KeithLBrown

The Land of My Forefathers

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How many people have ever heard of San Domingo, Maryland? Or, if they have heard of it, how many people know where it is located? Part of my rich heritage rests in the small community of San Domingo and so I would like to share some parts of that heritage with you.

According to the oral history that is recited annually at the Zion United Methodist Church Founders Day, San Domingo was founded in the early 1800s by James Brown, my paternal great great great grandfather, who was born about 1792. James Brown was a native of Jamaica and a free Black (I have a copy of his freedom papers in my file). Upon arriving to the Delmarva Peninsula he went to Cambridge Maryland to find a free woman to marry. Her name was Elizabeth Leatherbury. She was born in Delaware about 1794. James and Elizabeth had eight children - Harriet, Byard B. (through whom my direct paternal family line is traced), Leonard, Isabella, Ardilla, Eliza A., Emmeline, and Mary.

San Domingo soon became a destination for other free Blacks from the Carribean trading along the Atlantic Coast. In 1859 my great great great grandfather James Brown and his family established the local Church, Zion United Methodist Church (many of my ancestors were laid to rest in the family cemetery there). The original church was destroyed by a fire and a new church was built and stands today on the site of the original building. The church served as the center of the community housing many cultural, civic, historical, and educational activities.

At the end of the Civil War, John Quinton, a Carribean seaman, is reported to have settled in San Domingo and to have married a granddaughter of James Brown. Her name was Sarah E. Brown. She was the daughter of my great great grandfather Byard B. Brown (22 October 1819 - 19 November 1906), James' son, thus making her my great grand aunt. John and Sarah had eight children - Danvis A., Bayard H., Leah J.P., Noah F., William H., Ernest U., Festus N., and George O. Quinton. John Quinton was literate and so consequently he preached and taught school in the community. John Quinton and his family were the anchor of education in San Domingo until state supported education came to San Domingo in 1919 when Sharptown Colored Elementary School (a Rosenwald school) was built. Children were educated through grade 7. Full access to high school education for San Domingo residents did not occur until 1930.

As a historical side note, the grave sites of my paternal great great great grandparents have been registered with the Eastern Shore Historical Society as being the oldest known marked free Negro graves in Wicomico County Maryland.

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You know i have problems with Geneology. My last name doesn't sound like it is written in English and i constantly have to spell it out for people.Plus the spelling changes between Great great grandpa and great Grandpa. Not sure if people heard GGG grandpa wrong( he and his wife were non fluent English speaking immigrant) and the old spelling is wrong or if they Americanized his sons name in school, as the story goes, and the new spelling is incorrect but stuck around.

But with such a common last name like Brown genealogy must really be difficult. Good job.

Edited by hordak

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But with such a common last name like Brown genealogy must really be difficult. Good job.

Actually having a common last name like Brown can be pretty challenging, but the real challenge that I have is lining all of the children up with the right set of parents. Fortunately, before my father passed in November 2006, he was able to help set the record straight on some things as it were. You see, his father, my grandfather, was married 3 times. His mother, my grandmother, was also married 3 times. So, some of my aunts and uncles are/were actually my father's half brothers and sisters. I was able to trace my paternal family line all the way back to 1792 and my great great great grandparents with the help of a missionary couple that was here a few years ago. Actually we found information about my great great great grandfather in a book at the archives building here in Annapolis. I learned about the history of my great great great grandparents grave sites and location from a cousin who lives in New Jersey. So, I have been able to find quite a bit of information about the paternal side of my family. My mother was a Harmon. Another common name. Finding information on her side of the family has been a little more challenging.

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I would think it extremely difficult. My understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) is that many of those who were slaves took on the last names of the people who "owned" them. I've always wondered how someone would trace that line of lineage.

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I would think it extremely difficult. My understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) is that many of those who were slaves took on the last names of the people who "owned" them. I've always wondered how someone would trace that line of lineage.

You are absolutely correct in that many slaves did indeed take on the last name of their slave owners which does make genealogy work a little more challenging unless one can find out the slave owner who owned their ancestors and where they were located would be of help as well. One of the big problems that I am having in findinding information about my paternal great grandmother, Amanda F. Bell, is that it is believed that she had a Black mother and that her father was a White slave trader. Fortunately, I do know where she is buried. In most cases, those with slave ancestry have a difficult time because most graves of slaves were unmarked.

On a personal note. Thus far, I have not traced any of my "roots" back to Africa or to slavery. From what I have been able to gather, most of my ancesters, even as far back as 1792 with my great great great grandfather were free Blacks. Some of them even owned their own homesteads. In fact, the family has copies of some of the land records. Also in my lineage is some White blood,Indian blood, and at least some Jamaican (my great great great grandfather being of Jamaican descent) blood. So, in all actuality, I do not consider myself to be African-American or even 100% Black, but accept Black American as a label as that is what is on my birth certificate of 17 October 1958. In fact, I have a young second cousin that you would think is White, but he has a Black father (my cousin) and a White mother. If by chance my family line ties me back to Africa in some way that is great. If it does not, that is great as well. I know that my Heavenly Father knew exactly what he was doing in putting me in the family line that he placed me in at His time and for His purpose.

I plan to have the DNA swab test done to see what other information I can find out about my heritage. Very interesting stuff that I am starting to find as I continue my research.

