“My Grandmothers Were Six Feet Tall”: Geraldine’s Family Memories


Geraldine Wilson, 1955

The more I discover about this family, the more I wondered if they were aware of one another’s accomplishments. I wondered if Geraldine knew of her grandfather’s service in the American Civil War. Did Rachel know of her grandfather’s educational activism? Did this fuel her own activism?As always in research, with many answers come more questions. After this most recent visit to the Schomburg Center, I noted that Geraldine wrote about her great-grandfather and her grandmothers. In the 1970s, she wrote a book entitled “Both of my Grandmothers Were Over Six Feet Tall”; however, no publisher took her book. This simple act showed that she knew of her  family’s own history. She recognized her great-grandfather’s work in education and her Aunt Rachel’s social activism in Philadelphia. Perhaps she followed in their footsteps to continue the battle for educational equality and opportunity for African Americans.

This brief story I am sharing today comes from Geraldine’s archival collection. It remained untitled and undated, yet it provided me with her paternal grandparents’ love story.


 The biggest thing I remember about my grandmother was that she was foolish about her hair. It was Black as skin and she was what they called Cold-Creek Indian. Hell they brought her from old Viriginia to Tennesee when she was but a child. They settled in Gallatin. While she was there, came another family named Alaskas. This was grandpop’s family. You see Grama [sic] was their house-girl. Grandpap was Alaskas houseboy.  They kept her ’cause she was young and supple and could have lots of children. Ain’t that hard? She waited on Missus and did nice things around the house—–

Hell (sp.) grandpap was young and just as Black as satin and real handsome and grandma was getting to the age where she liked young men you know. They begin courting. I asked Grandma why she liked him. She say he was nice and handsome…Well, they kept on courting  back and forth and finally she married him.

He just wore a shirt. Ain’t that hard.

Until the next post,


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