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Many of us are aware of the wonderful descriptive scenario developed by my cousin, Annie Ruth Hamer, many years ago and presented at a family reunion in Mississippi in early 1980. She describes my great grand parents, John and Rhodie Harrell, migration from Virginia to Mississippi by wagon and on foot. While we may never know the detailed facts of that experience, we can know with relative certainty that these events did happen as evidenced by our very presence here, by the location of our birth, and that of our parents. What may elude us however, are the particulars of what happened. Perhaps the following may shed some additional insights into Annie Ruth's story of the Mississippi Harrell patriarchs.
 
Arrival of Europeans Harrell’s and Plantation Evolution in Mid-Atlantic States
Since the early to mid 1800, many Europeans with the Harrell surname migrated from various European ports to Virginia, the Carolinas, Maryland, and other free and slave colonies of the new American Republic. Primarily, they came from Liverpool, England; Queenstown, Ireland; Le Harve, France, Panama, and other ports of call. They all came with the common purpose of capitalizing on the opportunities offered by this new land. Immigrates could acquire property, including land and slave labor to improve and expand their wealth and ownership. 
 
These new colonists became part of the rapidly emerging economic enterprise of the mid Atlantic and southern states, particularly in the area of farming. The following chart show the leading vocations where the new Harrell immigrates were most represented during the early 1800s. The records indicate that many of these new immigrates settled primarily in Virginia and North Carolina and then later migrated into the southern slave holding states of Alabama, Texas, and Mississippi.
  

Life Black slaves in Virginia during the early 1800s was at least difficult, if not t traumatic. I refer to the early 1800s in Virginia because the earliest available evidence suggest that our fore parents, John and Rhodie Harrell and Duncan Moore, lived in Virginia during the periods between 1817 and mid to late 1840s. Further evidence suggests that Elizabeth Moore (Duncan Moore’s daughter) was born either in North Carolina or Virginia of (possibly) a white mother or father; most likely, a white father because Duncan Moore was likely a slave, based on census records discovered in the 1840 slave schedules for Virginia. The likely migration by the Harrell and Moore patriarchs from Virginia to Mississippi could have occurred according to the following scenario.

As available land in the original colonial states became less available and affordable because of increased population migration into Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Maryland, West Virginia; new territories open in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas. Farmers and slaveholders looking to build and expand their land holdings and wealth, decided to migrate south for the promise of new opportunity. Those opportunities, however, were not without sufficient risk; First where the risks inherent to the long trips south. These trips covered distances of 900 miles or more under conditions and circumstances that often predisposed slaveholders to situations of slave runaways; the expense of moving as many as 15 to 20 individuals including the slave-holders’ family and property; the unknown variable of new land acquisition, its cost, and location; the problem of seasonal variations and climate, and the general risk inherent of speculating about the unknown.

Another important note and consideration was the actual timing of these trips from the mid-Atlantic region of the country to points south. This was particularly important for farmers and slave-holders who had crops in the field; they could leave only after harvest time.  This occurred in the fall between August and November. Beginning a trip south that late in the year often predisposed travelers to the harsh and severe conditions of winter along the eastern seaboard. 
 
Once the logistics of planning for the move were completed and the trip was immanent, the travel route became critically important. One could easily book passage by ship from coastal Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia to Mississippi, Alabama and points south. These trips were relatively low risk, perhaps with the exception of the occasional storms occurring off the coast of the Carolinas, Florida, and in the Gulf of Mexico. The cost for trip by ship for 15 to 60 people and other property could be substantial, adding further to the long-term risks of the venture for speculators.
 
Another route often taken by travelers heading south involved treks from eastern Virginia across the Tennessee territory, through portions of Kentucky, and into southern Illinois and Missouri; then down the Mississippi River into Memphis, Vicksburg, New Orleans and points west. This trip often passed through slave markets, where slaveholders could rid themselves of existing slave property (depending on market demands) or acquire other slaves if needed. This route often resulted in increased slave migration into new slaveholding states such as Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky, and other points west of the Mississippi River.
 
A commonly used route south by travelers into Mississippi involved travel along well establish routes through west central Virginia, along what is now Interstate 81 South into Bristol Tennessee; then into Chattanooga and Nashville. Once in the Nashville area, travelers took the Natchez Trades Route south into northeastern Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and to points further south. These trips require travelers to traverse the Appalachian mountain range of western Virginia; the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee; across the Tennessee River, and into northeastern Mississippi and Alabama. Traveling caravans of 15 to 60 souls could travel between 20 and 30 miles per day, making the trip from Virginia to Mississippi in approximately 4 to 6 weeks. These trips came with great risk and significant cost.
 
Once in Mississippi or Alabama, the speculators acquired land, built roads, cleared building sites, built houses (if none already existed,) cleared farmland, and preliminarily prepared the fields for spring planting. This preparation included cutting away of well-established forests, removal of stumps, draining wetlands, plowing the land and, establishing slave quarters, and acquiring winter provisions. The trip, which began back in Virginia in November 1840, has progressed to Mississippi or Alabama in January 1841. During these months, there are no field provisions for domestic animals, the slave-holder, or his slaves. Keep in mind, there are few “dry good” stores in the new state of Mississippi or in the Alabama territory. Often settlers in the new territories had to hunt local game for subsistence during the winter months.
 
Our great-grandparents represented the labor force used at the time to clear standing forested areas, prepare farmlands, acquire game for the slave-holder’s table, and prepare lands for spring planting. They use their individual and collective memories and skills to sustain their make shift families on the meager provisions provided by the slave-holder. They often nurse family members as well as slave masters from sickness to health using handed down remedies acquired from Africa or other parts of the Americas after their enslavement.
 
