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(Article) Ohioans take pride in Tri-Racial heritage

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    Ohioans take pride in Tri-Racial heritage Monday, September 26, 2005 Michael Sangiacomo, Plain Dealer Reporter (Cleveland, Ohio) Chesterhill, Ohio -- The
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2007
      Ohioans take pride in
       
      Tri-Racial heritage

      Monday, September 26, 2005
      Michael Sangiacomo, Plain Dealer
      Reporter
      (Cleveland, Ohio )

      Chesterhill , Ohio --

      The librarian at the Chesterhill Public Library
      didn't know where to find books on the
      Tri-Racial people of southeastern Ohio .

      But she knew where to find Tri-Racials.

      "Walk out the door and talk to the first
      person you meet," said Debbie Cunningham.
      "Everyone in town is Black, Indian
      and White and other things as well.
      I'm Tri-Racial myself."

      The thing that the people of towns like
      Chesterhill, Cutler and Kilvert find
      hard to understand is that anyone
      would consider Tri-Racials interesting.

      "We're all Tri-Racial," said Cunningham.
      "It would be unusual to find
      someone from this area who is not."

      Lack of information about the Multi-Racial
      people has encouraged the
      Multicultural
      Genealogical Center to open a museum across
      the street from the library in Chesterhill.

      The museum will document their
      stories and serve as a repository
      for local historical artifacts.

      It will also be a place for people to go
       to track down their lineages, if they
      have roots in southeastern Ohio .

      The group bought the old house in May
      and hopes to have it open by next
      summer after a $130,000 refurbishing.

      The 2000 U.S. Census turned up a lot
      fewer Tri-Racials than actually exist in the
      rolling hills and forests of southeastern Ohio .

      Since people are permitted to declare their
      race, many call themselves "
      black" or `White'
      and do not check off the Multi-Racial box.

      It's common to see families with
      both light- and dark-skinned children.

      They share another bond that
      is more important than the
      color of their skin --- poverty.


      The Appalachian region of Morgan,
      Muskingum, Meigs , Washington and Athens
      counties is among the poorest in Ohio .

      Jobs of any kind are hard to find,
      and well-paying jobs are a rarity.

      What the people of the area do have is their
      heritage, and they claim every bit of it:
      American Indian, African and European.

      Henry Burke, resident historian of the
      genealogical center, disputes many of the
      local tales on the origins of the Tri-Racials ...

      In response, people can only retell
      stories they have been told, stories
      handed down over generations.

      Like the story of Michael Tabler.

      Tabler fell in love with Hannah, one of the
      slaves on his father's Virginia plantation.

      Tabler's father did not approve … and sold
      Hannah, but Michael Tabler tracked her
      down and they ran off to live in the hills
      of Athens County in the early 1800s.

      One of their descendants married an
      American-Indian woman who had been
      adopted by an Ohio University professor,
      adding the third "race" to the `mix'.

      Hundreds of people in southeast Ohio
      trace their lineage to Michael Tabler.

      Others offer family photographs of
      ancestors who display American-Indian
      characteristics ---- and no apology.

      "I don't care to argue about it,"
      said Irene Flowers …
      "We have our histories,
      and that's what we believe.

      It's all very unimportant anyway."

      Flowers, who said she has never been
      to a doctor in her 78 years, practices folk
      remedies passed down for generations.

      She tells anyone interested about which
      roots and herbs to gather to stay healthy
       or cure themselves of illnesses and
      injuries, like earaches and snakebite.

      A little pepper in a cotton cloth
      put into the ear will cure an earache.

      Warts can be cured with a salve made
      from milkweed, and a tea brewed
      from red elm bark will cure snakebite.

      "We're all just who we are," she said.
      "No one cares about the color
      of your skin down here.
      It just does not matter."

      Many of the Tri-Racial folks don't
      know `where' their American-Indian
      blood came from -- just that it is there.

      Mildred Vore, the secretary of the
      Multicultural Genealogical Center ,
      believes her Mixed-Blood is
      obvious from family photos.

      She is darker-skinned; her husband
      is an orphan who looks White.

      Their two children look White
      with a bit of American Indian.

      Burke believes people should have their DNA
      tested to determine their racial heritage.

      He did it and was surprised to
      learn his heritage included African,
      European and Eastern Asian.

      But most people in Morgan, Muskingum,
      Meigs and Athens counties have better
      things to do with $300 than spend
      it on a DNA test-- to settle a bet.

      As Flowers said …
      "What would it matter?
      We are what we are."

      Geraldine Tabler of the small village of Stewart
      believes her American-Indian ancestors were
      from the Tutelo or Catawba nations.

       She said she lived in Chesterhill in the 1940s
      and 1950s and encountered racial prejudice.

      "The White people called us 'Coloreds'
      whether we looked "
      black" or not," she said.
      "It was not easy in those days.
      It's much better today."

      "I'm proud of every drop of blood that
      flows through my veins," said Rhonda
      Tabler, who lives in Buckeye Ridge,
      just outside the Chesterhill limits.

      "Three of my mother's siblings
      were white and seven were brown.
      Since we were all born at home by midwives,
      a doctor would come to the house a few days
      later and give us the birth certificates."

      Several people said that some had their
      birth certificates altered to indicate that
      they were `White', instead of "
      black" …

      Mildred Vore said her
      "
      black" heritage is a blessing.

      "My father was unable to find a job until
      he had his birth certificate altered to
      indicate he was `White'," she said …

      "Maybe I'm naive, but I never was
       denied anything because of my color,"
      she continued. "I had all White friends.
      I do remember when I was young
      that the theater and skating rink
      in Chesterhill was segregated."

      Ada Woodson Adams of Stewart … is vice
      president of the genealogical group.

      She said she hopes the new center will become
      a place for people to learn more about their
      family history and the history of the area.

      "The "
      black" people that settled here
      were aided by the Quakers of Chesterhill,
      who opposed slavery," she said.

      "Ours is a very rich history.

      If our stories are woven into the history
      books, the story would be more complete."

      To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:
      msangiacomo@..., 216-999-4890


      SOURCE:
      http://www.cleveland.com/ohio/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/1127727344118130.xml&coll=2
      http://thepost.baker.ohiou.edu/archives3/feb03/022003/f3.html
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