Thursday, October 31, 2013

Steal Away, Steal Away, King Cotton is Coming!

My take on the PBS Special

The African Americans: Many Rivers To Cross
Episode 2 : The Cotton Economy and Slavery

I have often wondered how my maternal and paternal families got to those places, according to the census, say they were from.

Did they come with the enslavers who ran from other states in order to keep their slaves?  Or did they slip away silently in the night’s light of the moon and the signs from the stars. 

After viewing Episode 2 of Many Rivers to Cross and scouring news articles from the papers during the era of 1800 – 1860, I started to wonder if any of my ancestors were among the runaways.

Looking at this article in The Texas Gazette was one of my ancestors a part of these Virginia ten who ended up lost on a Pennsylvania Ridge?  Why were their lives not important enough to the family that took them in, fed them and turned them over for a reward. (Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die)

Were any of my ancestors in any of these groups trying to get to Canada? 
Were the weapons they took with them enough to protect them until they crossed over the Niagara (I got my shield and sword

Was George or John one of my ancestors?

In my family tree there are numerous George’s and John's. Did he by chance make his way to North Carolina? Was he captured and sent back into slavery like so many others.(Let my people go)

                                            Louisville Morning Courier July24,1844

Was Mary my ancestor?

No wonder she ran away; she had a whip mark under her eye and the back of her neck. I pray she made it to where she may have been set free, A place like like Canada. 
(Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around)

                                                  Ad found in The Daily Picayune July 13,1844

 Were any of those people part of the enslaved who worked the cotton fields in Harrison, Fayette and Grimes county Texas where my ancestors lived?

How much cotton did my gg-grandparents John Lewis and his wife Sallie Jefferson  Lewis have to pick in order to satisfy their slave owner in Grimes County Texas? 
Sallie was around 9 yrs old before she saw the end of bondage and John was going on 20 years. (But still I rise)

In Marshall, Harrison County, Texas how much cotton did my elusive Mariah have to pick before she was allowed to take her shackles off. 

According to Randolph Campbell’s book A Southern Community in Crisis: Harrison County Texas 1850-1880  on page 53 table 5, you can see that cotton is definitely King. 

This book happens to be in my top 3 likes for books mainly because it is all about my maternal ancestors home city of Marshall and Harrison County. 

Were any of these enslaved people named in this court case  Wheeler vs Coleman and Simms, filed in St Augustine Texas my ancestors? 

Otis Wheeler’s claim was that Abram Coleman and B Fleurnoy Simms were to pay his debt to a Thomas Barnett in exchange for a deed of trust that included twenty slaves and a plantation.

Wheeler stated that he delivered three slaves and forty bales of cotton to them to sell to settle the debt. He then claimed that the two did not sell the slaves but kept them for their own employment.

Among these slaves was a girl that just happened to be named Priscilla. (I’ve been buked and I’ve been scorned)

St Augustine County Texas Court Records; Found in Race, Slavery and Free Blacks, series 11

This is the last bale of cotton that came from the Jonesville Gin situated in Jonesville Texas where my great grandfather Joseph P Taylor was born.

Stronger and Wiser


Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

My goodness----what a poignant piece you have written, Vicki! You have captured the pain that so many went through and have illustrated with each piece and each questioned that you asked---how could this heinous practice have been legal from state to state? And how can this system not have been addressed for so long? Well written, my friend.

Ms Vicky said...

Thanks Angela!

Terry said...

Great article Vicky,

As I read your post I'm left with the understanding that for many of us, if not all who have an enslaved ancestor there are questions we will never know.

The pain of separation of families; the pain of illiteracy and the pain of just not knowing are the legacy of the "peculiar institution" that we are left to endure.

Despite all of that pain we can take solace in the fact we have been given the tools and drive to tell the stories we are left with maybe someone else will take up the torch and bring another ancestor's voice forward.

Thanx for a fine article!

Ms Vicky said...

So true, but we keep on seeking don't we Terry. Thanks for the read my friend.

Kristin said...

I like all the newspaper items that you insert into the post. It makes them feel timely.

Ms Vicky said...

Thanks much Kristin, I sure appreciate your input.

LindaRe said...

If we never get all the answers to our many questions, there is one thing we know, they made it.

Ms Vicky said...

yes indeed LindaRe,yes indeed!

Renate said...

Outstanding post, Vicky! Those runaway slave notices always give me pause. You've beautifully expressed what I'm sure many of us must be thinking when we read them. Could this have been my ____? I wonder if my ____ was ever in this situation?

Thanks for sharing!


Ms Vicky said...

Thanks Renata for reading and commenting. On more than a few occasions I have wondered what they looked like and wished I could have gotten a hug.

ProfessorDru said...

Vicky, I also love the newspaper clippings you included in this piece. As I look at the names of my ancestors listed on the 1870 census, I also wonder how they got to the place they were living at that time. One thing I do know about those 1870 census ancestors is that they were "survivors." Afterall , they survived slavery and survived the Civil War. And because they survived, I AM HERE.

Ms Vicky said...

Amen ProfessorDru!