Robert E. Lee’s Black Family

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27 comments… add one
  • Rob Baker Dec 23, 2011

    wow. Great find.

  • Ray O'Hara Dec 23, 2011

    It would be better to flog Neo-Cons with it if they were direct from Marse Robert.
    Light Horse Harry was a ne’er do well and that he visited the slave quarters after hours in hardly shocking.
    He did do good work in the Revolution but beyond that there is little about the man to laud.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 23, 2011

      Why do we have to worry about whether there is something to laud?

      • Ray O'Hara Dec 23, 2011

        We look to the past for inspiration as much as for dry facts.
        you yourself have often put people forward as examples to inspire and to emulate and honor.
        If we didn’t feel the need to laud past people we’d never bother to build statues to them.

    • Andy Hall Dec 26, 2011

      This sort of situation is probably far more common than many Americans, black or white, recognize today. The Custis men were somewhat infamous in their day for their close, er, relations with female slaves, and George W. P. Custis, Lee’s father-in-law, was even the subject of a bad pun made about it that reportedly found its way into the Congressional Record.

      As you suggest, these revelations are really only troublesome for folks who choose to see historical figures as pure and unblemished heroes — or villains, as is sometimes the case. For the rest of us, who understand that people 150 years ago were just as complex as people are today, it doesn’t cause nearly as much indigestion.

      • Pat Young Dec 27, 2011

        A friend of mine did research on his Irish ancestry and found out that he was descended from someone who was a collaborator with the British who participated in the eviction of poor tenant farmers during the Famine, some of whom may have starved to death. He told me some of the people in the village his ancestor was from still were angry at the collaborator, although not at my friend.

        I wonder how it might feel to be the African American descendant of a slave owner or defender of the slave republic.

  • Matt McKeon Dec 27, 2011

    My family tree consists entirely of petty criminals, alcoholics, an occasional suicide and a few mental patients. It’s colorful! But if I thought heredity was destiny I wouldn’t get up in the morning.

    • Pat Young Dec 27, 2011

      Back in the Kennedy years when genealogy was all the rage among Irish Americans tracing their heritage back to the High Kings, my mom used to laugh and say “If we weren’t bogtrotters, rebels and horse thieves why would we have bothered to come over to America?”

  • allen ward Dec 27, 2013

    People still try to hide that fact as if someone is a pure race in america , the land of the free, and most amalglamated nation in the world . The first spoil of any war is the women . I, am a direct descendant of Robert e. Lee and a slave named Sarah. My greatgrandmother , Bertha Ward of Altivista Va, is the daughter of a slave Named Sarah , who was a daughter , or herself had children by Lee. I know it was a part of my families heritage , and still remember my family being sued by the smithsonian for the last authentic dress uniform owned by Lee in the 60/s MS.bertha could pass as white and had 12 children by James Ward . My grandfather Sam , his brothers William Raymond sisters that I can remember Pilot Gracie Joiuce, Mary , Mildred, . I cant remember them all , but it will come to me soon.Grandma bertha owned the laundryma, general store and more in Altivista , and we nerver worried about the whites , because , the woman could pass as my greatgrandmother could for white. People feel ashamed that there descendants took part in the rapes a pillage of the original europeans that had come here . you must check history and see they openly admit they could not deal with the new enviroments , and the rich originally didnt do no work in Europe no way . As a matter of fact , white women did not come to the new lands for close to 15-20- yrs after the men set foot here. So what do you conceive that the next step was . Please read G.M. James 3- novels on sex and race , and see the laws Virginia , the first colony started. Check out how the quadroon, a mulatoe repregnated by another european as to increase the chances of passing white was the most sought after slave . Don,y be ashamed as people hope you are of your heritage . Just remember , we are descendants of the ONLY people that never asked to come here. Never forget that .Remember I,m Allen Ward , descendants of James ,and Bertha Ward of Altivista Virginia . Ms, Bertha was a direct descendant of Robert E. Lee. Oh yeah another great aunt was Sarah , she died very youngPlease feel free to contact me as I can find out lost relatives . Been 30 yrs since ,I,ve been to Altivista Virginia.

    • marcus Sep 2, 2014

      Mr. Ward,

      I stumbled across your post this morning as I became curious about the subject of Robert E. Lee and black descendants. You see, I too was told by my family researcher cousin Sheila that I am a direct descendant of the General through my great-grandmother Sarah Virginia whose grandmother was also named Sarah. My great-grand mother who was probably a octaroon or quadrooon, bears a striking resemblance to the General. I remember reading that the Gordons of Scotland and the Lees were cousins. I’m not exactly sure but I believe my great-great-grandmother was of Gordon descent as well. I would love to hear more about your connection to the General. If you still receive correspondences via this link, please contact me at trackula70@yahoo.com.

      Looking forward to the exchange,

      Marc

    • Brandi Erickson Oct 24, 2017

      Robert E Lee is in my Family Bible. A name that has been thrown around is a Reddie Lee. Looking for information about Robert E. Lee brought me to this Page. I really want to know more about possibly being related to Lee through her. I still haven’t found anything about her other than what has been said through family. If anyone knows anything please e-mail me at brandilee33.be@gmail.com. My family doesn’t show many signs of color, but I still think that it could be a possibility.

