JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Days after the removal of Confederate statute in Jacksonville’s Hemming Park, Pat Hines, a woman who says her great-great-grandfather was a slave owned by Charles Hemming’s family, told News4Jax that if the statue is re-erected somewhere in the city, she wants her family’s history and its story recognized as well.
The statue that was removed was donated by Charles and Lucy Hemming to the state of Florida in 1898.
“It represents a dark past for me,” Hines said.
When Hines looks at the statue, she thinks of slavery and she’s reminded of her relative -- Christmas Hemming -- a slave she said was purchased by the Hemming family.
“Charles Hemming was John C. Hemming’s son, who was a commissioner in Jacksonville, and Charles had another brother, Abraham DuPont Hemming, who bought my great-great-grandfather to Suwanee County," Hines said.
Hines launched a website and is writing a book called “Christmas in the South.” She said Christmas Hemming was a newly freed slave, and was related to Charles Hemming either by DNA or by purchase. She said when the Confederate statute was standing in Hemming Plaza, she asked Jacksonville leaders to include her family’s story.
“I talked with some of the officials in Jacksonville, the planning and development officials about if the monument had to continue to be in the park that I wanted the history of my great-great-grandfather to be a part of that, to be memorialized,” Hines said.
Hines agreed with the removal of the Confederate statue, and said that if it is re-erected, she wants her great-great-grandfather’s story included to depict what she calls “history in its entirety.”
Hines said Christmas Hemming purchased 640 acres of land as a free slave in the 1800s. She became the first African American in Florida to be a century pioneer family farm owner because her family inherited that land.
The removal of the statue is another chapter in the book she’s writing. Jacksonville’s Cultural Council will determine what’s next for the statue.