Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Saturday, June 24, 2017, is the date set for the 29th annual family reunion of the descendants of John Calvin and Mary Elizabeth (FINCH) JOHNS. The event will take place from 9:00 a. m. till 5:00 p. m. at the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall in DeKalb, Texas. Since the gathering will be a covered dish affair, please bring your favorite foods to share. Drinks, plates, cups, and utensils will be provided. Lunch will be served at 12:00 noon.

     If there has been a death in the family since the 2016 reunion, please send an obituary or the essential details so the names of the deceased can be included on a table of recognition. The data will also be used to update family files.

     The reunion also recognizes persons celebrating a 90th or 100th birthday. If anyone in your family has reached these milestones since last year’s reunion, please send the information to Ann Johns, 3424 Walnut St., Texarkana, Texas 75503 (phone 903-691-9085; e-mail For further details about the reunion, get in touch with Ann Johns; Marilyn Barron, 184 CR 3204, DeKalb, Texas 75559 (phone 903-667-3409; e-mail; or David and Bunny Hall, 1902 FM 992 North, DeKalb, Texas (phone 469-576-2636; e-mail

     Since tracing African-American ancestors can be difficult, researchers welcome new publications that make their task easier. One of the latest efforts to make material about blacks more accessible is the GEORGIA FREE PERSONS OF COLOR series by Michael A. Ports. Recently he completed VOLUME V: RICHMOND COUNTY, 1799-1863, the final addition to the set.

     In 1818, the Georgia Legislature passed a statute requiring all free persons of color to register with the inferior court in their county of residence. County clerks were supposed to list each freed person by name, age, place of birth, residence, year of arrival in Georgia, and occupation. Sometimes clerks also recorded a person’s height, weight, skin color, and name of their guardian.

     To help researchers understand fully the material, Ports furnishes an overview of the registers, explaining such issues as variations in their original format and information, any gaps in data, and handwriting irregularities or peculiarities. He also supplies a synopsis of Georgia laws pertaining to the registers and to manumissions in the state. In addition, he provides a list of manumissions that the Georgia legislature issued from 1799 to 1865.

     Transcribing the contents of the four extant Richmond County registers, Ports presents the material in a series of tables, which are then arranged chronologically according to the dates each register covers. Some recurring surnames are BENNING, BRISTER, BURNETT, BUSH, CARNES, COMMANDER, DENT, GANT/GANTT, HOXEY/HOXIE, KEATING, KELLY, LETT, RUFF, SCOTT, and SIBBALD.

     Although not all clerks performed their duties to the letter of the law, their records provide vital details for African-Americans in the Peach State long before the watershed 1870 United States census—the first federal population schedule to identify individual blacks. GEORGIA FREE PERSONS OF COLOR, VOLUME V: RICHMOND COUNTY, 1799-1863 is a valuable contribution to the field of African-American genealogical literature.

     The 166-page softbound publication has an introduction and a full-name index. To the book’s price of $19.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for UPS, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #CF8480) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (for phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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