The Problem With A Legacy

To tell this tale, I must start before the beginning. It is of my ancestors that I now speak. I am descended from a tri-racial isolate, in part, a remnant of five blended tribes. Four of them are extinct. This is the story of my maternal legacy, from the meadows of North Carolina. My great-grandfather Plummer Alston Richardson, was once a leader in the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe headquartered in Hollister, North Carolina. There was an apostolic call upon the Richardsons since the 1700’s; a history of building multi-denominational churches throughout several centuries.

I will tell what I know of Plummer Alston. In order to leave the reservation in the South, during the time of his departure from the tribe, you had to become colored. As a colored man, he became a barber. One day, a white man named Lucius Battle approached him about his mulatto daughter named Laura. He said to Plummer, “Since you are a colored man, you will have to marry colored. I have a daughter named Laura who will make you a good wife.” Laura invited Plummer over for dinner, according to the protocol of the times, to enjoy a home cooked meal. What he didn’t know was that Laura could not cook. She would have a relative cook the meal and serve it to him on the many occasions that followed. She was a deceiver.

 Plummer was drawn to her beauty and married her. They had thirteen children. To the non-discerning eye, they all looked white, as did Plummer Alston, whose Native roots had been mixed with Europeans for hundreds of years. Laura looked East Indian. What they shared in common was an eye for real estate during the Great Depression. Through buying distressed properties, Plummer became a millionaire. Buying property out from under Plummer became Laura’s magnificent obsession.

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