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209 Posts
Re: JohnnyB learns Latin

WooHoo! Damn this site is worth every last penny.

Yet he may conquer his pusillanimity to counter a cogent argument instead of using his bully pulpit to assail a subscriber.

As an aside, having convictions based upon truth and logic is no error.

Is David on the payroll?

209 Posts
Think again (or perhaps for the first time)

History leads to unlikely union

By Maria Sanminiatelli ASSOCIATED PRESS

SALEM, Va. _ At times, the research was painful for William


Court records, family documents and visits to museums

yielded evidence of slaves, the ships that carried them and

the tools that restrained them.

Now, Mr. Holland's genealogical quest has taken him to a

place that many blacks consider just as offensive: the Sons

of Confederate Veterans.

Mr. Holland decided to join the group after it confirmed

that his great-great-grandfather, Creed Holland, was a slave

who was made to serve as a wagon driver in the Confederate

infantry. Two of William Holland's brothers also have signed

up, a third is considering it, and a sister has applied for

membership in the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

"Why not?" Mr. Holland asked of his family's unusual action,

calling their ancestor's service _ albeit forced _ a point

of immense pride.

"During the whole fiasco with the Civil War, a lot of men

didn't come home. It was a tough time, and to survive that

and come back alive was an accomplishment," he said. "Our

grandfather fought with them, so there will be some respect

for us and for our family."

Organization officials say minorities are almost certainly a

part of the membership in every Southern state chapter,

though the exact number is not known because applicants

aren't asked about their race. The only requirement is proof

that a direct ancestor served "honorably" in the Confederate


Ben C. Sewell III, executive director of the 31,000-member

organization, declined to give an estimate.

"Nobody really knows," Mr. Sewell said, speaking from his

office in Columbia, Tenn. "Obviously, we'd like to have more

black or minority members, because the fact that we have

minorities and welcome them deflects some of the criticism

we seem to get, primarily because of the battle flag."

The group, founded in 1896 to honor the Confederate dead,

has successfully fought to get the Confederate flag logo on

license plates in several states, including Virginia,

Maryland and North Carolina. It also has spent considerable

time maintaining that it is possible to defend the

Confederacy without being a racist.

An organization fact sheet says tens of thousands of blacks

served in the Confederate Army as laborers, teamsters, cooks

and soldiers.

Historians have largely shied away from researching blacks

in the Confederate Army, and precise numbers are hard to

come by, said Gary W. Gallagher, a professor of Civil War

history at the University of Virginia.

"You often see these wildly inflated figures of black

soldiers in the Confederate Army _ 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 _

the implication being that they carried muskets and fought,

and that is simply not true," Mr. Gallagher said. He said

that probably "a handful" of black men fought in the war and

called the number "statistically insignificant."

Mr. Gallagher also dismissed the notion that some of those

black men supported the Confederacy.

"The overwhelming majority of black Confederate soldiers _

and you can put that in quotation marks _ didn't want to be

there but were made to be there," he said.

For many blacks, the notion of joining a group honoring the

Confederacy that enslaved their ancestors is


"I can't even fathom why they would want to be a part of

this," said Milton Reid, who founded the Virginia chapter of

the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "I think there

are some things we have done in the past that should die,

and this should die. I'm talking about the whole idea of the


But for Mr. Holland and his brothers, joining the Sons of

Confederate Veterans and paying the $34 annual membership

fee is a way to honor their ancestors and to better

understand what motivates the group.

"I want to learn both sides of it and also educate others by

what I might learn," said Mr. Holland, 33, who lives in


"It's hard, especially for our side. But you can't always

sweep things under the carpet. At some point, you just have

to sit down and talk about it. That's the best way you can

resolve issues, period."

Mr. Holland's curiosity was aroused years ago by the stories

his father, Sam Holland Sr., told about growing up in a

segregated Virginia.

He knew that his great-great-grandfather had been a slave on

a Franklin County plantation owned by descendants of Thomas

Johnson Holland, who bought the 732 acres of land in 1850.

There, his family grew tobacco and grain, and produced

moonshine before it became illegal.

While leafing through Franklin County's court records,

William Holland discovered Creed Holland's marriage license

from 1868. His research led him to Hazel Holland Davis,

whose family was a slaveholder of Creed Holland and who

still lives in the family home. Mrs. Davis also was

researching her ancestors and had unearthed a list of the

plantation's slaves who had received Confederate pensions.

Creed Holland was among them.

Last month, Mrs. Davis mentioned Creed Holland's service

record to Robert W. "Red" Barbour, the former state

commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Mr. Barbour

approached John Wayne Holland, his colleague at Yokohama

Tire in Salem, and asked whether he was related to William

Holland. Upon hearing that the men were brothers, Mr.

Barbour asked John Holland if he would join the


"I felt honored," said John Holland, 47. "It's a good

education to be able to get along with people from all walks

of life. And history is history, so you go back in time and

learn things."

William Holland followed soon after, and a few weeks later,

37-year-old Ben Holland signed the organization's membership

papers under Mr. Barbour's satisfied gaze.

The brothers said they were surprised to learn their

great-great-grandfather had served in the Confederate Army.

They said they had never been taught about the role of

slaves or free blacks in the Civil War.

"A lot of people don't want to learn about it," said Ben

Holland, a maintenance supervisor for the American Red Cross

in Roanoke. "But you've got to relive history. How are you

going to outline your future if you don't know about your


To Ben Holland, the Confederate flag isn't offensive. Many

of his school friends displayed it on their cars and outside

their western Virginia homes.

"It wasn't no big deal. It wasn't no racist deal. It's

heritage," Ben Holland said. "A lot of people say that's

hatred. No, it's not. It's heritage."

So far, the brothers say they haven't been criticized for

joining the organization.

"It's their constitutional right and their heritage, and

they shouldn't be harassed," Mr. Barbour said. "And the

harassment is going to come from their side, not ours."

William Holland said he hopes to turn his research into a

book or documentary about the friendship between the black

Hollands and the white Hollands. He also plans to take his

genealogical quest to his ancestors' home tribe, the Ibo

farming community in Nigeria.

"People think you're a descendant of a slave," he said. "But

who were you before that?"
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