When Fred Miller, a 56-year-vintage Air Force veteran, bought the white, Gothic Revival-fashion residence with the inexperienced roof close to his youth domestic in southern Virginia, he desired a huge area to host gatherings for his near prolonged own circle of relatives. He become now no longer waiting for to free up hidden chapters from his own circle of relatives’s beyond.
Miller did now no longer realize it on the time, however his new assets become as soon as a plantation. Named Sharswood, it become constructed withinside the 1850s with the aid of using a slave-proudly owning uncle and nephew who shared his final call.
“If I had regarded there has been a ‘Miller Plantation,’ I perhaps ought to have… placed a reference to the final call Miller and that plantation,” Miller advised 60 Minutes. “But I’d in no way heard of a ‘Miller Plantation’ or a ‘Miller’ anything.”
This Sunday on 60 Minutes, correspondent Lesley Stahl interviewed Fred Miller and contributors of his own circle of relatives at Sharswood, talking approximately what they unearthed approximately the assets and its beyond inhabitants.
Fred Miller’s sister Karen Dixon-Rexroth, who first of all satisfied her older brother to shop for the assets, and their cousins Dexter Miller and Sonya Womack-Miranda, did maximum of the studies into Sharswood’s beyond.
“Something drew me to understanding the records of this region,” Dixon-Rexroth advised Stahl. “I knew it become an vintage region from the 1800s, so I began out from there, as a ways as searching on the preceding owners, and additionally any statistics that had been to be had online.”
With time and the assist of Karice Luck-Brimmer, a nearby historian and genealogist, the Millers had been capable of find files that proved that their very own ancestors had been as soon as enslaved at Sharswood.
“Since the revelation… I understand that after the slaves added meals into the primary residence, they got here up via the basement stairs,” Fred Miller advised 60 Minutes. “And there is a awesome put on at the basement stairs from years and years of traffic, of humans on foot up the ones stairs, I’m thinking, ‘Wow, those are my humans.'”
When the 60 Minutes generating crew of Shari Finkelstein and Braden Cleveland Bergan first visited Sharswood to fulfill the own circle of relatives and scout the location, they had been a part of a verbal exchange among Dexter Miller and his former coworker Bill Thompson, whose own circle of relatives sold the assets in 1917 and owned it for greater than a century. Thompson’s sister offered it to Fred Miller in May of 2020.
It become for the duration of this verbal exchange that Miller requested Thompson the only query that were on his thoughts for an extended time.
“I stated, ‘Bill, there is one query it is been bothering me: Where is the slave cemetery?’ He stated, ‘Dexter, it is proper over there.’ I stated, ‘Right over wherein?’ He stated, ‘You see the ones bushes over there?'”
And with that revelation, as visible withinside the video above, the 60 Minutes crew followed the Millers to a cluster of bushes simply past Fred’s assets line, wherein for the primary time they noticed the possibly burial web website online in their enslaved ancestors. Several weeks later, Lesley Stahl visited the web website online with Fred, who lives in California, and his sister Karen.
“It become heart-wrenching’, I’ll inform you that,” Fred Miller stated approximately seeing the cemetery for the primary time. “Just to assume that each one those years of me wondering, and it become proper beneathneath my nostril the whole time, proper here.”
Fred Miller advised 60 Minutes he plans to smooth up the cemetery and is withinside the technique of making a non-income basis to additionally repair the slave quarters at the assets to assist train humans inquisitive about the records of slavery. His sister stated, for her, Sharswood has grow to be an area of profound that means and reference to the beyond.
“I could honestly say all through this assets I can sense some thing inside me while I’m on foot around, genuinely doing anything,” Karen Dixon-Rexroth stated. “I understand that our ancestors are searching down on us with a smile.”
You can watch Lesley Stahl’s complete document on Sharswood below.