Alabama where Prince resided. He married another native Georgian Catherine Dixon on 6/4/1834 in Leon county Florida and some of their children were Susan, Mary, Frances,Josephine,Marshall, Richard, and Alonzo. Most interesting is the fact, that he was born in Georgia, the same place as Prince's wife Jennie but later relocated to Leon county, Florida in the Tallahasee area where Prince was born and then to the Brundidge area of Pike County just like Prince. The 1860 census in Pike County, Alabama shows he owned 32 slaves. There are 2 male mulattos listed who could have been Prince but the schedule only lists the age, gender and race of the slave.

Guilford came to Pike County between 1834 and 1840, I believe because his wife had family in the area since I found other Dixons from Georgia in the small Brundidge area of Pike county. This theory is also consistent with Dixon descendent forum page information I found. It is possible that they brought both Prince and Jennie with them. Jennie may has been a slave inheritance of his wife while Prince may have been captured or inherited by Guilford since he bore his surname, Burney. I found a record in 1836 in which Guilford was executor of the estate of Ellis Burney in which slaves were distributed among the heirs but Prince's name was not on it.

The reason I suggest that Prince may have been "caputured" is because of the native american ancestry. Indians were often hunted down and captured and forced into slavery. Also, since I know that he was born in Florida and was of indian origin, it is well documented that the 2nd of a series of Seminole Wars took place in that area from 1835 to 1842 in the the Tallahassee area, where Guilford was from.
The Seminole nation came into existence in the 18th century and was composed of Native Americans from Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, most significantly the Creek Nation, as well as African Americans who escaped from slavery in South Carolina and Georgia. While roughly 3,000 Seminoles were forced west of the Mississippi River, including the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, who picked up new members along their way, approximately 300 to 500 Seminoles stayed and fought in and around the Everglades of Florida.

The surname Burney appears repeatedly on the DAWES FINAL ROLLS OF CIVILIZED TRIBES. These rolls contain names of those Indians who RECEIVED LAND under the provisions of the Dawes Act. There are multiple Burneys listed under the from the Creek, Chowtaw and Cherokee tribal lists. The Surname Prince, also appears multiple times. Creek Choctaw and Cherokee. I mention this because it is possible that Prince's surname may have been taken from his mother's maiden name which was common practice at that time.

It should also be noted that Pike County in general was Creek territory.
Pike County was created in 1821 from lands ceded by Creek Indians in Treaty of Ft. Jackson, 1814. The Creeks were the largest, most important Indian group living in Alabama. They called themselves “People of the One Fire”. The English traders called them “Creeks” because their villages were built primarily along creeks and rivers. In the early days, most of the Creek villages were in Georgia. However, with the arrival of the English colonists in 1730, the majority of the Creek nation was forced to join their relatives who had taken residence in the “western wilderness” which would eventually become known as “Alabama”. The name “Alabama” was taken from the “Alibamos” Indians, the first Creek tribe to populate the region.

At this point, a lot of questions still remain about his exact indian heritage but I am determined to continue to track his journey from slavery to freedom. One thing is certain, Prince Burney left a tremendous legacy that is evidenced by his children, grand-grandchildren and current descendents. His seed has multiplied in great numbers and are spread across the United States, east and west and north and south. His blood courses through our veins and his memory takes hold of our very souls!

The last record that I found on him was on the 1900 census. He was not on the 1920 so I believe his death must have occurred between that 10 year span. In body, he passed on to Glory but his memory and legacy lives on her through descendents.

Rest in peace, Grandfather, to us you were a Prince Amongst Princes!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Tortoise and the Hare-Crockpot vs. Microwave

Here is a tip I would like to share with you regarding cooking for the busy modern family.

I have an ongoing debate with some of my family and acquaintances regarding the best cooking method for working and multi-tasked chefs.

THE HARE: A lot of people prefer the speed of a microwave for preparing quick dishes. I guess this is a great way to go if you have had a busy day and just want something right away. However, in most instances, you compromise quickness for taste.

