Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Oral History, Photographs

Roadtrip chronicles, no. 5: Daltonia.

I saw that big, block of a white house, but I didn’t know what I was looking at. And, really, I wasn’t even much looking at it, because my whole attention was zeroed on a small building a couple hundred feet beside and behind it. A one and-a-half story log cabin sitting on fieldstone piers, mud-chinked, with small windows in the gable ends and central front door. In pristine condition. What was this?

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I turned to P.P., who shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “I don’t even want to say this,” she started, “but it’s true. It’s just so ugly.”

“Please do. Please do,” I urged.

“Well, the official story is that’s where the Daltons lived while they were building the house.”

The house — oh. This was Daltonia.

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“But that log cabin was Anse Dalton’s house.”

Wait. “Anse Dalton!? Anderson Dalton? That was — he was the father of my great-grandfather Lon W. Colvert‘s first wife, Josephine.”

“Yes, well, after the War, he was a driver for the Daltons. But in slavery …”

Yes? “In slavery, he was a — I hate to say it — he was used to breed slaves. That’s what they called this — ‘the slave farm.'”

I sat with that for a minute.

“It’s terrible,” she continued. “They thought, just like you can disposition an animal, you could breed people with certain traits. He had I-don’t-know-how-many children.”

I knew about slave breeding, of course. About the sexual coercion of both enslaved men and women, particularly in the Upper South. I’ve read slave narratives that speak of “stockmen,” but never expected to encounter one in my research. I thanked P.P. for her openness, for her willingness to share the stories that so often remain locked away from African-American descendants of enslaved people. Not long ago, I started working on a “collateral kin” post about the Daltons. I knew Josephine Dalton was born about 1878 to Anderson and Viney (or Vincey) Dalton; that her siblings included Andrew (1863), Mary Bell (1876), Millard (1880), Lizzie (1885) and Emma (1890); and that she was from the Harmony/Houstonville area. I’d stumbled upon articles about Daltonia and had conjectured that her parents had belonged to wealthy farmer John Hunter Dalton. I’d set the piece aside for a while though, because I had no specific evidence of the link beyond a shared surname. However, here was an oral history that not only placed Josephine’s father among Dalton’s slaves, but detailed the specific role he was forced to play in Daltonia’s economic and social structure.

P.P. did not know Anse Dalton, but Anse’s son Millard and her grandfather had grown up together. P.P. was reared in her grandfather’s household and vividly recalled Millard Dalton riding up to visit on his old white horse. “You can have her till I go home,” he’d tell her as he handed off the reins.

I can finish my Dalton piece now. Though I will never know the names of the children that Anderson fathered as a “stockman,” genealogical DNA testing may yet tell the tale, and I have a clearer picture of Josephine Dalton Colvert’s family and early life.

Photographs taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2015.

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Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia

Freedom’s faces.

Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of Congress’ passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States. On Facebook, several friends posted links to sites featuring “never-before-seen” photographs of formerly enslaved Americans, most taken in the 1930s. As I clicked through these images, struck by the strength and endurance embodied, I had a sudden thought — I’ve got a few photos of former slaves, too. And they’re my own people.

——

McNEELY -- Martha M McNeely in blue dress

Martha Margaret Miller McNeely. Born about 1855 in Rowan County, North Carolina, to Margaret McConnaughey and Edward Miller. Enslaved by John M. McConnaughey. My matrilineal great-great-grandmother.

 NICHOLSON -- Harriet Nicholson 2

Harriet Nicholson Tomlin Hart. Born in 1861 in Iredell County, North Carolina, to Lucinda Cowles and James Lee Nicholson. Enslaved by Thomas A. Nicholson, her grandfather. My maternal great-great-grandmother.

Mary Brown Allen

Mary Brown Allen. Born about 1849 in Amelia County, Virginia, to Catherine Booker and James Brown. Owner unknown. Maternal great-great-grandmother.

Aspilla Ward Hagans

Apsilla “Appie” Ward Hagans. Born 1849 in Greene County, North Carolina, to Sarah Ward and Dr. David G.W. Ward, her owner. Wife of my great-great-great-great-uncle Napoleon Hagans.

Mittie_Ward

Mittie Ward Vaughn. Born 1849 in Greene County, North Carolina, to Sarah Ward and Dr. David G.W. Ward, her owner. Twin of Appie, above. Mother of son of my great-great-great-great uncle Napoleon Hagans.

——

In tribute to these and countless others, known and unknown, who walked through this country’s darkest days.

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Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin, Virginia

Book of Negroes.

An ongoing memorial to my enslaved ancestors and the communities in which they lived.

THE ENSLAVED

Juda, her children LucindaDave, Matthew, John and Kezy, Rowan County, North Carolina. Enslaved by Elizabeth Kilpatrick. Under terms of Elizabeth Kilpatrick’s will, Juda, Matthew, John and Kezy were sold; Dave enslaved by her son Robert; and Lucinda by her daughter Mary (see below).

Matilda (ca. 1845-1885), probably Charlotte County, Virginia. Married Jasper Holmes circa 1862. Owner unknown.

Graham Allen (1852-1928), Prince George County, Virginia. Son of Edmund (or Mansfield) and Susan Allen, husband of Mary Brown Allen, adoptive father of John C. Allen Sr. Owner unknown.

Mary Brown Allen (1849-1916), Amelia County, Virginia. Daughter of Catherine Booker and James Brown. Owner unknown.

Clara Artis Edwards, Henry Artis, Lodrick Artis, Prior Ann Artis Sauls Thompson, and Mariah Artis Swinson, Greene County, North Carolina. Children of Daniel Artis and an unknown enslaved woman. Owner unknown.

Cain Artis (1851-1917) and Caroline Coley (1854-??), Wayne County, North Carolina. Children of Winnie Coley, an enslaved woman, and Adam T. Artis, a free man of color. Owned by W.W. Lewis and possibly John Coley.

Willis Barnes (1841-1914). Nash, Wilson and possibly Edgecombe Counties, North Carolina. Son of Annie Eatman and (possibly free-born) Toney Eatman. Owner unknown.

Cherry Battle (1842-ca. 1890) and children Rachel Battle/Barnes and Wesley Barnes. (Younger children born in freedom.) Wilson County and possibly Edgecombe County NC. Wife of Willis Barnes. Possibly enslaved by Margaret Parker Battle.

Pleasant Battle Battle Williams (1842-1912) and children John (1857), George (1858), Ida (1859), Richard (1860) and Cora Battle (1865). Edgecombe County. Daughter of Bunyard and Pleasant Battle. First husband, Blount Battle, was an enslaved man. Married second husband, free-born Jonah Williams, after Emancipation.

Walter Carter (ca. 1813-1885), Charlotte County, Virginia. Husband (probably second) of Nancy, mother of Joseph, and probably Jasper, Holmes. Owner unknown.

Walker Colvert (1815-1905), Culpeper County, Virginia, and Iredell County, North Carolina. Enslaved by Samuel Colvert, then John A. Colvert, then William I. Colvert.

John Walker Colvert (1851-1921) and his mother Elvira Gray. Iredell County. John was the son of Walker Colvert. Owner probably William I. Colvert, but possibly Susan Colvert Gray, sister of William I. Colvert.

Lucinda Cowles (??-bef. 1870?) and her daughter Harriet Nicholson (1861-1926). Lucinda was owned by James Nicholson, then his son Thomas A. Nicholson. Harriet was owned by Thomas A. Nicholson.

