So many of us have quilts or other crafts made by our ancestors. Hopefully we all display them carefully in our homes. But these pieces have stories that need to be preserved as well. This quilt was sewn by my great-aunt Maggie Washington. She made it for me as a birthday gift when she was in her nineties. Aunt Mag learned to make quilts from her mother when she was a small girl and often gave these special gifts to family members and friends on specials occasions such birthdays, weddings and Christmas.
Archive for the ‘Introduction & Personal’ Category
The Washingtons trace their ancestry back to William de Hertburn in twelfth-century England where their family owned a manor estate called Wessyngton─the Norman spelling of Washington. William de Hertburn changed his name to William de Wessyngton. The first Washington to come to America in Joseph Washington’s line was John Washington, who immigrated to Surry County, Virginia, in 1658. One of John’s cousins also named John immigrated to Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1656. This John Washington was the great-grandfather of President George Washington. Joseph Washington came to Robertson County, Tennessee in 1796 and established Wessyngton Plantation, which he named in honor of his ancestral home.
Housing for slaves varied from plantation to plantation depending on the owners. Most slave quarters were generally arranged in avenues or streets and located behind the mansion or ‘Big House.’ They were strategically placed to give the owner or overseer a clear view of the slaves, so their activities could be easily monitored.
The slave settlement at Wessyngton Plantation, however, did not fit this pattern. The lack of a clustered settlement pattern at Wessyngton was somewhat unusual during antebellum times. This was primarily due to the hilly topography of the plantation. The scattered pattern gave the slaves at Wessyngton more freedom and made it far more difficult to keep them under constant surveillance.
Typically, slave housing at Wessyngton consisted of hand-hewn one-room log cabins measuring 20 by 20 square feet with brick end chimneys. Some cabins were 18 by 36 square feet. Each cabin had log flooring and a loft, where children slept.
Each cabin housed an average of six individuals. Family sizes varied depending on the number births, deaths and marriages.
royal seal indicated that the Queen was at her summer residence, in .acknowledged the receipt of a signed copy of my book. As is the custom, her lady-in-waiting wrote me. The
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balmoral_Castle– for your info.
On Saturday August 8th the Terry family will tour Wessyngton Plantation as part of their bi-annual family reunion. The group will tour the Wessyngton slave cemetery, the Washington family cemetery, the grounds around the mansion and a restored slave cabin. Members of the National Black Arts Festival from Atlanta will also attend the reunion festivities. Following the tour the group will dine at the Tennessee National Guard Armory. I will also autograph copies of my new book The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom. The Terrys descend from Dick Terry 1818-1879 and Aggy Washington Terry born 1824. Today there are more than 1,000 Terry family members.
Check out my article on BlackPast.org. It is an excellent resource for African American history and genealogy.
In 1860 Wessyngton Plantation was the largest tobacco plantation in the United States. The Washington family also held the largest number of enslaved African Americans (274) in the state of Tennessee. 187 of them were held on what was called the “Home Place” near the Wessyngton mansion. Eighty-seven others were held on a part of the plantation known was the “Dortch Place.”
Enslaved African Americans used various forms of resistance against the institution of slavery. Some used passive forms of resistance such as pretending to be ill, secretly destroying tools, and work slow downs. Others used more drastic measures such as physical violence toward their enslavers and running away. Several men from Wessyngton Plantation escaped and made it to free territory. One slave Davy, ran away four times and was preparing to cross the Ohio River and go north to Canada when he was recaptured.
My presentation at the Missouri History Museum was followed by a book signing, which was well attended. I enjoyed meeting the members of the St. Louis African American History and Genealogy Society who sponsored the event.
On May 23rd I gave a presentation about my book The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom to the St. Louis African American History and Genealogy Society at the Missouri History Museum. I made many new friends among avid genealogical researchers. I had a great time in St. Louis and look forward to visiting again.