A little less than twenty-four hours ago, I learned for the first time that my great- great- grandfather was held in slavery in Clay County, Missouri by a man named Henry Wilhite.
Tonight as I was going to bed, I grabbed a book off the shelf to read myself to sleep. I wasn’t looking for a particular book, just any book. The book I grabbed turned out to be In Search of the Racial Frontier:African-Americans in the American West, 1528-1990, by Quintard Taylor, a professor of history at the University of Oregon. [I’ve had the book for nine years and never cracked it open before tonight]. I skipped around in the book and finally came to pages 75-76, discussing ex-slaves in Oregon. This passage leapt off the page and nearly knocked me back:
[Amanda] Johnson, born in Clay County, Missouri, in 1833, was brought to Oregon in 1853 by her owner, Nancy Wilhite.
Coincidence? I don’t think so . . . .
June 6, 2007 Wednesday at 5:13 am