Freedom for One, Citizenship for the Other, Two Signatures 235 years apart


In 1777, Spanish Military Leader Bernardo de Galvez became the governor of the large territory that was later sold as part of the Louisiana purchase. Source: dated: 13 Dec 2014.

The end of a long journey to receiving U.S. Citizenship for Bernardo de Galvez has finally happen with a  President’s signature December 16, 2014.   Many thanks to all who have supported this effort over the years.

Finally, our beloved and nearly forgotten Louisiana Spanish Colonial Governor General Bernardo de Galvez, an American Revolutionary War Patriot  and now U.S. Citizen joins the ranks of only seven others.

As   a native of New Orleans, Louisiana currently living in Atlanta, Georgia, I have a very interesting connection to this historical figure General Bernardo de Galvez and it too culminated with a signature.

Agnes Manumission Document, Dec 16, 1779

Manumission (Freedom Papers) Document for Agnes signed by Bernardo de Galvez, Spanish Colonial Governor of Louisiana  December 16, 1779









235 years ago this month on Dec 16, 1779, when the then Governor of Spanish Colonial Louisiana signed the manumission papers which granted freedom to my enslaved 4th Generation Great Grandmother named Agnes.

Through further research, I also discovered, Agnes French consort, whom I later determined to be my 4th Great Generation Grandfather named Mathieu Devaux dit Platilla served in the New Orleans Militia, 3rd company Artillery under the Command of General Galvez.  These two discoveries, finding Agnes and discovering my ancestral connection to the American Revolution have also connected my ancestry to both Spanish Louisiana and American History in a most interesting way.

810_galvezI invite you to view the segment on the PBS program, the History Detectives, titled the Galvez Papers which helped to bring my ancestors story to a National audience. It will be the second segment once video starts. 

An in addition to discovering and documenting, my ancestral lineage to Agnes and Mathieu Devaux,  In 2010, I was induction into the National Society Sons of the American Revolution because of my ancestral connection to a Louisiana Patriot of the American Revolution – Mathieu Devaux dit Platilla. Oh yes, by the way, I GOT PROOF! too.

Got Proof!

Michael Nolden Henderson’s Memoir Published 2013

Here is another major project which helped bring National attention and further focus on Bernardo de Galvez’s contribuiton during the American Revolution.


Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR USN Ret. Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution – 2012

It is my hope that other descendants of those men who served with Galvez take time to appreicate, document and remember their ancestor’s contribution to the United States.

I stand today, as a Living Memorial of a rich legacy left to me by of my Louisiana Colonial Ancestors.  I hope each of you are inspired by each of these actions taken.

Click here to return to post about Homer Plessy Presidential Medal of Freedom Award petition.

French Louisiana’s “Jamestown” on the Gulf Coast at Mobile 1702 -1711

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Michael Nolden Henderson standing at the site of a Historic marker for Fort St Louis at Old Mobile 1702-1711

A couple of weeks ago, while driving  down to my hometown of New Orleans, I decided to see  if I could locate the historic marker of a place, I believe will become my earliest known French Canadian ancestral settlement equivalent to “Jamestown” on the Gulf Coast at Mobile.  Like those descendants who can trace their ancestral lineage to  the early English colony called “Jamestown” on the east coast of Virginia. I now believe those  with colonial French Canadian ancestry in Louisiana can stake a claim as  descendants of those who helped established and settled Old Mobile, Fort Louis de la Louisiana, in 1702.

I am working on documenting one ancestral line that originated out of Montreal, Quebec Canada down to the Lower Mississippi valley during the early the 18th century.  The place which I refer to, was called Old Mobile: Fort Louis de la Louisiane.  It was established in 1702 and remained in place until 1711.  In his book with same titled Jay Higginbotham, the Director of the Mobile Municipal Archives chronicled this nine year period on what would become early French settlement – Fort Louis de la Louisiane, on the Gulf Coast at Mobile.

I will continue to blog about my Ancestor(s) who were discovered at Old Mobile, the research discoveries and the documents used to substanitate my evidence of a direct lineal French Canadian ancestors who was discovered at Old Mobile: Fort Louis de la Louisiane, between 1705 – 1711.  Stay tuned.

GOT PROOF! The Ancestors Are Smiling.

