African American News and Genealogy

This site was developed to provide you with news that relates to African American Genealogy, History and News. Please feel free to forward this link to others. I hope you enjoy this site and good luck with your research! Cheers, Kenyatta D. Berry Managing Director

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Crossing a great divide that redefines a person's freedom

By Pamela Coveney, Globe Correspondent June 19, 2005 CINCINNATI -- His name was Harry Hurdy Humphrey, and I went looking for him. He was my maternal grandfather. We missed each other by about 10 months -- he dying in June 1947 and my not arriving until April 1948. Family lore was scant. His ancestors were slaves, but I didn't know how far back. A great or double-great grandfather apparently didn't like slave cuisine, accommodations, or status and escaped through the Underground Railroad, eventually settling near Cincinnati. He then went back for all of his family, safely transporting each of them, one by one, out of Kentucky. At least that's how I had heard it, and I wanted to learn more. Twenty years earlier, I had tentatively tried. In that pre-Internet era, I soberly wrote to the Probate Court and asked for a piece of my history, a copy of my grandfather's birth certificate. I carefully told them the little I knew -- when and where he was born, and the names of his parents. I felt an actual chill when, weeks later, the same letter I had crafted so hopefully came back to me with the words ''no record" scrawled bluntly at the bottom. It was as though he had never existed. So I went looking for him -- and in many ways found so much more. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is in Cincinnati overlooking the Ohio, a river that was once a line of demarcation between being chattel and being free. It is not a hugely wide river, but its symbolic width is infinite.


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