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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Stom Thurmonds' Bi Racial Daughter

Strom Thurmonds Bi Racial Daughter, Essie Mae Washington Williams, and I have something in common. We are both from Coatesville Pennsylvania. In fact, we have Washington cousins still residing in Coatesville. There were several sets of Washingtons, and I have to check to see who is who.

My book, Notes And Documents of Free Persons of Color, begins in Coatesville Pennsylvania. Throughout the first chapter, the people of my small community are profiled. They were, for the most part, hard working, church going folk. My mother knew everyone (at least I thought she did), but there were somethings that were not discusses. Although we may have known that a certain person was mixed raced, the white parent was seldom discussed.

I thought I knew everything, and everyone in my little town, but I did not know of Essie Mae Washington-Williams. When I state I did not know of her, I mean I did not know Strom Thurmonds' daughter was in our midst. The person who raised her, may be one of my Washington cousins. She would have attended school with my mother and aunts, and since she is around their age. I do remember that George Wallace had a large farm in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

The first chapter of my book details my growing up years in Coatesville, and the people who made up the community. Many of those in the community were from Virginia, and South Carolina. My Great Grandfather, Samuel Ruth was the son of a German man, and an enslaved woman from Guinea(Great-Great Grandmother Leah Ruth). He was born in South Carolina, and came north with the 54th Massachusetts. My father, and his parents were from South Carolina, and moved to Pennsylvania in 1920. They were always sponsoring "Cousins" from the south who were in need of assistance. In actuality many were not blood relatives, just someone in need of a hand. They, in turn would help someone else, once they were established. Many northern cities attempted to stem the flow of southern immigration by passing strict zoning laws. The zonining laws addressed how many people could be in a home, and their relationships to each other.

During the school year many southern families sent their children north to attend school. They would return home for the summer, and come back when school started. I am not certain but I believe the church played a part in these informal arrangements. All of this was done without the interference of Social Services. As far as I know, no one was worse for the wear.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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