Simon Exum (1842-1915), Wayne County, North Carolina. Son of John and Sophronia Exum. Husband of free-born Delilah Williams. Owner unknown, but probably one of the white Exums who lived in Nahunta area of Wayne County.

Lewis Harper (ca. 1844-after 1904), Greene County, North Carolina. Brother of Loderick Artis. Owner unknown.

Nancy Holmes Carter (ca. 1809-1884) and children Louisa Carter, Lettie Carter, Walter Carter Jr., and Eliza Carter, Charlotte County, Virginia. Married first Payton Holmes, then Walter “Wat” Carter. Owner unknown.

Joseph R. Holmes (1838-1869), Charlotte County, Virginia. Son of Peyton Holmes and Nancy (last name unknown.) Probably enslaved by Hunter Holmes Marshall.

Jasper Holmes (1840-ca. 1899), Charlotte County, Virginia. Brother of Joseph R. Holmes. Possibly enslaved by Hunter Holmes Marshall.

Margaret Kerr McNeely (ca. 1840-?), Rowan County. Wife of Julius McNeely. Owner possibly Dr. Samuel E. Kerr.

Eliza Catherine Kerr Miller (1843-1907) and son Baldy Alexander Miller (1858-1942), Rowan County. Wife of George Miller. Owner unknown.

Guy Lane (ca. 1798-ca. 1875), Greene County, North Carolina. Husband of Sylvania Artis. Almost certainly enslaved by John Lane (see below.)

Margaret McConnaughey and her children George W. Miller, Caroline McConnaughey (and daughter Angeline McConnaughey Reeves), Mary Ann McConnaughey Miller, Grace Adeline Miller Miller, Martha Miller McNeely and John B. McConnaughey, Rowan County, North Carolina. Enslaved by John M. McConnaughey.

Lucinda McNeely (1816-ca. 1890) and her children Alice (and her children Joseph Archy, Mary, Alexander and John Stanhope); John Rufus; Julius and Henry W. McNeely, Rowan County, North Carolina. Lucinda, Alice and John enslaved by Mary Kilpatrick. All enslaved by Samuel McNeely, then John W. McNeely.

Edwin (or Edward) Miller, Rowan County, North Carolina. Father of most of Margaret McConnaughey’s children. Owner unknown.

Green Miller (1848-1923), Rowan County, North Carolina. Son of Edward and Malissa Miller. Married Grace Adeline Miller. Owner unknown.

Ransom Miller (1845-1917), Rowan County, North Carolina. Son of Samuel and Malissa Miller. Married Mary Ann McConnaughey. Owner unknown.

William H. Nicholson (1842-1909), Iredell County, North Carolina. Son of Lucinda Cowles and Burwell Carson. Probably owned by Thomas A. Nicholson.

Rebecca Parks (1839-1915) and son Lewis Colvert (1861-1915), Iredell County, North Carolina. Rebecca was the daughter of Jerry Gray and Lettie Gray, who were probably owned by John A. Colvert. Second (?) wife of Walker Colvert. Owner possibly Susan Colvert Parks, sister of William I. Colvert.

Frank Reeves (1854-1910), Rowan County, North Carolina. Son of Henry and Fina Overman Reeves. Married Caroline McConnaughey. Owner unknown.

Hannah Sauls Speight, Greene County, North Carolina. Daughter of Shephard Sauls and Rosetta Sauls. “Born on Appletree Swamp near the town of Stauntonburg, Greene County, N.C. and was a slave” belonging to Lawrence Brown. Married Bailham Speight.

Bailham Speight alias Edwards, Greene County, North Carolina. Son of Reddin Speight. Brother of Lafayette “Fate” Edwards, who was enslaved by Ap. Edwards. Enslaved by Jim Edwards, “Orfa” (probably Theophilus) Edwards, and Elizabeth “Betsy” Edwards. Married to Jennie Suggs during slavery. She died in New Bern, North Carolina, near the end of the Civil War. Married Hannah Sauls after.

Green Taylor (1817-ca. 1890), wife Fereby Taylor (1825-ca. 1890), and children Peter, Henrietta, Dallas, Christiana, McKenzie, and Henry Michael Taylor, Nash County and possibly Edgecombe County. Green, Fereby, and oldest three children enslaved by Kinchen Taylor until about 1856, then distributed to his heirs.

Abner Tomlin (1855-ca. 1900), Iredell County, North Carolina. Son of Milas and Lucinda Tomlin. First husband of Harriet Nicholson. Owner unknown.

Sarah Ward Darden (ca. 1823-ca. 1890) and children Mittie Ward Vaughn (ca. 1857-1924), Appie Ward Hagans (ca. 1857-1895), and Henry Ward, Greene and Wilson Counties, North Carolina. Owned by David G.W. Ward.

Solomon Williams (ca. 1800-1884), Wayne and possibly Greene Counties, North Carolina. Owner unknown.

THE ENSLAVERS

1793, 22 June — Will of James Neill, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • To wife, “my negro wench Luce.”

1793, 25 November — Will of Thomas Allison, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • To wife Madeline, “negroe wench” Jude and use of two negro fellows, Pomp and Bob.

1793, 25 November — Will of Madeline Allison, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • To son Thomas Allison, Pomp; to son Richard Allison, Bob; to daughter Ann Allison, “Negroe Jude.”

1800, 22 February — Will of John McNeely, Rowan County, North Carolina.

  • To son Alexander, “a negro wench named Esther.”

1805, 17 November — Will of Theophilus Simonton, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • To wife, “my Negro Woman named Soose and her child Esther,” “the rest of my negroes” to remain on the plantation or be sold as executors think necessary.

1819, 3 September – Will of Elizabeth Kilpatrick, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • To son Robert Kilpatrick, “my negro boy Dave”; to daughter Mary Kilpatrick “my negro girl named Lucinda”; “my negro woman Juda and all her children not disposed of” to be sold.

1823 – Estate of Samuel Colvert, Culpeper County, Virginia.

  • Amelia; Anthony; Caroline; Charles; Daniel; Eliza; Frank, his wife Charlotte and their children Townsend, Jere, Little Frank, Lewis and Ellen; George; Harry; Jane; Mary; Little Mary; Patty; Rachel; Robert and his wife Milly and their children Easter, Jack, Reuben, Edmund and Rachel; Sarah; Siller; and Winny.

1824, 30 December — Will of James McConnaughey, Rowan County, North Carolina. Fathe

1827, 10 and 11 DecemberInventory of John A. Colvert’s estate, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • Negroes hired for one year: Jerry, Amy, Walker, Joe, Ellen, “Meel & two children,” Anda, Charlotte, “Lett & three children.”

1829, [date illegible] — Estate of Elizabeth Kilpatrick, Rowan County, North Carolina.

  • Juda, Matthew and John sold for $50, $ and $200. Kezy, described as “unsound,” sold for $74.75 on 20 October 1830.

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1829, 13 April — will of Ann [Robison] McConnaughey, Rowan County, North Carolina. Mother of John M. McConnaughey, who owned my great-great-great-grandmother Martha McConnaughey and her children.

  • to son John McConnaughey, negro fellows March and Squire.

1834, 29 December – deed of sale, Mary Kilpatrick to Samuel and John McNeely, Rowan County, North Carolina.

  • “One negro woman named Lucinda aged about twenty years one negro child named Alice aged three years and one negro child named John aged between one and two years” sold.

1843, 29 May – will of Samuel McNeely, Rowan County, North Carolina.

  • “a negro woman named Lucinda and all her offspring” to son John W. McNeely.

