Tartt family photo, 1928, West Virginia. Photo courtesy of the Tartt Family.
This picture taken in the Spring of 1928 is of my grandmother, Lucy Tartt, grandfather, Simmie Tartt, and uncle Arthur Tartt. Although a simple studio photo, it embodies all the stories my mother told about her upbringing in a small coal camp house at the intersections of Lewis Street and Lehman Avenue in Fairmont, West Virginia in the 1940s. Mom had few photos of her parents. Nonetheless, the truths and travails of Mama Lucy, her brood of 15 children, her beloved siblings in far off Baltimore, and, especially, my grandfather who had been tragically killed, leapt off the paper and into the imaginations of us kids as we felt the plastic that kept it safe in the album, and sometimes held it in our hands. Those stories have stayed with me through my 46 years. When I began to research my family’s enslaved past and prior existence as people on the African continent, it was the stories sparked by this photo that unerringly lead the way from the coal camps of northern West Virginia to the cotton fields of Society Hill, South Carolina. Remembered tones of voice and shifts in conversation as she told and retold the stories guided both heart and intellect as I reconnected through DNA testing with individuals from the Guinea-Bissaun ethnicities from whom my fourth great grandmother likely came. Mom’s oral testimony on this side of an African continuum spanning millennia resonated with the realities of folks on the continent today with stories of their own, stories which very often overlooked the details of the chapters concerning transatlantic slavery. Those untold stories are as much a part of us as is this picture; both affirmations not only of the strength of my grandparents, but also of the hope of those who came before them who, if they can’t be known, must at least be remembered.
History Facts:: Christina O'Gorman. Believe it or not, this beautiful pictures were taken more than 100 years ago, specifically in 1913. Photography in colour was not uncommon since the Autochrome process was patented by Lumière brothers in 1903. Christina was photographed by an english engeneer called Mervyn O'Gorman whose works became him into a pioneer of color photography. But even when these pictures are unforgettable, the name of Christina since to be gone. At first,and for many years, it was believed that Christina was, in fact, Mervyn’s daugther, but new researches suggest that she may be a relative or friend. In 1897 Mervyn had married Florence Rasch, who was eighteen years older than her husband. Some interested on the topic claim that there is no record of the couple having children, at least until 1911.
However,the name of Christina O'Gorman appeared in the census of 1911, she was 13 by then, reason why today is believed to be O'Gorman’s neice instead his daughter. The truth is neither of the links between both could be proved until today. Who was really Christina is a whole mistery, but her pictures will be timeless possibly forever.