From Sylvia Roberts' Family Tree

man on horse ca 1860s

"This is my great grandfather, Robert Hood, my grandfather's father on my mother's side. He's the one who owned the farm in Shelby County, Alabama in the 1860s.

"We are chasing a family folklore lead that says he was never enslaved but was descended from Africans who were indentured servants before slavery was established. He managed to keep the farm through the Civil War, because my grandfather was still paying taxes on it in the 1930s." Excerpted from Sylvia's email to me.

Robert Hood did quite well as evidenced by his dress, and well-bred horse. He also made sure his son William Lane Hood, 1875 - 1955, born on the family farm in Shelby County, Alabama, received a good education. As the page from his Amhurst yearbook states, the only education available to him as a boy was in a school district that held a three-month session every two years. After completing that, at the age of 20, he attended Talledega College in Alabama, a Normal school that trained teachers and graduated with 7 other black students. William is in the back row, 4th from the left.

He then enrolled in Amhurst in 1899 where he graduated in 1903, one of about a dozen black students. Now Amhurst is not a cheap school to attend, so Robert Hood must have done quite well in order to afford the tuition for William. That may be another story yet to be told.

William worked hard to get a very good education and, after receiving his degree in Agriculture at Amhurst, he travelled the south teaching agriculture to small black sharecroppers. In those days he must have made the difference between success and failure to many farmers. He taught in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas. Ironically, he taught at the same elementary school that his granddaughter later attended.

There must be many other stories similar to this one, but they are not heard often enough or loud enough!

Editor, Lorna Wick

photo and graduation text

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