Kudos to Marion Lane, author of the children’s book, Patriots of African Descent in the Revolutionary War , which is published by my publishing company, The Elevator Group. She was the moving force behind the October 3, 2015 ceremony where the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) put a headstone on the grave of Hannah Till, a former slave who bought her freedom and ended up working as a cook for General George Washington, including during the Valley Forge encampment in 1777-1778. Till is buried at Eden Cemetery in Collingdale, Pa., where many famous African Americans are buried (including my mother and father!). Read the full article in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.
As noted in the article, “An interview with the former slave, who worked as a cook for George Washington at the Valley Forge encampment, was consigned to an afterthought, deemed too insignificant to merit space in the main body of a forsaken text. But what was a postscript for just about everyone else was a treasure trove for Marion T. Lane. After a year of research, using information from that appendix, Lane, a retired public schoolteacher from Buckingham Township, Bucks County, nominated Till for a title that she viewed as self-evident: “patriot.”‘
Lane is one of the highest ranking African Americans in the DAR, is a two times past president of the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, and the president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Colonial Dames. When she was inducted into the Gavel Society a few years ago, she was the first African American member of that organization that consists of the presidents of heritage societies.
Till is one of the many African Americans–freed and slave–who were part of the Valley Forge encampment but whose role in the formation of our nation has been largely forgotten. I talk about Till and other African American patriots in my new novel, Becoming Valley Forge, which will be released in December 2015. All types of people came together to become what we mean when we say “Valley Forge.”