By Jacqueline Cotman, Contributor
ST. PETERSBURG — Let us explore, in depth, the genealogy of ourselves, which begins with an individual and one’s parents. Every person has a mother and father. Now, each generation that we count back, the number of parents doubles. One of you, two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents and 32 great-great-great-grandparents and so on.
By the time we can name every direct dead ancestor that far back in history, there will be millions and millions of people related. Then, the number diminishes to just two parents. The finished delineable ancestral chart looks exactly like the symbols for crescendo and decrescendo in classical music. Imagine finding a path all the way back to Adam and Eve!
Renowned storyteller Alex Haley, the author of “Roots,” led one leg of his family as far back as Gambia in West Africa (Judah’s Tribe.) Dr. Carter G. Woodson chronicled the lives of the earliest known Native American, Africans and Europeans who were of Virginia residency. Some were descended from or used the name of the third president of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson.
President George W. Bush, #43, signed the African American descendants of President Jefferson and Sally Hemings into the Presidential Records of the United States. Jefferson was also related to the two previous well-known American presidents.
Even though several of my ancestral kin were aboard The Mayflower, there were thousands of Native Americans already here, even long before Christopher Columbus sailed. Only after the American Revolution, about 283 years later, did Indians and Africans receive surnames–the surnames of the British soldiers who conquered the areas.
Where were their surnames found? The names came from the Bible, which chronicled the history of the known world. The Bible is considered the world’s first history book! Can you find your surname? What does it mean? Name the first known individual or family group with that name.
About a generation passed after the American Revolution before the official first census was taken and the results were delivered to President George Washington in 1790 and he became the “Father of our country” and claimed kinship to everybody in America.
According to accepted and uncontested history, England began its family structure in 1000 A.D. and its royal structure in 1200 A.D. Consequently that would place their heritage after the time of the writing of the Bible. Their pattern was that of Egyptian royalty some 20 dynasties since the rule of the Tutsi boy Pharaoh Tutukamen, “King Tut” who fathered 54 male children.
Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, whose French surname means, “of boys,” places his ancestry at that beginning. King David of Israel was a great-great-grandson of the pharaoh.
Once an American soldier is funeralized, the military provides an American flag to be folded and presented to the survivors. Each fold tells the history and genealogy of the world. About the ninth fold is the story of America’s shared biological kinship to the ancient Egyptians.
Mama Altamease was given ours at the Arlington Cemetery burial of her husband, my father Reginald, in February 1964. Mama Idella, my maternal grandmother, told me while I was very young, “We would still be in Egypt had not the Pharaohs become so disgruntled.” At that period in life, I held no inkling of an idea of what Egypt was or where it was located.
Another ancestor, great grandfather John William “Cubit” Nixon was the first African American selected and elected a senator in Florida. He was elected only by the other Republican senators of the Florida Assembly in 1875.
A cubit was the secret measurement used in building the great pyramids. A royal cubit was two or more inches longer. Senator Nixon had been listed as a 10-year-old slave in the book, “Free Negroes of North Carolina 1790-1850” by Dr. John Hope Franklin in 1947. “Cubit” was living in the house with his mother Charlotte Nixon in 1830 Perquiman County. They were born in Virginia. His grandmother Charlotte was born there as well just one year before the war of the American Revolution and 99 years before her grandson became a senator and later the Assistant Treasurer of Florida.
The family of Nixon traveled south through South Carolina and Georgia and settled in Gadsden County in 1841 four years before Florida was named a state on March 3, 1845.
“Cubit” and his half-brother, Thomas D. Nixon were 21 years old. John Nixon served as a Deputy Sheriff in Gadsden County prior to being elected a statesman and died in Homeland, Florida in 1927 at the age of 107, the same year that famed folklorist Zora Neale Hurston began collecting materials in Polk County for her first book on Negro Folklore “Mules and Men.”
Jacqueline N. Cotman is the author of “An Hour of Eternity,” Dorrance Publishing Company 2008, a first book in her family history serial. She was elected to membership in the National Trust for Historic Preservation 2001 and The Task Force to Re-elect President George W. Bush 2004. She and her families have donated artifacts and materials to the Meek.Eaton Southeastern Region Black Archives Research Center and Museum at FAMU, the African American Archives at the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida, the St. Petersburg History Museum, The Tampa Bay History Center, and the Boca Grande Historical Society.