EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSSLAVERY ERASED
from Eyewitness News Online
Judge Erases Slavery From Family's Past
Reported by: Darrah Wilcox
Web Producer: Darrah Wilcox
Reported: Apr. 6, 2012 5:52 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 6, 2012 6:51 PM EDT
Wayne , Wayne County , West Virginia
More than 150 years later, a local family is finally getting justice for their ancestors.
Jimmy Hale's great-great-grandfather and three siblings, Harrison, Nelson, Louisa and Anna Polly were born as free African-Americans in the 1800s in Kentucky. They moved to Ohio and were kidnapped as children. They were forced into slavery in what was then Wayne County, Virginia.
They fought for their freedom, but were never officially granted it until the Emancipation Proclamation. Nine generations later, family members from all over the country came to Wayne County to get the record of slavery erased from their family history. Hale says, "This is just a special event that's bringing maybe some closure to some other things that are going on in this country."
I would not have missed it.
Ylonne Polley Fullen came up from Atlanta for the hearing and says she wouldn't have missed it.
After reading sworn testimony from the 1850s and taking all the evidence into consideration, judge Darrell Pratt finally proclaimed, "The court does hereby judge, order, decree and declare that Harrison Polly, Louisa Polly, and Anna Polly were and are free persons as of March 22, 1859." Nelson Polly died before being freed in the 1850s.
Hale says, "I can look at my family and say, we were not always slaves. We were set free. We were free people.
Fullen says they are "proud we are that we have made it here. How proud we are of Wayne County for allowing this to happen and for all of the people who have come together to make this a possibility.
Hale says he's glad that chapter in their life can have a happier ending now. "This is amazing. It really is. Our heritage is that we are all people here in this country and we live together and we love together, we worship together, and we work together."
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