Edgecombe Co. (NC)

Finding A Cohabitation Record

Last month over the Memorial Day weekend, I attended the 45th annual reunion of my McNair family in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina. I was honored to be asked to speak to the family during the family church service on that Sunday.  It was such a great experience! I put together a presentation to distribute to family.

As I was preparing, I did additional clean-up on my family tree. Now, over the past several months, I’ve been adding info to FamilySearch Family Tree in my goal to ensure my research lives beyond me. Well, I was so pleased the week prior to the reunion to see an FamilySearch alert for my ancestor, Mariah Wimberly, in a collection of North Carolina marriage records.

So, I click to see the image and lo and behold, her cohabitation record to Rufus Tannahill pops up! I’d known about the existence of the cohabitation record for many years but had not seen the actual image.  In 1995, Dr. Barnetta McGhee White published a 3-volume index of the extant cohabitation records from across the state, and that is where I originally learned of the entry.  But, to actually see the record and be able to read it in it’s entirety is amazing!

It reads: “Before me, E.D. MacNair, Justice of the Peace for said county this 24th day of April AD 1866 appears Rufus Tannahill and Mariah Wimberly the said Rufus and Mariah having been lately slaves but now emancipating and acknowledge that they cohabitate together as man and wife and that such cohabitation commenced on the 11th day of Dec AD, 1859 given under my hand this day and year above written.” — E.D. MacNair (JP)

Rufus’ name in this record is Tannahill, but he would later change it to McNair. The Justice of the Peace is Edmund Duncan McNair Jr. and I suspect his father to have been Rufus’ slaveholder. This is a great record to have found indeed!  If you’re interested in searching for cohabitation records, they are part of the North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762-1979 collection at FamilySearch.

Tarboro Newspaper Ceasing Publication

My thanks go to one of my blog readers, Janette, for sharing this news with me – that the Tarboro, NC newspaper, The Daily Southerner, is going to cease publication.  The blog of the National Genealogical Society has a post about it written by Diane Richard. If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you may have seen that I was recently in Tarboro as my maternal grandmother was born there and I have many relatives from the area.

In fact, while I was going through Tarboro, I passed the office of the paper and turned around so I could take a picture of it – I’m such a fan of newspapers, exactly for the many points that Diane Richard makes in her blog post about the paper’s demise – they capture so many life moments that can be goldmines for genealogical research!  This news make my picture even more poignant.

Daily Southerner office in Tarboro, NC

Fortunately, due to ongoing digitizing efforts, the full-text of more than 2,000 older issues are available online at the Library of Congress and DigitalNC.org, so I have the opportunity to search and browse them for tidbits on my family members.

But, Diane also makes a good point with regard to how will the type of news often reported in newspapers get captured and archived in our current digital & social media environment? I wonder if the State Library in North Carolina is pondering this issue? They’ve been so great at capturing our print news, I only hope they are working to capture the state’s electronic news as well. I will need to make it a point to look into this. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to comb through the older issues looking for material that will help me learn more about the community and my ancestors & relatives.



Trekking through Tarboro

This blog post is part of a series about my trip to Plymouth, NC for the 44th Annual McNair Family Reunion.

In first two posts of the series l described how I stopped in Rocky Mount while on the way to Plymouth. Next on the agenda was to see Tarboro. The reason I wanted to visit Tarboro is because my grandmother Alice was born there in 1924. Unfortunately I do not have a location for where her family lived, but I thought I would at least see what Tarboro looks like.

my grandmother’s birth certificate

Finding Main Street was easy enough and it looks so quaint :-) Much like I imagined a small town Main Street to be. Perhaps my great – grandparents walked these streets? 

view of Main street in Tarboro, NC

While there, I also took a few pictures to help with my NC genealogy projects. One picture I took was the historical marker for George H. White, a contemporary of my family member, Dred Wimberly,  as he also served in the North Carolina Senate. 

historical marker for George H. White

My visit to Tarboro didn’t last too long – it really was a brief drive-through. I wanted to quickly get going so that I could have plenty of time for the reunion. But, this did inspire a few more avenues for me to continue my research so I will start working on those leads. 

Visiting Dred Wimberly

This blog post is part of a series about my trip to Plymouth, NC for the 44th Annual McNair Family Reunion.