1845, 1 Mayrunaway slave ad placed by Kinchen Taylor, Tarboro’ Press.

  • $100 reward for the apprehension of “my fellow Lewis.”

1850 — federal slave schedule, John Lane, Greene County, North Carolina.

  • 8 females; 13 males.

1850 — federal slave schedule, John M. McConnaughey, Rowan County, North Carolina.

  • Black female, age 58; black male, age 53; black male, age 32; black female, age 26; black male, age 12; mulatto male, age 12; mulatto female, age 8; mulatto male, age 6; black female, age 4; mulatto female, age 2; mulatto male, age 3 months.

1850federal slave schedule, John W. McNeely, Rowan County, North Carolina.

  • Black female, age 34; black female, age 19; black male, age 17; black male, age 14; black male, age 12; mulatto male, age 9; mulatto male, age 2; mulatto female, age 1.

1850 — federal slave schedule, James Nicholson, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • Female, age 40; male, age 33; male age, 23; male, age 15, male, age 12; male, age 11; male, age 6; male, age 4; male, age 8; male, age 4; female, age 4; male, age 1; male, age 4 months.

1850 — federal slave schedule, Thomas Nicholson, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • Male, age 45; male, age 18; male, age 21; female, age 20; male, age 4.

1850 — federal slave schedule, Silas Bryan, Greene County, North Carolina.

  • Female, age 45; male, age 32; male, age 28; female, age 8; male, age 2.

1850 — federal slave schedule, Kinchen Taylor, Nash County, North Carolina.

  • 30 females, 47 males.

1850 — federal slave schedule, David G.W. Ward, Greene County, North Carolina.

1851, 3 February — will of Kinchen Taylor, Nash County, North Carolina.

  • To wife Mary Taylor, negroes Big Tom, Little Tom, Clary, Lucinda, Jane, Washington and Ellen; to daughter Wineford Rosser, wife of William Rosser, negroes Sam, Cassa, Harriet, Rosetta, Berry and Daniel; son Kinchen C. Taylor, negroes Isham, Fanny and child, Sandy and Simon; to daughter Carolina Knight, wife of William H. Knight, Haley, Hasty, Amy and Glascow, Alfred and Susan; the remaining estate, including slaves, to be divided among all children.

1851, 17 November — will of James Nicholson, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • To wife, slaves Milas, Dinah, Jack, Liza and Peter.  To son Thomas, slaves Carlos, Nelson, Lucinda and Joe.  To son John, slaves Manoe, Armstrong, Manless, Calvin and Soffie.

1856, February — inventory of slaves of Kinchen Taylor, Nash County, North Carolina.

  • Dred, Long Henry, Kinchen, Cooper Henry, Doctor, Tom, Simon, Jack, Jim Sr., Chapman, Yel. Henry, Tom Jr., Isaac, Bill, Allen Jr., Arnol, Bob, Seasar, Washington, Cato, John Sr., Tony, Allen Jr., Ned, Amanuel, Sam, Nick, Ellick, Edmon, Wm. Henry, Virgil, Green, Jeffrey, Cane, Handy, John Jr., Big Lewis, Carter, Amy, Patience, Isabella, Henryetta, Lucy, Joe, Mol, Martha, Lucy Jr., Turner, Francis, Della, Carter, George, Lucinda, Elah, Olive, Angeline, Hilly, Hasty, Amy, Glasgo, Darson, Susan, Albert, Penny, Carter Sr., Mary, George, Levinia, Thad, Frank, Betsy, Evline, Wiley, Caroline, Isham, Fanny, Margaret, Lucy, Leah, Jolly, Matilda, Calvin, Elvira, Joe, Faulcon, Ann, Jim Jr., Ferribee, Dallas, Peter, Henryetta, Margaret, Ida, Pink, Emily, July Ann, Mariah, Eliza, Jane, Ella, Mourning, Clary, Cherry, Anna, Hanah, and Elizabeth.

1860 — federal slave schedule, William I. Colvert, Iredell County, North Carolina.

  • Black male, age 42; black female, age 34; black female, age 34; black female, age 15; black male, age 13; black female, age 11; black male, age 10; black female, age 8; black male, age 4; black male, age 1.

1860federal slave schedule, J.W. McNeely, Rowan County, North Carolina.

  • Black female, age 44; black male, age 22; mulatto male, age 19; mulatto male, age 12; black female, age 11; black male, age 9; and black male, age 7.

1860 — federal slave schedule, John McConnaughey, Rowan County, North Carolina.

  • Mulatto female, age 68; black male, age 61; black male, age 48; mulatto female, age 40; black male, age 22; mulatto male, age 21; mulatto female, age 20; black female, age 16; mulatto male, age 15; mulatto male, age 14; mulatto female, age 10; mulatto female, age 7; mulatto female, age 5; mulatto female, age 3; mulatto female, age 1.

1860 — federal slave schedule, Silas Bryan, Greene County.

  • Black female, age 55; black male, age 43; black female, age 18; black male, age 12; black male, 10.

1860 — federal slave schedule, John Lane, Greene County.

  • 13 females; 11 males.

1863 — John Coley for W.W. Lewis, Wayne County, North Carolina, tax assessment.

  • Winney, 29, Cane, 9, Caroline, 7.

1863 — J. M. McConnaughey, Rowan County, North Carolina, tax assessment.

  • George, age 24, $1500; John, age 2, $150; Edwin, age 1, $100; Margaret, age 42, $850; Caroline, age 23, $1200; Mary Ann, age 13, $1000; Grace, age 10, $500; Martha, age 7, $250; Angeline, age 7, $250.

1863 — J.C. McConnaughey, Rowan County, North Carolina, tax assessment.

  • Simon, age 57, $200; Ceasar, age 54, $400; Perry, age 45, $300; Isaac, age 36, $1400; Charles, age 32, $1450; Nelson, age 32, $1450; Edward, age 32, $1450; George, age 31, $1450; Ellick, age 26, $1500; Henry, age 17, $1500; Thom, age 14, $1200; Giles, age 14, $1200; Dallas, age 7, $400; Alfred, age 4, $300; John, age 25, $1500; Juber, age 14, $1500; Nancy, age 36, $1000; Ritta, age 32, $1100; Harried, age 23, $1200; Liza, age 23, $1200; Laura, age 11, $650; Louisa, age 8, $400; Jennie, age 4, $250; Ellen, age 5 months, $100; Allice, age 3 months, $200.

1863 — J.W. McNeely, Rowan County, North Carolina, tax assessment.

  • Lucinda, age 47, value $750. Julius, 25, $1500. Henry, 22, $1500. Archy, 14, $1200. Mary, 13, $1000. Stanhope, 11, $900. Sandy, 12, $950.
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Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 3. Strong Woman.

I’ve been working on my Book of Negroes post, digging in my Family Tree Maker files and through scanned documents, cross-referencing and making notes. At the top of the list of enslaved ancestors is Juda, a woman named in the 1819 will of Elizabeth Kilpatrick of Rowan County, North Carolina. Kilpatrick left her “negro boy Dave” to her son Robert Kilpatrick, her “negro girl named Lucinda” to her daughter Mary Kilpatrick, and directed that her executors sell her “negro woman Juda and all her children (not disposed of).” There are gut-punches all through this document — Lucinda was my great-great-great-grandmother — but that last one always tears me all to pieces. Put it all together, and you see that Kilpatrick owned one family of slaves — Juda and her children — and she directed that that family be ripped apart upon her death.

