Most residents are evangelical Christians. It’s such rich Trump country that the former president held one of his last campaign rallies five miles from Ms. Marshall’s farmhouse. “Some good friends were at those rallies,” she said.
“I don’t think I have a greater moral compass or am more evolved than my family members,” she said. “We all grew up being taught, ‘Don’t air your family’s dirty laundry.’ I guess I am putting the laundry on the line.”
Growing up, Ms. Marshall heard that her family had once enslaved people, but the history hit her in a visceral way 12 years ago, just after her first daughter was born. The baby was struggling to nurse. Ms. Marshall was nearly in tears. Her grandfather, Fred Scoggins, tried to offer some comfort.
The visits include a somber walk out to the remains of the two shacks. No one knows exactly when they were built, or when the generations of people who lived in them started calling themselves renters instead of tenant farmers or sharecroppers.
“We always called it sharecropping,” Mr. Mosley said. “What that means is that when you were living on a farm like that, you couldn’t object to things because you’d find yourself homeless.”
Some leading thinkers on formal reparations, in which the federal government would give money to Black descendants of the enslaved to help bridge the racial wealth gap and as a form of healing, say individuals like Ms. Marshall should use their time and money to push Congress to act.
“The risk I am talking about is not just about people shunning her, but the risk of people doing violence to her or her family,” Dr. Berry said. “Some people may take it upon themselves to shut her up.”
From her porch, Ms. Marshall routinely keeps an eye on the Kirbys, a couple in their late 70s who live just across the road. The relationship is a jumbled mix of shared history, familial love and unspoken pain.
When she was young, Nancy Kirby and her family were renters, living in one of the shacks before Ms. Marshall’s grandparents bought that tract in the 1950s. Gene Kirby sometimes worked for Ms. Marshall’s grandfather.
There are few people around to help the Kirbys as they age. A son lives in Ohio, but seldom comes home. A nearby niece pitches in, but can do only so much.
Ms. Marshall fills the role a daughter-in-law might. On holidays, she and her daughters deliver country ham and breakfast casseroles. When her mother died, Ms. Marshall stumbled into their den and grieved, her head in Ms. Kirby’s lap.
One of the first things Ms. Marshall did when she moved to the farm was ask the Kirbys if her grandfather had left any debt to them unpaid. Mr. Kirby asked her to untangle a small land dispute. Ms. Marshall promised to pay him for the land once they get it surveyed.
Ms. Marshall can’t imagine offering them anything that they might interpret as charity. They wouldn’t even accept the gift of her grandmother’s chair. Raising issues of reparations and reconciliation with them makes her uncomfortable.
“I would never want to do anything that would feel disrespectful,” she said.
But one afternoon last winter, Ms. Marshall walked across the road specifically to speak about racism. She brought a copy of the slave records, and arranged for Paulette Perry, 77, a cousin of Mr. Mosley’s who is something of a family historian, to join them.
At first, no one had much to say. They talked about Mr. Kirby’s tractors and who called Ms. Marshall the last time her cows got out.
Then they turned to issues of race.
“We never really had any problem with Black and white,” Mrs. Perry said.