Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

McNeelys enumerated.

Perhaps he ticked them off on his fingers: “One female, aged 24 to 36. … One female, under ten years of age. … Three males, all under ten….” The enumerator for the 1840 federal census of Rowan County dutifully recorded the information that Samuel McNeely provided, inking in  small numerals in the appropriate column under “SLAVES.” The adult female was Lucinda. The female child was her daughter Alice, and two of the males were her sons John and Julius. It is likely that the third boy was also Lucinda’s, as Samuel was not likely to have purchased a small child and Alice was too young to bear children.

Samuel died in 1843 and, under the terms of his will, son John W. McNeely inherited slaves Lucinda and her offspring. In the 1850 slave schedule, John reported owning eight slaves: a 34 year-old black female [Lucinda]; a 19 year-old black female [Alice]; a 17 year-old black male [John]; a 14 year-old black male [the third boy above, name unknown]; a 12 year-old black male [Julius]; a 9 year-old mulatto male [Henry, Lucinda’s son by John W. McNeely]; a 2 year-old mulatto male [Joseph Archy, Alice’s son]; and a 1 year-old black female [probably Alice’s daughter Mary].

In 1860, John W. McNeely reported only seven slaves: a 44 year-old black female [Lucinda]; an 11 year-old black female [Mary]; a 22 year-old black male [Julius]; a 19 year-old mulatto male [Henry]; a 12 year-old mulatto male [Archy]; a 9 year-old black male [Alexander “Sandy,” who was probably Alice’s son]; and a 7 year-old black male [John Stanhope, who was probably Alice’s son.]  The same seven appear, by name finally, in the 1863 Confederate tax valuation. [A vexatious question: Where was John Rufus in 1860 and 1863? When he married in 1866, he reported John W. McNeely as his former owner. Had he in fact spent his final years of servitude under a different master?]

And then came freedom. In the 1870 census of Atwell township, Rowan County, at household #294: Lucinda McNeely, age 54, domestic servant; Henry McNeely, 29, school teacher; Joseph A. McNeely, 22, farm laborer; and Elizabeth McNeely, 13, “attends school.” [According to my grandmother, this Elizabeth was Henry’s daughter, abandoned by her mother at his doorstep.] At #295: Julius McNeely, 32, farm laborer; wife Mary McNeely, 25, “keeps house”; and nephews Alex’r McNeely, 17, farm laborer; and John S. McNeely, 18, farm laborer. [On the other side, at #292: John W. McNeely, 63, and wife Mary, 63, and at #293: Henry W. McNeely, 35; wife Nancy E., 24; and children Margaret, 3, and John W., 1. This Henry W. McNeely, son of James H. McNeely, was John W.’s cousin, though the exact relationship is unclear.]

Enslaved People, Land, North Carolina, Other Documents, Photographs

Dr. Ward’s house. And me.

After my recent rediscovery of a Confederate map that revealed the locations of several plantations significant to my genealogical research, I began searching for more information about John Lane, Silas Bryant and David G.W. Ward‘s landholdings. Pretty quickly, I found a link to a copy of a nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places Inventory, submitted for the Ward-Applewhite-Thompson house near Stantonsburg, North Carolina. This Greek Revival house, dating back to about 1859, was owned and occupied by several of the area’s leading planters — including “country doctor” D.G.W. Ward, who purchased it in 1857 — and it and its outbuildings are little changed from their antebellum forms.

As I read the detailed architectural description of the house and its setting, a tiny kernel of recognition began to form in the back of my mind. A big, white, two-story house? Set well back from the road? Just outside Stantonsburg? Could it …?

I scoured the maps attached to the nomination form, trying to lay them over the current topography. State Road 1539 … that would be Sand Pit Road today …  just east of a fork in the road and just north of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad (which was not there in Ward’s time) … and there it is, just like I remember.

sand pit road

Yes. Like I remember.

I’ve BEEN in this house. Many times, though long ago.

