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[GA] Martha Venebrooks ATL--white woman sold as a slave


Although born of white parents she must nevertheless be classed as a negro.

Victim of a vile scheme

She was raised as a negro and was married to a slave, was sold as a slave herself

There developed a story at the police barracks last night that can be described in no other way than vividly dramatic and highly sensational.
In has as its plot the life history of a woman who is by birth a pure blooed Caucasion, and who yet is by social proscription and assignment a negress; a woman who tells a story which reveals one of the most infamous schemes to wreck a life that was ever perpetrated.
"Yes, I am a white woman," she exclaims in one breath, and then the next moment she adds: "But by all laws I am a negro woman."
The woman is Martha Venebrooks, and she was taken in custody by Call officers Cornett and Garner last night. It was her arrest which made this woman tell the story which so startled the police and which is regarded as one of the strangest affairs that has ever come within the police jurisdiction in Atlanta.
It was reported at teh police barracks several times last week that a white woman was living with negroes in an alley near corner of Piedmon and Auburn Ave.

Why the arrest was made.
Last night the call officers went to the alley and found Martha Venebrooks living in a negro house with several negroes. She was taken to the police barracks and held for investigation. It is such a rare thing for a white woman to be found in a negro dwelling that the officers of the law always look upon the matter with suspicion and believe the woman is a crook of some kind and a character to be investigated.
When the woman reached the police barracks she was asked the questions:
"Are you a white woman or a negress?" Then came the startling and strange reply; "I am both. I am a white woman by blood, as white as the purest Caucasion in this land and yet I am so far as the police and the law is concerned, a negress."
When further questioned by a reporter of the Constitution for explanation of the rather ambiguous statement the woman replied;
"I never like to tell the story of my unfortunate life, but I reckon I will have to. This is the first time I was ever arrested I was born before the war near Augusta, GA. and my mother and my Father were both pure blooded Caucasions, but they were not married. I have been told that my mother belonged to a most respectable family. I had to be got out of the way. I was a waif and they gave me away to a mulatto man and a woman named Mitchell. The woman, Liza Mitchell, died in Atlanta on Fort Street. I was raised believing myself her child, and of course, I was raised as a negro slave. And that was not all. I was married to a black negro and with him sold as a slave. Years after the war I learned the true story of my birth, but I was a negress and I had to remain so."
The woman paused in her story, and taking off her hat, showed her black hair, tinged with gray. It was straight and long.
"You can see how old I am," she said, "for I am very gray."
"How did you learn about yourself?" she was asked.
"Why, the late Judge Wright, of Atlanta old me," she replied. "He knew my history and one day he sent for me and told me everything. He told me that I was sent away to the mulatto woman when I was a few days old, and that the people who owned the mulatto were relatives of my mother. The judge went so far as to tell me that if I cared to go to into the courts and assert my legal rights I could obtain a legacy, but I declined to do so. Time, fate and social law had made me a negro and I decided that it was just as well to remain so until I died."
The turnkey led teh woman with the remarkable history to the city prison to lock her up. He paused and said to another officer:
"Say, I am in a quandry wheather to put this women among the negro women or the white women."
"Lock me up in the negro department. The white woman with my soul has been dead ever since her birth. The woman that stands here before you is, as I have said to all intents and purposes a negress and will have die as such."
She was locked up in the negro department as her own request.
The police are talking a great deal about the affair, for nothing in a long while has been considered by them so wonderfully strange as this woman's life history.

Messages In This Thread

[GA] Martha Venebrooks ATL--white woman sold as a slave
Re: [GA] Martha Venebrooks ATL--white woman sold a

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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