One of many great tragedies of slavery was the loss of an identifiable connection by Blacks to their original African family and its associated culture. In addition, we lost our original names and identity. Yet, through our individual and collective struggle to survive; through our collective kinship forged under the harsh lessons of the whip; by every insult received; for each time the very utterance of the words, “liberty” and “justice” proceeded from the mouths of this country’s leadership, while most of its inhabitants of African descent remained enslaved … we became part of a unique extended family; A family, identifiable not by the constraints of skin color or by the circumstances of birth alone but by the contents and charter of the heart, divinely inspired. 
 
Our family patriarchs adopted stranded children; they accepted children which resulted from the brutal sins perpetuated by slave-holders and their overlords … children resulting from rape, and those made orphan or widows by daily life - lived under a constant culture of violence and hatred. Our great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and other unnamed kinsman endured and survived all manner of sufferings and pass their survival skills down to us that we may learn and remember.
 
The Harrell, Moore, McKenzie, Edwards, Small, and many other family surnames moved into many areas in Mississippi such as Prospect, Hayes Creek, Lodi, Poplar Creek, Oxford, Clarksdale, Carrollton, Sawyer, and other parts of the state to begin new lives following slavery. Some moved from slavery to sharecropping or independent farming; but whatever their story, it is forever etched into the history of this country and into the very fabric that make up its culture. Our numbers overpopulate the states of Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Indiana, Ohio, and many others. Our roots go back to Cameroon and Benin in sub-Saharan Africa; our spirit goes back to God, our Creator and the author of our fate and destiny.
 
During the 1850s, John and Rhodie Harrell lived in West Central Alabama, a region of the state bordering eastern Mississippi. It is possible that they lived in or near the current counties of Choctaw, Sumter, Green, Pickens, Tuscaloosa, or Lamar. The best available evidence based on Census accounts suggest that John and Rhodie children, Hampton and Nedd Harrell, were both born in Mississippi. Census records suggests that John and Rhodie were both born in Mississippi, yet other records suggest an Alabama birth, while verbal accounts by family members suggest that they were born in Virginia.
 
Hampton Harrell was born in May 1855 and his brother, Nedd was born in 1856. Both are listed as having been born in Mississippi. They originally lived in north-central Mississippi in Choctaw County before the formation of Montgomery County from the division of Choctaw and Carroll Counties around 1870. John and his family moved from Choctaw County into the Hayes Creek community, just north and east of present day Winona. They lived in the area until the boys reached the age of about 20 years. Afterwards, Hampton moved into the Prospect community after marrying Lizzie Moore; Nedd moved to Panola County around 1920 and married Lucy. Ned and Lucy had no children while Hampton and Lizzie were blessed with 11 children, one of whom died early in childhood.
 
Duncan Moore and Life in the Community of Prospect
To date, I am unable to locate records for Lizzie Moore that predates federal census records for Mississippi in 1870. The 1870 US federal census for Mississippi, Montgomery County, Winona, lists 47 year old, Virginia born, Duncan Moore as a home owner, father of seven, and farmer. However, the 1860 federal census for the state of Virginia shows Duncan Moore as a white slaveholder, approximately 27 years of age; my father's maternal grandfather, Duncan Moore, acquires the name of his “owner.” This marks the beginning of the end of his African identity and the start of a new African American surname, Moore.
 
Duncan Moore's children included, Armstead “Sunk”, Wyatt, Dudley, Elizabeth, Mary, and Samuel. Armstead was the eldest; he was born in 1849 state of Virginia. His daughter, Elizabeth at the time of the 1870 US federal census for Mississippi was seven years old. You may be aware that African-Americans could not -- without difficulties -- purchase or only in. The legal system during the early years of America's development had no provisions under its guiding documents for its residents of color or those of aboriginal and Asian descent own property. These children of a lesser God were considered, for the most part, subhuman or without a soul and therefore could be treated in any manner as seems appropriate for the occasion.
 
This information is important because Duncan Moore accomplishments by the year 1870 were exceptional. He owned property in his home. He had enough property to give his daughter, Lizzie, 10 acres by way of a registered deed. It would appear that this may have been a common practice during that time, since grandma Lizzie and her siblings were land owners and their children -- not all but most -- where landowners as well. My father, Clear Channel, apparently inherited the house and property of his mother, Lizzie and Hampton Harrell; perhaps it was a wedding gift. The other siblings of my father also own property, they were: Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Alma, Uncle Nevie, Uncle Elbert, Uncle Bolden, Uncle Golden, Aunt Letha, Aunt Jesse, and Aunt Lucy.
 
This family has a remarkable story to tell. It is a story like those of many African-American families that is unique in slavery and painted against a background personal and collective struggle. But it also is a story of faith and of an acute recognition that accomplishment must sometimes be measured by the most modest of achievements; that giving up in giving in are not options; and that when one is part of a group, no one is free unless and until everyone is free. This is a mere glimpse into who we are as a family and as a people.
 
I remember my father being called by blacks and whites alike to build houses on; to tear down or; slaughter animals for food, and did whales toward. He even built, repaired, or renovated most of the houses in and around the community of Prospect. These were talented and resourceful families. Together they carved out a great living for themselves and their children during the dark and unfriendly air for African-Americans in America's adolescent years of its development. 
 
Lizzie received 10 acres of land adjacent to her father and brother’s property. There, Lizzie and Hampton built their house, raised ten children of whom my father, Clarence Harrell, was the youngest son. Interestingly, my brothers, sisters, and I were all born in the same house as our father and many of his brothers and sisters. Today, the property remains secure within our family.
©The Harrell Family 2009