Growing up, my sister and I were very close to my father’s sister’s daughters. Our local family was quite small, but my cousin’s father came from a big family with deep Wilson County roots. Her grandmother had nearly a dozen siblings — whom we also called “aunt” and “uncle” — and we were often invited to attend their family gatherings. I remember best the delectable Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners gathered around tables groaning with food, but there were also the annual 4th of July family reunions at Aunt Minnie’s out in the country near Stantonsburg. The Barneses were tenant farmers for an absentee landowner and rented his large two-story house. We’d pull off the road into a sandy circular drive and park under the trees alongside cars with New York and New Jersey plates. I vividly remember my cousin’s great-uncles and cousins tending a barbecue pit in which a split pig roasted, chickens strutting among them.  A screened side porch protected platter after platter of home-grown, home-cooked goodness.  My memories of the interior of the house are vague: a central staircase, two large front rooms, the kitchen in back. (The staircase I remember mostly because, carefully tending a tall glass of lemonade, I missed a riser and slid down their length, smacking my ribcage against the steps and knocking the wind out of myself.)

I couldn’t believe it. It is exciting enough to identify D.G.W. Ward’s house and find that it is still standing, but to realize that I knew the house at which Appie and Mittie Ward had lived and worked as the enslaved children of their own father was uncanny.

IMG_4960Ward-Applewhite-Thompson House today.

Photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2014.

Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

Finding the Wards.

This is what we knew:  Joseph Henry Ward, born circa 1870 in or near Wilson, North Carolina, was the son of Napoleon Hagans and a sister of Napoleon’s wife, Apsilla Ward Hagans.  I couldn’t find him in the 1870 or 1880 censuses, but by 1900 he was listed in Indianapolis, Indiana, working as a physician.

The hunt for Joe Ward’s people thus began.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, a nephew, Augustus Moody, born about 1893, is listed in the Ward household. I searched for Augustus in 1900 and found him in Washington DC in this household: William Moody (born 1872), wife Sarah S. (1876) and children Augustus (June 1894) and Crist (1896), plus sister-in-law Minerva Vaughn (1890), mother-in-law Mittie Vaughn (1854), and mother Fannie Harris (1854) — all born in North Carolina.  Soooo …  Augustus’ mother was Sarah S. Moody, and Sarah’s mother was Mittie Vaughn.  Okay, and how was Joe Ward related to these folks?

I went back to the 1880 census of Wilson County and found: Sarah Darden (57, mother), Algia Vaughn (23, son-in-law), Mittie (22, daughter), Joseph (8), Sarah (6), and Macinda (5 mos.), the last three Sarah’s grandchildren.  From this I deduced that Mittie Vaughn, daughter of Sarah Darden, had at least two children, Joseph and Sarah, before 1880.  I then located young Sarah’s marriage license to William Moody, which listed her maiden name as Ward.  So Joseph and Sarah were listed in the 1880 census in their stepfather’s name, not their mother’s, and “Joseph Vaughn,” son of Mittie Vaughn, is in fact the Joseph Ward I was looking for.

How did I know Algernon was a stepfather? He was only 22 years old when he married Mitty Finch,  27, in Wilson on May 6, 1879.  (Finch?!?!?! That’s an as-yet unexplained anomaly.) I also found a cohabitation registration for grandmother Sarah Ward and Sam Darden, dated 12 July 1866. This registration, which formalized the marriages of ex-slaves, noted that they had been married five years, well after the births of Sarah’s children Mittie and Appie. If Sam was not their father, who was?

The first clue: in 1902, when William S. Hagans (son of Napoleon and Appie Ward Hagans) registered to vote in Wayne County, North Carolina, under the state’s grandfather clause, he named “Dr. Ward” as his qualifying ancestor. I didn’t know what to make of that — I couldn’t find a Dr. Ward in Wayne County — so I laid it to the side for a bit.

Then I found a reference to Appie and Mittie’s previously unknown brother. On 16 June 1870, Henry Ward, son of D.G.W. Ward and Sarah Darden, married Sarah Forbes in Wilson, North Carolina.  If we assume that Henry, Appie and Mittie had the same father, who is this D.G.W. Ward? Was he the “Dr. Ward” that William claimed as his qualifying ancestor under the grandfather clause?

In the 1860 census, D.G.W. Ward (45) and wife Adline (19) appear in Speights district, Greene County, which borders Wilson County to the southeast. Ward reported owning $26,500 in real property and a whopping $112,000 in personal property! (As the 1860 slave census shows, this wealth largely consisted of 54 slaves.) He was one of the, if not the, wealthiest men in the county. And he was a physician. Here, indeed, was Dr. Ward.

