Librarian Travels to Canada to Find Slave Link
Clarissa Bristow grew up in bondage on a New Orleans plantation in the 1800s, becoming a personal maid to the owner's family while she was still a child. But when she was brought to Detroit as a baby sitter for her mistress' summer vacation, she realized that Canada and freedom were close at hand, according to family history. She decided to return home after that trip, but her mother urged her to try to escape if she ever got a second chance.
In 1850, at the age of 12, she did. On another trip to Michigan, she fled into Ontario and was guided to the small settlement of Buxton nestled near Lake Erie. It had been started a year earlier by a group of former slaves from East Feliciana Parish.
"This story is one of many that shows the strong connection between this state and that Canadian community," said Edna Jordan Smith of Baton Rouge, a teacher of genealogical research at Bluebonnet Public Library. Smith hopes to lead a group of Louisiana residents on a Labor Day weekend visit to meet people who could be their long-lost Canadian cousins.
"So far, no direct link has been found between the descendants of African-Americans who migrated to the Buxton area 150 years ago and the descendants of the relatives they left behind," said Alice Newby, curator of the Ontario Hamlet's Museum.
'Sleepytime Down South' Author Leon Rene Revisits SU Campus
By Cleo Joffrion
Standing on the bluffs above the Mississippi River in Scotlandville in 1915, a 13-year-old boy watched boats rounding the great bend of the river at sunset.
That image remained with him, and 17 years later in Los Angeles, Leon Rene wrote "Sleepytime Down South," a song loved by millions worldwide and identified with the act of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong.
Leon Rene returned to Southern University recently, the first time since his brief stint at the school 64 years ago to be recognized by the Southern University Band for his achievements in the recording and publishing industry and to present some memorabilia to the university library archives.
A native of Covington, the 77-year-old was last in Louisiana for the July 4, 1976 unveiling of a bronze statue of Satchmo in New Orleans. Before that, he hadn't visited the state in 40 years.
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