Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In Search of Our Roots -- Buy the companion book now from ShopPBS
Sharing Stories: One Family's Story
Read a story matching
the term you chose:
STORYTELLER LOCATION YEAR TOOK PLACE TELLER'S PLACE OF ORIGIN HOW YOU HEARD
Cousin Hushpuckena, MS 1920s Koscuisko, MS Family history

Cousin Joetta is the oldest living relative who knew our grandpa George Walker and his second wife (my grandmother) Bertha Mae (Dobbins) Walker. She remembers grandpa telling once of some white children wondering why another white boy and he had the same last name. The white boy informed them that he and my grandpa were cousins. Grandpa George was amused by the whole situation, considering the boy's openness about their blood relationship in that time of our country's history.

In fact, grandpa was born about 1862 in Mississippi, the son of a white man named Hampton Walker and an unknown black woman who was born in Virginia. According to Cousin Joetta and several other family members Hampton Walker was French...and that is about all we know. However, Cousin Joetta was the only family member to also describe my paternal grandmother, Bertha. She said she was a brown-skinned shapely young woman with very, very nappy hair. My cousin said once grandma was cooking a pot of blackeyed peas in a kettle in the fireplace. In between stirrings, she would perch herself on grandpa's lap while he spit into the fire and sometimes hit the kettle. She said he seemed very pleased with his new bride nearly 30 years his junior. Cousin Joetta said even though she and her brother were worried that some spit might have wound up in the peas, they ate them anyway because they were hungry.

After several years of research, I now know my grandmother is buried in Hinds County, MS. However, I still have no information about her parents or family. Grandpa George's burial site and mother's name also remain mysteries despite several years of research by more than one Walker family member.

Back to story listBack to sharing into
Email this page
Major corporate funding for African American Lives 2 and its outreach initiatives is provided by The Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson. Additional corporate funding is provided by Buick.
The Coca-Cola Company Johnson & Johnson Buick
KUNHARDT Thirteen/WNET New York