Edited by KeithLBrown

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Interesting factoid about my family:

So, there was this guy from Portugal named Ferdinand Magellan who circumnavigated the globe on the behest of the King and Queen of Spain. The purpose was to spread Christianity (of course, we all know that this is a bid for colonization).

Anyway, Magellan landed in Mactan Island in 1521 and was killed by the tribal king Lapulapu. It took Spain 40+ years to send an army led by Legaspi to "avenge" Magellan. At this time, Lapulapu was already dead and was succeeded by Luisito. Luisito tried to fight Legaspi but the Spanish armada was just too strong. The tribe scattered. Anyway, Luisito was my great great great great... grandfather.

Problem is, nobody can prove it. Tribes don't keep records of that stuff and Spanish oppression was such that natives were barely considered humans. And what little we had got burned down by the Japanese in World War II. The Catholic church has some of my ancestral records hand-written in this big book (after some of my ancestors turned Catholic) that nobody is allowed to open and as of today, has not been attempted to digitize.

So Keith, I'm completely envious of your family history "stuff". Like the freedom papers, graves, and such that are very tangible.

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I plan to have the DNA swab test done to see what other information I can find out about my heritage. Very interesting stuff that I am starting to find as I continue my research.

I thought about doing one of those though i don't know if it would be worth it. My Great Grandfathers on both Mom and Dads side were 1st born Americans and know where the Great Greats immigrated from.

I have heard they a good for people with no idea of where they are from but from what i have seen they don't get too in depth, I think Africa is broken into Four groups.

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You are absolutely correct in that many slaves did indeed take on the last name of their slave owners which does make genealogy work a little more challenging unless one can find out the slave owner who owned their ancestors and where they were located would be of help as well. One of the big problems that I am having in findinding information about my paternal great grandmother, Amanda F. Bell, is that it is believed that she had a Black mother and that her father was a White slave trader. Fortunately, I do know where she is buried. In most cases, those with slave ancestry have a difficult time because most graves of slaves were unmarked.

On a personal note. Thus far, I have not traced any of my "roots" back to Africa or to slavery. From what I have been able to gather, most of my ancesters, even as far back as 1792 with my great great great grandfather were free Blacks. Some of them even owned their own homesteads. In fact, the family has copies of some of the land records. Also in my lineage is some White blood,Indian blood, and at least some Jamaican (my great great great grandfather being of Jamaican descent) blood. So, in all actuality, I do not consider myself to be African-American or even 100% Black, but accept Black American as a label as that is what is on my birth certificate of 17 October 1958. In fact, I have a young second cousin that you would think is White, but he has a Black father (my cousin) and a White mother. If by chance my family line ties me back to Africa in some way that is great. If it does not, that is great as well. I know that my Heavenly Father knew exactly what he was doing in putting me in the family line that he placed me in at His time and for His purpose.

I plan to have the DNA swab test done to see what other information I can find out about my heritage. Very interesting stuff that I am starting to find as I continue my research.

What a rich and interesting history you have.

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Hi, Keith this is Nicole Phillips, I am the grand daughter of Barbara Quinton-Brown, the Great Grand daughter of Viola Quinton, who's mother was Sarah Quinton, I remember coming down to the family reunion when I was younger.

I also remember my grandmom tell us about John Quinton the Sea Captain, she says it's a book out there, kind of like a cartoon or something about him.

I have been trying to trace our family tree, so far it looks like I've made it to England, I sent the man a message awhile back asking him questions about The Quinton's there, but I got no reply yet.

The funny thing about it is that I have Brown's on each side of the family because on our side is Brown's and my grandmom married a Brown, she married Sam Brown, but they are from Mississippi.

I love hearing stories about our family and hope there is more stories to come, I hope to find out more about our family, and I hope this man from England can shed some light about our family.

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Hello Keith. My family and I have been researching our genetic line when we stumbled onto your blog.

We are related. I am the Great Great Granddaughter of Ernest Ulitsons Quinton. You have his name listed below as the son of my 3x great grandmother, Sarah Brown Quinton.

At the end of the Civil War, John Quinton, a Carribean seaman, is reported to have settled in San Domingo and to have married a granddaughter of James Brown. Her name was Sarah E. Brown. She was the daughter of my great great grandfather Byard B. Brown (22 October 1819 - 19 November 1906), James' son, thus making her my great grand aunt. John and Sarah had eight children - Danvis A., Bayard H., Leah J.P., Noah F., William H., Ernest U., Festus N., and George O. Quinton. John Quinton was literate and so consequently he preached and taught school in the community. John Quinton and his family were the anchor of education in San Domingo until state supported education came to San Domingo in 1919 when Sharptown Colored Elementary School (a Rosenwald school) was built. Children were educated through grade 7. Full access to high school education for San Domingo residents did not occur until 1930.     

 

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14 minutes ago, Grunt said:

I wish I knew how to use that family tree stuff

Log on and get started - it's not so hard if you take it one step at a time.  Slow is OK.  Log in and add yourself, then just poke around.

Indexing is a good way to learn, without necessarily realizing you're learning, how to do research.  (After a while, you realize you now know how various records are structured, so that when you go searching your own family names, you recognize the record type and where the data you're searching came from.)

Your LDS.org account works for FamilySearch.org.  The Church has arrangements with a few other popular sites (like Ancestry.com) which get you free accounts on those sites.

Alternately - you have children - set them to work and then let them train you. ;)

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