June 25, 2021

Greetings Family,
I hope all is well with each of you and your families.

We are the Barnes, Brevard’s, Bufford’s, Cauthen’s, McGriff’s, Peays, Truesdale’s and Vaughns. We are a family rich with history and traditions that have been passed down thru the years from our family members who have gone before us.
The Cousins reunion started in 1970 with a handful of cousins each with pieces of their family history. They were able to connect the dots to each other with that information, and here we are today 51 years later continuing that very thing. We are connecting with family from all parts thru social media, word of mouth and even thru dna test results.
Our Family is comprised of great and talented people from all walks of life. There are musicians, singers, actors, lawyers, doctors, electricians, nurses, artisans etc. We are multitalented, we exemplify diversity and excellence within our families.
As we embark upon or new normal lives post covid, it is my hope that we will be able go forward with finding out about our ancestry beyond the US and connect with African Ancestry to help us get that information for the next reunion. So that we can learn more about where in Africa our ancestors originated from with greater detail.
As the leaves fall from our family trees, (the passing of our older family members,) we tend to lose some of our rich history, but their memories live on with us and thru us. The knowledge of our family is passed from one member to another, sometimes in writing but often times verbally. My goal has been to try and identify the founding connections between the family branches so that we will know how each branch intersects with the other.  The task is a challenging one, but one I think can be accomplished over time as we all work together to compile information for those that will come behind us to carry on the reunion for many years to come.
In closing, I hope that we as a family will continue to reach out to our family members who know the history of their families. Sit and ask questions even record the conversations so that the history of us, the Cousins will live on beyond us. And, as our country starts to fully reopen, I know we all are looking forward to getting out, celebrating and relaxing a little, just in time for some long-awaited summer fun. So lets enjoy this weekend.

Warmest Regards,
Sherri Sivels
National Historian



June 25, 2021

Greetings Family,
In February of this year, I and Cousin Keisha Clark reached out to Ms. Paige of African Ancestry, a company that does DNA matches similar to Anestry.com except they match you to the area and tribe your family comes from in Africa. During the meeting it was explained to her that we wanted to trace the 8 branches of the family back to their African heritage with our goal being to then reveal the results during the reunion.
Ms. Paige, suggested that each family take the Maternal Test because 90% of the Maternal test taken show African lineage/heritage of those that take the test. To ensure that the correct test was being taken for each family Ms. Paige also offered to assist with mapping the family.
An actual rate for the testing was not discussed at the time but Ms. Paige did indicate African Ancestry does offer a bulk discount rate. However, a request was made for African Ancestry to consider a trade off on the test kits dependent upon how much publicity could be garnered about the family reunion through the local press.  Ms. Paige suggested that we, the committee should establish communication with Ms. Nichole Taylor who is the Marketing/PR person to assess the possibility of a barter.
That information was then presented for discussion to the executive board during the meeting on Feb. 8th, 2020. During the meeting we discussed several items concerning the process of mapping DNA, which test would be feasible, Whether each family branch would choose a person to be tested and establishing a timeline to get testing done, all to be considered after we established communication with the Marketing/PR person.  Shortly after the meeting several attempts were made in February and March to contact Ms. Nichole Taylor but to no avail. It was however, around this time that covid-19 began to ramp up and the stay in place order was put into effect. No further attempts were made to contact Ms. Taylor since that time.
There were also some family facts placed on Facebook about family members that some may not have known were related to them including information about Benjamin Peay and Jewel Stradford Lafontant-Mankarious. Below is a short recap of the information provided.
Benjamin Peay from Camden SC who is better known as Brook Benton started out as a Gospel singer touring the Gospel circuit and later having become acquainted with the likes of songwriter Clyde Otis together they co-wrote Nat “King” Cole’s “Looking Back,” and Benton co-wrote Clyde McPhatter’s “A Lover’s Question”. He’s best known for his final smash hit of 1970 “Rainy Night in Georgia”.
Another cousin highlighted was Jewel Stradford Lafontant-Mankarious, was the first female deputy solicitor general of the United States, in the administration of President George H. W. Bush, and an attorney in Chicago. She was also was considered by President Richard Nixon as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Jewel Carter Stradford, she was the daughter of attorney C. Francis Stradford, and Aida Arabella Stradford attorney who co-founder of the National Bar Association. She is the descendant of the Scipio Vaughan of Camden SC who is of the Vaughn Brach of the family. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Oberlin College. She began law school in 1943 and was the only African-American woman in her class. She was also the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Chicago Law School in 1946.
President Eisenhower appointed her in 1955, as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois where She served in that role until 1958. She was a delegate to the National Convention. She gave the seconding speech for Nixon's nomination to be the Republican candidate for President in 1960, she started a law firm in 1961, and she was the first black woman to argue a case before the supreme court in 1963. Her case, Beatrice Lynumn v. The State of Illinois set the precedent for the landmark Miranda v. Arizona case in 1966 from which we get the Miranda rights. Jewel had many other accomplishments as well.
Jewel married John W. Rogers Sr., a former Tuskegee Airmen in 1946; they had one child, investment executive John W. Rogers Jr. John Washington Rogers Jr. is an investor, philanthropist and founder of Ariel Capital Management, founded in 1983. He is currently chairman and CEO of the company, which is the United States' largest minority-run mutual fund firm. He has been a regular contributor to Forbes magazine for most of the last decade.

Warmest regards,
Sherri Sivels
National Historian

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