New Research on Historic African-American Family Uncovered with Weekly Livestream

While the doors to the Beverly Heritage Center may be closed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the museum and visitor’s center is finding new ways to reach out to the public. For the past five weeks, there have been weekly Facebook livestreams on topics as varied as food during the Great Depression to Women of Randolph County. After their “show” on the history of the 1808 Courthouse in Beverly, the Heritage Center received an intriguing email. emancipation

“During the broadcast, I was talking about sources of history for the Randolph County Courthouse, and I brought up an entry in the ‘Oaths and Licenses’ book which mentioned a bill of sale involving an enslaved woman named Margaret,” said Chris Mielke, the Head of Programming and AmeriCorps member with the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area. “You can imagine my surprise when the very next day I got a message from a woman from California who is a descendant of Margaret!”

Kanika Marshall Art contacted the Beverly Heritage Center through its Facebook page. “I have known since 1976, thru family lore, that my great-great-great-grandmother, Margaret Booker, was enslaved by the Earle family in Beverly. I have recently found an interview from Kenyon College by a professor who interviewed Margaret’s grandson, my Great-Uncle George Booker, who said John Earle was the master.” The two have spent the past couple of days exchanging emails on information about the Booker and Earle families, filling in the gaps the other has in its research.

Christopher Taylor, the Executive Director of the Beverly Heritage Center, has found the whole situation amazing. “We began these livestreams to try and implement some form of public programming while we as a nation navigate this public health crisis. We were mostly just trying to keep people interested in what we were doing. We are so grateful that Kanika reached out to us.”

The Beverly Heritage Center will continue to host a series of livestreams over the weekends in May as well. The topics include fashion, transportation, and the First Campaign of the Civil War. “I used to be part of a Medieval Radio program, so I love getting to put these shows together,” Mielke observes. “We design them so that people listening in can ask questions in real time – you never know what’s going to happen!”

For Kanika Marshall Art, these conversations have helped her prepare a book of her family’s history which she had been working on for years. “You cannot know how precious this information is to me.”

The Beverly Heritage Center has its livestreams every Saturday in May at 1 pm. Check online for the full schedule of which talks will be given when. You can watch it from their Facebook page at

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