Monday, April 26, 2010
I Just Finished Reading...
...Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball. This was the first book written by Ball, who is descended from one of the earliest settlers of South Carolina; Elias "Red Cap" Ball. By doing exhaustive research into oral family history, meticulous plantation records, and even an advertisement in local newspapers, Ball was able to tell a narrative of family history that keeps one captivated. His writing style flowed easily and the story was told with all the twists and turns of a mystery/action/romance novel.
Ball was able to connect with descendants of former slaves that had lived on the Ball plantations from the early 1600's up until the middle of the 20th century. These weren't just people who had relatives on the Ball lands. These were blood relatives, in many cases, to Edward Ball himself. In reading this family history, I also gained a better understanding of American history. The history of native people on the soil that would become the United States, the history of the slave trade to Charleston, South Carolina, the history of the participation of slaves in the Revolutionary War, and the history of the Civil War all became clearer to me as I read this book.
This is the only book written by Edward Ball that I have read so far, however I am interested in reading some of his other books as well. I'd really like to read his book, The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA, which takes a closer, more scientific look into the lives of his ancestors that were introduced in Slaves.
Another of his titles was co-authored with Edwina Harleston Whitlock, a relative of Ball's and an ancestor to the relationship of one of Edward Ball's uncles and his black slave. This was a relationship that lasted many years and produced several children. This family history is looked at more closely in The Sweet Hell Inside: The Rise of an Elite Black Family in the Segregated South. The are characters that are introduced in Slaves in the Family.
Since almost all of my ancestors immigrated here from Europe after the Civil War, I don't think there are any slaves in my family, not directly any way. But who knows, I'm sure there are a few skeletons in the closet I haven't discovered yet. How about you? Do you have slaves in your family?