It had been a few years since I had come into possession of a Face Jug discovered years earlier in Philadelphia by my Grandfather. I most definitely felt that the ancestors were speaking to me every time I looked at the jug in the china cabinet in my home. It was an idea that was strong enough to send this busy Philadelphia Mom on an all absorbing hunt for the makers of the jug – with spectacular success.
In was sometime later in Edgefield where I had come to pursue this research. While in the town’s archive center I met a local historian, Wayne O’Bryant. I had asked him about an abandoned slave cabin that had caught my eye as I drove into Edgefield. Wayne gave me the business card to what he thought was the owner of the land on which the old cabin stood.
Later, when I called the number on the card, I was connected with Fred Morton, an African American. Fred quickly told me that he did not own any real estate in the area. I was puzzled and asked Fred why Wayne would have given me the card. He then volunteered that he was the descendant of an African who was aboard the Wanderer – and this was the beginning of my unravelling of the fabulous story of these amazing Africans.
I met a year later with Wayne at the North Augusta Library. I said, “Wayne, I am guessing that you knew very well that Fred didn’t own that cabin…”
Wayne smiled, “Of course I knew. I am a writer, I have published several books and I have often thought about telling the story of the Africans of the Wanderer. Yet, when I first met you, April, in the archive building over in Edgefield, I immediately sensed that here was the person who would tell the story better than anyone else.”