Elizabeth Kilpatrick’s will was devastating enough. And then I found her 1829 estate records. There, in faded script is the last sighting of Juda and her not-disposed-of children, Matthew, John, and Kezy. It’s damnably hard to read, but if you peer closely: Negroes Juda $50 Matthew $425 John $2[illegible]0. And below, a notation: Kezy Unsound Not sold by consent of Heirs Remains in the hands of [illegible]. (Another note in the file records a change of heart — on 20 October 1830, Kezy was, in fact, sold for $74.75.) I don’t know how old Juda was when she was sold away from her children in 1829, nor Matthew, John, Kezy, or Dave, but Lucinda was about 13.

And, so, without the need to explain further, the “strong woman” to whom I dedicate this edition of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is my great-great-great-great-grandmother Juda.

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 Estate of Elizabeth Kilpatrick (1829), North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org

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Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Requiem for Peter and Flora.

Working on my DNA Definites Neill piece sparked an idea for a running post. Sort of my own Book of Negroes. A list of (1) enslaved family members and (2) the enslaved people owned by my family members. I thought briefly about who might make the list, then relegated the idea to “to do.” And then last night —

Well, Illbedamn.

I ran an idle Google search for “Iredell County slavery.” At the top of the third page of results, I ran up on this: a bill of sale for two slaves, Peter, aged 22, and Flora, aged 12, sold by my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather James Nicholson to Robert S. Gray on 15 October 1829.

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Lot 387. Yes. This document was included in a list of items in an on-line estate auction conducted November 16, 2014. I am two months too late. The bill of sale sold. And probably for more than Robert Gray paid for Peter and Flora.

And so I got up this morning and started my Book of Negroes. The format is eluding me, but I’m compiling the entries. The ancestors have called, and I’m answering.

Image posted by Butterscotch Auction Gallery, Bedford, New York, liveauctioneers.com.

 

 

 

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Enslaved People, Virginia

Recommended, no. 1.

“The Old South, like any other long-vanished society, is distant from us, and strange. The more we learn about it, the more we realize we do not know. If the story of free Afro-Virginians in Prince Edward County teaches us anything, it is the danger of making assumptions about that past and its people based on what we see around us today, or on what we think we know about the history of other periods, or on the hubristic notion that our own society is superior to theirs in every conceivable way.”

At 619 pages, this is not light reading. But may I strongly recommend to anyone with the least interest in 19th century, southern, or African-American history Melvin Patrick Ely’s Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s through the Civil War. It’s a richly detailed, scrupulously documented, compellingly limned history of Israel Hill, a community of freed slaves in southern Virginia.

 

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Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Photographs

Landscape, no. 2.

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Statesville, North Carolina. April 2011.

Green Street cemetery, Statesville, North Carolina, abloom in buttercups.  Though largely empty of headstones, this graveyard is probably close to full.  Most of the existing stones, including that of my great-great-grandfather John W. Colvert, date from 1890-1930 — ex-slaves and their children.  For some, it is the most detailed record of their lives.  One: MARY WILLIAMS passed away Mar. 13, 1917 in her 94th Year Blind cheerful her simple faith was an inspiration Rest in peace Aunt Mary.

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Civil War, Enslaved People, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Battle possibilities.

A few weeks ago, I ran across a reference to Joel Craig and Sharlene Baker’s As You May Never See Us Again: The Civil War Letters of George and Walter Battle, 4th North Carolina Infantry (2004). George and Walter were sons of Amos Johnston Battle, a prominent (and peripatetic) Baptist minister who spent his last years in Wilson County.  I wondered if the brothers mentioned any of the family’s slaves in their letters, so when I was at home I stopped by the Wilson County Public Library to skim their copy.

I found only a single reference to a Church, presumably enslaved, who was charged with delivering certain items to the letter writer. A footnote appended to the passage states: “The boy ‘Church’ has been referred to by some as one of the Battle’s [sic] slaves. Whether this is referring to the Raleigh Battle’s or the Wilson Battle’s is unclear. However, if the Rev. Battle did own slaves in the midst of the war it might mean that he was not the abolitionist as previously thought.”

Two things struck me: (1) given Hugh B. Johnston’s confident identification of Amos Battle as the owner of my ancestor Cherry, was his possession of slaves a question? (2) “abolitionist” is a mighty strong word to describe anybody coming out of Wilson County.

First, I did what I’ve apparently never bothered to do — check the 1850 and 1860 federal slave schedules for Amos J. Battle. He appears in neither, but his wife Margaret H. Battle is listed with 32 slaves in 1860. (Hugh Johnston noted that Amos Battle’s “wife owned a small farm north of Wilson not far from the Barnes plantation.”) She is not listed in the 1850 slave schedule, and the sudden acquisition of that many slaves suggested inheritance. After figuring out her maiden name (Margaret Hearne Parker) and father’s name (Weeks Parker) I went looking for estate records.

Sure enough, Weeks Parker died in January 1844 in Edgecombe County, leaving a widow and three children. (One predeceased him.) The 88 pages of his estate file span more than a decade, and Emancipation eventually intervened to prevent a final distribution. There was this, though, a listing of those slaves apportioned to daughter Margaret H. Battle and her children, apparently dating from the late 1850s:

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Old Ben, Old Seny, Big Hardy, Lucinda, Stephen, Turner, Hilliard, Mary, Adeline, William, Lena, Alice, William “usually called Reuben,” Little Ben, Harriet, Marina, Sally, Smith, Maria, Little Hardy, Betty, Jim, Moses, Syphax, Toney, Louis, Allen, George, Matilda, Lizzie. I was disappointed not to find a Cherry listed among them, but intrigued nonetheless. Would Weeks Parker’s will shed more light?

Yes. And no.

Weeks Parker executed his will on 31 July 1843. The document mentions his wife Sabra [Irwin Hearn]; son Simmons B. Parker; deceased son Dr. John H. Parker, who had migrated to Florida; and daughters Henrietta, wife of Benjamin Battle, and Margaret, wife of Amos J. Battle. [Benjamin Dossey Battle was Amos’ brother.]

Weeks designated son Simmons as his executor and trustee. He bequeathed certain slaves — Polly, Godwin, Old Ned, Winny, Hardy, Charlotte and her child Cintha, and Nelly —  to pass to Simmons after wife Sabra’s death, and mentioned that he had already given Simmons 14 slaves in a deed of gift. He also directed Simmons to sell the land and slaves in Florida inherited from son John’s estate. (And tweaked this last provision in a codicil.)

Weeks’ bequests to his daughters are curious though.  After Sabra’s death, Simmons was to hold in trust slaves Lucindy, Stephen, Turner, Lewis, George, Marina, Tony, Matilda, Caroline, William, Holly, Big Hardy, Ben, Cena, Moses, Syphax, Little Hardy, Jim, Lucy and Little Jim “for the sole and separate use and benefit of daughter Margaret H. Battle wife of Amos J. Battle during her natural life free from the management and control of her present or any future husband.”  Similarly, he directed that Simmons hold in trust after Sabra’s death slaves Barbara, Sarah, Luke, Ned, Sophia, Elick, Harrison, Milly, Jeffrey, Dorcas, Silas, Bill, Lou, Julia, Randal, Will and Abner for the benefit of daughter Henrietta Battle. Why the specific attempt to keep Amos Battle’s hands off his wife’s property? Was he in fact an abolitionist likely to try to free them? Or were Weeks’ concerns more prosaic?

