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Remembering the Redd Slaves

by Tonya Reiter 
    
     Recently, as many of you already know, the Redd family has been involved in genetic genealogy research to help us learn more about our origins and the forgotten branches of our family.  In the last decade there has also been new interest in the histories of Utah’s black pioneers.  Scholars, many of whom are LDS, have begun to reexamine and reevaluate the stories that have been told about these African Americans, including their familial relationships and their status in early Utah.  How do these two areas of research intersect?
    When John Hardison Redd immigrated to Utah Territory in 1850, he brought his wife, Elizabeth, their children, and six Blacks.  Lura Redd tells us that there were two African American women who were Elizabeth’s maids and four mixed race young people who accompanied the family across the plains.  She thought the young people were the children of the maids, Venus and Chaney.  John Hardison Redd was not the only Southerner who brought slaves or former slaves into Deseret or Utah Territory.  One large company of Mississippi Saints arrived in Utah with their slaves in 1848, and went on to colonize San Bernardino with Amasa Lyman in 1851. 
      A remarkable fact about these black servants is that Venus and Chaney had been baptized by John D. Lee in Tennessee, along with John Hardison and Elizabeth.  After the Redds settled in Spanish Fork, these women were rebaptized, together with the white family members.  On that same day, Chaney’s daughter, Amy, and the other young black woman who was attached to the family, Marinda, were baptized for the first time and became church members.  Many of the early Utah blacks were LDS and were baptized while still in slavery.
     Now that new research is being done on the early Blacks in Utah, and a new historiography is developing examining the existence of slavery and its practice in the Territory, new light is being shed on the Redd slaves and their relationship to John Hardison and Elizabeth.  There is a long, but largely forgotten history of African Americans in the LDS church that is currently being reviewed, revitalized, and retold.
            For a long time it has been assumed that the Redd slaves died, leaving no descendants, but very recently that assumption has been disproven.  Both Marinda and Venus’s son Luke did have children, and Luke, at least, does have living descendants.  More DNA testing is being done to establish exactly what the biological relationships are, but it looks like while we were concentrating our efforts in looking at the roots of our family tree, there were branches we were not aware of.  As more information becomes available, we will publish it or link to it on our family website.
Redd Wagons West Quilt 
          
        
Celebrate your Redd family heritage with this quilt designed by Judy Lyon. Each square represents a historical event from the life of John Hardison Redd and family. Patterns for the Redd Wagons West Quilt are still available for purchase on the Redd Family Website. Click here for more information.


Call for Documents 
The Redd family organization is looking for original documents associated with John Hardison Redd, Elizabeth Hancock and their progenitors to create a Redd Family archive. We will facilitate scanning of original documents and pictures of any items you have. Please contact Amelia Fenn (ameliamfenn@gmail.com) if you have any of these items and would be willing for us to make digital copies or if you have any other questions. Once we have digital copies we will publicly share these documents so that all can have access. 
                                       

Example: This notebook belonged to Thomas Butler, son of John Lowe Butler, who carried this on his mission in Kentucky and Tennessee from 1887-1888. 

Barbara McPhee is writing a life sketch of Lura Redd and is looking for original documents. If you have anything you would be willing to share please contact Jan Garbett (jan@reddfamily.org). 

Lura Redd 
 

Copyright © 2016 John H Redd & Elizabeth Hancock Family Organization, All rights reserved. 

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