The case for Margaret Henderson as the daughter of Nancy Balkcum (and sister of Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge) —
1. Margaret was born 1833-1836, probably in Sampson County NC. Mary Eliza was born in 1829 in Duplin or Sampson County.
2. Her photo clearly indicates that she was mixed race, as was Mary Eliza. Mary Eliza Balkcum’s mother Nancy Balkcum was white.
3. Margaret is not listed in the 1850 census, and neither is Nancy Balkcum.
4. Nancy Balkcum’s will makes reference to a daughter Margaret Balkcum, as well as a daughter Eliza Balkcum. The will was probated in 1854 in Sampson County, prior to Margaret Balkcum Henderson’s marriage circa 1855. Margaret Balkcum purchased a number of small items from her mother’s estate.
5. Margaret named her second son James Lucian Henderson in 1857. Compare: James Lucien Balkcum, born 1838, son of Nancy Balkcum’s daughter Mariah Balkcum Johnston.
6. Margaret named her first daughter Isabella circa 1860. Compare: Isabella Johnson, born 1858, daughter of Mariah Balkcum Johnson.
7. Margaret named her second daughter Ann Elizabeth circa 1866. Compare: Ann Eliza Balkcum, born circa 1840, daughter of Nancy Balkcum’s son John Balkcum.
8. Margaret named her third daughter Mary Susan circa 1868. Compare: Mary Susan Balkcum, born 1844 to John Balkcum, and Susan Johnson, born 1844 to Mariah Balkcum Johnson.
9. Between 1860 and 1870, Margaret and her husband Lewis Henderson and Eliza and her husband Robert Aldridge migrated to the Dudley area of southern Wayne County. The families are listed side by side in the 1870 census.
10. Caswell C. Henderson’s November 1907 marriage license, issued in New York City, reports his mother’s name as Margaret Balkcum.
11. Matrilineal descendants of Margaret Henderson have mtDNA haplotype H3. Descendants of Mary Eliza Aldridge have mtDNA haplotype H3.
12. Certain descendants of Margaret Henderson share significant autosomal cM totals with descendants of Mary Eliza Aldridge, but have no other known lines of common descent.
1. Margaret’s death certificate lists her mother as Margaret Bowkin, not Nancy. Informant was her son Lucian Henderson. (I have seen instances in which an informant listed his own mother’s name, instead of the decedent’s mother’s name. Is this the case here?)
2. Margaret’s son Lucian’s June 1934 death certificate lists his mother’s maiden name as Hill.
3. Margaret’s daughter Sarah’s January 1938 death certificate lists her mother’s maiden name as Carter. Informant was Hattie Mae Henderson, Sarah’s great-niece, who told me 60 years later that she did not recall giving this information and did not believe it was correct.
4. Perhaps most puzzlingly, there is absolutely no tradition of kinship between the two families. Hattie Mae Henderson was reared by her great-aunt (Lewis and Margaret’s daughter) Sarah Henderson Jacobs. If Sarah had been first cousin to Robert and Eliza Aldridge’s children, it seems that there would have been some acknowledgement of the relationship passed down — not only to Hattie (my grandmother), but to others descended from the free colored families in this small community. They (Simmonses, Winns, Jacobses, Hendersons, Aldridges, etc.) intermarried freely, so consanguinity would not have been shameful. The one exception: Hattie Henderson reported visiting with Sarah a “Cousin Tilithia” in Norfolk as a child. This was Tilithia Brewington King Godbolt Dabney, daughter of Robert and Eliza’s daughter Amelia Aldridge Brewington. Did Sarah call Tilithia “cousin” because they themselves were related, or because Hattie was related to Tilithia (through J. Thomas Aldridge, her father and Tilithia’s first cousin)? A point to consider: all but one of Lewis and Margaret’s children (son Lucian, who himself had no children who lived to adulthood) had died or migrated from Dudley by about 1905. The “lack of tradition” I perceive may simply be a function of a gap in familiarity between those people who knew Lewis and Mag’s family and those I was able to interview 80-90 years later.
Photo of Margaret Henderson in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.