    • Jacqueli Finley Nov 5, 2017

      I am interested in helping ALL Lee descendants in becoming recognized regardless of color, race, etc.,, as I know the hurdles in doing this, for there are many Lee cousins that will do anything to keep their secrets safe, and even have gave false DNA results and manipulated test results to change the lines. It is time for the truth to be known and for all Lee cousins to know their heritage. Please contact me at info@leesofvirginia.org Thank you, Jacqueli Finley

  • Billy Yeargin Feb 6, 2015

    Great revelations!!! How can this be documented? Would love to know more about the issue of the Lees and cross-race descendents.

    • Sarah Miller Aug 1, 2015

      I just discovered a black cousin through DNA and Lee is her ancestor. Lee’s ancestor, Bernard Moore, is also my husband’s ancestor, and the DNA prooves that she is his cousin to the correct degree to be Lee’s descendant.

  • Marc Feb 12, 2015

    As would I sir. I am in contact with a cousin who did/does family research on descendants/ancestors in Virginia. She has a mountain of notes as well as documentation related to not only the Lees but our family blood relations to other prominent Tidewater families. As an aside, she did inform me that my great-grandmother was of Gordon descent as well. Much further, she stated that the Gordon and Lee families were blood related. However in this particular instance, I am certain the documentation could be found in the voluminous ledgers/journal accounts held by the Lee family.

    • Marc Nov 22, 2017

      Hello all,

      This is an amendment to a previous post I submitted some years back regarding Gen. Robert E. Lee. Anyone interested in knowing if they share lineage with other Lee cousins should endeavor to take a DNA test. I’m a member of Familytreedna and I’ve discovered connections along my maternal and paternal lines to the General. In addition to him, I share ancestors with him along my Gordon/Ball/Conway/Smith/Digges/Warner/
      Reade lines. I won’t elaborate too much but General George Washington (a Lee cousin) is listed among other interesting family members. Why did I list these other early Tidewater names? Hopefully many cousins can use this beneficial and formidable tool to concretize inextricable connections that can never be challenged, scrutinized and dismissed by prejudiced eyes. Jacqueli is correct in her assertions in that in order for recognition to occur, family must lactively mobilize in numbers to remove this stain so that acknowledgement of our hereditary claim can occur irrespective of our race, ethnicity or background.

      • Jacqueli Jan 20, 2018

        Thank you Marc.

        I agree that FTDNA DNA tests and projects (make sure that they are not just using the “FTDNA” name, but a surname project of FTDNA) are credible – the issues with the ‘other Lee Surname’ projects are that they are ran by the same group of individuals that want to use the YDNA Haplogroup (M253) of two descendants of Robert E Lee associated line of Lees of Virginia, with “authenticated” genealogies, to limit the relationships of over 80% of all other male YDNA testers with well documented genealogies to Col. Richard Lee (Progenitor of Lees of Virginia lines) as not related because they have a Haplogroup of M269 – basically using Haplogroups from YDNA projects (that cannot be verified) to disconnect these 80% descendants from the LOV lines.

        Less than 20% of the Lee descendants have tested having the M253 Haplogroup and are from the line associated with Robert E Lee – so in essence – something is just not right. So what is happening is they ‘imply’ openly, publicly, and on genealogy website platforms that the 80% of documented male descendants of Col. Richard Lee with the Haplogroup M269 are not related to their ancestor. They state that there must be something wrong with the other 80% of YDNA tested males descending from Col. Richard Lee’s other 5 sons known to have had descendants (other than the Ditchley/Blenheim line associated with General Lee) stating possibly a NPE (non-parental episode) or ‘bad’ genealogy is to bad for the discrepancy of the ‘disconnected’ 80% – as if hundreds, thousands of documented descendants are just “Lee want’to’be’s”, just because they do not have a notable General named in their lines … the ‘bread and butter’ of the Lee name and ‘entities’ that profit from the ‘history’ of the Lees of Virginia line. And in all honest truth, the only thing the results from these two descendants of General Lee having the Haplogroup of M253, is that Robert E Lee’s YDNA Haplogroup may well be M253 – this does not prove up the YDNA Haplogroup of Col. Richard Lee.

        To add to the soup, begining in 1988, a handful of researchers began the ‘disconnection’ of Col. Richard Lee from his ancestral line. These ‘sources’ cite births/deaths/Wills/Probates, etc., but research has not resulted in actual Parish records or primary sources of the ‘parents’ of Richard Lee. It is noted, because of this, living descendants of the English Shropshire lines, males that have tested have the Haplogroup M269, matching the 80% of ‘disconnected’ male descendants that have the M269 Haplogroup, so now this has become ‘evidence’ that Col. Richard Lee did not descend from the Shropshire, Coton Hall, English Lees, as even Col. Richard Lee’s Will and Last Testament states, which is a legal document – besides several historic primary sources showing he did. Interesting?

