For immediate release:
November 9, 2015
“Daisy Turner’s Kin” author Jane Beck to Speak
St. Johnsbury, Vt. — The St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center will sponsor Vermont Folklife Center founder and author Jane Beck at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum Tues., Nov. 17, at 7 p.m.
Beck will speak about the recently published “Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African American Family Saga” (University of Illinois Press, June 2015), her most recent book. The book recounts the life of Turner’s family, from capture on the coast of Benin in West Africa to enslavement in Louisiana, escape and settlement on a hill farm in Grafton, Vt., where Daisy Turner grew up.
Beck researched the book over a period of 30 years, including three years of frequent interviews with Turner herself. Turner died at 104 in 1988.
It was Turner’s grandfather who was enslaved and her father, born around 1845, who escaped the plantation of Jack Gouldin on the Rappahannock River in Virginia (which can still be seen) and subsequently served in the First New Jersey Cavalry of the Union Army. After the war, her father settled in Vermont and worked a farm Turner later called “Journey’s End.” Here his family grew to 13 children. The farmstead is currently being restored for use as a historical center for visitors by the Vermont Preservation Trust.
The Vermont Folklife Center, based in Middlebury, was established by Beck in 1984 and serves a mission similar to that of the St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center. Both organizations preserve, exhibit and educate about Vermont’s cultural traditions, with the History Center focused on those of St. Johnsbury. As quoted in “Seven Days,” (Oct. 14, 2015) Beck says, “…cultural heritage is important to understand because it feeds into who we all are.”
The St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center officially opened Nov. 1 and may be visited Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about the Center or Beck’s presentation, call the Center at 424-1090.