Gram's Gift

Joyce Mosley

I wrote Grams Gift so the children in my family know their history and encourage other families to learn who they are and find their roots.  I also want all children to understand the significant contributions made by African Americans from colonial days to the present.  Until African American history is treated as American history and included in school curriculums, families must equip their children with this knowledge.  For this reason, I wrote Gram’s Gift, the story of a free African American family with African, European, and Native American roots living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during slavery.  Gram decided it was time to share her research with her grandchildren, so she gathered them together for a family lesson about the contributions made by their ancestors to America’s history.  Her lesson begins with Cyrus Bustill, born enslaved, who purchased his freedom in 1769, operated a successful bakery business, and provided bread for George Washington’s troops camped at Valley Forge the winter of 1777-1778.  When Cyrus retired, he opened a school for free and enslaved children in his house.

Cyrus’s wife, Elizabeth Morrey, was born free, the granddaughter of the first mayor of Philadelphia, and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren made sufficient contributions to America.  The Bustill children were teachers, agents of the Underground Railroad, soldiers in the United States Colored Troops, advocates fighting for people of color to have the right to vote, and leaders in the Black community.  They were also abolitionists, suffragists, and philanthropists.

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