My Family Affair

Keitt|Sapp|Shumake|McRae|McMillian|Clark|Ryal - All from Georgia

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“Over the course of the millennia, all these ancestors in your tree, generation upon generation, have come down to this moment in time—to give birth to you. There has never been, nor will ever be, another like you. You have been given a tremendous responsibility. You carry the hopes and dreams of all those who have gone before. Hopes and dreams for a better world. What will you do with your time on this Earth? How will you contribute to the ongoing story of humankind?” ~ Laurence Overmire

Mary Octavia McRae

Posted by TonyaKeittKalule

Matilda McRae

Mose McRae
I have located a cousin through the DNA that matches us to Mose and Matilda McRae.  Before now I knew nothing of the family of their daughter Mary Octavia McRae and now I have been able to add this leg of Mose and Matilda's family to the family tree.  There are still two siblings that I do not have any information on and that is Sarah and Edd McRae.

Mary Octavia was born around 1874 in Montgomery County Georgia to Mose and Matilda McRae.  She married Peter Wortham in 1890 when she was 16 years old. They had six children, five born in Georgia between Wheeler County, Macon and Statesboro, Georgia, and the last born in Mississippi.

They owned property in Wheeler county in 1890. It looks as though she and her family moved to Mississippi between 1902 and 1909.

Mary Octavia and her family stayed in Biloxi through the Mississippi River Flood of 1926 that caused thousands of people to flee the area.  They even stayed through the the infestation of the boll weevil of the cotton crops the following year.
This says something about the strength of this family.

Family Tree Relationship Chart

Posted by TonyaKeittKalule

Family Relationship Chart

1Common AncestorSon or DaughterGrandson or DaughterGreat Grandson or Daughter2nd Great Grandson or Daughter3rd Great Grandson or Daughter4th Great Grandson or Daughter
2Son or DaughterBrother or Sister
Niece or
Grand Niece
or Nephew  
Great Grand  Niece or Nephew
2nd Great Grand Niece or Nephew
3rd Great Grand Niece or Nephew
3Grandson or Daughter
Niece or Nephew
First CousinFirst Cousin Once RemovedFirst Cousin Twice RemovedFirst Cousin Three Times RemovedFirst Cousin Four Times Removed
4Great Grandson or Daughter
Grand Niece or Nephew
First Cousin Once RemovedSecond CousinSecond Cousin Once RemovedSecond Cousin Twice RemovedSecond Cousin Three Times Removed
52nd Great Grandson or Daughter
Great Grand Niece or Nephew
First Cousin Twice RemovedSecond Cousin Once RemovedThird CousinThird Cousin Once RemovedThird Cousin Twice Removed
63rd Great Grandson or Daughter
2nd Great Grand Niece or Nephew
First Cousin Three Times RemovedSecond Cousin Twice RemovedThird Cousin Once RemovedFourth CousinFourth Cousin Once Removed
74th Great Grandson or Daughter
3rd Great Grand Niece or Nephew
First Cousin Four Times RemovedSecond Cousin Three Times RemovedThird Cousin Twice RemovedFourth Cousin Once RemovedFifth Cousin

How to Calculate How Two People Are Related

  1. Select two people in your family and figure out the most recent direct ancestor they have in common. For example, if you chose yourself and a first cousin, you would have a grandparent in common.
  2. Look at the top row of the chart (in blue) and find the first person's relationship to the common ancestor.
  3. Look at the far left column of the chart (in blue) and find the second person's relationship to the common ancestor.
  4. Move across the columns and down the rows to determine where the row and column containing these two relationships (from #2 & #3) meet. This box is the relationship between the two individuals.

My DNA Estimate from Ancestry

Posted by TonyaKeittKalule



  • Mali22%
  • Benin/Togo21%
  • Cameroon/Congo20%
  • Africa Southeastern Bantu8%
  • Trace Regions
  • Nigeria3%
  • Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers3%
  • Senegal2%
  • Other Regions Tested 
  • Africa North0%
  • Ivory Coast/Ghana0%


  • Native American3%


  • Other Regions Tested 
  • Asia Central0%
  • Asia East0%
  • Asia South0%


  • Ireland10%
  • Trace Regions
  • Iberian Peninsula5%
  • Scandinavia2%
  • Italy/Greece1%
  • Other Regions Tested 

Kissy Swain -from Africa - Born 1781

Posted by TonyaKeittKalule

For many years my family only knew our ancestors back to the late 1870s - early 1900s with Martha Clark and William McMillian, but now I have traced back 90 years more to Kizzie Swain born in 1781 in Africa. Yes that is what I said Africa.

 Martha's mother was also named Kizzie Swain, so this is Martha's great-grandmother, Kissy from Africa. At this point I don't have any idea when Kissy came from Africa or how old she was or even where she landed, but I do know that she was 99 years old in the 1880 census with her son Peter Swain, Martha Clarks' grandfather. I believe that Kissy may have had other children, but for now I only see her in the 1880 census with her son Peter and his family.

 However, When I look at the voter registration log book of 12 August 1867, Peter at the age of 45 registered to vote and the three names listed behind his were Henry Swain, John Swain, and Philip Swain. This leads me to believe that they all went together for this monumental and momentous event of Registering to Vote. This was the first year the black man was allowed to vote.

In the 1870 Presidential election,Ulysses S. Grant was elected President thanks to 700,000 black voters. It was also in February 1870 that the 15th Amendment was ratified to protect the black's right to vote. I am proud that these men my Ancestors, stood together for change, stood together against so much opposition for their constitutional right to vote.

 Peter also had two sons named John and Phillip which would have been too young to vote at that time, so this makes me believe that these could be his brothers. It would also make sense to take men and not children to face the dangers of this task.

 I am presently going page by page of the 1870 census to find any on Peter Swain and his family. but as you know, that is a process. It is in the 1900 Census where Peter states that his mother was from Africa, by this time Kissy had already passed.

 Now I will have to try to find when she came over to the US and where she came from. I am hoping the DNA will help me with some of this.

 Probably finding her slave master, would be the first step.

She earned her wings

Posted by TonyaKeittKalule

On January 22nd, 2015 she took her last breath, two hours before I got to there.  Normally I would be sad that I could not tell her that I have loved her all of my life, and I am better person for knowing her, but I did not feel that when I walked into her bedroom minutes after finding out that she had already transition.
 I felt a big lost, a heavy heart, and a tremendous amount of grief, but with all of that was peace knowing that she was not in any more pain from the cancer that was ravaging her body.

My Aunt Helen was like a big sister to me for many years, because she was only 17 years my senior; then there were those times when she was a second mother, and later a best friend and confidant.

Yes, Helen Maxine Ryals Thornton was many things to me in the 54 years that I knew and loved her.
 She even named me when I was born.

She was my mother's baby sister.

Now my mom is the only one left from her immediate family, and that saddens her in many ways.

Betty was the middle child. Losing her older sister Bernice Ruth Ryals Giles in 2005 and now her baby sister Helen, has taken a toll on her heart.

Betty R. Keitt

You can see it in her eyes, but because she knows God so well, she is able to carry on.  For many years they were like Mutt and Jeff, always together.

That changed in the last few years after Helen had a back surgery that really changed her  quality of life. Yes she was able to get around but not like before.

Bernice Ryals Giles

These three girls were funny together, they had lots of good times.  Bernice lived in Chicago Illinois, while Betty and Helen both lived in Savannah.

My grandparents would really be proud of their girls.

These two were together until the end.  Helen wanted her big sister by her side, and her big sister would not have been anywhere else.

Aunt Helen, you know that you are truly missed her with us, but we knew that you were tired, we did not want you to have any more pain, we all were willing to let you rest.  I hear that you even saw your mother before you left, that she was with you, and that, through all of the hurt, brings me comfort.

His name is Phillip Keitt

Posted by TonyaKeittKalule

For many years I was told  Willie and Viola Keitt were the parents of my grandfather, Nathaniel Keitt and his older brother Romeo.  I never knew if they were married or not, but I just assumed that they were.  On the back of Nathaniel and Irene's marriage license to my grandmother, he states his parents names as Willie and Viola, no last names were given, and he also states that they were deceased.(1932)

Nathaniel Hawthorne Keitt

 I was able to find the death certificate of his brother Romeo and it states that his parents names are Phillip Keitt and Viola Coulter, this death certificate was authenticated by his cousin Jeanette Hall in Philadelphia.  Now this still doesn't tell me if they are married or not, because it asks for the mother's maiden name on the death certificate.

After searching,I was able to find Nathaniel in the 1910 census with his grandparents Joshua and Elizabeth Keitt, several cousins and his brother Romeo. In this census he(b.1905) was five years old and his brother Romeo(b.1900) was ten. So my guess is that whatever happened to his parents must have happened between 1905 and 1910.

I had a hard time finding the same family in the 1900 census, so I decided to try to locate the area where they lived in the 1910 census since it stated that it was a farm and they owned the farm, it indicated that they may have owned the land for quite some time. At that time they lived in Bowman, Orangeburg, South Carolina, but I could not even locate Bowman in the 1900 census.  Now I am really confused, so I look for a map of Orangeburg and discovered exactly where Bowman was located.  Then I started to look through the 1900 census and they listed the areas as Middle Orangeburg, and after viewing the map, Bowman was located right in the middle of Orangeburg County, so I decided to look through this area page by page.

I did find the family, but what made them hard to find is that the transcriber spelled the name wrong.  It was indexed as Reitt instead of Keitt.  When I looked through the census record, I found that Joshua and Elizabeth had an 18 year old son named Phillip.  BINGO! There is the father of Romeo and Nathaniel.

The other thing that is noticed here is that Phillip is 18 years old and listed as single.  This census was taken on 11 June 1900 and Phillips son Romeo was born 5 May 1900. So he was not married to Viola when his first son was born,

It is great to finally find that connection to my great-grandfather, but there are still many more questions.

What happened to Phillip? What happened to the mother Viola Coulter, who had two children with Phillip 5 years apart?

I will find out more about these two, Phillip and Viola, so stay tuned for updates.

African American McRaes' History Presented

Posted by TonyaKeittKalule

Georgia Historical Society-Jan 15, 2016

On January 15th, 2016 I met with several family members as my cousin Jesse McRae donates his book, A History of the African American McRaes of Georgia, to the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah, Georgia. It was really a proud moment for our family.  This book will assist the present and future generations in their research of the McRae ancestors.

Jesse McRae in front of the GHS

Luckily, I happened to be home from Peru for the Christmas Holidays, others came from Tallahasse, Florida, Chesapeake, Virginia and Dublin, Georgia for this event.  It was like a small reunion.  I got to meet a new cousin, Willie King, who is a descendant of Nelson McRae, the brother of my 3rd great-grandmother.

Inside the GHS

Jesse McRae is connected  to two sets of McRaes, both of which are represented here at the event., His paternal grandparents are both McRae descendants.  His paternal grandfather is Artis McRae, and the mother of his paternal grandmother is Susan McRae, so finding if there is a connection between the two is quite important to him.