I want to create an identity for those family members that came before me. For my family history has been lost, misplaced and forgotten. I will begin by searching for information, asking questions, and recalling memories.
When information is found, I will write. When I recall memories, I will write. When I get answers, I will write.
I want to leave written words for my children, grandchildren, and future generations so that they, “know from whence they came.”
So, I begin this journey with fond memories of my maternal great-grandparents.
George and Miss Mattie
During my childhood, I assumed George and Miss Mattie were only good friends. After all, they worked on the same plantation and lived in close proximity to each other.
As the plantation owner’s family cook, Miss Mattie, lived in the big house with the plantation owner’s family. I recall a large white house surrounded by huge shrubs, sitting on lush green lawns, with peacocks walking around spreading their colorful wings.
George worked as the driver who supervised the sharecroppers working in the plantation fields. Therefore, his house was a bit larger, painted a bright red and better maintained than the sharecropper homes on the plantation. Sitting directly behind the big house, it shared the big house’s lush green lawns, huge shrubs and the peacocks even wandered by George’s front porch spreading their colorful wings.
Growing up, I knew George was the driver on the plantation. Unlike the drivers described during slavery, the sharecroppers on the plantation respected and trusted George.
Even though slavery ended in 1865, its remnants remained in the south and its replacement was sharecropping.
I am not sure when George or Miss Mattie began working on this plantation located in the rural Mississippi Delta. For certain, George worked as the driver throughout my mother’s childhood as well as mine.
Miss Mattie and George married sometime around the mid-1950s and were together until George passed away in 1971. Miss Mattie died several years later.
Though. I refer to George and Miss Mattie as great-grandparents, we shared no bloodline.
George the Single Parent
My mother rarely talked about her past. But, she did tell me how George became my great-grandfather He married my great-grandmother, Minerva, around the late 1930s. She was raising four grandchildren after the death of her daughter and only child, Minnie.
Several years later, when Minerva, died four of her sisters offered to take one child each. George rejected their offer. He did not want to see them separated.
George was very protective of the children. He stressed getting an education and their moving up north for a better life. When other children on the plantation went to work in the fields, my mother and her siblings went to school. When the two girls were ready for high school, he sent them both off to boarding schools. I remember mama saying, “We wanted to go to the field with the other children, but George wouldn’t allow it.”
The two boys were with him until they enlisted in the Navy during World War II and the two girls left when they married. All eventually moved north as George wanted.
I have many, many memories to share of times spent with this compassionate, loving, and generous man as I continue down this path of discovering “from whence I came.”