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Notes and documents is 292 pages, with Table of contents, Appendix, Bibliography, Endnotes, and Index. The book chronicles the lives of a group labled, "Free Persons of Color", in Colonial Virginia. They were mixed raced, Native, African, and Whites, whose were Virginia's own Creole Population.
One of the chronicles is of Mary Bowden, who was the Mulatto granddaughter of a white man, William Monroe, the grandfather of President James Monroe. For over forty years she was an Indentured Servant to George Washington's family, at what is now George Washington Birthplace Virginia. At the time Mary was there the Plantation was called, Popes' Creek.
Charles and Ambrose Lewis were brothers, who served in the Revolutionary War out of Fredericksburg. They were the sons of a white man, John Lewis and a Mulatto woman. The brothers served first as Seamen, and then as Soldiers in the Revolutionary War.
IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY
On September 20, 2001, our family gathered at the Church of Christ in Coatesville Pennsylvania, for my mother, Vivian Baxter’s funeral. Mom was seventy-eight years of age when she passed, and had suffered with heart attacks, over a course of several years. It is difficult to see a parent age, and especially difficult to watch as they deteriorate, mentally and physically.
In April of 1998, my mother had a stroke, and heart attack, which could have been fatal. However, a Heart Specialist was able to save her life, at least for a while. He was the first Doctor that gave us a prognosis for my mother. She had Congenital Heart failure, and would eventually die. On the advice of her Doctor, she remained in a Skilled Nursing Facility. She passed on September 12, 2001, a day after the 9/11 attacks.
The challenge was to get her body from Hayward California, where she died, to the funeral parlor in Coatesville. Although we wanted to fly with the body, it was not feasible. My sisters, Carolyn, Kim, and I flew to Pennsylvania together. As we flew over Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, I saw the shadow of jets trailing us, and it was eerie.
We arrived at Aunt Cora Brazzles’ house in Coatesville, and had not a moments rest. Aunt Cora is one of my mother’s older sisters, and was devastated at her death. She is a spry eighty something, who acts likes she is in her sixties. Everyone converged on the house, and we had to pick a coffin, and arrange for the funeral.
During this period, we went by the house we lived at on 657 South First Avenue. It is still standing, now a part of the Bethel AME Church next door. The memories came rushing back, and the reality that my mother was gone hit me. This was a house that the best and worst years of our lives were spent in. We moved there when I was two years old, and my sister Carolyn was just an infant.
It seems like yesterday, when we were on South First Avenue, heading for the playground at Hustonville Elementary School. My sister, Carolyn, was usually in tow calling for me to wait for her. It was the 1950’s, and things seemed a lot simpler than, at least from my perspective. The view from our front window was an area known as White Hill, and our back window faced South First Avenue.
Although I did not know it at the time, we were not well off. My father worked at the Mill, and had jobs on the side. There was a time when he would go to the Railroad Track, and gather Copper for resale. He was also a constable in our community for several years, and even did a stint as Dog Catcher.
We lived in an area that was predominantly black, in a community that was majority white. The newspapers of the day ran adds for jobs, rentals and sales of housing, which noted that no “Colored”, need apply. The neighborhood we lived in was an immigrant community, with many Eastern Europeans, Italians, and black southerners. The draw was Lukens Steel Mill a huge complex that spewed out molten steel plates, mainly used for shipbuilding. The Mill, and the VA Hospital were our communities major source of income.
The original inhabitants of Pennsylvania were the Lenai-Lenape, and Delaware Indians, who were forced out by European Settlers. Grand pop Martin, my mothers father, was one of the mixed raced descendants of the Natives. Most identified themselves as Mulatto in the pre-Civil War census, to avoid being sent to a Reservation.
Pennsylvania, is called the Keystone State, and was one of the thirteen original Colonies. After settling the area, William Penn called it “Penns’ Sylvania”, or his forest. My father explained to me that the Keystone was the most important part of any building.
He often pointed out where the Keystone was on a building. The Keystone was a stone, or brick, which held the entire structure together. If that stone were removed, the entire structure would crumble. My father was a Mason, and had more knowledge than any person I knew.
As a Constable, my father would be called all times of the day, and night. When the Mill paid things livened up on the Avenue, and my father went into action. He would put on his dark clothes, gun and holster, and head out into the night. People would knock on our door throughout the night looking for him.
