While going through my AOL forum comments came across a comment of Linda McIntire Ball asking for descendants of my grandmother Ora Mae Perkins, this was the start of a relationship that has lasted to this day Here is the conversation as it was related to me:

My family has had an interest in our ancestry for as long as I can remember.  After I married and became pregnant with my twins I thought how nice it would be for my kids to have the genealogy of both their parents, so I set off to working on my husbands’ family, on my own. At the time I hadn’t a clue how difficult it was to be, searching for African-American roots. We are a bi-racial couple and my family has been in Michigan since the 1860’s. We also live in Michigan, making records that much easier for me to obtain. Now not only was I trying to find African-American roots, I was having to look for documentation in Mississippi. Naive as I was, I figured well how hard or different could it be ? My twins are now 18 years old and I am still searching for many specific documents that I would like to have, and trying to keep up to date with a humongous extended family.

One of the most helpful resources for me has been an annual family reunion held every year in July. Its a wonderful place to obtain oral stories, and meet the elders in the family and keeping up to date with current cousins. The reunion is in the name of Ross-Perkins, the surnames of the furthest back ancestors that current family members knew. My husband’s line is that of Louis Ross and his wife, Mollie Perkins, from Holly Springs, MS.

Louis and Mollie had a very large family, some of their children didn’t live to adulthood and others married and started their own families. The elders stated in the beginning that Louis and Mollie had between 18 and 21 children. Wow, you can imagine how many cousins are going to come from a family of that size !

Using ancestry.com and their census records I was quickly able to find Louis and Molly right where they were supposed to be in Holly Springs. I thought to myself, how great it would be if I could find their parents and be able to give our current family a whole new generation backward that no one knew about. Having both Louis and Mollie’s ages, and know they were born in Holly Springs, I worked backward trying to locate a Ross or a Perkins that would fit in their Louis or Mollie. I started with Louis and soon located an Elijah Ross with a wife named Emily and 6 children, one having the name of Louis, who matched in age to my Louis. I turned to an elder family member and asked did he ever hear of Louis having had any siblings. He remembered there was a Wesley Ross, sure enough, Elijah and Emily also had a son Wesley. So I had found them ! How great was this an entire list of new names to work on with limitless possibilities of more relatives.

Working back in the census to 1870, I found no matches. Strange, I thought, I knew they had to be there somewhere, why couldn’t I find a match ? A friend from a genealogy chat room asked me, when was Marshall County, MS created. (Marshall County being the county Holly Springs is located in) So a quick search told me Marshall County was established out of pieces of DeSoto County and Tate County, MS in 1836, however in 1873 it gave up portions of the county to create Tate County and Benton County, as well as receiving portions of DeSoto County to now be included as Marshall County. So this would mean in 1870 Elijah’s family may not have lived in Marshall County, they could have been living in DeSoto County, and really never moved, only the county border lines changed.

I began a search in DeSoto county, MS for Elijah with a wife Emily and the same 6 children to match. Low and behold I found them, but this was strange, they were listed with a last name of Burrows. This confused me. Time for me to go to the African-American chat room and get some help.

The wonderful hosts of the African-American genealogy chat jumped right in with their thoughts and theories. After emancipation, I was told, the former slaves choose their own surnames and while many used the name of their owners, some did not. They may have had more then one owner and preferred one over another. Elijah could have known someone in town or on the plantation named Ross who he respected and used his name for that reason. He may have known who owned either one of his parents and choose the use that name. The reason Elijah changed his last name from Burrows to Ross may not ever be known, but what mattered was Louis Ross was actually born Louis Burrows.

Wanting to find who owned Elijah’s family was what I really wanted to accomplish. Knowing that I am now searching in DeSoto County, and that I would be looking for Burrows made a big difference ! Sadly, I am still trying to find the owners of Elijah and his family, but I haven’t been able to locate what happened to some of Louis’s siblings. Two of them unfortunately were recorded with initials only, a J.S. Ross and a J.R. Ross, not knowing what the initials stand for, they are still waiting to be found.

It’s been a very long and interesting journey for me. I have learned more history and met some wonderful people along the way. I hope that of the binders I have put together for our family, has given back to them in some small way. Letting them know how proud I am to be the mother of a strong, close-knit and prolific family !

Later in my journey Linda collaborated with me on my ancestral journey, me adding my line information with what she already had, has documented our family up to 8 generations and counting. Who knew that that one forum inquiry showing up in my AOL forum was the beginning of this interesting journey. And so the “Journey” continues.

Lineage  of  Elija Burrow Ross http://onefast.org/bharper/?page_id=173


36 Responses to Elija Burrow Ross – THE BEGINNING OF MY JOURNEY

  1. luckie says:

    Very, VERY proud of & happy for you Bev — and your Ancestors! Good times & lots of new cousins are await! Welcome to the FOLD!:)


  2. Beverly A Harper says:

    Thanks Luckie and all because of U, truly a blessing !

  3. Congrats Beverly and Welcome to the African American Blogging Community. I look forward to reading all about your Family History and you Research Journey. There are some descendants out there that are looking for you and now they can find you. Happy Ancestral Hunting!!!!

