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White former beauty queen who inherited Georgia farm mulls reparations due to family owning slaves


Georgia farmer Stacie Marshall was cleaning out her family’s house when she found an 1860 Census document that confirmed an unwanted discovery: Her ancestor owned seven slaves.

‘It took on a different meaning because I was going through their jewelry and their clothes,’ Marshall, 41, told The New York Times. ‘I was like, this is mine now. The family story is mine. Am I going to stick this in a drawer and forget about it?’

Marshall is now grappling with a complicated and difficult question: Is there anything she can do to rectify the fact that her family once owned slaves?

‘I don’t have a lot of money, but I have property,’ the former Miss Chattooga County told the publication. ‘How am I going to use that for the greater good, and not in like a paying-penance sort of way but in an it’s-just-the-right-thing-to-do kind of way?’

Marshall’s dilemma mirrors a national debate that has brewed for decades over reparations for African Americans who are the descendants of slaves. A longtime bill that ‘would create a commission to study slavery and discrimination’ and restitution proposals may be given a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, NBC News reported in May.

‘She is deep in Confederate country trying to do this work,’ Matthew Raiford, a chef and organic farmer who has visited Marshall’s land, told the Times. 

While Marshall’s great-great-great grandfather owned slaves, Raiford’s great-great-great grandfather was a former slave. His ancestor bought the land that is Raiford’s operation, Gilliard Farms, according to the chef’s website.

Raiford told the Times that if Marshall did work out an answer, Chattooga County could be a template for small communities all over the South. 

Stacie Marshall, center, with her husband, Jeremy, and their three daughters from left, Selah, 10, Grace, 7, and Addison, 13, on their property in Chattooga County, Georgia. Marshall’s great-great-great grandfather, W.D. Scoggins, owned seven slaves. The former beauty queen is grappling with a complicated and difficult question: Is there anything she can do to rectify the fact that her family once owned slaves?

According to the article, Marshall, above, had an idea that her family once owned slaves, but 'the history hit her in a visceral way' after the birth of her first daughter 12 years ago and nursing struggles. Her grandfather, Fred Scoggins told her 'your great-great-great grandmother couldn't produce milk, either. So they had to buy a slave', she recalled to the Times

According to the article, Marshall, above, had an idea that her family once owned slaves, but ‘the history hit her in a visceral way’ after the birth of her first daughter 12 years ago and nursing struggles. Her grandfather, Fred Scoggins told her ‘your great-great-great grandmother couldn’t produce milk, either. So they had to buy a slave’, she recalled to the Times

'Mountain Mama Farms is located on the property of the Scoggins' Family Farm in Gore, Ga, 10 miles north of the Berry College campus. The Scoggins family has farmed the Dirt Town Valley for close to 200 hundred years and the farm is partly stewarded by the fifth-generation granddaughter of the Scoggins family,' according to the operation's website. Above, Angus cattle on Marshall's farm

‘Mountain Mama Farms is located on the property of the Scoggins’ Family Farm in Gore, Ga, 10 miles north of the Berry College campus. The Scoggins family has farmed the Dirt Town Valley for close to 200 hundred years and the farm is partly stewarded by the fifth-generation granddaughter of the Scoggins family,’ according to the operation’s website. Above, Angus cattle on Marshall’s farm

Matthew Raiford , left, is an organic farmer and well-respected chef who has been a James Beard semi-finalist in the Best Chef in the Southeast category, according to his website. 'His great-great-great grandfather, a former South Carolina slave, purchased and assembled the lands that became Gilliard Farms, just west of Brunswick, Georgia, more than 150 years ago,' according to the site. Above, Raiford and Marshall cooking together after he visited her farm

Matthew Raiford , left, is an organic farmer and well-respected chef who has been a James Beard semi-finalist in the Best Chef in the Southeast category, according to his website. ‘His great-great-great grandfather, a former South Carolina slave, purchased and assembled the lands that became Gilliard Farms, just west of Brunswick, Georgia, more than 150 years ago,’ according to the site. Above, Raiford and Marshall cooking together after he visited her farm

During her childhood, Marshall had an idea that her family once owned slaves. According to the article, this ‘hit her in a visceral way’ after the birth of her first daughter 12 years ago and nursing struggles. Her grandfather, Fred Scoggins told her ‘your great-great-great grandmother couldn’t produce milk, either. So they had to buy a slave’, she recalled to The Times.

Then, her mother-in-law showed her documents about five years ago that confirmed her family owned slaves. 

‘I felt like I needed a shot of whiskey,’ she told the publication.

Later, Marshall found one of those records: a county slave schedule. ‘Seven people were listed under the name W.D. Scoggins, her great-great-great-grandfather, identified only by their ages, genders and race. Her family had owned two men and one woman, all in their 30s, and four children. The youngest was 5 ½ months old,’ according to the article.

