JPPM archaeologists had long known that a stone house foundation, overgrown with weeds, sat in the woods in front of you. But who had lived there was a mystery. Then in 1996, two former local residents—-Daniel and Minnie Octavia Gross Brown—-were interviewed by JPPM staff. Daniel described walking through the woods in the 1940s going from the St. Leonard Creek house of Minnie Octavia's mother to his job at the Patterson Farm (now JPPM). Along the way he passed the ruined cabin of his wife's great-great grandmother, a formerly enslaved woman named Sukeek. Armed with this vital piece of family tradition, archaeologists began to study the site in detail. Oral history, like that provided by the Browns, and their relatives, can reveal valuable information that is not available from any other source.
(Inscription under the photos in the upper left) Daniel Brown; Minnie Octavia Gross Brown.
(Inscription under the image in the center) Daniel Brown passed by Sukeek's Cabin as he walked from his mother-in-law's house to work at the Patterson farm.
(Inscription under the image in the upper center) 1850 slave census, showing enslaved people held by George Patterson, owner of the JPPM property at that time. The typed names are speculations by JPPM staff. Slaves were not named in this census.
According to family tradition, Sukeek had a daughter named Sobeck or Rebecca, and a granddaughter named Jane Dawkins Johnson.
Jane reportedly died of a broken heart she was told, in error, that her son had been killed while serving in Europe during World War I.
Knowing this, JPPM staff looked for death certificates from that time, and soon found Jane's. On it, he mother was listed as Becky Coats—giving us Sobeck's full identity, and confirming the accuracy of the family stories.
(Inscription under the photo in the far upper right) Eliza Gross and her daughter Evelyn and Bessie. Eliza was Jane Johnson's daughter, great-great-granddaughter of Sukeek, and the mother of Minnie Octavia Gross Brown.
(Inscription under the photo in the lower right) Jane Johnson's death certificate.