This post is part of the Trask 250 series which documents the lives of more than 250 formerly enslaved of the Trask and Ventress families of Louisiana and Mississippi. 

So, the fact that I’ve reached this milestone, and how fast I got there, is absolutely astounding to me. For context, there were 3,000+ names in August 2019.

I still sort of can’t believe it happened so fast. Especially during a worldwide pandemic.

But, I milked remote research for every bit of love it could give me.

The Trask 250+ database is now almost 5,400 people. That means I have connected 5,400 people to my project through DNA and traditional genealogy. This database, which is in private, non-searchable format on Ancestry, includes the following:

  • more than 2,100 media items 
  • more than 200 death certificates
  • more than 140 marriage licenses
  • more than 280 obituaries
  • ten lists of the enslaved, which have never been available outside of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Harvard University
  • Civil War pension files
  • sourced, detailed genealogical information largely covering Louisiana and Mississippi and other states like Virginia, North Carolina and more.

The average descendant report is at least 35 pages and includes more than 200 sources for the information I’ve found.

Recently, I gave a presentation on the oldest of the enslaved, including those who were part of the Louisiana Slave Revolt/German Coast Uprising. Many of them were mortgaged against as many as nine times by the time slavery ended. 

I’m STILL not even close to being done!

I’m releasing the names of most of the the folks that are currently within the database to commemorate this latest milestone and to celebrate Black History Month 2021. While the total official number is 5,398, the list below is 4,938 as I’ve removed the names of those who have DNA tested for privacy reasons. 


Civil War Pension file deposition for Randall Collins by James Alexander Ventress, Jr.
Source: National Archives
Profile and obituary for Hillard Dunbar, Jr., a member of the Trask 250+.
Source: Times Picayune (New Orleans, LA), GenealogyBank

“So, how did you do it?”

In my webinars, The Family DNA Project and Case Studies in Gray: Identifying Shared Ancestries through DNA and Genealogy, I talk at length about establishing a proxy group of known family members to DNA test to stand proxy for your ancestors. Using this process, I identified family groups who were more closely related to each other than people in other groups who were more distantly related. One of those groups includes me and close family members that I’ve confirmed are related through oral history, traditional genealogy, and DNA.

Next, I used DNA matching to identify more than 370 people we had in common or triangulated with. There were some cases where a lot of us shared DNA with a particular person or group, but for the most part, there were different combinations of shared DNA across the groups. DNA lead the way in terms of identifying people, but the paper trail lined right up with what the DNA was telling me. Most times, I can figure out the exact branch a new match descends from in less than 15 minutes.

I cannot calculate the number of hours I’ve put into this project. It would have been easy for me to just trace my own family line and expect for everyone else connected to it to find their particular family’s story on their own. 

I don’t operate like that.


I know first hand the struggle it is to even get to information on your ancestors while they were enslaved. Why would I make the process harder when I could make it easier and help so many people along the way? Nothing compares to the elation I hear and read when my fellow kinfolk get their reports and personalized family trees. It’s priceless and is one of the reasons why this project has been so successful.

Trask 250! I Want To Hear From YOU!

Below, you’ll find a downloadable PDF with the list of nearly 5,000 names. It is searchable, so be sure to search multiple options once you get it open. It’s more than 100 pages and includes name, birth date/year and place, marriage date and place, spouse/partner name, death date and place. If you find someone you think is connected to you, please be sure to contact me! I LOVE sharing the sourced information with descendants but request that folks respect my copyright since I’m the one that put all the time into this.  

There’s still a lot to do with this project and I plan on sharing more of it with you all. I hope this will hold you over for a while. *Laughs*

Special thanks to my muses and cousins, Keesha Lee, Lillie Palmer, CJ Alexis, Bridget Santos, Jackie Arbuthnot, Melodie Jackson, and the group over at To LaGrange and Beyond for always asking the right questions and sending me down 50-11 rabbit holes. 

Marriage license of Jerry Palmer and Eveline Bolden, March 23, 1889, Wilkinson County, Mississippi.
Source: FamilySearch
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