Monday, December 31, 2012

WATCH NIGHT: Honoring My Arkansas, Tennessee, & Mississippi Ancestors

National Geographic Video Retelling the Story Surrounding the Proclamation

Those for whom the Emancipation Proclamation were the enslaved in many states and for my ancestors, whose enslaved in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, would be included.

Some of their stories of Freedom, I know---some escaped when Union soldiers came through.Many of them joined to fight!

Others seized their own freedom and followed the men. and they later were declared contrabands of war, and were quickly put to work to support the army with their labor.

Black soldiers repairing a railroad track.
Contrabands working to secure the railroads.
Source: National Park Service Image

Women as well as men became contrabands, finding a new freedom. Some served as civilian workers for white regiments, as cooks, laundresses and servants.

Image of fugitive slaves known as contraband
A group of contrabands that served the 13th Infantry from Massachusetts

Many knew that if they could find sanctuary, and join others they could take refuge in some of the new Freedman colonies that formed and dotted the countryside in so many places.

A Freedmen's Colony village
An image of one of the Freedman's colony villages that appeared during the War.

But so many stayed at home. They did not leave, for they could not leave. In so many places there were no Union soldiers coming through, no men were given the chance to fight for their freedom, and so many were simply taken further away, to avoid the hope of Freedom. My ancestor Amanda was among them. She was taken to Lowdnes County Mississipi away from where she had lived in Tippah County. The threat of losing Amanda, the matriarch and cook to the family was too much and before my Amanda could join her family who had begun to leave, she was taken away. So unlike many in her family who had escaped, she was truly forced to wait for Freedom to come to her.

Taken from the Southern Claims Commission File
of Amanda Young, Tippah County, Mississippi.

Eventually the slaves were indeed freed, and it is said that there were those scenarios repeated in many hamlets and villages across the south. The Proclamation of freedom was read to them, and they were finally released into a new life and their future had begun again.

Their freedom stories are not known, but there are a few, whose names I do know. I honor them for their resilience and their desire to survive/
I honor my ancestors enslaved in Mississippi:
Amanda, Berry, John, Harriet, Violet, Nancy, Alsie, Paralee

I honor my ancestors in Arkansas:
Louis Mitchell, Georgia Ann, Minerva

I honor my ancestors enslaved in Tennessee:
Irving, Nancy, Sephus, Napier, Silas, Susan 

After so much, suffered so long, they were declared to be "forever free."


Celia Lewis said...

Thank you for sharing your stories about this most dreadful time... Watch Night indeed! It must have been amazing to experience the hope of a better life, finally.

The Brigham City Fort said...

That's great to have a video. I'm working on a video for a blog I've attached to

I'm working on drafts for some posts that will explain the video. Love GeneaBloggers. This is a great community. I love the ideas I get from some of you more experienced bloggers.