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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum


I will be doing my first Book Tour beginning February of 2004, begining in Pennsylvania. I am asking that each and everyone send a message to C-Span requesting that they tape my book reading at the Coatesville Cultural Society. I will be doing a reading of Notes And Documents of Free Persons of Color: Four Hundred Years of An American Families History, and C-Span will tape it, if there is enough interest. Also pass this message on to anyone else who may be interested in seeing my book reading on TV.

Please send an e-mail to,, and/or telephone (765) 464-3080. Give them the full name of the book, and the purchase site:; or

Give them the information contained in the message below, and also let them know how you feel about my book.

Date of Event: February 7, 2004
Place: Coatesville Cultural Society
143 East Lincoln Highway
Coatesville Pa 19320
Contact: Anne Plano

January 29, 2004 - Author Anita Wills Schedules Reading at Coatesville Cultural Society

Author Anita Wills book, Notes and Documents of Free Persons of Color, will be the focus of a reading on February 7, 2004, from 7:30-8:30 pm. Ms. Wills was born in Coatesille, and resides in Northern California. Her story has been featured in the Reading Eagle-Times, Fredericksburg Freelance Star, the Richmond Times Dispatch, and the Lancaster Intelligencer.

The book chronicles the lives of a family who shared center stage with historical figures, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry. They also participated in historical events such as the Underground Railroad movement, the Civil War, and the Revolutionary War. The Colonial chronicles are of the authors ancestors who made history in Colonial Virginia.

Ms. Wills book, has received an excellent review from Henry Wiencek, author of, An Imperfect God. The books highlights the authors search to find her maternal roots over a period of twenty years. One of the more interesting chronicles is the story of Mary Bowden, who was a Mulatto Indentured Servant to George Washingtons family. Although she was born free, the laws of Colonial Virginia required that Mary serve a thirty year indenture.

The saga begins in 1950's Pennsylvania with the authors father being investigated by the FBI. He is suspected of being a member of the Communist Party primarily because he speaks Russian. The investigation was orchastrated by J. Edgar Hoover through secret memos sent to the FBI Field office in Philadelphia. George Baxter was not only a linguist but he was involved in organizing a union at the Steel Mill where he worked. Not only was there an investigation of the father, but of his children. This section includes transcriptions of FBI Memos.

The saga winds backwards through an event in Lancaster County, known as the Christian Resistance. This event took place on, September 11, 1851, and was followed closely by the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act. The main characters were Edward Gorsuch, a white slave owner, and William Parker, a Free Black. On that day Gorsuch confronted Parker at his home, and demanded the return of his runaway slaves. When Gorsuch refused to leave Parkers property, he was shot in the chest (it is not clear who shot him), and died.

This incident sparked the arrest of most of the blacks in the community, and thirty-eight indictments for treason, were issued. Several whites were also charged along with the blacks, but the two groups were separated. The whites were tried in Philadelphia, and the blacks were tried in Lancaster County. All of the men were acquited for lack of evidence, and the entire town of Christiana celebrates the heroes of the event.

One of the most compelling stories is that of Mary Bowden who was an Indentured Servant to the Washington family. Mary was in an indenture that was closer to slavery than, a regular indenture. The length of time applied only to the children of mixed raced unions.

Mary's mother would have been serving an indenture herself (and the product of a mixed raced union), or she was white, and her father a Person of Color. She lived free for seven years with a family in Westmoreland County Virginia. It is possible that her mother hid her with the family to keep her out of an Indenture. Mary ran away from the Washington Plantation several times, and the last time stayed away for four years. Her story is chronicled as one of Virginia's, Free Persons of Color, population.

Ambrose and Charles Lewis story, and the story of the Pinn family are part of the chronicles. They were participants in the Revolutionary War out of Virginia. The Pinn brothers Rawley, and Robert, and Nephews John, James, and Billy all fought at the Siege of Yorktown.

The one hour reading at the Coatesville Cultural Society will be on the first chapter. However, questions will be answered about the entire contents of the book.

The purchase site for Notes And Documents is:;

Please contact Anita Wills for questions concerning the book at, (510) 481-1804, or For questions concerning the February 7, 2004 event contact Anne Plano at the Coatesville Culural Society, (610)184-1790.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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