David George Washington Ward was married twice — perhaps circa 1840 to Mariah H. Vines, who died after having one child; then to Emily Adeline Moye in 1859. Between those marriages, he fathered at least three children with Sarah, an enslaved woman.

Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Where did they go?, no. 3: more McConnaugheys.

Simon, 57, $200 (rheumatism). Ceasar, 54, $400 (“crip.”). Perry, 45, $300 (“bad rupt.”). Isaac, 36, $1400. Charles, 32, $1450. Nelson, 32, $1450. Edward, 32, $1450. George, 31, $1450. Ellick, 26, $1500. Henry, 17, $1500. Thom, 14, $1200. Giles, 14, $1200. Dallas, 7, $400. Alfred, 4, $300. John, 25, $1500. Juber, 24, $1500. Nancy, 36, $1000. Ritta, 32, $1100. Harried, 23, $1200. Liza, 23, $1200. Laura, 11, $650. Louisa, 8, $400. Jennie, 4, $250. Ellen, 5 mo., $100. Allice, 3 mo., $200.

As did his brother John M. McConnaughey, James C. McConnaughey was required to pay taxes on the slaves enumerated by a Confederate tax assessor canvassing Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1863. James reported owning the 25 people listed above, whose total value was just over $23,000.  What were their links to one another? What were their links to John M. McConnaughey’s slaves?

Cohabitation records shed some light. In 1866, North Carolina afforded freedmen the right to legalize marriages made during slavery by appearing before county justices of the peace to register their relationships. Rowan County cohabitation registers not only record the names of the parties and the length of their marriage, but the former owners of each party. Listed below are registrants who named one of the McConnaugheys (John, James, or James’ son Joseph) as an owner:

George Hall (Dr. Joseph McConnaughey) and Mary Cowan (N.N. Nixon). 3 years.

Simon Hall (James C. McConnaughey) and Nancy McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey). 20 years.

David Litaker (Elizabeth Litaker) and Hagar McConnaughey (John M. McConnaughey). 13 years.

Abram McConnaughey (John M. McConnaughey) and Eliza Barger (John Barger). 6 years.

Charles McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey) and Lucinda Kerr (Dr. [illegible] Kerr). 15 years.

Edward McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey) and Loretta McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey). 4 years.

Nelson McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey) and Martha Graham (James C. McConnaughey). 11 years.

Isaac McCorkle (Dr. Joseph McConnaughey) and Ann Kerr (George C. Barnes). 14 years.

George Washington Miller (John M. McConnaughey) and Eliza Catherine Kerr (John M. McConnaughey). 9 years.

Hezekiah Mitchell (Lueco Mitchell) and Louisiana McConnaughey (John M. McConnaughey). 6 years.

Except Martha Graham, the seven freedmen and women who named James C. McConnaughey as their former master are readily identifiable in his 1863 tax assessment. The two who named Joseph (George Hall and Isaac McCorkle) also appear to have been listed with James’ slaves in 1863. (There was no tax listing for Joseph McConnaughey, who did not inherit slaves from his father until 1864.)

Later Rowan County marriage records also disclose family relationships among McConnaughey’s bondsmen. These documents reveal that Simon Hall (who also used the name McConnaughey) and Nancy McConnaughey’s children included the 17 year-old Henry, 14 year-old Giles, 8 year-old Louisa, and probably 4 year-old Jennie listed in 1863. Further, when Jupiter “Juber” McConnaughey married in 1870, he listed his parents as Simon Hall and Cynthia McConnaughey. The age gap between Simon and Nancy suggests that she was his second wife, and Cynthia McConnaughey may have been first.

Perry McConnaughey was named on a marriage license as the father of Thomas McConnaughey, perhaps 14 year-old Thom above. If so, where was Thomas’ mother Rockey, who was also named as the mother of Alexander “Ellick” McConnaughey on an 1883 marriage license?  (Alexander gave his father as Toby McConnaughey.) Perry himself named his parents as John Henderson and Pricilla McConnaughey when he married in 1867. Alex and his first wife Judy share a household — no children — in the 1870 census of Atwell township, Rowan County.

Isaac appears twice in the 1870 census — once as Isaac McConeehugh, age 45, with wife Ann, 35, and sons Thomas, 4, and Edmon, 2, then a few households later as Isaac McCorcle, 45, with wife Ann, 42, and son Thomas, 4. (A reminder of the vagaries of the United States federal census.) Neither boy was born at the time of the 1863 tax list. Isaac and Ann married about 1852. Were there older children? Are they among those name in the tax list?