        And the descendants, having well documented genealogies to Col. Richard Lee that had Autosomal testing done match with both YDNA Haplogroups M253 and M269. How is that? Because Autosomal DNA is passed down from female to both sons and daughters, that is how.

        And this is not about General Robert E Lee. It is about those that are being denied their birthright to acknowledge where they come from, who their ancestors are.

        Within the ‘undesirable’ lines that are being disconnected over this YDNA Haplogroup controversy are SAR and DAR members as LOV descendants they have meticulously documented their genealogies to use their ancestral connection to Col. Richard Lee and his descendants who participated in the American Revolution to obtain memberships.

        There is much going on here that is just not right, or legal – as the acceptance or denial of lines descending from Col. Richard Lee should not be based on Haplogroups from unverifiable YDNA tests, tests that may come from different labs, tested different markers, with many unknowns.

        I hope that what I am trying to convey makes sense – that if we want to get to the truth, have your DNA tested, get your connected genealogy well documented, be careful which Lee DNA projects you get associated with, and most of all, be leary when someone states that you are not a descendant of Col. Richard Lee, or that he is not an ancestor of yours, all because of a YDNA Haplogroup or individuals associated with a historic entity tell you that you are not. There is much more research to be done.

        My suggestion: get your YDNA or Autosomal, or both, done with FTDNA, or a credible lab, upload your raw data to GEDMatch (gedmatch.com) along with your GEDCOM (genealogy) and share your GEDMatch Kit# to other Lee descendants so that we all can compare the results and share the information.

        If you need any assistance or have questions, you can always contact info@leesofvirginia.org, and we will try our best to help. I am dedicating a webpage for all who want to share their DNA test results and Kit# for comparison on the leesofvirginia.org website.

        Thank you,
        Jacqueli

  • Sarah Miller Aug 1, 2015

    I found this video while trying to find out if it was already known that Robert E. Lee had black children. While this video is about his black sibling and nephew, it is still interesting. I discovered through a DNA match with a black woman who claims her great great grandfather was Robert E. Lee that her claim is most likely true. She matched as a 5th-8th cousin of my husband. If her claim that her ancestor, Lindsey Lee (who is shown in Robert’s household in the 1870 census) is true, then it explains that DNA match, because it would make her and my husband 6th cousins 2x removed. They would both be descended from Robert E. Lee’s ancestor (and my husband’s), Bernard Moore.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 2, 2015

      Is there a link to this video?

    • Marc Aug 11, 2015

      Ms. Miller,

      I read your post and became quite intrigued at you and your husband’s findings. If I’m not asking too much, what DNA test did your husband use to trace his DNA link with Robert E. Lee?

    • Thalia Sep 14, 2017

      HI Sarah, can you provide a link to the video. I am interested in learning more about this as I am searching for my great, great grandmother who was related to General Lee.

      Thanks.
      Thalia

  • Howard Sep 25, 2016

    Thank you very much for sharing this story. I am interested in the story of Ona Judge, the personal slave of First Lady Martha Washington, who escaped slavery in Philadelphia. The descendants of her aunt Philadelphia Costin are cousins of the children of Robert E. Lee.

  • James Simcoe Sep 26, 2016

    In the notes to ‘The Stories the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell’ by Lowry on sex in the Civil War, there was mention of Stonewall Jackson’s Cherokee concubine. It was stated that his ‘military family’ knew about it and honored the ‘Gentleman’s code’ of silence. In a thread on Civil War issues tied to this subject an Oklahoma woman, Ocie Jackson was told by her mother that her grandmother explained that HER mother had a child by Jackson, who supported the infant; up until his death, presumably. Sorry for the hazy documentation – perhaps others could nail this down?

  • Rachel May 15, 2017

    Hello, I don’t know much about my family history, but was always told we were descendents in a Robert E Lee. I recently did a 23 and me test and found that thar 5-8 generations ago I was a decendent of West Africa. Does anyone have information on the family history? I would never have guessed I had African blood, but it makes sense!

    Thanks!

  • Nina Atkins Sep 14, 2017

    I’ve been told that we were descendants of Robert E. Lee. I’ve reached out to Robert E. Lee V sister with no response. This generation correlates with where I am; 5th. I also have been passed down fine china supposedly from the Lee family. We were not suppose to talk about this. Now is the time to talk! Perhaps you can help me connect the dots….Willie Lee/Tilley

  • Jacqueli Finley Nov 5, 2017

    I cannot tell you how important it is that we correct this and all Lee cousins know who they descend from. I am interested in helping ALL Lee descendants in becoming recognized regardless of color, race, etc.,, as I know the hurdles in doing this, for there are many Lee cousins that will do anything to keep their secrets safe, and even have gave false DNA results and manipulated test results to change the lines. It is time for the truth to be known and for all Lee cousins to know their heritage. I am trying hard to reach out to all impacted by this so we can right this wrong doing by some of those Lee family members who will do anything to hide their secrets. Please contact me at info@leesofvirginia.org Thank you, Jacqueli Finley

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