Slaves’ survival in the wilderness sparks generations of Black Foragers

Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska and Chicago, Illinois, I am used to frequent ribbing about the Midwestern “foreign land.” It was while I was attending Clark College (now CAU, a HBCU) in Atlanta, Georgia, that I first became the subject of great humor about my Midwestern upbringing. It helped that my maiden surname is “Wead” (pronounced “Weed”) and for many of my Southern classmates, very little was known about the Black folk who lived in the Great Plains.

African Americans were integral to the forging of new territories in the great West. My family and hundreds of thousand of African American still live in every region west of the United States’ Mississippi River.

I highlight my beloved Midwest in a new e-book series. This month marks the kick-off of a Black Genealogy e-books that are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Books and our self-publishing book site, Lulu.com. https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/ann-wead-kimbrough-and-mark-owen/august-first-is-the-first-black-holiday-for-black-people/ebook/product-zv5pgd.html?page=1&pageSize=4

My cousin, Mark Owen and I, are the authors and the interior designer and coordinator is Veverly Byrd-Davis. The cover designer is an anonymous apprentice.

One of the chapters is about Nicodemus, Kansas, the first Black and only existing town west of the Mississippi that was settled by African American homesteaders who trekked from Kentucky during Reconstruction to establish a new life. It was tough and they were gritty. I also wrote about Nicodemus and other forgotten Black towns in the West in my other blog. See #25.

I love this NYT piece because it provides excellent sources who speak on the often neglected topics of everything from slaves’ inherent knowledge of wilderness to today’s harrassing and ignorant facts regarding those of us who will stop along the side of a road if we see a special bush that may be a healthy product when properly picked and cooked. There were a couple of stories over the last year that showcased the little-known relationships African Americans have with nature. There are African American outdoors enthusiasts who are hoping to break down barriers that exist about hikng, for instance.

While hiking in Indiana and in New York’s Central Park, violent and harrassing incidents captured global headlines based on ignorance from the inflicters.


I especially enjoyed the NYT references to the enslaved ancestors locating honey from trees and harvesting all sorts of berries and other healthy products from trees, limbs, bushes and from the earth.

Camp Lessons for Life

I was an early African American forager. I grew up as the only one in my household who went to every available that featured the great outdoors camp that my parents could afford. I recall taking our daily showers in stalls that allowed for the minor snakes and other creatures to share in the rustic settings. The campfire stores, especially the ones with scary outcomes in the stars-lit skies, were my favorites. I remember the silly and yet lasting chants such as those for catching ones’ elbows on the large dining hall’s long wooden tables. Here’s the chant:

"Ann ... Ann ... strong and able ... get your elbows off the table. This is not a horse's stall, but a first-class dining hall! 'Round the tables you must go, you must go, you must go. 'Round the tables you must go, you were naughty."

It was all in good fun and I learned valuable lessonson how to live with kids from diverse backgroounds. We celebrated our differences by sharing in all sorts of activities. It was the early “rope courses” and other skils and trust-building experiences I had as an adult member of teams ranging from the Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee to Harvard University’s Graduate Education certificate program

Black Girl in the Black Hills

I also recall riding the horses along the ridges of the South Dakota Black Hills, however, this wonderful path is no longer open to the public. It was probably not safe when I was riding on it in the late 1960s, yet it was worth it. It was beautiful to see all views of the Black Hills along the former horse trails.

As I suggest in my other blog that I write with my cousin, Good Genes Genealogy on WordPress, please take an active role in learning more about your ancestor.

Homework: Utilize the NYT article and my blog as motivation to research your family’s ancestries about the early foragers. Happy trails!

How do I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day when you are not in a good space? There’s a way with a little help from my friends

My other Moms — the Omaha group include (clockwise) Mrs. Patten, Mrs. McGruder and Mrs. Bryant. Mrs. Bryant just left us to join her husband and all the other great ancestors. Thank you for allowing me to stand tall and upon your shourlders. I love you-all.

I have friends and family members whose mothers have joined the ancestors. I honor them on this day.

My dear friends and family members who never gave physical birth to children are also honored by me as they “mother” so many.

Happy Mother’s Day to my family and friends who bid farewell (for now) to their spouses and children. Those memories are honored by me.

There are also special almost-Moms, Dads who are the unsung Mothers-in-the-gap, foster Moms and step Moms who I especially honor.

Finally, I have family and friends who do not always receive in-person, voice-to-voice “Happy Mother’s Day” greetings from family and friends. They barely receive greeting cards from them. I honor them for rembering the reasons why they are lovingly called Mom, Mama, Mommy, Big Mama, GMa, Mimi.

