Samuel Ruth's Search For His Mother

Turns out you can go home, it just may take awhile. After being separated from his mother on a South Carolina plantation, an Ercildoun man finally finds his link to the past.

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Samuel Ruth’s mother, Leah.Our mothers, say psychologists, provide a safe base from which to explore the world. We may roam, but most of us strive to preserve that primal connection.

That’s how it was for Samuel Ruth of Ercildoun. Born into slavery on a South Carolina plantation, Ruth was separated as a child from his mother, when the man who’d fathered him sold her. He never got over it. Almost 40 years later—after settling in Chester County, building a successful business and raising 12 children—Ruth headed south to find his lost parent.

“‘Is she alive? Is she well? Does she need me? How can I find her?’ Those questions haunted Samuel for years,” wrote granddaughter Ida Jones Williams in Great Grandmother Leah’s Legacy. “Many nights, he relived the sale, in 1857, when he watched his mother as she was led onto the auction block. The loud strike of the gavel would always awaken him.”

Ruth was the son of Leah, the name given by Beaufort County, S.C., plantation owner Robert Fredrick Ruth to a woman kidnapped from Guinea and bought by him in the 1820s. (Importation of enslaved Africans had been banned in the United States in 1808, but smuggling still occurred.)

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