I arrived in Nashville yesterday, early in the morning. After picking up my rental car at the airport, I rushed over to what I thought was the conference hotel, to try to catch the bus that was heading out to tour the Wessynton Plantation. However, I went to the wrong hotel, missed the bus, and ended up driving the 35 or so miles out to the plantation. It all worked out perfectly, though. I pulled up at the same time as the bus, and actually was able to help out with my vehicle to transport some of the folks up the long drive to the property (since the bus couldn't go up). And, although I'd been a bit nervous about joining the group, "cold", they were all so welcoming and warm, that I immediately felt right at home with them. And, to put the icing on the cake, my genea-friend, Angela Walton-Raji, was one of the first people I saw! I'd met Angela before, in Washington, DC, so hers was a familiar face, and it was really great to see her!
After John's talk, we began our walking tour of the property, beginning with the "Big House" and the family cemetery. Next, we took a very long (and unexpected) HIKE through high grass and brush, and up, down, and around hills (dodging "cow patties" along the way), to visit the slave cemetery. Sometime ago, the White Washington descendants funded the creation of a monument on this site, with the names of 35+ slaves who John has been able to document as being buried there. Plans are in the works to use sonar-wave technology to determine exactly how many bodies are interred there, and where. Once we accomplished the long, hot, exhausting walk back to our starting point, I left the plantation to head back to the (right) hotel to get checked in, and to attend the "First Time Attendees" session.
The First Time Attendees session was nice. It was led by Dr. Shelley Murphy, President of the Central Virginia Chapter of AAHGS, and a genea-friend I'd had the pleasure of meeting, about a year ago. Shelley did a great job of acclimating all of us to the conference atmosphere, and of encouraging us to get the most out of the conference by talking, sharing, and networking with others. At the end of the session, we took a group picture, which I'm told will be on the AAHGS Facebook page (but I don't see it there, yet). :)
My second conference day was fun and information-filled. It began with a light breakfast in the hotel's atrium, followed by the opening plenary session. The planned speaker was unable to be here, due to a family emergency, but her last-minute stand in Pamela Foster, did a very nice job of discussing the role of music in the lives of our ancestors, and focusing us all in on the genre of "country music", as it may relate to our African-American family histories. We watched a video of a current-day, African-American country musician, Darius Rucker, and I have to say that I was amazed at how much I enjoyed his song, "Wagon Wheel"! We also listened to, and looked at the original wording of, "Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny". I was surprised that I'd never heard these lyrics, nor did I know that the song was written by a Free Person of Color from New York. I plan to follow up with a bit of study on that!
I attended two sessions today. In the morning, I thoroughly enjoyed, "Port Royal: The Birthplace of Freedom in the Old South", which was presented by another online genea-friend, Toni Carrier. Toni was one of the very first people I connected with in the online genealogy community, way back so far that I don't even know what year it was. But, I'd never had the opportunity to meet her in person. I was honored to do so, today, because she has highly-respected, researcher, and is as personable and friendly in "real life", as she is online!
I left the conference at midday, and took a self-guided, driving tour of Fisk and Tennessee State Universities, accompanied by my fellow Hampton Roads Chapter member. In addition, we checked out The Parthenon, a replica of the real one, which is (for some reason) located here in Nashville. I can't wait to show my students, who will be learning about this structure, soon. I plan to tell them that I went to Greece! (But, I will come clean after I see the expressions on their faces.) :) We got a good look at downtown Nashville, with it's impressive state government buildings, before returning to the conference for our afternoon sessions.
This evening ended with a DELICIOUS southern barbeque buffet dinner! I've been to lots of conferences in my day (not genealogical), but I've never had a meal like this at any of them! We had ribs, pulled pork, freshly carved beef brisket, sweet potato casserole, collard greens, potatoes, potato salad, cole slaw, apple cobbler, and ice cream! It was good! After most of us had finished
After the dinner, I spent some time socializing and sharing. Before retiring to my room, I perused the books in the "Free to Read" Book Fair, and chatted with some of the authors. One, Michael Henderson, whom I'd talked with a bit on Thursday, really encouraged me to write, and publish the story of my gg-grandparents, Anna and Nathaniel, which has a few similarities to his own, which tells in his book, "Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation". We'll see what happens!
Well, that's a wrap for the first two days of my first-ever genealogy conference. The last couple of hours have been put into writing this post. :) Now, it's off to bed to catch some zzzz's, so that I can get up and be ready for Day 3, tomorrow! Stay tuned, and, as always, thanks for reading!