My ancestor’s slave’s ancestor contacted me

Capt-Samuel-ReedRichard Reed Watts,
Burke, VA.

As a boy, me and my brother would disappear upstairs at our grandparent’s house, exploring for hours everything we could get our hands on. It was dark and smelled old and dusty and it was wonderfully beautiful. I remember distinctly coming across the old fragile parchment that was a list of property owned by Samuel Reed at his death during the Civil War (1862). reed is my mother’s maiden name and my middle name and the name by which I am known. On that list were the names of his “negroes,” with a dollar amount to the right….with equal clarity, I remember how it struck me…how odd, foreign, unreal….not that I was or am ashamed my family owned slaves, but even as a boy, it was as though I knew doing so was against God’s intentions….

Needless to say, I was shocked twenty-five to thirty years later when I was contacted via e-mail by Gwendolyn Reed, a woman living in Florida who is a direct descendant from the slaves listed on that piece of paper…

We have been in touch with the intention of meeting one another for several years. We have not made it happen yet, but look forward to it. In a very real sense, I consider her part of my family, and I dare say she feels the same….

Keep the conversation going - comment and discuss with your thoughts

5 Responses to "My ancestor’s slave’s ancestor contacted me"
  1. Ted Hudson says:

    Very interesting story. I know the first names of five people held in bondage by my 4th-great-grandfather in 1790, and have wondered what became of them. It’s possible they took his family name, but I can’t presume that.

  2. Carole M. Schenck says:

    Very interesting story. You are so fortunate to have a photograph of your ancestor and other documents associated with him. Several of my family lines also were from the Barnwell District of South Carolina, but emigrated to Georgia before the Civil War, mostly inthe early 1800s.

  3. Facebook User says:

    My ancestor’s slave’s descendant contacted me as well. It was alarming and fascinating. Given the circumstantial evidence available on my family’s treatment of their slaves, I was tempted to apologize, but then again I never have personally had slaves, and any fortune we might have had from their labor was lost when Sheridan terrorized the Shenandoah Valley.

    This dear lady was looking for information on her ancestors which I could not provide. Not to overlook as well that these people were enslaved, not adopted. The slaves weren’t part of our family and weren’t treated as such so there were no records of anything other than mentions in a will as the slaves were passed to the next generation.

    Interesting how a new technology can be used to revive the past, and perhaps piece lost bits of it together, and wonderful to find someone to connect with across the centuries.

  4. sam says:

    good for you i hope you meet your ancestor someday

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thats good that y’all decided to become close other than holding grudges from what happened in the past. I hope you guys get to meet one day!

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