I watched the movie "Free State of Jones" in the summer of 2020. At the time I had no idea there was a family connection, it was just a movie about the Civil War and had Matthew McConaughey in the lead role, had to be good, right? It was a very good movie because it was more than just a story about the North v. South, where they fight, then walk home barefoot and hungry to their wives and family.
The movie is based on the true story of Newton (Newt) Knight who was from Jones County, Mississippi. Jones County was a divided county between the Union and the Confederacy and Newt started out fighting for the Confederacy. He, along with other members of his unit who were family and friends from Jones county desert the Confederate Army and return to Jones County and fight for the Union. Since they were deserters and Confederate loyalists in the county were hunting them to prosecute them for desertion, they sought refuge in the swamps of the Leaf River.
They were soon joined by escaped slaves and Newt met Rachel, a slave who brought food and medicine to the slaves taking refuge in the swamp. The movie then centerd on Newt and his band of deserters and slaves fighting for the Union and the relationship that Newt and Rachel developed even though Newt was already married with a son to Serena Turner.
The story also includes the effects of the interracial marriage of Newt and Rachel to their descendants and focuses on one grandson's marriage in segregated Mississippi in the early 1900's and how unjust racist laws were and still are.
The movie takes poetic license by including fictional characters but a lot of the story lines are true.
I didn't think about reading the book until I continued research on a Teague ancestor who had taken part in the Revolutionary War in January. I found a website with research on Moses Teague and was so surprised when I found out the author had used my website as a source.
I also noticed that one of the sources she used was the book "The Free State of Jones" and listed Moses Teague being in the book on page 20. So now I had to get the book to see how Moses Teague connected with Newt Knight and Mississippi. Moses and my line did not live in Mississippi, but lived in North Carolina then Tennessee.
The book tells about not only descendants of Newt, Rachel, and Serena but gives the ancestors of Newt and Serena as well. Serena was the 3rd-great-granddaughter of Moses Teague and Elizabeth Loftin, by their daughter Isabel who married James Welborn. Moses and Elizabeth Teague were my 6th-great-grandparents, descending from Isabel's brother, Isaac. This makes me and Serena 4th cousins 3x removed. I know, quite a stretch, but still related.
The book tells a more factual, historical tale of the Knight family. It is more from a historian/genealogist viewpoint giving the facts, interviews with family members and the viewpoints of family members who also wrote about the Knight family not only during the Civil War but the events through the 20th century.
I was surprised, but then not so surprised when I read about how there could be some members of a family who held racist views regarding their own family and sought to cover up or change history. What does that say about us who try to hide or "whitewash" history? I've heard about "skeletons in the closet" or being proud of family who were notorious criminals hundreds of years before but ashamed if they were in a generation close to ours. Should it matter? Should we feel ashamed of them or should we be ashamed of ourselves for thinking ill of others?
I would advise anyone to at watch the movie, it is among one of my favorites about the Civil War. If you want to get the facts, read the book.
Moses Teague; Seibel Family Stories; https://www.seibelfamily.net/teague-main.html
Moses Teague Sr (1718-1799); Wikitree; https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Teague-228#_note-5
"The Free State of Jones Mississippi's Longest Civil War" by Victoria E. Bynum
The movie "The Free State of Jones" with Matthew McConaughey
My name is Vicky, and after researching my family history since 1999, I have found amazing stories that need to be told. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!