Saturday, April 30, 2011

"My Family"

Below the flags, click to enlarge the tiny wide-screen. These are my Civil War ancestors. Col. William Stewart, a Confederate officer, and Josephine his beloved, and former slave. They're my great, great grandparents. Below them are their children my great grand's I think. The Darker of the sisters was by another man. For Heaven's sakes! Oh my family! Oh the South!

This below is part of my family now. Two cousins Dionne, and Monique,That's and my sister Sylvia in the middle. That's me below them a few years ago.

On the left, click to enlarge, is a Slave manifest from the ship the Pioneer. These persons were bought by my white great, great grandpa or perhaps 'his' father, not sure, in 1848. Josephine in not on the list as she was born on the plantation.

Good grief. The only worse thing about not knowing the truth is actually finding it. Raw, un-prettified, honest, and plain.

(Below is from "Finding Josephine." my cousin's website.)


Josephine Burton Ford was my great, grandmother. My search for her and the rest of my family history began at age 12, when I asked a simple question: “Grandpa, are you white?”

My grandfather’s answer sent me on a lifelong journey to piece together our family story and reveal a not uncommon but often untold part of American history. His grandparents were a slave named Tempy Burton, and her master, Col. W. R. Stuart, pictured in the header.

Three decades after I first learned of this interracial, Civil War-era duo, I found another one of their descendants. Monique, my third cousin, once removed, is as passionate about our history as I am. Together, we’ve been reclaiming our family’s history which includes masters and slaves, Confederates and Senators, preachers and entertainers. Follow our journey at

Dionne Ford Kurtti

Also from "Finding Josephine" Dionne finds my sister Sylvia,..and as an added bonus,

My cousin Monique is now the queen of all Internet searches. It was her voracious searching that turned up my second great-grandfather’s **Civil War era sword** on ebay, a portrait of one of our ancestors at the Maryland Historical Society on their online database, and me on Now, she’s done it again. Monique found another one of our cousins, again on (I think that internet genealogy site is going to have to start paying her soon – she’s a walking commercial for their services!)

Meet cousin Sylvia Smith Isabel. She lives a short bus or train ride away in New York and is as passionate about uncovering our family’s history as Monique and I.

Keeping track of all these cousins can be confusing so here is how we’re all related:

The ancestors that all three of us have in common are Tempy Burton and Col. W.R. Stuart, aka The Colonel. Tempy was a slave in Elizabeth McCauley’s family. When Elizabeth married the Colonel, Tempy was given to the couple as a wedding gift. Elizabeth couldn’t have any children but Tempy could and did have seven, probably all with The Colonel. But two of her children were definitely The Colonel’s, documented through their death certificates. They were Alfred Burton Stuart, Tempy and The Colonel’s oldest child and Josephine Burton Ford, their youngest child. Alfred was Monique’s great, great-grandfather and Sylvia’s great-grandfather. Josephine Burton Ford was my great-grandmother. Using the cousin calculator that makes Sylvia and Monique first cousins, once removed, Monique and I third cousins, once removed and Sylvia and I plain ole third cousins.

(My cousin Monique's Family,..left.)

Two days after Thanksgiving, Monique and her family came over to our house and we had a few good hours of laughs over all the things we’ve found this past year and we were feeling pretty thankful, like we’d reached the peak of our genealogy mountain and could just take in the view. Then, two days later, with the discovery of Sylvia, we had even more to be thankful for, and more history to uncover (her dad grew up on Alfred’s farm and told her stories of Alf working as an unofficial town vet – news to us!). It feels like we’re at the beginning of another journey.

(Go to my cousin's site "Finding Josephine", See link on right.)

As for myself is it possible to be horrified, and proud at the same time? For I am. **Btw, I want that damned sword!**

Sweet Briar Slave Burial Ground where some of my ancestors rest.


Zaek said...

That is really a trip Sidney. There ought to be some convoluted comic operas about people finding their relatives in this way. Not by Gilbert and Sullivan - Sondheim, maybe.

I think you should have the sword, which I assume is Confederate. I fancy it's apt to confuse the Civil War reenactment types.

Your sister has a great smile. She seems like a very nice person.

Uncle Sydney 2012 said...

I always wanted a formal portrait taken of me in Civil War garb. That family sword would be the perfect top-off!

Anyway I'll now have that tunic done for me. There's re-enactor outfits that do this.

I plan to have a 9th New York Colored Volunteers outfit made. It's just something I want to do.