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.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

North Carolina death certificates: MILLER & McCONNAUGHEY.

Death certificates of Margaret McConnaughey‘s children and grandchildren:

George Miller and children —

George Miller.  Died 18 March 1915, Salisbury, Rowan County, of cerebral hemorrhage.  Black.  Widow.  Farmer.  Born March 1835, Rowan County, to Edward Miller and Marget Miller.  Buried “Oakelm” cemetery.  Informant, Margrett Miller.

Maria Miller.  Died 28 July 1925, Salisbury, Rowan County.  Born about 1879 to Geo. Miller and Eliza Scott, both of Rowan County.  Married to Robert Karr.  Buried Oakdale cemetery. Informant, Onie Miller.

Baldy Alexander Miller.  Died 16 Jan 1942, Mount Ulla, Rowan County, of carditis with decompensation.  Negro.  Married.  Tenant farmer.  Born 1 Jan 1858, Rowan County, to George Miller and Eliza Carr.

Onnie Miller.  Died 2 May 1970, Salisbury, Rowan County, of hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Widowed. Negro. Born 1 June 1870 to George Miller and Eliza Miller. Buried Oakwood cemetery. Informant, William F. Miller, Salisbury.

Child of Caroline McConnaughey —

Fletcher Reeves.  Died 4 Sep 1910 in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, of Brights disease.  Resided 411 E. 8th St, Charlotte.  Born 5 July 1854, Salisbury NC to Henry Reeves and Fina Overman.  Married.  Hostler.  Buried Pinewood Cemetery, Charlotte.  Informant, Rufus Williams.

Angeline E. Reeves. Died 25 Mar 1953, aged 99, at 1120 Church Street, Charlotte NC.  Found dead in bed. Widow.  Born 3 Jun 1843 [sic] in Salisbury NC to Bob McConahey and Caroline [last name unknown]. Buried Pinewood Cemetery, Charlotte. Informant, Mrs. Carrie Williams, Charlotte.

Mary Anna McConnaughey Miller, husband and children — 

Ransom Miller.  Died 3 March 1917, Barber, Steele, Rowan County, of “heart condition.”  Black. Married. Farmer. Born 11 May 1843, Rowan County, to Edmund Miller and Malissa Miller. Buried Boyden graveyard. Informant, Richard Miller, Bear Poplar NC.

Hattie McCorkle.  Died 21 November 1919, China Grove, Atwell, Rowan County, of bronchial asthma. Married to Lee Roy McCorkle. Farmwork. Born 1891 near China Grove to Ransom Miller and Mary Miller.  Buried Oakland or Boyd cemetery, Rowan County. Informant, Sam McKee.

Ida Little.  Died 16 March 1931, Unity, Rowan County, of carditis (contributory cause: abscess teeth). Resided Cleveland, Rowan County. Negro. Married to G.B. Little.  Farmer.  Born 17 February 1883, Rowan County, to Ransom Miller and Mary Miller. Buried Oakland cemetery, Cleveland NC.  Informant, G.B. Little.

Ammie Miller. Died 28 May 1938, Cleveland, Rowan County of unknown causes. Negro. Married to Douglas Miller. Age 46. Born Rowan County to Henry Philips and Jennie McEmhord. Informant, Douglas Miller.

Mary Anna Miller.  Died 24 Dec 1940, 6:30 p.m., Boydens Quarters, Rowan County NC of senile degeneration.  Widow of Ransom Miller.  Born 14 May 1840, Rowan County, to Edward McConaughey and unknown mother.  Informant, W.K. Miller, Concord Rd., Box 320, Salisbury.  Buried Oakland Cemetery, Rowan County NC.

Richard Miller.  Died 8 June 1944, Mount Ulla, Rowan County, of cardial decompensation.  Negro. Married to Lockie Miller.  Farming.  Born 16 September 1876, Rowan County, to Ransom and Mary Ann Miller, both of Rowan County.  Buried Oakland cemetery, Rowan County.  Informant, Lockie Miller.

Florence A. White Knox.  Died 27 November 1950, Salisbury, Rowan County, of gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Resided Cleveland, Rowan County.  Colored.  Married.  Born 1888, Rowan County, to Ransom Miller and Mary Miller. Buried Cameron cemetery, Elmwood NC. Informant, Forrest White.

Lockie Miller.  Died 10 December 1957, Salisbury, Rowan County of coronary occlusion.  Born 8 May 1875, Mecklenburg County to unknown parents. Widow of Richard Miller.  Buried Oakland Pres. Cemetery. Informant, Mrs. Mary Leazer, Salisbury NC.

Lina Miller Neely.  Died 26 October 1969, Salisbury, Rowan County of broncho-pneumonia. Widowed. Born 18 February 1885 to Ranson Miller and Mary (last name unknown). Buried Oakland Church cemetery. Informant, Mrs. Ethel Miller.

Grace Adeline Miller Miller and children —

Grace Adeline Miller.  Born 25 Jun 1853, died 30 July 1918, daughter of Edward and Margaret Miller.  Informant: Mary Brown.

