If you asked me a few years ago if I'd ever become a farmer, the answer would have been an absolute no. But as it happens, my family, at least on my mother's side, where I also get my Cameroonian ancestry, have always been farmers and I find myself thankful now, to have some of that hard work and tenacity within me. On this side of the family, we are The Edwards and Lockharts, my direct line is from the Edwards side.
The Edwards and Jones (who I will get to in a minute) family history goes back to the mid 1850's. Given the research of fellow family historians, I have learned that during slavery we were fortunate to know who are ancestors were, though sadly, many black families cannot know for certain the names and locations of family members who were enslaved. Because we knew the slaveholders name and the names of our fore-parents we were able to find them in the census records at the time of the first recording of free people of color in 1870.
Rose Jones is our matriarch. In those days, the enslaved were given the names of their owners and as it happens, Rose's daughter Mary and her siblings were born before 1841. Mary was born or came from North Carolina with the same name as her owner, Mary Pugh Jones Govan. She would probably remain in the last place of her residence after slavery because of her age and lack of literacy. It is assumed she had a long relationship with Mary Pugh Jones and Andrew Robinson Govan. She was with them in North Carolina, had children on the plantation and stayed there after her children moved to Arkansas.
Rose Jones later married Nathaniel Edwards and their children would be the seeds that blossomed into our family, that made a living as farmers in what was known as the Black Swamp, in Marianna, Arkansas and its amazing to think about all of what my family has endured over the years. And I tell you, to till my own land, to plant vegetables, and then look out to see growth, grounds me, and I cannot help but be thankful for the food, that is surly blessed as much as it is kissed by the whispers of home.