Ransom Hunter: Slave Turned Property Baron

A photo of the home that Ransom Hunter built along West Glendale Avenue when it was still in good condition in the 1960s or 1970s.
Originally published by the Gaston Gazette: Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 11:34 AM.

No plaques or memorials there state that he is strongly believed to be the first freed slave to have owned property in Gaston County. Nor that his home, livery stable and makeshift general store became the hub of a thriving black community known as “Freedom” in the 19th century.

Even his burial site, in a nondescript African-American cemetery along South Hawthorne Street, lacks a clearly visible gravestone.

But his family members have never forgotten his story, his importance in the community, nor the place where he was laid to rest in 1918 after he died at the ripe age of 93.

“When I was growing up as a little boy, we used to always go down there and put flowers on his grave,” said great-grandson Eric Wilson, 55, an architect who now lives in Greensboro. “A tree was planted down there to mark it.”

Over the last two years, a movement has grown to properly recognize Hunter’s place in local history. More than 200 of his descendants will attend a family reunion — their first in two decades— on July 5 at Tuckaseegee Park in Mount Holly. A day later, they’ll gather for a church service and then dedicate new, prominent cemetery markers above the graves of Hunter and four of his family members.

The inscription on Hunter’s new headstone will assert his achievement as a freed slave who broke the mold in owning property — and accomplished much with it — during Reconstruction. For Hunter’s blood relatives, the stately oak tree that has grown to overlook his burial site is a metaphor for the towering reputation of the man himself.

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The Zen of Walt Whitman


I always delight in asking people what they think of poetry, often finding the responses in polarized spectrums. “I adore poetry, it’s everything that is right with the world!,” some may say. “Poetry’s weird,” others may proclaim. I tend to fall into the latter category, often baffled by the underlying meanings and symbols thrown into each line a poet creates. I find poems hard to read, hard to write, and difficult to relate to. But this weekend, the writer in me begged to become more acquainted with the practice of poetry and the wonderful people who create it. 

Why writers should meditate

Walt Whitman was an American poet, essay writer, and journalist, creating his most famous work, Leaves of Grass in the late nineteenth century. He was born and raised on Long Island, and there is a museum in Huntington devoted to his childhood home. Since my inner-writer was screaming for poetry exposure, I decided to make the hour-long trip to learn about this great man who wrote such great things.

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The Quarter-Life Crisis

With the way the world is today, it’s a wonder how everyone isn’t on antidepressants or antipsychotic medications. Every day, we are bombarded with news of how much worse the global economy is getting (Cyprus Crisis, anyone?), outbreaks of war and civil unrest and revolution, and outbreaks of disastrous diseases. Pile this on top of what today’s generation already deals with, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

drawn by Sapphire Diaz
drawn by Sapphire Diaz

Today’s 20-30 year-olds are bombarded with “advice” and ideas and suggestions about how they should do things in life. Everything from what university to attend, what degree to major in, who to date, what social circle to be in, what suburb to live in, what to expect in relationships, what job to get, how much they should make, what possessions they should own – all of it can become overbearing. And with the advent of social networking, we are always sharing and up-to-date on just about everything that is going on in other’s lives, so whenever someone doesn’t have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other networking account, collectively we assume that someone has something to hide, or is anti-social.

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