Local News

March 18, 2013

Tracing green thumbs from slavery to freedom

PLATTSBURGH — Jacqueline “Jackie” Madison learned how to tend growing things while a child summering with her maternal grandparents in Darlington, S.C.

She claims she is not as prolific as her forebears, who had a farm that she now jointly owns with family members.

“I do tomatoes, peppers, onions and things we use a lot of,” said Madison, who lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Calvin, and daughters, Jaquenette and Calexandria Madison.

This marks her sixth year growing Concord grapes in the North Country.

“I had a huge crop when we had that rainy summer three or four years ago,” she said. “I realized grapes like a lot of water.”

She gifts extended-family members with grape jam at Christmastime.

“My sister-in-law’s been collecting jars to send back to me.”

Madison, a very busy woman, makes the time for canning while serving as the director of the Mooers Free Library and president of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association.

She and her husband are both U.S. Army veterans. She is also a former chair of the Girls Scouts of the North Country and retired as principal-information analyst at Pfizer.

It wasn’t until she became a founding-board member of the association that she looked at her own family history through a different lens.

She will be speaking on that topic in “From Slavery to Citizenship: One family’s story of the impact of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama on ordinary African Americans” at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Peru Free Library.

“Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had a big effect on slaves at that time,” she said. “I’m telling how that impacted my great-grandmother.”

Dinah Mack was born enslaved in about 1855 in Darlington, which is 45 minutes west of Myrtle Beach.

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