Arriving at Bessie: A Crime in Cleveland

In the winter of 1910, a young woman named Bessie Watkins left her small Ohio town for the big city of Cleveland. She told her family a new job awaited her, and she took the train north. They would never see her again.

In fact, her surviving family and their descendants would never even hear about her until a century later.

Bessie Watkins was writer Kelly Bancroft’s Great Aunt. What Kelly discovers about her lost relative sheds light on an issue that continues to be one of the most divisive in 21st century America.

Kelly and Craig worked together to craft a documentary video essay that chronicles her first discovery of Bessie a few years ago to the hotbed of politics in 2016.

A written essay accompanying this video appeared on