The next day he would tell us who he took to jail, and what they did. My father was a Democrat, but most of the rest of the Baxter’s were Diehard Republicans, the party of Abraham Lincoln. My father’s family was from South Carolina, and the man they owed their freedom to was Abraham Lincoln.
At twenty-two years old, dad was a dashing figure to my mother, especially when he was in his car. He was a Nat King Cole look alike, while she favored Dorothy Dandridge. She was often mistaken for a light-skinned Hispanic, or Native American.
My parents, George and Vivian Martin-Baxter, were married in Elkton Maryland, on February 12, 1940. Mom was only seventeen, and could not legally marry in Pennsylvania. Shortly after the marriage, the babies started coming, starting with George Junior.
Overall there were seven children, four boys, and three daughters. I was the First daughter, and the fifth child. My four older brothers were, George Junior, Ronald, Nathan, and Anthony. A little over two years after I was born, my sister Carolyn emerged, taking my place as the baby. The next daughter, Kimberly, was not born until nine years after Carolyn.
My father, his brothers, and Grand Pop Baxter built the house where I was born. It was next to my paternal Grandparents home on South First Avenue. On the other side of our grandparent’s home was dad’s oldest brother, Uncle Alonzo’s house. Uncle Alonzo was the minister at our family church, the Church of God In Christ. When I was, about two we moved from the house of my birth to a bigger place up the hill. It was there where the seed was planted, and nurtured by my mother.
The Avenue was little more than a block long, but for many years it was my entire world. My siblings and I played on Kite Hill, and the back road freely. Neither adults, nor other children harassed us. We would leave, play for hours, and then return home safely. If my mother was worried, she certainly did not display it to us. It was during the cold winters that my mother told us about her family, and their exploits.
Migrants and Immigrants Coatesville Pennsylvania
When I was a child, South First Avenue was lined with black owned businesses such as, cleaners, stores, bars, and Barber Shopst. We had two black Doctors, Atkinson, and Clayton, who treated us.
Doctor Atkinson started Atkinson Memorial Hospital, a Colored Hospital, which the black community frequented.
The hospital in our area was not accommodating to blacks during that period. The black businesses were all along South First Avenue, but on Main Street it was just the opposite, all the businesses were white.
The small community we lived in was made up of blacks from the south, and immigrants from Europe, especially Poland and Hungary. It seemed most people living there were escaping something, Communism, or racism. Most of the Whites in South Coatesville lived in the community known as White Hill. The front of our house faced White Hill, and the back faced the Avenue. Although whites lived on the Avenue, no blacks lived on White Hill when I was growing up. There were Hispanics, who lived in the white and black neighborhoods.
We played with black and white children, and went into each other’s homes. It was a harsh reality knowing that something you had no control over dictated your life. Many of the blacks who lived in our community had better homes then many whites on the Hill. They purchased land, and built beautiful homes for their families.
My mother often commented that her people were in Pennsylvania before many of the Whites who lived on the Hill. The elementary school we attended was two stories, and we had one teacher for each grade. All were white females; Ms. Redmond, Ms. Berkeheiser, Ms. Marshall, Ms. Laird, and Ms. Hatfield were our teachers. They are the most memorable teachers of my school years.
Ms. Redmond would stage plays, and have events throughout the year. My brother, Nathan, made extra money mowing her lawn, and shoveling snow at her home. They would reward the children who attended school every day, at a special ceremony.
We lived in a conservative community, where everything centered on family, work, and church. That was true even though many men, like my father, did not attend church regularly. Sundays seemed more like mothers day, as the women and children would gather at the church. Other than the male ministers, it was mostly women, except on the holidays. After church, we would enjoy some food and conversation, and head home.
Sundays for the men in our family, was sports day, Football and the Philadelphia Philly’s game was the main attraction. When I think of those days, Cigar Smoke, Fried Chicken, Greens, Macaroni and my mother’s rolls are smells I remember. While the males glued themselves to the television, the females were in the kitchen preparing Sunday dinner.
This was the setting in which mom began sharing her family history. Today I know that she enjoyed these sessions as much as we did. She often entertained us, by teaching us how to read, write, and do math. The kitchen belonged to the females, and we would often read and recite poems there. My mother passed along all she knew about her family history, in the stories she told.
Mom was proud of her family history, especially of her maternal grandfather, Samuel Ruth, who had risen to prominence in Pennsylvania. She often told his story and the story of his mother, Great-Great Grandmother Ruth to us. The stories were not told in front of our father, who was an avid storyteller as well. It would be many years before I understood why.
