On August 30th I gave one of the last tours of the Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation exhibit. The group consisted of members of the Stateland Baptist Church in Hermitage, Tennessee, former graduates of Bransford High School, Wessyngton descendants, and other tourist.
On July 11th Nashville Public Television aired its documentary Wessyngton Plantation: A Family’s Road to Freedom. The film was inspired by my book The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom and the Tennessee State Museum exhibition Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation. The documentary highlighted the life of my great-great-great-grandmother Jenny Blow Washington. Jenny along with her sister Sarah was brought from Sussex County, Virginia to Tennessee in 1802 by Joseph Washington who founded Wessyngton Plantation. Jenny married Godfrey a slave from a neighboring plantation and became the matriarch of one of the largest families on Wessyngton. Godfrey and Jenny later had nine children, including my great-great-grandfather Emanuel Washington (1824-1907). Today there are thousands of their descendants throughout the United States. Click link to view the documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdce9dud1c0
Slave Bill of Sale from Union Bank of Tennessee to George A. Washington 1842
Among the thousands of documents in the Washington Family Papers housed in the Tennessee State Library and Archives are approximately 50 slave bills of sales. These sales involved 130 enslaved individuals purchased by Joseph Washington and his son George A. Washington from 1801 to 1843. The sales included several nuclear families: mothers and their small children; a family of five brothers; five men from the same plantation of unknown relationships; 29 slaves made up of 7 interrelated families; and one discussed here which includes fourteen slaves.
In June 1842, George A. Washington purchased 14 slaves from the Union Bank of Tennessee. Included in the transaction was William, described as a first-rate blacksmith. He was listed later on Wessyngton documents as Billy “the smith” and became Bill Smith after Emancipation. His wife Sylvia, their sons Tom and John and daughters Mira and Louisa were also listed.
Another family was Dick Scott, his wife Ann and their 2-year old daughter Sarah. Dick and Ann’s son, William Henry Scott, who was born at Wessyngton enlisted with the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War.
Also included in the purchase were Sally, Anderson, Edward, Henton and Aggy. It is not known if they were related; they could have been siblings. Aggy later married Dick Terry who was brought to Wessyngton Plantation 4 years earlier.
The descendants of those African Americans who were purchased in 1842 now number in the thousands.
Know all men by these presents that I Albert K. Wynne of Davidson County, Tennessee as agent and attorney in fact of the President, Directors & Company of the Union Bank of the State of Tennessee duly authorize and appointed for that purpose for and in consideration of the sums of money herein after mentioned to me in hand paid by George A. Washington of the county of Robertson & State aforesaid have bargained sold and delivered and do by these presents bargain sell and deliver unto the said George A. Washington the following described negro slaves to wit: William a man aged about forty years for the sum of eight hundred dollars; Sylvia a woman aged about thirty-six years for the sum of three hundred & fifty dollars; Tom a man aged about fifteen years for the sum of five hundred dollars; Mira a girl aged about thirteen years for the sum of three hundred & fifty dollars; John a boy aged about four years for the sum of two hundred dollars; Louisa a girl aged about fifteen months for the sum of one hundred dollars; Ann a woman aged about twenty-eight years for the sum of four hundred dollars; Dick a man aged about thirty years for the sum of six hundred dollars; Sarah a girl aged about two years for the sum of one hundred dollars; Sally a girl aged about thirteen years for the sum of three hundred dollars; Anderson a boy aged about sixteen years for the sum of five hundred dollars; Edward a boy aged about eleven years for the sum of three hundred dollars; Henton a boy aged about seventeen years for the sum of five hundred and twenty-five dollars; and Aggy a woman aged about eighteen years for the sum of four hundred dollars; being in all fourteen in number and the whole consideration paid being the sum of five thousand four hundred and twenty-five dollars. To have and to hold the said negro slaves and each and every of them unto the said George A. Washington his executors administrators and assigns forever. And the said Albert H. Wynne by virtue of the authority in him vested as aforesaid doth for and on behalf of the said President, Directors & Company and of their successors in office covenant and agree to and with the said George A. Washington his executors administrators and assigns that the said negro slaves and each and every of them are healthy, sound and slaves for life and also that they the said President, Directors & Company have good right and title to sell and dispose of them and further that the said negro slave William is a first-rate blacksmith.
In testimony whereof the said Albert H. Wynn, agent and attorney
Recently some of the Gardner family descendants found some rare photographs of their ancestors and shared them with me. The 1870s photo featured here is of Daniel Gardner and his wife Melissa Boisseau Gardner. Daniel along with his parents, Aaron and Betty and two brothers George and Jackson were brought to Wessyngton Plantation in 1839 by George A. Washington. Daniel and Melissa married in Robertson County, Tennessee in 1866. On their marriage certificate Daniel is listed with the Washington surname, on most documents thereafter he is listed as Daniel Gardner. Daniel and Melissa are the ancestors of one of the largest families in Robertson County, Tennessee. Each year their descendants hold a family reunion, which started in 1935.
African American Family Tree on Display at Tennessee State Museum Exhibit Slaves and Slaveholders of Wessyngton PlantationJanuary 4th, 2014
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.
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.