Category Archives: slavery
My cousin Monique is now the queen of all Internet searches. It was her voracious searching that turned up my second great-grandfather’s Civil War era sword on ebay, a portrait of one of our ancestors at the Maryland Historical Society on their online database, and me on ancestry.com. Now, she’s done it again. Monique found another one of our cousins, again on ancestry.com. (I think that internet genealogy site is going to have to start paying her soon – she’s a walking commercial for their services!)
Meet cousin Sylvia Smith Isabel. She lives a short bus or train ride away in New York and is as passionate about uncovering our family’s history as Monique and I.
Keeping track of all these cousins can be confusing so here is how we’re all related:
The ancestors that all three of us have in common are Tempy Burton and Col. W.R. Stuart, aka The Colonel. Tempy was a slave in Elizabeth McCauley’s family. When Elizabeth married the Colonel, Tempy was given to the couple as a wedding gift. Elizabeth couldn’t have any children but Tempy could and did have seven, probably all with The Colonel. But two of her children were definitely The Colonel’s, documented through their death certificates. They were Alfred Burton Stuart, Tempy and The Colonel’s oldest child and Josephine Burton Ford, their youngest child. Alfred was Monique’s great, great-grandfather and Sylvia’s great-grandfather. Josephine Burton Ford was my great-grandmother. Using the cousin calculator that makes Sylvia and Monique first cousins, once removed, Monique and I third cousins, once removed and Sylvia and I plain ole third cousins.
Two days after Thanksgiving, Monique and her family came over to our house and we had a few good hours of laughs over all the things we’ve found this past year and we were feeling pretty thankful, like we’d reached the peak of our genealogy mountain and could just take in the view. Then, two days later, with the discovery of Sylvia, we had even more to be thankful for, and more history to uncover (her dad grew up on Alfred’s farm and told her stories of Alf working as an unofficial town vet – news to us!). It feels like we’re at the beginning of another journey.
Check out the other cousin we found earlier this year, Renee Smith.
With my children finally back in school, I can return my attention for at least part of the day to shaking my family tree. My cousin and I have made a lot of progress since we started searching together last year, but each new discovery invariably leads us to another clue, another agency to call, or piece of history to look into. Following all of these threads requires organization, so I’ve decided to give myself a weekly list of genealogy goals to keep me focused. I’ll do this on “Motivation Mondays,” and if you find this theme useful, I hope you’ll join me.
Goals for this week:
- Transcribe one letter from the Stuart Papers. Pictured above, the collection of letters, sermons and personal documents belonged to my third great-grandfather, William R. Stuart. (If I do one letter a week, I’ll have them finished by 2012!)
- look into some of the laws regarding slaves in Maryland. Stuart was president of the state’s senate and mentions pending legislation regarding slavery a few times in his letters in 1826 and again in the 1840s. I wonder if he helped craft laws regarding slavery and if they were pro or anti the institution.
- Follow up with the local library to find out when the Stirling Papers will arrive on microfilm, on loan from Princeton University. I’m dying to find out if these papers have any information on my third great-grandmother, Eliza Burton, who was owned by the Stirling family.
It’s nice to be back from a great vacation where I unplugged from my computer and soaked up the surf and sun.
Even though I wasn’t blogging or researching, genealogy was never too far from me. As we made our way down to Hilton Head, South Carolina, we passed a town named Burtonville (Burton is my great, great-grandmother’s surname) and saw a sign for Nash County, NC where many of my ancestor’s slave owners were from. If there is one thing I’ve learned on this journey, it’s that the genealogy world is small, and all relative. And my ancestors’ world was just as small if not smaller and it seems their owners really were related.
