I recently came back from the country side this Spring Break. Oh, the country. Cell reception was horrible. Internet and Wi-fi was completely absent and the silence was deafening. However, as it always is, I learned a ton about my family history and ate well :). As I have always known, my family and extended family own land in a teeny tiny town called Keachi, Louisiana. My mom and her siblings, along with her cousins, used to go to Keachi every summer to help Big Mama (my great-grandmother), Arlene McCann, with the land. They did everything from tending to the animals, planting vegetables, and picking cotton (yes, they did pick cotton). It was hard work, but I hear fantastic stories about it. From the hearty meals they ate three times a day to the chicken snakes as big as pythons, I have heard it all. Well, all of this was wonderful and my family just did as they have always done for tens of years when all of a sudden my aunt spotted some wells…natural gas wells. Oh, snap! Here’s the dealio. One, who was drilling on our land? Two, is this a hole or an active site? Three, THERE IS NATURAL GAS ON OUR LAND!? Naturally the family freaked out forcing everyone to dig into the piles of paperwork that tracked the ownership of the land. Long story short, my family owns it and the oil company owes us. They are such sneaking little jerks. Since the paperwork has been done, all the family history has essentially been unearthed. I was baffled.
So let’s start with this: Who is this ‘Peter McCann?’ Tom McCann was my great-great-great-great-grandfather plus or minus a great and a few lost relatives thanks to good old record taking of the 19th century. Peter McCann or McCan as the census has it was a slave. According to family history, Peter bought his master’s land from him. I don’t know how or when, but it happened. The land has then been passed down from generation to generation until the present since then. I then became curious and looked them up on Ancestry.com and found records of my grandfathers. Here are some excerpts below:
This is taken from the 1870 census. It reads Peter McCan, age 20, male, and black. He was a slave.
This is taken from the 1900 census with Peter McCan (Top) and Tom McCan(third from bottom). He (Tom) was a farm laborer and was possibly drafted into WWI according to some other records.
Now finding the McCans was relatively easy to do. I did some more digging only to be confused when the trees started to branch more frequently. To put it simply, white branches of my family started to appear. This is about the time I gave up. Due to the controversy surrounding the issue of mulatto children and such, records of these mixed children usually weren’t kept well and have many discrepancies. Therefore, I decided not to pry. Overall, it was quite the story! I have an album of some photos of the land and some crazy Louisiana things you only find in DeSoto Parish! The houses are nearing the age of 120 or so. I can’t believe they are still standing. They were there before the railroad (which is in close proximity to the old house) was laid. Take a looksee!