Nancy and Gene Kirby, above, live across from Marshall's farm. Their family histories are tied together and Gene Kirby once worked for Marshall's grandfather, according to the article. Marshall told the Times she keeps an eye on her neighbors and drops off homemade dishes on holidays. Despite their relationship, she said that talking about reparations with the Kirbys would make her uncomfortable. 'I would never want to do anything that would feel disrespectful,' she said

Nancy and Gene Kirby, above, live across from Marshall’s farm. Their family histories are tied together and Gene Kirby once worked for Marshall’s grandfather, according to the article. Marshall told the Times she keeps an eye on her neighbors and drops off homemade dishes on holidays. Despite their relationship, she said that talking about reparations with the Kirbys would make her uncomfortable. ‘I would never want to do anything that would feel disrespectful,’ she said

Raising her three daughters and the deaths of her mother and grandparents kept her from engaging with this dark part of her family’s history. She inherited the family’s farmhouse and some of the farm’s land. When her father, Steve Scoggins, passes, she will own all 300 acres.

Her family has ‘farmed the Dirt Town Valley for close to 200 hundred years,’ according to her farm’s website.

The small farming community in northeast Georgia is predominantly Christian, white and most support former President Donald Trump, who held a campaign rally in the area during his run for reelection last year, according to the article. About 10 percent of the population, which is around 26,000 people, is black, according to the article.

Almost 20 percent of Chattooga County residents are below the poverty level, according to the website of a local radio station, WZQZ.

‘It’s really hard for people in Chattooga County to understand white privilege because they’re like, “We’re barely getting by,”‘ Marshall explained to Times.

Both her father and grandfather worked jobs in addition to running the family farm, and, according to the article, her father, Steve Scoggins, continues to work as a hospital maintenance man.

Scoggins, a conservative who supports Trump, is deeply proud of his daughter. And while he ‘unabashedly supports her work against racism,’ according to the article, he ‘doesn’t understand why in the world she started voting for Democrats.’

Nonetheless, the pair are respectful of each other politics. It is unclear, in some ways, even to Marshall, who was raised conservative and in the church, turned left. Winning the title of Miss Chattooga County in 1998 included scholarship money and she went to Truett McConnell University. She met her husband, Jeremy, at college, and the two wed at 21 and then pursued master’s degrees, according to the article.

Marshall decided to return to Dirt Town Valley with her family after her father gave her the farmhouse and amid COVID-19 raging.

It was a little before the pandemic started that she attended a lecture with chef and fellow farmer Matthew Raiford. It was there she admitted her family owned slaves and asked what she could do about it.

‘Those older guys have probably never heard that from a white lady in their entire lives,’ Raiford told the Times.

Marshall has a vision for her family’s property, which she named Mountain Mama Farms, including selling ‘grass-fed beef and handmade products like goat’s milk soap,’ according to the article.

And while she considers what to do, Marshall told the publication she has kept it under wraps.

‘I will get some hell,’ she told the Times. ‘There are people in this community that are totally going to turn when I start telling these things.’

However, Marshall made clear: ‘I don’t want my family to be painted out as a bunch of white, racist rednecks.

God, I am proud of every square inch of this place — except for this.’

Marshall was raised conservative and in the church. Winning the title of Miss Chattooga County in 1998 included scholarship money and she went to Truett McConnell University. She met her husband, Jeremy, at college, and the two wed at 21 and then pursued master's degrees, according to the article. Above, Marshall holds a sign that states, Born 2 Farm

Marshall was raised conservative and in the church. Winning the title of Miss Chattooga County in 1998 included scholarship money and she went to Truett McConnell University. She met her husband, Jeremy, at college, and the two wed at 21 and then pursued master’s degrees, according to the article. Above, Marshall holds a sign that states, Born 2 Farm

Marshall decided to return to Dirt Town Valley with her family after her father gave her the farmhouse and amid COVID-19 raging. It was a little before the pandemic started that she attended a lecture with chef and fellow farmer Matthew Raiford. It was there she admitted her family owned slaves and asked what she could do about it. Above, Stacie and Jeremy Marshall

Marshall decided to return to Dirt Town Valley with her family after her father gave her the farmhouse and amid COVID-19 raging. It was a little before the pandemic started that she attended a lecture with chef and fellow farmer Matthew Raiford. It was there she admitted her family owned slaves and asked what she could do about it. Above, Stacie and Jeremy Marshall

'Those older guys have probably never heard that from a white lady in their entire lives,' Raiford told the New York Times. Above, Raiford and Marshall after a visit to Mountain Mama Farms. If Marshall did work out an answer, Chattooga County could be a template for small communities all over the South, Raiford told the publication

‘Those older guys have probably never heard that from a white lady in their entire lives,’ Raiford told the New York Times. Above, Raiford and Marshall after a visit to Mountain Mama Farms. If Marshall did work out an answer, Chattooga County could be a template for small communities all over the South, Raiford told the publication

While she considers what to do, Marshall told the publication she has kept it under wraps. 'I will get some hell,' she told the Times. 'There are people in this community that are totally going to turn when I start telling these things'

While she considers what to do, Marshall told the publication she has kept it under wraps. ‘I will get some hell,’ she told the Times. ‘There are people in this community that are totally going to turn when I start telling these things’

Above, Marshall in an image on the website for her farm. From the site: 'Mountain Mama Farms exist to revitalize the family farm by crafting Appalachian Heritage Farm products produced on the land through natural and sustainable farming methods'

Above, Marshall in an image on the website for her farm. From the site: ‘Mountain Mama Farms exist to revitalize the family farm by crafting Appalachian Heritage Farm products produced on the land through natural and sustainable farming methods’



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