"A story about Walter and Georgianna Hatton," Part Two by Greg Hatton
Letter to my cousins, nieces, nephews, children and grandchildren:
Our grandfather, Walter Hatton, and his father, Armstead Hatton, are the focus of the documents, maps, and drawings I am sharing with you. As you will see, Walter was born in Richmond Virginia around 1855 and died in Brooklyn in 1934.
After migrating to Harlem, Walter began his life with our grandmother, Sadie Lasvogel,
about 1910. Harold, Tillie, Hyman, and William were their children. Sadie and Walter’s first son was Harold Armstead Hatton.
I always thought that Armstead was a family name. The Freedman’s Bureau records revealed that Armstead Hatton was Walter’s dad. And that he had a younger sister, Georgiana. His mother's name was Elizabeth, and the family spent their lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Our Aunt Tillie always said that our family had come from the area around Gloucester Virginia. Those records reveal that Armstead Hatton had the foresight to establish financial identities for himself and his family; and that he encouraged his children to go to school because they are listed as students. The Richmond Census and the Richmond Directory list names, addresses and occupations; they reveal him to be a steady fellow who eventually had a business, worked, and took care of his family.
For years, I held onto the hope that our grandfather had somehow escaped the tyranny and soul-destroying scourge of slavery. One quiet morning about 12 years ago, I was researching in a nearby town library, when I came across the dreaded "1860 Slave Schedule" for Henrico County (Richmond). It brings with it the hard reality that slaves did not merit being named. The Virginia census revealed who was most likely the slaveowner. It’s not 100% certified but will do.
Recently, I chatted with my cousin Denis about the meaning of all this, to us... the descendants. We both agree that their lives were well lived in the service of their families. As Denis put it, they gave their children a foundation of dignity and integrity. When I was younger, I asked my dad to tell me about his father. He was a youngster when "Papa" died and so didn't remember much. Walter Hatton's words remembered by his son were: "You must always be a gentleman."