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  • Renee

I Am My Ancestor's Wildest Dreams

Updated: Jun 20


On July 4, 2019 I got to witness something incredible!! My 4th great grandmother, a slave and naturopathic healer in South Carolina, was honored by having a bridge unveiled in her honor. The bridge is located in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.


When you see me and my business, just know that I am my ancestor's wildest dreams. I am carried daily on the prayers of those who came before me and laid the groundwork to make me who I am today. I don't know if my 4th great grandmother could have imagined me, her granddaughter, being an entrepreneur and living a life she could only pray and imagine to live - but here I am. I thank God for the ability to experience such a historic moment and be able to share the story that my family has passed down from generation to generation. I am so honored that I get to be a testament and living legacy of strength, determination and faith. Here's the story of Molly Graham, why she is American history and why her story needs to be told.

{SCROLL TO THE END to read the Resolution from the SC Legislature and recognition in the United States Congressional Record}


This is REAL American History!!









The Historical legacy of Molly Graham,

a former slave on Cypress Plantation in Green Pond, South Carolina, and her descendants

Outlined below is a summary of the historical legacy of Molly Graham, and her descendants. This family history was passed down orally for several years, over seven generations.


However, this family history aligns with documented accounts in US history during the climax of the US Civil War era. Molly Graham, a former slave on Cypress Plantation in Green Pond, South Carolina, told this account to her great granddaughters, Kathleen (Bryant) McKinney and Bertha Lee (Bryant) Givens. From her childhood, Bertha Lee (Bryant) Givens remembered the history that her great grandmother told to her and her sister, over and over again, when they were young children. Over the years, Bertha Lee, passed down the history to other family members. She and her cousin, Lou Ethel (Pinckney / Green) Singleton, would share this family history with their children, their siblings, nieces, nephews, and other family members and friends at reunions and various family gatherings. This, now documented, summary of the historical legacy of Molly Graham and her descendants, has been passed down orally over many years.


For seven generations, family elders have passed down this history. Outlined below is a summary of the family history of Molly Graham and her descendants, which occurred during the era near the end of the Civil War: Molly Graham’s daughters, Sally, Sara and Effie, along with their uncle, Molly Graham’s brother, were in the rice field scaring birds from the rice crop, when they saw several Confederate soldiers on horse back, riding toward them. They immediately began running for their safety. They ran to the slave quarters to hide. According to documented US history, at the end of the Civil War era, the Confederate (Rebel) soldiers realized that as the Union soldiers advanced southward, they would free the slaves and enlist the male slaves to fight in the Union Army, against their former slave masters in the Confederacy. So the Rebel soldiers began killing all male slaves, ahead of the Union Army’s arrival.


Knowing the dangers at hand, Sally, Sara, Effie and their uncle ran from the fields to the slave quarters to hide. Molly Graham was in the slave house making bread. Her brother ran into the barn and hid himself under some hay and straw.


The Rebel soldiers rode up to the slave quarters and confronted the children and Molly Graham. One of the soldiers asked, ‘where is that man who ran over here from the field, wearing a red jacket?’ The children and Molly Graham said that they did not see a man. One of the Rebel soldiers jumped down from his horse and pulled out his pistol. He pressed the pistol against Sally’s chest and told her that, ‘Either you tell me where that red-jacket man is who ran from the field, or I’m going to blow you away right here!’ After the little girl, Sally Graham, persisted to deny having seen a man, one of the ranking Rebel officers ordered the soldier with the pistol to, ‘Put your gun away! Can’t you see that that little gal doesn’t know anything.’ The officer then turned to Molly Graham and told her that, ‘If you value your life and your children’s life, you better leave here right now. This entire plantation is going to be burned down and everything that’s moving’ will be killed’. The Confederate officer then snatched a knit scarf off Molly Graham’s shoulders. The Rebel soldiers and officers then rode off on their horses, looking for male slaves, whom they intended to kill.


As reports go, Molly Graham’s husband and brother were eventually captured by Rebel soldiers, blind-folded and killed by firing squad at Cooks Hill, which is located near Bowman Lane, in the Ritter, South Carolina area.


Realizing that she and her daughters were in grave danger, Molly Graham took immediate action to preserve the life of her family. Molly Graham grabbed the bread that she had made plus a jug of water, and she and her three young daughters (the oldest, Sally, being around 12 or 14 years old at the time) took out on foot, towards Beaufort, South Carolina.


They walked and ran by night and hid and rested during the day. They often heard and saw groups of Rebel soldiers on horseback riding by as they hid in the underbrush. Like many other slaves, Molly Graham had heard that the “Yankee” soldiers from the north had taken over the City of Beaufort, SC; and the “Yankee” soldiers would protect slaves, if they made it to the stronghold camps that the Union Army had set up in Beaufort. So, despite facing natural perils in the darkened woods at night, such as harsh weather, venomous snakes and other wild animals, Molly Graham, along with her three daughters, persisted onward toward Beaufort.


