photo and map of family plot

Blurry photo of land in Bovina, MS. 1990s.
Blurry photo of land in Bovina, MS. 1990s.

My grandmother, born Barbara Kline, went to Bovina, Mississippi in 1998 to see the land her dad grew up on. The italics throughout represent her research notes from this trip. 

In 1924, the Klines purchased a plot of land in Bovina, becoming the only black landowners for miles. I know very little about the forces that enabled them to do so at the time—they were the direct and very recent descendants of slaves (my grandma has traced her father's lineage to a girl named Amanda, born a slave in MS sometime 1840-50, and was unable to trace her mother’s lineage). The fact that my family could then purchase land so soon after emancipation is astounding. Especially since many of the other black folks they knew were sharecroppers. They would always speak about this or that person sharecropping. 

The story that I’ve heard the most about my great-grandfather Addison is about how he came to live in Chicago as a 17-year-old: As young adults, Addison occasionally did work for one of their white neighbors. One day Addison and the neighbor got into a fight of some kind. The white neighbor slapped Addison, and Addison slapped back. Grandmother Kline knew there would be trouble so she made Dad hide under a wagon. When a group of white men came to get Dad, Grandmother said that she hadn’t seen him, but when she did she would beat him good and then bring him over to the neighbor’s farm. That night Dad’s family got him on a freight train heading to Chicago. Dad did not return to Mississippi for many years. He returned only then to bury his father.

~70 years later in 1994, I was born in Chicago.

Place(s): Mississippi, Chicago
Year: 1923

– Erin Reid

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