I had ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. The Confederate side was definitely the most interesting. According to the 1840 South Carolina census, Clarendon County, my great-great-grandfather was a “farmer” who owned two slaves. He was probably a sharecropper. Thanks to some cousins who did the paperwork, I am eligible to be a Child of the Confederacy AND a Daughter of the American Revolution. My cousins joined the DAR but lost interest pretty fast.
My forbears had wandered from South Carolina down to Florida by the time my father and his brothers were growing up in Miami. My great-grandfather was a printer by trade and commuted to Cuba by boat for many years to print racing forms, returning on weekends. Somewhere along the line someone had joined the Klan. One of my uncle Richard’s favorite stories was about playing up in the attic and finding all these neat costumes which turned out to be Klan robes. He always concluded, “When Grandma found out, she beat the shit out of us”, which I kind of doubt.
In recent years, my Dad lived in Jacksonville FL and my brother graduated from NB Forrest High School. Forrest was perhaps the vilest of the Confederate generals. You can Google him. The high school was renamed Westside High several years ago. In a military town like Jax, that’s something.
I’m not real big on statues and the prospect of moving them to a location where they’re not bothering anyone is fine with me. I wonder if the Myrtle Grove cemetery, established in 1861, doesn’t have some Confederate statues? What are they going to do about Stone Mountain?
If my ancestors had left me a huge fortune, earned on the backs of slave labor, I would have been condemned to a life of White Guilt, bigtime version. Since they didn’t, I only feel the generalized awareness that we all didn’t start out in the same place and that life has been pretty easy for me, and not so easy for others. I try never to forget that. And I thank God I grew up in California.