finding your roots

From Slave to a Page in the Handbook of Texas

Maxine Willoughby May 1, 2012

Richard Seale was born in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1787. On January 23, 1835, Joshua Seale purchased Richard (Called Uncle Dick by the family.) at about 22 or 23 years old for $850.00 from John L. Knox in Hinds County, Mississippi. He moved to several locations with his master Joshua Seale. They finally settled in Jasper County, Texas. Richard Seale was the founder and pastor of the oldest Black church (Dixie Baptist Church) in Texas for Blacks. Jasper Seale saw that he received an education and he assisted Joshua Seale unsupervised in various financial matters and served as overseer for his plantation near the community of Bevil Port in Jasper County, Texas. Joshua Seale trusted Richard on business matters so much that Richard was consulted by Joshua before beginning any new business deals (

It is said that Richard Seale carried a silver coin given to his mother by General George Washington to quiet Richard during a parade. This may or may not be myth. Richard died in 1875 and is buried next to Jasper Seale in Indian Creek Cemetery in Jasper County.

Much of this information has been passed down through our family. Some can be found in The Texas Handbook Online (

Bobby Seale (The Chicago Seven) was a descendent of Richard Seale

From the Handbook of Texas: SEALE, RICHARD (ca. 1797-1875). Richard (Uncle Dick) Seale, founder of the oldest church for blacks in Texas, was born a slave around 1797 in Alexandria, Virginia. The date of his birth is uncertain, but he treasured a silver coin given to him, according to his mother, by Gen. George Washington when the child’s crying during a parade attracted Washington’s attention. Seale acquired some education and became overseer for his master, Joshua Seale, whose plantation was west of Jasper in the Indian Creek community near Bevilport, Jasper County, Texas. Richard Seale was a devout Christian, interested in the spiritual welfare of his people. About 1850, with Joshua Seale’s help, he organized the Dixie Baptist Church, of which he was pastor. Part of the original church still stood in January 1967, when the structure was awarded a historic building medallion. Seale died in 1875 and was buried at Indian Creek in the Seale family cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: William Seale, A History of the Dixie Baptist Church (MS, Dixie Baptist Church, Jasper, Texas). William Seale, Texas Riverman: The Life and Times of Captain Andrew Farney Smyth (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966)..

Joshua Seale was my Great Great Great Grandfather

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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