Thursday, February 6, 2014
My Family Tree
I am fascinated by the website Ancestry.com and love to watch Dr. Henry Louis Gate's ancestry shows on PBS during the year. This sparked me to join Ancestry when my mom's side of the family was having a family reunion. I started to look up both sides of the family tree. My cousin Janie who is on my dad's side, had been collecting information starting back in the 1970's. She told me our great grandfather was involved in politics in North Carolina. She discovered that both of my grandparent's families were free people of color before the Emancipation Proclamation. She wasn't sure how this fortune happened to our ancestors.
This sparked me to Google information particularly about my great grandfather Hugh Granville Tilley. I was literally shocked when I discovered what an accomplished man he was of his time. He is mentioned in a couple of books regarding freed people of North Carolina.
Recently I discovered a book written about him online. I soon found out it was written by my cousin Teresa. We hadn't spoken in years. Many people in the family didn't know she had written a book about his life. This oral information was shared to her by her aunt (my cousin) several years before she died.
In a nutshell he was born just seven months after the Civil War began. His father Marcus was a free man before the Emancipation Proclamation. In fact there was a small community of freed people who owned land in the area.
Hugh obtained an equivalent of a college degree as a teacher and pastor. He decided to run for state representative in the Republican party. He was elected at the age of twenty-six, and served two terms during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. During his two terms he helped write legislation to establish orphanages for white and black children. He also helped to secure funding for the establishment of colleges and normal schools. He also helped to improve and protect the states forestry and rivers during the big logging boom. He also help introduce public school bills for Native American/Indigenous People.
What is so interesting about this family search is that some of my older cousins didn't know a lot of this information. It is so important to share this information with family members.