I recently returned from Chicago, where I was the keynote speaker and had a book signing at the 32nd Annual Family History Conference.  The Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society – Chicago (AAGHSC)  theme was “Under The Vital Umbrella,” which focused on a broad selection of topics designed to enhance your research skills and protect your intellectual property.


Michael Henderson and Melvin Collier – Atlanta Georgia 2008

Among the other speakers was a fellow researcher, Melvin Collier, who I first met in 2008 at another genealogy event in Atlanta. At the time, Melvin had just published his first book,  Mississippi to Africa: A Journey of Discovery(Heritage Books Inc. 2008). I was impressed to meet this young man who had been researching his ancestry for many years and was now a published author.

I shared with Melvin my discovery of the manumission document of my 4th generation great-grandmother who was a former slave, born in French Louisiana in 1758, and gained her freedom in 1779 with the help of a French national. I learned that he was my 4th generation great-grandfather who had served in the local militia in Spanish Colonial Louisiana under the command of Louisiana Spanish Colonial Governor General Bernardo de Galvez.

“Wow!” Melvin said. “You know, that’s a book, right. You have to publish that story.” Hearing those words from someone who recently published his family story was a great encouragement to me. Further encouragement came when I opened Melvin’s book and saw that he had signed, “Tell your story! The Ancestors Are Smiling!”

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Michael Henderson and Melvin Collier – Chicago, Illinois 2014

Fast forward five years, and I finally got around to following Melvin’s advice to tell my story when I published my memoir, Got Proof: My Genealogical Journey Through The Use of Documentation (The Write Image 2013).

And there we were in Chicago, both speakers at a regional conference, encouraging others to continued with their research and tell their stories. This time, I was honored to share and sign a copy my book for Melvin as he had done with me in 2008.

During my book signing, a young man approached me and asked if he could give me a signed copy of his book, Keith’s Heart. It was a special moment. This 9 – year-old author was attending the conference with his mom and had a table in the exhibit area where he was selling his books.

“I have a brother named Keith,” I told him. “And I would be honored to have an autographed copy of your book.”

As it turns out, Keith’s Heart is a story about the death of Keith’s dad, due to gun violence. Keith told me, “I wanted others, especially those who have lost someone to gun violence, to know what it has done to me as a kid.”

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Keith Whitted Jr, Michael Henderson and Keith’s Mom – Chicago 2014

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Keith Whitted Jr. and  Michael  Henderson- Chicago Illinois 2014      GOT PROOF!

I was touched by his desire to share his personal story with me and with others. With that, I was moved to share with him a signed copy of my book. I felt that sharing our stories had brought one aspect of my publishing journey full circle, having been encouraged to write and publish by one author, and then seeing another young author pursue his publishing dreams.

Genealogists and family historians have a tremendous opportunity to inspire others through sharing stories about our research and results. This AAGHS conference in Chicago gave three African American men an opportunity to inspire each other and many more with our stories.  Indeed, Our Ancestors are Smiling.

Recipient of the National Society Sons of the American Revolution 2014, Minnesota Society Stephen Taylor Award

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National Society Sons of the American Revolution 2014 – Minnesota Society Stephen Taylor Award                           Michael N. Henderson


(L-R) Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR USN, Ret, Past President of the Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society Sons Of the American Revolution and Compatriot, Roger W. Coursey, President of the Georgia Society SAR
Photo Courtesy of Compatriot Milus Bruce Maney









I was extremely honored to receive the 2013 – 2014 National Society Sons of the American Revolution Minnesota Society Stephen Taylor Award. This award is presented to a NSSAR compatriot who, by his research and writings, has made a distinguished contribuiton to the preservation of the history of the American Revolutionary War.

This award is named after an American Revolutionary War Patriot, Stephen Taylor. To see more about Patriot Taylor, click here.

My efforts to preserve and document the story of my Louisiana Revolutionary War ancestor, along with some other interesting historical discoveries, were captured in a  segment of the PBS program, “History Detectives,” titled the Galvez Papers.

                                                                                                                                   To learn more go here:  GOT PROOF! My Genealogical Journey Through The Use Of Documentation.


50th Georgia Author of the Year Award Recipient (2014) – Memoir/Autobiography Category

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Until the Lion Has His Own Storyteller, The Hunter will always have the Best Part of the Story – African Proverb


GAYA Silver Seal

I am honored to be a recipient of the 50th Georgia Author of the Year Award (GAYA) “Finalist” (2014)  in the Memoir/Autobiography Category. This is truly a moment in which I will always remember.