  4. True! says:

    Beverly Ann!
    Finally! I knew you had it in you all this time! I love all your stories and pictures from the moment we became friends, you had so much to share always on a geniune level. I love you for that. I’m so glad to see “YOUr WORK” on paper now! You should of been here a long time ago. Congratulations. Beautiful Job! Now who’s gonna be my Editor now? If you are “BLOGGING”! Love Ya Girl!

  5. LindaRe says:

    Congratulations on your wonderful discoveries, and I am sure many more await you.

  6. Beverly A Harper says:

    Thanks Felicia and True means a whole lot to get these comment’s hope this blog will live up to yall expections, just basking in the moment now but there is more to come! Luv u both!

  7. Beverly A Harper says:

    Thanks Linda and hopefully so 🙂

  8. Queen says:

    I knew you could do this Bev and I am so proud of you and I know you will do great. You are a wise person who has taught me a lot and still are in many ways. One day I may “Blog” with you all.:) Blessings and love my friend

  9. Beverly A Harper says:

    Now Queen if I can do it u can, don’t wait too late, I almost did.

  10. Beverly, your new place here in cyberspace is FABULOUS, so I welcome you with open arms to the world of genealogy blogging! Your passion for “all things genealogy” is evident and I’m so glad to be traveling this journey with you. I’ve enjoyed your post very much and I will visit often to see what new ancestors you’ve added to your family tree. Again, WELCOME!

  11. Charletha says:

    Congratulations Mama!!! This is absolutely wonderful!!! You are doing something you love, finding more our family and helping others. You will definitely be blessed by this…love you and keep doing what you love!!!

  12. Marti says:

    Bev, this is great and very well put together . . . I am so proud of you. Keep up the good work.

  13. Betty Tindle says:

    What a lovely story, Beverly! Thank you so much for sharing it here. What a wonderful journey to undertake too! 🙂

  14. Capricia says:


    Congratulations for your first blog. I really did enjoyed to read your blog. Wow!!! I can’t wait to hear next one about your new cousins on your family tree. God bless you!!! Happy Dance!!! 😀

  15. hausa mann says:

    Thanks for sharing Bev….think there must be 8 of you since you share so much good information….Congrats!

  16. JoAnn Ross says:

    Very impressive Beverly, a labor of LOVE!

  17. Chloe Robinson says:

    Way to go mom so proud of you! I knew you were on to something when we made that trek to Mississippi! Sorry I can’t go back with you again but I’m sure you will be in great hands! So proud of you and all that you have done this far and can’t wait to see you continue to do great things! Love ya for eternity! Your baby girl! Chloe J!

    • Thanks my baby girl and yes finally doing me, it has been a long time coming, glad u proud of ya mama and u know I am gonna miss u being with me in the genealogy Trek, we started it together, but all good things must come to a end, u have your life now, so enjoy! Mama sho enjoying her’s now. 🙂 <3

  18. Anne Huffman says:

    OMG! I didnt know you were a writer!
    This is awesome and VERY interesting to read. When is the next edition coming out? Beverly, you did an outstanding job!

  19. Thanks Anne really appreciate that coming from u, will be coming soon, so glad u like. Hugs! 🙂

  20. Karen says:

    Hi Beverly
    I just discovered these blogs and they are great. My husband’s family is from Desoto County and several years ago, we were able to go there and look up our information at the court house. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. The place was very clean and organized. Took the whole family. It was a wonderful experience. I’m in the DC area and have recently found relatives on my side who fought in the civil war. I knew some Rosses where I grew up in Arkansas. Good luck with your find, and thank you for sharing.


  21. Barbara Belfoure Redditt says:

    this is phenomenal. You have done wonderful on your research. I am researching the Perkins family. Mollie married Louis. Mollie would be my great great Aunt. I am Prince Ella’s great grandaughter. I would so much like to communicate with you and get pointers on how to find our more about the Perkins side of the family. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

  22. Linda M. Ball says:

    Update: Feb 2014 – Since the original posting of the above journey, J.L. Ross has been uncovered ! By doing a search on ancestry, using only surname Ross and the given name of Emily in the mother section, a son, Jimmie (James) Lynch Ross appeared with father listed as Elijah, matching Elijah Ross and his wife Emily. The year of death was 1955 in Memphis, Shelby County, TN. Because a portion of death certificates from TN have been scanned, a copy was available, listing his wife’s name, allowing for a census search for “Jimmie” and his family. He did indeed marry, and had 5 children of his own. Lending us a hand toward additional cousins to meet !
    Sometimes checking with a small amount of information, instead of filling in all the known data can sincerely pay off !

    Great Blogging Bev !
    Linda McIntire-Ball

  23. Barbara sorry for the delay and yes i would luv to communicate with u maybe u can clear up some stuff too and give me some answers . My email is bigbee60@gmail.com . I am also on Facebook and handle is beverlya.harper. hope that u see this and will be looking to hear from u too. Beverly

  24. Johnnie Mae Worthen Nettles says:

    What a wonderful job you and Linda have done. I now know how Houston Burrows “Buddy”, Aunt Carter Ross Jackson’s son got the last name of Burrows. He is the only one I’ve personally know to have the name of Burrows. So interesting.

  25. Cynthia Grady says:

    Loved it. Inspiring!

  26. Linda says:

    Thank you. Nice to hear from everyone

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