That’s my father sitting on his father’s lap. He’s about two. That’s Benjamin. I’m named after him. And his Dad’s name is Lewis. That’s my grandfather. Next to him is Dad’s oldest brother, Huey. 

Mr. Jackson, the second one in the picture, was born into slavery. And he was brought from the South to Minnesota by an ex-Union soldier as a young kid, say of 10 or 11, and raised by the soldier’s family in Minnesota. I feel that maybe he was an Abolitionist, I don’t know for sure. I feel that was the case, to bring a little boy all the way to Minnesota and raise him.  He died when I was about five or so. I remember him. I was at his funeral.

My father’s family were brought to Roslyn by the Northern Pacific Railroad to break the strike in the mines. The Northern Pacific Railroad owned those mines. And they, the Northern Pacific, conscripted them from all over the country. They settled them in Ronald to keep down the conflict.

Many, not all, but many of the blacks who came to the NW came first to Ronald, Roslyn, and Cle Elum and spread out from there to Seattle, Tacoma, and Yakima. This was the basis of the Black Migration in the Northwest.  But after Lewis moved across the mountains he got sick… He then resettled in Sunnyside for his health.  He got the Black Lung. He didn’t last too long in Sunnyside, but that’s how he homesteaded there.  He’s buried in one of them hills. I don’t know which one.

Text from an interview with Mr. Benjamin “Bennie” Sanders, winter 1997, by Jim Bodeen and Gilbert Chandler.

Coal miner’s lamp provided by Elizabeth Herres Miller.

The lamp belonged to her aunt’s father, a miner who immigrated from Wales.