How do I wish any of the aforementioned groups “Happy Mother’s Day” and have them feel loved? I still say and write the words to them.

Yet, there are some authors — my friends — who have penned beautiful words that offer hope, comfort, care, love, space for grieving and more.

Try one of Rahman’s poems, or any of Rev. Jennifer’s self-care tips, or Oprah’s and Dr. Perry’s truths about trauma.

Consider what Oprah and I often say and do: ‘Connect the dots’ on this Mother’s Day. Here’s my gentle advice:

Author Rahman Johnson is a PhD. student, college professor, journalist, businessman, model and more. I love the poems about his mother and family.https://www.rahmanjohnson.com
Jennifer Eichelberger is a wonderful soul who is a minister, musician, author, broadcast journalist and administrator. https://www.jennifereichelberger.com/
Oprah and I were working journalists at the same time in different markets. She honored my presidency of the Atlanta Assocaition of Black Journalists by being the fundraising “reason. ” We raised the highest amount money for our student scholarship. She was on her way to unseating a popular TV talk show host and begin her outstanding career. She also hired some of my former students as interns.https://www.amazon.com/What-Happened-You-Understanding-Resilience/dp/1250223180

It’s in the cards: Three generations of family ties together genealogy gaps

“Those are the breakthrough moments in the collection of Black genealogy. Seek out those special times when generations blend. Take a few notes or record some of the conversations.”

By Dr. Ann Wead Kimbrough

Clockwise: My mother, Angeline Cecil Owen Wead (left); her great-grandson, Kingston Apollo Kimbrough; his sister, Kaidence Aurora Kimbrough; and my son, John Charles Kimbrough

One of the best ways to glean information from family members across the generations is to enjoy a meal together or play games, especially during the holidays.

In December 2019 in Tallahassee, FL, my mother, Angie Wead, made her annual trek from Atlanta to enjoy the holidays with my grandchildren, son and wife, close friends and me. During that Christmas season, my youngest son, John, also visited us. It was a full house.

John is blind and partially deaf. The cards, including UNO cards (his favorite game) include Braille. Most of the games that we purchase include the Braille language.

During such times, my grandchildren learn from their great-grandmother about her childhood and she listens to accounts of their lives. There are often a lot of “I didn’t know” moments.

Those are the breakthrough moments in the collection of Black genealogy. Seek out those special times when generations blend. Take a few notes or record some of the conversations.

For instance, I did not know that my mother grew up with an aunt who became blind. When my son, John, lost his sight at age 8, it was my mother who recalled independent tasks that Aunt Ada would perform including cooking , sewing and playing the piano. Her husband, my great-uncle Cecil was also very supportive.

One of my fav finds in Black Ancestry Research

However, slaveholder Nathaniel Ford, an influential settler and legislator, kept them in bondage until 1850, even then refusing to free their children. Holmes took his former master to court and, in the face of enormous odds, won the case in 1853.

Breaking Chains

Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory

R. Gregory Nokes

“When they were brought to Oregon in 1844, Missouri slaves Robin and Polly Holmes and their children were promised freedom in exchange for helping develop their owner’s Willamette Valley farm. However, slaveholder Nathaniel Ford, an influential settler and legislator, kept them in bondage until 1850, even then refusing to free their children. Holmes took his former master to court and, in the face of enormous odds, won the case in 1853.

In Breaking Chains, R. Gregory Nokes tells the story of the only slavery case ever adjudicated in Oregon courts—Holmes v. Ford. Drawing on the court record of this landmark case, Nokes offers an intimate account of the relationship between a slave and his master from the slave’s point of view. He also explores the experiences of other slaves in early Oregon, examining attitudes toward race and revealing contradictions in the state’s history. Oregon was the only free state admitted to the union with a voter-approved constitutional clause banning African Americans and, despite the prohibition against slavery, many in Oregon tolerated it, and supported politicians who were pro-slavery, including Oregon’s first territorial governor.

Told against the background of the national controversy over slavery, Breaking Chains sheds light on a somber part of Pacific Northwest history, bringing the story of slavery in Oregon to a broader audience.” — by the Oregon State University Press

Oregon State University Press
121 The Valley Library
Corvallis, OR 97331
541-737-3166
Book Order: 1-800-621-2736

Email: osu.press@oregonstate.edu

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I am a curious, dedicated genealogist who began my adventure at age 10 by asking questions about my family’s ancestors. Five decades later, I am taking my research to a new level. Stay tuned.