Although my father told stories, his stories were funny, and usually about incidents that happened in his everyday life. The truth about slavery, and racism hit too close to home. His parents were only one generation away from slavery. He was a linguist who spoke several languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, German, and Italian. He graduated from James Adams High School in Coatesville, the first person in his family to go beyond fifth grade.
He was a member of the Spanish Club, and President of the French Club. However, in his senior year, he was the Class Valedictorian, and the school stripped him of this honor. Several of the teachers threatened to boycott the school, if he was not allowed to officiate. The school gave in, but he had to share the spotlight with the person he beat out, a white classmate.
My father did not know was that my mother told us as much as she knew about his family. Coatesville was a small town, and there were few secrets, especially among the sister-in-laws. When they got together, all bets were off, especially about their husbands. When the men were working, they met at each others houses, for coffee, and gossip. They covered for the gossip sessions by saying they were discussing hats, and outfits, and church business. I could not hold water, but for some reason I never let that information slip.
Out of Orangeburg South Carolina
My mother said that, Granny and Grand pop Baxter came to Pennsylvania from Orangeburg South Carolina, in the 1920’s. That is when Grand pop Baxter, looking for a better life for his family, took a job at Lukens Steel Mill. Before the Civil War, the Baxter’s and Bonaparte’s were slaves on Plantations in and around Orangeburg South Carolina. My mother said that Grand pop Baxter was separated from his family after the Civil War.
I have some wonderful memories of Grand pop Baxter. He was our town street sweeper and I often accompanied him. On those mornings, I listened for his whistle, and the drag of the wheelbarrow. If I was up, and dressed, when he went by my parents let me join him. I would run out of the door and down to the street to join him.
He had a brown face, with wrinkles that disappeared when he smiled. He would smile, and say hello grandbaby, and we would continue down the street, past Lukens Steel Mill. On the way back, he would give me a shiny nickel, and drop me off at my house. I could hear him whistling as he pushed his wheelbarrow down the hill.
I do not know how long that ritual lasted, but it ended with his death. The night he died, the family gathered at our grandparent’s home, and the children were sequestered in a room. I was the oldest child in the room, and none of us knew that Grand pop was on his deathbed. In the middle of the night, a wailing sound went up, which made my hair stand on end, and then there was sobbing.
Someone came in, and said that grand pop was dead, and that is all I remember. I had no idea what death meant, until his Wake, which was in my grandparents living room. I touched his cold body, and knew that he would not be coming back. My chin did not reach the casket, and all I remember is he seemed to be asleep. I often dream about him, and we are walking down the street in South Coatesville, he is pushing his wheelbarrow, and whistling.
Charles Wesley Baxter was born in South Carolina in 1880. Annie Bonaparte Baxter was born in Orangeburg in 1892. On my father’s birth certificate, they are listed as colored. A Midwife delivered my father, not an uncommon occurrence for that period. Dad’s birth date is listed as June 2, 1918, but he was actually born May 29, 1918.
According to my mother, Grand pop Baxter was a Tenant Farmer in South Carolina, and worked on land he would never own. The entire family, including the children, worked the fields, planting, cultivating, and picking Cotton. They were in a slave like condition, and as many before them, headed north. Grand pop Baxter had to sneak away, owing money to the man whose land he farmed. He took his family to another city, where they remained, until he sent for them. With only a fourth grade education, his prospects in South Carolina were limited.
My father was four years old when the family moved to Coatesville. He was one of the older children of the family, which numbered ten children, Granny and Grand pop. When the family settled in Coatesville, they attended the Church of Christ in Erculdon. Most of the blacks settling in Coatesville attended one of the many churches on the Avenue.
The church services of my childhood were a mixture of singing, shouting, and people speaking in tongues. On the holidays we acted out plays, and spent the day cooking, and eating. During services those who spoke in tongues were comforted by the Missionaries, and Ministers. The Minister said that it was God speaking through the person. It looked like the Haitian Voodoo ceremonies, when a spirit would “Ride” someone. I have yet to hear the dialect spoken outside of the church. I do not recall ever seeing my mother shout, or speak in tongues.
The services were interesting, especially when people got up and testified. In open church people would give the most intimate details of their lives, and ask God for forgiveness. Sometimes people would get up and give details of someone else’s sins, which was even stranger to me. Sometimes the confessions were referred to as, “Testa lying”, when people continued to confess to the same sin every Sunday.
