COUNTY MAYOR DECLARES JOHN F. BAKER JR. AND WESSYNGTON REMEMBRANCE WEEK IN ROBERTSON COUNTY

March 28th, 2014

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On February 24th I was honored by Mayor Howard Bradley of Robertson County, who issued a proclamation declaring February 24th through March 3rd as John F. Baker Jr. and Wessyngton Remembrance Week.john-f-baker-jr-week-001

African American Family Tree on Display at Tennessee State Museum Exhibit Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation

January 4th, 2014

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One of the items on display at the Tennessee State Museum exhibit Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation will be a family tree of an enslaved family.  The tree spans eleven generations from 1760 to 2012 and includes more than 1,000 direct descendants.  In 1814, Wessyngton’s founder Joseph Washington (1770-1848) purchased six slaves from James Thompson: Tom born 1783, his wife Jenny born 1785, their four children Frank born 1806, Hannah born 1808, Sarah born 1810 and Henny born 1814.  This was the first nuclear family Washington purchased.  Washington later purchased Jenny’s mother, also named Jenny, born in 1760.  By the Civil War, this was one of the largest families on Wessyngton Plantation.  Many of their descendants still remain in the area.  Hundreds of other descendants are spread throughout the United States.

SLAVE CEMETERY AT FROMER MIDDLE TENNESSEE PLANTATION GIVES UP SECRETS

December 31st, 2013

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20131231/NEWS01/312310023/Slave-cemetery-former-Middle-TN-plantation-gives-up-secrets?nclick_check=1

RESEARCHERS STUDY SLAVE CEMETERY AT WESSYNGTON PLANTATION

December 28th, 2013

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RECENTLY DISCOVERED PHOTOGRAPH FROM WESSYNGTON PLANTATION

November 29th, 2013

jenny-washington-emanuel-washington-susan-washington-at-wessyngton

In preparation for the Tennessee State Museum exhibit, Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation, descendants have been asked to locate Wessyngton artifacts, photographs, paintings and other memorabilia. A descendant of the owners of Wessyngton living in Nashville recently discovered this photograph in an album that belonged to his grandmother. The photograph was taken at Wessyngton in 1903, featuring Jenny Washington b. 1830, (wife of Allen Washington), Emanuel Washington 1824-1907 and his sister Susan Washington b. 1821. When the photo was taken there were only five former slaves still at Wessyngton of the senior generation, which also included Henny Washington 1839-1913 and Aggy Washington Terry, b.1824.

Wessyngton Plantation African American Cemetery 1796 to 1928

November 29th, 2012

Wessyngton African American Cemetery 1796 to 1928
                                           Wessyngton African American Cemetery 1796 to 1928

The African American Cemetery on Wessyngton Plantation was founded by Joseph Washington who came to Robertson County, Tennessee from Southampton County, Virginia in 1796.  Joseph later returned to Virginia and brought African and African American slaves with him.  The cemetery was used by the enslaved African American population of the plantation and their descendants from 1796 to 1928.

In 1995 a memorial monument at the African American Cemetery was erected by Mary Washington Holley, Thomas Blagden and Preston Frazer, direct descendants of Wessyngton’s founder Joseph Washington. It honors those buried there.

In 2012 a beautiful six-foot aluminum fence was erected to enclose and protect the cemetery. The fence adds charm and dignity to the cemetery.  Special thanks go to Stanley Frazer Rose, a sixth generation descendant of Joseph Washington, for his generosity in funding this renovation.

The African American cemetery is located some distance from the Wessyngton mansion on a hill overlooking Caleb’s Creek.  This is near where Joseph and his slaves first settled in 1796. The cemetery measures approximately 640 square feet and contains an estimated 200 graves.  A geophysical survey using ground penetrating radar is planned to determine the actual number of graves in the cemetery. At that time, the original monument will be enlarged to honor all those who were buried in the cemetery.  This monument will be funded in part by Mary Hotchkiss Gregg, Robina Gregg O’Rourke, Robert Etheridge Gregg, and Robert Hunnewell Gregg, sixth generation descendants of Joseph Washington.

Based on correspondence and plantation records from the Washington Family Papers collections, death certificates, oral history and eyewitnesses who attended burials at the cemetery, the following persons are known to be buried there:

