Monday, 20 June 2005
Robert Lett's growing up/beliefs
I was raised in northern, Kentucky (Boone County). For the most part in our county the only people of color were my relatives - and it was commonly known that the Sleet family (my mother's family) were descended from a "social laison" between a slave master and black woman. The slave master stood by his act and recognized his son and I suppose set the tone for the community as we were truly "part" of the community. You from your experience can only
imagine what this "approval" afforded the family bank loans for farming family members, access to local doctors, dentist (insteady or having to travel 30+ miles into Covington). We did have to ride in the back of the bus, could not go to the local movie house.
We were raised knowing of our mixed racial background from early childhood.
Picture a drastic move in my teen years from rural south to trendy southern California. Upon the heels of this move comes a era of civil rights demonstrations, black nationalism spanning intergration to black separatism - non violence from Dr. King to the rants of Huey P. Newton.
Suprisingly it was the knowledge of having mixed heritage and the experience of there having been acceptance in spite of inequities that gave me perspective throughout the late 60's, 70's and 80's. Realizing that I was a composite of all that was before me which anchored me to humanity and I realize even today has spawned so much of my curiosity about our families of American.
What I have found absolutely remarkable is that these families participated so fully in American history - and were a intregal part of a history.
Now because of men like you who set out years ago to research these families that we are able to see more clearly who these people were and their uniqueness.
Unfortunately, the era dictated, as it does in any time, what our forebearers could or could not do so many folks like what you shared in regards to your father's visits home and failure to disclose essential details were dictated by an attempt to afford a better opportunity for his children. Obviously he held ties to family as a matter of
I've known this to be a fact among my mothers family where fairer complected folks got jobs in places where "colored folks" could not be served restaurants, private hosptals, banks, but these familly members came to reunions and corresponded with loved ones.
Posted by bneson
at 11:16 PM EDT
Lett Settlement Reunion and history... Zanesville, OH 2003
Lett Settlement Reunion... Zanesville, OH
Direct and collateral descendants of Jemima Banneker Lett—sister of Benjamin Banneker—gathered in Zanesville, Ohio on July 18 to July 20, 2003 for a family reunion. This event was especially significant because Ohio celebrated its 200th birthday in 2003. The Letts are one of the first, and the largest African-American families to settle in Ohio. Jemima married Samuel Delaney Lett (pdf) of English and Native American lineage, and of their eight children, seven migrated with their families and settled in Meigs Township. The Lett Settlement was a self-sustaining community of mixed race families, with the Letts, Calimans and Guys forming ties with each other through marriages and common family backgrounds while living in Maryland and Virginia.
These families were pioneers in Ohio, in the areas of civil rights, education and voting. The Lett Settlement descendants reflect a rich heritage and history. Ohio became like a hub for the Underground Railroad where there were jobs and opportunities for freed slaves.
Lett family history can be traced back to 1683 and the arrival of ancestor Molly Welsh, an English dairy maid and the grandmother of Benjamin Banneker, America’s First African-American Man of Science. After serving seven years as an indentured servant for being falsely accused of the crime of theft, Molly Welsh was freed and eventually purchased her own small farm in Maryland. While she prospered, she knew that she would need help on the farm, and began to save money. Although Molly was opposed to slavery, she purchased two slaves and after a period of time freed both. She eventually married one of them—who was named Bannaka—an African Prince from the Wolof Kingdom of Walo, located in Senegal. Molly took her husband’s surname which eventually became Banneker.
The couple had four daughters, the eldest of whom was named Mary. Mary married a former slave, who had converted to Christianity and changed his name to Robert and took his wife’s last name. They had five children; a son and three daughters... Benjamin, Jemima, Minta and Molly.
Benjamin is noted in United States history as an astronomer, whose accomplishments included building a wooden striking clock after studying the workings of a pocket watch, assisting in the boundary survey of Washington, D.C., and publishing numerous almanacs for Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The major events at the reunion took place at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds. Members of the Board of Directors of The Friends of Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum, Inc. journeyed to Zanesville with an extensive exhibit to share information and acknowledge the history, legacy and preservation of Banneker’s life and times. Other exhibitors included a Black American Western exhibit, the Underground Railroad, Paynes Crossing which was provided by the U.S. Forest Service, the Colored Troops and related Civil War History, the Cumberland Families Photographic Display, U.S. Civil War Naval Pictorial and Artifacts, Sons and Daughters of Slavery, and researched genealogical information.
