The Challenges of Tracing Roots

I previously blogged about tracing my roots back to 1805 and how it’s getting hard to go back further in time because almost all my white ancestors in the South (North Carolina) are not on the tree. One of the most challenging and frustrating things about tracing my roots is how the Census changes in different years in terms of classifying an individual’s race. For example, one ancestor is listed as a Negro in one Census and as a Mulatto in another. I have only clearly identified one White (woman) ancestor. Ironically, she is the one born in 1805, as far back as I’ve gotten thus far. This is the exception to the rule, that is, a White woman ancestor — an exception in that she is clearly identified. What I am saying, the overwhelming majority of Mulattos are the result of the “union” between Black women and the White male slavers who took liberties with them, and the White men are almost never identified. When I learn more I’ll know if my theory is true that some of the children were given the middle names of these fathers as a way for the mothers to clearly identify and attach responsibility to those responsible. There are a number of other things that stand out that I’ll write about another time.


About William Eric Waters, aka Easy Waters

Award-winning poet, playwright and writer. Author of three books of poetry, "Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass: Remembrance of Things Past and Present"; "Sometimes Blue Knights Wear Black Hats"; "The Black Feminine Mystique," and a novel, "Streets of Rage." All four books are available on
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