The following recollections are based on memories, interviews, and journals about six black American siblings—the Whiteheads, collected and written by one of the siblings’ grandchildren. Some of these recollections and dialogue may be presented differently than what historically may have occurred. Around the turn of the twentieth century, two families—Miles and Sharp—came together to create a huge family over many generations. This is a story of both triumphs and hardships from a typical American family...
Thomas Jefferson Miles and Georgiana Sharp Miles, 1872-1962
Thomas Jefferson Miles, with such a famous namesake, found out about his family lineage and passed down his findings from his children to his grandchildren, some of them named Whitehead.
"I was told some years ago that our family’s genesis is from the West Coast of Africa, particularly the country of Nigeria, west of the River Niger," Thomas once explained. "This information came from my great-grandfather, "Kwana," later to become Warner Miles. "Kwana" is the name from the people of the Yoruba and Ogoni tribes." He paused for others to absorb the information. "Which means good and brilliant respectfully."
Thomas Jefferson (TJ) was a thinker, and through his intelligence graduated as valedictorian at Alcorn College in Lorman, Mississippi. He became a "Reverend" after being called to the ministry. He was ordained and licensed as a preacher of the Gospel.
His future wife, Georgiana Sharp, met TJ after she and her family had moved from North Carolina. Much of their courtship was through letters as Thomas Jefferson was still attending college. Georgiana wasn’t able to receive as much education as TJ, but her lack of schooling didn’t hinder her wisdom and elegance.
Georgiana was a good mother to her children and was quite creative in sewing. She would make clothes and quilts for her whole family. As an outstanding cook, Georgiana invited people from the neighborhood to eat.
"C’mon in and eat," Georgiana encouraged, and her guests would take a seat and dine together at a crafted table made by her husband.
"What’s your favorite dish?" One such guest asked her.
"Chicken and dumplings made out of old fate hens," said Georgiana.
With her husband as a dedicated preacher, Georgiana Sharp Miles loved God. She often was heard humming "I Will Trust in the Lord". The word of the Lord was such a comfort for her that she used what she believed in her everyday life.
On a particular stormy night, TJ and Georgiana’s children were frightened of the thunderous noise from outside. Their mother urged them to sit quietly.
"You must be quiet," she told them in a whisper. "Because God is working."
From what was understood, Georgiana wanted to impart some of her wisdom to her children. She cautioned to them that they would have to learn things well for themselves as she wouldn’t always be with them.
Georgiana Sharp Miles seemed destined to teach such wisdom to her family as she died at the age of fifty-three, relatively young as two generations of family were known to live well into their nineties.