Cup for Carrying Water

My great-great-grandfather James Leftenant was born into freedom in Goose Creek, SC. Both his parents and older siblings were newly freed slaves, and he knew that he wanted a different way of life. He had two children with his first wife, and one of those children was my great-grandmother Orana Leftenant. After his first wife died, Grandad Leftenant remarried a woman named Eunice, with whom he had six more children. They were sharecroppers, but their minds were not on agriculture. In the early 1920s, my Grandad Leftenant and his sons headed North. When the family had enough money, Grandma Leftenant and her daughters got on a cargo ship heading up the Atlantic. On their voyage, this cup was one of the items they brought with them. When the women landed, the family was reunited. It was 1923, and my great-great-grandparents were some of the first of only a handful of Black American families to come from the South to the town of Amityville on Long Island. My family is not certain of the cup’s purpose but believe it was used to help carry water from the wells in SC and NY. This cup is a symbol of pursuit. My great-great-grandparents wanted to get out of the South, and when the men left, Grandma Leftenant and her daughters waited for their chance to make a new life in the North as well. From Southern sharecroppers to Northern migrants to independent landowners, this cup was with them on their journey and reminds me of how I got to where I am today.

Year: 1923

– Maia Bedford

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more