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History

African Roots American Fruits”: The Lightfoot Family Roots

Lafayette and Miria Lightfoot gave birth to five sons (Alex, Major, William, George, and Lafayette, Jr. who was also called ‘Faith’) during the mid-19th century somewhere in the upper Mississippi delta, possibly Clarksdale. The name ‘Lightfoot’ was derived from the Blackfoot Indian tribe, which was one of the many African and Native American communities formed during early colonial America by two peoples who suffered oppression at the hands of European settlers. Eminent historian Carter G. Woodson called the relationship between Red and Black people “one of the longest unwritten chapters in the history of the United States”. He thought Africans found among Indians a means of escape and sanctuary from slavery. 

We are not sure of all the details, but legacy holds that Lafayette, Sr. drowned as a young man in Mississippi. Miria later migrated with her family across the Mississippi river to Arkansas where she met and married Amos Rice with whom she had twin children, Amos and Hester Rice. An 1870 census tract from Chicot County in Lake Village Arkansas lists the four older Lightfoot brothers who were between the ages of 14 and 21. A copy is included for your review in the Millennium Reunion Souvenir Book. 

The Lightfoot brothers proved to be a prodigious bunch, producing at least 54 male and more than 18 female children. As they grew and raised their families, the Lightfoots became well known in the towns of Lake Village, Pine Bluff and Little Rock, Arkansas.  Many southern Black families, in search of increased employment and educational opportunities, migrated to the industrial cities of the North. The Lightfoot family was no different. They gradually moved north to cities like Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Gary and Indianapolis, Indiana; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; where they opened businesses, pastored churches and rallied for civil rights. The Millennium Reunion Committee extends a charge to any family member, young and not so young, to further explore the Lightfoot family origins and document its influence on the fabric and development of American history.    

The Lightfoots Meet and ‘Keep Up’ with the Joneses 

John and Magalene (Maggie) Jones met and married in New Bern, North Carolina. God blessed their union with fourteen healthy children.  9 of them (Christopher, John Amos, Irene, Mary, Martha, Rachel, Carrie, Minnie and Eddie were born in North Carolina. The younger 5 (Bertha, Pearl, Minerva, Wardell and Elnora) were born in Newellton, Louisiana. In the Latter part of 1890, the entire family moved to Lake Village, Arkansas where they settled in the Yellow Bayou section of town. 

It was inevitable that two such large families living in a small town would eventually connect through the marriage of one or more of their offspring. That’s just what happened. Miss Carrie Jones was betrothed to and later married Mr. Isaac Lightfoot, creating a lasting bond between the two families that endures to this day. Melba Jones, a direct descendant of Carrie and Isaac, has written an essay and created a pictorial tribute to her forbears. 

Some of the Jones children began migrating to the North as early as 1910, first to Evanston and then to Chicago, Illinois. Around 1920, John and Maggie followed their children to Chicago where John passed away in 1921 and Maggie in 1930. To date, their descendants number well over a hundred and, we suspect, are represented in several cities and towns throughout the United States. 

Note:  We hope that someone can really tell a complete story of this family.  If you can or have some information regarding the Lightfoot family history, please complete the form below and submit to the Lightfoot Family History Committee.

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