Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thurgood Marshall notifies DOJ about 1943 peonage case in Mississippi

I am really appreciative to Antoinette Harrell for being willing to share important documentation which she was gathered over the past ten years on peonage.  Her great contributions will provide an additional record type for many, especially African Americans, who will learn about these records which have great genealogical worth.  You can simply Google "Antoinette Harrell" and "peonage" to learn more.
She has been featured on Nightline and People's Magazine.

See also:

Genealogist Recently Discovers Forced Bondage In Modern Day America

If you have any question about peonage records, contact:
Antoinette Harrell  504-858-4658

Join us as we:
  • explore records documenting peonage
  • explore vital information contained therein
  • point out further resources that help to identify the family group, former slave owners, other vital information.
Thurgood Marshall
 The following letter was submitted by Thurgood Marshall, special counsel for the NAACP on October 18, 1943 and states that Witney Smith, owner of a farm located in Webb, Mississippi, held David Watson on a peonage farm from 1926
to 1943 when he escaped to Maywood, Illinois.

While in the service of Smith, Watson was not allowed to register for the National Selective Service. After Watson arrived in Maywood, he registered, but Smith was still successful at having the FBI to seize him for evading the law.  They recognized he was being framed, and was inducted into the Army a week or two later.
David Watson informed the NAACP that many other people were being held on this farm (see documents below).

What biographical information can we glean?

1.  David's grandfather may live in Maywood, Illinois
2.  David lived in Webb, Mississippi on the property of Witney Smith from 1926 until January 1943
3. David escaped to Maywood, Illinois.
4.  David registered with the Maywood Draft Board
5.  David was arrested by the FBI in Maywood, Illinois
6.  David was inducted into the Army

What other records would you use to identify further information?

1.  Look for David Watson on the 1930 US Census in Webb, Mississippi
2.  Look for the farm of Witney (Whitney  Smith) in Webb, Mississippi on the 1930 US Census
3.  Search for US Army WWII Enlistment Record
4.  Do city directories exist for Maywood 1942-1943 that may reveal the name of the grandfather?
5.  Find out how to access the 1943 Maywood Branch NAACP records.

Do you have any further ideas?  Please leave comments below.

Department of Justice, NA, RG60

1 comment:

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