Simmons and his mother went into court to have Weeks’ will admitted to probate, and the skirmishes began. The two sets of Battles teamed up to claim that they had not been notified prior to probate and that the will’s codicil had been made under undue influence. Simmons and the other trustees admitted that Battles may not have been given formal notice, but claimed that they knew anyway. They also charged Amos Battle with having taken a slave named Jim to Wilmington.  The Battles fired a second volley with a claim that Simmons was in “extreme bad health” and “great physical inability” and “utterly incapable of carrying out his duties” as a trustee. Simmons responded meekly, acknowledging that he had been shot in the chest many years before and had never recovered, a circumstance that sometimes completely debilitated him. He agreed to surrender his trusteeship. Nathan Matthewson, too, stepped down, and was replaced by Benjamin Oliver of Duplin County. In one of Oliver’s reports, he advised the court that he had sold for $600 a slave named Jim “in consequence of grossly bad behavior and general bad deportment.” The buyer was Wyatt Moye. With the funds received, Oliver then spent $500 to purchase Lilah from a Dr. Arrington. (She later gave birth to a son Charles.) In 1849, Oliver moved to Bladen County and resigned his trusteeship; Uriah Vaughan of Hertford County — where Margaret then lived — was appointed in his stead. In the mid-1850s, Margaret, Amos and their children moved to the town of Wilson, where Sabra Parker bought them a house and lot. In another plaintive petition for yet another trustee, submitted in September 1856, Margaret complained that she had no other property and that the family was “dependent on their own exertions for a support” as their trust fund was inadequate. The younger children were chiefly supported by Margaret’s “exertions” [she was an innkeeper], while the creditors of her husband Amos, “who is greatly embarrassed,” tried to take her earnings at every opportunity.

Another source shines light on the Battle family’s financial situation. In 1911, Amos and Margaret’s youngest son, Jesse Mercer Battle, published memoirs titled Tributes to my Father and Mother and Some Stories of My Life. In the chapter on his mother, he recalled that his “mother’s family lived in Wilson, N.C. We lived in a large house, and it was called ‘The Battle House.'” There, to her humiliation, his mother took in boarders and other passers-through to earn money for the family’s keep. His father, though “rich in lands and negroes,” gave away his wealth to the point that his younger sons’ educations were neglected. The chapter on Amos J. Battle goes further. Amid fifty hagiographic pages limning his father’s Christlike-ness, Jesse reveals that “his money, his lands, his negoes, his stocks, his bonds, his personal property of every description went as his free will offering to the Church as a whole, and to anyone of its members individually, or to those who were not members.” (This was not offered ironically, and there is no attempt to square Battle’s slaveholding with his Christian values.)

Ah. So. And therein lies the motive for Weeks Parker’s determined attempt to keep his wealth out of pious Amos Battle’s hands.

Jesse Battle’s memoir also provides a peek at the family’s slaves and demonstrates that the thirty or so inherited from Weeks did not define the extent of Margaret’s holdings. “Negroes were my companions,” he wrote. “I played with them, and spent my time with them all day, till I was about seven years old, when I was started to school. I knew my alphabet and how to read a little. This start on my way to an education was given to me by a good old colored woman I called Mammy. (Her name was Dinah.) … This good woman remained with our family till 1865, when the Civil War ended, when she left us and moved down to Greenville, N.C., where her husband, whose name was ‘Shade,’ lived. After the emancipation of the slaves she said that she could never enjoy her ‘freedom’ as long as she lived with her master and mistress.”  [Three cheers for Dinah!] Jesse elsewhere mentioned that Dinah had lived with the family at a farm called Walnut Hill, “about three miles from Wilson N.C., on the railroad toward Rocky Mount.”

In the end, I still don’t know if Hugh B. Johnston was correct about Cherry Battle Barnes’ ownership, but I have confirmed that Amos J. and Margaret Hearne Battle owned slaves and that some of those slaves worked on a farm just north of Wilson, not far from where Cherry lived at the time of the first post-Emancipation census.

Will Book F, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970, familysearch.org; Estate of Weeks Parker (1844), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, familysearch.org; other sources as named.

 

 

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Enslaved People, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Where did they go?, no. 4: Taylor.

Kinchen Taylor’s death in 1853 sent shockwaves through the community of enslaved men and women who labored on his plantation. In addition to more than 100 slaves, Taylor owned more several thousand acres of land in northern Nash County. Half of Taylor’s children were minors, and his slaves had to have known that the division and distribution of his property would wrench apart their community.

Taylor’s executors filed at least two inventories of his property, listing his slaves in no apparent order, but grouping mothers with their youngest children. My great-great-grandfather Green, about 38 years old in the 1856 inventory and valued at $750, is #30, while his wife Fereby and their oldest children Dallas, Peter and Henrietta are #88-91. Though some of Kinchen Taylor’s slaves were apportioned to Taylor’s adult children, most, including Green and his family, were placed in a pool to be later divided among the minors. Or sold for their benefit. (In the meantime, adults and older children were likely leased to nearby farmers who needed labor.) Inevitably, this estate division sundered families, and none could have known that freedom — and the chance to regather their kin — was just a decade away.

Who were the men and women that Kinchen Taylor enslaved? What became of them?  Using names culled from the estate papers, I present them here, in alphabetical order, with notes recording what I know.

——

Albert.  Valued at $1110.

Allen Sr. Valued at $1110.

  • “Allen Black” in list of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Benjamin Taylor. (This could be either Allen Sr. or Jr.)

Allen Jr.  Valued at $800.

Amanuel.  Valued at $870.

Amy and child Patience.  Valued at $510.

  • Amy and Patience included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Elizabeth Taylor.
  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #334, Simon Taylor, 60, and wife Amy.
  • In the 1880 census of Whitakers, Nash County: Ned Taylor, 39, wife Silva, 35, and children Myra, 16, William Ann, 17, James, 12, Eddie, 5, Aron, 3, and Ernest, 1 month; plus Simon Taylor, 75, “father,” and Amy Taylor, 80, “mother.”

Ann/Anna.  Valued at $621.

  • Anna included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Benjamin Taylor.

Arnold.  Valued at $870.

  • In 1866 in Nash County, Arnold Taylor and Matilda Harrison registered a 20-year cohabitation, legalizing their marriage.
  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #351, Arnold Taylor, 45, wife Matilda, 40, and children Virgil, 17, Alice, 16, Ida, 14, Temperance, 12, Cora, 10, General, 8, Sherman, 6, William, 2, and John, 1 month.
  • In the 1880 census of Whitaker, Nash County: at #550, Kinchen Taylor, 87, and wife Anicha, 65. At #551, Arnold Taylor, 54, wife Matilda, 47, and children Tempie, 18, Cora, 17, General, 18, Sherman, 15, William H., 12, Jefferson, 10, and Ann M., 3. At #552, Virgil Taylor, 25, wife Secie, 19, and “baby boy,” 4 months.

Berry.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Sam, Cassa, Harriett, Rosetta, Berry and Daniel to daughter Winifred Taylor Rosser.

Betsey.  Valued at $200.

Bill. Valued at $1310.

Bob.  Valued at $935.

  • Bob included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son, John A. Taylor.

Cain.  Valued at $695.

  • Cain included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Henry A. Taylor.

Carter.  Valued at $1230.

Cato.  Valued at $1080.

