Connecting with Our Liberian Cousin, July 2005
L-R: Judge Roy L. Roulhac, Mr. Edgar Roulhac, Sr, Rev. Moses Roulhac & Judge Joseph P. Roulhac
The Roulhac's of Liberia (Africa)
As noted in the email exchanges below, the ancestors of present day Roulhacs of Liberia immigrated to Liberia in 1869 and 1870 from North Carolina. They were pioneers in establishing the town of Arthington, located 25 miles up the St. Paul River from Monrovia. Today, after more than 15 years of a brutal civil war, Liberia is the poorest country in Africa. Contributions, large and small, make a big difference in their lives and well-being and are very much appreciated. See the DONATE page to contribute.
November 20, 1987
Rev. Moses Roulhac, Jr.
Effort Baptist Church
Dear Rev. Moses:
For the past six years I have been engaged in genealogical research and during the process have traced my ancestors to 1799 in North Carolina. My great-great grandfather was born there as a slave in 1800. He later married Nellie and they had seven children – Phaton, Peter, Angelina, Robert, Rebecca, Edna and Nettie. Phaton is my great grand father. They were slaves on plantations in Bertie and Beaufort counties and were owned by a John G. Roulhac who is a descendant of the Roulhac family of Limoges, France. The Roulhacs were part of the aristocracy in France and a part of Napoleon’s court. The first one of three brothers who left France during the French Revolution settled in North Carolina in 1777 and quickly became a property owner. The brothers were Psalmet, Frances and John.
In 1846, my great-great grandfather and his family were taken as slaves by John G. Roulhac to Marianna, Jackson County, Florida, where I was born in 1943.
During this past summer, I paid a second visit to North Carolina and spent a great deal of time in Beaufort, Bertie and some of the other eastern counties. I met a number of Roulhac’s that were still there. None of course, were aware of any of their history and why they ended up with the Roulhac surname. While there, I made two interesting discoveries. First, I learned that the Roulhacs did not idly accept their servitude. They were an integral part of the revolutionary experience in North Carolina. They were part of the 1801 slave conspiracy in Bertie County. This uprising is reflected in antebellum slave history alongside the later 1831 Nat Turner Rebellion.
I also learned that on November 10, 1869, the first immigrants that settled Arthington, Liberia left North Carolina on the ship Golconda with twelve passengers who had the Roulhac surname – Daphney (age 50), Alexander (13), Anne E. (25), Anna M. (4), Fanny (27), Viney (12), Clara (8), Daphney (5), Roxanne (3), Jane (27), Henrietta (10), and Nero (4). The next year (1870) another colony left North Carolina under the leadership of John Roulhac, age 37. With him were Rose (4), William Wrighton (17), Hannah (70), Grace (30), James Henry (13), Richard (8), John (2), and Charles (46). John Roulhac was one of the first deacons of the Baptist Church in Arthington and his son William was elected clerk after Peter Mountain walked out during a conference when things did not suit his fancy.
Naturally, after my visit to North Carolina, my attention turned to Liberia. I contacted the Liberian owners of the Chic Afrique Restaurant. They put me in touch with Martinus Whitfield, the President of the Liberian Association, who in turn introduced me to your friend Jerome Boikai. What a small world! A few days ago I met Collinetta Raynes of Millsburg who is Martinus’ sister. She is currently visiting Detroit. Both she and Jerome upon meeting me told me that you and I have a striking resemblance, only that I am a bit taller. Collinetta also told me that you were a wonderful preacher. You may be interested in knowing that people from my hometown predicted that I would one day become a minister… maybe later.
From the above, you can gather how I came to know of you and to write to you. It is apparent that we have much in common because of the experiences of our ancestors. It is also possible that we could be related by blood. One thing I am sure of - our ancestors were on the same plantation and shared the same ordeals and life during slavery.
I am eager to know of your ancestors and when they came from in Africa prior to being brought to America. From what I have learned, most of the North Carolina slaves were from Guinea. I hope that in the not too distant future I will visit Liberia and meet you and my other brothers and sisters. I visited Togo and Benin in 1983 and had a very liberating experience. No doubt, my visit to Liberia will be even more rewarding.