The church believed in faith healing, and that is where things got interesting. My mother would get up in church and thank God, for sending her child (me), back to her. It was especially embarrassing when we visited other churches, and she pointed me out. She said that when I was about five months old, I contracted pneumonia, and was deathly ill.
The month was February, one of the coldest months of the winter. My mother said she was holding me, and I stopped breathing. She sent for Doctor Clayton, who she stated, declared me dead. My body was cold, and turning rigid, a sign that rigor mortis was setting in. Screaming and crying, my mother called Aunt Ida and Granny Baxter to the house.
They began praying, and laying hands on me, and I began moving, and breathing. My family believes God answered their prayers, and sent me back, and I am just glad to be here. The story changed over the years, and some things were added, and taken away. Sometimes my grandmother laid hands on me, and other times it was my Aunt Ida. That is the way stories are, the more times you tell them, the more they change. The person I would love to have heard from was Doctor Clayton, since he declared me dead.
Winter months were rough when I was growing up, especially when the snow melted. It was so cold that nothing you wore could bring warmth, even though we wore layers of clothes. My sister, and I had Snow Suits, boots, gloves, and a hat, and the biting cold still came through. Once it hit one part of your body, the rest of your body would begin to freeze, until hands, and feet went numb. Yet, the snow was so inviting that we went out in it, as much as we could, and endured the tingling of frozen hands warming up.
On the days when the storms were too bad, we would join our mother in the kitchen, as she worked on her newest concoction. My mother was from a family of ten, but she was one of the youngest girls. Besides story telling, Mom’s talents were cooking, knitting, crocheting, sewing, and hat making. She knitted sets of doilies for friends and family, as well as for our home. When we found out that she had soaked the doilies in a starch made of sugar, we sucked the sugar out of the doilies. She figured out what we were doing, and changed back to cornstarch (ugh).
Dad And J. Edgar Hoover
Sometime in 1947, my father caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was hired as an attendant at the Veterans Hospital in Coatesville, and was required to pass a background investigation. On the application, my father mentioned the other languages he spoke, including Russian. The mention of him speaking Russian launched an investigation that lasted more than two years. During this period his friends, family and coworkers were questioned about his activities. For two years, the FBI without his knowledge monitored his every activity.
When my father uncovered the investigation, he and my mother drove to Philadelphia to confront the FBI agents. As he sat and faced them, he was asked why he, a black man, would want to speak Russian. He asked why he, a black man, would want to speak English.
He did not answer their question, and they did not answer his. He told them face to face, he was there, and would answer any questions they had to ask him. Two weeks later, they sent him a letter stating that there was no evidence of him having communist affiliations. According to the letter, he was cleared for employment, and his FBI file was Closed.
On June 6, 1949, my father accepted a position at the Veterans Hospital in Coatesville. As an Army Corporal, he served as a Military Policeman at the Hospital, and received a Good Conduct Medal. His background check should have been a simple matter; after all he was a solid citizen. Indeed the records show that he had good credit, and wonderful references. Yet the investigation of him continued the rest of his life, and included his children.
Once he found out about the investigation, and confronted the FBI, they assured him it was over. Not so, the investigation, continued until 1978, long after his death. The investigation encompassed his adult children, one of whom was denied a Small Business Loan. George Baxter Senior died of cancer, June 2, 1971, at the age of fifty-one, still disillusioned by the treatment he received from his own government.
On July 7, 1951, a message sent to J.
Edgar Hoover stated:
“The Philadelphia Office has advised that during the PI no substantive information which reflects unfavorably on the appointee’s loyalty was developed.”
On October 31, 1951, another Message from J. Edgar Hoover states, (Much of this statement is blacked out):
“It is felt that they have had some association with each other, in view thereof, coupled with the known unfavorable information concerning the loyalty of all offices should immediately initiate a Full Field investigation concerning the captioned individual in order to resolve the question of his loyalty.”
On December 5, 1951, J. Edgar Hoover sent a teletype stating:
“George Arthur Baxter, VA, LGE. FBURTEL, December, TWENTY-ONE, Requesting extension BUDED from December ONE to December TWENTY-ONE. Investigation completed except for REP from UR Office. This case must receive preferred attention in effort to SUREP to reach Bureau to December TWENTY-ONE, to avoid further delinquency. Any necessary leads must be sent out promptly by tel.”
