Home News Air Force vet, 56, unwittingly buys Virginia home where his ancestors were slaves

Air Force vet, 56, unwittingly buys Virginia home where his ancestors were slaves

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Air Force veteran discovers home he bought Virginia Two years ago, his family was a plantation site where his ancestors were enslaved in the 19th century.

Fifty-six-year-old Fred Miller sold his 10.5-acre land, known as Sherswood in the 1800s, for $220,000 after the sister of former colleague and friend Bill Thompson sold it to him in May 2020. Bought for over a dollar.

Formerly a 1,300-acre plantation, this home is located in Gretna, Pittsylvania County.

“I was a little shocked by that,” Miller said. CBS 60 minute interview It first aired in May, referring to a recent shocking discovery.

Dividing his time between his historic home and California, Miller further stated that he often passed by the Virginia property during his childhood because he grew up in the area.

“I just wanted a place for my family to gather,” he revealed to 60 Minutes, reiterating that he never knew his generational cousins ​​had set foot where he is now.

Fred Miller, a 56-year-old Air Force veteran, purchased 10.5 acres of land in Gretna, Virginia for over $220,000 in 2020.Large family

Once a 1,300-acre plantation, the home is located in Pittsylvania County and has a specific green and white color code.

Once a 1,300-acre plantation, the home is located in Pittsylvania County and has a specific green and white color code.

When Miller bought the former plantation, also known as Sherswood, two years ago, he never expected to unlock a hidden treasure from his family's past.

When Miller bought the former plantation, also known as Sherswood, two years ago, he never expected to unlock a hidden treasure from his family’s past.

“Had I known there was a ‘Miller Plantation,’ I might have associated the name ‘Miller’ with the plantation,” Fred told CBS’s 60 Minutes show. There has never been a ‘Miller Plantation’ or ‘Miller’.Photo: Some of Miller’s ancestors who lived in or around Sherswood in the 20th or 19th century

The shocking discovery only came to light when Miller’s sister Karen Dixon Rexroth, 49, and her cousins ​​Sonya Woman Miranda and Dexter Miller delved into the home’s past At the time, they were trying to sense the history behind the white colonial houses with green roofs.

Soon after, the family came across an archive containing several different annual editions of the U.S. Census that revealed that the household behind Sherswood also shared the “Miller” surname. .

“Had I known there was a ‘Miller Plantation,’ I might have been able to associate the surname Miller with the plantation,” Miller told 60 Minutes.

Asked if he had ever heard of his surname being related to a farm until this year, Leslie Stahl said, “I had never heard the name ‘Miller Plantation’ or ‘Miller’ before.” I answered.

To understand that their families are free, the extended Miller family teamed up with Virginia Humanities and African-American genealogist Caris Luck Brimmer to learn about their ancestry. I called. Washington Post.

“Something drew me to know the history of this place,” Dixon Rexroth said in an interview with 60 Minutes. It has started, based on previous owners and records available online.”

Miller's sister Karen Dixon Rexroth (pictured), 49, and her cousins ​​Sonya Womack Miranda and Dexter Miller delved into the home's history shortly after he purchased the property.

Miller’s sister Karen Dixon Rexroth (pictured), 49, and her cousins ​​Sonya Womack Miranda and Dexter Miller delved into the home’s history shortly after he purchased the property.

The family of Miller's friend and former colleague Bill Thompson owned the former plantation site for nearly a century, until Thompson's sister sold it to an Air Force veteran two years ago.

The family of Miller’s friend and former colleague Bill Thompson owned the former plantation site for nearly a century, until Thompson’s sister sold it to an Air Force veteran two years ago.

The cabin on the 10.5-acre property was once a place where slaves lived. Miller fully plans to renovate it to honor his ancestors and educate people about the history of slavery.

The cabin on the 10.5-acre property was once a place where slaves lived. Miller fully plans to renovate it to honor his ancestors and educate people about the history of slavery.

The Miller family wishes their ancestors were

The Miller family wishes their ancestors were “smiling and looking down on us” many years after their purchase of the Shirswood land.

The Post reported that the Millers were able to identify their great-great-grandmother, Sarah Miller, thanks to an ancestral trail.

US Census records from the late 1800s and early 20th century show that Violet Miller and David Miller also lived not far from Sherswood. The couple’s son, Samuel, had also set foot on the plantation.

Another individual, abbreviated as “NC Miller,” was identified as a slave, according to The Post.

“Since the revelation… I know that when the slaves brought food into the main building, they came up the basement stairs,” Miller said in the 60-minute episode.

“And there’s definite wear and tear on the basement steps from years of traffic, people walking up those steps and saying, ‘Wow, this is mine,'” he added.

“Since the revelation… I know that when the slaves brought food into the main building, they came up through the basement stairs,” Miller said in the 60-minute episode. , years of traffic, obvious wear and tear from people walking up the stairs.You’re thinking, ‘Wow, this is mine.'”

Miller learns from Thompson that his ancestors were buried in the woods very near the property line because no official cemetery was built.

Miller learns from Thompson that his ancestors were buried in the woods very near the property line because no official cemetery was built.

Miller's ancestor's tombstone (pictured) is unnamed, making it difficult for the family to identify his ancestors.

Miller’s ancestor’s tombstone (pictured) is unnamed, making it difficult for the family to identify his ancestors.

Thompson also revealed to Miller that his ancestor was buried in the woods right next to the property, but the gravestone did not list his name.

Of the spectacle of his ancestor’s burial, Fred said, “It was heartbreaking. Let me tell you. He used his He added that he was planning to renovate the slave hut where his ancestors lived.

He also revealed that he wants to make the people who set foot on this land before he did, especially his great-great-grandmother Sarah, proud.

“I hope she’s watching from heaven,” Miller told The Washington Post, adding, “And finally cracked a beautiful smile.”

Karen Dixon Rexroth, Miller’s sister, said on CBS’s 60 Minutes, “Throughout this property, when I’m walking around, when I’m just doing something, I feel something inside me. I am sure you can feel it.

“I know our ancestors looked down at us with smiles on their faces,” she added.

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