Introduction: Who Am I?

9 April 2007

Hi folks!

I know that some of you already know who I am and are already familiar with my research, but I'm sure there will be some new folks coming around, so I want to start off telling you a little about me, who I am, and what my research is. Then I want to talk about the purpose of this blog and what I hope to accomplish. Please note that all posts are copyrighted. I'm in the process of publishing some information and hope to get a book published about this project once I finally finish school. Feel free to print off a copy for yourself and whatnot, but if you want to repost something elsewhere, ask for my permission first please.

My name is Erin Bradford and I currently live in Raleigh, NC. I was born and raised in Montana and my parents and brother's family still live there. I've been doing genealogy since I was 11, that's 19 years now (you can do the math! LOL), but since no one in my family had ever tried to do genealogy, I had no clue where to begin. In a way, this is a blessing for my research project into free Blacks of antebellum NC. Since I didn't know how to start, I did my own family's genealogy backwards. My grandma told me that we were supposedly descended from Gov. William Bradford of Mayflower and Plymouth Rock fame, but no one knew for sure. I had no clue how to start, so I began with Gov. Bradford and went forward. Using secondary sources, I found the first 7 generations forward only to determine it was too complicated to continue! When I started college at age 18, I had internet access and was able to start searching online. I also found some genealogists who set me straight on how to do the research. I can safely say now that I am NOT descended from Gov. William Bradford!

I started college at Montana State University with hopes and dreams of becoming a record producer, better than Quincy Jones and Barry Gordy put together, but that dream was soon dashed when I went deaf 1 week before the first day of class....and my major was Spanish! LOL I chose to change my major to art and it was a good choice as it was a good form of therapy for me to deal with my new deafness, but I also soon realized I did not like folks to tell me what to draw or how to draw it! I stayed at MSU for 2 years and then transferred to U of Montana where I changed my major to history. I loved UM, but I wanted to minor in African American studies and they did not offer it as a minor at the time, only Native American studies, which I did at first, but quickly realized it would not work for me since everything was oral and my typists couldn't keep up. I found out about the National Student Exchange program and decided to come to North Carolina State University, where my cousin attended, and fell in love with Raleigh. Secretly I knew that I would not be returning to MT, and I think my folks knew it, too. I finished out my BA in history with a minor in Africana studies at NCSU and then returned there the following year to get my MA in public history with a concentration archival management. I am now attending North Carolina Central University in Durham to get my MLS (Master's of Library Science) and hope to be done by May 2008.

So, now that you know the basics of me, here is some info about the project.

I began this project at NCSU in spring 2000 with a seminar on World Slavery, taught by Professor John David Smith (now at UNC-Charlotte), whose specialty is slavery and emancipation. For that class, we only had one grade: a term paper on any aspect of slavery, any where in the world. Since my interest was U.S. slavery, and I had just finished Dr. John Hope Franklin's The Free Negro in North Carolina, 1790-1860, I decided to write on the manumission practices of colonial North Carolina. During the process of writing that paper, I found manumission papers for quite a few families, and also mention of manumission papers for other families who were freed outside of NC thanks to Paul Heinegg's research, which encompasses not only NC, but also SC, VA, MD, and DE (and I'm probably leaving another state out). I fell in love with one particular family and I became hooked! I've had to put my research on the backburner for the last year and until I finish school. Between a full time job and full time school, I just have no more time to do any research, but if everything goes according to plan, I'll be back in action in about a year!

I'm hoping to accomplish a few things with this blog.

  • First, I want to help educate those who are not aware of the free Black population in antebellum NC. This group is continually overlooked, not only in NC, but in other states as well, and I want to do something to help bring them to light.
  • I want to discuss various types of records, which have been useful in my search. Most state records are different from state to state, but also there are similarities. I plan to present the benefits of various records for searching that might prove beneficial.
  • I hope to highlight various free Blacks that I'm researching with mini-biographies about them. With the exception of a few very well known ones such as John Chavis and Thomas Day, these biographies will mostly consist of dates, spouses, children, and what records I have found them in.

There may be other things I do that are history or genealogy related, such as highlighting new websites or books I've come across related to either NC genealogy, history, or free Black genealogy or history; genealogy tools that I've found helpful, etc. If you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to email me. I don't plan to post more than about once a week or so.

Thanks all for stopping by my neck of the woods!


Submit comments Please note that all comments are moderated.

Anonymous said on April 10, 2007 at 8:27 AM
Erin, You may already know I admire your work. I enjoyed your introduction. I found it to be thorough and full of good info. I await further posts. I may be forced to learn about "RSS" so I can keep up. 4/10/07

Erin Bradford said on April 10, 2007 at 10:19 AM
Hi Joy! Thanks so much, I appreciate it. RSS is actually not hard at all! If you want, since we work in the same building, I can come by your desk and show you how.

Anonymous said on April 12, 2007 at 3:02 PM
I look forward to you sharing the records used in your research. I may have a freed slave relative from the Henry County, SC area and could possibly use some of your information. Love your blog!

Dera Williams said on April 24, 2007 at 2:30 PM
This site is great? Does your background extend to the free people of color of N.C.?

Erin Bradford said on May 29, 2007 at 4:46 PM
I'm sorry for not responding sooner, but yes possibly. That's how I got started was trying to figure that out on my father's side of the family. So far, I haven't found anything one way or the other.

ringydingydo said on February 23, 2012 at 1:22 AM
HI Erin, Some of us are trying to resolve a old family question. Do we have Indian blood or not? I can trace my line back to at least Patience Dunston/Dunson b. 1784 Wake Co. NC who married Elisha Burks. Supposedly Patiences mother is Francis Bibbie/Bibble and William Dunston. Word is that Francis and/or William are people of color. How could I research that? Thanks Dan