Sunday, December 30, 2007
In the beginning...
How does an African-American youngster raised by a single mother in rural Texas around the turn of the century become one of the most popular baseball players of his time, and one of the best ballplayers of all time?
You could begin in Orange County, Virginia, where his grandfather Calvin Williams was born into slavery on July 4, 1830. Calvin was orphaned as a child and was raised by a white woman named Adeline Abernathie. As an adult he worked as a farmer in or near Richmond, where he had a front row view of the Civil War. It was there, when Richmond fell to Union troops in April, 1865 that Calvin's adventures began. Without Calvin there would be no Joe Williams. And without Calvin's adventures there probably would be no "Smokey" Joe Williams.
The photograph is of a Richmond slave market that Calvin may have passed through when he arrived in that city from his childhood home in Orange County.