Monday, February 1, 2016

Legacy of Slave Holders

Wow!  I had no Clue Before!

I knew so little about our family background before getting into genealogy and having my DNA tested.  I knew the surnames of my Mom, Dad and Grandparents on either side and where they were all born.  I knew that they migrated from Oklahoma to California about 1940-41 and that they lived the life of poor Okies.

I always thought that my family would have been too poor to have any slaves.  I don't think my grandparents or parents knew very much beyond their own lives.  They were struggling to survive.

They worked in the fields picking cotton, hoeing cotton, picking fruit, or whatever else kind of field work they could get.  My Dad worked in the Orange shed in the winter and eventually, he made boxes for table grapes later.

When I found the first record that one of my ancestors owned slaves, I was in shock!  I had a physical reaction feeling like someone had punched me in the stomach.  Then, I felt numb not believing it was possible.

Why did I have this kind of reaction?  As I mentioned, I just didn't think that my ancestors would have had the resources to have been slave owners because we had lived in extreme poverty.  Another reason is because I felt and knew that slavery was wrong.  I feel very strongly about it.

Am I at fault because some of my ancestors owned slaves?  No, but I still feel horrible about it.  Can I change anything?  No, I can't change anything about the past.  I do feel a burning desire to learn more about the slaves.  Who they were, what their names were, how they were treated, and what happened to some of them after emancipation, and where they are buried.

We can always do something about the here and now....