One of the amazing documents I unearthed in the basement of my late grandparents Tarrytown, N.Y., home was the original last will and testament of my great-great grandmother Lucy Ann Jackson. The will was executed in September 1913–almost a century ago–and in it she leaves property in Basic City, Virginia (now part of Waynesboro, Va.) to my great grandfather, Clarence Jackson, and her other children. The two pieces of adjoining property were purchased by my great-great grandmother between 1880-1890, which is pretty remarkable considering she was a slave until around 1870.
During my August trip to southwestern Virginia, I visited the Augusta County courthouse in Staunton, Va., where my great-great grandmother’s will was filed. The same courthouse housed the original deeds for the property she once owned in Basic City.
Using the handwritten and very difficult to decipher information in the deeds, I was able to determine the exact location of the property my great-great grandmother owned in what is now Waynesboro, Va. So my wife, Linda, and I left the Augusta County courthouse and traveled the 10 or so miles to Waynesboro to visit the intersection where my great-great grandmother once owned property.
Two rather unremarkable ranch-style houses now occupy the corner lot owned by my great-great grandmother from around 1890 until, I suspect, the 1940s or 50s. I was tempted to knock on the doors of those houses and proudly–and loudly– let the folks living there know that my great-great grandmother, an ex-slave, once owned the property they were now living on. But I restrained myself. However, I did take the picture below.