PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Fear. That’s the reason a Pasco County woman who recently passed away did so holding onto an incredible story, one never shared publicly, until now.
Vera Goins-Hamilton lived in Lacoochee in Pasco County for nearly all of her life, except for the first 2 and a half years. Born February 29, 1920, Goins-Hamilton lived in Rosewood until January 1923 when the all-black town was burned to the ground by an angry white mob.
The fires, riots, and killings went on for days, all started after accusations that a white woman in nearby Sumner had been assaulted by a black man.
Richard Graham III is Vera Goins-Hamilton’s grandson. He said, she never publicly talked about her Rosewood history out of fear.
“A lot of folks, they changed their names because of being frightened, fear and so forth,” he said.
And she had good reason. Her grandmother, Sarah Carrier, worked for the woman who made that accusation that led to the riots. Carrier disputed the woman’s story and she was shot to death.
Goins-Hamilton and many other women and children fled to the swamps, where they hid out for days.
“Not just hide, but hide in swamps. There were alligators, water moccasin infestation. You know they were there for seven days.”
Graham’s grandmother never talked much about it.
“She was two and a half years old. You know she didn’t have that much of a memory of it other than the information that was told to her about it by her siblings and other family members if you will,” he said.
Graham said his family only talked it about at Christmas and only among family.
“It’s important for immediate family of Grandmother Vera because she was never recognized as a so-called Rosewood survivor.”
One reason they didn’t want anyone to know because ironically both the woman who made the charge that led to the riots and Goins-Hamilton ended up living in the Lacoochee in Pasco County.
“You can’t mentally prepare yourself, to put yourself in their shoes because it will make you crazy.”
Vera Goins-Hamilton never received a dime of the multi-million dollar settlement from the state of Florida because her brother insisted her name and location never be made public.
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