Both John M. McConnaughey and James C. McConnaughey owned slaves named Charles. The whereabouts of the Charles McConnaughey who formerly belonged to John are discussed here. The Charles in the 1863 list above would appear to be the Charles McConnaughey, 40, listed with wife Phillis and ten children in the 1870 census. Who, then, is the Charles who reported a 15-year marriage to Lucinda Kerr in 1866? Is Phillis Lucinda? If so, I have not found any other reference to her by that name, though there are plenty of references to “Phillis.”

Dallas McConnaughey named Edward and Ritta McConnaughey as his parents when he married in 1876, ten years after they registered their cohabitation. Sadly, Loretta “Ritta” may not have enjoyed freedom long. She does not appear with her husband and son in the 1870 census, when they are listed in the household of John M. McConnaughey in Mount Ulla, Rowan County.

Though Nelson and Martha McConnaughey’s cohabitation certificate seems to indicate that both were enslaved by James C. McConnaughey, evidence suggests that in fact, Martha and their children had a different owner. Neither Martha nor their oldest children David, born about 1859, and Maria, born about 1861, are  listed among James’ human property. (As an aside: Abram McConnaughey presided over the marriage of Nelson and Martha’s son David McConnaughey in 1879. Was he a relative?)

Harriet McConnaughey appears in the 1870 census of Locke township, Rowan County, with R. McConnaughey, a 55 year-old male, Mary McConnaughey, 35, and Hiram McConnaughey, 4. Harriet’s age is consistent with the “Harried” listed in 1863, but the other adults do not appear on that list, and relationships among them are indeterminate.

There’s a seven year-old Alice McConnaughey listed in John M. McConnaughey’s household in the 1870 census among an assortment of his and James’ former slaves. She is listed under Eliza McConnaughey’s name, as if her daughter. (This Eliza appears, at 23, too young to be the Eliza listed above, but in 1880 is listed as 39, so….)

In summary: in 1863, James C. McConnaughey’s 25 enslaved laborers comprised at least two intact families (Simon, his wife Nancy, their children, and his son; Edward and Ritta and their son); a father and son (Perry and Thom); at least three men married to women who were enslaved elsewhere (Isaac, Charles, Nelson); two apparently unmarried women (Harriet and Eliza); three possibly unmarried men (Caesar, George and John); and three or four children whose relationship to the others cannot be determined (Alfred, Laura, Ellen and Alice.)

Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Allie’s children.

Two of Lucinda McNeely‘s sons are accounted for, but what of her older children, John and Alice?

7 slaves

The record for Alice is frustratingly scant. I have found her exactly twice. Once, in the deed filed by Mary Kilpatrick when she sold Alice, Lucinda and John to Samuel and John McNeely in 1834. The McNeely’s slaves seem to have comprised a single extended family — Lucinda, her children, and grandchildren, and the grandchildren probably were all Alice’s.  The four listed in the 1863 Rowan County tax assessment above are Archy, Mary, Stanhope and Sandy.  Alice is not listed and is presumably dead.  (Though, possibly, of course, sold away.)

Alice’s son Joseph Archy McNeely was born about 1849. In the 1870 census of Atwell township, Rowan County, 22 year-old farm laborer Joseph A. McNeely is listed in a household with Lucinda McNeely, 54 year-old domestic servant, Henry McNeely, 29, schoolteacher, and Elizabeth McNeely, 13. Three years later, Joseph Archy McNeely applied for a license to marry Ella Alexander and listed his parents as Henry Courtney and Aley McNeely.  (This is the second known reference to Alice.)  Over the next 22 years, the couple had at least eight children: Octavia J. (1874), Lucinda (1876), Ann J. (1879), Callie B. (1885), Julius L.A. (1891), Mary E. (1893) and Joseph Oliver (1896).

I have not been able to locate Alice’s daughter Mary after 1863, but in the 1870 census, her sons Sandy and Stanhope appear in their uncle Julius McNeely‘s household as Alexr. and John S. This is the last record I have of either.

