I'm long-time nerd, and I cannot lie (sung to that hip-hop beat). So naturally, one of my Roku channels is the Smithsonian Channel. I'm more likely to watch one of their short documentaries on an ancient civilization to be honest. So the other night I watched Secrets: Tut's Tomb. Ahem, okay I dozed off while watching. When I woke up, the next documentary had come on. Dennis Haysbert was narrating Civil War 360: Fight For Freedom. I won't even try to list all his film and television credits. The brother's been busy. In 2017 alone he's got five gigs in the works. Whoa.
Now I love history, but the Civil War isn't one of my major periods of interest. I've read a lot of articles and historical accounts about the time before and after the American Civil War. Still, for some reason sleepy as I was I kept watching. Dennis talked about his family, and one of his enslaved ancestors in particular who was sold from South Carolina to a plantation in Louisiana. Hello! My eyes popped open. Then he said, "West Feliciana Parish". I literally jumped straight up in my comfy easy chair. My father, Joseph Emery, grew up in West Feliciana Parish (a little town called St. Francisville). The Emery family goes back well over 100 years in West Feliciana Parish. Turns out Dennis Haysbert's ancestors must have eventually been owned by the Barrow Family. The grandson of the slave sold to the deep south was named Alexander Barrow. It was common for owners to give their surnames to slaves, a mark of who owned them.
Martha Barrow Turnbull was the wife of Daniel Turnbull, and together they built Rosedown Plantation in West Feliciana Parish. At one point the plantation had 450 slaves and was comprised of 3,455 acres. Emery family members were on this plantation, including until well after the Civil War.
Rosedown Plantation, St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana
Dennis Haysbert didn't mention the name of the plantation his ancestor was sold to, but the wealthy, influential Barrows owned several large plantations in West Feliciana Parish. So my writer's imagination took over. Pictures of our ancestors crossing paths played out in my mind. Then I wondered, could we be related? Where did his ancestors live? What happened to them after the Civil War? Does he have relatives still in Louisiana? Dennis can trace his family back much farther in time than my Emery relatives have been able to so far. Could his family documents lead to clues about Emery ancestors? All kinds of history mysteries, and ideas to feed my fiction addiction!
Being a history geek pays off once again. By the way, I still have to go back and finish watching that documentary on King Tut's tomb. Will try to keep my eyes open this time! :o)