Press enter after choosing selection

AACHM BWC Interview: Terrence Vick and Theron Kersey

When: July 28, 2023


  • [00:00:07] TERRENCE VICK: Hello, I am Reverend Terrence Vick. I currently reside in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happy to be with this project. We're excited for the information that's gathered here today.
  • [00:00:25] JOYCE HUNTER: You're a descendant of?
  • [00:00:26] TERRENCE VICK: I am a descendant of David and Agnes Kersey, and locally John Kersey here in Washtenaw County. And Solon Kersey's family.
  • [00:00:43] JOYCE HUNTER: Reverend Theron Kersey, would you introduce yourself?
  • [00:00:47] THERON KERSEY: My name is Reverend Theron Kersey, born and raised here in Ypsilanti, born in Ann Arbor. I'm connected to David and Agnes Kersey in North Carolina in the 1700s. I'm also, originally connected to my great-grandfather John Kersey, who was here in Ypsilanti.
  • [00:01:28] JOYCE HUNTER: Thank you both. The first question is, can you describe your family tree and ancestry?
  • [00:01:36] THERON KERSEY: Well, we started out with ancestry going back to actually the earliest part of the 1700s with David and Agnes Kersey. Terry can jump in. It's Ephraim, I believe, was the son of David and Agnes, which comes down to Elisha, who is a Kersey, and then we can go on and he had six children, one had to be John Kersey. Then after that, my grandfather is Theron Kersey, and my father is Theron Kersey Jr. and I'm Theron Kersey, period. I have six children, Pamela Olds, Patricia Lewis, Margaret Miles, Julia Gilbert, Jennifer Jenkins, and Kristin, she just got married, I can't remember her name now, but we'll just put Sutton there [LAUGHTER] and my son Theron Kersey IV. Those are my children. Each of my seven children had children, which makes me the grandfather of those children. Pamela Olds had Asia, and Ariana, Patty had nine, Anthony, Patricia. You're really picking my brain out. We got Janiston and then Theron, and then we go down to Christina, John, Olivia, Brian, and Demetria. Then next up is Margaret, she had two sons, Caleb, Preston, and then after her is Julie had two children, Jamii Junior and Jordan Gilbert. After her comes Jennifer, Shanice Brewer and Jacqueline and Emanuel Jenkins. After her comes Janiston had two children, Javon Wilson and Navea Thomas. Of course, my son doesn't have any children.
  • [00:05:24] JOYCE HUNTER: Okay. Thank you. You did it. [LAUGHTER] Terrence, did you want to add to this question?
  • [00:05:33] TERRENCE VICK: Yes. We're stemming from the John Kersey line and very interesting facts on him. Prior to coming to Washtenaw County and Ypsilanti, the family came, he was born in Noblesville, Indiana and then he came from Noblesville, which is north of Indianapolis, into Canada--Dresden, Canada. And the interesting saga is that they were considered in some portions of the lineage as Indian and mulatto. However, Kersey stems from Elisha, as cousin Bill said, and these ancestors were very talented, they had carpentry skills and farming, they lived on farms and the story that we know of them prior to coming into Ypsilanti, they lived in Dresden and they had the rearing of Reverend Josiah Henson, which is the Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, her novel. Our family was a part of the living history and saga. The Kerseys joined into the Hensons and this gives us a rich family dynamic prior to John Kersey family coming into Ypsilanti.
  • [00:07:20] JOYCE HUNTER: Okay. Thank you. You started to answer a little bit of this, but the second question is, when did your family arrived in the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti / Washtenaw County area? You might have shared a little bit already, but you can add to it.
  • [00:07:39] TERRENCE VICK: We have strong suspicions that the Kersey families were conductors themselves of the Underground Railroad. And this is how it begins. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was enforced. The John Kersey, the Elisha Kersey clan had to flee from Indiana through the Underground Railroad, they came through Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, to Ypsilanti, Detroit, and into Colchester.