THE TORTOISE: I prefer a crockpot. Why? You can just load it full of your favorite ingredients at night or before you leave for work and return to a delicious savory meal that tastes like Grandma cooked it. In addition, in the end, it is faster than waiting for seemingly quicker microwave. How? It cooks your food all day but when you get home, it is done, hot and waiting for you because most crockpots have a warming mechanism. Hence, the "Tortoise" analogy because you do not have to even zap your food in a microwave, because it is already hot and ready.

Try it and you be the judge and see what works best for your family.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Lords Prayer

This is the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray and it has been handed down from generation to generation.

Matthew 6:9-13

9.....Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Dessie Lee Patterson, S. Mansfield Mayor murdered

Dessie Lee Patterson, Mayor of South Mansfield, Louisiana in Desoto Parish, was recently slain on Tuesday, March 11, 2008. The 88 year old was brutally stabbed to death by suspected killer, Bobby Harris for $200 in $1 bills.

The small amount of money he took makes it even more senseless and tragic.

Mayor Dessie Lee Patterson became the state's first black female mayor on March 14, 1971 when she was appointed to fill an unexpired term in the village of South Mansfield. Her term was set to expire in December 2008.

Prior to becoming Mayor she was involved in politics and community activism decades earlier. Patterson was one of the pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement in the local area. She joined federal officials in the 1950s and 1960s to encourage blacks to vote since elections in South Mansfield even were hampered by the lack of registered voters.

I did not know the lady personally but her story touched me and senseless murder saddened me especially since she was from the ancestral parish of my father's maternal line.

She was described as a sweet-spirited person who gave her life for this community and worked tirelessly in her role as Mayor.

I'm sure that she will be missed but by all accounts, her memory and legacy will not be soon forgotten.

May you rest in peace!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New York's 1st times two!

Lt. Gov. David Paterson is expected to succeed disgraced Gov. Eliot Spitzer who is expected to resign following a sex scandal.

In doing so, Lt. Gov. David Paterson will not only become the first black governor of New York but since he is legally blind, he will also become the 1st blind and disabled governor since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

53-year-old Paterson is a native New Yorker and is the son of former state Sen. Basil Paterson who also the 1st black to hold the office of Secretary of State.

By all accounts, Paterson is up for the task despite his handicap.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


As the generations passes, every person's ancestors doubles as follows:

(1st generation) YOURSELF 1
(2nd generation) PARENTS 2
(3rd generation) GRANDPARENTS 4
(4th generation) GREAT-GRANDPARENTS 8
(5th generation) 2G GRANDPARENTS 16

(6th generation) 3G GRANDPARENTS 32
(7th generation) 4G GRANDPARENTS 64
(8th generation) 5G GRANDPARENTS 128
(9th generation) 6G GRANDPARENTS 256
(10 generations)7G GRANDPARENTS 512

(11 generations) 8G GRANDPARENTS 1024
(12 generations) 9G GRANDPARENTS 2048
(13 generations) 10G GRANDPARENTS 4096
(14 generations) 11G GRANDPARENTS 8192
(15 generations) 12G GRANDPARENTS 16,384

(16 generations) 13G GRANDPARENTS 32,768
(17 generations) 14G GRANDPARENTS 65,536
(18 generations) 15G GRANDPARENTS 131,072
(19 generations) 16G GRANDPARENTS 262,144
(20 generations) 17G GRANDPARENTS 564,288


That means that every person at least the ones living now has had 1,048,574 ancestors in the last 20 generations. That is a lot of grandparents. So, as you can see the likelihood of one person being related to the next is highly probable.

Monday, March 10, 2008

African American Family History Seminar

The 3rd annual African American Family History Seminar took place on March 8,2008. It was a resounding success! We had a great turnout in terms of attendees. The keynote speaker was Ugo Parego with the Sorenson Foundation and he did a wonderful job. In addition, on behalf of the Sorenson Foundation provided free DNA testing to all interested attendees including myself. I can hardly wait for my results!

I taught a class this year, "Using Genealogy to Plan Your Family Reunion" and my class was almost full to capacity. As well, I got a lot of positive feedback.

Also, in attendance was news media staff, Karen Massie and Dana Howard.

I was on the planning committe for the event and everything flowed pretty much as planned with few unexpected occurences.

I am already looking forward to next year's event!