A few months back when I realized that one of the women who owned my great, great-grandmother, Tempy was Judith Boddie, I started searching for information about the prominent North Carolina Boddie family and found a Google book with extensive information about their lineage. The book, Lineage and Tradition of the Herring, Conyers, Hendrick, Boddie, Perry, Crudup, Denson and Hilliard Families shows the interconnection of all these families through marriage. When I found it, I didn’t know that another family listed in this book also owned my ancestors. While Tempy was owned by the Boddies, her sisters, Polly and Liberia were owned by Dr. Robert Hilliard. Hilliard settled in Louisiana but was originally from Nash, NC. The Google book shows generations of intermarriage between the Boddies and Hilliards. There is even one family member named Tempe Boddie Hilliard! (Tempe was a popular name among both families).
Six degrees of separation? I think a lot less.
Can you connect yourself to the president through six people or less? A woman at my gym works for him. Your turn.
Yesterday, I shared how my great, great-grandfather escaped the Ku Klux Klan. Well, not all of my relatives may have been so lucky.
A few weeks ago I heard a new family story – that one of my great, great-grandmother’s sons was lynched. The news came from a 92 year-old man who actually met my great, great-grandmother, Tempy Burton when he was a child. He remembered hearing that her son was lynched, but nothing more. I don’t know why he was lynched, if it was the Klan that lynched him or someone else. I don’t even know which of Tempy’s sons may have been lynched. Besides her oldest boy, Alfred, she had two: Warren and Louis born in the late 1860s probably in New Orleans, Louisiana or Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both boys probably died sometime after the 1870s when they last show up on the Jackson Educable Index cited on oceanspringsarchives.net.
Investigating a lynching is not exactly what I signed up for when I started this blog less than a year ago. I just wanted to find out what happened to my great, grandmother, Josephine Burton Ford. But, now that I have this clue, I have to follow it. This man was Josephine’s brother. His history is my history. He deserves to be found too even if it’s exceedingly painful to see where he ended up.
So far, I’ve checked the following databases that list lynching victims in the United States:
Anywhere else I should look?
Thank you for always sharing your stories. It gives me the courage to share mine, even when they’re not pretty.
The silver child’s cup that I’m holding left me speechless as did the sentiment behind it when Joel Brink gave it to me during our first meeting this past Sunday. Joel is an art historian who has published several books about his and his wife’s families. His wife, Joan descends from a family who owned my great, great-grandmother, Tempy Burton.
The cup belonged to Martha “Mattie” McCauley who died at age 18 in 1860. Her mother owned my great, great-grandmother, Temple Burton. Tempy was later given as a wedding present to Mattie’s sister, Elizabeth when she married my great, great-grandfather, Colonel W.R. Stuart. Undoubtedly, as their slave, Tempy was in charge of keeping this beautiful cup looking shiny in the McCauley’s Mississippi home. Joan and Joel gave it to me because it was something probably touched by Tempy. As Joan wrote in her beautiful note that sent me sobbing more than once, this cup is a reminder of the connection between our families, now renewed.
I’m not quite up to the task of expressing my thoughts upon seeing this document. Nothing, not even seeing my great, great-grandmother bequeathed in a will drives home the true state of her situation as does this 1860 probate court appraisal of the “goods & chattels and personal estate of Judith B. Jones.” Mrs. Jones was one of several family members that owned my great, great-grandmother, Tempy Burton. The appraisers placed Tempy’s value and that of an infant child at $1,600. She would have been about 40 years old when this document was written.
This document was so dispiriting that I considered not sharing it at all until I realized that the specifics included in it, like the names and ages of slaves, might prove useful to some other researcher. So here they are (they’ll be familiar from the wills earlier posted in which my grandmother was bequeathed):
Tiller a woman, about forty-eight years of age, black….$450
William, a man, twenty-two years of age………………….$1,000
Reuben, man, aged 33 years of age…………………………..$1,400
Tom, a boy, 17 years of age, tall, well grown………………$1,600
Tempy, a woman & child, year old……………………………$1,600
Vincent, a man, 24 years of age……………………………….$1,700
Susan, woman, 23 years of age………………………………..$1,400
Offa, a boy, 11 yrs of age………………………………………….$1,100
Tanny, girl, 10 yrs of age……………………………………………$900
Thanks to historians Ray Bellande and Joel Brink for getting this document to me and to any other researcher whom may consider it useful.