A Small Part of the Mum Bett Story
I really enjoyed the Kyra Sedgwick segment and the story of Mum Bett. The story fascinated me and the courageous actions of Mum Bett were remarkable. I consider myself fairly well informed and was surprised that I had never heard of Mum Bett. So, after seeing your segment, I decided to read more about this amazing woman. I started with Wikipedia and read this:
“Freeman was born into slavery about 1742 at the farm of Pieter Hogeboom in Claverack, New York, where she was given the name Bett. When his daughter Hannah married John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, Hogeboom gave Bett, then in her early teens, to them.”
I felt a sudden dread. My great grandfather changed his name to Parker from Hogaboom in 1838, and I knew that my Hogaboom ancestors are from upstate New York. I then checked Ancestry.com and realized that Pieter Hogeboom is my great (6 times) uncle. I was further horrified to find that the person who hit Mum Bett with a hot shovel, prompting her to seek her freedom, was Hannah Hogeboom Ashley, my great (5 times) aunt.
This was a real shock to me. I come from a very liberal background and grew up without learning the same lessons of racism from my parents that a lot of people my age (62) did from their parents. There is even a story told to me about how my grandfather spoke up publicly against the KKK during its resurgence in the 1920’s.
Anyway, it was interesting to learn that my family took part in the ending of slavery in Massachusetts, but not in the way I would have wished.
I really like the Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr series. It is most enjoyable and I love how the rich history of our diverse nation is vividly communicated in the stories of people. Thank you and keep up the good work.