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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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Virgina and Ohio 1870s Originally from Ironton, Ohio oral history and research

From all accounts my great grandfather Thomas Edwards was born in Christiansburg, Virgina. The story was always told that "Tom was black as night". However, in the 1870 census, Thomas is listed as a 9 year old mulatto. From the earliest records that I found Tom lived with a family headed by William and Esther Scott in Va. I haven't been able to determine where Tom's parents were at that time. The story goes that Tom found his way to Ohio on the underground railroad falling in love with an Irish girl, Josephine Shannon (her family home was on the railroad) somewhere along the way. It was exciting to find "Josie" and Tom listed in the 1870 census working at an inn in Jackson County, Ohio. Tom is listed as a horse handler and Josephine as a cook. Josephine was several years old than Tom but they stayed together until her death. Josephine and raised a family in Ironton, Ohio. That's where my grandfather Frank was born and raised along with his sisters nicknamed Aunt Duck, Aunt Pig, and Aunt Orphy (don't know how the names were derived). Most of all of Tom and Josephine's decendents are in Ohio and Michigan today.

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