Excerpt: Chapter 1
It seems each of us have an innate desire within that is kindled and comes alive when we are given the opportunity to know our family history. Too often, African Americans have been told there is what can only be described as an invisible “brick wall,” which prevents tracing one’s family history prior to slavery.
This book has been written to give one account of an African American family who were the direct descendants of their slave master’s son and subsequent owner, John Knight [Jr.]. On his deathbed, John Knight [Jr.] deliberately and painstakingly uttered a Nuncupative or Verbal Will in the presence of five witnesses. While he had living siblings with descendants he would, in his Nuncupative Will, specifically name as heirs the family he had fathered with Violet Knight, one of the Knight family’s slaves. This story will detail his life as well as the lives of his mulatto offspring, and the court battle that ensued for control of his estate and its assets.
Excerpt: Chapter 4
While John Knight was away at war, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the Confederate States as of January 1, 1863. John would return home knowing he had given his all to support and preserve states’ rights, the institution of slavery, and the Confederate States of America’s right to maintain their autonomy by seceding from the Union. John was going home disabled for “the cause,” and he took with him, the heroic and sometimes ghastly, but, vivid memories only war can reveal. The war, and, its inescapable memories was now a part of the fabric that defined him as a man…and its resounding clamor would forever be entwined in his heart and mind.
The Civil War did not end; however, until General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Major General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. General Lee has been quoted as saying, “there is nothing left for me to do but go see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.” The Civil War made its mark as the bloodiest war in the history of the United States. In the wake of this dreadful war an estimated 620,000 men lost their lives.
Excerpt: Chapter 6
Major Knight was gone, but he was a very wealthy man, and money, or the love of it, became a driving force for a number of associates, friends, and loved ones left behind. Major Knight’s death set off a flood of activity in the Georgia Court System, and while the estate’s administration and the Nuncupative Will were points of contention, creditors and lawsuits came from far and wide. The court challenges leading up to, and, ending in, the actual settlement of Major Knight’s estate will be the primary focus in the upcoming chapters.