Ancestor traced to burial site of Ridouts


November 16, 1998|By Melinda Rice | Melinda Rice,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ANNAPOLIS RESIDENT Bernadette Pulley-Pruitt is featured in today's edition of People magazine, thanks to her decade-long search for her forebears. She is one of three people profiled in an article about African-Americans who have tracked down their genealogy called "The Seekers."

"I think there are a lot of families in the area that have made a lot of significant contributions they're not aware of," she said. "I think it's important that we find out."

Pulley-Pruitt, who turns 42 Wednesday, began combing the records in the Maryland State Archives about 10 years ago after attending a lecture by "Roots" author Alex Haley. "My encounter with Mr. Haley was inspirational," she said.

As a result of her research, Pulley-Pruitt recently discovered that her great-great- great-grandfather, Timothy Harris, is buried in the Ridout family plot with members of a family that had owned him.

Harris was born in 1834 as a slave and died in 1905 a free man. He is the only former slave buried in the Ridout family cemetery outside Annapolis.

Pulley-Pruitt discovered the grave with the help of Annapolis resident Orlando Ridout IV, whose family has lived in the Annapolis area since the 1600s. The two became acquainted by telephone.

In a bit of historical irony, Pulley-Pruitt works for Ridout's son, Orlando Ridout V, at the Maryland Historical Trust. She chatted with the senior Ridout when he called to talk to his son. During one of those conversations, he remembered there was a Timothy Harris buried in his family plot after she mentioned that her mother's maiden name was Harris.

Another of Pulley-Pruitt's ancestors was a Civil War veteran.

"I think there are a lot of African-Americans in this area whose ancestors fought with the USCT [United States Colored Troops]," Pulley-Pruitt said. "It's an important part of our heritage we should explore."

She believes that knowing about the past can be a source of pride for the future and thinks more people should explore their family history. The task is made simpler for this area's residents because the Maryland State Archives and the National Archives in Washington are close.

As for her minicelebrity generated by People magazine, Pulley-Pruitt said she has not heard much about it except from a few co-workers, who are pleased for her.

Pulley-Pruitt plans to continue her genealogical digging and hopes to write a book about it.

Videos needed

The Pleasant Living Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Edgewater is seeking donations of new and used videos and books on tapes for use by its residents.

Volunteers are also needed.

Information: 410-956-5000.

Fund-raiser for children

The Pythian Sisters of Friendship Temple No. 6, a sister fTC organization to the Knights of Pythias, is sponsoring a rockfish dinner Sunday to raise money for children with cancer.

Proceeds will help sponsor children from the Annapolis area at Camp Friendship, a Montgomery County camp for children with cancer. Scholarship recipients will be children from the Annapolis area who are being treated for cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Tickets for the all-you-can-eat dinner cost $10. The event is from 4: 30 p.m. to 7: 30 p.m. at the Pythian Castle, 10 Pythian Drive in Annapolis.

Information: 410-956-2805.

Pub Date: 11/16/98

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