|About Simon Drakeford Descendants
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HISTORY The first Drakeford came to this country from England and settled in Virginia. The Drakeford name in South Carolina originated with John Drakeford and his brother, Richard, who we believe moved from Fairfax County, Virginia to Kershaw County, South Carolina sometime around 1730. They settled on Flat Rock Creek, in the upper part of Kershaw County about the middle of the 18th century. Old land titles show John was in Kershaw County as early as 1754. With the end of the Civil War in March 1865, the slaves were freed and many remained in Flat Rock Township, Kershaw County. As was the practice of many freed slaves, some took the name of the plantation slave master as their own surname. What has turned out to be rather unique about the African-American Drakefords is that it appears all of them are descendant from Kershaw County, South Carolina. So no matter what Drakeford family a person belongs to, the family in all probability originated in Kershaw County. The basic root of our family tree can be traced back to Simon and Sallie Drakeford. Simon and Sallie were born in the American colony and were enslaved by John Drakeford. John Drakeford died about 1855 and the property inventory from the probated will identified the 33 enslaved belonging to the estate. Among those listed were Simon, Sally and children (Elizabeth and Little Lewis), Alethia and child (Adline), Nancy and child (Becky), Thomas, and Maria and child Seaborn. Researching the Freeman Bank Records provided information about two more children, James and Margaret. James was living in Tuskegee, Macon County, Alabama, with his wife and two children according to the Freeman Bank Record and the 1870 census. I have been unable to determine the status of Margaret, plus her children (Powell and Emily), and Elizabeth. Simon's taproot branches out to take in the Gaskin(s)(Nancy Drakeford) and Kirkland (Leitha (Alethia) Drakeford) families. Along with their brothers, James and Lewis, they make up the basic Drakeford-Gaskin-Kirkland roots of our family. BACKGROUND I began my quest of finding family members in 1986 after speaking with my uncle, Donald Shields, and being told about the many cousins that lived in some of the cities I visited while traveling for my job. I met and spoke to many cousins, and many of them expressed interest in having a family reunion. The desire to meet and bring this family together culminated in me hosting the first Drakeford-Kirkland Family Reunion in Camden, South Carolina, in 1999. The reunion brought together over 150 descendants of two of Leitha Drakeford and Jeremiah Kirkland children, Polly and Frank Kirkland. Another child, Seaborn, had one living descendant, Freddie Kirkland Davis, who was unable to attend the reunion because of health reasons. Freddie's unwavering support for the reunion plus her insistence that the reunion be identified as the Drakeford-Kirkland Family Reunion is a reflection of her pride in the family. Family members and guests came from Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, DC. The reunion brought together many family members meeting each other for the first time. In 2001, the Drakeford-Kirkland reunion was held in Richmond, VA at the Holiday Inn Airport and marked the first time we had representatives from each of the Drakeford-Gaskin-Kirkland family groups. Eugene Kirkland hosted this reunion. The 2003 Drakeford-Kirkland reunion was in Atlanta, GA and hosted by Thomas Kirkland. This reunion represented the first time the majority of the Drakeford-Gaskin-Kirkland family had been documented in writing. The reunion was held at the Embassy Suites Airport. The 2005 reunion marked the first time the reunion was identified as the Drakeford-Gaskin-Kirkland Family Reunion. Initially, the host for this reunion was Harry Payne, and the initial plan was to hold the reunion in Rochester, NY. However, in considering lodging options, it was decided to look at Buffalo and the Gaskin relatives (Christine Gaskin and Cathleen Wright) were contacted for assistance. As a result of this coordination and assistance, the Drakeford-Gaskin-Kirkland Family Reunion evolved. On July 26-29, 2007, approximately 170 family members came together from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia to participate in the 2007 Drakeford-Gaskin-Kirkland Family Reunion. The family had returned home to South Carolina for our largest family reunion and it was an incredible experience. There were many reunion highlights. One was the attendance of so many of Lewis Drakeford descendants. Another was the attendance of Betty Sanders Cowan, Ione Sanders Holeman, Lavonne Sanders Walker, and Wanda Sanders Bodeman, descendants of John Drakeford. Lavonne wrote the book, "Drakefords In America" which provides an excellent history on the Drakeford family in America. July 23-26, 2009 brought the family together for the 2009 Drakeford-Gaskin-Kirkland reunion at the Homewood Suites, 5996 Audubon Dr, Sandston, Virginia and hosted by Mary Kirkland. As the planning progressed the economic downturn resulted in canceling the reunion only to revive it as some family members wanted to continue getting together. Approximately 35 family members came together from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia to have a wonderful time in Richmond. The July 29-31, 2011 reunion was in Charleston, South Carolina at Homewood Suites. 65 family members and guest came together to enjoy a wonderful reunion with plenty of activities. Friday activity started with the welcoming party at the hotel, followed with a full day of activities on Saturday. First was a tour of Drayton Hall Plantation followed by a bus tour of Charleston guided by Alphonso Brown of Gullah Tours. The day ended with a banquet at Gullah Cuisine. Dress for the banquet was West African to celebrate the countries of our earliest Drakeford ancestors, Simon (Kru people of Liberia) and Sally (Djola people of Guinea-Bissau) Drakeford. The July 26-28, 2013 reunion was in Detroit, Michigan and hosted by the Detroit Kirkland Team. The hotel for the reunion was the Embassy Suites Detroit Metro Airport. The July 17-19, 2015 Drakeford-Gaskin-Kirkland reunion was in Savannah, Georgia, and hosted by Alicia and Robert Scott. The hotel for the reunion and family dinners was the Wingate by Wyndham Savannah Airport. The 2017 reunion was held July 27-30, 2017 in Washington, DC. The hotel for the reunion was the Holiday Inn Rosslyn VA. The highlight of the reunion was our visit to the National African American History and Culture Museum on Friday, July 28th. The 2019 reunion will be held July 25-28, 2019 in Charlotte, NC. The hotel for the reunion is the Country Inn & Suites Charlotte University Place, 131 McCullough Drive, Charlotte, NC 28262. Call 704.549.8770 to make your reservation. Further details will be forthcoming.