Historian Traces Nadia Crow's Roots

By Nadia Crow

Published 08/21 2014 11:35AM

Updated 08/22 2014 12:35PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 UTAH) - The universal quest to figure out who we are and where we came from makes ancestry dot com such a success.  That fever has taken over good four Utah’s Nadia Crow.  In the first of a three part series, we covered the basics on how to get started.  And after months of research, one family historian is ready to answer longing questions about Nadia’s roots.

“In the case of your family, we were able to get all of those lines, eight generations, and get a glimpse of that ninth generation,” said Family Historian Michelle Ercanbrack.

The oldest relative on my tree is Esquire Baucom. Born in 1820 in North Carolina, he was likely a freed slave.  Esquire’s parents were born sometime between 1780 and 1800.

“Which could put them right back during the revolutionary war and the war of 1812 in North Carolina where those conflicts were concentrated,” said Ercanbrack.

“Your family has been and are really like the builders of this nation,” said Ercanbrack.

And that realization was enough to bring me to tears.

“It's just, you hear these old stories and then you get an idea of maybe what their life was like and then it just brings me back to painful memories of being in elementary school and having someone say, “Go back to Africa!” said Good 4 Utah’s Nadia Crow.

But according to this agriculture schedule of 1880, my fourth great grandfather esquire Baucom grew on this American land.  On 20 acres of land, he had cotton, corn, chickens, cows, and pigs.

But one family line still remains a bit of a mystery.

“Oscar is the oldest, he's 12 and then the next oldest is 5,” said Ercanbrack.

You can see John Oscar Murphy or my third great grandfather in the 1870 census.  He’s the only person in his family listed as ‘M’ or Mulatto while everyone else was ‘B’ or Black.

“Oscar, 12 years ago, that would have put him during slavery. Or right at the Civil War in Louisiana. So his slave master is his father?” asked Crow.

Fast forward 20 years later, Oscar married and had children; two sets of children

“It appears he's living down the street from all these children who we believe are his, but it doesn't appear that Oscar Murphy and Mariah Luckett ever married,” said Ercanbrack.

A mulatto Mariah and a mulatto Oscar had four kids including Emma Murphy, my second great grandmother.  Emma Murphy married Thomas Nichols senior.  And my grandmother, Carolyn Lowery Hyser, remembers this story about them:

“They said because he married this woman, a German woman, who was mulatto or full white.  And whenever they saw them together there were a lot of concerns about it,” said Nadia’s maternal grandmother Carolyn Lowery Hyser.

It was a difficult time and important piece of my family tree.

“We are hitting the peak of that Jim Crow era and so it's possible that why there were other reasons, the hostility in that area might have been increasing and another reason why they left,” said Ercanbrack.

“There's pride, but there's also a bit of sadness because of what they must have endured during that time,” said Crow.

And still many questions remain.  What was life like for a very fair-skinned Emma Murphy from a complex family background?  What plantation did john Oscar call home?  And why does the trail run dry?    

In our last story with ancestry dot com, Nadia’s DNA reveal.  Science explains who she is.  And we find out where Nadia’s ancestors came from. 

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