Robert E. Lee’s Black Family

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16 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

      Looking forward to the exchange,


  • 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.

  • 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?

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