11/30/2015 06:31 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

In the 'Hour Late'

A weekly blog intended to share and preserve the most valued life lessons from the minds of the most experienced among us. The "hour late" represents the later stages of life. I will be speaking with people in their 70s and older, to find out what they think is important and worth passing on to future generations.


Joe Webster has lived an amazing life. He considers himself to have been very fortunate in terms of familial support and opportunities given. And it all stems from a brave decision his Great Grandmother made one hundred and fifty one years ago.

I come from a family that benefitted from slavery, but was also cursed by it.

My grandmother told me this story about how Sherman's army was coming down to Georgia, and my great grandmother and the other slaves from the plantation were all sent out on the roads to warn the masters when the army was getting near. There were both black and Indian slaves working side-by-side on this plantation.

The slaves saw the army coming and went back to tell the master and he got in his wagon with his family and left. So my great grandmother gathered some women, and they went through the abandoned houses and collected all the silver. Now there were two families in the county that did that, and my family was one of them. All they did was beat Sherman and his army to the spoils. What they did next was move all the valuables and buried them in the slave graveyard where no one would ever look for it.

So about 1872, the Quakers came from the north to try to help the poor black folks become something; I don't know what it was. But anyway, they came and my great grand mother told them about all the silver so they dug it up and loaded it in a wagon. The Quakers took it all up to Philadelphia and sold it. They came back right away, and my great grandmother decided she wanted to use the money to buy the plantation, so she did. The Quakers purchased it for her with the money they got from the silver. I have a copy of the original deed in my house somewhere. It was four hundred acres of land, and I still own it to this day.

It is amazing how out of something as debilitating as slavery, a black woman can rise and provide for her family for generations.

Joe's great grandmother's adventure is a testament to making the best of a horrible situation. Living a destitute life of bondage would be enough to break anyone's will, but to be able to pick yourself up and persevere over the oppression is what makes this story so compelling.

We all encounter hardships that make any thoughts of our dreams seem like an impossibility. However, there are always little opportunities that present themselves from time to time that can lead us closer to our desires. We don't know if they will truly bring the changes we seek, but they carry more hope than our current conditions.

The next time you have an opportunity to change your life for the better, remember to have the courage to move forward.

Name: Joe Webster
Born: 1933. Detroit, Michigan
Roles: Father, Grand Father, African American, American Indian, Philanthropist