Sam Love repeats the story at every family reunion.
It’s about how three young brothers were kidnapped in West Africa, sold as slaves in Jackson, Miss., and wound up working for a white family on a farm in Gaston County.
After emancipation, the brothers stayed on with their former master, a farmer who became a textile pioneer. Tradition says the brothers helped build local cotton mills, including the giant Loray plant in 1900.
In retelling the story he’s researched for years, Love, 77, of Charlotte hopes to keep inspiring his large family, particularly younger members.
He revived the Love family reunion tradition in 1994 when about 200 people came, including a descendant from South Carolina of the master who owned one of the slave brothers.