African American history buried in unusual places

Katie Brown Bennett was whirling through reel after reel of microfilm when she found her great-great-grandfather Squire Cheshier.

It was not a birth certificate that genealogists love to get their hands on.

It was an 1843 bill of sale.

Squire had been sold for $525 to Tennyson Cheshier.

“I will remember that moment forever. I knew about slavery conceptually, had studied it in school. But here he was 27, probably sold away from family. When I saw that, all I could do was cry.”

Since then, Bennett has found a wealth of information, including her father’s line of Joneses on a 1772 slave list.


  • Stephanie McClain Posted January 9, 2013 12:56 am

    Hi, I have a question .How do you fill in the gaps when researching your family history especially when there’s more questions than answers and nobody in your family knows anything, I find myself getting very frustrated and stop and. Start again lol on my family. I start again on another family members name to research and see how far I can go back and I can’t proceed because I don’t know what to do.

  • Earl Burrowes, Sr. Posted March 25, 2014 6:28 pm

    It's a on-again, off-again, hit-and-miss labor of love (and respect) for our ancestors who are now "of the ages" but still live deep within us Stephanie. Seriously.

    My quest started – over 15 years ago – as a "favor" to my now 96 year old Mom who wanted to track down relatives who she'd lost contact with after relocating half a world away from home, and has now turned into a (loving) monster of a project.

    Interestingly, I'm married to a McClain (from West Africa) which branch has an interesting link to a McClain branch in the US. Small world.


  • Chris Posted May 9, 2014 2:41 pm

    Mr. Burrowes,

    Forgive the unconventional way of reaching out to you. I tried to send a DM but that, of course, failed.

    First I hope I didn't offend. Presumably I did so please accept this as my apology.

    Secondly I have been trying to find the book you recommended "On Africa's Shore" by Richard Wright. Can't find anything on it. Was wondering if it was written by Liberia's former President "Hilary Richard Wright Johnson"? Would greatly appreciate any pointers.

    Lastly, about Cecil Dennis (yes know much about him, that he was on the beach, but didn't know that the particular individudal was him) and the footage. I've only seen it b/c I've made/making a film about Liberia's elections in '05. When you make a film you pour over footage hundreds upon hundreds of times. Just wanted to clarify that.

    Anyway, all the best to you and if ever you're open to making contact and telling more about a side of Liberia's history that rarely sees the light of day I'd be thrilled to hear about it. (and any resources you can point me to)


    cjcarnel at gmail

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