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Researchers to discuss findings Saturday

“How Gwynn’s Island Came to be Known as the ‘White Man’s Paradise’” is the topic of a meeting of the Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society, to be held virtually at 11 a.m. Saturday via the Zoom platform.

The meeting will feature a talk by Allison Thomas and Maria Montgomery, cousins who are linked by the enslavement of Montgomery’s ancestors by Thomas’s ancestors on Gwynn’s Island. Montgomery lives in Norfolk, and Thomas in Los Angeles.

Together, the two women have researched the history of the black families who were enslaved on Gwynn’s Island and those who were driven off the island between 1916 and 1920, a flight sparked by a bar fight on Christmas Eve 1915 involving Maria’s great-grandfather, said a press release.

Montgomery and Thomas wanted to find out what happened and conducted extensive research into court records, land records, and genealogical information, said the release. They also researched the genealogies of 25 black families wh...

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