The event opened with a prayer of thankfulness and guidance, a citation was presented by Zanesville Mayor, Jack Fenton, and recognition given to Ruth Caliman Brown who at 101 years of age is the oldest living descendant. Individual family histories were presented to include... Storytelling, “Life of Molly Bannaky”, by Ms. Virginia Keeping, and “Virginia and Carolina Plantation Life” by Ms. Alexandra Lett. On Sunday morning, the Letts and related family members traveled to Lydiesburg cemetery to pay homage to the ancestors buried there.
Robert Lett, the coordinator of the reunion said he has never met a person in his great extended family that was shy to talk about family history. Gwen Marable, the 5th generation great granddaughter of Jemima Banneker Lett is a member of The Friends’ board.
Posted by bneson
at 10:11 PM EDT
Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum
The Friends of Benjamin Banneker
Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum...
since it's conception...
"Approximately 12 years after its conception the Banneker museum opened it's doors in June of 1998. Since then, we have sown seeds for the development of our historical and ecological programs. We have offered a diverse array of exhibits, forestation, and have welcomed over 10,000 visitors. Indeed, this is only the start-up of this institution, that is yet, barely a toddler.
Perhaps what's most special about the Park & Museum's first year, has been the gathering of its friends, the volunteers, who together with their energy and support have, helped to shape and enable this young institution to progress. The range of volunteers had been great: from young middle school youths to retired senior citizens, from suits to baggie jeans, they have all come with a common heart, spirit and vision for the museum, that is the very soul that makes and institution grow."
. . . Steven X. Lee,
Museum Director and Curator,
from The Door Is Opened, 1998
This historical site brings Banneker and his times to life again. The Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum, built on his family farm above the Patapsco River, is located in historic Oella, Maryland between the communities of Catonsville and Ellicott City. The site lies nine miles from "Baltimore Town," and forty miles from Washington, D.C.
For all to see when visiting the Benjamin Banneker Museum is a framed copy of the deed (or indenture) of 1737, for the transfer of land to the Bannakys when Benjamin was six years old. The transaction was recorded for the purchase of "more than a hundred acres," from Richard Gist to Robert Bannaky and Benjamin Bannaky, his son, for the consideration of 7,000 pounds of tobacco.
Richard Gist was a man of prominence in Baltimore County, as one of the commissioners responsible for the founding of Baltimore. Robert Bannaky's purchase of the land ensured permanent freedom and security for the Bannaky children at a time when slavery flourished all around them. Because the deed included Benjamin's name, he became the sole owner of the land after the death of his father in 1759.
The land, purchased in 1737, is the major portion of this property, bought by Baltimore County in 1985 for the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park where the museum is located today.
The Banneker Historical Park introduces visitors to Benjamin Banneker's unique story through the first phase of the museum building which was dedicated on June 9, 1998. More than 18,000 visitors have been welcomed since the grand opening.
This facility offers several gallery spaces, including exhibitions on the life and times of Benjamin Banneker, and a Community Gallery with changing exhibits from the greater community.
With the beginning of the new century, the Banneker Park and Museum enters the second phase of development. This new phase will bring period restoration of the park's circa 1850 Hines/Trueth stone farm house. It also develops a replica of the 18th century Banneker farmstead, including a colonial cabin and Banneker's apiary.
As a living history colonial farm, you will be able to visit inside the cabin, walk through a tobacco field and orchard groves, and sample fresh honey. The work of Phase II was begun in 1999 and we hope to complete this phase by the end of 2004.
"In 1976, John McGrain's extensive land records research resulted in the re-discovery of the location of the boundaries of the 100 acre Banneker farm in southwestern Baltimore County. An archeological survey of the Banneker farm, performed by the Maryland Historical Trust in 1983, succeeded in identifying the site of the Banneker farmstead complex within these boundaries. the Baltimore County Department of Recreation & Parks provided the principal funding for these investigations with additional financial support from the Maryland Historical Trust, the Maryland Humanities Council, and the National Park Service." . . .Robert Hurry, Banneker Archeology Project Director
One of the most astonishing finds during the survey was the foundation of the Banneker family cabins in the subsurface remains of the Banneker farm complex. Soil testing efforts were concentrated at the home site location. At this level burned earth evidenced the location of a former fire place, and revealed various layers of intentional fill deposits within a cellar.
