BLACK RUG/WHITE RUG; A DIALOGUE AMONG THREE LINKED ANCESTORS

By Joyceann Gray, Sarah Brown and Monique Hopkins

Joyceann Gray, Monique Crippen-Hopkins and Sarah Brown are “linked through slavery”. Joyceann and Monique’s ancestors were enslaved by Sarah’s ancestors, the Washington family. When Sarah published her most recent post, about her connection with Monique’s family, Joyceann spoke out about her feelings about the piece. The three of them decided that the Facebook dialogue that followed was important, and would be valuable as a post of its own.

Read Joyeann’s blog for her full story:  http://jgraydiscovery.com/

Read Monique’s blog for her full story: http://genealogybreakingdownthewalls.blogspot.com/

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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”

Redrawing A Community – A Washington Descendant’s Journey

In 2010, an archive of rare documents passed down in my family for over 250 years arrived at my home in Austin. Reading them I came face to face with my family’s role in both creating democracy and denying freedom.

 I’m the 5x great-granddaughter of George Washington’s brother John Augustine Washington. Although the President freed his slaves in his will, his brothers and heirs continued using slave labor to maintain their lives of privilege until the Emancipation Proclamation became law.

 My own life has followed a different cultural current of American history. I’ve been a professional blues musician for over 40 years. I launched my career playing with blues legends, learning authentic styles from those who grew up in the Jim Crow era.

 I’ve been looking for linked descendants, and specifically those who share a life in music. Soon after I began my search I found Coming To The Table. Susan Hutchison, one the founders, helped me to come to terms with my family’s legacy. I’m forever in her debt – thank you, Susan!

 I’m outlining my search – so far! – In three parts, as a Bittersweet blog post – “Redrawing a Community”.

Part One, “Paper” deals with the impact of learning about my family’s past as slave-owners.

Part Two “People”, tells the story of connecting to the living descendants of Solomon Thompson and Reuben Hatter.

Part Three “Music”, talks about the impact of African-American music on my life, and my search for linked descendant musicians.

I’m telling the whole story in my upcoming book “The Washingtons and The Blues”.

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