The Gist of Freedom is Still faith, began as a research paper assignment on a Historically Black town, Lawnside, New Jersey. However, shortly after I began my research I discovered a legendary family from Lawnside, the Still family and their son William Still. The New York Times dubbed Mr. Still the father of the Underground Railroad and reported he was worth nearly a million dollars in 1902. More importantly, Mr.Still documented all the enslaved people who travelled under his care in his book the Underground Railroad.
The research paper made another transition. It became a genealogy research project when after weeks of unsuccessfully searching for my great grand mother's family line, In the 800 odd page book, I finally decided to actually write the paper. Low and behold, in the preface, I read an extraordinary story, an emotional reunion between William's mother and his lost enslaved brother, Peter Gist. Peter's slave name, Gist is also my maiden name.
Forty years earlier, after a failed escape attempt with all four of her children, Peter's mother made the heart wrenching decision, to strike out for freedom again this time without Peter 6 and his brother Levin Jr. 8.
Determined to reconnect with his mother, Peter successfully travelled out of slavery using the Underground Railroad. In an effort to locate his family he had an interview with abolitionist, William Still- an interview which uncovered they themselves were brothers and led to him be reunited with his mother.
Needless to say, it became my mission to find out if in fact, if I was related to Peter Gist-Still. My ten year journey, in search of the answer is in The Gist of Freedom is Still Faith.