Green Miller. Died 12 January 1923, East Spencer, Rowan County, of influenza and bilateral bronchopneumonia. Resided 714 Shaver Street, East Spencer. Colored. Married. Farmer. Born 28 September 1845, Rowan County, to Edward Miller and Malissa Miller.  Buried Shady Grove. Informant, Mary Brown.

William Cass Brown.  Died 10 March 1933, Steele, Rowan County, of cerebral apoplexy. Negro. Married to Mary Caroline Brown.  Farmer.  Born 9 January 1871, Rowan County, to Thomas Brown and Ellen Brown.  Buried Millers Chapel cemetery.  Informant, W. Ray Brown, Salisbury.

Mary C. Brown.  Died 26 May 1951.  Resided RFD 6, Salisbury NC.  Negro.  Widow.  Born 18 July 1874 to Green Edward Miller and Adeline McConneighey.  Informant: Ray Brown.  Died of cerebral thrombosis. Buried 29 May 1951 at Miller’s Chapel cemetery, RFD 2, Salisbury.

Children of Martha Margaret Miller McNeely.

Lizzie Long.  Died 28 Sep 1950, Bingham Street, Statesville, Iredell County, of accidental burning.  (“Dwelling destroyed by fire due to heater exploding with kerosene.”)  Born 18 Jun 1896 in Rowan County NC to Henry McNeeley and unknown mother.  Housewife.  Informant, John Long.

Carrie Colbert Taylor.  Died 18 Dec 1957, Iredell Memorial Hospital, Statesville, Iredell County, of cerebral hemorrhage (1st CV accident in Oct 1957).  Resided 515 Fall Street, Statesville.  Born 22 Jun 1882, Rowan County NC to Henry McNeeley and Martha Miller.  Husband, Charles V. Taylor.  Informant, Louise Renwick.  Buried Belmont Cemetery, Statesville.

Eletha Weaver.  Died 19 Oct 1922, Statesville, Iredell County, of pulmonary tuberculosis.  Married to Archie Weaver.  Age 33 years, 10 months, 12 days.  Born Rowan County to Henry McNeely and Martha Miller of Rowan County.  Cook, S.L. Parks. Informant, Archie Weaver.

John B. McConnaughey.

John B. McConnaughey.  Died 21 Aug 1931, Steel, Rowan County, of nephritis and heart disease.  Farmer.  Age 72. Married to Jennie McConnaughey. Born Rowan County to unknown father and Margaret McConnaughey. Buried in Oakland Cemetery.  Informant, Jennie McConnaughey.



Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

The belle of her set.


Colored Girl is Said to be Playing Part in Large Moving Picture Company.

Kittie Reeves, a mulatto girl who possesses more than the usual amount of good looks, lived in this city several years ago, but now is said to be a leading woman in a well-known motion picture company. Kitty Reeves lived here from her early childhood. Her name was Kitty Smith before she married Charles Reeves, a highly respected negro, a son of Fletcher Reeves, the veteran hearse driver of the old Wadsworth Livery Stables for numbers of years. Kitty was always said to have been the belle of her set. She was a bright and accomplished young negress, but the lure of the stage was always within her, and when Black Patti came through here in 1910, Kitty Reeves applied for a place in the chorus.  Immediately upon signing the contract, her name became Katherine Reeves. The tour was a success, but during the between-season lay-off, Katherine secured a place in a well-known manicuring establishment in Philadelphia.

The girl was possessed of fair skin with coloring. Her hair was long, but black with many freckles on her face. After learning the secrets of the manicurists’ art, Katherine underwent treatment for some time. When she ceased working on her face and hair, a great transformation had taken place. No longer was the hair black, but it had been turned to a dull auburn. The freckles had departed from her face, and she bore all of the appearances of a white person.

After leaving Philadelphia, Katherine became connected with a well-known motion picture firm in the State of New York. Many of her colored friends in the city claim to have recognized her a number of times playing leading parts in the film plays. So far as is known, this is the only person from Charlotte who has ever appeared upon the screens as an actress for motion pictures.

Charlotte Observer, 29 December 1912.

Ten years before this article appeared, twenty-one year-old Frank Reeves applied for a marriage license for himself and Kate Smith, 18. Both lived in Mecklenburg County. Frank (called Charles, above) was the son of Fletcher and Angeline McConnaughey Reeves Kate’s parents were listed as Thomas and Mary Smith.  S.H. Hilton, justice of the peace, married the young couple on 1 Aug 1902 at the county courthouse.

The marriage did not prosper. When the censustaker reached their neighborhood in 1910, he found Frank and Kate’s only child, 7 year-old Wilbur, living with his paternal grandparents. Charles (or Frank) and Kate (or Kittie or Katherine) do not appear together in that census or any other. (She had gone off with Black Patti by that time and, presumably, was pursuing her career as a star of the silent screen.)

Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Oral History

Millers & McConnaugheys.

Me:  Did you know any of your grandmother Martha’s people? The Millers?

My grandmother: No, I didn’t.

Me: Did you know any of his people? Henry’s?

Grandmother: No.

Me: It was a lot of them in Rowan — it was a lot of Millers anyway. In Rowan County.

Grandmother: Rowan County? I know they all came from there.


In the valuation of Rowan County slaves made by a Confederate tax assessor in 1863, John M. McConnaughey listed 19 slaves.  Among them were: George, 24, $1500; John, 2, $150; Edwin, 1, $100; Margaret, 42, $850; Caroline, 23, $1200; Mary Ann, 13, $1000; Grace, 10, $500; Martha, 7, $250; and Angeline, 7, $250.

Here is the case for these seven people as the family of my great-great-grandmother, Martha Miller McNeely:

1.  George Miller described John McConnaughey as his half-brother in the 1880 census of Rowan County. George’s death certificate lists his parents as Edward Miller and Margaret Miller.

2.  Caroline McConnaughey is listed in the household of her mother Margaret McConnaughey in the 1870 census of Rowan County.

3.  Adeline Miller is listed with her eight month-old son George in the household of Mary [McConnaughey] Miller in the 1870 census of Rowan County. Her marriage license lists her parents as Edward Miller and Margaret Miller. She gave her three children – George, Margaret and Mary Caroline – family names. In the 1880 and 1900 censuses, she and her family are listed next door to Mary Ann Miller and family. In 1888, she witnessed the marriage of John McConnaughey. Her death certificate lists her parents as Ed. and Marg. Miller.

4.  In the 1870 Rowan County census, the household of Mary Ann [McConnaughey] Miller and her husband Ransom Miller included Adeline Miller and John McConnaughey. Mary Anna Miller’s death certificate lists her father as Edward McConaughey, mother unknown.

5.  Martha Miller is listed in the household of her former owner, John Miller McConnaughey, in the 1870 census of Rowan County. (She is a farm laborer, but she also attends school.) Martha’s 1872 marriage license lists her parents as Edwin Miller and Margaret Miller. Her middle name was Margaret. She named her oldest daughter Margaret, her youngest son Edward, and two daughters Caroline (as a first and then a middle name.)

6.  John McConnaughey is listed twice in the 1870 census of Rowan County. First, with  Margaret McConnaughey and Angeline McConnaughey. Then, with Mary Miller. John married four times. Each license listed one parent, Margaret McConnaughey. “John McConeyhead” was a witness to the marriage of Adeline Miller Miller’s daughter Mary C. Miller in 1876. His death certificate lists his parents as Henry McConnaughey and Margaret McConnaughey.

7.  Edwin Miller (or McConnaughey) has not been found outside the 1863 tax list. I include him because of the similarity of his first name to that of Edward/Edwin Miller, father of the above, but there’s no real evidence that he was one of Margaret’s children.

Margaret McConnaughey appears in only one census, 1870, where she is listed as 55 years old. Edward or Edwin Miller has not been found, and the two did not register a cohabitation. Their children:

George W. Miller, born about 1836. He married Eliza Catherine Kerr, probably around 1857. They had three children, Baldy Alexander Miller (1858-1942), Maria Miller (1868-1925) and Onie Jane Miller Johnson (1879-1970). In 1868, George registered to vote with his brothers-in-law Ransom Miller, Green Miller and Henry McNeely. He died 15 March 1915.

Caroline McConnaughey, born about 1842. Her daughter Angeline was born in 1858. The child’s father was Robert Locke McConnaughey, nephew of Caroline’s former owner, John M. McConnaughey.  Caroline apparently died before the 1870 census was taken. She is listed as Caroline McConnaughey (and noted as deceased) on Angeline McConnaughey Reeves’ 1875 marriage license.

Mary Anna McConnaughey, born about 1847. She married Ransom Miller, son of Edmund and Malissa Miller in Rowan County on 27 December 1866. Their children were James Douglas Miller, Florence A. Miller, Ida L. Miller, Margaret E. Miller, Spencer Miller, Lina Miller, Hattie A. Miller, Thomas E. Miller, Richmond Miller.  In 1910, the family lived on Sherrills Ford Road in Steele township. Mary Anna died Christmas Eve 1940 in Boydens Quarters, Rowan County.

Grace Adeline Miller, born 25 June 1853. Her first child, George, was born in 1869. She married Green Miller, son of Edward and Melissa Miller, in 1871, and their children included Margaret Miller and Mary Caroline Miller Brown. She died 30 July 1918.

Martha Margaret Miller, born about 1857. She married Henry W. McNeely in 1872. Their children were Elizabeth McNeely Kilpatrick Long, John McNeely, William Luther McNeely, Emma McNeely Houser, Caroline McNeely Colvert, Addie McNeely Smith, Elethea McNeely Weaver, Minnie McNeely, Edward M. McNeely and Janie McNeely Taylor Manley. Martha and her family moved to Statesville, Iredell County before 1900. In the late 1920s, she moved to Bayonne NJ, where she died 16 June 1934.

John B. McConnaughey was born about 1861. His father likely was not Edward, but a white man. John married Minnie Barr, Romie Harris, Nora Barber and Jane Foster. He died 21 August 1931.