The Inspiring Story of Hawkins Wilson

Ancestry has released a video called, A Dream Delivered: The Lost Letters of Hawkins Wilson, telling the story of Hawkins Wilson.

This is the story of a young enslaved boy who was sold from his family when he was just six years old. That child would become a man who held on to the hope that he would be reunited with his family with the help of the Freedman’s Bureau.

I will give you a fair warning that this is a tissue alert. This beautifully told story is hosted by Emmy-nominated actor Anthony Anderson from “black-ish” and”Law & Order”. Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is also in this film, providing the background to the time period and explaining what the Freedman’s Bureau was mandated to do. Which was to help nearly four million newly freed people manage their transition to citizenship by providing assistance with education, work, medical care, and finding lost families.

Kelley and Marie, a mother and daughter, are descendants of Hawkins Wilson, and they are taken on a journey by professional genealogist Nicka Sewell-Smith. They will learn of the letter that Hawkins wrote that was found in the digitized and searchable Freedman’s Bureau records. These are a collection of more than 3.5 million free records that tells the story of newly freed African Americans after emancipation.

Kelley and Marie start their journey in Galveston, Texas, where they learn about Hawkins’s life as a freeman, and then retrace his steps, traveling to Mecklenburg County in Virginia, where he was sold for his enslaver’s unpaid debt.

One hundred and fifty years later, the letter does what it was written to do. You can watch the video HERE.

Tomorrow, June 19th, is Juneteenth, a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.


Search the Freedman’s Bureau records for FREE HERE.

You can start your Ancestry 14-Day Free Trial and begin your own journey of discovery HERE.

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