From Hill Town to Strieby

Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie "Back Country" of Randolph County, North Carolina

Non-Fiction - Genealogy
452 Pages
Reviewed on 09/21/2018
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Author Biography

Margo Lee Williams is an award winning, genealogy and history author. A former editor of the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, she is particularly interested in community and family histories of free people of color in the southeast, especially those in North Carolina and Virginia, who often had mixed race origins.
Williams has researched and written extensively on her Lassiter family of Randolph County, North Carolina. Her first book, published in 2011, “Miles Lassiter (circa 1777-1850) An Early African American Quaker from Lassiter Mill, Randolph County, North Carolina: My Research Journey to Home” (Backintyme Publishing), told the story of both her personal and research journeys that led to the discovery of her fourth great grandfather, Miles Lassiter.

Williams' second  book, published in 2016, “From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie ‘Back Country’ of Randolph County, North Carolina” (Backintyme Publishing), picks up where her first book left off. “From Hill Town to Strieby” is a social history that follows the development of the school and church, founded in 1880 by a mixed race, former slave and 19th century poet, the Rev. Islay Walden. The church and school served the Lassiter Mill and Hill Town/Strieby communities of color in southwestern Randolph County.  Her research led to the Strieby Church, School and Cemetery property being named a Randolph County Cultural Heritage Site in 2014.
 Both of Williams' books have won genealogy and history book awards.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

From Hill Town to Strieby by Margot Lee Williams is an educational book. In 1879, Islay Walden, once a slave, returned to North Carolina as an ordained minister in Southwestern Randolph County. He was also a missionary for the American Missionary Association, living with his sister’s family in the Uwharrie Mountains. His mission was to provide education for the illiterate Hill family community, a family so large it was called Hill Town. He would start a school and a church, serving the Lassiter Mill community too. Walden died unexpectedly in 1884 but, before he left this earth, he and his wife accomplished so much that the community and the school continued to thrive until the public school system swallowed it up in the 20th century. Walden left behind an indelible print on the community, a spirit that lives on to this day in a remote community that, were it not for Walden, would be largely forgotten.

From Hill Town to Strieby is Margot Lee Williams’s second book on this era, a continuation of her story about Miles Lassiter, an African American Quaker ancestor of hers. All I can say is wow! This is one interesting story, full of useful facts, and I loved the photos; they really brought the story to life even more. This was quite an important historical time and Margot’s research into it is second to none. She has provided a highly informative account of history that will now live on in the hearts and minds of her family, both close and extended. She wrote this book in a way that made it very easy to follow, both interesting and lively, with her descriptions bringing both the place and the people to life once again. This is a good book for anyone who wants to get involved in researching their family history – it will show you how it's done!