[Pic] This 160-Year-Old Cotton Sack is Stitched With a Slave Girl’s Family History

A 160-year-old cotton sack tells the story of the love slave mother Rose had for her daughter Ashley, who was ripped from in the 1850s when she was sold for $300. Rose was a house slave in South Carolina and, before her 9-year-old daughter was taken away, she gave her a cotton sack filled with a tattered dress, three handfuls of pecans and a lock of her hair. She told her daughter it would always be filled with her love.

Ashley, who never saw her mother again, passed the sack down to granddaughter Ruth Middleton, who stitched her family history onto it in 1921.

She was sold at age 9 in South Carolina

it held a tattered dress 3 handfulls of

pecans a braid of Roses hair. Told her

It be filled with my LOVE always

she never saw her again

Ashley is my grandmother

Ruth Middleton


During slavery families were often split up by sale. Though common it was still heart-wrenching, and when slavery was abolished thousands of the newly freed desperately tried to reconnect with family.

As for Ashley, historians discovered that after being taken from her mother, she lived and labored on an estate just 100 miles away.

Ashley’s granddaughter Ruth passed the sack on to her daughter Dorothy, who passed away in a Philadelphia nursing home in 1988. The sack turned up at a Tennessee flea market in 2008 and was eventually turned over to new Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., where it is currently on display.

You can read more about the history of the sack here.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast.

9 thoughts on “[Pic] This 160-Year-Old Cotton Sack is Stitched With a Slave Girl’s Family History

  1. I really wish the sack would’ve continued to be passed down through the generation of their families. That’s so sad. So much history, love, and heartbreak stitched into that sack. It would’ve made a great family heirloom

    • I wonder if there’s any family left. I’d love to know the journey the sack went on from Pennsylvania to Tennessee.

  2. Heartbreaking story…. Can u imagine being 9yrs old & being ripped away from your mother? That poor child must have guarded that sack with her life! It is filled with love but im sure with A LOT of tears also. ?

  3. The fact that the sack was found at a Tennessee flea market saddens me. I’m glad that someone found the bag and recongized it as a historical artifact. The history and the embroidery on it is very beautiful!

  4. I have a nine year old daughter and I can’t imagine having her torn out of my arms. The things that our ancestors went through it horrific and humbling.

  5. This made me cry real tears. So. Much. Anger. It also reminds me of the magic we Black girls and women are. We persevere. Against ALL odds.

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