Genealogy expert to speak at Granville Genealogy Festival

Staff Reports • Updated Mar 28, 2017 at 5:30 PM

The Granville Genealogy Festival on April 8 will feature John F. Baker Jr., an author, genealogy expert and historian, who was born in Springfield.

He is the author of “Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom.” When Baker was in the seventh grade, he discovered the story of his ancestors when he saw a photograph of four former slaves in his social studies textbook. Months later, he learned that they were his grandmother’s paternal grandparents, Emanuel and Henny Washington, who were once enslaved at Wessyngton Plantation. The plantation was founded in 1796 by Joseph Washington, a distant cousin of President George Washington. 

He has interviewed dozens of individuals ranging from 80 to 107 years old to collect their oral histories. He studied more than 11,000 documents to trace the lives of his ancestors, the Washington family and more than 300 other African Americans enslaved at Wessyngton Plantation, the largest tobacco plantation in America. For more than 30 years through extensive historical research, Baker created a groundbreaking work in African-American history and American history.  The Tennessee State Museum created a traveling exhibit based on his book that will be at Granville Museum through June 3.  

The exhibit is open Wednesdays through Fridays from noon until 3 p.m. and Saturdays from noon until 5 p.m. The exhibit will also be open April 8 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. as part of the Genealogy Festival. Baker will speak April 8 at 11 a.m. at the Granville United Methodist Church.

 The Granville Genealogy Festival will also feature “How to Access the Largest Genealogy Library in the World” by Joellan Hall at 9:30 a.m., “Family Connections: Finding Missing Family Through DNA” by Edie Williams at Linda Coffey at 10 a.m., “Slavery in Tennessee” by Rob DeHart with the Tennessee State Museum at 11:30 a.m., “Early Ragland’s in Jackson County” by Robert Brown at 1 p.m. and “Region, Race and Memory: Inheriting the Civil War Conversation” by Michael Bertrand at 2 p.m. The Genealogy Festival will also feature “How to do genealogy research” by Ron Dishman and Genealogy Research of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at the Granville Museum. 

The Genealogy Festival will be held in conjunction with the grand opening of 1940s in Granville with World War II re-enactments, Freedom Belles, World War II musical shows, up to 1950s antique car show, wine festival, crafts, craftsmen, music, food and more.  

For more information, call 931-653-4151 or visit granvilletn.com.

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