  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #332, Cato Taylor, 30, and wife Sarah, 22.
  • In the 1880 census of Whitaker, Nash County: Cator Taylor, 43, wife Sarah, 28, and children George, 10, Lee, 8, Peggie Ann, 6, Lucinda, 4, Cicero, 2, and Nero, 4. [Next door: Sip, 55, and Harriet Taylor, 50. There’s no Sip or Scipio listed among Kinchen Taylor’s slaves, but was he related to Cato? The family shows a penchant for classical Roman names.]
  • In the 1900 census of North Whitaker, Nash County: Cato Taylor, born March 1837; wife Sarah, born Jan 1849; and children Lee, 32, Cicero, 23, Blanche, 20, Mary, 15, Pink, 13, Indiana, 8, and grandsons Arthur, 8, and Clifton, 5. Sarah reported 8 of 11 children living.
  • In the 1910 census of North Whitakers, Nash County: Kato Taylor, 70, wife Sarah, 60, children Blanche, 26, Mary, 21, and India 17, and grandchildren Lizzie, 13, Vinnie, 12, and Arthur, 19. Next door: Lee Taylor, 41, wife Mattie, 24, and children Roy, 5, Brisco, 2, and Dan, 3 months. Cato reported having been married twice; Sarah, once, and 10 of her 11 children were living.
  • Mary Taylor Hilliard died 22 February 1914 in Nash County. Age 24. She was born in Nash County to Cato Taylor and Sarah Taylor. Informant, J.H. Cutchin. 
  • Lee Taylor died 11 March 1918 in North Whitakers, nash Ciunty. He was about 50 years old, born in Nash County to Cater Taylor and Sahrah [last name unknown]. Informant, Lumilia Hill. Buried Edgecombe County.
  • In the 1920 census of North Whitakers, Nash County: Nick Wright, 40, wife Endie, 23, and daughter Jennie, 4, with mother-in-law Sarah Taylor, 56, and father-in-law Cator Taylor, 58. Next door: Arch Wright, 39, wife Blanche 33, and children Bertha, 11, and Marion, 4.
  • Kater Taylor died 11 February 1922 in North Whitakers township, Nash County. Married to Sarah Taylor. Born 1830 to unknown parents. Informant, Nick Wright.
  • Sarah Taylor died 21 January 1924 in North Whitakers. Widow of Kater Taylor. Born 1834 to Nathan and Sindie Ricks. Informant, Nick Right.
  • Essix Taylor died 10 November 1931 in Whitakers, Nash County. He was born 15 November 1854 in Nash County to Kater Taylor and an unknown mother. Informant, Lumilia Hill. Buried Edgecombe County.

Ceasar.  Valued at $1080.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Jane, Caesar, Harriett, Rosetta, Berry and Daniel to daughter Winifred Taylor Rosser.
  • Caesar included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Benjamin Taylor.
  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #334, Simon Taylor, 60, and wife Amy; #335, Caesar Taylor, 34, wife Ann, 22, and daughter Amy, 3; #336, Edward Taylor, 32, wife Sylva, 23, and children Almira, 4, and James, 2.

Chaney.  Valued at $150.

  • Chaney included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Henry A. Taylor.

Chapman.  Valued at $900.

  • Chapman included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Henry A. Taylor.

Clara.  Valued at $300.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Big Tom, Little Tom and Clary to wife Mary Blount Taylor.
  • Clara included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s widow, Mary Blount Taylor.
  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #352, Clara Taylor, 72, in the household of Mariah Wheless.

Daniel.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Sam, Cassa, Harriett, Rosetta, Berry and Daniel to daughter Winifred Taylor Rosser.

Dawson.  Valued at $195.

  • Dawson included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Caroline Taylor Knight, wife of William H. Knight.

Doctor.  Valued at $1020.

  • Doctor included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Henry A. Taylor.

Old Dred.  Valued $370.

  • Dred included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son John A. Taylor.

Edmon.  Valued at $780.

  • Edmond included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Lucy H. Taylor Harvey, wife of John H. Harvey.

Eliza.  Valued at $640.

Elizabeth.  Valued at $70.

  • Elizabeth included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Henry A. Taylor.

Ella.  Valued at $535.

  • Ella included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter, Lucy H. Taylor Harvey, wife of John H. Harvey.

Ellick.  Valued at $846.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Isham, “Fany’s child Sandy,” and Simon “now in his possession” to son Kinchen C. Taylor. (Sandy and Ellick are nicknames for “Alexander.”)
  • Ellick included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Elizabeth Taylor.

Elvira and children Joe, Faulcon and Ann.  Valued at $1100.

Emily.  Valued at $720.

Eveline and children Willie/Wiley, Caroline and Isham.  Valued at $1100.

Eveline and children included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Elizabeth Taylor.

Fanny and children Margarett, Lucy, Leah and Jolly.  Valued at $1490.

  • Fanny and children included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Henry A. Taylor.

Feriby and children Dallas, Peter and Henrietta.  Valued at $1230.

  • In the 1870 census, Lower Town Creek, Edgecombe County: Green Taylor, 52, wife Phebe, and children Dallas, 19, Christiana, 14, McKenzie, 13, Mike, 9, and Sally, 1.  
  • In the 1880 census, Lower Town Creek, Edgecombe County, Green Taylor, 64; wife Phoebe; daughters Christiana, Kinsey, and Sarah; four granddaughters, Nannie, 5; Carrie, 1; Lizzie, 8; and Louisa, 5; and one grandson, Isaiah, 2.
  • Mike Taylor died 8 Jan 1927 in Wilson NC.  About 68 years old.  Widower of Rachel Taylor.  Born Wilson County NC to Green and Faraby Taylor.  Buried 9 Jan 1927, Wilson NC.  Informant, Roddrick Taylor.

Frances and children Della, Carter and George.  Valued at $1250.

  • Frances and children included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Caroline Taylor Knight, wife of William H. Knight.

Green.  Valued at $750.

  • In the 1870 census, Lower Town Creek, Edgecombe County, Green Taylor, 52, wife Phebe, and children Dallas, 19, Christiana, 14, McKenzie, 13, Mike, 9, and Sally, 1.
  • In the 1880 census, Lower Town Creek, Edgecombe County, Green Taylor, 64; wife Phoebe; daughters Christiana, Kinsey, and Sarah; four granddaughters, Nannie, 5; Carrie, 1; Lizzie, 8; and Louisa, 5; and one grandson, Isaiah, 2.
  • Mike Taylor died 8 Jan 1927 in Wilson NC.  About 68 years old.  Widower of Rachel Taylor.  Born Wilson County NC to Green and Faraby Taylor.  Buried 9 Jan 1927, Wilson NC.  Informant, Roddrick Taylor.

Haley/Hilly and children Hasty, Amy and Glasgo.  Valued at $1310.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Haley, Hasty, Amy, Glasgow, Alfred and Susan to daughter Caroline Taylor Knight.

Handy.  Valued at $780.

  • Handy included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son John A. Taylor.

Hanna.  Valued at $625.

  • Hanna included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son John A. Taylor.

Cooper Henry.  Valued at $340.

  • Cooper Henry included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son John A. Taylor.

Long Henry.  Valued at $60.

  • Long Henry included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Lucy H. Taylor Harvey, wife of John H. Harvey.

Yellow Henry.  Valued at $780.

  • Yellow Henry included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Elizabeth Taylor.

Ida.  Valued at $740.

  • Ida included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son John A. Taylor.

Isaac.

  • Isaac included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Lucy H. Taylor Harvey, wife of John H. Harvey.

Isabella and children Henrietta, Lucy and Joe.  Valued at $930.

  • Isabella included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son John A. Taylor.

Jack.  Valued at $450.

  • Jack in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Benjamin Taylor.