Michael Nolden Henderson Author of GOT PROOF! My Genealogical Journey Through The Use of Documentation

Michael Nolden Henderson Author of GOT PROOF! My Genealogical Journey Through The Use of Documentation

as we waited on hearing the announcement of the final results.

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 This was my category.

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GOT PROOF! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation was nominated in this Category

and the results were.


Michael Nolden Henderson “Finalist” 50th Georgia Author of the Year Awards


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I was truly a special moment standing before so many other authors and guest while being recognized as a Recipient of the 50th GAYA for my Memoir – GOT PROOF!



“Until the Lion has His own Storyteller, the Hunter will always have the best part of the story”. African Proverb…..

As you can see big smile and very HAPPY.

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Indeed a Proud Moment for Me on This Amazing Journey- GOT PROOF! – 50th Georgia Author Of the Year Award (GAYA) 2014 (Finalist) – Memoir/Autobiography

 Having my baby sister Jane there with me was Priceless.


Yes, this is my baby sister Jane, all excited and congratulating me for received an awards as “Finalist” at the 50th Georgia Author of the Year Banquet -in the memoir category. (Photo taken by Grady Thrasher)


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Jane Bronner (My Youngest Sister) and I share this Amazing Moment Together

 Here are a few other photos taken during the evening.

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Sharyn Shields, Author of the Wisdom of Dr. Sholes another client of (the Write Image) nominated in the Children’s Book Category

Sharyn says, Congratulations! Michael.

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Sharyn Shield and I sharing the moment

Charlie isn’t the only one with a set of Lovely Angels

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GOT PROOF! Dream Team from BOOKLOGIX – Michael’s Angels

All smiles….

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To learn more about  GOT PROOF! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation

Five Authors Share Their Stories About Ancestral Connections to Edgefield, South Carolina



At our first meeting at the National Archives Washington, DC  in 2012, Bernice Alexander Bennett looked me in the eye and said, “Michael when are you going to write that book?”  Little did she realize then, that I would be also asking her that very same question.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bernice Alexander Bennett in 2012 at the National Archives in Washington, DC. While there, Bernice and I—both avid genealogists and family history researchers—were encouraged by Anita Paul, publisher with The Write Image, to write about our genealogical research journey and  discoveries. The following year 2013, I published my memoir, Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation.

Bernice, along with four other authors (known as The Memory Keepers), decided to produce a collaborative book, since they all had current and ancestral connections to the town of Edgefield. Their book, Our Ancestors, Our Stories, was released earlier this year.

On Sunday, April 27, 2014, I attended their book signing in Edgefield, South Carolina. It was my first visit to this small town, and I was pleased to meet all five co-authors.

2014-04-27 14.42.49The book signing presentation provided some very interesting insight into the authors’ research methods, strategies, and discoveries. For those who haven’t done African American genealogical research, and even for those with no ancestors in the Edgefield, South Carolina area, the book is a wealth of information about research techniques, South Carolina history, and family connections.

The book opens with Harris Bailey Jr. giving a comprehensive history of the Old Edgefield District. At the book signing, he shared the importance of understanding the history of the area where one’s ancestors lived, and how that historical perspective can aid researchers. The other four authors—Ellen LeVonne Butler, Vincent Sheppard, Ethel Dailey, and Bernice Alexander Bennett—chronicle their quest to learn more about their ancestors who lived in the Edgefield area.

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The Memory Keepers, authors of Our Ancestors, Our Stories: (L-R) Ellen LeVonne Butler, Vincent Sheppard, Ethel Dailey, Harris Bailey Jr., and Bernice Alexander Bennett

Following are some key points the authors emphasized during their presentation:

oaos_coverOral histories are important and could hold some essential information. Talk to as many relatives as you can.  You may hear the same story from different relatives, so pay attention because each version could contain different information. When you put all of the stories together, more pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.  The authors of this book started with oral histories and then found the documents to back up the stories. Oral histories can often get you going in the right direction.

Interview the oldest members of your extended family before it is too late. It is a good idea to speak to the oldest relative and capture as much information as you can about what they know about the family as it relates to your research. You will see examples of this  in the book. I highly encourage you to speak with your elders before everything they know goes to the grave with them. There is an old saying: “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.”

