African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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My grandmother Navasota, Texas 1874 California and Louisiana Family story

My great-grandfather had a picture of this ancestor whose name I did not know (I have the picture now). After my grandmother died, I found her father's 1971 date book that listed names in his family tree. I found several of the names listed on and slowly put the family tree together. At the top of the tree was the name "Thomas R. Beck," my great-great-great-great grandfather.

I researched this name on and found several web sites listing him as one of the first Black Legislators in the state of Texas during Reconstruction. The resources I found cited a book called "Through Many Dangers, Toils & Snares - Black Leadership in Texas 1870-1890" by Merline Pitre. The book has a picture of him on the cover that resembles my picture--only 10-20 years younger and there is a paragraph summarizing his life. Thomas Beck, born in 1840, served on the 15th & 17th Legislatures between 1874-1880. His father, a white slave owner named Thomas Jefferson Beck was a drummer in the American Revolution at the age of 15. I acquired his pension record from his descendents which confirms this information.

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