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7/13/10

On Being Southern

The sun is barely risen, but already it's close to 80 degrees. Later in the day, humidity coupled with the heat will make it feel over 100 degrees. Walking from an air-conditioned building to an air-conditioned car is enough to make one miserable.

Close your eyes. Feel the heat. FEEL it. Now:

Imagine working in cotton fields or on a rice plantation in that heat, all the while wearing several more layers of clothing then we are accustomed to wearing now and being pregnant or sick.

Imagine after ten-twelve hours of hard labor going "home" to a two room rectangle, each room about five by eight feet, to cook and clean for your family - all of whom live and sleep in those two small rooms:



Imagine getting up the next day, and the next, and the next and doing it all over again.

Imagine being owned by someone.

Imagine owning people.


When I moved back to Florida in the mid-nineties I got into genealogy - never mind any Southerner worth their salt KNOWS this from the day they're born. I just never paid attention.

There were rumors of a slave cemetery out beyond the fence of our family cemetery, but there were "feral dogs" out there, (my mother relied heavily on putting the fear of feral dogs in us for some reason) and snakes, and besides all the wooden markers were gone. "You'll never find it honey."

In other words, stop talking about it and let's move on. It's in the past. Hush up about it.


Through the miracle of the Internet I discovered:

From the estate of my ggg-uncle:

For Board & clothing of old Man Baccus, a Disabled Blind Negro belonging to the Estate of S. J. E. for 1 Year to Dec. 31st 1846 $20.00.

Recd of Mrs. Ann M. S. her State Taxes for the year 1845 as guardian for J. J. E. (son of uncle)

on 8 Negroes

Expenses for feeding young Negroes---------10.00

-------------------------------------------------$151.37

Appraised value of Negroes---------------2258.33



My gggg-grandfather:

CONSTABLES' FEES ON TRIALS OF SLAVES
...Thomas S.,

On this page is a list of Negroes, thirty-six in number, the property of

...the heirs of Thomas S., deceased, brought to Camden County, GA
from Georgetown, SC., to settle them here. Dated Feb. 7, 1803.

My other gggg-grandfather:
Francis B. to Mrs. Mary BACHLOTT of East Florida, bill of sale dated 

Sept. 20, 1800
, conveying slaves.

It made my stomach hurt.

Since I couldn't get to my own family's, I got directions to a well-maintained slave cemetery in GA. Under a big live oak, at the grave of a man named Moses, I wept and repented for my family. For me.

It still makes my stomach hurt.

It still makes me ashamed. Of being Southern.


2 comments:

  1. Hi Kim, I just discovered your blog and enjoy reading it. I think we have a lot in common.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Elizabeth! (We have the same name for one thing.)

    ReplyDelete