Char McCargo Bah’s book, Alexandria’s Freedman’s Cemetery: Legacy of Freedom; Char McCargo Bah digs into records at the AAHA; members of the Weaver family talk with Bah about the connections between their families.
AAHA Resources Provide Clues for Genealogist
Char McCargo Bah has been a professional genealogist for more than 38 years. In 2008, the City of Alexandria hired her to find the descendants of those buried in a Civil War cemetery. Seventeen hundred people are buried in Freedmens Cemetery — slaves running away from their masters, babies and small children — and many had ties to Fauquier County. By 2014, Bah was able to find descendants for 171 people. Her book on the research process, Alexandria’s Freedman’s Cemetery: Legacy of Freedom, was published in January, 2019.
In 2017, Bah started on a more personal genealogical journey. At a reunion, a family member asked Bah to try to untangle some of the family’s history. The search led her to investigate several lines of the family. A woman known as “Big Mamma” seemed to be at the center of it all. She seems to have migrated to Halifax, Virginia, from Fauquier County. The AAHA, with its reams of historical records, offers a treasure trove for a genealogist looking for Fauquier County ties.
AAHA records begin in 1759, the year Fauquier County was established. Documentation covers Fauquier County history, but some records for nearby Prince William, Culpeper, Warren and Rappahannock counties are available as well.
County Court Process Records
Free Negro records
Overseer of the Poor records
Chancery Court records
Although records are available at the Fauquier County Courthouse, they are not searchable. The AAHA records are indexed and searchable.
Bah is still piecing together the puzzle, but each new thread of information is exhilarating, she says. “I’m just in love with geneaology. On my way here today, I passed Broad Run Church. When I was researching that church I was able to confirm the Weaver side of my family. When you see something standing after so many years, you get an appreciation for how history works.”
Bah enjoyed a reunion of sorts recently at the AAHA. Three members of the Weaver family -decedents of the men who owned Bah’s family — met her at the museum to compare notes. Bah told stories about the Weaver line, and offered advice on how to research it further. She explained how to look at court orders, minutes, deeds and estate records.
As for her own geneaological journey, she says, “There is so much coincidence. I’ve got everything around it. I’m looking for the smoking gun. It will come, but it will come in its own time.”