An FBI Agent made this report on
December 19, 1951:
“The appointee called at the Philadelphia office of the FBI. He stated that it had come to his attention that he was being investigated under the loyalty program and that he desired to offer his assistance to the FBI in its investigation. The appointee stated that he knew of no reason or incident in his past life which would bring him, as an individual within the purview of Executive Order 9835; Since he has never been connected or sympathetic to any organization that has been declared by the Attorney General to be within the purview of Executive Order 9835.”
The Record States:
“Mr. Baxter stated that he did not desire to make any written statement for inclusion in the instant report, but stated that his past record as an ex-serviceman during World War II, and his reputation and conduct in Coatesville, PA would clearly indicate that he is a loyal, patriotic citizen.”
December 28, 1951 the record states:
“And in addition he has attended the Berlitz School of Languages, Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), studying the Russian Language.
My father went from a good citizen to someone who gambled and trusted no one. I remember the times that we spent as a family, when my he would tell his stories, and have everyone laughing. The laughter died in our house, and my father became increasingly paranoid, and suspicious. He continued his downward spiral, and eventually moved us to Reading Pennsylvania. He left us, and remained in Coatesville, with no explanation.
The investigation into my father’s affairs encompassed my brother, George Baxter Junior. He applied for a Small Business Loan in 1970, a year before my father passed. That was many years after they told him, he was no longer being investigated. It is also possible they were investigating other members of the family. Much of the information the documents, is blacked out, and illegible. My father died of cancer,
June 2, 1971, at the age of fifty-one.
My mother stated that my father was upset because none of his family, or friends told him he was being investigated. The FBI kept tabs on him from 1949 to just after his death. Whenever anyone was questioned they were told not to tell, or face prosecution, and they remained silent out of fear. It may have had to do with the roots of the community, blacks from the South, and Europeans from Communist Countries. The community did not want to be targeted by the FBI, or any other police agency.
Vivian Martin Baxter - Mom
Mom was the opposite of my father in every way. I cannot imagine what kind of courtship they had, since she seemed to be timid. My mother’s kitchen was her office; it was there she made her creations, from candy, to Hats. That is the way it was back then the kitchen was the center of the house. When we lived in Coatesville, the kitchen was the second largest room in the house.
As the oldest daughter, I learned how to cook from scratch. That included plucking freshly killed chickens, and scaling slimy fish. We lived in a farm community, and everything was fresh, including the meats. The side of beef we ate may have been walking around six hours prior to consumption. I remember my father showing my brothers how to slaughter a hog. Someone jumped on his back, and slit his throat, and I believe I fainted.
We divided it up, and my mother made sausage from scratch. The stories about my mother’s ancestors began when I was about nine years old. I had more questions than my siblings had, and sometimes went past the point of being curious to being just plain nosy. On cold wintry days, we were my mother’s only company, and a captive audience. When we had a bad snowstorm, work, and school was canceled, and playing outside was not allowed.
We stayed in the house, playing games, and listening to mom’s stories. Those were some of the best days of my childhood, days every child should have. We gathered around the Wood Stove, and all eyes were on mom. Her father, Grand pop Martins’ family were Mountain people, who treasured their independence. They only came out of the mountains to work, and make better lives for themselves. Their ancestors were Native, white and black, and did not want to assimilate.
When I was growing up Grandmother Leah Martin lived in East End, and I can remember going to see her as a small child. She looked like an older version of Lena Horne, and was beautiful even then. In fact, she looked like a white woman, and her eyes were dark blue. What made her beautiful was her demeanor, always smiling, and pleasant. When my mother was twelve, Grammy and Grand pop Martin were divorced, causing a scandal.
Grand pop Martin was a entreprenaour, unfortunately his product was Corn Liquour. As a Bootlegger, he raised corn crops for refining. The alcohol was sold from their home, and they had a juke joint, which was open twenty-four hours. Neither of the family churches, the Church of Christ, or the Church of God in Christ condoned drinking.
I do not remember Grand pop Charles Martin visiting our home, but we went to his house. He was a talented guitar player, and sold music. Coatesville was a small town, but people did not just drop by. We had relatives who we may have visited once a year and they lived in town. The reality was that none of my grand parents were frequent visitors to our home.
On one occasion I was playing at my friend Rochelle’s house, and she pointed him out to me. He was cooper colored, and had white hair which was in a ponytail. He smiled and waved at me, and I said hello Grand pop Martin. I saw him over the years, but not often, because I did not remember his hair being grey. I made a point to go over Rochelle’s house, so that I could see him. He looked like the actor George Raft, and at that time, he was over seventy years old.
