Showing posts with label ANCESTRY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ANCESTRY. Show all posts

Alfred Williams 1858 Will Part 2: That each female slave receive one half of one week day in every week for every two children she may bear, while in my service, during the life of such children.

Mr. Williams mentions enslaved people in the tenth part of his will and testament, after money and children and fighting with people in his head and solving problems that haven't happened.  

I can only imagine how much fun he thought he was. 

Here is exactly what it says, then we can unpack it.

Tenth. I direct special care be taken of all the slaves belonging to myself and children, as regards their health and comfort.  I direct you as far as possible that they receive moral culture and religious instruction.   That each female slave receive one half of one week day in every week for every two children she may bear, while in my service, during the life of such children. 


OK. So it seems nice, right? It can't be.    

Any document that honors the right to own humans is fundamentally flawed.

 This one is especially strange because of the offer of time off to female slaves for bearing children "while in my service." 

Does "in my service" mean "having sex with me?" or "while I am forcibly enslaving them instead of someone else enslaving them when the child was born?"

It had to be well known that Mr. Williams gave women who bore children -- and whose kids survived -- more time off than everyone else, but I makes me wonder what kind of system that fueled.  

The clause about the children being alive in order for this clause to kick in is menacing.  

Why add that? Would you really take time off BACK from a grieving mother? I bet he would.

Did women (and the men they loved?) encourage each other to face nonconsensual sex in order to buy 100s of hours of freedom of the next years?  

Were the enslaved women  jealous of each other? or protective? 

What did older women tell their little sisters? Their daughters?  

We may never hear their side of the story.

Mr. Williams benefits from laws and traditions that were obstacles to literacy for people of color because I think they left none of their stories in writing, but in all truth .  

I have hours and hours to fill during this slippery time of questioning everything,  so I just might search the Library of Congress' Slave Narratives or Louisiana archives for answers that will lead to more questions and stories.

Just as it should be. 

Alfred Williams 1858 Will Part 1: Because I am not looking for anything in particular, I notice more.

 I have hours and hours each day to fill during this slippery time, and I can’t keep rearranging books or finding obscure Swedish shows on Netflix.


So I keep researching.   Sometimes I have a goal in mind, like with the Pandora’s Safe project.  Most of the time I don’t, and instead open digital databases and read file after file of raw data.  

There is something so uncomposed about data that relaxes my mind. When you read a book it’s been edited and architected to take you somewhere in a fixed number of words and images. 

It is a constructed ride and sometimes I need to have the feeling of taking a long walk in archives staring at documents like birdwatchers squint at trees.


On Monday night I read the death certificates of each and every person who died in one Alexander county of North Carolina between 1945 and 1950.  I didn’t take notes but I did bookmark interesting names and shout out things like “this poor guy --- the saw mill” to my kids who are experts at both ignoring me and appearing  to be encouragingly supportive.


 What I found didn’t surprise me. Most deaths were disease related, and the only gunshot deaths were suicides by men in their 60s and a toddler shot by her 6 year old brother. 




I was not pleased with seeing a 24 year old woman die of natural causes and bookmarked the page to research it later. 

There is something quietly soothing in reading every record then moving to the next file.


Because I am not looking for anything in particular, I notice more. 

Middle names excite me.

 Missouri Arkansas. Now that's a name. 

I always want to know who was the informant at the death, and where the body went after the funeral.  Every now and then I pull up an obituary or look for a newspaper article but most of the time I just keep reading the primary sources as they were written and filed.


One of my favorite things to do is read Wills (and yes, my brother told me to get a new hobby but also have you tried reading Wills?), especially those written and/or probated before the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery.  


When Wills are filed for Probate they are usually copied into the counties book of wills, which means that all the wills of everyone who died in a certain year can literally be read like a book from cover to cover if you are good at reading cursive and also open to French and Spanish, because about 30% of the Wills I read that were written before 1860 were not written in English.  We can discuss this later. 

What matters is that many states made those books of wills available to ancestry to digitalize and code and that’s how I access them.


The other day I was reading Wills filed in Orleans Parrish in the 1860s, shocked by how wealthy some people were, throwing around legacies of thousands of dollars and leaving lists of addresses of all their properties to be disposed of.  I make a point to look for mention of “slave” or “negro” (they were used interchangeably in Wills, let’s unpack that later) and also if there is some context to the discussion.


For example, I have read Wills where the person mentions that their kids will divide equally all their property including real estate, cattle and slaves. 


I have read Wills where the enslaved people are doled out by name (beloved Betsy goes to XXXX) and others where the decedent allows their children to each pick 2 and then sell the rest and split the profit. 


