Posts Tagged ‘Black History Month’

Wessyngton Plantation African American Cemetery 1796 to 1928

Thursday, 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

Author Shows History Begins at Home

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation reviewed in Nashville City Paper by Todd Dills.  Click here to see review.

Slave Descendant Walks in Ancestors’ Footsteps on Wessyngton Plantation

Monday, November 2nd, 2009
Archaeological Dig at Wessyngton Slave Cabin Site

Archaeological Dig at Wessyngton Slave Cabin Site

In 1991, I had an opportunity that few historians or genealogists ever have; to literally walk in your ancestors’ footsteps.  In 1989 I was approached by the president of the Bloomington-Normal black history Project and director of the Midwestern archaeological research Center, about the potential investigations of the salve cabin area on Wessyngton Plantation to get an interpretation of slave life there.  Similar digs have been conducted at the Hermitage, Mt. Vernon, and Monticello. 

The actual digging at Wessyngton did not start until 1991.  The thought of actually walking in my ancestors’ footsteps and holding objects they used in their everyday lives one hundred years earlier was surreal to me.  Three sections of the slave cabin area were selected for exploration.  One site was where the cabin of my great-great-grandparents Emanuel and Henny Washington once stood.

The dig yielded fragments of pottery and dishes used by my ancestors as well as coins and arrowheads made by Native Americans. 

The photograph above shows the site of the archaeological dig on Wessyngton Plantation where my ancestors once lived.

Television Interview with John Seigenthaler Sr.

Monday, May 18th, 2009

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.

Sirius XM Radio Interview with John F. Baker Jr.

Friday, March 13th, 2009

I invite you to listen to an indepth interview: On with Leon Presents John F. Baker Jr.  with host Dr. Leon Wilmer.

Atlanta Book Tour

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

The book tour in Atlanta went very well.  On the first day of  my trip I visited the home of Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper and presented her with an autographed copy of The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation.  I was  very honored to have Mrs. Cooper sign a copy of the book for me.

Baker presents Mrs. Cooper with The Washingtons of Wessyngton

Baker presents Mrs. Cooper with The Washingtons of Wessyngton

The second day of my tour I was interviewed about the book by Dr. Collette Hopkins, director of the National Black Arts Festival, who graciously accompained me to the book signing at Waldenbooks.

Collette Hopkins Director of the NBAF with John Baker

Collette Hopkins Director of the NBAF with John Baker


Baker at Waldenbooks

Baker at Waldenbooks


On the third day of the tour Dr. Opal Moore interviewed me at the Auburn Research Library.  I later gave a presentation followed by a book signing. 

Baker interview with Opal Moore at National Black Arts Festival

Baker interview with Opal Moore at National Black Arts Festival


Baker presentation at NBAF

Baker presentation at NBAF


Baker at NBAF book signing

Baker at NBAF book signing

 The event was well attended and I met two new Washington cousins Jonathan and Jordan Terry who live in Atlanta.  They were excited to find their names on the Washington family tree among more than 600 names.

Baker meet new cousins at NBAF

Baker meet new cousins at NBAF

Jordan and Johnathan Terry display Washington Family Tree

Jordan and Jonathan Terry display Washington Family Tree

My good friends Beverly Shelley and her daughter Kimberly attended the event.  Their ancestors also came from Wessyngton.

Baker meets with Wessyngton descendants Beverly and Kim at NBAF

Baker meets with Wessyngton descendants Beverly and Kim at NBAF

Wessyngton Research-Video

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I invite you to watch a short video in which I describe my research:

Wessyngton Plantation Research