Friday, February 12, 2010
My Cousin’s Apology
Carolyn and Lowell Houts are fine people, and I am proud to say they are my cousins. (Their mother was my father’s oldest sister.) Carolyn (b. 1942) is returning to the States this year, retiring after thirty-four years of faithful service as a Southern Baptist missionary to Ghana. Lowell (b. 1945) is an ordained minister who for several years now has been a counselor affiliated with the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center in Iowa.
Last month Lowell visited his sister in Ghana for the first time. Carolyn recently sent us an e-mail sharing some about Lowell’s visit and telling about a “special incident” at Cape Coast Castle. The castle was built for other purposes, but it came to be used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. You probably remember that President and Mrs. Obama and their girls visited there last year.
Carolyn wrote that a young man named Eric was their guide at the castle, and then she tells about a very moving experience:
“At the end of the tour, Lowell said that one reason he wanted to go to that castle was to apologize that our forebears had slaves. He said that an ancestor had [two young sons] whom a teenaged slave killed.* Then the slave was killed.”
Carolyn goes on to relate how Lowell “asked Eric if he would accept his apology that our forebears had been a part of the triangle of slavery. Eric extended his hand to shake Lowell’s and then they embraced. It was a powerful moment. Eric mentioned that his boss was watching us so we walked over to where two men stood. Eric told a summary of the story Lowell had told and the man also shook hands with Lowell. His boss, Mr. Blankson, had been the guide when Pres. Obama had visited Cape Coast Castle in July. He has written a book about the castle so was there to sell his book and he autographed a copy for Lowell.”
I am proud of my cousin, and I appreciate his apology on behalf of the Seat family.
*Hartwell and Rebecca (Stokes) Seat were married in 1775 and lived in Virginia. Their first two sons were Henry (b. 1777) and Miles (b. 1781). According to family records, they were killed in 1786 by the teenaged slave Lowell referred to. Two years later, the Houts siblings’ and my grandfather Littleton was born. In 1844 he was the first Seat to move to Worth County, MO, where our parents grew up and where Lowell lives now. There is no record of the Seats who came to Missouri having slaves, but we do know that Hartwell Seat continued to own slaves after he and his family moved from Virginia to Davidson County, TN, in the early 1800s. (I wrote some about these matters in my posting on Nov. 13.)
Here is a picture of the Cape Coast Castle.