Voices of the Past

Recorded stories about ancestors and heritage

 In the following audio recordings, listen to what others share about their
heritage, family histories and ancestors, genealogy research, mysteries and discoveries.

Provided by the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS) - preserving family histories in Greater Victoria, BC, Canada

SULA BROWN - Trail of Tears

DURATION ~ 13:44 minutes

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Trail of Tears sign 
Trail of Tears, US National Historic Trail sign

When Sula Brown was researching her African American heritage, she discovered that her father was born on a Native American Choctaw reservation, and her paternal great grandparents were slaves owned by a wealthy Choctaw plantation owner in Oklahoma. 

In her quest to discover more about her roots and connections with the Choctaw nation, she movingly recounts in this  audio clip what she learned about the "Trail of Tears", when five Native American tribes were unlawfully displaced from the south-eastern states during the presidency of Andrew Jackson.  They were forced on a very long and harsh winter march to relocate in the west, a march when over 2,000 of the 15,000 Cherokees died.

She now believes her great-grandfather, Nepitimus Brown, was born in Jamaica, but mysteries remain.  Why, according to her second cousins, did her grandfather Richard Brown look quite different from his brothers?  Sula concludes that her research continues as she works to unravel these and other mysteries.


SULA BROWN - My Father and His Native Roots

DURATION ~ 8:55 minutes

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Sula Brown's African American father 
Sula Brown's father

This is the second of three stories from Sula Brown. In this story Sula tells us loving memories and anecdotes about her father, who was a merchant seaman but also a gifted gardener, natural healer and spiritual man.

In her story Sula delves into her father’s past by passionately articulating the connection between his interest in medicine and her own. She explains that as they grew up they never went to doctors as her Dad made his own remedies, which at times she thought a little weird because he was African American, not Indian. In an unexplained twist, she adds that her mother’s father was a natural healer from Canada and that he would go through various provinces looking for certain herbs. In the end Sula concludes that her Dad did much the same, and was well grounded with his native roots being on the reserve and a healer in his own way.

Sula also captures the feelings of many people who study family history, explaining that her family history research continues on. “That’s why it’s always a work in progress because a lot of times what we do and think stems from what had happened through past generations, and it’s always good to know your past because it helps you to redefine and rebuild your future and your present.”



SULA BROWN - Mama Sula, My Name Sake

DURATION ~ 4:55 minutes

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Sula Brown's family 
The Brown Family

In this the third and final chapter of Sula Brown’s stories for us, she talks about her grandmother and name sake, Mama Sula.

Sula begins with a moving story about the tragic death of Mama Sula’s only baby daughter, but acknowledges that “through life she gained a multitude of granddaughters”.  Sula explains that in her upbringing you didn’t name your child after your elder, you let your elders give their name up to a child. Although Mama Sula had several older granddaughters, Sula is obviously very proud that her grandmother didn’t give up her name until the last was born: Sula Brown. “I give a lot of gratitude to her, not just for her name but for what it stands for. Peace.”

Mama Sula played a large role in Sula’s life and Sula speaks tenderly and respectively about her.  “I thank her for allowing me to be a part of her spirituality and to give me this name to carry on for her.”

Links to Other Related Stories

Check out these additional stories from other theme pages, that also relate to heritage and genealogy research: