Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • LETTER: Born into slavery, and a hero to her great-great-grandson

  • New Creek resident T.J. Coleman pays tribute to his great-great-grandmother in this letter to the editor.
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  • To the Editor:
    It seems that it's only in our adult lives that we look back and wonder how we got here. It's in our looking back that we find out just how fragile life really is. I recently discovered this when I read some writings my aunt wrote about my great-great grandmother. It put life and living in a new perspective.
    Her name was Ella Twyman. She was born in the mid 1800's. She would have no idea nor choice of the life and time she would enter this world. Unfortunately for her, she would be born into slavery.
    As a child, I was six years old when she died. I can't say that I remember her or the times my grandmother made me go in her room to kiss her. I only wish I did remember now. What I do remember is that she had a big knot on her head. She told her family the knot came from being hit in the head by a roll of coins from a slave master.
    It wasn't until recently that I saw the tremendous value in my Aunt Estelle's book where she shared some of the stories told by Nanny Ma. My Aunt Estelle grew up with her in Crigglersville, VA.
    Only now have I realized the frailty of life as I look back and see if for any reason Nannie Ma didn't survive, I and hundreds of others would never have lived. She lived in a time I'll never know and endured hardships and suffering I could never imagine.
    I look upon her life as a slave with pride,; great respect and an indelible appreciation. I choose to overlook the evil and focus on the good. She was a survivor. She stood when she could have been broken. She made a life out of the worst circumstances. She gave life to many. She was Nannie Ma, my great-great grandmother. A slave...But a Hero to me!
    TJ Coleman
    New Creek
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