Fred Miller purchased Sharswood, “the scary house” and property less than a mile from where his mother lived in southern Virginia, as a place for family gatherings.

Little did he know there was a deeper, more profound family gathering taking place.

Buying the home launched Miller and his family on an unbelievable journey to unlock hidden chapters of family history and discover their own ancestors had once been enslaved on the very property, which was once a plantation.

The Miller family found important clues left behind in a dilapidated building with a tin roof next to a big oak tree that they believe once served as slave quarters. They also discovered a forgotten cemetery among the trees with small pointed rocks as markers.

The story was featured on “60 Minutes” by Lesley Stahl of CBS News.

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FamilySearch played a role in solving the mystery as a historian used the Virginia Slave Birth Index to find a key record.

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Family members told Stahl that the family history revelation has been overwhelming.

Fred Miller, seated front in blue, with family members during an interview with “60 Minutes.”
Fred Miller, seated front in blue, with family members during an interview with “60 Minutes.” | CBS News screengrab

“It really is. I mean, we all live in the same area, we come past this place, and we would not know that our ancestors were right there beside us the entire time,” Karen Dixon-Rexroth, Miller’s sister, told “60 Minutes.”

“It’s changed me,” Miller said. “It’s definitely changed me.”

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