A black and white connection through common ancestry
By LINDSAY LARIN
Bellevue Reporter Former Staff Writer
November 11, 2008 · Updated 11:25 AM
After years of exchanging e-mails and long-distance phone calls, Norman J. Landerman-Moore and Ann Moore Black met face-to-face for the Western Region African American Conference held at the Bellevue South Stake Center building. The two are distant cousins, related through a common great-great-grandfather, Caleb Moore, of Ten-Mile, Meigs County, Tenn.
Sitting side by side, the newly aquatinted relatives share few similarities at first glance, but their connection runs deep, with common ancestry dating back to the 1600s.
When Landerman-Moore first became curious about his ancestry, he began his research in Meigs County, where President Andrew Jackson had given the Moore family a plantation in 1812. As Landerman-Moore began to unravel the stories of his forbearers, he learned that Caleb had a housekeeper - Harriet, a slave. They had a child, a boy named Governor Gilbert Moore. He was Ann's grandfather. The plantation remains in the Moore family and many descendants of the slaves still live on Hickory Flats which was originally part of the plantation.
Norman traveled to the Moore farm two years ago and visited with the black Moore decedents and their church. While there, he presented to them some of their genealogy.
"The white Moores, the slave holders, kept the slave families together throughout history," Landerman-Moore explained. "They were never to be sold or separated and so that's one of the reason many of the slave decedents are still in that same area. It was also the practice of the white Moores to teach the slave children to read and write and in those days that was a crime punishable by death for the white man."
The strong relationship led the black Moores to take the Moore name and keep it. At the end of the Civil War there was a closeness and bond that kept them together, explained Landerman-Moore.
The Moores have a rich history of early American families with nearly 800 ancestors identified.
"With this event happening we thought this would be a good time for us to become acquainted and to get to know each other better and to continue our work on the genealogy of our families," Landerman-Moore explained.
Both Ann and Norman led a workshop at the Western Region African American Conference on the story of their ancestry and the peace the two have found through the discovery of their family history.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints donated their facility space for the 8th Annual West Coast African American Genealogy Summit, sponsored by the Black Genealogy Research Group. As Bellevue South Stake President, Bob Johnson made a historical move when he opened the doors of the LDS church facility to an outside organization for the first time. According to Johnson, the LDS church views genealogy as a strong part of the church and is a faith practice which derives from the early origins of the church.
"It's our goal as a church to reach out to the community. We wanted to open up the building and have our church members assist in this event and further the cause of genealogy, in this case within the black community," Johnson explained, who oversees 10 congregations, stretching east from Mercer Island to North Bend, and north from Renton to Snohomish.
"Genealogy is important because it's part of our faith as the Mormon church but also, when we understand the history of our forbearers, and some of the trials and tribulations and difficulties they went through, that helps us to better handle the difficulties that come our way. When you begin to do genealogy you start to understand where you came from."
The summit explored African American family history and included workshops and Keynote speaker Dr. Quintard Taylor Jr, the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington and author of multiple publications including "The Forging of A Black Community: Seattle's Central District from 1970 through the Civil Rights Era".
In 2004, Dr. Taylor created an online website resource center for African American history. The site, found at www.blackpast.org, began as a resource for his students to find answers about historical figures and facts.
It has grown since to become one of the largest reference sites of its type, hosting more than 2,000 pages of information. Blackpast.org includes 500 links to other websites, contributions from more than 230 scholars and is visited by people from 104 nations. Dr. Taylor spoke at the Western Region African American Conference on African American fingerprint that helped mold the Seattle area from the early days.
"The site is the biggest thing I've ever done as far as its reach and impact," Taylor said, about the strictly volunteer-run site. "I've received e-mails from China, Nigeria, South Africa and from the Netherlands. Where we think we have a self-interest in African American history, it's pleasing to me that folks in Russia and Mexico want to know the story. That is what drives me to continue on with this important work of unraveling the history of the African American people."
For more information on Dr. Taylor and his African American historical resource site, visit www.blackpast.org.
Lindsay Larin can be reached at email@example.com or at 425-453-4602.