Nat Turner's Descendants to Be Reunited With His Skull

Whether the skull is actually Turner's has yet to be confirmed
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2016 4:26 PM CDT
Nat Turner's Descendants to Be Reunited With His Skull
Attendees file past stained glass windows bearing the likeness of Martin Luther King Jr., left, and slave-revolt leader Nat Turner, right, in 2012 in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A skull thought to be that of Nat Turner, the controversial rebel leader whose slave revolt in Virginia in 1831 left about 60 white people dead, including women and children, will finally be presented to Turner's descendants Friday. Former Gary, Ind., mayor Richard Hatcher was given the skull by a local civil rights activist in 2002, when Hatcher was looking to build a National Civil Rights museum in the city. Hatcher says he's been trying to locate Turner's descendants ever since he got the skull, and was only recently able to find them, the Chicago Tribune reports. He'll present the skull to two of them during a private National Civil Rights Hall of Fame luncheon in Gary.

Turner was hanged and decapitated after the revolt, and it's not clear what happened to his remains. There was a rumor, however, that Turner's skull had made its way to a university lab in Chicago at some point. The skull being given to Turner's family was originally presented to Army Capt. Albert Franklin at the turn of the 20th century from a Virginia woman who said her father, a doctor, tended to Turner after his death. Franklin's family passed the skull down for more than three generations before Franklin gave it to Rev. Franklin Breckenridge in 2002 and Breckenridge gave it to Hatcher. Franklin acknowledges there's no proof the skull is really Turner's, just "this story that was passed down in the family." A county clerk from the county where Turner launched his insurrection hopes the descendants receiving the skull will have it tested to confirm it is Turner's. He also believes it should be returned to the county where Turner lived and died, the Baltimore Sun reports. (More slavery stories.)

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