My family and Malaga Island

A story by Charmagne Tripp from 1911-2021

Charmagne Tripp

When I look at photos of my family on Malaga Island I have mixed emotions. In one way it's exciting because these images provide a connection to my grandfather and extended family that I hadn't had. It helps connect the dots of who we are. I love seeing the cozy home and relationships. I imagine what they did for fun and the ways that joy showed up in their lives. I wonder who in our family has what traits passed down and wonder what they'd think of us after all that has happened.

In other ways it's saddening, I only met my grandfather once as a child and had heard that he was troubled. I feel like what we now know about his life offers some insight into why he may have been that way. So much trauma and loss. Processing that could not have been easy. Feeling displaced and disregarded had to be infuriating.

I can't help but focus on their eyes in the images. I wonder what they felt in these moments. If they wanted to take the photo. If the person on the other end of the camera was a friend or foe. I wonder about their concerns, fears, and agency. I wonder how they found so much strength after being deemed worthless.

In other ways, the images are motivating. Despite the treatment, the Tripps are still here. We are thriving and living in ways that they may have only imagined. I look at these images and feel pride and honored to carry on their legacy.

The Tripp family are the only remaining descendants of Malaga Island residents who identify as Black/African American.

Malaga Island residents with missionary, 1909

Malaga Island residents with missionary, 1909

Item Contributed by
Maine Historical Society

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