At the bottom of the five foot deep cellar artifacts deposited while the overlying structure was occupied were discovered. The layers revealed high organic content charcoal, and rather large quantities of well preserved mammal bones, fish remains, and eggshell fragments as well as ceramic and metal artifacts. The ceramics included tin glazed earthenwares, course earthenwares, and salt glazed stoneware shards which date back to the 18th century.
MUSEUM'S ARCHEOLOGICAL ARTIFACTS
Wrought iron hoe blade
Hand wrought nail
Kaolin tobacco pipe bowl
Kaolin pipe stem fragments
Lead gun shot
1779 Spanish real
Posted by bneson
at 10:06 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 20 June 2005 10:08 PM EDT
Friday, 17 June 2005
Lett Settlement Ohio, history and 2003 reunion
The 2003 Lett Settlement Families Reunion in Zanesville, Ohio was well attended (450 strong) with Lett family from; Maryland, New York and North Carolina representing the east as far south as Florida and from California in the west and mid east and mid western folks galore. There were Lett family members of all ethnic backgrounds. We without a doubt represented the "best" of not only the Lett family but in my "biased" opinion represented America as it looks and appeals to the world in this new millenium. "Lett" me tell you a bit about us! The following, which I have attempted to edit, appeared as a press release forwarded to many Ohio papers and the Ohio BiCentennial Committee. The reunion was included as an offical Ohio BiCentennial event.
Thanks to the Lett Family Forum. many of the Lett and other families from the Meigs Township families and other connected families; Betts, Brown, Caliman,Clifford, Earley, Flowers, Goins, Green, Guy, Harper, Holbert, Jackson, Jones, Lucas, Meyer, Newman, Norman, Pointer, Reynolds, Simpson, Stevens, Stewart, Tate, Quarles, etc. are planning a three day historical reunion.
This Lett line comes from Maryland and comes from the union of Samuel Delaney Lett and Jemima Banneker (See The Gene Tree and The Lett Settlement - Lett Family Forum).
From all records Samuel Delaney Lett may not have been a true Lett but rather the step son of Zachariah Lett. Zachariah(identified as Mulatto and/or black) and Mary Lett his wife (English) who appears in several census as white. Mary's son Samuel appears on census as white and yet others as mulatto. This giving the debate as to the question of Samuel's "Lett" authenticity.
Jemima's family history can be traced to that of Molly Welsh/Walsh who has been identified as an English Dairymaid who had been falsely accused of the crime of theft. Due to her ability to read and write she was spared the sentence of death and sent to Maryland as an indentured servant.
After 7 years of work she was freed and evetually purchased her own small farm in Maryland. While she prospered she new that she would need more help. While she was opposed to slavery her own survival left her with few options she eventually purchased two slaves and thereafter freed them. She eventually married one of the former slaves named Banaka, and took her husbands name as her own surname. (Bannaka has since been identified as a slave taken from the Walof Kingdom. His name identifying him as a prince from what was Walo now called Senegal see book, Benjamin Banneker, American First Black Man of Science written by Silvio Bedini). Bannaka and Molly had four daughters.
Jemima Banneker, was the grand daughter of Banaka and Molly Banneker and the sister of Benjamin Banneker. Benjamin assisted Thomas Jeffereson in surveying Washington D.C., wrote and published an Almanac, built one of the earliest clocks made in America, and is on record for exchanging correspondence with subsequently President Thomas Jefferson asking for the abolishment of slavery.
Samuel Delaney Lett and Jemima married in Frederick, Maryland and thereafter had eight children. Seven of the eight children migrated to southeast, Ohio settling in Meigs Township. A section of which, was later to become known as "The Lett Settlement". The settlement was a self sustaining community of mixed race families consisting of the Caliman, Guy families forming ties with one another through marriages and business while living in Maryland and Virginia. Additionallly, it has been documented that the Tate and Norman families also resided in Maryland and had a log history of interactions with the Lett, Guy, Caliman and Norman families. These families were pioneers in the area of civil rights in regards to education and voting long before the civil war.
