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A Descendant of the Marion Nine Connects the Dots

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Author: Hazel Scott

Release Date: Nov 21, 2017

Several descendants of the University's founders were in attendance during a genealogical presentation at the National Center.

Alabama State University celebrated its 150-year history and heritage today, Nov. 21, when it hosted descendants of its founding fathers at ASU’s Ralph D. Abernathy College of Education Auditorium.

The event, titled “The Marion Nine and Their Descendants: A Genealogical Presentation & Discussion,” traced the history of the Marion Nine,  the former slaves who founded the Lincoln School, in Marion, Ala., in 1867 the parent institute to Alabama State University.

Guest speaker Gary Franklin, the descendant of Alexander Curtis and Davis Harris (two of the Marion 9), provided a genealogical presentation showing how he traced his family ancestry.

“I’ve been researching my family history off and on since high school,” Franklin said. “But I’ve been interested in the family history since I was a child.”

The Toledo, Ohio, native said his interests intensified when he moved to the Washington, D.C. area in the 1980s and spent countless hours in the National Archives and Library of Congress.

“When I moved to D.C., it was pre-internet. The National Archives was right there, “Franklin said. “I ended up spending five days a week after work, in the evening, all day Saturdays, all day Sundays at the Library of Congress for four to five years. That’s where the bulk of my research was done.”

Franklin said he took off a number of years from researching, but in 2010 he continued his efforts and was thankful for the tremendous online resources available. 

“More people should research their family and share that information because we are all interconnected,”
Franklin said. “You start doing the research, those connection, those dots may connect. We are all one family.”

Franklin received his B.A. degree from Morehouse College and his J.D. from the University of Chicago. He is the president of the Journey Genealogy Group of African-American Researchers. 

Other Marion Nine descendants present were William Childs Curtis Jr., Michelle Childs Curtis, Rosemary DuBose Perkins, Paul Perkins, Carlette West, Deborah Watkins, George Reese, Natalie Dixon, Aaron Bates, Jaden Dixon, Mary Moore and Nekia Moore.

The event’s highlight also included Recognitions and Rewards.

President Quinton T. Ross Jr. delivered the greetings.

“This is truly a great day and a great time when we can look back at our wonderful storied history to realize and remember exactly from whence we come,” Ross said. “Hopefully, we are going to chronicle our rich history so we can provide it for our students and for anyone who comes to know how powerful this institution, Alabama State University, is and how rich this history is and the contributions that it has made not only to this state but to this nation.”

Marion Nine
The Marion Nine included Joey P. Pinch, Thomas Speed, Nicholas Dale, James Childs, Thomas Lee, John Freeman, Nathan Levert, David Harris and Alexander H. Curtis. These co-founders and original trustees, with assistance from Marion community members, raised $500 for land, and on July 18, 1867, filed incorporation papers to establish the Lincoln Normal School at Marion.

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