It took Desi L. Campbell several years to find a connection to his family’s past. The work involved a lot of research and exploring such as visiting gravesites of ancestors who once walked on the earth.
Campbell will share a lot of his work during a program for his work, “The Road Once Traveled,” based on a 150-page book that features research and stories dating back to the early 1800s. It is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, March 11 at New Christian Chapel Baptist Church, 2283 N.C. Hwy 11 South, Rose Hill. An exhibit of his findings will be featured.
“I’m excited,” Campbell said about his project.
The documentary includes the family history of the Moore, Stokes, Dixon, Jacobs, Wells, McGowan, Pearsall, Kenan, Chasten, Chavis and Hollingsworth families. In addition to Sampson, those family come from Duplin, Pender, New Hanover, and Columbus.
“There a lot of families that are connected and I don’t know how,” he said. “I’ve been to quite a few graveyards in Sampson, Duplin and Pender counties, trying to get information by taking pictures of the headstones.”
Campbell is originally from Washington, D.C. and currently lives in Charlotte. During his youth, he grew up outside of the Raleigh area. He has family roots in Sampson County and nearby locations. His mother and grandmother, Dorothy Wells Williams are from Sampson. Campbell’s dad side of the family has roots in Harnett County.
“I had no idea that I had such a large family,” he said.
He was able to go back to the 1790s by finding his fourth great-grandparent, Harry Hollingsworth. Through the AncestryDNA program, Campbell found out that he came from a slave plantation owned by Jacob Hollingsworth.
“That kind of opened up a whole new world,” he said about the DNA program connecting millions of people.
Campbell said he began working on the research in the late 1990s. He took an hiatus from the work to learn about his father’s side of the family, which was part of a documentary for African-American history in Harnett County. He was instrumental in having a monument erected to highlight the contributions to the Town of Coats.
For Campbell, there’s a lot of DNA matches in Turkey. He’s still trying to find a connection to that area too.
Campbell has several degrees in several subject in addition to teacher’s license. He’s currently working to become a licensed genealogist. Like others in the field he believes it’s important to have a link to the past. Campbell added that some people with the same last name may have something in common.
“But when you do the genealogy, you realize they’re the same family, but they lost contact with each other, not knowing they’re from the same family,” he said. “That what I’m hoping to try to pull together through this book.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.