Archive | Stories and memory

Uncle Billy: The Evolution of a Legend, Part Two

Another Billy Rubottom story has a third version, less romanticized, a product of the change in sensibilities in our own era.  This one concerns the death of  Hilliard Dorsey, who was married to Billy’s daughter Civility. Dorsey was a former Confederate officer, like Billy a prominent Mason and community leader. Horace Bell’s portrait is not […]

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History Remembered: the Jewish Pirates

Here is the story, as told to me by a very distant cousin, a Creek-Jewish family genealogist: “Four hundred years ago we had to leave Portugal. It was dangerous —the soldiers were right behind us, hunting us down. Our family owned ships, and we were all at the docks waiting to go on board, but […]

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History Unearthed: the Genealogy Army

Adele Cobb Kerrigan was in her eighties in 1953, when she completed her 100-page typed manuscript on the genealogy of the Bettis family.  It is an extraordinary document, an indispensable source for Bettis  history, the record of a lifetime’s dedication to the memory of her and my ancestors. It is also crammed with errors, some […]

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The Seven Slave Daughters of Elijah Bettis III

The descendants of Drew Bettis, the mixed-race grandson of Elijah Bettis III, have passed down the tradition for nearly 200 years: Elijah had seven enslaved daughters, by seven different enslaved women. All of them were close to each other and considered each other sisters. Some of their names persisted in the family for generations: Martha, […]

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