Slavery… What Was the Freedmen’s Bureau?

When the Civil War ended in 1865, the United States government created a department whose main concern was to look after the well-being of former slaves. Whether it was naive or ignorant, it was thought that one year would be enough to attend to the freedman’s needs. It wasn’t. There were tens of thousands of freed slaves who had been kept against their will, unable to learn how to read or write and unable to navigate the treacherous waters of freedom, especially considering the bitter prejudice that existed in the south.

The aim of the Freedman’s Bureau was to provide for the maintenance and education of freed slaves and monitor their conditions of employment and administer justice. It was a corrupt, dysfunctional mess. That’s what happens when those in charge use a government bureau for their own political motives. The power of the Freedmen’s Bureau must have been vast. Besides the above-mentioned duties, the bureau controlled land that had been confiscated during the war. In 1872, the bureau disbanded but not until after it did a lot of damage. In the end, it had the reputation of doing “more harm than good.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of the series, Civil War Era Romances. Available here:

Book One, Black Pansy:


The Fleur-de-Lis Found in Ancient Egypt

The image of the ancient symbol, the fleur-de-lis, conjures thoughts of ancient conspiracies and hidden secrets known only to a select few (nobility and those involved with them). It is now the symbol for France (and all things French and/or Acadian including the New Orleans Saints football team) because it was the symbol of the royal houses of France, dating back to the descendants of Charlemagne, the Carlovingian kings. Anglo-Saxon kings used it as well. The fleur-de-lis was an iconic symbol long before European monarchs were being established. It is found among Egyptian hieroglyphics. From t-shirts to tattoos, the fleur-de-lis arouses emotion and attitude. In colonial America during the 1700’s, the symbol was branded onto the shoulder of slaves who ran away for longer than a month. The punishment for running away again was another fleur-de-lis on the other shoulder. A third time and the slave lost an arm. In this instance, it probably became a symbol of resistance and rebellion, those sentiments no doubt exist today. Another example of using the fleur-de-lis as a strong symbol is the author Dan Brown and his book and movie, “The Da Vinci Code.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of the Civil War Era Historic Romance, Black Pansy.

Available Here:

Throw it on Your Back, Your Bed and Your Floor but Don’t Forget Where it Came From

President Donald Trump has brought a lot of attention to the Civil War this week. Making scholars remind us of the truth about that war, maybe even confusing us. History buffs will let you know that the Civil War wasn’t all about freeing slaves. It was also about preserving the Union. Ouch. That hurts.

Dividing the United States of America was unthinkable to the North. America’s economy was in crisis. At the beginning of the Civil War, the price of cotton started to increase, obviously because the north was shut off from the south but in 1865, when Robert E. Lee surrendered, the price dropped.

Fortunes were made on the backs of slaves who labored in the sun-drenched cotton fields. People died out in those hot fields. And today, we forget all about that. We take our cotton for granted. We throw it on our beds, onto our backs, onto our floors and into our mattresses. We dry off with it and lay on top of it at the beach. We make balls of it to swab our skin and make strips of it to use as bandages and slings. Tents, tarps, you name it, we’ve made it from cotton. How many of us think of the history behind cotton? It’s hard to understand all the politics surrounding the Civil War but the next time you put your hands on cotton, think of all the history behind it. And be grateful that it is behind us.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the series, Civil War Era Romances. Available here:

Book One, Black Pansy:

Book Two, Blue Violet:

Book Three, Black Lilac:

Book Four, Ellie:

Book Five, Rose Thorn:

Book Six, Mississippi Wild Blue:

Black Like Me

Black PansyYears ago there was a white author who darkened his face and went into the world to see if he would be treated differently. He was and he wrote a book about it, “Black Like Me.” A white person can never really know what obstacles African Americans have overcome in the decades post Civil War, but they can read about it. And often the books are free, either in the library or as an Amazon free Kindle classic. In the Kindle search field, type “free history books.” Two of my favorites are, “Up From Slavery: An Autobiography,” by Booker T. Washington and “The Underground Railroad,” by William Still.BLOG Size FRONT Canva Cover Secret Genealogy V

My father was from the Old South. When I was a child, he told me stories about his experiences and friendships with African Americans.  As an adult, somehow I stumbled onto writing romances with ethnic conflicts. I’ve read about the history of the “Negro Church,” and the above two mentioned books, and have immersed myself in research on ancient slavery and black genealogy. Sometimes when I pull my head out of one of these books, I have a sense of what it feels like to have been persecuted and oppressed because of the color of my skin and I am impressed with the fortitude and optimism that African Americans have shown, considering the obstacles that were put upon them.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the Civil War Era Historic Romance, Black Pansy:

and Secret Genealogy V- Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees:



Looking for the Answers to Iberian Ancestry?

If you are looking for the answers to Iberian ancestry, you are not alone. I’ve done a lot of research on this and it’s complicated. It’s also interesting. I’ll warn you though, you’ve many options but it probably means that you have British ancestry, especially Scottish and/or Irish. Maybe even Welsh. It might stop there but it didn’t begin there. The history of our Iberian ancestors goes back to the history of ancient people. Kings… queens… Bedouin traders… fishermen… I write about it in my new book.

Genealogy is great fun. Once I started uncovering my ancient ancestors, I was never the same again. It’s just plain fun to learn about the long chain of people who came before us.

BLOG Size FRONT Canva Cover Secret Genealogy VSuellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy V – Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees.  Available here:


Looking for Something to be Proud About? How About African American Attorneys?

In Louisiana, between 1724 and 1803, a slave code was created called the Louisiana Code Noir or the Black Code of Louisiana, designed to give guidance to colonists who “owned” slaves. The French king established these codes of conduct, based on rules created in 1685 for French colonies in the Caribbean. Because I live in an era when the president of the United States is black, the codes serve as a reminder that we have come a long way. One of the code articles has this sentence:

“… nor shall they be called to give their testimony either in civil or in criminal cases, except when it shall be a matter of necessity, and only in default of white people…”

Think of the thousands of African-Americans who have successfully finished law school, passed their bar exams and now serve as legal attorneys for the American people. Of that… we can be proud.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the Civil War Era Historic Romance, Black Pansy. Available Here:

eBooks and computer downloads available through Smashwords:



Ever Wonder Why the Fleur de Lis is So Popular?

Image result for public domain picture of fleur de lis

Humans have adorned themselves for thousands of years. The Scots have colorful plaids that represent their tribe, Pacific Northwest Indians tattooed their chins, the Jews have the Star of David, Christians have the cross… seems everybody has a group they identify with. A popular icon today is the fleur de lis. I see it all the time. It was flashed around a lot during the movie, The Da Vinci Code, as if it were the emblem of some powerful secret society. Perhaps it is, but it may also represent bravado among the most oppressed of us all, the enslaved.

During the days of slavery, in French Louisiana, the king signed a document, the Louisiana Code Noir, also known as the slave code, the laws pertaining to slaves and their masters. If a slave was caught stealing livestock, produce or provisions, they were legally allowed to be whipped by the public executioner and then branded with the mark of the fleur de lis. If a slave ran away and was gone for a month, his ears were cut off and he was branded with the fleur de lis on the shoulder. If a slave ran away a second time, again for a month, he was branded with the fleur de lis on the other shoulder. Quite a sign of rebellion. Unfortunately though, we run out of shoulders for the third offence. The punishment for that is death. You have to wonder if a tattoo of the fleur de lis was a status symbol, one of rebellion and anarchy. At least they tried.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the Civil War Era Historic Romance, Black Pansy. Available Here:

eBooks and computer downloads available through Smashwords: