Initially, I didn’t know much about my family history – until I asked. Talking with my mother, who provided me with much-needed information and resources, I learned that our family had roots in Kentucky; that my grandmother’s great grandfather owned a farm and land there. There are many missing parts to this story, but I was able to piece together some salient information as a starting point.
Joseph Luck was the great grandfather to my grandmother, Levora Hillman, and grandfather to Jeanette Moore, who is my great grandmother. Joseph was born a slave in 1812 in Kentucky; The location unknown. In the 1860s, he owned a farm and farm machinery in Christian County, Kentucky. It is uncertain how Joseph became an owner of a farm; some rumored he inherited the land from former slave masters. He later became a wealthy man, and the white community where he resided came to respect him as part of the farming community. I have not been able to find out how many children he had or his marital status.
Although Joseph Luck was a prosperous man during his lifetime, my grandmother spoke about growing up poor. I’m not sure what happened to the farm and land after Joseph’s death. The Semi-Weekly South Kentuckian Newspaper (February 26, 1886) reports, “He was one of several men of color that’s classed as energetic and a prosperous farmer and highly respected by the townspeople.” According to the same newspaper (March 7, 1884), he was the first black man to serve as a Petit Juror for the county. His death date is unknown.
I was surprised upon hearing about my family’s entrepreneurship, which makes me wonder if this is how I inherited the same spirit of accomplishment. I regret lacking knowledge of my family history and have no photos to support this story. But the fire has been lit, and I will continue to strive to learn much, much more.