Some years ago I decided that Lucinda’s son John was John Rufus McNeely, generally called Rufus, who died 1870-1880 in Rowan County. He married Emeline Atwell about 1855 and was father of five children: Mary, Betty, Charley, Henry and Rufus Alexander McNeely. John’s absence from the 1863 list mystifies me, though, and I’m not sure how I came to this conclusion. For now, I’m withholding sanction.

UPDATE, 26 January 2014: John Rufus McNeely’s 1866 cohabitation registration noted that he was the former slave of John W. McNeely. As the rest of J.W.’s slaves comprised a single family, I renew my conclusion that John Rufus was Lucinda McNeely’s son.

Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Rights

Accept no pass unless …

Ring the Court House bell at 10 o’clock every night and at all other times when necessary to alarm the citizens.

Arrest all slaves absent from home after the bell rings and after the calaboose is finished lock them up till day light. Give them 15 lashes and inform the magistrate of their names and owners.

Accept no pass unless the place or places where the slave is permitted to go is written in the same and arrest the slave if found off a direct line or road from one place to another.

Arrest all slaves engaged in a disturbance either with or without a pass.

A pass allowing a slave to visit his wife is good for one month and then must be taken up and another given or he will be arrested.

Iredell County slave ordinances, undated. North Carolina State Archives.

DNA, Enslaved People

DNAnigma, no. 10: Sold down the river.

We finally made our way to a theatre to see “12 Years a Slave” today. Throughout this gripping, gut-wrenching film, this ran through my head: “These are my cousins. These are my cousins. These are my cousins.”

My 23andme Relative Finder is filled with matches who know only that their families lived in Mississippi or Louisiana. All my African-American lines are upper South, rooted in Virginia and North Carolina. The link is obvious. My DNA matches are the descendants of the mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings of my ancestors, sold down South in America’s domestic slave trade. The connections are nearly impossible to recreate, the names lost to time, but I take comfort in the fact that the bonds remain detectable in blood and bone.

Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Where did they go?, no. 2.

Jacob, age 65, $450. Abraham, age 45, $1100. Charles, age 25, $1500. George, age 24, $1500. Douglas, age 21, $1500. John, age 2, $150. Cephas, age 1, $100. Edwin, age 1, $100. Willy, infant, $100. Hagar, age 70, age $100. Margaret, age 42, $850. Caroline, age 23, $1200. Lucianna, age 20, $1200. Eliza, age 17, $1200. Mary Ann, age 13, $1000. Grace, age 10, $500. Martha, age 7, $350. Angeline, age 7, $350. Mag, age 3, $200. 

These are the enslaved people — total value, $13,450 — that John M. McConnaughey reported to a Confederate tax assessor canvassing Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1863. Who were these 19 people? What were their links to one another?

Let’s start with the women. Hagar, at age 70, could have been the mother (or grandmother) of any or all of the McConnaughey slaves except Jacob. She was enumerated with McConnaughey in the 1850 slave schedule — 58 year-old mulatto female — and 1860 federal slave schedule — 68 year-old mulatto female. However, as detailed below, the composition of McConnaughey’s slaves changed extensively in the 1850s, and her relationship to others cannot be determined. In 1866, Hagar McConnaughey and David Litaker registered their 13-year cohabitation at the Rowan County courthouse, but she is not found in the 1870 census. Litaker appears as a single man, living in a household of white Litakers, and we can safely assume that Hagar had passed away. In 1867, when Benjamin McConnaughey married Adaline Gilliam, he listed his parents as March and Hagar McConnaughey. Here, perhaps, was Hagar’s first husband. Was he also owned by John M. McConnaughey?

Margaret was the mother or grandmother of at least six of McConnaughey’s slaves — George, Caroline, Mary Ann, Grace, Martha, Angeline and John — comprising a single extended family. Where was her husband? Among the small units of slaves like John McConnaughey’s (and the majority of other North Carolina slaveholders), husbands and wives rarely belonged to the same master or lived on the same farm. Death certificates and marriage records for several of Margaret’s children name Edward Miller as their father. (John’s father, however, is reputed to have been John McConnaughey himself.) The couple did not file their cohabitation, and Edward may have died before Emancipation.  He probably had belonged to and lived on one of several neighboring farms owned by white Millers.

