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July 27, 2010

I've Got a Home in Glory Land

Recently I was contacted by Karolyn Smardz Frost, the author of
 I've Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad .

Karolyn was very kindly writing to correct some errors I have on my Blacks in Ontario section of Olive Tree Genealogy. Her expertise and knowledge of this time period is without question and I appreciated her input greatly. I've not made the corrections yet to the Underground Railroad portion but will be doing so.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart due to my husband's black ancestry which we discovered a few years ago. Up to that time his family had no idea they had black heritage. My husband's black ancestor and 4th great grandfather Jonathan Butler is first found in 1834 in the tax and assessment records in the Queen's Bush, a small area populated by approximately 1,500 Black settlers by 1840. He is noted as "Negro Butler". In the 1837 Assessment records his first name is recorded.

We don't know much about Jonathan's early years but we have evidence that he was in Toronto as early as 1824 when his son Allen (my husband's next direct ancestor) was born there. We know Jonathan was born in the United States. We know the name of his wife (Elizabeth Jinkins/Jenkins) but her origins are unknown. What state Jonathan lived in before arriving in Ontario is unknown to us.

His children married mostly into white German families who settled nearby (near Waterloo Ontario) and over the years many branches lost the knowledge of their black heritage. One of his sons married a black woman and their descendants retained the knowledge of their heritage.

After our exchange of emails and a visit to Karolyn's website, I rushed off to Amazon to buy a copy of Karolyn's book. I'm sure it is going to be an excellent read as it won the 2007 Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Interesting. I have relatives who passed and I keep hoping descendants will one day find out and get in touch. I also have family in Ontario's black community. I did some research for them recently and was amazed at all the free and detailed information I was able to find on Family Search's pilot project and on some Canadian sites. Good luck with your search!