The Settlement itself was settled by the Brown. Calilman, Clifford, Earley, Green, Guy, Harper, Lett, Lucas, Simpson, Pointer, Stevens and Tate families.
The Zanesville reunion represented the connection of uncommon bonds of heritage and history of these families who were early pioneers in Ohio with their families spreading into the counties of; Muskingum, Guernsey, Athens, Washington, and Hocking in the state of Ohio. t Thereafter they could first be found in the states of,Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michgan and West Virginia and Missouri and thereafter in California,Iowa Oklahoma,Louisiana, Nebraska, and Wyoming.
Many of our Lett and other families family members are known (owing to the strict racial codes which evolved in America which severly limited these people of mixed race in callous disregard to their education, talent, skills and character )to have crossed the rigid lines of racial barriers being presumed white (passing)in pursuit of a better life. In still other cases, couples chose to disregarded the conventions of that day and era and married. Many descended from these family members joined with us in celebrating this 197th year of Lett families in Ohio as Ohio celebrated its BiCentennial.
Further the Lett Settlement Reunion Committee was happy to host those from the Old Settler Reunion which is held annually in Remus, Mecosta County Michigan. In many cases the last names were identical to those found in the Meigs Township.
As genealogist and historians our Lett family has traced itself family throughout the United States and know and welcome you to come join with us on July 16, 17 and 18 in 2004 as we celebrate the Lett Settlement Reunion once again in Zanesville, Ohio - If you have any questions please feel free to comment. Robert Lett
Posted by bneson
at 8:57 PM EDT
Sunday, 12 June 2005
Thomas W. Cross 1826-1897
Thomas W. Cross was born February 1, 1826, in Louden County, Virginia. His father--Mr. Lee (first name unknown), came to America from England and settled in Louden County, Virginia, where he became a plantation owner. His mother, Ms. Cross (first name unknown) was a servant on the Lee Plantation. In 1851 at the age of 25, Thomas moved to Hocking County, Ohio. It was said, that his father took him there to give him his freedom.
On October 7, 1852, Thomas was united in marriage to Catherine Harper. Catherine and Thomas had 12 children, eight born in Ohio and the youngest in Michigan. Their names were: Elizabeth, John, Joseph, Mary, Elsworth, Thomas, Edward, Catherine Jane, Amos, Ida, Priscilla and James W. On June 22, 1863, at the age of 37, Thomas enlisted into the Army, in Athens, Ohio. He spent three years with the Wagner Co. C5 Reg. United States Colored Infantry of the Civil War, serving with the Ambulance Detail in Virginia and the Carolina's. He, as a Negro, received one-half the pay rate of a White solider. Thomas was mustered out of the Army on September 20, 1865. He returned to Ohio.
Thomas bought a farm in 1869 two miles north of Remus, MI. Because it was inexpensive to buy land he was able to purchase 40 acres for a price of a horse. He owned a total of 160 acres. Their son Amos was born in 1870. Amos married Mary Mumford in 1893. To this union six children were born: Homer, Arthur, Anna, Roscoe, Evelyn and Clifford. They stayed on the family farm. Amos Cross died in 1957 at the age of 87 and Mary died in 1960 at the age of 84.
courtesy of the Old Settlers website.
Posted by bneson
at 1:06 AM EDT
Saturday, 11 June 2005
Earl Melvin Guy Obituary 1879-1948
Earl Melvin Guy, 69, (colored) resident of 200 Monroe street, died today at 2:10 a.m.(Nov 30, 1948) in Newark Hospital where he had been a patient
since Sunday. He was taken ill last Thursday.
A former resident of Zanesville, he had been employed here as a janitor in local business houses.
Born Sept. 17, 1879 in Zanesville, he was the son of Charles A. and Samantha (Tate) Guy.
Survivors include a brother, Jay Guy of Cleveland, and two sisters, Mrs. Maggie Stewart of New York City and Mrs Anna Woodson of Findlay.
The body is at the Bounds Van Wey Funeral Home. Funeral arrangements have not been made.