  • [00:08:17] TERRENCE VICK: However, some of the children stayed in the Battle Creek, Kalamazoo area. We find them on the 1860 census in Kalamazoo. Then going on into Colchester and to Dresden, but coming into Washtenaw County, they've left those farms and Ypsilanti had a booming enterprise of several kinds of businesses. For instance, lumber, I even heard someone had an underwear business. But we find John living around 1880 on William Cornwell's enterprise. Just Factory street where the Ford plant was below Chidester Street going into the Huron River in Ypsilanti. We had him there and then his family grew up in Ypsilanti. I believe his first wife passed, and then he later marries Jenny Sparks in Washtenaw County around 1892, and then Bill's great grandfather, grandfather Theron Kersey I, was born, from the second union right here in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County in 1892. But John had an interest from leaving the farm into, I believe, the enterprises that attracted Black families to the Washtenaw county area from various points. But this is where John came into Ypsilanti around 1880.
  • [00:10:13] JOYCE HUNTER: So we're going to go on to question three. Were there any local places of importance for your family? If so, please describe the place and why it was important to your ancestors.
  • [00:10:31] THERON KERSEY: Is that in Ypsilanti?
  • [00:10:33] JOYCE HUNTER: Yes.
  • [00:10:35] THERON KERSEY: One was Brown Chapel. My grandfather was minister of music for 40 years at Brown Chapel. The old Brown Chapel. There is many of them that are buried--family members that we're talking about--are buried in Highland Cemetery and some are buried at Auburn Cemetery out in the country off of Bemis Road. Those are, and some of them might be buried off of Stoney Creek. Behind used to be the old Methodist church on Stoney Creek Road. Then those are points of interest. There are others that are buried at United Memorial Cemetery in Superior Township.
  • [00:11:54] JOYCE HUNTER: Thank you. If we go to question four, are there any people, artifacts, or pictures unique to your family that you would like to share?
  • [00:12:06] TERRENCE VICK: Well, I'll start with the photo of myself and Reverend Kersey and my cousin. We had a keen interest in our family history. We didn't know how how extensive it was until we started collaborating, I think about thirteen years ago if that, and just digging and I'm thankful for county archives and local archives that house information concerning family history. That's of utmost importance these days. Because not only ancestry, but it's important going into the museums, looking at family histories written and comparing, and of course, in the African American community oral tradition is strong. However, you need backup, you need research, so I'm thankful for the African American Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor District Library for bringing this information together. And I'm almost forgetting the question--is anything of importance in our family exhibit? Bill and myself, we were interviewed by the Ypsilanti Historical Library on Huron Street. This was important because when we initially started, a lot of our history was not available. I felt that there was a resurgence and interest for the Black history to be insured and to be recorded and to be archived for so many people that don't have a notable history of their family. So, I do believe for myself and Bill, we were on Huron Street at the Ypsilanti Historical Society taking a picture as you see in the exhibit there.
  • [00:14:17] JOYCE HUNTER: Right, and I recall that you've already included that, I think, in the dropbox that we provided?
  • [00:14:26] TERRENCE VICK: My cousin gave you the article that was featured in the Ypsilanti history.
  • [00:14:33] JOYCE HUNTER: I do you have that, and we'll have to get it into the dropbox as well.
  • [00:14:39] TERRENCE VICK: Okay.
  • [00:14:40] JOYCE HUNTER: Okay. So, Reverend Kersey, do you want to add to that question? You want me to repeat it?
  • [00:14:47] THERON KERSEY: No. I think Terry covered most of it, just most of the pictures. I think we did an article at the Ypsilanti historical museum, I know I think I sent you a copy of it, that gives some history of our family. Because there was a lot of that Terry had put in, and a number of families that were involved and that's also there. When you say pictures, I would love to have pictures of John. I do have a picture of Jenny who was John's second wife. Her maiden name was Sparks. That was Theron and Augusta's mother. I do have that picture. There's other pictures that I have of my father and Terry's father. We do have that picture, and then there's actually if you look in the magazine, you have a picture of my grandfather, Theron.
  • [00:16:34] JOYCE HUNTER: So thank you. Those are our four questions.