This year’s Black History Month program at the Highland County District Library in Hillboro will honor two individuals – George H. Ford for his accomplishments in the field of education, and Augustus West, who moved to Ohio in 1837 and was eventually able to purchase his own farm in Fayette County.
Guest speaker Joyce Saulsbery-Dennis will present the fascinating life of West. Born in Greenfield, West lived all of her life in Columbus. She spent all of her summers as a child visiting and staying with her grandmother, Florence Ada Davis Cannon Rickman, in Greenfield. It was during those years that she developed a love for Greenfield and for her family. As a child she was very interested in knowing who her family was and always asked questions. Her mother, Anna Belle Cannon Saulsbery, always had answers and always enjoyed sharing her love of family.
A great uncle, Claudius Cannon, often wrote to Joyce, sharing the family history. Even today, his letters speak from the grave and share much of the family history with her. It is his letters that led her to find the burial and resting place of most of the family including West. Of course, modern technology has enabled her to fill in a lot of the blanks and to obtain records and documents pertinent to the family history.
It was ironic to Saulsbery-Davis that the federal government paid thousands of dollars to Paul LaRue and Washington Senior High School in Washington C.H. to excavate the land of West, looking for his final resting place when she had the letters in her possession telling where he was buried. As Saulsbery-Dennis says, “God knew where he was buried and had the historical marker placed where it should have been placed in the Greenfield Cemetery.”
Married to Charles R. Dennis and mother of three adult daughters: Denise, Jacqueline and I’na; grandmother of three, Martina, James and I’Aneise; great-grandmother of four, Saulsbery-Dennis is retired from Lucent Technologies after 32 years. She also worked as a secretary at the Sonshine Christian Academy of the 12 years. Currently retired, she has relocated to the place of her birth, Greenfield, where she is able to continue her search of family history.
Salsbury-Dennis is a 30-year member of the Rhema Christian Center, where she is a teacher and she became a licensed minister in August 2011. An avid genealogist and family historian, she has been researching the families of West for more than 35 years.
As you will hear in her presentation, Hillsboro was the first stop in Ohio for West.
The Black History Month program will be held Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Highland County District Library in Hillsboro. The program begins at 1 p.m. and everyone is invited.
Each February, the Highland County District Library and the African American Awareness Research Council present a Black History Month program to honor the lifetime achievements of a Highland County individual or to highlight an aspect of the local community’s history.
Jennifer West is a librarian at the Highland County District Library in Hillsboro.