Have you ever wanted to track down a branch of your family tree, but aren’t sure how to go about it? Well, here’s a story that’ll not only inspire you to get going, but that’ll give you some not-so-obvious tips for finding your ancestry that will actually be useful. Paula Williams Madison knew this much about her ancestry: she was part Chinese, looked Black, and would probably never know anything about her maternal grandfather, unless she was willing to go to extreme measures. Luckily, probably like you, Madison is a woman who likes a challenge.
Madison grew up hearing about her mother’s yearning for her lost father. Her mother was an “outside child,” a daughter born of an affair between a Chinese businessman, Samuel Lowe, and a Jamaican woman, Albertha. When Albertha found out that Lowe planned to take a Chinese wife, she fled in outrage with their daughter, refusing to allow Lowe any contact with her. Nell, Madison’s mother, grew up without a father, a fact that haunted her all her life and spurred Madison in her quest to reclaim her Chinese family and, perhaps, give her mother’s soul some rest.