Nothing I’d seen before prepared me for what I found in Alfred A. Williams’ will, which I found in Orleans Parrish Will Book #13, page 99.

The will before Mr. Williams’ was in French, so I just passed on it and want everyone to remember I didn’t read all the wills, just the English ones, and even though Louisiana became a state (I often read the event described as “Louisiana was granted statehood” which is a whole other way of seeing the relationship, right?) in 1812, about 1 in 5  wills I’ve come across filed in the 1840s-1860s were in French or Spanish.


I feel that you’ve heard me on this point of how connected and multilingual the cities of the  Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean Basin were in the 19th century and I can move on.


In his 1858 pre-Civil War testament, Alfred A. Williams leaves cash to his brother and brother-in-law, and wants a trust created for his minor children and administered so that when each of them reaches 21 they get all the funds accruing since his death. He then inserts something I’ve seen before and because I didn’t go to law school I get to name things and I call it the jerk clause.


He says that if his kids oppose the will then their shares will go to his brothers and sisters.


 Like how does someone get into a future fight with their kids that happens after their death?

What’s it like to be that controlling?

 Does it work? Because as I see it he’s going to die in 1863 and most of the wealth his family had when will was signed in 1858 will be on it’s way to be gone with the wind.   

The next several paragraphs are assigning who he wants to administer his property until the kids all turn 21, and how that person should be compensated. Yawn. I see this being written in a smoky room over rum, fat bellies and promises. Once you tell someone you’re leaving them stuff, things have to be different between you guys.


 I try to be neutral but it’s hard to like this guy, swinging his wealth around.


Then I found the portion of his will where he mentioned slaves, and I feel like I have uncovered the devil, and puppeteer who implied choice and freedom in a situation when the opposite was true.

(Continued in next post)*****


Pandora's Safe

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

***Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Father's Day Patriot Hunt #6: Two Wills and Also Keep Reading to the Very End

Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves.” 

- James Joyce, Ulysses

I thought I would be able to write this up more quickly than this, but whatever.  Don't rush me.

I can't help but linger in files looking for data point treasure: the date someone arrived in America, the property distributed in an uncle's will, coats of arms, maps.

This is my happy place, watering the data and giving it some sunshine to make it bloom into a story.
Enough about me.  Back to the Patriot quest.

Meet Ancestor #9: Frederick Kimball (b.1746 North Carolina d. 1812 W. Feliciana Parish La)

Here you go! Meet Lt. Col. Frederick Kimball.

My favorite thing he did was participate in the brawling battle (which included eating the breakfasts the British left behind) at Eutaw Springs - the last major battle in South Carolina -  is credited for denying the British materiel supplies that were headed North.  Six weeks later, the British surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. 

Here is the DAR file and ancestor number!!  PATRIOT #5 

From what I've read (and omg I've been binging on 1780 and it's delicious), Kimball had British prisoners taken to his house.

Here  is Frederick Kimball's father's will.

Benjamin Kimball 1786, Camden South Carolina

Soon after his father's death, Frederick Kimball purchased land in West Florida from Spain (remember, Louisiana territory belonged to Spain after the 7 Years War).

 I cannot tell how he died, but it was months after the US joined the War of 1812.

In the hours I spent pouring over family documents I found a family history written by one of Frederick's grand-nephews that recounts his father growing up a Protestant English speaking family surrounded by French Catholic families.

 I'm pretty sure the thing that brought them together was a mutual hate for the British ("Cajuns" were expelled from Acadiana in 1763 in Canada after the British won the 7 Years War) and a common culture of profiting from using enslaved human labor that fills.

Make sure you are keeping that in mind as you imagine the multilingual multicultural 19th Century Louisiana.

Here is a quick map and a few images of the Acadian Diaspora.

Please imagine their feelings toward the British as they were forced from their farms and churches and land and we will circle back to that later, OK?

Kimball's new land in West Feliciana Parish is near  Avoyelles Parish, ground zero for this story because it's where Ella Mae English will be born in 1872.

Let's now look at Frederick Kimball's wife -- Sarah McDonald (b. 1751 South Carolina, d. 1807 West Feliciana Parish, La).

I have a hunch that a war hero might marry a daughter who's father also fought in the war (and on the same side, hopefully).  

Bingo. PATRIOT #6

Daniel McDonald (b 1723 Scotland, d 1797 SC) has a DAR ancestor number, but no clear indication of how he served.

I'll keep searching for that, but until then I'm going to imagine that his family's fortunes were abundant and he liked fighting the British.

Here is Daniel McDaniel's 1797 Will -- I would not assign it if I didn't think it was crucial for you to read it.

