Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Core Question #1: What was young Isaac Carter's core need?

First off, let me give a big shout out to C. S. Lakin, whose series The Heart Of Your Story on her blog, Live Write Thrive, has been a great source of direction in this phase of planning for the writing of my family history memoir! You can find her posts about character development and other topics here.

Next, I want you to know that determining young Isaac Carter's answers to the 3 Core Questions has been much more difficult than I thought it would be. In fact, I'm still figuring it out...and for that reason I am focusing today on just the first question:

As I've contemplated the events of young Issac's life in late 1853, I've realized that he must have experienced a life shift which changed him down to the very core.

His parents were both deceased sometime prior to September 1853...
...his grandfather was very ill for at least a year...
...his family was being split in two, and

this middle child then found himself 
in the position of being the oldest of four children 
being bound out to a white landowner 
who had been a good friend of the Carter family.

I am beginning to see that his core need at this phase in his life would be to keep his siblings together, to watch over and protect them. 

If we were to just go back a few years to October 1850, we would find Isaac at home with his parents and all of six siblings. His life would have been much different that that of more recent generations of young adolescent African Americans. He may have shared some of the same dreams and desires as many boys have today...but during planting and harvest time, he would have been found working in the fields right alongside the rest of his family. He would not of had to make the adjustment between elementary school and middle school because he would not have attended school as there were yet no school for free Negroes in North Harlowe, North Carolina. 

But even this life would have weighed lighter on his shoulders than the burden of becoming the father-figure to his younger siblings. 

And what if he could not attain it? 
On October 24, 1861 Isaac became of age and was freed soon after. In July of 1863 his sister Nancy married at the age of twenty. Annanias would have been eighteen years of age, and Zach, fifteen. By June 1871, Nancy reported in her Freedman Bank Record that her only surviving siblings were Isaac and Mary. So, with no record of either brother following the 1860 Census, is it presumed that they most likely died between 1860 and 1871.  Annanias would have been between the ages of 14-25, and Zach between the ages of 12-23. It is difficult to tell when Annanias may have died; however, Zach was the sickly child. For that reason I tend to believe that he may have died first. 

It's hard to tell if young Isaac was able to attain his core need or not. Part of me would love to believe that he did; but, when seeing that by 1871 Nancy had lost both her husband and all three of her children to death, my heart sinks and I am persuaded that they probably died before they received their freedom.

In 1864 at the age of 25, Isaac joined the US Colored Troops in New Bern. If his brothers were alive they would have been ages 19 and 16 respectively. Something inside me believes that they were already deceased at that time, and that part of Isaac's desire to join the Union Army was to ensure the freedom of his people, and to make a better life for the next generation to come. And here his core need broadens not only to keep, watch over and protect his immediate family, but also for the generations to follow.

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