Jane.  Valued at $640.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Jane, Caesar, Harriett, Rosetta, Berry and Daniel to daughter Winifred Taylor Rosser.
  • Jane included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s widow, Mary Blount Taylor.
  • In 1866 in Nash County, Jane Taylor and Jack Earl registered their 4-year cohabitation, legalizing their marriage.
  • In the 1870 census of  Liberty, Nash County: at #327, John Earl, 25, Jane, 22, and children John H., 5, and Conner, 1.

Jefferson/Jeffrey.  Valued at $770.

Jim Sr.  Valued at $333.

  • Jim included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Caroline Taylor Knight, wife of William H. Knight. (This may be Jim Sr. or Jr.)
  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #329, James Taylor, 60, and wife Chaney, 65.

Jim Jr.  Valued at $580.

Joe.

  • Joe included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son John A. Taylor or to son Benjamin Taylor.

John Sr. Valued at $1025.

  • John included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Lucy H. Taylor Harvey, wife of John H. Harvey.

John Jr.  Valued at $670.

  • A second John included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Lucy H. Taylor Harvey, wife of John H. Harvey.

Julia/July Ann.  Valued at $200.

Old Kinchen.  Valued at $360.

  • “Old Kinchen” included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s widow, Mary Blount Taylor.
  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #360, Kinchen Taylor, 70, and wife Bettie, 70, in the household of Kinchen Burtin, 32.
  • In the 1880 census of Whitaker, Nash County: at #550, Kinchen Taylor, 87, and wife Anicha, 65. At #551, Arnold Taylor, 54, wife Matilda, 47, and children Tempie, 18, Cora, 17, General, 18, Sherman, 15, William H., 12, Jefferson, 10, and Ann M., 3. At #552, Virgil Taylor, 25, wife Secie, 19, and “baby boy,” 4 months.

Levinia and children Thadious and Frank.  Valued at $1000.

  • Levinia and children included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Elizabeth Taylor.

Big Lewis.  Valued at $40.

Lucinda and children Ella, Olive and Angeline.  Valued at $1240.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Lucinda, Jane, Washington and Ellin to wife Mary Blount Taylor.
  • Lucinda and children included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s widow, Mary Blount Taylor.
  • In 1866 in Nash County, Thomas Taylor and Lucinda Taylor registered their 35-year cohabitation, legalizing their marriage.

Lucy Sr. and child Turner.  Valued at $640.

  • Lucy and Turner included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Henry A. Taylor.
  • Perhaps, in the 1870 census, Liberty, Nash County: at #359, William Taylor, 24, and Lucy Taylor, 52.

Lucy.

  • Lucy included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son John A. Taylor.

Margarett.  Valued at $790.

  • Margaret included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Elizabeth Taylor.

Mariah.  Valued at $770.

  • Mariah included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Caroline Taylor Knight, wife of William H. Knight.

Matilda and child Calvin.  Valued at $405.

  • Matilda and children Calvin, Lucy and Violet included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Benjamin Taylor.

Moll and child Martha.  Valued at $640.

  • Molly and Martha included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter, Lucy H. Taylor Harvey, wife of John H. Harvey.

Mourning.  Valued at $290.

  • Mourning included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s widow, Mary Blount Taylor.
  • In 1866 in Nash County, Mourning Taylor and Jacob Ing registered their 20-year cohabitation, legalizing their marriage.
  • In the 1870 census of Formosa, Halifax County NC: Jacob Ing, 70, and wife Mourning, 65.

Ned.  Valued at $990.

  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #334, Simon Taylor, 60, and wife Amy; #335, Caesar Taylor, 34, wife Ann, 22, and daughter Amy, 3; #336, Edward Taylor, 32, wife Sylva, 23, and children Almira, 4, and James, 2.
  • In the 1880 census of Whitakers, Nash County: Ned Taylor, 39, wife Silva, 35, and children Myra, 16, William Ann, 17, James, 12, Eddie, 5, Aron, 3, and Ernest, 1 month; plus Simon Taylor, 75, “father,” and Amy Taylor, 80, “mother.”
  • Miry Gunter died 16 April 1919 in Whitakers, Nash County. Widow. Born about 1865 in Edgecombe County to Ned Taylor of Nash County and Sylvia Bridges of Edgecombe County. Informant, Ed Taylor. Buried Whitakers.
  • Frank Taylor died 31 March 1923 in North Whitakers, Nash County. Married to Pearlie Taylor. Born 16 August 1881 in Nash County to Ned Taylor of Nash County and Sylvia Bridget of Edgecombe County. Informant C.W. Williams. Buried Edgecombe County.
  • Annie Parker died 23 April 1951 in Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County. Born 8 December 1871 in Nash County to Ned Taylor and Sylvester Williams. Informant, W.E. Parker.
  • Mary Ella Hunter died 12 October 1959 in Whitakers, Nash County. Born 1 May 1889 in Nash County to Ned Taylor and Sylvia Taylor.

Nick.  Valued at $795.

  • Nick included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Henry A. Taylor.

Penny and children Carter Jr., Mary and George.  Valued at $1300.

  • Penny and children included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter, Lucy H. Taylor Harvey, wife of John H. Harvey.

Pink.  Valued at $830.

  • Pink included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s widow, Mary Blount Taylor.
  • In 1866 in Nash County, Pink Taylor and Abel Earl registered their 4-year cohabitation, legalizing their marriage.

Rosetta.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Sam, Cassa, Harriett, Rosetta, Berry and Daniel to daughter Winifred Taylor Rosser.

Sam.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Sam, Cassa, Harriett, Rosetta, Berry and Daniel to daughter Winifred Taylor Rosser.
  • Sam included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Elizabeth Taylor.

Simon.  Valued at $465.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Isham, “Tany’s child Sandy,” and Simon “now in his possession” to son Kinchen C. Taylor.
  • Simon included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s daughter Elizabeth Taylor.
  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #334, Simon Taylor, 60, and wife Amy; #335, Caesar Taylor, 34, wife Ann, 22, and daughter Amy, 3; #336, Edward Taylor, 32, wife Sylva, 23, and children Almira, 4, and James, 2.
  • In the 1880 census of Whitakers, Nash County: Ned Taylor, 39, wife Silva, 35, and children Myra, 16, William Ann, 17, James, 12, Eddie, 5, Aron, 3, and Ernest, 1 month; plus Simon Taylor, 75, “father,” and Amy Taylor, 80, “mother.”

Susan.  Valued at $800.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Haley, Hasty, Amy, Glasgow, Alfred and Susan to daughter Caroline Taylor Knight.

Tom.  Valued at $570.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Big Tom, Little Tom and Clary to wife Mary Blount Taylor.
  • “Big Tom” included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s widow, Mary Blount Taylor.
  • In 1866 in Nash County, Thomas Taylor and Lucinda Taylor registered their 35-year cohabitation, legalizing their marriage.
  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #323, Thomas Taylor, 62, wife Lucinda, 50, and children Vinah, 20, Augustine, 18, and Jackson, 8. (Kinchen Taylor’s son Kinchen C. Taylor and family lived at #328, in this house.)

