I'm just going to spit this out, because it's bugging the hell out of me.
My mother's doing research on our family history and has traced down the fellow who kicked off her father's line in America -- the fellow Goochland, Virginia was named after. And, as you might suppose, having shown up in the 1600s, he became a landowner and a businessman and, goddammit, a slave owner.
Which completely contradicts my sense of my family history. My story, the story that's close to me, is just three or four generations old: huddled masses arriving in America and working the boardinghouses and box factories and copper mines of the American West. Rancher. Construction foreman. Stagecoach station operator and a saloon owner.
I wasn't counting on this.
My first impulse is to practice cognitive dissonance and discredit my mother's research. After all, her previous claims that we're related to Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman AND John Steinbeck were somewhat dubious. But I know I have to dig into it for myself and get to know this ancestor. Hear this part of the story. And then figure out what to do about it.
More on American Slavery on detritus »