Black History Month: GeneaGem – Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery

February is Black History Month, so I’d like to share some free GeneaGems that I hope will be new resources for your African-American family history research. There will be one new GeneaGem each week, providing an introduction and quick overview of the website, and all the websites are free.

As Black History Month 2022 comes to a close, I’d like to share one last GeneaGem – Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery, which is a project of the Department of History at Villanova University and Mother Bethel AME Church.

With the close of the American Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States, newly free black people wanted to find family from whom they had been separated for months, years and even decades. Many families have had stories passed down of lost children, parents, cousins who were never found and reunited with loved ones.

The goal of Last Seen is to recover the stories of families separated in the domestic slave trade.

Last Seen provides both K-12 and college level lesson plan ideas, but genealogists will want to check out the Research tab to search thousands of Wanted Ads taken out by former slaves, hoping to find their loved ones.

The ads can be searched by newspapers, locations and with a map. What I really like about the interactive map option is that you can view the ads as they were placed over time.

Many of the ads have a surprising amount of details in them.

These ads were placed locations far outside the American South and geographically cover locations from Africa to Mexico to Massachusetts.

There are four ways you can contribute to this project – share your own family story, contribute ads found in old newspapers, transcribe the text of ads that have been donated and financially support this project.

That wraps up Black History Month for 2022. I hope you’ve found some interesting new websites to check out in your research.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Create a Genealogy Related Poem

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is a bit different:

1) Create a poem – rhyming, free verse, doggerel, limerick, etc. – about genealogy research, whether general or specific.

Poetry was one of my least favorite topics in English class. I actually considered skipping this week’s challenge because this doggerel took me all night to think up:

I once looked for a man named Anders
who certainly liked to wander
Being a master mason, he was a man of some worth
Who just disappeared off the face of the earth!

It’s done! Randy, I hope you don’t have too many more poetry challenges on the SNGF list!


James McAfee, County Armagh, Ireland to Botetourt County, VA

Today, and for the next couple of family sketches, I am delving into a family for which I am accepting secondhand research. That is because this branch of my husband’s family tree consists of the Scots-Irish. Those records are locked, although I’m not sure how much I would find in them in the early 1700s anyway.

James McAfee was reportedly born on 17 October 1707, County Armagh, Ireland and reportedly died in Botetourt County, Virginia in 1785. The place of his death is suspect to me, though, as his wife Jane, died in what is today Mercer County, Kentucky and his family had removed there by the 1770s. Also, I find no mention of it in the Botetourt County court records. Therefore, I believe that the date and place of James McAfee’s death is unproven.

I feel fairly sure of the accuracy of this family because James’s wife, Jane McMichael, has a DAR chapter named for her. Jane was born c1710, also in County Armagh it is said, and was the daughter of Malcolm McMichael. James and Jane married, c1735, probably in Ireland. She died in 1783 in Mercer County, Kentucky.

There is an inscription on her memorial in the New Providence Presbyterian Cemetery in Mercer County which calls her “the mother of pioneer men of Kentucky, who by the side of her five sons was among the first to cross the Cumberlands in 1779.”

Birthplaces of Malcolm and later children are unsure. James McAfee owned land in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania until c1750, but some say James settled in New Castle County, Delaware by 1739. If so, his name isn’t found in the land records and he must not have remained there very long.

Further, I have read statements that the McAfee famiy left from Belfast, Northern Ireland i 1739, that Malcolm died during the trip and that the family landed at New Castle, Delaware, but no mention of their whereabouts until James owned land in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

James is first mentioned in Augusta County, Virginia as a delinquent tax payer in 1750 and isn’t mentioned again until 1754 and later.


  1. James, born c1736, County Armagh, Northern Ireland; died 26 June 1811, Mercer County, Kentucky; married Agnes (Nancy) Clark, 25 August 1762 (license issued), Augusta County, Virginia. James was a Revolutionary War soldier on the frontier under George Rogers Clark. (2) Unknown, license issued 17 September 1765, Augusta County, Virginia.
  2. John, born c1737, County Armagh, Northern Ireland; reportedly died 1768, Augusta County, Virginia, but I have found no record.
  3. Malcolm, born c1739; reportedly died June 1739, New Castle County, Delaware.
  4. George, born 13 April 1740; died 14 April 1803, Mercer County, Kentucky; married Susan Curry. George served under George Rogers Clark in the Revolutionary War.
  5. Mary, born c1742;
  6. Robert, born 10 July 1745; died 10 May 1795, New Orleans, Louisiana; married Anne McCoun, c1766. Anne died 1794, Mercer County, Kentucky. Robert also served under George Rogers Clark in the war.
  7. Margaret, born c1747, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; married George Buchanan. George died 1813, Mercer County, Kentucky.
  8. Samuel, born October 1748, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; died 8 June 1801, Mercer County, Kentucky; married Hannah McCormick, c1774, Augusta County, Virginia. Samuel also saw war service under George Rogers Clark.
  9. William, born c1751, Augusta County, Virginia; died 8 September 1780, Floyd’s Station, Kentucky; married Rebecca Curry. William was the fifth brother to serve and the only one to die during the Revolutionary War.

It is said that the Scots-Irish liked to have space from their neighbors. George Washington added that we would not have been able to win the American Revolution without their help.

The McAfee family is an excellent example of both comments – they were out in the wilderness of Kentucky in the 1770s and all five brothers who lived to adulthood served in the war.