Tom Jr.  Valued at $820.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Big Tom, Little Tom and Clary to wife Mary Blount Taylor.
  • “Little Tom” included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s widow, Mary Blount Taylor.
  • In the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #323, Thomas Taylor Jr., 35, wife Caroline, 25, and children George, 2, and John, 6 months. 
  • In the 1880 census of Whitaker, Nash County: Thomas Taylor, 36, wife Caroline, 30, and children George, 13, Mack, 11, Rosella, 6, Eddie, 5, Cindy, 3, and Fannie, 4 months.
  • Lucinda Arrington died 26 February 1933 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Married to W.E. Arrington. Age 40. Born in Nash County to Thomas Taylor and Carolin Taylor. Informant, W.E. Arrington.
  • Lena Taylor died 19 July 1946 in South Whitakers, Nash County. Married to John Taylor. Born 31 December 1883 to Thomas Taylor and Carolina [last name unknown.] Buried Jerusalem cemetery.
  • Rose Ella Williams died 26 November 1960 in Nashville, Nash County. Resided Whitakers. Married to Robert Williams. Born in Nash County to Tom Taylor and Carolyn [last name unknown.] Informant, Thomas W. Williams. Buried “Jewrusalem,” Edgecombe County.

Toney.  Valued at $980.

Virgil.  Valued at $750.

  • Virgil in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son Benjamin Taylor.

Washington.  Valued at $990.

  • Kinchen Taylor’s 1851 will bequeathed Lucinda, Jane, Washington and Ellin to wife Mary Blount Taylor.
  • Washington included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s widow, Mary Blount Taylor.

William Henry.  Valued at $750.

  • William Henry included in lot of slaves distributed to Kinchen Taylor’s son John A. Taylor.
  • Perhaps, in the 1870 census of Liberty, Nash County: at #339, William Taylor, 21, wife Hannah, 23, and son Cato, 5; or, at #359, William Taylor, 24, and Lucy Taylor, 52.

——

Some preliminary thoughts: there were several unrelated white Taylor extended families in antebellum Nash County, North Carolina (not to mention bordering counties) and, while Kinchen may have been the largest among them, many owned slaves. Some of men and women listed died before freedom came or were sold away. Even taking these fates into account, surprisingly few African-Americans Taylors registered cohabitations in 1866 or were enumerated in the county in 1870. No doubt, many freedmen elected some other surname or moved a few miles away into adjoining counties. Women and small children may have adopted the surname of a husband (alive, dead or otherwise absent) or father (ditto). Moreover, as older children were not grouped with their mothers in the inventories, the relationships among members of the community are obscured. Naming patterns and living arrangements disclosed in censuses hint at such connections. Tracing Kinchen Taylor’s slaves has been frustratingly difficult, but I don’t quit.

Sources: the file of Kinchen Taylor (1853), Nash County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, https://familysearch.org, original, North Carolina State Archives; Nash County Cohabitation Records, North Carolina State Archives; federal censuses.

 

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Civil War, Enslaved People, Free People of Color

What’s in a name?

When James Barnes’ will was probated in 1848 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, and its provisions carried out, ownership of Howell, an enslaved man, transferred to McKinley Darden. In the 1870 census, Howell Darden, his wife Esther, and their children appear in Black Creek township in Wilson County, North Carolina. Howell had adopted the last name of the family that had owned him most of his adult life. His choice, however, was the not only one available to freedmen. Unbeknownst to slaveowners, many enslaved people claimed surnames even during slavery, though these names were not recognized legally. Some former slaves cemented links to kin by taking the surnames their mothers or fathers used. Others adopted the name of their last master, or reached back to earlier owners, perhaps from their childhood. Still others declined to acknowledge their former bondage altogether, and took names related to a skilled trade, a physical feature, a famous figure, or some other personal idiosyncracy.

Researchers attempting to trace African-American family lines often hit a brick wall at 1870. Having identified an ancestor reported in that census, they invariably ponder the question: how can I find the parents and siblings of this newly freed person? Answering these questions requires flexibility and a willingness to consider indirect sources. Marriage and death records may reveal close familial relationships among people with different surnames. For example, Vicey Artis, a free woman of color, and her enslaved husband Solomon Williams lived separately in the area of northeastern Wayne County and southwestern Greene County, North Carolina. Vicey appears in the 1850 and 1860 censuses with several children named Artis. Vicey and Solomon recorded their cohabitation in 1866, when most of their children were adults. Examination of marriage and death records reveals that some of Vicey and Solomon’s children (who were all free-born) assumed their father’s last name after his emancipation and others (especially the older ones) retained their mothers’. While nothing immediately obvious links Jonah Williams of Wilson and Adam Artis of Nahunta, vital records and other documents establish that they were brothers.

Similarly, upon Emancipation, two of the children of Margaret McConnaughey and Edward Miller, formerly enslaved in Rowan County North Carolina, chose the surname McConnaughey and three, Miller. Margaret and her children had been owned by a McConnaughey. Death certificates, marriage records, and close examination of households in census records provide the clues that establish this family’s connections.

Researchers should also pay attention to groupings of first names.   Like whites during the era, former enslaved people often fortified the ties between generations by naming children after relatives. Thus the recurrence of certain given names among a group of families sharing the same surname could indicate kinship. For example, the fact that Benjamin Barnes’ son Calvin, born about 1836, named two sons Redmond and Andrew could indicate a sibling relationship between Benjamin, Redmond and Andrew Barnes, all born circa 1820 and listed near one another in the 1870 census of Wilson County. That the elder Redmond also had a son named Calvin further supports the possibility. In addition, when comparing documents, keeping an eye out for familiar first names may help identify freedmen who changed their surnames, perhaps rejecting one that had been chosen too hastily or that had not chosen for themselves. For example, the Isom, Guilford, Robert, Jackson, and Lewis Bynum who registered cohabitations in Wilson County in 1866 appear in the 1870 census and after as Isom, Guilford, Robert, Jackson and Lewis Ellis.

Also remember that freedmen who shared a surname and common former owner were not necessarily kin. A grouping of one hundred enslaved people may have comprised a dozen or more — many more — unrelated families. For example, Mack Coley of Wayne County, North Carolina, was the grandson of Winnie Coley and of Sallie Coley Yelverton. Several of Winnie Coley’s children were fathered by Peter Coley. Trying to understand how these Coleys — all of whom appear to have belonged to a single former master — relate to one another (or don’t) is a daunting task.

Civil war pension records are another rich source of evidence about naming choices and family ties. Consider this passage from the Confederate pension application of Jim Ellis Dew of Wilson County, North Carolina:

“It was at the time we were making ‘sorgum’ that I was sent to the war. I belonged to my master Mr. Hickman Ellis who married a Miss Dew. You know missus, the white folks are not as strong as the niggers and Mr. Jonathan Dew, brother to my missus, was not very well, and they let him draw a man to go in his place and they drew me. I was sent to Fort Fisher and went to work throwing up breastworks. … We stayed on the island for while. After a while, I came home. While I was in the war I was known as Jim Dew, but when I came back from the war I was called by my old name “Jim Ellis” because I belonged to my missus.”

Similarly, the file containing the Union Army pension application of Baalam Speight’s widow Hannah Sauls Speight reveals that Baalam had enlisted as Baalam Edwards, his owner’s surname, but later adopted his father’s surname Speight. His brother Lafayette, on the other hand, had kept Edwards as his name. A witness named Lewis Harper testified that he had a brother named Loderick Artis. (Artis, born enslaved, had taken his free father’s surname.)

Though researching enslaved ancestry is almost always difficult, creative consideration of the available evidence often yields surprising rewards. Marriage records for people born into slavery often show surnames for both parents that are different from the child being married. Cross-reference siblings, and you’ll often find a completely different set of surnames. Be careful when trying to match former enslave people to their kinfolk and their masters. Reasons for choosing names were varied and inscrutable, and people tried on different identities for a few years. Empowering for them — maddening for us!

(For a more in-depth analysis of slave naming practices and patterns, see Eugene D. Genovese’s Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made and Herbert Gutman’s The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom.)

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