Generation X (born 1964 - 1981)
True A. Lewis Gee was born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Her white mother of German descent, a retired program listing editor for TV Host Magazine, was born and raised in Linglestown Pennsylvania, and comes from a long history of Pennsylvanians, with the families of all four of her grandparents living in the state for five generations. Her black father, born in Haines City, Florida, was serving in Vietnam when she was born and retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after twenty three years of service. His African American parents, from the Greatest Generation, adopted True at one years old. There was no possible way her white mother could keep her as a black child amidst the Loving Generation. Her dad (paternal grandfather), who served in WWII as a Colored Troop with the 470th Amphibious Truck Unit on the second day in Normandy, was born in Midway, Alabama. Her mom (paternal grandmother), primarily a homemaker who worked part time jobs, was from the next county over. They were a part of The Great Migration, moving to Pennsylvania in the 1960s.
Married for twenty five years before True came into their lives, her grandparents had four children of their own, including her birth father. Her aunts and uncles were raised to be her siblings by law but by blood they were her father’s siblings. True grew up in the home by herself but she had sleepovers with first cousins all year long. She attended the same elementary, junior high, and high school, and lived in the same house and same neighborhood until she graduated. True was raised in the Baptist church and participated in softball and color guard in school.
As a teen mom and wife attending Harrisburg Area Community College to study pre-med, True grew apart from her first husband, who was from a prominent family in the next county. At the age of twenty three, she found work as a dispatcher with the Pennsylvania State lottery. After state layoffs, she moved back into her childhood home with her parents. Seeking security, True agonized over telling her parents that she wanted to go into the military. She knew it entailed leaving her children behind for a few months. Although her dad (grandfather) supported it, he knew resistance would come in a lot of forms with her being a single mother and a woman. Her mom (grandmother) was distraught, but her dad was the ultimate decision maker. Therefore, she joined the U.S. Army in which she became a food service specialist like her birth father. True served for seven years in Korea and Egypt, until her military career was cut short because of a rare autoimmune disorder, but not before she met her second husband in Fort Stewart, Georgia, who was also serving in the U.S. Army.
A GeneaBlogger and co-host of Black Pro Gen Live, an online streaming show, True serves as a resource for those interested in people of color genealogy. She enjoys enjoying reading historical romances and traveling.
True has been married since 1998. Her husband is a twenty year Army Retired Veteran. She has two half siblings, two adult sons, and grandchildren.
Lewis Gee, True
Oral History Summary
Veteran. Women shouldn’t be in the military.
True talks about her family legacy of four generations of firstborns, with her being the first woman, serving in the U.S. Armed Forces; joining the U.S. Army despite her “mom” (grandmother) and birth father feeling that women should not be in the military but with the support of her "dad" (grandfather), the ultimate decision maker; becoming a food service specialist like her birth father; serving for seven years in Korea and Egypt until her military career was cut short because of a rare autoimmune disorder; being in the National Organization of Rare Disorders and near death in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for three months; wanting to learn more about her ancestry due to her illness; attempting to join the Daughters of the American Revolution in Kentucky but chapter members using a brown box with white and black balls for a secret vote to accept or deny her, being “accepted” but members non-responsive thereafter; not feeling connected to her white Revolutionary War patriot "Yohan" Nicholas Barrick but instead, the documentation of her black ancestors speaking to her; eventually feeling connected through her patriot's service, reinforcing her service as a soldier in the Army, and their both being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice; and feeling overwhelmed that her white patriot is receiving recognition through her research as a woman of color. She shares oral history about growing up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, born the day before Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, to a young white mother of German descent from four generations who lived in PA back to her Revolutionary War patriot, and to a black father from Florida, an Army Vietnam veteran who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, when interracial relationships were not accepted; being legally adopted by her black paternal grandparents from Alabama, unsure if her maternal grandfather was aware she had a black father; her adoptive grandparents’ four children feeling like siblings instead of aunts and uncles, her father feeling like a big brother; having a child as a teenager with a mixed race high school sweetheart; attending community college to study pre-med; divorcing in her early twenties with two children and losing her job with the Pennsylvania State Lottery; her grandfather serving in WWII Normandy, her son serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; settling in Fort Knox, KY; co-hosting an online genealogy show; watching Roots with her grandparents who talked about their enslaved grandparents including enslaved paternal great-great-grandfather Ike who had three wives and 23 children; her mother not knowing her family history, taking a full mitochondrial DNA test which led to her Revolutionary War Patriot who served as a private in the militia in PA; discovering her patriot's service from his pension record; always being told that she came from nothing because she was black but then discovering her patriot ancestry, feeling disbelief that she qualified for DAR; being on a genealogy show which turned into a program with two white DAR members helping prepare her application; feeling confirmation, disbelief, anger, and pride when learning of her patriot; exercising her birthright to join DAR, standing in proxy for future grandchildren; joining a PA chapter with her mom since she was not embraced by two KY chapters; during the DAR national convention in Washington D.C., randomly ending up in a taxi full of KY Daughters who convinced her to join their chapter then feeling right at home; serving on the Volunteer Information Specialist committee; "I am the definition of America"; DAR means having a sisterhood; "DAR is doing what they say they are going to do to not discriminate against race, creed or color".
True Lewis's oral history was recorded on March 9, 2021
Membership State: Pennsylvania, Kentucky
DAR Patriot Ancestor(s)
Barrick, Nicholas: Pennsylvania
European Descent Male