In 2008 the Gardners celebrated their 75th annual family reunion. As part of the reunion festivities I led them on a tour of Wessyngton Plantation. The tour included the Wessyngton mansion, Washington family cemetery, slave cemetery and a restored slave cabin. The Gardner earliest ancestors, Aaron Gardner, his wife Betty and their three sons, Daniel, George and Jackson came to Wessyngton in the late 1830s. There are more African Americans in Robertson County, Tennessee with the Gardner surname than any other family.
Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category
On May 17th a dedication ceremony was held at The Hermitage, the plantation owned by President Andrew Jackson, in honor of 60 African Americans who had been enslaved on the Ingleside and Cleveland Hall Plantations. Both plantations were owned by nephews of Rachel Jackson and had ties to the enslaved population at The Hermitage.
As reported by the Associated Press, a memorial sculpture of seven oak trees in the shape of the Little Dipper was laid out among a circle of thirty boulders. The piece by Lee Benson is named “Our Peace, Follow the Drinking Gourd.” Slaves fleeing to the North would follow the North Star, one of the stars in the Little Dipper.
Following the ceremony I gave a presentation and did a book signing. It was a very special and meaningful event.
My half-hour television interview with John Seigenthaler Sr, A Word on Words, is available as a free downloadable Podcast.
Mr. Seigenthaler asked me many in-depth thought-provoking questions. At the end, he said, “I learned more from your book than I learned from reading my friend Alex Haley’s book called Roots.” I hope you enjoy the interview. Leave a comment with your reaction.
On Memorial Day, we need to take a moment to tell our children about their ancestors who fought for freedom and America. During the Civil War, our ancestors fled slavery and the plantations and joined the Union Army to fight for freedom. We must never forget the sacrifices of our ancestors that we might enjoy freedom today.
In the 1890s the Washington family contracted the famous artist [Maria] Howard Weeden to paint portraits of several African Americans. These portraits hung in the plantation mansion. In this photograph Preston Frazer, a Washington descendant, is seen with the portraits. The portraits remain in the Washington family.
Would you share a photo of a portrait of your ancestors with others? Please send a photo to me with a short e-mail telling me about it. Also please let me know if I could post the photo and the information on my blog. I would not post your name or e-mail address. Thank you. email@example.com
While in Atlanta for a presentation and book signing at Auburn Research Library for the National Black Arts Festival in February I had the honor of presenting Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper a copy of my book; The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom. I also had Mrs. Cooper to sign a copy of the book for me on the page she was pictured on. Mrs. Cooper is now 107 years old.
On March 31st I was honored to have Tuwanda Coleman interview me for the Plus Side of Nashville about the release of my book The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom. I really enjoyed being on the show. Mrs. Coleman asked how my research started more than thirty years ago, how I got a book deal with Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster and my future plans.
On April 21st, author John F. Baker Jr. delivered a presentation on his new book The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom to the Greenbrier Historical Society. The program was well received and attended by nearly 40 historical society members and friends.
Personal connections between the descendants of the Washington family and Ann Nixon Cooper have been renewed thanks to President Barack Obama’s speech on the night of his historic election. You may read the complete story: