Posted by pplotkin on December 18, 2018 in AncestryDNA, Who Do You Think You Are?

When Regina King started down the path to discover her ancestors, she knew their history may include some hardships. She was ready to face those hardships, because she believes “uncomfortable conversations are where solutions live.” During Regina’s journey to learn about her 2x great-grandfather, Moses Crosby, she learned first-hand about facing difficult facts about the past.

Though President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January 1863, many states did not end slavery until the close of the Civil War in 1865. Regina discovered a variety of sources exist for African American ancestors between 1865 and 1870, such as court records, newspapers, and voter records, among others. Through voter registration documents, Regina learned that Moses Crosby had registered to vote in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, as a free man of color in 1867. He also had an alias: Moses Hughes. Newspaper articles document the political turmoil in Tuscaloosa County at that time and describe the Ku Klux Klan’s terrorism of the community. Regina learned Moses had been placed on the Klan’s “Black List.”

The more Regina learned about Moses, the more she wanted to know. She found further details about Moses in the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau, which was organized about 1865 and continued to operate through 1872. These records can provide a wealth of information about the lives of African American ancestors after Emancipation. In a letter written by a Bureau official, Regina learned about the tragic murder of Moses’s wife and his narrow escape from the violent gang who killed her. These records vividly describe the violence and suffering experienced by Moses’s family at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Court records and other documents describe Moses’ later ascendance from prison to the clergy of the Baptist Church.

Regina King’s maternal ancestral journey highlights the challenges of the African American experience in the South. As Regina found, uncomfortable conversations about the past must be brought to light, and some of these issues of race translate to modern times. Despite the incredible hardships and trials that Moses Crosby endured, he found faith and helped set wheels in motion that would later propel the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, as well as modern African American movements taking place today.

Do you have African American ancestors? Check out the Freedmen’s Bureau and other records to discover what your ancestors may have faced moving forward into life after slavery.

Tips from AncestryProGenealogists:

  • When searching for your ancestor, use first names, since surnames were fluid during this time and they may not be listed with the surnames they later used.
  • Review each record set provided by the Freedmen’s Bureau. These include:
    • Headquarter Records
    • Assistant Commissioners
    • Superintendents of Education
    • Field Office Records
    • Marriage Records
    • Office of Adjutant General Records
    • Claim Records
    • Labor Contracts, Indenture and apprenticeship Records
    • Records of Freedmen’s Complaints
    • Freedmen’s Court Records
    • Freedmen’s Bureau Records of Persons and Articles Hired
    • Freemen’s Bureau Ration Records
  • Offices were located in regions, not counties. Searching for records for your ancestor can be tricky, since they may not have gone to the nearest office, geographically.
  • Reports were sent “up the line” from the Field Office, to Assistant Commissioners, to Commissioners. Review record sets at all locations.

Watch Regina King’s full journey, download the TLC GO app or watch on Binge full episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? on


    • P

      I was very disappointed by the political bias shown in this show….this is not the purpose of having these genealogical events on TV. Regina needs to take her activisim elsewhere!!! Completely dismayed by it all!

      • Dennis Lohr

        >>> Regina needs to take her activisim elsewhere!!! <<<

        It seems you completely missed the connection between the importance of politics in Ms King’s life and that of her 2G Grandfather. She is continuing to use that same voice her 2G Grandfather’s wife died to protect.

    • the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish are not the same. They were people from the German regions of Europe. But the Amish today are basically the only ones speaking it here.
      But the Amish do have great records to search through as I understand. If you google Amish Genealogy you will find quite a bit of information. Good luck

  1. Michkirk

    I was adopted Dickson but later on I took back my biological fathers name Kirkland, without going through the courts, how should I use which last name?

    • Donna

      I would say which ever one you’d like to know more of. Do you want to know of your actual blood line, or just where your adoptive parents came from.

  2. Cerize Pereira

    My father does not know of my existence on this planet It is my dream to find him. I was an orphan from 0 to 6 yrs.of age.

    • Tian

      I’d like to know the answer to your question as well. I feel like I will never know who my father is. As I scroll down these comments the questions that ask about finding their father or parents don’t have replies.

