Family Transitions

UPDATED: 04 May 2013

Funeral ceremonies in slave communities tended to be "long and extravagant events, as it was the only day of freedom in a slave's life." Women played a central role in sustaining the continuance of African-derived food practices in these communities, not only because of the special ritual foods they prepared, but also because of their conscious efforts to channel these traditions intergenerationally by constantly telling and re-telling their children these stories. The collections of Jane Lewis of Darien, Georgia show, for example, the organized elaborate feast for mourners when a funeral occurred in the slave community:

Yes'm, dey sho hab regluh feasts in dem days, but tuhday, at most settin-ups, yuh dohn git nuttin but coffee an bread. Den dey would cook a regluh meal an dey would kill a chiken in front uh duh doe, wring he neck an cook um fuh duh feas. Den we all finish, we tak wut victuals lef an put it in a dish by duh chimney an das fuh duh spirit tuh hab a las good meal.                                                                                                   -- Slave Narrative on a family funeral.

African culture and customs mixed with the restrictions of southern plantation life made the slave's funeral a very unique ceremony. After a slave died a carpenter would make a coffin, while the body is laid on a cooling board. Slaves sit up all night guarding the body from prowling animals, often singing and praying all through the night. The funeral was held at night, because the slaves had to work all day. In many slave cemeteries, the bodies were buried east-west, with their heads to the west-their eyes facing Africa.

Unfortunately, funerals are the only time when some families are able to get together.  I include these obsequies for those family members unable to get back home and pay their respects.

Obituaries on File - Click on a name to see the Obituary

NOTE: You must have Adobe Acrobat loaded on your system to view these files.



Alexander, Annie  Jackson Jones, Marie Smith, Irene McGruder
Anderson, Annie Bell Jones, Mary Jane Stansberry, Julia Lampton
Anderson, Jerome Jones, Oscar Gerome “Rommie” Summers, Inez Caston
Anderson, Josephene Jones, Robert Calvin Taylor, Rovilla Gatlin
Buckley, Algie Millsap [Wake] [Funeral] Jones, Simmie Williams, Ethel Buckley [Wake] [Funeral]
Buckley, Johnnie Ruth [Wake] [Funeral] Lockett, Ola Mae Williams, James H.
Bumpers, Otis “Pap” Madison, Frankie Lee  
Chambliss, Ollie Madison, Keith Wayne  
Cole, Roberta McGruder, Elnora  
Conerly, Vivian Elizabeth Gatlin McGruder, Nancy Lee
Davis, Virginia McGruder, Robert  
Dillon, Caldwell McGruder, Roosevelt “Bud”  
Dillon, Calvin Jeffery McGruder, Ruben Rev.  
Dillon, Edward H. McGruder, Rubin  
Dillon, Elizabeth Williams Milsap, Ade  
Dillon, Henry A. Sr. Milsap, Charles Wesley  
Dillon, Lawrence Thurmond Milsap, Nancy  
Dillon, Maxcie Lampton Milsap, Walter Jr.  
Dillon, Oliver Maxwell Mingo, Frank Sr.  
Dillon, Rozella Jackson Nelson, Arie  
Dillon, Verdie Powell Oliver, Cleotis  
Dillon, Wallace L. Sr. Pruitt, Luvivia  
Green, Mirian Dillon Quinn, Doris Gatlin  
Hall, Rilla Mae McGruder Seals, David Sr.  
James, Gwendolyn S. Seals, Jesse  


If you have an obituary of a family member who has "gone home", that you would like to share, please contact me for inclusion.


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