My Great Granddaddy- William The Conqueror
The Veil Was Thin
So yesterday was Sunday. Sunday is my day for meditation, yard work, mindfulness, communing wit nature. As I was moving from my back yard to my front yard, I saw out of the corner of my eye, fully, yall not gonna tell me I didn’t see this cause I did, a black man dressed in old-timey clothes, BOLDLY, and I mean this dude was so bold and brazen, leaning against a tree that is in the center of my yard.
I MEAN HE WAS BOLD! Posted up! Leaning against the tree, really cool, as if to say:
Very quickly, my mind registered the image, and was like:
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! You can’t just be posted up like this! Ain’t this a violation of some time-space continuum rules or some shit like that? I mean…you can be here and all, but not in my front yard! How would I explain this to anybody? You look like you straight out 1910…or some shit like that! DUDE! Come on now!
I turned to look directly at him…and of course nothing was there.
Earlier that day, my girl Silly Tea, who can tell you a whole hell of a lot about Voodoo (but she doesn’t practice Voodoo) as well as the African God pantheon (But she don’t fuck with none of them Gods, they too demanding) and magick (but she don’t fuck with magick either as she talks about how it gets too dark, to quick), had told me:
The veil is thin today. It’s a powerful day. There’ s no telling what you might see.
Garbage in garbage out. It’s not like I don’t believe the veils get thin. They do. I could tell you some real-life creepy Halloween stories, for real. It’s just that, what you going to do? I don’t really plan for it, or wait for it or anything like that. So, after she told me that I pretty much forgot all about it.
But seriously! You’re not going to tell me what I saw. Right out of the corner of my eye. A young-looking guy, wearing old time clothes, pressing against my tree! This was so wild I had to draw a picture of it. (And I cannot draw yall, so this is gonna look crazy, but you’re gonna get an idea, at least.)
So, after I tried to look directly at him, (and nothing was there) my mind began to more fully process what had happened. I said to myself:
Someone came through…who was that?
My William The Conqueror
I knew it was one of my ancestors. But I had no idea which one. I have been on ancestry.com, messing around in the names and the histories of a lot of them. I know almost nothing about the black men in my ancestry. Practically, next to nothing. But there is one in particular that I am interested in. William Rogers. This is my maternal grandmother’s father. Therefore, he is my great grandfather. I never met him. I don’t know if anyone even knows when or how he died! There’s no record of it on ancestry. He was alive in 1945. I know this because he was bouncing about, (this negro stayed bouncing) from West Virginia to North Carolina to Virginia. He stayed bouncing do I know this?
Yo it’s 2021 I am here! and, I am THE MAN!
Birth and death records. He was always signing someone’s birth and/or death record…which I guess was an important thing to do back in the day. Check out this delayed birth record that he signed (for his brother George) on September 26, 1945. The record says his brother was born in Halifax, Virginia. However, William puts his address as Ansted West Virginia (and that’s the Rogers homestead we all know, for better or worse, Ansted.)
Anyway, that dude, on my front lawn? About two minutes after I saw him out the corner of my eye) it hit me, who he was! He was William Rogers! How do I know? He looked just like the man, in the picture below! Just like him!
And the coolest thing about seeing him? I didn’t just see him, I felt him. I know this is gonna sound weird and crazy, and yall might talk about me and be like…well you know…she got…whatever. I can feel energy. I have always been able to feel the energy of a person. It’s like everyone has a unique energetic signature. Some are very faint…they don’t have a very strong presence…but others are like WHOA!
This dude was like WHOA! His energy was so powerful! He felt cool and sexy. He felt like a conqueror! (Is it gross to say that about your great grandfather? I am struggling with it, okay?)
But he has such swagger! This dude was posted up, on my front lawn, like “Yo I don’t give a fuck that it’s 2021 I am here! and, I am THE MAN!”
Like straight up! That is the energy he was giving off! That’s all I can tell you about my encounter with Will Rogers. Like , he didn’t tell me to do anything (like my Grandpa Granger STAY bugging me about my yard and my compost pile that he made me start.) Grandpa G, be like;
You got all this land, and you not doing anything with it, you not doing anything with it!
Like that seriously bugs him. Land is to be worked, in Grandpa G’s mind. He just stays on me about that. (Silly Tea is helping me to do a tea garden Grandpa Granger, is you happy? Can you chill out about the land now?)
But Will, didn’t say nothing to me. He was just like:
I see you. I see you.
Well, it’s nice to be seen, is it not?
Later he came to me in my dreams showing me all these big, big plants. As if to say:
Your plants are going to be THIS BIG!
