Family Racism

October 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Research Notes

My maternal great-grandmother, Jennie Daisy Hood was born in the tiny little town of Waterford, Pennsylvania on March 12, 1867. She was the daughter of Andrew Coover Hood and Clarissa Scribner. By all rights, Jennie should have stayed a small town girl, married a young man who her parents knew and stayed in the area where her family had been since right after the American Revolution. But she didn’t.

I’ll never know what – but something drew Jennie away to Washington, D.C. where I found her in the city directory in the mid-1880’s working as a chambermaid. This probably meant that she was working in a private home doing housework and making a meager wage as the “help”. I need to do more research to see if I can find out who my great grandmother was working for in that job so far away from home.

My Great Grandmother in Her Later Years

During her time away in Washington, I believe she met her future husband and my great grandfather, Prince Albert Weaver. There’s so much I don’t know about him but I do know that he was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in D.C. So it’s likely that Jennie and Prince Albert met there. They married in Cleveland, Ohio on September 2, 1889 – an event that was not celebrated by Jennie’s family because Prince Albert was African American and Jennie was White.

In fact, from the time Jennie got married, her father never spoke to her again. Despite this she would make periodic visits to her hometown of Waterford. I wonder if she thought her father would get over the fact the she had an inter-racial marriage. But according to the oral history of our family, he ever did.

Apparently, though, Jennie continued to visit her mother and eventually take her oldest daughters along – Hazel and Clarissa. Hazel was my grandmother. Here they are as girls:

Young Hazel and Clara Weaver

As the story goes, on one visit when my grandmother and great-aunt were in their teens, their grandmother announced that perhaps they shouldn’t come to visit again because the girls were beginning to show their “colored heritage”. According to our family history, Jennie was outraged by this slur against her children. She never visited her parents again. It’s sad to think that my great grandmother lost the relationship with her parents because of racism.