As part of celebrating Mother’s day with my mom last week, we went through her box of old photos and reminisced.
We rediscovered a bunch of treasures that I’d forgotten about, including the one above, a picture of my maternal great-grandfather, Sam Jones and mom recounted my favorite story about him.
Born July 18, 1882 in Alma, Arkansas, the Rev. Sam Jones lived a good part of his life in Oklahoma. But an incident there with the local Ku Klux Klan chased him out of town. No one can remember now what the incident was, but everyone recalls that when Sam learned that the Klan was after him, he had himself nailed into a pine box, placed on a wagon and driven out of town like he was already dead. He would settle in Bakersfield, California where he was known as an entrepreneur and mentor to many young black men.
I don’t know how long Sam had to stay nailed up in that box, and even though I’ve heard the story plenty of times, it still makes me shake my head in awe. I never met my maternal great-grandfather. He died on December 16, 1976 when I was just seven years-old. But because of this story and all the good things I’ve heard about him over the years, he has always seemed heroic to me and loomed large in my mind. Indeed he was large, almost 7 feet tall! Only my brother, at 6′ 4″ inherited any of great-grandpa’s height, but I hope if need be we descendants have somehow garnered even an iota of his courage.
So what’s your favorite family tale?