44 pages 1 hour read

Tiya Miles

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 2021

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Chapter 7-Conclusion

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 7 Summary: “The Bright Unspooling”

Around 1918, Ruth Middleton, born Ruth Jones, moved to Philadelphia from her home in Columbia, South Carolina. It is unknown whether they met and married in South Carolina or in Philadelphia, but she married a man named Arthur Middleton, who was from the same region. Ruth’s parents were named Austin and Rose (also known as Rosa), and one of them would have been Ashley’s child. Miles suggests that given the tradition of bestowing namesakes on younger generations, it is possible that Rose was Ashley’s daughter. Ruth and Arthur were part of the “Great Migration,” the movement of 500,000 African Americans from the rural South, many of them part of the first generations born to freedom, to major urban centers in the United States.

Following the end of the Civil War, despite federal troops in place, rural South Carolina, like much of the South, was a hostile, frightening, and dangerous place for African Americans. In the northern cities, growing resentment emerged as Black people migrated into urban areas; many white residents resented the presence of Black people, and in the late 1910s and early 1920s, there were frequent riots and rampant hostility. Ruth’s mother died when Ruth was approximately 13 years old; perhaps she inherited the sack before she moved north around the age of 16.