Making Notes

ABOUT

Genealogical research began as a curiosity for me when I first attempted to verify oral family history. That curiosity has since led me into another vocation where I have transformed lives.  I now  lecture and publish articles about my genealogical findings to encourage others to tackle the difficult nagging questions about their families. This passion led me to become one of the first recipients of the Paul Edward Sluby Sr. African American Scholarship from the Board of Certified Genealogists (BCG), a nonprofit professional credentialing body for genealogists.

As an author, I write to give voice to the forgotten ancestors whose sacrifices, achievements, and even the children they produced were systematically erased from the official American narrative. My focus is to publish genealogical findings that change our views of history. 


I provide research assistance to organizations that unite people and use genealogy to promote thoughtful civic engagement throughout our communities. I support organizations that foster community discussions about how the past informs critical social issues of today. 

I am a member of the following lineage societies:

 

I support several genealogical societies including:

I am volunteer with:

My research over the years led to the exciting discovery of my favorite ancestor, my 4th great-grandfather known as "Old Hark" of Virginia, a well-known 19th century professional thoroughbred race horse trainer.​ Although he was a slave, Hark West was part of an elite cadre of antebellum celebrity turfmen who helped establish horse racing as America's first national mass spectator sport. 


In 1854, Hark's most famous winner Lecomte, set a racing speed record at the historic Great State Post Stakes held at the Metairie Course in New Orleans, Louisiana. There he became the only trainer to ever defeat the famous champion Lexington. For doing so, Hark was recognized by the Governor of Louisiana, Paul Octave Hébert, at a prestigious statewide celebration at the Metairie Jockey Club  in 1855.


Hark also trained Prioress the first ever American-bred and American-owned race horse to win a race in England at Newmarket. Prioress, Lecomte and others were from the largest racing stable in America; Wellswood Plantation in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Wellswood was owned by Thomas Jeffferson Wells who hired Hark to manage all racing operations. Despite Hark's many early contributions to the sport, his achievements remain overlooked by the National Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga, New York and by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.