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….


Tweets by Michele Norris