Researching the Descendants and Ancestors of the Weeping Time People

Researching the Descendants and Ancestors of the Weeping Time People

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by Brian Sheffey

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Researching the Descendants and Ancestors of the Weeping Time People


1859 bore witness to the largest single sale of human beings in the United States' history. 440 people were sold over a 3 day period by Pierce Mease Butler to settle his enormous debts. This presentation covers the process in researching the descendants of the 400 souls who were sold, as well as the descendants of the 400+ enslaved people Pierce Mease Butler did not sell. Collectively, this research project traces the ancestry of both groups of enslaved people further in time to connect them with their captured African ancestors who were brought to Charleston, South Carolina. The presentation covers creating a robust and flexible research strategy and the extensive international archives and repositories that have been used in the course of this research project.


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Presenter: Brian Sheffey

Brian Sheffey is the founder and host of the popular online genealogy website and program Genealogy Adventures. Genealogy Adventures provides a mix of genealogy research strategies for people with a multi-ethnic family history – with a particular emphasis on researching enslaved families. The show, co-presented with genealogist and author Donya Williams, also covers various aspects of African American history.


An engaging and thought-provoking public speaker, Brian has expertise in DNA, mid-Atlantic & Southern research, with an emphasis on the intersection of white, black, and Native American genealogy. He has used his knowledge to solve cases of unknown parentage from Colonial America to the present-day utilizing DNA and paper trail evidence. Brian has deep family roots in colonial Virginia and the Carolinas, the Powhatan, Choctaw, and Creek tribes, and the colonial Quaker ancestry in the mid-Atlantic region. He combines years of experience in marketing research and academia with a passion for genealogical research - and a unique ability to solve seemingly impossible cases. His primary research interests include cases of unknown parentage, such as identifying the white progenitors of mulatto family lines; and triangulating answers to tough genealogical questions using traditional records and genetic evidence. Behind his passion for research lies the belief that genealogy is an opportunity to connect with Americans from different backgrounds to enable them to connect with each other – and make connections around the globe.



Brian is the author of two award-winning best-selling (Amazon) genealogy books: Practical Genealogy: 50 Simple Steps to Research Your Diverse Family History and Family Tree Workbook: 30+ Step-by-Step Worksheets to Build Your Family History.


Brian Sheffey