I started digging deep into my paternal family history in 2008 in hopes of finding information about my great, great grandmother, Tempy Burton who had been a slave. The search took me from Maryland to Mississippi and introduced me to cousins I didn’t know I had. But I never expected to encounter descendants of the family who had once owned Tempy.  I wrote about our work together to reclaim our common history and our complex connection in a recent issue of MORE magazine.

I'm a writer living outside of New York City with my husband and two daughters.

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3 comments on “Cousins
  1. Post is somehow related to another; on family matriarch, Madame Tempy (Stuart) Smith, (1884-1960).

  2. “Why would [Tempy] pose for what amounted to a family portrait, a good 25 years after slavery ended, with people who stole her freedom?” – My Family Tree: In Black and White, by Dionne Ford.

    I too have one of those blended family portraits, posted here.

    And a thousand questions arise. Note the young male, Charly, holding my Grand Aunt Sarah. Seems rather intimate … and inclusive. I know from family history lore – Grand Uncle Cuvier (not shown) reporting “I loved her more than my own mother” – that Mary Wheat (styled ‘Aunt Mary,’ in the family) was vital to family nurturance.

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