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Friday, October 16, at 4 pm, I’ll be speaking about the life and times of the Hatters’ during the conference. Coming with me will be my sisters Adjunct Professor M. Morton and AAHGS Past President of New York Chapter, Dr. K. Matin.
COME JOIN US!
sure hope you all enjoy my labor of love!
The DeWitty – Audacious Historical Marker soon to be a reality!
A small team of descendants, family, and friends raised $5100 for the historical marker in remembrances of the homesteaders of DeWitty-Audacious, Nebraska. The largest African American Settlement established in the Sandhills of Nebraska in the late 1800’s. Contrary to various accountings for the reason of the demise of this town, DeWitty renamed Audacious centered their energy, vision and struggles to achieve the American dream and had the audacity to think they could. They achieved their mission and this is a fitting memorial for all their struggles.
On behalf of the descendants, we wish to recognize Stew Magnuson, author of ‘The Last American Highway’ who was the backbone of this project and a major contributor. Also, The Nebraska State Historical Society for approving the Marker and The Cherry County Historical Society, especially Joyce Muirhead, who helped set up the fundraising bank account. We were able to accomplish our goal so quickly because of the support from the Bulletin and also the North Platte Telegraph, Stapleton Enterprise, Lincoln Journal Star and radio station KVSH in Valentine who assisted in getting the word out and about Nebraska. The rest of the team who worked hard to get the word out are Homesteaders descendants: Catherine Meehan Blount, Marcia Thompkins & Joyceann Gray, both descendants of the well-known Woodson & Walker families.
Valentine Midland News editor Laura Vroman ensured our words were heard by printing my articles week after week that offered a more balanced view and history of a larger number of the homesteaders than ever before. Expounding on the people who worked so hard to give their children a good start in life, the people who shared their skills and talents with others to make a hard life worthwhile. Also, I wrote about the children who went on to do great things. Special thanks to Lyn Messersmith, who supported my writing campaign with precious memories of the lives of the homesteaders.
With great appreciation, we look forward to the day when the DeWitty-Audacious Historical Marker will be installed.
I hope to see you all at the installation Ceremony!
God is Good, Joyceann Gray
Here are some more neighbors that were the backbone of the community and who also held the dream of a better life for their family and themselves.
The William H. Rann Family story begins with William and his brother James we believe who made their way to Canada from Kanawha, Virginia. Once on the solid land of freedom they set out to build a life. William married Melany and they had a son William Jr. and James married Ann and they had a son William and daughter, Sarah Ann. They were Bible Christians and hard working farmers.
These two families were among a group of nine families that that decided to head back across the border and claim their rightful place in America. The Kincaid Act of 1862 supported their decision, and so the 1700-mile journey began. Later, In June of 1880, most of them were able to gain more land under the revision in 1904 of the Kincaid Act that allowed for 640 acres; this gave the aspiring farmers a fighting chance to succeed. The Rann family worked their land next to the William Small, Richard Robinson, Leroy Gield, and James Washington families. Not far from the Emanuel, Riley, and Walkers. Forming a co-op of sorts that ensured everyone would benefit from their labors. No one went without food, clothing or shelter. They took care of each other.
The success of the DeWitty-audacious community is measured NOT by how long the town remained standing and NOT how long the families could hang on. The success is measured by the lives and careers of the many descendants who went on to be highly educated political figures, writers, and poets and teachers. They went on to become doctors, soldiers, attorneys, and engineers. They went on to become responsible and caring stand up citizens all across the USA.
So please take a moment and donate whatever you can, to help us all remember our humble beginnings and the people who gave their lives in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. Just click on the picture below!
Their point was not to establish a generational farming community but to create a base for their children and future generations as well as excel in whatever field they chose. And they had the audacity to think they could.
Today We shared some more in support of Remembering DeWitty, Nebraska
by Cherry County Historical Society
Will you join us???
We are raising funds to place a roadside historical marker on U.S. Highway 83 in Nebraska for the town of DeWitty. Also known as Audacious, it was the longest lasting and most successful African-American rural settlement in the state! Fund Raising For DeWitty-Audacious
Is it fate or is it destiny or maybe a coincidence. Better yet, could it be our Ancestors have led us back to where our roots began to grow in this country?
Please read and make up your own mind!!
My research has taken me first to Liberia, Canada, then back to Charles Town West Virginia. I have uncovered the following information that draws me back to St. Philips in Brooklyn NY:
- Franklin D. Hatter enslaved by Andrew H. Hunter (prosecutor of the John Brown Trial) somehow convinced A. Hunter to sponsor his four (4) children in Mt. Zion Episcopal Church for baptism. This took place in 1855.
- After the Civil War, the white congregation of Mt. Zion donated enough money to have the colored erect their own Church. St. Philips Episcopal Church, Charles Town WV (first Sunday school was taught by Bushrod Washington (nephew of George Washington)
Which is still an active church to this day.
- Franklin Hatter’s father was James Hatter (his enslaver not known for sure) his brother Ruben Hatter was enslaved by Samuel Walter Washington (Brother of George Washington)
- James Hatter’s Mother Charlotte, Aunt Sarah and grandfather Frances (b.1735) were enslaved by John Ariss the architect for “Harewood Plantation” in Charles Town, WV he freed them in his will (1802) with the condition that they stay in serve to his wife until she dies… but not the children (two for sure; James and Ruben).
- Harewood Plantation is the original home of Colonel Samuel Walter Washington erected in 1773.
- His descendant S.Walter Washington added on modern living quarters and continues to live there presently.
- The Hatter name first arrived in Loudoun County, VA in 1702. England King William in an effort to repay his friends (Huguenots) who had supported his war efforts paid for their passage to the Virginia colonies.
- I now live in the same county (Loudoun) as the first known ancestor arrived.
- I now live 45 minutes from Charles Town where my ancestor lived and worked.
- They went to church at Mt Zion and St. Philips; Methodist-Episcopal churches.
- So many years later I was raised in St. Philips (Episcopal) Church in Brooklyn, baptized and confirmed.
Published in the Valentine Midland News June 17, 2015
Indeed, Father’s Day is here, so we make a special effort to let them know how much we care. We make a special effort to honor them.
I think the best way to honor them is to acknowledge that their struggles and efforts have not gone in vain.
We watched you those days in the bitter cold working to secure the animals on our homestead.
We saw you sweating as you worked to plow those unyielding sandy fields in the blistering heat of the summer.
We heard you moan as that nail bent, and it was your last.
We remember hauling the heavy water pails so you could soak the pains and bruises away.
Daddy, indeed we did hear you and Momma whispering in the night about how you wanted each of us to have the best education.
You planted a seed that had sprouted.
Daddy, we haven’t let you down, we went our different ways and did big things with our lives. We became; teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, civil rights activist, mothers, and yes fathers too! We produced strong, intelligent children to carry on your legacy, and we kept watering that seed you planted. We have sprouted writers, poets, yes more educators, chaplains, historians, carpenters, engineers, soldiers and real estate entrepreneurs. That seed is still growing, more beautiful babies every year are arriving to carry on your legacy.We pass down the stories of your strength and tender heart. We remind our young of your struggles so that they might have a chance at the American Dream too!
So Thank You, Daddy, we love you always!