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Why I Celebrate our Juneteenth Ancestors!

Giving Honor to our Juneteenth Ancestors

Dr. Terry M. Turner, Compassionate Genealogist

June 19, 2023

On June 18, 2023, the reality of why I should celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday came full circle while having Father's Day dinner with my family at a restaurant. Out of nowhere, my son expressed his excitement about my genealogical research on our family roots in Texas. He said, "Thanks to Dad, we now know that Juneteenth is personal for our family, and we can trace our ancestor's existence in Texas to when they were freed." Hearing these words was music to my ears because, for me, the historical occasion always represented a tragic injustice and seemed out of place as a reason to celebrate.

Thirty-five years ago, I moved to Texas from Oklahoma with my wife and children. After our move, I first heard that Texas finally freed its enslaved people on June 19, 1865—two years and six months after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law on January 8, 1863. The Civil War did not end until April 9, 1865; however, the enslaved people of Texas would be forced into bondage another three months after all other African Americans were freed throughout the United States. Despite the illegal actions that created this celebration, I will forever honor my enslaved Texas ancestors who received their freedom in the hopes that others will see the importance of starting a Freedom Hall of Fame with me to correspond with the holiday. I invite you to join me in giving tribute to mine and your ancestors who became free on Texas soil.

Paternal Ancestors in Texas Before 1865

Those who received their freedom while living in Ellis County: Lucy Turner, 2nd great-grandmother born in1810 (Georgia) and died in 1880 (Ellis County, Texas); Warren Turner, great-grandfather born in 1839 (Georgia) and died in 1909 (Logan County, Oklahoma); and Elvira Davis Turner, great-grandmother born in 1853 (Tennessee) and died in 1931 (Logan County, Oklahoma).

Those who received their freedom while living in Upshur County: Henry Johnson, 2nd great-grandfather born in 1825 (Virginia), and died circa 1910 (Leon County); Jane Edwards Johnson 2nd great-grandmother born in 1835 (Alabama) and died after circa 1910 (Leon, Texas); William Johnson, great-grandfather born in 1860 (Texas) and died circa 1935 (Logan County, Oklahoma); Adaline Boyd Johnson, great-grandmother born in 1864 (Gregg, Texas) and died in 1836 (Logan County, Oklahoma); and Nicy Boyd, 2nd, great-grandmother born in 1832 (South Carolina) and died in Gregg, Texas—date unknown.

Maternal Ancestors in Texas Before 1865

Those who received their freedom while living in Falls/Limestone, Texas: Peter Alexander, 2nd great-grandfather born in 1820 (Virginia) and died in 1885 (Falls County, Texas); Malvina ? Alexander, 2nd great-grandmother born in 1830 (Kentucky) and died circa 1912 (Robertson County, Texas);Ruben Alexander, great-grandfather born in 1861 (Falls County, Texas) and died in 1939 (Garvin County, Oklahoma); Peter Brown, 2nd great-grandfather born in 1839 (Missouri) and died in 1925 (Limestone, Texas); and Mary Eliza Clayton, 2nd great-grandmother born circa 1830 (Tennessee/Alabama) and died in Falls County, Texas—date unknown.

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