There are two other young women, “Lucianna” and Eliza, who were of an age to have been Margaret’s children. Were they? When Louisiana McConnaughey and Hezekiah Mitchell registered their six-year cohabitation in Rowan County in 1866, Louisiana noted that John McConnaughey had been her master. Three year-old Mag may have been Louisiana and Hezekiah’s child.  If so, was she named for Margaret, possibly her grandmother? I haven’t found Louisiana, Hezekiah or Mag in the 1870 census or elsewhere, and have no evidence of their kinship to Margaret.

An Eliza McConnaughey appears in 1870 in the crazy-quilt household of John McConnaughey. McConnaughey never married and the only other white person reported under his roof was his nephew, Dr. Joseph L. McConnaughey, 34. The remainder of the household consisted of Peggy Ferran, 70 and blind; domestic servant/cook Eliza McConnaughey, 25, with her probable daughters, Alice, 7, and Rena, 4; 14 year-old Henry Ellis, a schoolboy; farm laborer Ed McConnaughey, 45; Dallas McConnaughey, 14; Harriet Barr, 40, also a domestic servant; and farm laborer-cum-schoolgirl (and my great-great-grandmother), Martha Miller, 14. Nearly all, it appears, were the former slaves of John McConnaughey (Martha and possibly Eliza) or of Joseph, who inherited them after his father James C. McConnaughey’s death in 1864 (Ed, Dallas, possibly Harriet, and possibly Eliza and her daughter Alice.)

Jacob did not register a cohabitation in Rowan County and does not appear under the surname McConnaughey in the 1870 census of the county.

In 1866 in Rowan County, Abram McConnaughey (the “Abraham” above) registered his six-year cohabitation with Eliza Barger. The family appears in the 1870 census of Mount Ulla, Rowan County: A. McConnaughey, 57, Eliza, 45, Peggy, 30, Francis, 14, Mitchel, 10, George, 4, and Charlotte McConnaughey, 1.  (They are listed next door to Margaret McConnaughey, her granddaughter Angeline and son John.)  In 1872, Abram married Phillis Cowan in Rowan County, and the license lists his parents as James Kerr and Esther McConnaughey. In 1893, he married again, to Jennie Rosebro, and gave his parents as James Kerr and Hester Ann Robinson. It is not clear who the parents are of the children listed in the household, and it seems possible that both Eliza and Peggy were, if not Abram’s wives, women by whom he had children. Two of Abram’s sons married in Rowan. William Giles McConnaughey, who married in 1867, listed his parents as Abram and Vina McConnaughey. The following year, James McConnaughey listed his parents as Abram and Phillis Lavina McConnaughey. In 1889, when Charlotte McConnaughey married Charles Brown in Rowan County, she listed her parents as Abram McConnaughey and Peggy Barber. (Is this the Peggy above?)

There are two Charles McConnaugheys in the 1870 census of Rowan County.  One is a 36 year-old listed in the household of John Barger.  Abram and Eliza McConnaughey’s cohabitation registration reveals that Eliza have been owned by John Barger (and her children with her.)  If the Charles in Barger’s household was a son of Abraham and Eliza, he would not have been the Charles listed above.  The other is a Charles McConnaughey, 40, listed with wife Phillis and ten children in Atwell township.  This Charles is a little old to be the same as the one listed in 1863 and may instead have been the Charles owned by James C. McConnaughey.

Margaret McConnaughey’s son George is found in all post-Emancipation records as “George Miller,” having adopted his father’s surname. I have assumed that his wife, Eliza Kerr, and oldest child, Baldy Alexander Miller, born 1858, had a different owner. However, the cohabitation registration for George Washington Miller and Eliza Catherine Kerr seems to indicate that both were the former slaves of John M. McConnaughey. There was in Eliza of the right age in the 1863 list, but no young Baldy or Alex.

In 1870, the McDowell County censustaker enumerated a railroad laborer named Douglas McConaughy in a camp in Old Fort township. [He appears to have been working on the Mountain Division of the Western Railroad, a project that extended the railroad over the continental divide and connected both ends of the state.]  Though his age is off by about six years, this may have been the Douglas listed among John M. McConnaughey’s slaves. Was Douglas also Margaret’s son? By age he could have been, but there is no evidence to prove so. (Of note, however: Mary Ann McConnaughey Miller named one of her sons James Douglas. For his uncle, perhaps?)

John McConnaughey was Margaret’s youngest son and is supposed to have been the son of John M. McConnaughey. He appears twice in the 1870 census, once with his mother and again in his sister Mary Ann Miller’s household.

