In March 1866, in order to ratify marriages and legitimate children, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act directing Justices of the Peace to collect and record in the County Clerk’s office the cohabitations of former slaves. Freedmen who did not record their marriages by September, 1866, faced misdemeanor charges. Stragglers rushed the courthouse that August, and on the 25th Walker Colvert and Rebecca Parks traveled the 12 miles or so from Eagle Mills to stand in line. They declared that they had been together for 13 years and named three children, John, Elvira and Lovenia. (There should also have been a son Lewis, the youngest — and who in the world is Lovenia? I have found no trace of her.)
Walker, fifty-ish at the time, was my great-great-great-grandfather. He was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, then passed, like a bedframe or milk cow, from one Colvert to another and into Iredell County, North Carolina. Rebecca was not his first wife, and his age suggests earlier children, names and fates unknown. My grandmother, who died in 2010 at age 101, knew and remembered Rebecca. And, like that, a link across five generations.