The road to Beaufort – to safety – required crossing over the Combahee River Bridge, which Molly Graham knew. However, when Molly Graham and her three daughters reached the Combahee River, the bridge had been destroyed, leaving only a narrow plank that stretched across the river. Having no other alternative, Molly Graham comforted her three daughters and instructed them that they would have to crawl on their hands and knees across the raging river, on that narrow plank, which was all that remained of the bombed bridge.


Being a woman of faith, Molly Graham trusted and believed that God would protect her and her daughters. She persisted onward, with full faith and confidence in God’s divine protection. After crawling across the Combahee River on the narrow plank, Molly Graham continued her sojourn through the perilous woods, coddling, comforting and caring for her three daughters. To get to the stronghold fort that the Union soldiers had established in the City of Beaufort, Molly Graham and her daughters had to travel some 16 miles – all on foot, while hiding by day and walking and running at night. Despite the risk of getting caught by Confederate soldiers and despite the many adversities and natural dangers that they faced, Molly Graham persevered, until she and her daughters reached the banks of the inter-coastal waters at Fee Farm Landing, where she could then see the Union soldier’s camp.


Upon seeing the Union’s Army’s fort, Molly Graham and her three daughters ran to a clearance area and began to yell for help. One of the Union Army’s officers heard their cries for help, He looked across and saw Molly Graham and her daughters waiving and calling out for help. The Officer commanded some of his troops to, “Gather up the flat (raft)! That poor slave mother is over there along with her three daughters running for their lives. Gather up the flat (the raft) and go and get that mother and her three daughters!’


The Union soldiers came across on the raft and brought Molly Graham and her three daughters to safety. Molly Graham and her daughters stayed in Union Army’s camp at Fee Farm Landing in Beaufort, South Carolina for several months, until the Civil War had ended. Following the Civil War, Molly Graham and her daughters returned to Colleton County and settled in Green Pond. The daughters eventually married – Sally to Frank Bryant, Sarah to Jack Barnwell and Effie to April

Singleton.


Over the years, Molly Graham along with her daughters’ families, worked together,

pooled their monies and acquired several hundred acres of land. As former slaves, the only jobs that they could get paid only 15 cents per day. However, they also were entrepreneurs. They worked together, raising chickens, turkeys and vegetables on the farm; and they sold their products at the farmer’s market in Walterboro. Sarah died when her only child, Louisa, was just one month old. Molly Graham, who was a naturopathic herb doctor, prepared an herbal ‘moss tea’, which she drank, in order to cause her breasts to produce milk. She then breast-fed Louisa and raised her as her own child. Louisa later married Joseph Pinckney. Molly Graham was a naturopathic herb doctor in the Green Pond community, treating both Black and White patients.


This was a great testament to her ability to forgive, as she dedicated herself to treat former slaves as well as former slave owners, without prejudice or malice. She developed a reputation for restoring patients to optimal health and for being used by God to be effective in treating conditions that baffled medical doctors. Molly Graham even added sleeping rooms onto her home, to house persons whose condition required overnight stay. This was the first and only “hospital” ever developed in the Green Pond area. According to accounts by elderly family members, Molly Graham was widely sort after for treatment. Some of the family’s elders recalled that it was quite common to see long lines of horse-drawn or ox-drawn wagons of Black as well as White people lining the roadway, waiting to be seen by herb doctor, Molly Graham.


Since fleeing Rebel soldiers and starting a farming business enterprise in the 1800s, the descendants of Molly Graham continue to be blessed by God in many areas of life. Some are military officers, corporate executives, bankers, pastors, medical professionals, dentists, law enforcement officers, civic leaders, educators, lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, public officials and dedicated parents.


Molly Graham’s descendants have established a non-profit family foundation, and, given her rich legacy and ties to the history of the US as well as the history of South Carolina, Molly Graham’s descendants are now attempting to develop a multi-use, historical preservation museum and park in the Green Pond area. The foundation will offer scholarships and promote historical preservation. The multi-use museum and park will house and display historical information and artifacts about

Black families in the South Carolina Lowcountry area.


In addition, given her personal ties to the history of the Combahee River Bridge, Molly Graham’s descendants were able to get the bridge re-named in her memory and honor. In lasting tribute to how God delivered them to freedom, Molly Graham, her three daughters, Sally, Sarah and Effie, along with Molly’s granddaughter, Louisa Pinckney (mother of Rosa P. Green and Carrie White), all chose to be buried at Hickory Hill Cemetery in Green Pond, which was the closest available burial site to the Combahee River and the area through which God delivered them to freedom.


~ Written by Henry L. Givens, All Rights Reserved


Link to the official SC State Resolution: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess123_2019-2020/bills/3791.htm








Link to the official United States Congressional Record: https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/2019/6/26/extensions-of-remarks-section/article/E851-2


#TellMollysStory #MollysDescendant #LivingLegacy #GranddaughterOfALegend #DaughterOfPurpose #FamilyHistory #FamilyLegacy #Legendary #SCHistory #IAmMollysLegacy #4thofJuly

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