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Sugar Hill man to be focus of PBS program

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A Sugar Hill man's ancestry is the focus in a recent segment of a PBS program.

Michael Henderson appears on episode 10 in season eight of "History Detectives," a series that investigates historical mysteries deducing fact from myth.

Henderson's story follows his fourth generation great-grandparents in a look at romance, racial tension and patriotism during the colonial period in Louisiana.

In 1779 the governor of Spanish colonial Louisiana signed a document that emancipated Henderson's ancestor Agnes Mathieu from slavery. During that time period, most papers freeing slaves required only the former slaveholder's signature notarized by a clerk. But Governor Bernardo de Galvez had a special interest in this particular case -- the individual seeking his help in emancipating Agnes, Mathieu Platilla, was part of the artillery force in an important battle.

Henderson located Agnes' freedom papers, which were written in Spanish, while researching his family history. After having the document transcribed in English it revealed information on the process she had to go through to gain her freedom.

"As a researcher I wanted to find out whether or not the document was authentic," Henderson said.

Enter "History Detectives," whose experts validated the historical document, which qualified Henderson as a direct defendant of American revolution. He is the first African-American in Georgia to be inducted into the National Society Sons of the American Revolution as a member of the organization's Button Gwinnett Chapter.

"It's a unique story to have discovered," he said. "I'm very pleased and proud to have actually done that."

The segment of "History Detectives," titled "The Galvez Papers," is available to view online at www.pbs.org.