The Second Annual Juneteenth Family Day attracted families from as far away as West Columbia to the Stringfellow Orchards in Hitchcock.
Samuel Collins III, who has lived in the area all his life, "discovered" the Stringfellow property in 2004, after looking beyond a Texas historical marker on Highway 6. His research revealed that Stringfellow, a renowned horticulturist was also distinguished by his treatment of his workers, freedmen who were working for wages. He paid a dollar a day, twice the amount that neighboring landowners paid.
Collins, a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch, and his wife Doris, cleared the area that had become overgrown during the the past decades and restored the home and its spacious lawn. The landscaping project includes the planting of new fruit trees.
Collins welcomed the crowd on Saturday and introduced Marty Baker of Merrill Lynch, a major sponsor of the event.
Betty Massey, who has represented Texas on the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the past nine years, praised the restoration of the Stringfellow estate and announced that Collins has replaced her on the board of the Trust.
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Dr. Michael Bergman, superintendent of the Hitchcock Independent School District, was among the public officials in attendance.
Local historian Alex Pratt from Galveston College spoke about The
History of Juneteenth.
Jim and Lynda Guidry assumed the roles of Henry and Alice Stringfellow in a short living history play written by Sam Collins and entitled, "One Dollar A Day." Real Player MP3
Note: the quality of a portion of this recording is very poor.
Stephen Chism, author of "The Afterlife of Leslie Stringfellow- A Nineteenth-Century Southern Family’s Experiences with Spiritualism" spoke on Henry Stringfellow's Impact in the Black Community.
Talking Back Living History Theatre, a professional group, provided several live performances, including the recreation of a "jumping de broom" wedding.
Ted Ellis, a renowned local artist and one of Collins’ clients at Merrill Lynch, unveiled a painting he began at last year’s celebration at Stringfellow Orchards.
Loretta Washington, seated beneath a huge oak tree, sang three songs.
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Despite the rumble of thunder in the distance, only a few drops of rain fell during the daylong event.