Aunt Pearl Bailey, my mother’s oldest sister, was twenty years older than mom, and the keeper of the Martin family records. She had Military records, and documents going back to the 1800’s. We went to her house at least twice a year when I was growing up, usually for family gatherings. I am certain that the adults looked at the pictures, and documents, as children we would have been excluded. Many of the stories passed along were told at the gatherings when the adults retired to the living room.
I was not going to approach Aunt Pearl, when her own sister was afraid to. Aunt Pearl did not take kindly to children stepping out of line, and approaching her was a definite no, no. I took comfort in knowing that there were actual documents that existed. My mother stated often that Aunt Pearl had a picture of Great- Great Grandfather Henry Green in his Civil War Uniform.
According to my mother, her family had a hard time because they were light-skinned. She said that they had to fight all of the time, with whites, and with blacks. The Martin children walked ten miles from their home to school in Honey Brook. Mom said on the way to school they had to fight whites, and on the way, back they had to fight blacks.
According to my mother whites did not like them because they were “Colored’, and the blacks did not like them because they were light-skinned. She said that in the school at Honey Brook, an announcement to see the nurse would come over the loud speaker, and the voice would say, “No Coloreds allowed in the Nurses Office.”
Our Martin and Green Ancestors
My Grand Father Charles Martins’ family were part of the Native population of Lancaster and Chester County Pennsylvania. His father, William Martin II, worked for the Darlington’s, a Quaker family in the area. William’s father was Uriah Martin, and his mother was Tamyzine Page-Martin. According to Uriahs’ pension record his parents were Charles and Sarah Johnson-Martin.
In the 1850 census Charles Martin I was living in Colerain Twp., Lancaster County. Uriah, William, and an infant daughter resided with him. There was no mention of a wife, who may have been deceased.
The Martins were mixed raced Native/African/Whites who resided in the Welsh Mountains of Lancaster County Pennsylvania. An interesting side to the Martin history is William Martin. He was the brother of Uriah, and also served in the Civil War, out of Lancaster County Pennsylvania. After the War, he settled in California, and was a Gold Miner in. He sent a letter home stating he hit Gold in California. He asked family members to come to California, and assist him.
I found William in Placer County California in the 1870 census, and no information afterwards. The problem is that William was passing for white, and asking for a Mulatto, or colored person got me no information. I found several stories on William Martins, and have narrowed it down to one. There is another Martin in the records, but I have no information on him.
In the 1850 census for Colerain Township, Lancaster County, Charles Martin I, is listed as Mulatto, and the father to Uriah, and William Martin. Tamyzine Page is identified as Mulatto in the 1860 census for Colerain Township in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, and her age is twenty-two. Sometime after the census, and before 1870, Tamyzine, and Uriah Martin were married.
By the 1870 census they were living in Chester County. Uriahs Civil War pension papers state that he, and Tamson were married in West Bradford Township of Chester County, by Squire Rambo. Uriah served as a Corporal in the 41st United States Colored Troops, out of Lancaster County. After the War, he became a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. He, and Tamzyine, are buried at Union Hill Cemetery in Kennett Square (Chester County Pennsylvania)..
His father, Charles Martin I, is listed as Mulatto in the 1850 census for Lancaster County Pennsylvania. Tamyzine Page was at least part Native, and appears to be the only one of her family in the area. In the 1870, census Tamyzine, and Uriah Martin were living in Chester County, and are identified as Mulatto.
The Martins were Presybeterian and attended the Octoraro Free Church in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. There was a conflict within the church, and many of the Colored members left. The white Martins, who settled in Lancaster County, were Irish members of the Presbyterian Church.
This is where Samuel Martin, the proported father of Charles Martin immigrated from. The Octoraro Church was a concession to the mixed raced offspring of whites, Free Blacks, and Natives.
Unfortunately Pennsylvania was not as quick as Virginia to record these births. The children are listed as Colored, and many of the birth records have disappeared. The only testimony left is contained in Bibles, or the oral testimony of descendants. Although Virginia is in the south, they were more forthcoming with records, than Pennsylvania.
The Martins and Greens lived in an area of Lancaster County Pennsylvania, known as the Welsh Mountains. Many of those who lived in the Mountains would today be labeled Tri-Racial Isolates, since most were mixed raced. The Green and Martin left the Welsh Mountains in the early 1900’s, and settled just over the line in Chester County.
