My mother, Mary Silvina, the youngest of about ten children was born in 1831. As a young woman, she had to look for work, usually as a maid or in hotel kitchens in the nearby towns. And in 1862 my older brother, Idelbert, was born.

In 1867 Alfred Du Bois came to Great Barrington. He had very light skin and was good-looking. The dark skinned Burghardts did not care for him. Besides, he apparently had no property and no job. And no one had heard of the Du Bois family from New York.

Nevertheless, Mary took up with Alfred anyway. They married and move into a house owned by Thomas Jefferson McKinley, a run-away ex-slave who had accumulated a considerable amount of real estate. In that house, which sat a few yards from the Housatonic River, I was born.

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