Monday, April 09, 2007

Connecting With History

In 1913, the highway from Smithfield to Raleigh was a dirt road. One day that year, Wesley Bell, a man who still bore scars on his back from whippings he suffered as a slave, turned his muledrawn wagon off the road onto the land he had just purchased. Picking a likely spot on high ground, he began clearing his own property to build a home for himself and his family.

Ninety years later, Bell’s greatgrandson lives on part of the land his ancestor paid for with bales of cotton. After moving his family 400 miles to reclaim part of his heritage, Joseph Avery of Smithfield has crossed the Pacific twice to help strangers reclaim part of theirs — the legacy of American Buffalo Soldiers who stayed in the Philippines after serving in the Spanish American War. ...

Joseph has a fascinating story, both in his local family history and in the broader history he's uncovering in the Philippines. I appreciate Joe sharing his experiences and photographs; we had two solid interviews to get it all down, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's more to come. The article "Smithfield Man Scours Pacific for Buffalo Soldier Legacy" appears on the front page of the April 2007 Carolina Journal; you can download the electronic edition here.


The Inner Banks Eagle calls it: "... a great article about one of the most impressive men in the Republican Party of North Carolina."

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