Be sensitive and respect those who don’t wish to discuss the past. Sometimes people are reluctant to discuss family stories due to unpleasant personal experiences. There are some great examples in Our Ancestors, Our Stories of techniques to use when trying to obtain information from relatives who aren’t as enthusiastic about the family history as you are.

Sometimes visiting the place where the family was from is necessary. Many of the authors are descendants of those who once lived in Edgefield, yet the authors themselves live outside of this community. They stressed that if you wish to do a thorough job in researching your family’s history, you must visit your ancestors’ home place. There are many examples of this in the book.

Generally speaking, you will have better success if you focus on only one line at a time. These five authors were striving toward a specific goal of documenting their ancestral connections to Edgefield. They followed various surnames that revealed information to craft their stories. I too have taken this approach.

Genealogy is a journey that requires patience. Don’t expect to get the answers you are looking for in a day, a week, or a month. Sometimes it will take a few years. Be patient and keep searching. There are answers to be found.

Our Ancestors, Our Stories is an engaging compilation of genealogical research. It is well crafted to provide insight into how to conduct family history research. You can learn so much by seeing the steps these authors have taken to research their family lines. Their journey, discoveries, and stories will no doubt inspire.

To order Our Ancestors, Our Stories, visit                                                                                                                         


Nominated For 50th Georgia Author of the Year Awards – Memoir/Autobiography

Got Proof!GOT PROOF! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation has been nominated for the 50th Georgia Author of the Year Awards  in the Memoir / Autobiography category.

image2.113164339_stdThe Georgia Author of theYear Awards (Gaya) has the distinction of being the oldest literary awards in the Southeastern United States while reflecting the current publishing world. The Awards have grown in prestige and participation since its inception in 1964 by the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists. The GAYA changed hands in 1990 to Georgia Writers Association and in 2006 GWA began a strong affiliation with Kennesaw State University’s Department of Humanities.

The video here is a part of my journey and discovery shared with a group at the Louisiana State Museum The Old Mint in New Orleans : Got Proof! French and Spanish Colonial Document Digitizing Project

See more results here:

199th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans Wreath Laying Ceremony in Jackson Square


Dennis Malone Carter (American, 1827-1881). Battle of New Orleans, 1856. Oil on canvas. 18 1/4 x 24 1/2 in. (46.4 x 62.2 cm). Acc. no. 1960.22.The Historic New Orleans Collection

Jan 8, 1815  is the day recognized and celebrated as the Battle of New Orleans. It  was the climactic battle of America’s “forgotten war” of 1812. Andrew Jackson led his ragtag corps of soldiers against 8,000 disciplined invading British regulars in a battle that delivered the British a humiliating military defeat. The victory solidified America’s independence and marked the beginning of Jackson’s rise to national prominence. Hailed as “terrifically readable” by the Chicago Sun Times, The Battle of New Orleans is popular American history at its best, bringing to life a landmark battle that helped define the character of the United States.

This year Jan 8, 2014, marked the 199th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans . I am  a descendant of a Free man of colored named Louis “Innocent” Mathieu Devaux.  He was one of those men, a member of the First Battalion Free Men of Color who stepped forward and answered the call to arm.  I was honored to attend this year’s commemoration and wreath laying ceremony coordinated by the National Society United States Daughter of 1812, New Orleans — Chalmette Cahpter.

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the Cabildo

Many gathered first inside the Cabildo on this cool morning before proceeding to Jackson Square to witness this years ceremony of the 199th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.




Below are a few more photos at this day’s event.

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United States Marine Corps Color Guard.








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National Society United States Daughter of 1812, New Orleans — Chalmette Chapter








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Michael Henderson carried out one of the Wreaths to be placed at the monument of General Andrew Jackson.


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Compatriot Edward O Ca (L) and President, Shannon The General Society War of 1812 in the State of Louisiana
















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National Park Service Office gives opening remarks









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Bonnie Pepper Cook, National Society United States Daughter of 1812, New Orleans — Chalmette Chapter presents a few opening remarks.









