I write stories so I can pretend to be anyone I wish. For the past four months, I have on occasion, imagined what it might be like to be black and living during the Civil War. How was I able to do that? By listening to the stories of my father, a white boy growing up during the 1920’s in the deep South. I was just a little girl when I heard his stories but I remember them well. And I remember his emotions when he told me how bad he felt when he and his black friend would board the bus and his friend had to go to the back. Or the way he explained to me that when as a lad, he hitchhiked across the countryside and kind, generous, friendly black people took him in and fed him. As soon as he was old enough, he left the South and moved to California. After forty-five years of living in California, he was still shaking his head about the injustices that skin color brings. One night he came home from a hard day’s work selling furniture in his store. He was blown away by the brilliance of a black man he had met that day. Not because a black man was brilliant but because so many white people still failed to recognize it.
He never forgot the South. It was dear to his heart. He was born in 1920. That was only fifty-five years after the end of the Civil War in 1865. I’ve been to New Orleans twice, and in 2011 my husband Jon and I rode a Harley through Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee. So, I’m not a Southern girl… but I can pretend.
Suellen Ocean is the author of the Civil War Era romance, Blue Violet. Available here:
Today, I’m sharing the dark secrets of my ancestors… literally. In 1857, one of my relatives died and he didn’t leave a will but his possessions went into probate. Those possessions included twelve people, many of them children. These twelve people need to be remembered. None of them have last names but they may have taken the surname of the people who held them in servitude; Wroten, Williams or Marsh. There are both black and white Wrotens. I’d love to connect the two family lines but I can’t do it by myself. Speak up if you know these people!
Slaves from the probate of Thomas Wroten, Amite County, Mississippi (McComb) 1857:
Jonathan born about 1834 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then Washington Wroten
Sam born about 1827 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then Delila Wroten
Bob born about 1841 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then T Elbert Wroten
Margaret born about 1833 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then John A Wroten
Milly born about 1821 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then Elizabeth Williams
Pol born about 1857 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then Elizabeth Williams
Silvey born about 1844 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then E Westley Wroten
Renee born about 1846 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then Levi Wroten
Harriet born about 1848 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then Leaven Wroten
Eliza born about 1850- Slave of Thomas Wroten and then J Lafayett Wroten
Andy born about 1855 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then J Lafayett Wroten
Jack born about 1853 – Slave of Thomas Wroten and then Thomas L Marsh
Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy – A How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry. Available here: Secret Genealogy: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-Volume-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114082