Oral history, in my paternal family, is that the slave master’s son had relations with his slave. The slave’s name was Melviney Newell Poole and she is my Great Great Grandmother. As a result of the rape between the master’s son and Melviney was birthed my Great Grandfather, Richard Poole on February 4, 1875.
Now Richard Poole’s life is kind of like a rollercoaster. There were some high points in his life that were celebrated and everything was good, but there were also low points when things weren’t so good. Some of the high points of his life were his marriage to my Great Grandmother, Georgia Ann Wilks around 1905 and the birth of his seven children ( Freeman, Minnie, Ornell, Frank, Lillie, Rubye, and Raymond).
Unfortunately, life can’t be all sunny days, but there are some dark days mixed in. These moments of my great grandfather’s life were grieved by not only him but also his entire family. The first event that brought sadness and heart ache to my great grandfather was the murder of his second son, Frank. Frank was killed by two men that were hired by this old lady who was jealous. According to my Grandmother, Rubye’s memoirs, her father attended the trial set for the murder, but did not press any charges against the murderers because “it would not bring Frank back”. Not only was my great grandfather saddened by this death, but the whole family was devastated and grieved for quite a while. The second low point in my great grandfather’s life was his death on April 13, 1941 in LaGrange, GA. He died because of a fire in the attic of his house and was burned beyond recognition, according to his death certificate. In my grandma’s memoirs she says, “I went to the shop early but he hadn’t open. I came back home and the phone rang to tell me that my Dad was burned to death and they would have a graveside funeral at 1:00 p.m. that day.”
My great grandfather’s life is like so many of the lives of our ancestors. YES, THE STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE WAS REAL AND STILL IS. Our ancestors’ lives can be described as “sometimes you win some and sometimes you loose some”. More often, in the African American case, we lost. However, it can be said that through our ancestors’ lives we have learned to keep living because the sun will shine again.