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STORYTELLER LOCATION YEAR TOOK PLACE TELLER'S PLACE OF ORIGIN HOW YOU HEARD
Alec Powell my paternal great grandfather Shipment Virginia - Lovingston, VA 1600s Shipment Virginia From my paternal grandmother

My family can trace its history back over 300 years. We are sure of our history in that area and I believe that this is odd for most black families. Essentially there were 3 or 4 black families in the blue ridge mountains of Virgina surrounding Shipment. The Powells, the Harris', the Fosters and the Scotts and the lovings.

My grandmother's family as most people from Shipment believed in inter-marriages. My grandmother would often tell me in secret "don't marry nobody darker than you." To this day the white heritage of my family is prominate even down to my great nieces and nephews. Several of my relative passed for white and was never heard from again.

Through the years I have visited Shipment with my father for funerals, visits, etc. and I have never met anyone in Shipment or lovingston that I was not related too. My father used to introduce me to otherwise eligible guys from there by stating "he is your 4th cousin 7th removed." Meaning you can marry him and it is alright.

I thought about this lifestyle which by many people standards could be deemed incestuous however where Shipment is situated and the chances of eligible men and woman migrating there was next to nil so in order to survive and poplulate they inter-married. In order to institute this survival method they had to very meticuoulsy implement a bloodline count keeping system of other related bloodlines in order to keep marriage opportunities flowing.

Also, I realized that they were seeking freedom though assimilation. They were not educated but smart people believing that the lighter skin they possessed the more freedom they possessed until some of them totally escaped the negro, colored, black, African American dilemma. Their intergrating assimilating underground railroad brought them straight into the freedoms of the white world -- no stops or lay overs. I still haven't figured out if this was a smart or dumb theory.

My father was suppose to marry his cousin and they both rebelled. She married his best friend and he ran away from home at the age of 16 and at the age of 21 he married the darkest woman he could find "my momma" born in Cleveland -- her father was born in Tullulah, Louisana. My father said he never saw a women that dark with hair that straight. He told me that he thought she was exotic.

My father told me he had a uncle that had a butcher shop in Shaker Heights in the Cleveland area and when my father would go into his shop he would call him to the back, give him a pack of meat for us (his children) and make him promise not to tell "none of the rest of them" that he saw him.

My grandmother would count all the prominent members of the Powell family on her fingers. Several family members could perform this exercise and duplicate it down to the baby finger. My father could duplicate the prominent family member hand exercise but he never wanted too and only performed if my grandmother made him so I/we his children lost the history.

Of those fingered members my grandmother named she would always say and "Adam Clayton." She claimed Adam Clayton Powell was our relative. A funny thing happened Halle Berry is from Cleveland (Garfield Heights, Ohio) I was born in Garfield Heights too but no one ever spoke of Halle's family. My sister worked with a lady Ernestine Battle that said Halle was her cousin and that they were related to Adam Clayton Powell too. Ernestine said that her Aunt RB knew a lot of the Powell family history and told them that Adam Clayton Powell was their relative. Ernestine said her family was from Mississippi. For the life of me I could not determined how that set of Powells could have gotten to Mississippi. I am not aware of any Virgina Powells from Missippi. Later, I was told that Ernestine's son researched the matter and it he was able to connect the Missippi Powells with the Virgina Powells however he could not connect either clan to Adam Clayton Powell.

My cousin researched our families history back almost 400 years. She even has a picture of my great, great, great grandfather in his Confederate Uniform. She won't tell anyone how she got it but word in the family is that there are several family members upset about her having the picture because apparently they think they should have it. I don't think much has changed in Shipment in last several hundred years. If you want to talk to someone in Shipment about the strange and interesting history of that area you can start with Buck Denny (if he is alive) Leonard Lovings, William Foster, Joe Mitchell, or Mary Harris you are sure to find the most memorable historical facts about black history than you've ever hear before.

Please inquire about Auntie with the nose so big that she could not drink out of a glass and had a masuline hairy hand and a brother with a club foot. That she could pick up a hot coal and light her corn cob pipe without getting burnt yet her other hand was faminine, small and soft. There are many secrets in that town some of which you may not want to wake up. India the most beautiful woman in the world. Deaf Nel and mental illness, quirks like meaness, or miserly genes in every family and we all know that our bloodlines run deep and long. I have 1st cousins who are my 3rd cousins too (figured that one out). I have double double cousins meaning I am related to both the mother and the father of the children however I'm told that the parents were not related -- go figure.

Ask to see the house that Eliza my paternal grandmother built for her father when she was 20 years old in 1918 earning 6 dollars a week. Ask to see uncle John's property and then visit Solon Ohio where John Powell, Oliver and Eliza and their family owned hundreds of Acres of land and even the little house I was born in in Garfield Heights. The weather got too cold for them in Ohio and eventually the Powell/Holmes clan migrated backed to DC where my grandparents bought a rooming house at 1305 P Street in DC and a farm in Annarundal County Maryland that my family sold approximately 10 years ago. Look up Oliver Wendall Holmes and Eliza Holmes property on 16th Street in DC. My grandfather assimilated too. We believe that he was a Cuban immigrant claiming to come from Texas and Florida (border states) he spoke spanish fluently and claim to not have one relative. My father said his real name was Tobias Wallace Gomez. To this day I look at my father's family and think to myself that they were escaping slavery by way of assimilation. My first cousin would have me go around with her to prove she was black. I don't know if it ever did anything for our family other than confuse some of us or make others more accepting of everyone else or isolated many of us. I guess for some of my family members assimilation created a perfect world for them -- becoming wholey and solidly white never looking back.

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