Redrawing A Community – A Washington Descendant’s Journey, Part Two

Part One of this series is titled “Paper”. It explains my family background, and how I was launched on this journey.  Many thanks to the members of Bittersweet, for your stories and your support.

 Part One: https://linkedthroughslavery.com/2015/02/01/redrawing-a-community-a-washington-descendants-journey/


PART TWO – “PEOPLE – THE THOMPSONS”

SOLOMON THOMPSON

My family sold their plantation, Claymont (or Claymont Court) in Jefferson County, West Virginia in the wake of the Civil War, and headed west around 1905 to start over. An archive of wills, inventories and letters remained with them. I tell the story of these papers and how they initiated my search for linked descendants in Part One of this post.  From these papers I made a spreadsheet to help me visualize the slave population on my family’s plantations, and used it to explore the many answers to the one enormous question that arose; who were the individuals my ancestors regarded as property, visible only as shadows on inherited sheets of paper?     

Continue reading “Redrawing A Community – A Washington Descendant’s Journey, Part Two”

Coming to the Table Leads in Push for HR 40 Reparations Study

I am posting for Pam Smith. She says, “Ahhh the woes of not being a techy in a technological world! A few little glitches prevented me from posting this directly to the BitterSweet blog. As an active member of CTTT I consider this space another home.”

Last week was an historic week for Coming to the Table (comingtothetable.org), an organization I’m involved with composed of descendants of slaveholders and enslaved.  I spend a lot of time with historical records.  Fifty, 100 years from now people will look back to see what our organization did.  Most members will be long gone by then, but some people somewhere will look back to see where we stood.  They’ll search archival records and Internet data that will be stored who knows how by then.  They’ll look at pictures.  And hopefully, among all the material they will find Coming to the Table’s petition http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/congress-pass-hr40-to-2/?source=search urging Congress to pass H.R. 40 – Rep. John Conyers’ bill to study the issue of reparations for U.S. slavery.  That document serves as a tangible symbol of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Continue reading “Coming to the Table Leads in Push for HR 40 Reparations Study”

Looking for Links: First Steps

Introduction

This is the first of three posts about my initial efforts to identify linked descendants connected to my slave-owning ancestors on my father’s side of the family in South Carolina.  These ancestors are Wood Furman (1712 – 1783), Richard Furman (1755 –  1825) and James C. Furman (1809 – 1891).  On my mother’s side, I have a rich history of on-going relationships with the descendants of enslaved people at a plantation in South Carolina (see Shared History) that my cousins and I still own today—the remnants of what Sherman left behind.  Several African American families stayed on the place after the Civil War and maintained relationships with my family that continue to this day.   

I must begin this blog by acknowledging the tremendous advantage I have as a white person from a privileged family in undertaking this research—an advantage I recognize is not generally shared by black people or, for that matter, the majority of white people.  Because of this family legacy, I have access to historical records and documents from the early 18th century right up to the present concerning my father’s family. For African Americans, the census records do not even record names until 1870, and  most whites descended from slave owners do not necessarily have ancestors who were in this country during colonial and Revolutionary War periods. 

Using these documents, these three posts will describe my journey to find ancestral links to specific descendants of enslaved people and as well as document my paternal connection to slavery.

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I’m looking for the descendants of Sirrah, Glasgow and Jinny, three people owned by my 7th great grandfather, Wood Furman, whose descendants, sadly, I will probably never find.    An additional person, Moll, is listed as collateral with Glasgow, on a mortgage to purchase additional land by Furman in St. Thomas Parish, South Carolina (Mortgage Book AAA p. 413, no date from secondary resource provided).  These two enslaved people were surely worth a considerable amount of money to be accepted as collateral for this debt.  Just knowing the names of these four people, I can at least begin to acknowledge them and their plight.  I can perhaps imagine their lives as enslaved humans and attempt to remember and honor them.

Continue reading “Looking for Links: First Steps”

Who Are “Linked Descendants”?

 … (T)he great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.  It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and our aspirations.  And it is with great pain and terror that one begins to realize this …

James Baldwin, “White Man’s Guilt,” in David R. Roediger, ed., Black on White:, NY: Schocken, 1998), 321.

As social beings we are linked or related to each other in a million ways. As an expression of this, we often spend time with new people we meet trying to figure out positive linkages or connections in the recent past–people we both know, places we’ve both been, experiences we’ve shared.

Continue reading “Who Are “Linked Descendants”?”