 Read it twice.

Then go back and read Benjamin Kimble's will.

Maybe read them both again and take notes.

We can discuss it later.

Until then, I have a few more Patriots to unload on you. 

PS because you are still reading this, here is a bonus. The Last Will and Testament of Daniel McDonald's FATHER (b 1700 Inverness, Scotland d 1756 South Carolina), veteran of the 7 Years War.


Wait wait, I have one more thing to show you then let's review the big point of this whole chapter.

 Donald McDonald didn't even come here on purpose!! He was transported away from the British Isles as punishment for being a Jacobite.

Let go of any idea you had that everyone in history who came to America came here by choice.

 The actions people took and the decisions they made based on displacement will play a crucial role in the forming of an American ("white American" there I said it) identity.

Father's Day Patriot Hunt #5: Where's the Beef?

 We have now covered six out of sixteen ancestors, and have already found the following: two recognized Patriot soldiers; Thomas Jefferson's great-grandmother; one file mentioned a person being Chaucer's 5th great-grandfather and I chased it like a dog races after a squirrel but I lost it.

 Bad squirrel.

A voice in me chimes that I should just finish the story already; there are other topics related to 2019 issues I could and should probably be writing about and my silence could be taken for complacence. 

 We can revisit that later. Trust me here.

Ancestor #7 is Jacob LaRue, Jr.

Born in 1769 colonial Virginia, Jacob LaRue Jr (1769-1851) joined many of his generation moving west of the Appalachians after the American Revolution.

 He will die and be buried in Illinois -- a free territory and then a free state.  I will research this deeper, later, when I'm free from all the work that comes with being on vacation/sabbatical.  

Jacob LaRue Jr's daughter  - Mary Mollie LaRue -  was born in Kentucky in 1796, and will die there in 1831. 

Her daughter Phoebe Hodgen Morris (named, clearly for her grandmother) also spends her entire life in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.  

Phoebe's son Hayden English  (1815-1896) will move down the Mississippi River to Avoyelles Parish in Louisiana after the Civil War where he will meet and marry Marie Kimball, Ella Mae English's mother.  

My inner editor shouts: This is all interesting, but show me the Patriot. 

OK fine.  Meet Jacob LaRue Jr's father, Jacob Warren LaRue

Jacob Sr. didn't  volunteer and wasn't drafted. 

He didn't "fight" in the American Revolution in the traditional sense (bang bang boom, etc), 

Maybe Jacob Sr. didn't have any weapons, maybe he was non-violent by choice. 
 The story will tell itself in time.  

Here is Jacob Sr's file at the Daughter's of the American Revolution website, including his  Ancestor number.  

Under Service Description it says "RENDERED MATERIAL AID" in all capitals.  


See? People can make a difference without actually being soldiers.

 Give aid. 

Share what you have with people who need it.

Jacob Warren LaRue Sr. is now officially my dad's Patriot #3 or #4 depending on how you count this. 

 Either way, I'm not even halfway done (but this is the last story for tonight).

Let's now look at Jacob LaRue Jr's wife -- Phoebe Hodges (b. 1777 Virginia - d.1825 Tennessee). 

Knowing that I had to look to Jacob's father to find the "Revolutionary generation," I clicked on Phoebe Hodges' father, Robert  Hodges (b.1742 Philadelphia - d. 1810 in Hodgenville, LaRue, Kentucky.

Robert Hodgen's file include data from the Son's of the American Revolution. 

Yaaayyy. Patriot #4!!!!

 It doesn't mention his rank so I read it more closely and find out that Robert Hodgen was/is recognized as a Patriot because he "furnished the Continental Army with beef during the Revolutionary War."

What a nice man, sharing his beef with the Army.

 I'm proud to have found this.

I wonder if he knew Jacob LaRue Sr?

Is there a tangible explainable  reason they didn't fight  -- were they Quakers?

Were they both merchants employed by British monopolies?

Did they know each other and coordinate their support?  Did they talk about the war at Christmas with the grandchildren they shared?

So many questions to be filed away for later, for after I take you all the way to the ending I knew before I began writing any of this.

(continued ---)

Father's Day Patriot Hunt #4: A Chaucer for his Jefferson -- Dead Ends

William Harding's wife, Clarissa Million, doesn't seem to have been involved in the American Revolution  either.  

Ancestry shows that Clarissa was born December 15, 1745, and that her mother died that same year.  Clarissa's father died in 1773 before the American Revolution "officially started" and therefore can be ruled out as a Patriot.