These were some unnaturally big plants; And I don’t know if that is really gonna happen, because my attempts at gardening before, have been very hit and miss. But this time I got some back up. Silly Tea is going to help me; She’s going to be growing produce to be used in her product line at Naturally Loving Products. (Check it out! Silly Tea sells some dope beauty products that I swear by! You wanna have a nice relaxing bath, you gotta have some of them bath salts! You gotta! Check her out! Get a subscription box cause my girl’s product line is DOPE!
The Jordans Were Free and the Rogers Stayed Bouncing
When I told Silly Tea about Will, she was like:
Well you got what you wanted!
In a way. In a way. Ever since I have been on ancestry.com learning the most fascinating thing about my ancestors, what I learn just leads to more questions than answers. It’s like trying to unravel the biggest ball of tangled string. Take the Jordans. Harold Jordan’s uplines? All free black people. All free! No slavery in their history! How is that? Did you even know that there was such a thing totally free blacks in America? Like how did they get here? Are they native Americans like my wacky sis, insists that we all are? Indians who fell for some insane mindfuck? (That’s what she insists.)
As far as I can trace back, (and I can trace back pretty far with the Jordans, at least the early 1700s) there are no slaves anywhere in the family! THAT IS DOPE!
And Will…my Will the Conqueror, he hails (due to his white paternity) from a line of British Aristocracy that looks like it traces all the way back to William the Conqueror. Yes! THE WILL THE CONQUEROR, King of England, in about 1000 AD!
How did we get from there to here? We, black Rogers, the descendants of William Rogers, as far as I know back to trace back to Ansted,West Virginia. Like that was solely our spot. I’ve heard, through our family griot, Mittie Jordan, as well as my mom Wanda Jordan Granger Birch, (too many names, too many names) that William Rogers practically owned the town.
But how did that happen? That’s what got me on ancestry in the first place! How in the hell did this dude, one generation out of slavery, build himself a mini-empire in West Virginia? I’m not getting the answers off ancestry. Aunt Mittie told me he had like some magical ability to do something with coal, and because of that, he was paid.
It takes my mom talking about that family picture to point out the proof that he was paid. First of all, all the family members in the picture (and damn! It’s a lot of them!) was STYLIN during the depression!
They had on full outfits. They had on shoes. This was actually rare for the time. During the depression (and that’s when this picture was taken) People was poor, poor, poor.
And then, even after the depression, Black award-winning photojournalist Gordon Parks, who often chronicled the lives of black folks during the mid-century, showed that the poverty was real. Kids are often wearing no shoes.
And…let’s not even touch on Flavio, in Brazil. Gordon went to Brazil, took pictures and wrote an essay about Flavio (the boy pictured below) that broke America’s heart. (The pictures were featured in Life magazine.)
The story he wrote about Flavio, (“Flavio’s Home”) caused America to lose its shit! There was a big drive to save this boy from certain death. Americans did it. But ironically, coming to American (for life-saving health care)drove Flavio crazy. Once he was healthy, he was returned to Brazil. But he was obsessed with getting back to America. He thought it was a never-ending Disney land over here. (And for some, indeed it is.) Flavio could think of nothing else, but getting back. I think in the end it killed him.
I used to teach this essay when I taught literature at Northern Virginia Community College. It will break your fucking heart. It shows that Americans do not really know poverty…not like Brazilians know poverty. As my sis always says, “America is a good place to be a poor person.” Used to be anyway…these days…I just don’t know! Anyway, I digress. Back to our family.
For the times, Will Rogers was a paid, paid mfer! For one thing, he traveled A LOT. And for any of us who have traveled, we all know, that it’s expensive! It ain’t cheap. Yet ad still, from ancestry. I can see that the man stayed bouncing! He was all over West Virginia, and then Virginia and North Carolina! He stayed bouncing! I can trace him moving about in the records he signed.
I don’t know why he moved about so much, nor do I know how. I mean, have you seen this dude? Dark as coal! (and before yall, Oh she so bougie and light-skinned- attack me,) I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being dark as coal. I think black is beautiful! Chillax! Chillax! Calm down!
I am just saying it is not easy for dark-skinned black men to just bounce around America freely. Not even in 2021. Surely it could not have been any different back in the early to mid 1900s, when the man was doing all this bouncing!
How was he doing it?
That energy man! That energy! It was powerful! Maybe even mystical and magical! Maybe great grandaddy knew some Jedi tricks! I don’t know yall! It’s still a mystery to me.
A Lil Down and Dirty History About these Rogers Men (White and Black)
Well, here are a few down and dirty facts that might interest you. The Rogers show the power of the patriarchy. What is the patriarchy? I am going to define it for you, in case you don’t know:
A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.
So, these Rogers just keep going and going, and going all the way back to 1000 AD. That’s about where the line ends; and it looks they was kicking it with William the Conqueror. Now when these types started kicking it together, they always intermingled and intermarried, and so that’s why it is believed that we trace back to that William the conqueror.
