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I was an adult when I learned about Kess Circle.
I’d learned a ton about my mother’s side of my family growing up as I spent the majority of my time around them. While there were mysteries and gaps and tales that more properly should be known as legend than history, I at least knew about it. All I knew about my father’s family was about our specific branch starting with my grandparents. My father and his numerous stories (he should have been a writer. His Baltimore stories were awesome). My uncles and their love of boxing. And obviously, family drama. But not much more. Even as I developed a deep love and study of Black history while I was in high school, my own origins were still vague and even more mysterious.
Some time around 1997-1998, I received an email from someone claiming to be a relative. He’d been online looking for other Kesses and had come across my then-website. We struck up a conversation over email and as it turned out, he was indeed a relative, part of the extended Kess family that I knew pretty much nothing about. Kevin shared information with me about the larger family, our origins, how many of us there were. What seemed like a smallish family, centered around Yale Heights where my grandparents lived, was just a small part of a much larger family with a rich history.
This eventually lead to a meeting.
I was able to convince my grandfather to go down to Glen Burnie with me to see Kevin’s immediate folks. PaPa, one of my uncles, and I piled into my grandfather’s minivan and made the trip where we met Kevin and his father. The two older men were cousins who had not seen each other in a very long time. They talked about so many things — our history, our ancestors. We made plans to get them back together at some point, but unfortunately, we never did that. I fell out of touch with Kevin. His father passed. My grandfather did.
Fortunately, the family history hasn’t. If anything, it’s spread more. A lot of the extended Kess family is online. I don’t know them well, but I’m at a time in my life where I can change that. I plan to. And not on online, but in showing my face some down Route 100 soon and wherever else we may be.