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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keeper of the Fire: An Igbo Metal Smith from Awka is coming soon!

Book Description:

You can compare the Nigerian Igbo design &

the quilt pattern done in US by my family.

Have a question? Leave it here.
I will post an answer. TRK

Hidden In Plain View

If you were left with questions after reading Doubleday’s (a subsidiary of Random House Publishing Companies) 1999 release of the book, “Hidden in Plain View” by Dr. J. Tobin and Dr. R. Dobard, this book will answer many questions. 
It is the first book done by the late, California School administrator, Dr. Ozella McDaniel-William’s family. This is the presentation of four prior generation’s collective research, memories and estate holdings. In Keeper of the Fire, they share their age-old fabrics of internationally gathered documentation, reports, letters and photos.

Few Americans read the exhaustive amount of multi-lingual sources preserved for centuries by African, Spanish, Portuguese, French, British, Dutch and American slavers. There are drawings, diaries, books, reports and artifacts collected for centuries by traders, missionaries, explorers and professional associations. This tome documents books and the locations of archives and museums used in their research.   Here, they piece a sampler quilt for you. Using common sense as the binding, primary sources the stitching, gathering West African metallurgy sciences, mathematics, textile secret symbols, ciphered knots, symbolic colors and music used as languages, Mrs. Teresa R. Kemp exposes historical distortions and omissions.

William Dover Jenkin's 1859 Will

Never wavering, using their African-American family’s abolitionist legacy of God’s generational faithfulness, they share the belief, they should have life and life more abundantly. Though the family’s research still continues, what they do know is that the Farrows had at least two owners that died. In 1844, having no children the first owner of the Dover Hall Plantation, Thomas Dover, willed his entire estate (with enslaved people) to his beloved nephew, William Dover Jenkins.

Glynn County GA

Peter and Eliza Farrow both were among the skilled class of subjugated workers. They were hired out to farms, plantations and business and were able to keep a portion of the “proceeds of their labors for their own benefit all the days of their lives. They were valued four times, each showed an increase in their value.

William Dover Jenkins, the second Dover Hall Plantation proprietor, was an absentee owner six months of the year in coastal Georgia due to the malaria and yellow fever epidemic. It had spread due to the prolific mosquitoes’ bites being deadly. 

The Farrow’s second “owner” died in 1859 and they were willed to the “widow and children of Dr. Richards but in no way were they subject to the debts of the said Dr. Richards”. Mrs. Teresa Kemp believes that knowing he would not be afforded he same freedoms, Peter sought his freedom and his future wife’s Eliza.


The surviving Glynn County Georgia wills show that William Dover Jenkins continued to provide for a group of former slaves by the sale of another group of people identified in the will. The Dover Hall plantation’s owner had “former slaves who were now living free in Freetown, Massachusetts”. There are over fifty probated documents in the UGRR Secret Quilt Code Museum’s Plantation Document Collection.

Rev. Peter Farrow Jr.

Serena’s great great-grandparents survived under-reported cruel experiences during slavery to have a son in 1850’s. (According to four conflicting U. S. Census records, Peter Farrow Jr. was born in December of 1851, 1857 or 1858). Using the traditional Igbo naming conventions, he was named after his father. As UGRR abolitionist they assisted people from their extended families to freedom.

Nora Farrow McDaniel
 (Peter Farrow's daughter)

As the 2nd generation, he kept the faith and continued an Igbo legacy of service to his extended family and community. He married a woman with his mother’s name but in our family she was called (Maliza or Eliza) ‘Liza. They had four children.  Peter shared details of his traditional Igbo customs, faith with his children (Tom, Frank, Nora and Jency), grandchildren and great grandchildren. He continued being a traveling pastor at Springfield Baptist Church in South Carolina and farmer. He died in 1946 in South Carolina. Our family crosses the centuries and bridges the gaps left in history.


Why would African people who have been kidnapped, separated from the kinsmen, beaten, starved, tortured, forced to work and worse, share secrets of how they escaped? Why should they communicate secrets about themselves with the same people who abused them when slavery still existed? The answer is simple, they would not! Not unless they wanted to be killed or have their loved ones killed and possessions taken.  Lynchings in USA communities, where my  family reside, have continued into 21 century.


Mrs. Ozella McDaniel Williams copyrighted the use of the Codes for use in slave escapes in 1950. It was done six years after  Rev. Peter Farrow, 
grandfather, son of the abolitionist died. Our family has told the story for over ninety years in the markets of Charleston, SC where we have sold baskets, jewelry, quilts and lemonade for decades.

