A Genealogy Journey of 14,496 Miles in 86 Days ~ Part II

6/9/2010 7 comment(s)
If you missed Part I of this exciting voyage for the truth in family history, you can read Part I here. Then come back for Part II. We’ll wait...

Rev. Fred W. Watkins
After completing the nearly 15,000 mile drive, my research continued. I subsequently discovered that Great Grandmother's husband was Reverend Fred (Lafayeth) W. Watkins, an awesome, old-school Baptist Minister of the day who died in 1911 and had one of the largest funerals seen in northwest Alabama. I was blessed enough to have found two pictures of him; one - during my marathon drive. The other was proudly displayed in a church member’s bedroom in Alabama with its owner having little knowledge of the origins or history of the photo. All the same, this picture was another blessing.

Guided by His grace and His grace only, I found a cousin in Ohio about five years ago. He forwarded a picture of Great Grandmother that he had boxed up in his garage. I gladly accepted. Persistence and prayer pays off.

Sopia Napier Watkins
Sophia Napier Watkins is a name unknown to the world because her existence as a nameless entity is only conveyed through the interactions between "Martha Washington," and Helen Keller. “Martha Washington” was Helen Keller’s playmate in movies of Helen Keller's life, beginning with "Deliverance" (1919); a black and white silent film; followed by more current "The Miracle Worker" versions. Notwithstanding, the plays and books of Helen Keller's life where "Martha Washington, whose mother was the cook" is the only reference to the cook's existence.

Further research and Divine Intervention has revealed that "Martha Washington" is really a fictitious name and that it was a name assigned by Helen Keller because as an adult, she couldn't remember her childhood friend’s name. Additionally, it was a characteristic name for an “African American,” during that period. Why an erroneous identity would be written and prevail as a "historic fact" and repeated as such for more than a century is left to anyone's imagination or speculation.

The truth is what it is, no more and no less. Thus no one has the right to misrepresent one's family tree. The so-called "daughter of the cook" is actually Mariah Watkins, the daughter of Uncle Rush Watkins. That would technically make Mariah - "Martha" -- the cook's niece and not her daughter. History must be seen as a dynamic and should not be viewed as a static. The fact that others have controlled the lens of how history is viewed, society must also realize that there are more than two sides to a coin, actually, there are three. In addition to heads or tails, the coin is capable of landing on its edge - straight up.

The efforts of a Great Grandson to bring honor, recognition and justice where history is placed into proper perspective as a shared environment that encompasses European American, Native American and African American history so that it is not His(story) but a collective Our(story) is what research and perseverance is all about and the Ancestors will accept nothing less.

The effort has been considerable to have Great Grandmother, Sophia Napier Watkins' picture installed in the Helen Keller Museum in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Click here to see the October 2008 Times Daily newspaper article write up. The Keller Estate stated it would be wonderful to receive memorabilia of such significance. But is that just all political correctness at its best?

Stay Tuned For The Conclusion of “A Genealogy Journey of 14,496 Miles in 86 Days”

Peace, Love and Strength,
Tom McKnight


Janine Smith Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 5:10:34 AM
I love the way you write, Tom! You bring the story to life and make me think, which I love, in an intelligent, thoughtful way that speaks directly to a person. I can't wait for Part III, but wish it wasn't the conclusion!
Leslie Ann Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 5:11:13 AM
I enjoyed reading part II of your fabulous journey. How awesome to have such a connection to an historic figure. Can't wait for part III!
Write on!
Tom McKnight Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 5:11:47 AM
Well all, thank you once again for your comments. They're very warm and touching and I'm blessed that I'm on this current mission which will result in an outcome that the angels and ancestors will be proud.

Clarence Haggins Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 5:12:39 AM
Too bad information like this is not shared to the world by the media, books, videos movies etc,. But stay on the mission perhaps maybe this blog is the start and just maybe..... Anyway I am deeply grateful, that you are sharing this unknown history.
Sandra Taliaferro Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 5:13:35 AM
Tom, great detective work. Looking forward t reading Part 3.

Atalie St. James Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 5:14:09 AM
What an excellent story. If more of the African American community would do more digging and searching the history books in school would have to be thrown out for being full of lies. I find it interesting that no matter how much of our heritage we think we've lost, it's actually still there, waiting to be uncovered. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Rosemary Pleasent Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 5:14:37 AM
Hi Tom- I'm sending this message maybe you or someone else knew or know the surname Samuel in Sumter Co. Ala at Livington, Ala. they are on the Mississippi censuses for yrs. 1880,1900. They are Moses, Lizzie and son Mat. On 1910 census Mat is 41 yrs. old. For Ala. there is 4 on the 1920 census. 2 on 1870, 2 on 1880, 2 on 1900, and 4 on 1910. This family my ancestors shows up the first time 1880 at Bolivar County, in the community of Concordia. This in the Ms. Delta. When i fine this infor. all of the kin are deceased and i have no one to ask. Wishing you a great week. R. Pleasent

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