Anyway, the Rogers started out in America around the late 1600s, early 1700s with Giles Fitz Rogers, who was born in Edinburgh Scotland, in 1643, and popped up over here, around 1670. He somehow got a hold of 400 acres of land in Virginia at that time.
Now keep in mind, that back in the day, land was wealth. So, dude had some resources coming over here from England. The notes on him say:
He brought with him his wife, Rachel Eastham, three children, building material for his house, artisans, servants, and laborers to build the house. He came over with his own ships. Giles Rogers’ motto on his coat of arms was “Act Justly and Fear Not.”
The Rogers started out in Virginia (my mom told me that). Both sides of my family actually started out in Virginia. Richmond was one of the major, major slave commerce, transportation hubs, so our slave relatives (and you can tell they are slaves because they just pop up out of nowhere in these ancestry records) were coming in through Virginia. Most of the slaves that I am finding, are women. The women in our family pop up on these plantations out of nowhere, and get impregnated- and that is just real talk about how we tap into this British aristocracy.
We should count ourselves lucky that they even wrote the names of our ancestors down. A lot of these records just have (slave) and then there will be no names, just numbers like inventory. Sometimes there are names. With all of our female relatives, there are names: but these women just pop up out of nowhere. They have no lineage recorded on their behalf before they popped up on these plantations. Some of the names of these women are: Mary Bailey, Mittie Bailey, Tabbie Rogers. Those maternal lines end with those names, around the mid 1800s.
Prior to Ansted, the Rogers were kicking it in Persons, North Carolina (that’s were Tabbie (Wiley’s mother, and Williams grandmother) seems to be from.
That’s because the big daddy, a white guy named John Rogers (and I kid you not there are like 50 John Rogers in this paternal upline, they just kept using the same names over and over and over and over and over again! It’s very confusing! I just number them.) purchased about 900 acres of land there in 1757.
If you are in my generation, this John Rogers is your great granddaddy to the fifth power. There are about 7 of them going upward, after Bird, (who I believe was Wiley’s father-but it gets tricksy…I’ll explain later.)
Wiley is William’s father. Fun fact about Wiley (the first Black male Rogers) he had three wives and twenty kids! He was a super-ho! William, our great grandaddy was his first-born son, but he had a daughter first. I can’t remember her name, and I do think it is important, BUT, these Rogers just have a lot of names and people and it just goes on and on and on. Ihill traced out about 15,000 people…so come on. I can’t remember all of that.
Are you following me? OMG, it’s a lot of people and it gets really confusing, really quick!
But after Byrd, there are about 6 Johns going upward. We get a break with Giles before they go back to John.
The Rogers loved to use about 10 names, and that’s it. They just kept using the same 10 names over and over and over again for centuries!
For boys these names were: John (that is their fucking favorite!) Giles, George, Peter, Bird(Byrd) and Roger.
For girls these names were: Mary, Ann, Mary-Ann (see how they changed that up, watch out there now!) Rachel, and Lucy
The John Rogers that set up shop in Persons, North Carolina also seemed to be affiliated with a planation or something also going on in Halifax, Virginia (which is not that far from Persons.) There are lots and lots of Rogers descendants steadily popping up in those two places.
John Rogers is our great granddaddy to the fifth power, if you are in my generation. If you are in the generation before me (like mom Wanda), obviously he is your great grandaddy to the 4th power. If you are in the generation after me (like my sons, Langston, Jalen and Camron) he is your great grandaddy to the 6th power.
These Rogers roll deep. There are a lot of them. There are a lot of white ones and black ones. It hurts my head trying to keep track of them! Shout out to ihill998 on ancestry! He is the one who actually did all the work on the Rogers family tree. This white guy, (I can tell he is white by the rest of his family trees, which he has thoroughly traced out about six of them, all going back to England) is the one who traced the Rogers line all the way back to 1000 AD. I would have never had the time! I didn’t even copy Ihill’s info onto my own tree, because it is so tedious, (this ancestry shit is tedious as all hell! ) I just look at his tree, and I pull the information from there.
Well, this is your introduction to your,” I AM THE MAN”, great grandaddy! And also genealogy and your uplines replete with British Aristocracy!
Are yall as confused as I am? I know. It’s confusing!
Well, this is my first installment on the Rogers’ line. I will revisit the Rogers Line, ummm, when I have the time. And I don’t quite know when that will be cause I am lawyer…and very busy!
But if anyone wants to help me trace this back and research this, I will give you access to my ancestry account. Just let me know. We can do this! Figure this out, together!
A Ghetto Princess Speaks
*even though this post wasn’t even all that ghetto!