Probably a Licking County, Ohio newspaper.
Obituary courtesy of the Licking County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society Library
Posted by bneson
at 6:13 PM EDT
Tuesday, 7 June 2005
Benita's memories of German friends and small town growing up
More about one of the "Homecoming" memories that often come to mind. What I am about to recount, may or may not have happened at the time we went to see my Grandmother when Aunt Etta brought her home to visit the farm.
At a certain "Homecoming," I remember a relative-in-law who had come from Chicago. He kept saying repeatedly, "I came to see what a small town is like on a Saturday night." In fact, he said it too much; so, we were very happy when evening began to fall and we were, finally, headed for Mecosta "to see what a small town is like on a Saturday night." OKAY?!? (Laughing)
Well, it was going to be a big night! A movie was going to be shown in the outdoor theater. Guess what the theater consisted of? A street curb to sit on and the side of a white corner building that acted as a screen for the projected film. I kid you not! I can't remember a thing about the movie itself, but I have a vague recollection of going to a drugstore to have treats from the soda fountain. However, I remember the ride back to Grandma's house, vividly, because the relative-in-law, began repeating, "Now, I know what it's like on a Saturday night in a small town." That became our theme song until "Homecoming" was over, the next day, and then our farewell song.
Lansing, MI had a large German population when I was growing up there. Many of our friends were German, so I learned the taste of goat's cheese and goat's milk -- ugh!!! -- and we ate sauerkraut and weiners. I loved the latter! In fact, we ate sauerkraut and weiners in our home, so regularly, that I didn't know it was considered German food. I was so disappointed to learn that I didn't like the product of the goat, because I had loved the book Heidi, and I had licked my lips in anticipation of enjoying Heidi's and her grandfather's favorite evening meal of goat's cheese on bread along with goat's milk. What a disappointment!!!
We lived in a trailer on the farm of German friends of ours, one summer, when I was a young girl. The mother and her daughter were musically gifted. The mother played the harp, and the daughter played the piano. They taught us how to sing every song in our hymn book. Some days, we would take a picnic lunch, and do our ministry work in a rural area. During lunch times, we'd park the car on the side of a quiet, country road, and we would sing together, the mother and daughter adding harmony. It was a beautiful and memorable experience.
courtesy of Benita Porter.
Posted by bneson
at 10:36 PM EDT
Sunday, 5 June 2005
Molly Welsh or Walsh (immigrated as indentured servant abt 1683)
SOURCE Benjamin Banneker book by Bedini: pg 7 "It was in this region that our story begins, with the arrival of an Englishwoman named Molly Welsh, at about the turn of the century. There is no certainty about the correct spelling of Molly`s last name inasmuch as no documents relating to her have survived. Both "Welsh" and "Walsh" have been used, but it is likely that the former is the correct version. Young Molly, a servant or milkmaid on a cattle farm, said to be in Wessex County, England, was doing her chores at milking time, when a cow knocked over a pail of milk. Her employer accused her of stealing the milk." pg 8 "The voyage from England to the New World was a terrible experience for anyone, but for the transported convicts it was almost unbearable." pg 9 "The great uncertainty about the length of the voyage invariably caused problems in providing sufficient food and water for passengers and crew. Since the food consisted chiefly of bread or ship biscuit, salt meat, peas, and cheese, the difficulty arose primarily from lack of space for storage. The passengers generally received the same rations as the sailors, consisting of a weekly allowance of seven pounds of bread, cheese and butter, and a weekly allotment of one half pound of pork, with peas on five days...Shipmasters disposed of the felons and indentured servants as their vessels moved up the Chesapeake Bay to the river landings, their planned arrival duly announced in the local newspapers...their contracts were sold, and they became indentured servants. Molly Welsh arrived in the provence of Maryland around 1683...which may have been Providence (later renamed Annapolis) or Londontown...Purchased by a tobacco planter with a plantation on the Patapsco River." pg 11 "Molly worked out the period of her indenture faithfully and without incident. She was reasonably well treated by her master, and she made use of her time by learning as much as she could about this new country, so different from her own...Finally, around 1690, Molly won her freedom...She had neither money nor other forms of legal