One year ago today, I found myself on the doorstep of my past. The house is large, the windows are broken or so caked over with dirt and mud, to see through them would be an exercise in frustration, but the house is there. It wants to be explored, I just didn’t have a key.
Five years ago, an adventure rider with a deep love of history and uncovering what the rest of us have forgotten stumbled upon a cemetery on the southern edge of the Appalachian Plateau. Within it stood two headstones, and perhaps a few dozen other unmarked graves. He took a snap and noted it on a forum for other adventure lovers. He went on other adventures and noted other historic places and the people previous forgotten came alive in his posts.
I want to believe one of those forgotten patiently waited for me.
In 2013, I was beginning my build of the Points Family history, excavating the basement of a house I knew would be hard to recreate, even with the spotty and inaccurate as-builts I had from other members. I knew very little, other than we were probably slaves and finding much of anything would be like hunting hen’s teeth.
I got very excited when I stumbled across that very picture. I showed it to my Dad, the current Isaac and he confirmed the relationship. “That,” he said, “is your great-great-great, grandfather.” I gave him what details I could and set out to make contact with this modern Indiana Jones, having traded his fedora for a helmet.
My Google-fu is strong, ask any of the denizens of PW or TT. If it’s on the Internet, I can find it, but this guy – it took me a few months of following dead links and cross-referencing emails before I even got an actual name. With that victory, I made contact via Facebook. If you’ve ever sent messages to people you’re not connected to on Facebook, ZuckerDriods charge you a dollar for it to be visible in the recipient’s main Inbox. I skipped the dollar and took a chance. In April 2013. I sent a message and crossed my fingers the Other Box would be noticed.
Absolutely, nothing happened.
Okay. It’s not personal (I don’t think) so we’ll try again.
I kept digging, searching for the archaeologist with the blue bike. I also did other stuff with my own life – I was published in a few places, I attended conventions, I saw movies. I ran 5K races and ran circuits in my neighborhood. I attended an Ingress Anomaly, Helios Detroit. I continued with the research for my family tree, and it was easier with actual dates to compare to established but loose trees my family already has.
In January 2014, I located an actual email address. I took a deep breath and typed out an letter to a total stranger, 4 states away. It went a little something like this:
Hello, and please excuse this intrusion.
My name is [MLS]. The name means nothing to you right now, but [snop] you took a picture of the headstone of Isaac B Points in an abandoned cemetery. I was helping my Dad [snip] find any loose bits on the Internet when I came across your post…
Isaac B Points born in 1811 was the 1st Points born (as a slave) in the US. He’s my great-great- great-grandfather. I would appreciate it greatly if you could tell me where that cemetery was located or put me in touch with the landowners so my family and I could plan a trip to see the headstone. It’s difficult tracking down Blacks and their kin as records weren’t really kept (or kept well), but we’ve been lucky and it hasn’t been as difficult as for others. I’ve attached a picture of Isaac’s wife, son, daughter in law, etc.
It would mean a great deal to me and my family if we could get close.
I look forward to hearing from you soon and thank you in advance for your assistance.
Sincerely and best;
I included this picture of The First’s son, Isaac (the second), his wife and mother, and 8 of their 14 kids.
Then I waited. Would he answer? Would he blow me off as another treasure hunter only out for the destination, leaving the journey for those who cannot afford to hire out their research? I’d looked over other Ride Reports on the same forum and I surmised he wasn’t a fan of skipping the hard part. Did I even have the right guy?
It was the longest 20 minutes of my life
He answered, and fast. He was willing to help and even offered his services and his home to us. Bless Southern Hospitality. I knew a trip was months away but by phone and email we made very tentative plans. I knew he could back out any minute so I kept my expectations low.
Not really, I could barely sit still. September was set for the trip and I remember it being filled with more history, conversations and the Points Homestead, established in 1871 began to take real shape.
Needless to say, David and his wife, Christina, were friendly and warm and put us up in the most comfortable guest house I’ve ever stayed in. On September 21, 2014, we arrived in Blount Springs Alabama, and greeted with a very heartfelt, “Welcome Home.”
I learned a lot that week, even some of what I we initially believed ended up being wrong, but this was the start of it all taking shape.
(More to come, including spiders, chiggers, dust, and the actual Springs.)
In 1871, Isaac B Points settled in Blount Springs, AL with his new wife. To say they were became part of the history of that area would be gilding the lily, but as strong footnotes, they served others in ways only kindness can make permanent. This is a loose remembrance of my week in Blount Springs 143 years later.
This post is part of the thread: Blount Springs – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.