Covert, Michigan and the Smithsonian

(Local History, Genealogy) Permanent link

A few weeks ago I went to Covert, Michigan to be interviewed by Deborah Tulani Salahu-Din, the Project Director for the Smithsonian Institution African American Museum of History & Culture, and Michele Gates Moresi, the Curator for the museum. They had requested a meeting with the descendants of the early black and white settlers of Covert, Michigan. My great-great grandfathers William Bright Conner and his family, and Dawson Pompey and his family were the first African Americans to settle in Covert, Michigan after the Civil War ended. My great grandfather John Conner and his brother Frank, and his two brother-in-laws Himebrick Tyler and Joseph Seaton and my great grandfather Washington Pompey and his brother Napoleon were all veterans of the Civil War.

Our library has a book titled A Stronger Kinship: One Town’s Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith by Ann Lisa-Cox which tells the story of Covert’s unique history as a racially integrated community during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Covert was a town where blacks and whites went to church and school together. They lived among each other and intermarried. Blacks held public offices and owned businesses. My great grandmother Annis Pompey owned and operated a cider mill and was the first female in Covert to have her own business. Anna Lisa-Cox was instrumental in getting the Smithsonian to take a look at this community.


The new Smithsonian African American Museum of History & Culture will have an exhibition titled “Making a Way Out of No Way” which will include eleven communities from across the United States and Covert, Michigan will be one of the eleven exhibits.

I’m very excited that my ancestors will be a part of this exhibit and proud of the contributions they made to society. If you are interested in learning more about the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture that will open in 2015, you can visit this website:


A Stronger Kinship

Posted by Valerie Osborne at 12/14/2011 07:48:46 AM | 

I had never heard of Covert, Michigan. I recently moved from Michigan to Hawaii and I miss Michigan from time to time. You sound really proud of your heritage as you should be.


p.s. the website you linked is incomplete e.g. http://www.nmaahc/
Posted by: Antonio ( Email ) at 12/14/2011 5:01 AM

Thanks, Antonio - the link has been fixed.
Posted by: keith ( Email ) at 12/14/2011 7:54 AM

waiting for the new Museum opening.
Posted by: rasa ( Email ) at 12/16/2011 1:40 AM

Congratulations for your article on Early African
American settlers. American history is richer when we know the rich contributions of African Americans as well as others. Keep up the good works Valerie!!
Posted by: Suzanne Davis ( Email ) at 12/19/2011 10:56 AM

Val Congrats for all your info gathering efforts. So very interesting and so glad you decided to share. Keep it coming. Great job!!
Posted by: Alicia ( Email ) at 1/4/2012 4:38 PM

As a research volunteer for the Whitley County (IN)Historical Society, I've been looking into the Pompey family. Several of the family are buried in Jeffries Cemetery, Smith Township, Whitley County, Columbia City, IN. Have read Ms. Cox's book and looking for other info on the Pompey family, as there are descendants in Whitley Co., who are interesting in learning more about their ancestors. Should you have info on the Pompeys, I'd be very interested in obtaining copies of same. Feel free to use the e-mail address I've provided. Thanks, Pat
Posted by: Pat Heinbaugh ( Email ) at 7/19/2012 10:51 PM

Hello, my name is Marivel Bautista. I was very surpised to see that someone had written a book about the root history of Covert Michigan, I am sure with the amount of research you had to complete the book you may have also noticed that the demographics in culture has involved the mexican population. I have started to also begin a research on how the Mexican/Latino population has evolved tremendously in this community inspired by your great work!!!!

Thank you, Marivel Bautista
Posted by: Marivel Bautista ( Email ) at 11/3/2012 10:03 AM

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