Amazing Grace. No more family secret.

Daryl Bruce Denning,
Corning, NY

Raised “white”. At 52, December 2001, I learned of my ancestors of color. I do not know the origin of my European surname, as I have only traced it back to my mixed race great-great-great-grandfather William Denning. Found his wife, my great-great-great-grandmother, with an obituary in 1880 stating she had lived to 113 and had been a slave “down east”. They migrated from the Hudson Valley of New York where Cornelia Denning apparently had been a slave, to the southern tier of NY. One of their sons was active in the Underground Railroad, taking fugitive slaves to Canada. One of his sons was a Medal of Honor recipient as a Buffalo Soldier during the Indian Wars. Another son served with my great-great-grandfather with a NY Regiment of US Colored Infantry in the Civil War. Both were wounded in July, 1864 in South Carolina, but survived. One of their family died in the regimental hospital in South Carolina due to illness, part of the same company and regiment as his father and the other two. One of my great-great-grandfather’s brothers passed as white and served in a hite regiment. There is much, much more history on my family tree of color which has made my life a more fulfilling one. To think I might have never known of my true heritage all because of our sad American legacy of racial divide. May that history yet evolve to a true America of Amazing Grace.


Tweets by Michele Norris