Sampson Washington 1808 –1836
Caesar Washington 1826-before 1838
Elijah Washington 1823-before 1838
Matt Washington 1777-before 1838
Nicholas Washington 1822-before 1838
Noel Washington 1804-before 1838
Oscar Washington 1825-before1838
Peter Washington 1823-before 1838
Sam Washington 1770-before 1838
Sam Washington 1770-before 1838
Samuel Washington 1770-before 1838
Simon Washington 1783-1835-before 1838
Cherry Washington 1839-1839
Will Washington 1820-1841
Boyd Washington 1840-1846
Mariah Washington 1798-1846
Godfrey Washington 1787-1846-before 1850
Rosetta Washington 1827-1850
Camilla Lewis 1834-1852
Maria Washington 1853-1853
Wendy Washington 1853-1853
Westley Washington 1853-1853
Otho Lewis 1838-1854
Edward Washington 1834-before 1856
Al Washington ?-1838-before1856
Andrew Washington ?-1838-before 1856
Fowler Terry 1815-1838-before 1856
Simon Washington 1815-1838-before 1856
Toby Washington ?-1838-before 1856
Tony White 1820-1838-before 1856
Westley Washington 1822-1838-before 1856
Daniel Washington 1808-1841-before 1856
Wallis Washington 1822-1841-before 1856
Anthony Washington 1823-1843-before 1856
Archer Washington 1824-1843-before1856
Charles Washington 1809-1843-before 1856
George Lewis 1785-1843-before 1856
Jim Washington 1801-1844-before 1856
Aleck Washington 1795-1846-before 1856
Norfleet Washington 1846-before 1856
Tom Washington 1783-1846-before 1856
Gabriel Washington 1819-1850-before 1856
Dempry Washington 1837-1856
Ned Washington 1844-1856
Silvah Washington 1817-1823-before 1860
Charity Washington 1828-before 1860
Martha Ann Washington 1833-before 1860
Martha Washington 1835-before 1860
Sarah Washington 1840-before 1860
Arry Leavell Washington 1805-1841-before 1860
Sally Washington 1816-1829-before 1860
Mira Washington 1829-1842-before 1860
Sylvia Washington 1806-1842-before1860
Bena Washington 1770?-1844-before 1860
Tom Washington 1782-1846-before 1850
Easter Washington 1784-1850-before 1860
Henny Jackson Smith 1790-1850-before 1860
Jenny Washington 1760-1850-before1860
Unknown male 1785-1850-before 1860
Willie Washington 1820-1850-before 1860
Angelina Cheatham Washington 1814-1851-before 1860
Millie Washington 1851-before 1860
Allen Washington 1813-1856-before 1860
Mose Terry 1810-1856-before 1860
Westley Washington 1830-1856-before 1860
Hannah Washington 1780-1801-before 1860
Juda Washington 1775-1801-before 1860
Nanny Washington 1802-1804-before 1860
Rhoda Washington 1814-1819-before 1860
Fanny Washington 1815-1831-before 1860
Peggy Lewis 1795-1843-before 1860
Lettuce Washington 1857-before1860
Green Cheatham 1817-1860
Jack Washington 1849-1860
Marian Lewis ?-1843-1860
Temperance Washington 1795-1861
Amanda Washington 1837-1863
Aaron Gardner 1804-1860-before 1865
Esther Washington 1775-1860-before 1865
Jenny Washington 1785-1860-before 1865
Sarah Washington 1810-before 1865
Jack Washington 1859-1865
Moses Lewis 1857-1866
Vina Washington 1843-1869
America Washington 1815-1870-before 1880
Humphrey Washington 1797-1870-before 1880
Jenny Blow Washington 1792-1870-before 1880
Cornelia Washington 1859-1882
Axum Washington 1808-1880-before 1890
Britain Washington 1800-1880-before 1890
Hannah Washington 1808-1880-before 1890
Prudence Washington 1819-1893
Allen Washington 1825-1890-before 1895
Emanuel Washington 1824-1907
Jenny Washington 1830-1900-before 1910
Winnie Washington Long Biggers 1860-1900-before 1910
Henny Washington 1839-1913
Sarah Washington Cheatham 1810-1914
Hezekiah Tom Washington 1850-1918
Henry Drake 1868-1928

Gardner Family to Celebrate 77th Annual Family Reunion

July 26th, 2011

On August 20th through 21st the Gardner family will celebrate their 77th annual family reunion in Springfield, Tennessee.  The Gardners have held a reunion on the same date each year since 1935.  The Gardner family is one of the largest African American families in Robertson County, Tennessee.  I am currently working on a family tree for the reunion which includes nearly 800 direct descendants from Aaron and Betty Gardner.  Aaron and Betty along with their three sons, Daniel, George and Jackson were enslaved on the Wessyngton Plantation from 1839 to 1865.  The reunion will include a tour of the Wessyngton Plantation.

Terry Family to Celebrate Family Reunion

July 26th, 2011

On August 13th the Terry family will celebrate their bi-annual family reunion in Springfield, Tennessee.  The reunion festivities will include a tour of Wessyngton Plantation.  Hundreds of descendants across the country will attend the reunion.  The Terry family is one of the largest families from Wessyngton with over 1,000 descendants, spanning eleven generations from their first ancestors, Dick Terry and Aggie Washington Terry.

30 Year Old Photo Foretells Subtitle of The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation

July 26th, 2011
John Baker and Friends at Greater South Baptist Church, 1981

John Baker and Friends at Greater South Baptist Church, 1981

Recently while going through some old photographs, I ran across this one taken with childhood friends Wanda Gardner, Drextel Bowling, Teresa Gardner, Charles Gardner and Kim Bradley.  The photo was taken in 1981 at Greater South Baptist Church during a Black history lesson.  I was quite surprised when I noticed the blackboard behind me had part of the subtitle to my book Journey to Freedom in the background nearly thirty years before the book was published.  My publishers at Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster selected the subtitle for The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation.

Washington Hall Mansion Before its Fiery End

May 23rd, 2011
Washington Hall

Washington Hall

On May 3rd, I had the honor of giving a presentation on The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation to the Austin Peay Women’s Book Club in Clarksville, Tennessee.  To my surprise, one of the book club members presented me with a photo of Washington Hall taken in 1965 a few months before it burned.

George Augustine Washington Jr. and his wife Marina “Queenie” Woods, began construction on the magnificent home in 1896.  Washington Hall was a three-story white brick mansion with forty-four rooms.  In its heyday Washington Hall was one of the showplaces in the South, where some of the crowned heads of Europe had been entertained.

In 1965 the Washington Hall mansion burned to the ground.  The grand entrance gate is the only remnant of its former glory.