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Born in Arkansas during World War II and growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Charles began researching his personal genealogy in December, 1990. Not having the extensive family oral history possessed by Alex Haley, Charles, nevertheless, became motivated to begin tracing his roots after reading a book written by a woman who had traced her roots back into the 1700s in North Carolina. Dorothy Spruill Redford was motivated by Alex Haley’s “Roots” and ultimately organized a one-day Reunion of the descendants of slaves of The Somerset Plantation and 3,000 people came. Her book, “The Somerset Homecoming” provided the motivation for Charles to believe that he could trace his ancestors back into the slavery era. The following December, he began his quest to walk on the land where each of his slave ancestors lived at the outbreak of the Civil War.
His efforts have led him to discover African American ancestors in the Cherokee Tribe, and African American slave ancestors in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. As a result of his personal research and the knowledge he’s gained in the process, he has conducted monthly workshops on Cherokee genealogy and African American genealogy at the Family History Library in Los Angeles for more than fifteen years. In addition, he has been a featured speaker on various aspects of African American and Native American genealogical and historical research at several genealogical and historical societies in Southern California including the U.S. National Archives at Laguna-Niguel.
He has a degree in Engineering from UCLA, and when not researching his family tree, he is an independent management consultant.
He has a daughter, three grandsons and has been married to his high school sweetheart, Barbara, for over forty-five years.
My interest in family history began during my childhood in St. Louis County, Missouri. My father, Julius S. McKay, was a great teller of family stories and each one of my six older siblings and myself were well-versed in McKay family history. As I grew older, I combined my desire to document my family history, and my love and study of U.S. history, into formal research at the National Archives in Washington D. C. in 1989 and with subsequent trips to the Family History Center in West Los Angeles. Other than a few census records, I had limited initial success in finding documents to confirm the family stories. Following my retirement, with more time for research & travel and with the explosion of web and computing resources, I have now confirmed or solved many (not all) of the family stories and mysteries on my paternal side–while identifying and documenting eight generations of ancestors and communicating with, and visiting, several distant cousins. The research story about my great-grandparents, William & Amelia McKay, was published in the January 2011 quarterly edition of St. Charles County Heritage, the Bulletin of the St. Charles County Historical Society.
Probate Records: Finding Slave Ancestors Before 1865 (Repeat of Session 1)
A native of Utah, Jackie received her Ph.D. from UCLA in small group communication. She served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Los Angeles City College and was Chair of the Council on Academic Affairs for the Los Angeles Community College District. Following her retirement in 2008, Dr. Ireland served a family history area support mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos).
Currently, Dr. Ireland volunteers in the Los Angeles Family History Library and serves as the lead family history consultant in the Santa Monica II Ward where she also teaches a family history class in Sunday School.