Cephas, Edwin and Willy have not been found post-Emancipation.

Margaret McConnaughey’s six known children were born in 1835, 1840, 1847, 1853, 1855 and 1861. Given the gaps in their birth years, it is reasonable to assume that she bore additional children, perhaps Douglas (1842), Louisiana (1843) and Eliza (1846). (Though, of course, if Eliza were George Miller’s wife, she would not have been his sister.) Unfortunately, the available evidence is insufficient to establish these relationships or others among McConnaughey’s slaves.

Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Where did they go?, no. 1: Nicholson.

In 1850, James Nicholson of northern Iredell County dictated a will that distributed 17 enslaved people – Milas, Dinah, Jack, Liza, Peter, Elix, Paris, Daniel, Carlos, Nelson, Lucinda, Joe, Manoe, Armstrong, Manless, Calvin and Sophie — among his heirs. I am descended from one, Lucinda, whose daughter Harriet was conceived after she joined Thomas A. Nicholson’s household. As I wrote here, Lucinda is found post-slavery only on death certificates of two of her children.  What of the other 16? Are they any easier to trace?

In a word – no.

Mary Allison Nicholson received five slaves from her husband’s estate.  Son Thomas received three outright and a share in five others. Son John McCombs Nicholson received four and a share in the same five. (It is not at all clear whether the groupings of these 17 people respected family units or were simply combinations devised with an eye for equal value.) Mary died in 1857 and, presumably, her property passed to her sons. However, in the 1860 slave schedule of Iredell County, only two Nicholson slaveholders appear: Thomas, who owned 13, and Martin T. Nicholson, who owned three. (Martin was Thomas’ brother-in-law and first cousin.)  In the population schedule, Thomas reported owning $11,000 worth of personal property, a figure that would have included the value of his slaves. His brother John reported only $565. Had he sold his?

And the bigger question, where did Thomas’ slaves go after Emancipation?  Freedmen did not always adopt the surnames of their immediate masters, of course, but in the 1870 census of Iredell County, only four black residents claimed the surname Nicholson. Eliza Nicholson, age 25, lived in the household of Thomas Nicholson’s son Wes. She presumably is the Liza of James’ estate.  Manless Nicholson, 22, his wife (?) Maggie Nicholson, 24, and daughter Annie, 5, lived in Thomas’ household and worked for him. Manless had been jointly owned by Thomas and his brother. In Yadkin, the adjoining county, 35 year-old Alaxander Nicholson (probably the “Elix” above) is listed in the household of Isabel Cartwright. But that is it.  No more.

Obviously, some people were simply inadvertently omitted from the 1870 schedule, such as Lucinda and her daughter Harriet, who were clearly living in Iredell then, and Milas Nicholson, who appears ten years later in Turnersburg township, Iredell County, as a 33 year-old with a wife and child. Also, the 1880 census of Deep Creek, Yadkin County, shows an 80 year-old Sophia Nicholson who may have been “Soffie.” (And was probably Manlius “Manless” Nicholson’s mother, as a Yadkin County marriage license and his death certificate indicate.)  Of Dinah, Daniel, Nelson, Armstrong and the others, however, there is no trace, either in surrounding counties or under a different surname.

Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Free People of Color, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

The estate of Solomon Williams.


Vicey Artis, a free woman of color, and Solomon Williams, a slave, had eleven children together – Zilpha Artis Wilson, Adam Toussaint Artis, Jane Artis Artis, Loumiza Artis Artis, Charity Artis, Lewis Artis, Jonah Williams, Jethro Artis, Jesse Artis, Richard Artis and Delilah Williams Exum — before they were able to marry legally.  On 31 August 1866, they registered their 35-year cohabitation in Wayne County.  Vicey died soon after, but Solomon lived until 1883.  The document above, found among Solomon’s estate papers, names son Jonah as administrator and lists his and Vicey’s six surviving children and the heirs of their deceased children.

Little is known about Solomon. He was born about 1800. A few slaveowning Williams families lived in Vicey Artis’ vicinity in Greene County, but there is no evidence to link Solomon to them. He appears in the 1870 and 1880 censuses of Nahunta township, Wayne County, heading households comprised of his daughters and their children, and is recorded as father on the marriage licenses of daughter Lomisy (Loumiza) Williams and son Adam Artis and the death certificates of children Jonah Williams, Richard Artis and Delila Exum.