As a genealogist and a historian, I found myself turning to the end notes to check the author's sources. I was very interested in his research style and source analysis. The author was fortunate to have wonderful plantation records to work with. The Washington family records are housed at the Tennessee State Archives in Nashville. One outstanding piece of research was his discovery that the slave schedule pages of the 1860 census were jumbled. When he corrected the paging, the Washington family slaves were enumerated as he expected to find them. Slave schedules only list numbers and ages of slaves--no names. And, most slave schedules list slaves by owner and then chronological ages. This schedule grouped the slaves into families. Only ages were listed, but the author knew the family groups and their ages and could reconstruct the families. I have found this same problem of missing pages with other families on the general population schedules. One McBride child went unnoticed until Uncle Richard found "Dorky" was separated from the family when the pages were digitized.
Again, as a historian, I have to see slavery as a part of a troubled Southern history. These are my people, not by birth, but by love and appreciation as I research and tell their stories. The slaves, the masters, the freemen and women of color, the poor whites--they are all my people, literally and figuratively. I cannot tell one story without the other.
Georgia Ann Collins ( A Hatfield cousin. Her parents and all four grandparents were listed as black, mulatto and white in different census records)
This Martin Luther King Day has caused me a lot of reflection. Because I believe that people continue to grow and change even after their death, my hope is that we can all sit down together in heaven--families of many colors united in love, appreciation and forgiveness.