Monday Madness: Ancestral Property Found, Lost & Found Again

Ever since my cousin, Monique and I returned from our trip down to Ocean Springs, Mississippi to do some ancestry research, I’ve been thinking about all the property my ancestors accumulated and then lost.

It was a source of inspiration to me that my great, great-grandmother, Tempy Burton who had been a slave and could not read or write purchased an acre of land in Ocean Springs, Mississippi in 1887.  It never even occurred to us that she had owned her own property.  We always assumed that she lived with her former masters, Col. W.R. Stuart and his wife, Elizabeth McCauley Stuart after she was emancipated until she died in 1925 at the age of 104.  Indeed, Tempy was listed living with Elizabeth on the 1900 census.  But turns out she bought property of her own. The way we found what was known as “Tempy Burton’s Lot” in the Jackson County Archives was as surprising as the fact that she was a homeowner.

Archive Assistant, Linda Cooper was helping me look through the massive deed books for Josephine Ford’s property.  (The books are so big, Linda needed another person to hold the book whenever she made a copy of a page).   Monique was trying to keep her mind off her hunger (it was about 3 or 4 in the afternoon and we hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet) so she was randomly browsing through indexes, looking for any familiar names. That’s when she yelled to me from across the office.  She’d found Tempy Burton in an index for land owners in 1889.

With a trip to the Jackson County Chancery Court office around the corner from the Archives, we found that Tempy paid $60 for her acre of property. (Deed Book 9, p. 395)  She would later convey some of this land to my great-grandmother, Josephine and another daughter, Violet Matthews Battle for a dollar each.(Deed Book 45, p. 304 & 305)   Not only was Tempy a landowner, but she made sure her daughters were too.  As we continued digging through the land rolls in the Jackson County Archives, we found that all of these properties were lost to tax debt decades later.  It bummed me out that a later generation of my family had lost something so precious, land acquired by their slave ancestor.

Driving around town earlier in the day, we’d come across a lot owned by Monique’s great-grandmother, Tempy Elizabeth Stuart.  The lot was for sale. At the time, we didn’t know about Tempy’s lot and how her younger generations had lost it.  Can’t help but wonder if it’s still for sale…

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

9 responses to “Monday Madness: Ancestral Property Found, Lost & Found Again

  1. Monique Smith Andersen

    MY NEW ALL TIME FAVORITE FINDING JOSEPHINE BLOG!!!

  2. Desi

    I love your blog mommy!!!! Love Desi

  3. Devy

    Tempy rules & you to!!!!

  4. love it when the kids read my blog too!

    also love it that out reed ancestors owned land.

  5. I meant I love it that our FREED ancestors owned land. posted too soon!

  6. I’m in touch with French-speaking Draytons who live in New Caledonia, one of the Pacific islands but who came from French Guiana and before that Barbados. They are possibly descendants of Drayton slaves. A Christopher Drayton left Barbados. He was clearly a man of some means, because he bought up a considerable amount of land in French Guiana. His son, Henry Isidore Drayton, was trained as a doctor in Paris, and was sent to New Caledonia. When he eventually came back to FG to settle his financial affairs, he found he owed property tax and the French Government had taken over the property and built their nuclear program there. You might have heard of the “Ariane” project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s