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AUTHOR:  Billy A. Dunlap; Edited by Cheri Todd Molter

Our family owned slaves before the Civil War. One of them, named Sampson, went to great-great-grandpa, James Dunlap, after the war and was said to have told his former master that he did not know anything about freedom or what it meant. He had been born on the place, had lived there all his life, and had never been anywhere else. According to the family story, Great-great-grandpa told Sampson: “I do not know what the future holds, but you don’t have to go anywhere. As long as I have a place to lay my head, you have a place to lay your head. If I have a biscuit, you have a biscuit.”

Sampson never left. When my great-grandfather, John Washington Dunlap, died in 1910, Sampson went by train to Broadway to fetch my grandfather home. Grandpa was in boarding school there to get his teaching certificate. Grandpa had Uncle Daniel, Billy (my dad), and Uncle May keep the sprouts off his daddy’s and mother’s graves as well as Sampson’s after they died. Neither Dad nor I know where great-great-grandpa James was buried, but we do know where Sampson was buried.


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