The late Dr. Howard L. Wison & daughter Mrs. Teresa R. Kemp
at Rev. John Rankin's North Star Safe House on 1999 UGRR Tour.

The late Dr. Howard, Calvin Kemp and families continued the tradition of documenting the family legacy in 1999 by videotaping the passing down the codes.

The families took a trip from Sullivan Island, SC to Canada. They sewed the patterns, kept journals, photographed UGRR sites and interview historians all they way. 

Mrs. Serena Wilson and their daughter, Mrs. Teresa Kemp re-applied and received the United States Copyrights in the late 1990’s. Mrs. Kemp still owns the U. S. Copyright for the use of the quilt  (African) patterns used as maps and messages on the UGRR.


Knots were used on quilts similar to beads (or knots) in a Catholic rosary, it is nothing new.  When used by millions of people worldwide as a point of Godly contact, prayer and a memory tool communicating with an invisible God it is not seen as a pagan ritual. The knots were used as a way of making protection, strengthening their courage as well as marking the longitude and latitude of coordinates of a map done in textiles.


For centuries the Bible, Koran and Torah were committed to memory sometimes by song, paintings, sculpture, monoliths or in textiles and orally passed down.
Each method of recording are accepted worldwide a communication. Africa has written or textile languages for centuries. 

We are baffled why some of the American quilting, a few scholarly and history communities were confounded with the idea of maps, messages or a story depicted in a quilt. We are not the only family who worked using textile, animal skin maps or symbols. There are many examples worldwide still in existence and we all still speak a textile language explained in the book.


The understandings, versions, words do differ. The methods of escape, even if planned had to be modified due to weather, dangerous conditions, and plans being revealed. The Underground Railroad was a dynamic organization and changed by location and conditions of the passengers and conductors.

Often African words and beliefs don’t exist in English languages and have gone through hundreds of modifications and interpretations over the thousands of years (1042 B.C.) they have been in use. Often methods of escape were cancelled, adapted regionally, changed or modified to fit the dynamic life or death nature of its use.


Europeans, Asian, Native Americans, Africans and African American have all had slaves and been historically enslaved even in North America and throughout the world. Every country with the exception of Switzerland has had slaves and been taken for slavery except Ethiopia has never been colonized. The bible documents that Joseph was sold by his brothers to slave traders. Slavery was not started in America.

Body Map documented by Freidrich Ratzel 1880s
(Right) Map diagram cut into the chest and stomach of a person documented by Friedrich Ratzel  in 1880's. 


Even if you travel from America to Europe and back, you do not forget your language, what style of dress, foods you eat, trade and employment skills you and your neighbors share. The Igbo people historically have many layers of traditional groups of title holders, craft guilds, secret societies and religious leaders that have secret symbols cut into their faces, backs or stomachs. Historically the traditional patterns were called Ichi or Uli marks. In America they are seen as “country marks in the run-away slave advertisements in colonial newspapers.  These could never be forgotten or removed. Their hair was intricately styled in unique designs that are like a signature.

Their bodies genetic make-up, (height, muscular development, features), skills, Uli and Ichi markings, distinct hair styles corroborated non-verbal identifiers. Even extended families that intermarried, celebrated masquerades, annual festivals or returned the remains of deceased Igbo family members could recognize members of their religions, clans, titled status or positions held regionally, locally and nationally. Now Ms. Kemp can even recognize the regalia as Igbo people could, even when they were brought to the Americas. 

Chart of markings of the
historical OYO Nigerian group

These identifiable individuals or groups of peoples traveled for centuries, to other countries through migration, trading and exploration. They often became nomads following grazing animals from areas that flooded consistently. Some of the Igbo groups wanted to live by bodies of water and longed for the sea faring lifestyle. Others were relocated by centuries of forced slavery. They could recognize one another historically and even today. Mrs. Kemp has included some of the historic photos and escaped slave advertisements that refer to these symbols Ichi and Uli markings in the book.


Read this book to understand how many of the Awka traditions the African American family passed down to Mrs. Kemp. The passing of this secret legacy of the Awka (Nigerian) metal smith’s made the Farrow’s Underground Railroad Quilt Code possible. Today, you can get your questions answered while viewing this guarded history, passed down five generations to Mrs. Kemp. See the African photos and surviving of the traditional patterns and symbols still in use in Africa today. Quilting and hand dyed textile construction is not an “American Civil War Era phenomena”. It is ancient, sacred and a worldwide necessity for both survival, comfort and even show of wealth. It is not a Black or White thing, quilting is universal.  Textile or animal skin maps are as ancient as ships or black smithing. Everything Igbo is tied to God and nothing is done without Chukwu (Chukwu is the Igbo name for their belief one supreme God).


