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Anecdotal information is vitally important to history

Guest Column
Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Hays County Historical Commission’s research to correct errors is “dead on arrival,” non-systematic, and half-hearted at best. As reflected in Ms. Johnson’s “Letter to the Editor,” — “The research is focusing on primary documents rather than secondary sources and anecdotal information.”

The overwhelming preponderance of Black American History has been secondary and anecdotal. A history that was denied, abridged, adulterated and rewritten to the betterment and benefit of white America. For centuries this history has been from secondary sources and anecdotal information. Americans and specifically The Hays County Historical Commission should not devalue these two valuable research instruments in its to quest to correct errors. Eventually, through DNA, our genealogy has been established with a reasonably degree of certainty.

Notable examples for me where secondary and anecdotal information proved true include:

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, who fathered biracial children.

James Strom Thurmond, Sr., an American politician, who served for 48 years as a United States Senator from South Carolina. He went to his grave vociferously proclaiming that Black Americans should not have Civil Rights, the Right to Vote, and that segregation should be maintained; however, he also fathered a biracial child.

My Father, a janitor, would also today would be considered a process server. “Buddy, I need a ‘birth certificate’ to get a job. Buddy, why do I need a birth certificate, I am here ain’t I?’” my Cousin Bite would ask.

This example exemplifies most vividly a secondary source and anecdotal information. Daddy secured her birth certificate and for many other people.

My boyhood heroes were a little different from whom kids idolize today.

My heroes did not have laser weapons, cloaking suits et cetera. Whom I did have was The Lone Ranger and Tonto. In my later years I discovered that The Lone Ranger was a Black Man. He beat his master up and escaped from slavery. His life and accomplishments were legend. The Lone Ranger was patterned after the real life exploits of United States Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves. United States Deputy Marshal Mat Dillon profoundly pales in comparison.

During Reconstruction, Texas was patrolled by the Texas State Police and included Black police officers. With the election of Governor Richard Coke, the Texas State Police was disbanded and reincarnated as the Texas Rangers. He sought to disfranchise Blacks, Mexican Americans and poor whites through the use of poll taxes and white primaries. For me when “the first Black Texas Ranger” was touted in 1988, this appointment was an affront to Black Americans and blatantly illuminated our lack of knowledge of our own history.

So many of “firsts” in history have been purported to be the first when in actuality they were not. They were selected egregiously and fallaciously touted because they were palatable to a racist America.

In closing, to the Hays County Historical Commission – Ms. Charlotte Rayne Bryant, my granddaughter, is able to trace her genealogy back to a Prussian King of 1018. Her family history, through her mother’s side, is documented in a tome. The Wendish, Comanche, West African, and Irish side of her father’s ancestry is presently secondary and anecdotal. With present documentation, we are getting there.

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Bryant is a resident of San Marcos