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?


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.


“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.

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 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.

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.


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.


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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.30.15 PM

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.
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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.29.29 PM

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

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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 8.55.30 PM

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.




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.


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

Landscape, no. 2.


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.