A few weeks ago I took a group of teachers (and Helen) on a mystery tour high up into the hills of Vermont. We walked through the bushes and found this house--really a tar-paper shack. We explored, questioned, compared old photos, and came to the conclusion that this house was more of a Tidewater Virginia house than a Vermont house. Which led to more questions....who lived here?
Daisy Turner died at the age of 104 not too long ago. Her parents had both been slaves in Virginia. Her Father, born a slave, ran away from his plantation during the Civil War. Late in life, Daisy became her family’s historian, relating tales of her grandfather’s journey from Africa into slavery in Virginia, and her father’s eventual escape to freedom and life on a Vermont hill farm. You can hear Daisy tell her stories here.
The Vermont Folklife Center has published two of Daisy's stories as children's books. The first is Alec's Primer which is a story about her Father learning to read as a young boy.
It was a very special afternoon to be on this land so close to our past. We listened to Daisy tell her stories via an Ipad, met with a folklorist (our mystery guest) who interviewed Daisy, looked at family photos, and thought about this extraordinary family's journey from Africa to New Orleans to Virginia to Vermont. We were touching history.