Legacy, Longing and The Lake

Image from a letter written to Riley R. McGimpsey, my great-great grandfather, 119 years ago

Ancestors and family are subjects I often write about. Like here and here. So I was excited when a reporter from The Charlotte Observer reached out last week for my input on a piece about Fonta Flora, the storied community of my paternal great-great grandparents.

“There once was a vale of peace and beauty in the NC foothills, the story goes, where crops grew tall and neighbors both black and white lived in harmony. Even its name sounded lush: Fonta Flora.”

The newspaper article includes an account from my family’s oral history that I shared. Below is an excerpt.

“Just the connection to the land and what’s under that lake is strong and really powerful for all of us,” (Valaida) said. “There’s also the sense of loss, in my mind. After the Civil War, for families that had been enslaved people, even though we didn’t have grand plantations like in other parts of the South, people still struggled to make lives for themselves in a new place, and work for decades. And then to be uprooted.”

The full Observer article by Bruce Henderson is found here, and it features a beloved family portrait from around 1903.