By: Homer Hirt The Chipola Historical Trust met on Tuesday at the Ely Criglar House, a perfect setting for the book signing by Judge Roy L. Roulhac, a Jackson County resident and a descendant of slaves, who has become an administrative court judge.
Roulhac's book, Slave Genealogy of the Roulhac Family, is subtitled "French Masters & the Africans They Enslaved", and was in the making for thirty years. The author not only researched his own ancestors throughout their days of servitude, but tied in the French family who owned them and moved them from the Carolinas to Jackson County as the plantation culture of the Old South moved to northern Florida.
When Roy Roulhac spoke to the Trust last year from the same setting, he described a young African American boy, growing up in Marianna but walking past the Ely Criglar house every school day, attending the segregated schools and acquiring an education that took him to Edward Waters College and eventually to the bench in Michigan.
On this occasion he spoke as a retired judge who had decided to find all he could about his slave ancestors. As he pursued this goal, he realized that the masters, from which his ancestors gained their last name when they were freed, were an essential part of the trail that he sought. He told of his searches in newspapers, in archives, in courthouse records, all adding up to the history of a remarkable family that may well be typical of many African American citizens of the United States.
Such a man as Roy Roulhac was fated to have an interesting life, and much of it he relates in his book, such as his opportunity to serve Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr when he was a waiter at the National Press Club. He got Dr. King's autograph on the back of his employment agency business card, and he still carries it with him.
During the book signing the Judge had many of his cousins with him, including several that had "raised" some of the white attendees. Also visiting was his 100 year old aunt Mrs. Catherine McElroy of Marianna and his cousin Roger Clay, former Marianna City Commissioner.
The book "Slave Genealogy of the Roulhac Family" is available locally through www.roulhacfamilyassn.org, with the electronic version soon to be available at amazon.com. Judge Roulhac is also donating a copy to the Jackson County Library.