As you can no doubt gather, I have collected a great deal of information about the Roulhac legacy. I wish to share more of it with you and produce a study of the experiences of Roulhacs that went back to Africa and those that remained in this country.
It is my understanding that you studied in Michigan several years ago. It is unfortunate that I had not established a Liberian connection at that time. Do you have plans to visit the States again? If so, you are welcome to my home here. Give my best regards to your family. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Enclosed is a news article that appeared during Black History month in 1985.
With brotherly love and affection,
Roy L. Roulhac
Email Response October 3, 2005
Dear Attorney Roulhac,
It is with much joy in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; our soon coming king that I write you from your motherland Liberia, West Africa. As mentioned in the Good Book "Nothing happens before God's time", let me first of all congratulate you for your many achievements over the years. Roy, it is with dismay that for over two decades that your letter dated November 20th 1987 was just received during my recent visit to the United States of America for the wedding of my daughter Meriba in the State of Chicago, USA.
Your letter was received with great amazement and joy to have gotten connected to distant African relatives. Your letter brought tears of joy and admirations to my heart while I carefully read the contents therein.
Cousin Roy, for clarity, let me bring to your attention that my family tie as mentioned in paragraph 4 had no bearing to my family relationship. According to history, in the year November 1, 1870, on the ship Golconda #153, a second batch of immigrants sailed to Liberia from North Carolina, USA. Amongst them were Wrighten Roulhac and John B. Roulhac a farmer who headed the 243 immigrants to Arthington, Liberia, West Africa. My father Moses J. Roulhac was the son of George Roulhac. George was the son of Wrighten Roulhac, who happened to be my great, great grandfather. George union was blessed with 8 children namely: Moses, Jordan, Olivia, Jefferson, Benetta, Tempa, Alexandra and Tillah. As per your question relating to the origin of my ancestors from Africa before being carried to America, that question I do not have a definite answer but I will do a research on same.
I certainly appreciate the level of information you collected concerning the legacy of the Roulhac family. I would be delighted receiving more of such. Cousin Roy, regrettably, I did not attend school in Michigan, but rather Nashville, Tennessee. In the year 1972, I acquired a BTh. in Theology and a Master of Christian Work (MCW) from Scritt College in the State of Tennessee. In April 1976, the Liberian Government under the leadership of Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr. requested that I return to make my contribution to nation building. Upon my return back home I organized and implemented the first Indigent Children Home in the Republic of Liberia. I served the institution up to the Coup d'tat of 1980. I have also been privileged to pastor three of the leading mainline Baptist churches in the Republic of Liberia. The churches are as follows: Effort Baptist Church, Zion Praise Baptist Church and Zion Grove Baptist Church. These are all churches organized by the settlers. Lastly, I serve the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, Inc. for two terms. This convention was organized by Dr. Lott Carey and other Baptist immigrants in 1880.
Cousin Roy, it is my privilege and honor to inform my cousin in the America that I was greatly fortunate to have met Roulhacs during my Chicago visit. Our acquaintance during the reunion was joyous. Please convey to the rest of the Roulhac family my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for everything.
On August 16, 2005, I departed New York for Liberia, West Africa. I arrived August 17, 2005 through the grace of God. Prior to my departure for the United States, I did not visit my hometown Arthington due to the roads condition. Upon my return home, I immediately convened a small portion of the young Roulhacs and I informed them of my meeting with Roulhac’s in the city of Chicago. They are all delighted and hoping that other Roulhacs from the USA and Liberia will have a grand reunion someday.
Based on your letter the second batch of immigrants that settled in Arthington, Liberia in 1870 from North Carolina were under the leadership of John Roulhac. He served as one of the first deacons of St. Paul Baptist Church. His son William Roulhac was the church's clerk. During my recent visit I discovered that the church, the school, the clinic and other important infrastructures are damaged due to the 15 years of senseless war in Liberia. Presently, the church finds herself in a basement with worshippers sitting on pews made out of reeds. Conditions are pathetic and dehumanizing. We solicit your moral, spiritual, and financial support. Detailed pictures of structures will be forthcoming.
My best regards to your family. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
With brotherly love and affection,
Rev. A. Moses Roulhac, Jr.