tender...Her only prospect was to rent a small farm for a modest fee, to be paid annually in tobacco...Her new home was in the midst of wilderness...At first she worked alone...She had no friends...She was evidently very industrious, and became a successful farmer." Molly was against slavery but had no alternative. pg 13 "She finally selected two young male Negroes from those offered. One of them looked particularly healthy and strong, and she quickly visualized his usefulness on the farm. The other lacked those characteristics, but there were qualities about him that she could not identify but which appealed to her...Molly`s hopes were quickly realized in her first choice, and her fears were confirmed with the second...The strong slave, whose name has not survived, proved to be extremely energetic and willing to work...The other slave was otherwise inclined...he was not disposed to work willingly." pg 16 "After several years had passed, Molly Welsh gave her two slaves their freedom." pg 17 "Molly Welsh`s unnamed diligent slave joined the Christian faith, but Bannka held to the beliefs of his African ancestors, as well as his name, which eventually was changed by popular usage to "Banneky". Soon after Molly`s slaves became free, she married Banneky, probably in about 1696. She did so at considerable risk to her own freedom." They have 4 children and then Bannka dies at a young age. This leaves Molly with raising her 4 young children alone. pg 24 "According to the testimony of one of her grandsons, Molly Welsh was not only a white woman, but also had a very fair complexion and blonde hair. Yet every member of her family, including children and grandchildren, were of black complexion, some of the darkest hue."
Posted by bneson
at 11:41 PM EDT
Molly Walsh Bannaky
a Review I had written for a children's book about Molly Walsh. It was written for The Legacy, the bi-annual journal of the LEETE Family.
Be lucky, Michael
My review of MOLLY BANNAKY by Alice McGill;
1999: Houghton Mifflin Co, Boston, MA.
This is a book is a delight. The illustrations (by Chris K Soentpiet) are lovely, and very evocative of primitive Colonial life in the early eighteenth century, and the story of Molly Bannaky is simply and beautifully told by Alice McGill.
Molly Walsh was a serving girl in England who was convicted of stealing a pail of milk for which the penalty was death on the gallows. Because she could read, she ‘called for the book’ and invoked a provision that had its origins in the days of Henry II, grandson of William the Conqueror. Initially, the idea had been that the secular Courts would send members of the Clergy accused of a felony to the Ecclesiastical Courts to see what their verdict should be. By degrees this ‘benefit of clergy’ was extended to all those who could read the Bible (usually Psalm 51 in which the first verse, appropriately, is ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.’) but, also by degrees, the Judges substituted a form of exile as their sentence.
Accordingly, Molly Walsh was transported to Maryland as an indentured servant for a period of seven years. She is thought to have arrived there in the year 1683.
The rest of the book, which may be read aloud to children in little more than ten minutes, tells how she survived the seven years of servitude, acquired land of her own and married a slave that she had bought to help her grow tobacco. His name in Africa had been something like Bannaka and he may have been of a royal family in Senegal, where a period of upheaval and war had filled the holds of the slave ships with all sorts and conditions of its people.
Molly and Bannaka had four daughters and the only son of Mary, who may have been the oldest daughter, was Benjamin Banneker, perhaps the most famous Afro-American of all time. A man of most extraordinary achievements in his day: he carved himself a wooden clock; he assisted in the survey of the ten mile square of Washington DC (a seat of government conceived to accommodate fifty States when there were but thirteen) and he compiled an annual Almanac with the principal purpose of enabling people in remote areas to set their clocks.
In 1980, the US Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp depicting Benjamin Banneker.
If I had to offer any criticism at all, it would be that it is obvious that Alice McGill has never milked a cow in her life.
Posted by bneson
at 11:33 PM EDT
Moses C Guy-Isabella County Deaths 1914
Isabella County Deaths
-----------------------------------------------------Rec No. Date of Death Full Name Sex/Color Single/Married Years Months Days Place of Death Cause of Death Place of Birth Occupation Names of Parents Residence Date of Record
33 Apr 25, 1913 Moses C Guy Male/Black Widow 84 10 8 Rolland twp Bright's Disease Ohio Farmer Loyd Guy Not Given May 26, 1914
Posted by bneson
at 10:39 PM EDT
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