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.
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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.
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Stories of the founding of Wessyngton Plantation have been passed down through generations of the Washington family. These stories were corroborated by deeds and other documents I found in the Washington Family Papers in the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville. In this deed, we learn that Moses Winters was granted 640 acres of land for military service in the Revolutionary War. Joseph Washington later bought this land which became part of the Wessyngton estate.
Joseph Washington came to Tennessee from Virginia as did many young men after the Revolutionary War. He carried this money purse with him. When he was twenty-six, he left his parents in Virginia, bringing several slaves and all his wordly possessions. His sister and one of his brothers came to Tennessee later.
The money purse in now in the possession of Joseph’s great-great-great-grandson, Stanley Frazer Rose.
During a book signing in Evansville in February I met a cousin Mildred Moore Robinson who gave me this wonderful photo that belonged to her mother. The photograph was of an 1890s baptism in Cedar Hill, Tennessee. The church was a central part of the African American community. People would come from miles around to witness a baptism as shown in this photo.