    • Cousin_56

      Have you gone to the adoption agency. They will give out lots of info about the mother, father, parents & their siblings. Physical descriptions & ages of parents & occupations are disclosed. They also lists siblings, ages & occupations too. Good luck.

  3. Betty

    I am adopted and aware of my birth mother (who was raised by strangers) and know of my suggested father. The man who supposedly is my birth father is the father of a school chum of mine. Can I run the info of my genetic family on a separate line? Suggestions?

  4. Kathi Callinan ( Doherty)

    I am the child of 2 Irish immigrants ( well I am positive of my mother’s heritage ). But like the most of you , I would truely like to know who I am ! The man who is suppose to be my father was killed way before I was born . So my ever knowing him or his family is more than likely a dead end . So now , my saving grace would be to know my rightful heritage . You see I’m up in years now . My dad was 2nd youngest of 12 . So I won’t be having any aunts or uncles. I’m sure their are cousins . I would love to leave the door open , in case one of them would be open or curious enough to know about me . I would love the chance to know a bit of family history . Also to see just who the heck I look like . It’s a terrible thing . When you don’t know who you really are , where you come from ,

    • LaVerne Ludwick

      I encourage you to check every Census that you can find on the places they might have lived. Also every name and spellings. I found out that my father’s father is not who everyone thought just by checking the Censuses of where they had lived before and after their marriage. I am older and like you, no one is still living to answer my questions. If you have questions, please reply to the above email and I will explain to you how I found out who his father was!
      LaVerne Ludwick.

  5. Patty

    I have been haggling with myself forever, do I really want to know my father’s side of the family. My parents breakup was awful, he left us for another woman when I was 3. We went back out of state to live with my grandparents. My mother was so bitter over the circumstances she made my life hell as well as fibbing to me that my father had died in the 70s! She was so controlling she didn’t want me to have any connection to that side of the family which I believe is selfish and cruel. She’s been dead for 20 years and I still feel very cheated. At this time in my life my health is not good and I would hate to be gone without getting some answers about the family I obviously resemble and possibly have other traits in common. All these years have passed and we could have formed connections. I think that’s very unfortunate.

    • Cousin_56

      Patty, my heart goes out to you. Have you found out any more info since you posted?

      Sounds like you have found out that your father may still be alive?

  6. Margie

    #1- I did not see the clip that Regina King saw. However, I can’t imagine her acting positively to what she saw. No matter how you look at that time in our history, it was political. Women & little girls are still being sold but for the sex slave industry. Little girls are groomed until they are old enough to perform. This has also become political.??
    #2- I sent my DNA to Ancestory and was really surprised at the results. I knew we had Irish/English Blood. My Mother’s skin was dark. Me & siblings had more of my Mom’s skin. I traveled a lot when I was in my early 20’s & would try to see if anyone looked like my Mom. Ancestry answered my question. I am as Greek & Roman as I am Irish/English. My Mom always said we had Jewish blood and we do – Jewish & Native American (just a small amount). We (my family) have so many different blood lines. Our children’s Children will have even more. It was really great to get answers from Ancestry. I purchased a test to give everyone in my family.

  7. Debra Washington, Teegarden

    I would really like to know who my great grandmother and great grandfather and great great we’re?

    • Cousin_56

      Debra, are your grandparents still living? You can get a copy of their marriage cert from the Vital Records office for a fee which usually gives the parents names. If they are deceased, you can get their death certs. You can also look for obituaries in your local newspapers. Many but not all obituaries give family names. Death certs & obituaries usually give cemeteries too. Go to your library; lots of records there. You can go to the cemetery & see who’s buried with them. You can also go to the cemetery office & see all of the burials for your family name. As you find names, you work your way back. I have found that if you have trouble finding info with say your grandmother, it’s been helpful to check her siblings. With one of my relatives I had to check all siblings before I finally found the mother’s maiden name.

      I hope these few things help. I am not a professional.

  8. Vicki Housley

    I cannot seem to access your site . We bought a kit from you and sent it off .I looked at it. When I tried to search for relatives your company seemed to want another $99.00 from us . I chose Ancestry because I thought that it was one single package so far if this is your business model I find it not pleasant at all !
    Vicki Housley

    • Cousin_56

      Vicki, I have an account with ancestry. Send me your info & email. I will check your family names.

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