TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - People from all over the country came to Van Zandt County Saturday to learn about their heritage and meet members of their extended family.
The Roseland Plantation, in Ben Wheeler, has a history dating back to the mid-1800s and those whose ancestors were part of that history met Saturday to celebrate.
As amazing grace plays in the background, multiple generations of different families sing or hum along.
“We have grandchildren and great grandchildren and great great grandchildren that will be here today," said Evelyn Collier Holloway, one of the organizers of the Roseland Plantation’s ancestry reunion. "They have no idea of the history that took place here in Redland.”
Those different generations were learning about their families’ past.
“It feels good because I didn’t know anything about this until I came,” said nine-year-old Reese Mayfield. “And its good to learn about my family.”
After the Civil War, the owner of the plantation deeded much of his 500 acres to his former slaves.
“It’s important to me because in my family we celebrate all the time, we talk about our ancestors, we teach the young ones," said Joan Holbert Hubert, an organizer of the event. "There’s an African word; ‘Sankofa’ means taking the good of the past, bringing it to the present and teaching it to the future. So, we do that in my family, so I thought we need to spread the word far and wide.”
Along with different generations, there were different ethnicities present, as well.
“It doesn’t matter the color because in my heart we’re all the same color," said Holloway. "We’re coming back as a family to show the love we have for each other and to celebrate the heritage we have and that has been passed down from generation to generation.”
But one thing everyone had in common at the event was a desire to learn more about themselves and those who they call family.
“For 25 years we’ve helped other people find their ancestry at the plantations in Louisiana, but we did not know that there were groups of Hambrick relatives possibly here in Texas," said Kathe Hambrick, the founder of the River Road African American Museum. "So, this means a whole lot for us to make that connection genealogically with our family across the rest of the country.”
Saturday’s event was the first reunion held at the plantation, but those who organized it said they’re planning another for 2021.