Datcher to speak at Nov. 5 historical society meeting

Published 4:39 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

By JENNIFER MAIER / Community Columnist

It wasn’t until Albert “Peter” Datcher reached the age of 50 that he first reflected on the long history of his ancestors. A history that was certainly full of hardships and struggles, but that was also full of faith, family and friendships.

Datcher, whose great grandparents, Albert and Lucy Baker, were slaves, has worked tirelessly to piece together the story of his family. But discovering the past can be challenging, even painful when you consider the many injustices that have been endured over the years.

Peter Datcher shares the story of his family’s history to a group of students in Harpersville. On Nov. 5, Datcher will speak at the quarterly meeting of the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc. at 2 p.m. at the Shelby County Museum & Archives. (Contributed)

On Sunday, Nov. 5, Datcher will tell about his journey of discovery during the quarterly meeting of the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc. His presentation, titled “What If YOUR Ancestors Had Been Slaves, And…,” will take place at 2 p.m. at the Shelby County Museum & Archives in Columbiana.

According to Datcher, the story of slavery in the South goes beyond what is taught in textbooks.

“I’m going to talk about what they didn’t teach you in school,” Datcher said. “I’m going to tell the story of my family, church, community and the good Samaritans that played a role.”

Datcher’s great-grandfather went on to establish one of the largest black-owned farms in Shelby County, and it is still in operation today. The farm, located in Harpersville, has been in his family since 1879.
Datcher will have pictures, documents, books and various artifacts on hand to help tell the story of his family’s history beginning in the early 1800s to present.

The old Baker home still stands across the street from where Datcher currently lives. It is full of family records, pictures and artifacts spanning generations.

Datcher has talked openly about his family’s history, and a photograph collection can be found at the Alabama State Archives in Montgomery.

Earlier this year he spent a day with the 2017 class of Shelby Sentinels, giving them a tour of his family’s cemetery and old family home. There he shared some of the little-known history, or as he has said, “what they didn’t teach you in school,” allowing another generation a peek into what life was really like.

For more information about the event, call the Shelby County Museum & Archives at 669-3912. The event is free and open to the public.