Descendant of Harriet Tubman dies

by Kelly Rogge

A long-time member of the Kansas City, Kan., community with ties to Kansas City Kansas Community College has died.

Isabel Elizabeth Gibson, mother-in-law of KCKCC professor Ewa Unoke, died July 2 in Kansas City, Kan. A beloved mother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend, Gibson was a descendant of the legendary humanitarian and Union spy during the Civil War, Harriet Tubman.

“It was all about serving others, always trying to help others,” said Melody Unoke, one of Gibson’s daughters. “She was also a disciplinarian, especially in bringing up her children.”

As a school teacher, Gibson served in several capacities such as a Sunday school teacher, church organist, leader of the Girls Guides Association and member of the Cape Palmas Prayer Bands. She was passionate in training young boys and girls as a music teacher.

Gibson is an African descendant of Harriet Tubman of U.S. Underground Railroad fame. Harriet was married to John Tubman, who visited Cape Palmas, Liberia, to meet with his relatives Shedrach and Sylvia Tubman. The couple had three children – Alex Tubman, John Hillary and another child who was killed in the tribal war between the Americo-Liberians and the natives. Gen. John Hilary Tubman led the army that eventually defeated the native forces. The 18th president of Liberia, W.V.S. Tubman, Alfred Tubman (Bob Willie) and Gibson are direct descendants of Gen. Alex Tubman who stopped the French invasion of the young Republic of Liberia.

“We are therefore related to Harriet Tubman through marriage. Bob Willie’s daughter, Harriet Tubman who lives in Virginia is named after the legendary freedom fighter,” Melody Unoke said. “Our county in Liberia is called Maryland county named after Maryland state in the U.S where Harriet Tubman hailed from.”

A viewing and prayer service will be from 5 to 9 p.m. July 18 at Porter Funeral Home, 1835 Minnesota Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. There will be a Celebration of Life from 9 to 10 a.m. July 19 at St. Monica Catholic Church, 1616 Paseo Blvd. in Kansas City, Mo. Interment will be at the Gate of Heaven Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum, 12601 Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kan. Repast at Savior Pastoral Center, 12601 Parallel Parkway.

Budget on agenda for school board meeting today

The Kansas City, Kan., school district budget is on the agenda for the 5:30 p.m. July 15 meeting at the Central Office, 2010 N. 59th St., Kansas City, Kan.

Several other items, including the election of new board officers, are on the agenda. The Kansas City, Kan., Public Library’s proposed budget also is on the agenda.

Also on the agenda are approval of contracts with Google for school sites, and many other items.

The agenda is online at

Victim of railroad grain car accident identified

The victim of a railroad grain car accident on Monday, July 14, has been identified.

James Breedlove, 48, died as a result of injuries at the BNSF rail yard in Kansas City, Kan.

Breedlove fell into a rail car while moving the grain from the car to a semi-trailer, authorities said on Monday. Fire crews, arriving within 4 minutes of the call, found the employee near the bottom of the car.