Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One of my mentors, Professional Genealogist, Judy Riffel, appears on "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Judy Riffel
I'm so excited about tonight's episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"  Judy Riffel, notable Professional Genealogist, Author, Researcher and Lecturer will be assisting Emmy-award winning actor, Jim Parsons, on researching his family tree at LSU's Special Collections in Hill Memorial Library.

For the “Taylor” branch of my tree, Judy assisted me and my cousin, Patricia Bayonne-Johnson.  Judy provided many clues that helped us get past the infamous “1870 brick wall” that so many African Americans face.  Personally, whether she knows it or not, Judy is an incredible mentor to me and I admire her and her work very much!

In 2005, she found mortgage & probate records and a bill of sale for my 4th great grandparents, Nelson Taylor & Lytha (Lethia) Briant Taylor and their 5 children dating back to 1831 in West Feliciana Parish.

In July of 2012, Judy busted through another brick wall by the finding property records for Gilbert Diagre, a Louisiana Planter in East Baton Rouge Parish that owned my 3th great-grandmother, Artimease Harris and my 2th great-grandfather, her son, Emanuel Willis, Sr., on what was known as Mulberry Grove Plantation.  She also discovered they were purchased from neighboring Chatsworth Plantation owned by Fergus Duplantier.  Thanks to Judy, I now have to return to the LSU's Special Collections where records on Chatsworth are currently being translated!

The last time I went to the Louisiana State Archives (July of 2013), I ran into her by chance and she devoted the last two hours of her time to navigating me in the right direction for my areas of interest.  She helped me find my 4th great-grandmother, Julia Lee, and her children in the 1859 Succession Record of Sarah Rucker Haile in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.

Judy is truly amazing and I’m sure I can speak for Patricia and my other family members when I say that she is truly a Godsend!

For more details on tonight’s episode refer to the following link: 


  1. Michael,

    This is so exciting! I look forward to hearing from you and news of how your journey is going. It’s so funny that your journey backwards is propelling you ever forward. I’m staying tuned and getting more and more inspired by your story. Much love.

    Aunt Trina

  2. Thank you Auntie Trina! I have lots to tell! Trying to find the time to write about it. LOL!

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