names are the people of color who cleared the paths , broke the soil and felled the trees . Missing are the women who cooked the meals , tilled the soil , birthed and nourished the babies . Why ? It was explained that none could be identified as they had only “ given ” names . They had no names . These “ no-named ” people also populate our local cemeteries .
A visit to Maple Grove or Four Mile or any of another Black cemeteries bear names with a striking similarity to those found in Richmond Cemetery or any / many of the other local “ white ” cemeteries .
Did a four-year war fought in the 1860 ’ s suddenly give family names to these no-named people ? Or were they there all along , hidden in history ?
So , what does the AAGGKY actually do ? We teach ! We bring to your attention the historic churches at White Pond , at White Station , and Hays Fork with their antebellum minutes listing their “ coloreds ” and their “ owners .”
We explore the EKU archival collections . We search registration records at Berea . We tromp through graveyards looking for stones undocumented in local histories . We hold seminars and workshops making connections between those early pioneer settlers and their enslaved ; with Kentucky aristocracy and their “ hired ” help .
We patiently explain that , “ Yes , our people at Boonesborough also had roots extending to the courthouses , to Frankfort and to statehouses throughout the nation . And , they took their documents with them !”
Our membership is coast-to-coast and includes researchers , both Black and White who are interested in Kentucky ’ s African American heritage .
Names common in their search for Madison countians are : Tribbles , Gentry , White , Burgess , Clay , Langford , Schooler , Blythe , Willis , Miller , Kavanaugh , Moberly , Deatherage and Estill . Are any of these familiar ? College Hill , Pine Grove , Redhouse , Poosey , Bear Wallow ,
Blue Lick and the Glades . Those are names and places where these Black researchers are looking for their families . They may be hidden in history in your Bible or on your book shelf . Would you like to help ? You can , by sharing your church minutes and family bibles ; your cemetery records ; your stories passed down through generations .
What have we learned these past 10 years of researching ?
We have learned that sometimes history is hiding in plain sight . Hidden history is still history , until it becomes breaking news . Our history is found in your books . History is not shameful , its just history . Researchers leave no page unturned , because the next one might be paydirt . Family comes in all colors ; we are all of one blood .
We borrowed from poet Frank X Walker , who wrote , “ I too am of the hills , my folks have corn rowed tobacco , laid track , strip mined , worshipped and whiskied from Harlan to Maysvile , old Dunbar to Central … We put the heat in the hot brown and gave it color . Indeed , some of the Bluegrass
is Black .” We also discovered that history not shared , is lost . So share with us . The AAGGKY meets monthly on the third Saturday , currently via Zoom .
You can find more information about AAGGKY at www . aaggky . org . The AAGGKY can be reached by email at AAGGKY @ yahoo . com .
Sharyn Mitchell is a local historian and the co-founder of African American Genealogy Group of KY . She is also a Research Services Specialist of the Special Collections & Archives in the Hutchins Library at Berea College .
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