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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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Sharing Stories: One Family's Story
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STORYTELLER LOCATION YEAR TOOK PLACE TELLER'S PLACE OF ORIGIN HOW YOU HEARD
Mother, Estelle Alma Singleton Taylor/ Aunt Ruby Ursula Singleton Thompson Sumter, So Carolina 1850s Sumter, So Carolina -- came North in 1923 settling in NY then CT Handed down through the years on maternal "Singleton" Family

The people of Estelle Alma Singleton Taylor born in Sumter, So. Carolina knew that a male slave relative named Singleton found gold and purchased his freedom. Estelle's Father was Elliot Singleton who fathered 10 children. He was a cotton farmer cotton driven North in 1923 when crops failed due to boll weevil infestation. The property of Elliot Singleton is currently owned by the Campbell Soup Co.

Dark-skinned Elliot married a White-appearing woman named Alma Metz Butler and had to carry a shotgun when they were together because of the suspicious appearance of their relationship. Alma, an only child, was fathered by a man of White heritage who we believe was of German Jewish descent (Metz). Story has it that her Mother was "respectably married off" to a Black man named Butler who sent my Grandmother to the equivalent of finishing school.

Elliot had relatives in NY and settled his family there until he was able to procure work in a factory in New Britain, CT where the family resided and raised ten children.

Estelle Alma Singleton Taylor attended Lincoln School of Nursing in NYC and married Negro League pitcher, Johnny "Schoolboy" Taylor of Hartford, CT who was scouted by the Yankees before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Johnny was invited to play for the Yankees if he would change his heritage to Cuban. He refused.

Johnny's (John Arthur Taylor, Jr.) family story has been traced back to Essex County Virginia to a plantation owned by a man named Taylor who is listed in the public record as a "boss builder"...modern day architect we believe.

His Father, John Arthur Taylor, Sr. was the only son and oldest of 10 children many of whom were accomplished in the arts! John Osborne Taylor of Essex, VA came North to CT and helped found the Union Baptist Church of Hartford, CT. His wife Mary Epps was a seamstress from Springfield, MA.

His baseball career is chronicled in the PBS African Americans in CT - Civil War to Civil Rights produced in CT by Karyl Evans.

Estelle Alma Singleton Taylor became the first Black nurse at New Britain General Hospital and one of the first Black head nurses at Hartford Hospital!

Both of my parents have interesting pasts. When my first child was born four weeks prematurely in 1982, he was hospitalized with jaundice. An investigation of where this blood anomaly may have originated led to the discovery that my Mother Estelle and I shared a blood anomaly known as thalassemia, an inherited form of anemia occuring chiefly among people of Mediterranean descent. This is a mystery which we would love to solve. Could our ancestor Metz. reportedly of Jewish heritage be the originator of that blood trait in my maternal family?

We are also aware of a paternal Great Grandmother of full blood Native American heritage in the Essex County records. She was known as Sally and we wondered if she was of the Rappahanock People.

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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.
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