Awka is the word for both the metalsmith and the town or origin
This book shares a glimpse into how Igbo Awka’s coded smithing guild's lost wax process technique, secret language traditions were not even understood by Igbo and Awka residents. The proof of their abilities were discovered in Nigeria, West Africa and then brought to worldwide, along with the diverse technical expertise of the kidnapped people.  We explore agricultural knowledge, (Rice, sugar cane, indigo, tobacco, cotton, fruit and vegetable cultivation), knowledge of plant based indigo processing, weaving, pottery and other of resources of the Igbo people.

Coded communications were not unique to this family. Even though the Farrow family were free in Georgia and South Carolina prior to emancipation, even North and Southern Civil War military units had coded language and plans in order to be successful.  We have identified over 38 different Underground Railroad (UGRR) methods of escape used by individual abolitionist, anti-slavery societies, religious groups and conscientious sympathizers. We highlight earlier slavery and mention the Underground Railroad when the Spanish were in control prior to British dominance of American Colonies.


It is this spirit of “never harming a traveler that sojourns among you”, that can be summed up in the appearance of the Igbo following the Levititical Code. Council's of elders administered decisions and settled inter-village disputes with input from the collective in ordering daily life. Their decision could modify or govern village interactions, arranged marriage, circumcision, the atonement for sin and eradication of abominations with ritual sacrifice. For disputes that could not be settled at the village level there were religious agents of the Nri Kingdom that traveled and represented the interest of the Eze Nri. The relationship of Nri and Akwa is also discussed to add clarity of the levels of secrecy in Igboland.

Teresa Kemp shares her American family’s continued value of elders, service to their country and community. We have records of disaster relief, burial societies, organizing festivals and organizational meetings through generations in the civil rights, military and educational arenas. Whether in Free Masons, Eastern Stars, Elks, collegiate sorority and fraternal associations, alumni associations or religious service as pastors, evangelist, missionaries or Sunday school teacher’s. There are records of each generation in this family working to make the community a safe, nurturing place.

Age is not excuse for idleness. Everyone young and old, have a critical job to perform and was expected to carry it out with excellence. Some were prayer intercessors, greeters or ushers at programs and hugged and greeted each guest. Some have strength, a few have tools or knowledge, others have money, still others transportation.  When combined as a community team everyone benefits. I have learned, even if you do not need assistance now, sooner or later it will be your turn to benefit.


It was important enough for Teresa’s great Aunt Ozella McDaniel-Williams and aunt Sarah Strother Quattlebaum to travel to Germany to teach and tour with her family several times. In the European museums, archives and historic sites, the UCLA / USC graduate,(former principal), would point out portraits of people of African descent, their contributions, stolen (gifted or purchased) resources, African-made artifacts and history that was omitted or unknown by tour guides and historians.

Mrs. Teresa R. Kemp
Atlanta's Quilt Lady
Mrs. Teresa R. Kemp, is the 5th generation master quilter of the Farrow-McDaniel family, griot, researcher and teacher with a command of ancient world and contemporary history. With her late parents, Dr. Howard & Serena M. (Strother) Wilson and family, Mrs. Kemp has traveled thousands of miles to present over 187 years of their family’s history. One of the largest privately owned (European, Native American, Appalachian, Gullah, African and American) historic collections in artifacts and textiles they have exhibited at schools, universities, convention centers, churches, historic sites and governmental agencies in the United States. They also consult, speak and collaborate with private businesses, libraries, quilt guilds, on-line media and science centers worldwide.

Her quest is being fulfilled by presenting primary research sources to teach “freedom through obedience to God’s Word”. Their mission is to teach the “Golden Rule” (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you), delayed gratification and reconciliation skills to at risk-populations and heal communities, one program at a time. Mrs. Kemp’s still sounds the alarm, fighting modern day slavery called “Human Trafficking” with a God driven intensity and zeal. 

Plantation Quilts Contact Information:
Mrs. Teresa R. Kemp's Phone: 1 (404) 468-7050 (USA)
E-mail: trkemp@PlantationQuilts.com
Twitter: @UGRRQuiltMuseum
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Now booking traveling exhibits 2014-2017 

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