The Natives in Pennsylvania either were sent to reservations, massacred, or assimilated, into the general population. Although there were designations for Indians on the census in Colonial Pennsylvania, no one checked it. My questions aboutNatives were answered with “There are no Reservations in Pennsylvania. There was no Native Culture taught in Schools.
There was a fear that anyone identifying themselves as Indian would be shipped to a reservation. Slavery was a slow death, but the reservations were not a pleasant alternative to slavery.
Henry Green and the Riot at Christiana
Henry Green was twenty-two years old in the 1850 census, and lived in Colerain Township, in Lancaster County. It is not clear who Henry’s parents were, although I believe he had a brother named Benjamin. I recently learned that the Green and Parker families of Lancaster County are related. There are several stories about who Henry Greens parents were, and what happened to them.
One of the stories is that a husband and wife escaped slavery and stayed in Lancaster County, with a Quaker family named Green. The couple had three children who were born in Pennsylvania. One day the wife was kidnapped and taken back to her owner, and the husband followed in a vain attempt to buy her back.
The husband was never heard from again, but the wife was sold to New Orleans Louisiana. She eventually purchased her freedom, and married a wealthy man, in New Orleans. She also gained fame as a Yellow Fever Nurse in Louisiana. Out of the three children left behind, two may have been Henry, and his brother Benjamin. I do not have a name for the third child as of yet.
The white man, who took the couple in, took responsibility for the children. Henry was my Great-Great Grandfather, and his daughter Lydia Green was my Great Grandmother. She was born at Nine Points in Lancaster County, to him and his first wife Susan. Henry was a participant in what is now called the “Christiana Resistance”, an attack on a white slave owner who showed up to claim an escaped slave. The Christiana Riot is now called the Christiana Resistance in the vein of political correctness. The leader was William Parker, an Free Black living in Christiana, just over the border from Maryland and Virginia.
On September 11, 1851, Edward Gorsuch, and his son, Dickinson, gathered a posse, and went looking for his escaped slave. The slaves, Noah Buley, Nelson Ford, and George and Joshua Hammond, were staying at the Parker house in Christiana. The slave owner Gorsuch had received information that his property was in Christiana.
He had the authority of the Fugitive Slave Act, a Federal Statute, which allowed for the return of all escaped slaves. When the posse arrived in Christiana, Gorsuch demanded that William Parker return his property, and Parker told him that he did not, and could not own another human being. Horns sounded from the Parker House, and blacks and whites descended on the group. When the Sheriff asked one of the whites, Castner Hanaway to join them, he refused, stating his support for the runaway slaves.
A shot rang out, and Gorsuch fell to the ground mortally wounded. His son was also injured but escaped into the bushes, where a black man named Pownall tended to him. The Sheriff and posse ran leaving the injured men to the enraged mob. Although the crowd was predominantly black, there were whites there as well. Christiania was a hotspot for Underground Railroad activity, and many whites supported anti slavery activities. The slaves Gorsuch was trying to capture, left that night, headed for Canada on the Underground Railroad.
The next day a posse showed up, and arrested almost every male in the community, on warrants of murder and treason. One of the men put on trial, was Henry Green, my Great-Great Grandfather. The trial ended with the acquittal of all of those charged, because of lack of evidence.
The Sheriff could only point out, Castner Hanaway, one of the white men. Castner Hanaway was the only one of the accused tried in Philadelphia. After a heated trial, and no witnesses to corroborate the Federal case, Hanaway was acquitted. The incident is now known as the Christiana Resistance and as a precursor to the Civil War.
Today Christiana Pennsylvania, which is located in Lancaster County, is a historic Town. My Great-Great Grandfather, Henry Green has a street named after him. The house where the incident took place, and where William Parker and his wife lived, is a Historic Landmark. Out of the participants in the Resistance, the Parkers, Greens, and Johnson’s, were related to each other, either through blood, or marriage. In 1864, Henry Green, joined the 41st United States Colored Troops, as a private.
When my mother finished telling this story, I asked her why it was not in the history books. She shrugged her shoulders and said that there are some events that will never be in history books. Returning to school was difficult after hearing my mother’s stories, as I looked for anything about blacks, and found little. We learned about Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and even Napoleon, but none of them were black.
To Be Continued...,
"My mother often commented that her people were in Pennsylvania before many of the Whites who lived on the Hill."