For about $300, a 9-year-old girl named Ashley was sold as a slave.
Her mother, Rose, remained a house slave at a mansion in South Carolina.
This was the 1850s, roughly a decade before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, setting slaves free.
Before mother and daughter were separated, Rose gave Ashley a cotton sack. It contained a tattered dress, three handfuls of pecans and a lock of her hair. Rose told Ashley it was filled with love — always.
Ashley never saw her mom again, but she kept the sack. It was handed down through the generations, along with her story, to her granddaughter, Ruth Middleton.
Ruth, a single mom in Philadelphia, stitched her family story into the cloth sack in 1921.
She was sold at age 9 in South Carolina
it held a tattered dress 3 handfulls of
pecans a braid of Roses hair. Told her
It be filled with my LOVE always
she never saw her again
Ashley is my grandmother
Nearly 100 years later, the bag was found at a flea market in Tennessee. A woman bought it and donated it to Middleton Place, a famous plantation in South Carolina that refuses to shy away from its awful history.
Historians puzzled over the identities of Rose, Ashley and Ruth, where they came from and where their descendants ended up.