Notice all the "Potential Father" and "Potential Mother" clues I left unread?  One of the hardest parts of research is knowing when to stop, and I know that I'm not going to find a Patriot who fought the British in the 1780s by looking backwards into the 1650s.  

Also, a few hours ago I swear one of my ancestors had the notation that they were Chaucer's "5th great-granddaughter" and now I can't find it anywhere and this makes me sad because I think my dad would like a Chaucer to go with his new Thomas Jefferson.  

 If I follow every lead I will never finish writing this story for you, and I really need to get to the part where all these things come together. 

Hang with me.

Next let's look at William Morris, born in Ireland in 1860 and died in Sumner Tennessee in 1803.  There are no hints about his service. No wills or church records  offer themselves up.  

My research hits block after block and I choose to move on to his wife, Margaret McNeill, ancestor #6 of #16 in our hunt for a Patriot ancestor.

 Margaret was born in colonial North Carolina and died in Hardin Kentucky, in the region named after the Harding-Hardin family.  Records show that her father, Archibald McNeill, was born in Argyll Scotland in 1720 and was buying land in North Carolina in the 1750s.

I can't see any specific evidence that he contributed to the American Revolution on the Patriot side -- was he a Loyalist? or was he just too old to fight?

 I'm not sure we will find these answers quickly, so file them away for another day.

Next up, #7: Jacob LaRue.


Father's Day Patriot Hunt #3: Frogley Manor

Next up: William Harding (1738-1826).

  A quick peek at his tree shows his family moves westward to Kentucky where his daughter Nancy marries Robert English’s son Weeden.

 There is no overt evidence indicating he fought in the American Revolution, and a bit of me wonders if he might have been a Loyalist. 

I keep looking in and around his tree and got a little lost for a bit, peeking at where  his eight great-grandparents on his father's side were born and died.  

Tracing William Harding's 8 Great-great-grandparents on his father's side*
 Great-great-grandfather John Wesley Hardin/Hardewin was born and died in Normandy.

Please notice his name -- I'm not sure it would be a coincidence to share a name with the theologian John Wesley who lived at the same time, but there is time to research it later.
So I thought I would google John Wesley Hardin to see if he was somehow a famous historical person I hadn't learned about and found this. 

 John Wesley Hardin #1: Wild West Outlaw.  

John Wesley Hardin #2: Bob Dylan's 1967 album.  Hmmm. 

Moving on to great-great-grandmother Frances Marie Boyer, born in London and dies in colonial Virginia.

We don't see many facts jumping out about Frances' father, but I was able to easily trace her family back 8 generations on her mother's side through Knights and Ladies and etc.

Next up: Marcus DuSauchoy who was born on Staten Island in Dutch New York and died on Staten Island in British New York.

 My guess is that the family might be merchants or traders; they could be Catholic or Jewish.  

I can only find Marcus' parents' names and nothing beyond that generation.  I'm sure it's out there, waiting to be found at just the right time, but not today. 

Great-great-grandparent #4 is Elizabeth Rossignol who was born in Leiden, Holland and died in New York around the time the British arrived.

 I can only go back two generations in her family.

Elizabeth's two grandfathers (maternal and paternal) share her last name; hints indicate they were born and died in France.

Great-great-grandfather #5: Robert George Belcher lived his entire life in colonial Virginia. 

I was able to easily trace Belcher's very British family back for 4 generations, and am under the impression they were involved with the original joint-stock corporation that founded the Jamestown.

Great-great-parent #6: Phoebe Mary Isham - born in England, dies in Virginia after becoming widowed and remarrying.

Phoebe's first husband Robert Belcher is our ancestor's baby daddy.

 Her second husband was Col. William Randolph -- Thomas Jefferson's great-grandfather.   
Which means that Phoebe was  Thomas Jefferson's great-grandmother and now we are going to add Thomas Jefferson to our Patriot ancestors on Ella Mae English's side, bringing the number to 3.

 I knew Phoebe Isham was special when I found several portraits that were made during her lifetime.  This is not a normal thing; it involves money and connections and a home to hang the portraits.

Meet Great-great-grandparent #7:Alexander Frogley who spent his entire life in England.

First of all, I am 100%Team Frogley and that is my new name and I am also changing the Wi-Fi in my house to "Frogley Manor."

I took a few hops and leaps through the Frogley family and found 8 generations in only a few minutes.

 Last great-grandparent is Alice Bayese, William Harding's grandmother's grandmother. Remember what I said about the maternal line sometimes just disappearing?
 I know Alice must have had parents but they aren't low hanging fruit, and I have a rule to walk away if I don't find any new info after 15 minutes, and I walked away to keep searching for Patriots to give my dad for Father's Day.