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The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom with John F. Baker Jr.
Genealogy expert John F. Baker Jr. was born in 1962, in Springfield, Tennessee and has lived his entire life just a few miles from Wessyngton Plantation, in a town populated by hundreds of descendants of its slaves. His book, The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom, was published by Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster. When Baker was in the seventh grade, he discovered the story of his ancestors when he saw a photograph of four former slaves in his social studies textbook. Months later he learned that they were his grandmother’s paternal grandparents, Emanuel and Henny Washington, who were once enslaved on Wessyngton Plantation. The plantation was founded in 1796 by Joseph Washington, a distant cousin of President Washington. He has interviewed dozens of individuals ranging from 80 to 107 years old to collect their oral histories. He studied more than 11,000 documents to trace the lives of his ancestors, the Washington family and more than 300 other African Americans enslaved on Wessyngton Plantation, the largest tobacco plantation in America. For more than thirty years through extensive historical research, Baker has created a groundbreaking work in African American history and American history.
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