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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Grace Towns Hamilton, July 19, 1974. Interview G-0026. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Tracing family lineage back to an enslaved woman

Hamilton discusses her family heritage in Georgia and Virginia. Beginning with a brief recollection of her grandfather, Hamilton describes how she was able to trace her lineage back in time to a former Governor Towns who had made provisions for an African American woman. Hamilton suggests that this woman, presumably an enslaved person, may have been her ancestor.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Grace Towns Hamilton, July 19, 1974. Interview G-0026. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACQUELYN HALL:
Your grandfather was a cotton sampler.
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
Cotton sampler. And he lived… my father's family lived in Albany.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was your grandfather's name?
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
Towns. Lou Towns. And the little bit I know about his life, I discovered after he was dead when we were clearing out… going through his papers, and everything. And there I found this family tree and Grandpa… Lou Towns was the… Well, I'd better put it this way. Governor Towns, Governor George Towns, was my father's great uncle. Which I… and these notes from my father had… were things about… that he could remember about his father. And we were all very, very interested, and the notes… I don't remember his ever talking about that, but just an interesting thing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh. You found… in your family papers, were you able to trace your family back… ?
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
Well, when I found this thing, I went… I don't know what's down in the archives, 'cause they haven't done anything about that, but that year I did ask for whatever the state archives had on Governor Towns, and found out… got a copy of his will, which was found, which was a very, very interesting document.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why? What did it say?
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
They were Scotch-Irish people, and came into Georgia from Virginia. And his will made special designations of property for a Negro woman who was obviously… I guess, was a slave, in Virginia. And she came… they apparently, in Georgia, he lived in the Talbot part of the estate… [Phone ringing]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Governor Towns provided in his will for a…
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
For a woman. I have a xerox copy of the will, which, sometime, you know, you could go look at it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I'd like to. And what relation was she… ?
GRACE TOWNS HAMILTON:
I don't remember enough about her, whether there was any clue, you know, to why…