Monday, February 02, 2004

Forgotten Past, Remembered Stories

I resist writing in the "our people" voice because I'm not sure we have such a voice. If we are a people, we are a people with amnesia. We remember bits and snippets, but not the big story. I should have grown up with stories of my ggggrandfather and his brothers forging into Texas. Even with the Texans marginalizing us to the extent they did, we should have been legends in our own minds. Nada, though. Zip. No memories of Texas. We should have had legends in our family about the American Revolution. Ggggggrandfather and gggggrandfather were both tories fighting the rebels. What was that about? Did they care about the king of England or were they still fighting their old enemies among the Regulators? Were they driven out of South Carolina? Several Ashworth researchers have written that they sought refuge in a Cherokee Indian village for over ten years? Where are our stories about our time among the Cherokees? Why don't we have stories about the Civil War? Why did Thompson Lorraine name a son born immediately after the Civil War "Ulysses"?

A lot of my cousins are having an animated discussion about whether our Ashworth and Perkins ancestors somehow sojourned in Portugal before settling in South Carolina. That somehow relates to explaining the persistent family legend about being "portygee" and perhaps our being dark complexioned at the same time. To my cousins, talking about it isn't doing the research. Go out and do some research on more immediate questions. There are a million details about our families that we need to remember. What were they doing during the Civil War? Were they being hounded by the Home Guard? Were they secretly supporting the Union? Who ended up with the plantation in South Carolina?

There is a disturbing pattern to our lack of memory as a people. Are we ignoring the obvious? This is a pattern of a people not wanting to remember the past.

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