A few years ago, in doing research for the book, I stumbled across an 1870 deed in Haywood County written up by a Methodist minister who sold most of his land to an extended black family he and wife had once enslaved. Will Thomas was born about a mile from this property.
At first I had difficulty understanding the deed. Then slowly I assembled estate documents and genealogical data, and a picture began to emerge of a remarkable act of reparation and the backlash it generated. The result is this essay published in Lapham Quarterly’s Roundtable Blog. Many thanks to all the editors there who believed in it and worked so hard on it.