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Compatriot Edward O Ca (L) and President Shannon Walgamotte, The General Society War of 1812 in the State of Louisiana










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Compatriot Edward O Ca (L) and President Shannon Walgamotte, The General Society War of 1812 in the State of Louisiana






















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National Society United States Daughter of 1812, New Orleans

















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National Society United States Daughter of 1812, New Orleans

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Compatriot Michael Henderson and Compatriot Ike Edwards Members of the General Society War of 1812




City Of Columbus Georgia Recognizes Michael Nolden Henderson Author of GOT PROOF! with Proclamation

Columbus, Georgia Recognize Michael Nolden Henderson with a Proclamation  November 9, 2013

I had the pleasure of speaking to the Page Turners Book Club at the Mildred L. Terry  Public Library in Columbus, Georgia about my recently published memoir titled, Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey through the use of documentation.   And after as few questions and answers,  I was presented with a Proclamation from Honorable Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor of Columbus, Georgia  proclaiming Saturday, November 9, 2013 as Micheal Nolden Henderson Day.  Now how cool is that?

Here are a few pictures of the day’s event.

Mildred L. Terry Library

Michael  Nolden Henderson                                                   Mildred L. Terry Library in Columbus, Ga  at the Page Turners Book Club

Page Turner Book Club

City of Columbus Ga Proclamation

Page Turner Book Club GOT PROOF!

Page Turner Book Club GOT PROOF!

James Dent Walker Award Recipient 2013

Michael Nolden Henderson

James Dent Walker Award 2013

I was Incredibly honored to receive the James Dent Walker award for excellence in African American genealogy research from the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc (AAHGS) on October 12, 2013 at this years AAHGS conference.

This award is named after James Dent Walker who was the Founder and the first President of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (National). In 1977, a few historians and genealogists, led by James Dent Walker, an archivist, met to discuss concerns and the need for an organization that would focus on the family history and genealogy of minority groups. They felt the research and support for these groups had been overlooked. This group wanted to encourage and support the historical and genealogical studies of families of all ethnic groups, with a special emphasis upon Afro-Americans. (Taken from AAHGS Fifth Anniversary Booklet: 1977 – 1982, compiled by Paul E. Sluby, Sr.)

In 1978 James Dent Walker was named as National Genealogy Society Fellow (FNGS) and in 1999 named National Genealogy Hall of Fame.

Tamela Tinpenny-Lewis, President of AAHGS, Inc., Michael Nolden Henderson (Recipient of the James Dent Walker Award 2013) Alica Harris Co-Chair of the Awards Committee.

(L-R) Tamela Tinpenny-Lewis,President, Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Michael Nolden Henderson,James Dent Walker Award 2013, Alice Harris,Co-chairperson AwardsCommittee

Mrs Barbara Walker, Founder and Past President of AAHGS, Michael Nolden Henderson

Mrs Barbara Walker, Founder and Past President of AAHGS, Michael Nolden Henderson, James Dent Walker Award Recipient 2013

This was a special moment for me as I shared with Mrs. Barbara Walker, wife of the person the award I received is named after, James Dent Walker.  Mr. Walker was instrumental in spearheading the research and eventual gathering of African American and Native American patriots who participated in, yet were left out of, the narrative of the American Revolution.

Because of his work and that of many others in 2001, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) published a book identifying African Americans and American Indian Patriots of the Revolutionary War. Seven years later, an updated version was published in 2008 titled, Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the American Revolution, The Guide to Service, Source and Studies. The names of 32 men of color and one woman of color from Georgia identified as patriots of the American Revolution are included in this book. Three in particular I found interesting in Georgia were Austin Dabney,  Mammy Kate, and Daddy Jack (see page 617 once you download file).

In February 2011, I discovered the story of a heroic rescue made by an enslaved woman named Mammy Kate and her husband, Daddy Jack of their slaveholder named Captain Stephen Heard. Heard was captured by the British at the Battle of Kettle Creek on 14 Feb 1779, and was taken to a POW camp in Augusta, Georgia to be executed. Years after his rescue, he became the 12th Governor of Georgia. See more about Mammy Kate story here:

I questioned why these two enslaved persons, who had risked their lives to save their slaveholder, had not been recognized as patriots of the American Revolution. As the first African American inducted into the Georgia Society, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), I suggested that my local SAR chapter honor Mammy Kate and Daddy Jack with a patriotic grave marking ceremony. On Oct 15, 2011, this ceremony was held see more here.  Patriot Kate became to first woman of color to be recognized as a Patriot of the American Revoluiton in the State of Georgia.


What an honor it was to receive the James Dent Walker award named for the man whose work inspired me and so many others to continue the work of researching and documenting African American and History and Genealogy.