Pausing To Share…MY BLACK HISTORY MOMENT – A Slave, Midwife and Legacy: Dr. Judy Simmons – uncovered by my cousins Cleo and Melvin Graham
Who are your ancestors?
Have you thought about your connection to them lately?
Is slavery and freedom a part of your family’s legacy? If so, what impact did it have on your family’s life?
Here is a story about one of my ancestors, who played a remarkable role on the South Carolina plantation where my family was enslaved and later the community where she lived. According records we have found, my third great grandmother, Judy Simmons, was born in South Carolina or Alabama. She was initially called Judy Pickens, a surname of her slave owners Governor Andrew Pickens Jr. According to Andrew Pickens’ 1834 will, Judy and her family were deeded to his son, Governor Frances Pickens, who owned the Edgewood plantation in Edgefield, S.C. Fortunately, Frances Pickens preferred keeping slave families together rather than separating them, as so often happens after the death of a slave owner. After Emancipation, Judy’s last name became “Simmons.”
Judy figuratively stood on the shoulders of her strong African heritage and tapped into her familial knowledge of medicinal plants that she commonly used for delivering babies of plantation slave and freed women for more than fifty years (1830s to 1880s). Although she was not credentialed, she became known as “doctor” by other slaves and slave owners, out of respect for her knowledge. She was a remarkable midwife, who traveled between Edgefield, S.C., and Augusta, GA, to purchase traditional folk medicines that she used to deliver hundreds of babies. And after the War, she crossed the bridge from slavery to freedom. She crossed the bridge from dependence to independence, and in so doing she left her footprints as a path of grace that is traced to her descendants.Continue reading “Pausing To Spotlight…My Family”