Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sister Cherry, A Slave

One person who has always fascinated me, even though she is only peripherally connected with my family, is Cherry, a slave in Washington County, Georgia.   She joined Union Baptist Church in Washington County on 25 Septermber 1848, listed as "a black woman, Cherry, belonging to one of the minor heirs of Hampton May".   In August 1855, "M. Garner, J. W. Mills, and W. Garner were appointed a committee to inquire into whereabouts of a colored sister known as May's Cherry."  The final mention was a month later:  "We, the committee on the case of our colored sister known to us as May's Cherry, find that she was suddenly carried off to Florida having no chance to apply for a letter or any to give satisfaction to the church, but we learned from good authority that her conduct was good and we heard nothing against her as a member of the church."   

This small exchange has always interested me because it does not actually concord with what I had been taught about slaves in churches in the South.  First, Cherry is apparently not going to the same church as her owners.  This is partly deduced from the fact that no one in the Church knew she had gone to Florida.  If the family that owned her also attended, there should have been reference to them leaving or getting a letter.  Even if she left because she was sold or given to another family member, they would have known and the committee enquiry should not have been needed.   I also found it interesting that the church apparently would have expected her, if she had time, to get a letter for her new church in Florida.  That and the fact that they had pursued her absence imply that they considered her an actual member of the church.  At some point, I would like to pursue what happened to Sister Cherry, just for my own curiosity.

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