It was Saturday, May 24th and I was on my way to Plymouth for the family reunion. I was not only looking forward to being there, but also to the drive. The highway I took bypasses through several towns I wanted to see. My first stop was to go to Rocky Mount. Why Rocky Mount you ask?

My 3rd – great grandmother Mariah Wimberly McNair, had a brother named Dred and there is a NC historical marker for him. Dred served on the NC Senate in the late 19th century. Quite an accomplishment for a black person at that time!  It is my understanding that he had some prominence in the community so the marker was erected as a tribute. But not only is there a marker, but his house also stands. So, after all the research and reading I’ve done about him, I wanted to find it so that I could see it in person.

And find it I did. The house is located on Raleigh Blvd and Wake St, directly across the street from Pineview Cemetery.

There is no one living in the house but I saw signs that it is likely being renovated. I walked around back to see the backyard and nearly had a heart attack when two dogs got up from their resting spot and started barking at me! But they didn’t move from their location and they weren’t chained so I figured they just didn’t appreciate me traipsing through their territory.

This stop was quick but I am very glad I did take the time. My stop does raise a few more questions for me though – the primary one being to find out who owns the home? Do any of Dred’s descendants? I need to try and find out. Looks like I have some deed research to follow-up on!

23andMe Match Confirms Suspected Relationship: Part 1

Tonight I was so pleased to see in my email inbox another acceptance of one of my genome sharing requests. When I logged onto 23andMe and saw the persons details, I started to get excited. I have thought of all kinds of ways to tell the story here on my blog and  none of them appealed to me. So, I figure the best way to do it is just to start typing and see where it goes.

After seeing the email, the first place I go is to my Relative Finder list to see if this person (I’ll call her Cousin P)  is a match for me, or one of the other 7 profiles I have linked to my account.  I have several family members to the test and all of them are linked to my account. Unfortunately, when 23andMe sends me the email that I have a new sharing request OR that someone has accepted my sharing request, the email does not tell me which profile it applies to.  This is definitely a potential opportunity for 23andMe to improve. So, each time I have to search through all the profiles until I find the right one. Lucky for me, since I always search me first, she popped right up.

Absent from her match information is which side of my family she matches me on. I have had both of my parents do the 23andMe test, so the system should have had an M or P next to her name. For some reason, it’s not there, so I guess I’ll report it to the company.  Anyway, I was eager to learn more for the following reasons:

  • Our predicted relationship is 3rd-6th cousin and the percentage DNA we share is 0.51%.  That’s enough to make it more likely we could find our common ancestor IF the stars lined up (so many variables affect this).  
  • She shares more DNA in common with me than a three cousins of mine (a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cousin), who have done 23andMe AND for whom I already have a documented paper trail connection prior to any of us doing 23andMe testing.
  • One of her locations in the profile was “Rocky Mountain, NC”. I realized right away that this was likely “Rocky Mount, NC” and I have ancestors on my mother’s side of the family from Rocky Mount (a city in Edgecombe and Nash counties).
  • She has a View Family Tree link! Not too many people have taken the time to put in their family tree at 23andMe. The quality of the information in the tree can vary widely. But, it’s a start!

Before looking at her family information though, I wanted to find out where our DNA matched. In my next post, I’ll describe what I learned.

Our McNair Family History is on the Books

A few weeks ago I had a chance to see in person the book,  Edgecombe County Heritage, North Carolina, 1735-2009.  I was thrilled to see in print my contribution to the book that I submitted in 2008.

I contributed an article on my McNair ancestry, going back to my 3rd-great grandfather Rufus Tannahill McNair and his wife, Mariah Wimberly McNair.
I did not photocopy the pages; instead I took a digital picture, but I do want to go back later and get the physical copy.

I am very glad I contributed this information for 50, 75, 100 years from now, hopefully additional descendants will come across the information I share.  I do see that the publishing company messed up my 4th great-grandfather’s name the first time it is mentioned (Allen Wimberly), but as I mention him again a couple of lines down, hopefully a smart reader will figure it out.  I also included a picture of my great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln McNair, with my submission and several references.

I am ecstatic! :-)  And though I didn’t submit this one, there is also a brief bio of Mariah’s brother, Dred Wimberly in the book too.

At least I know that some of my research will continue on in print format.

Tombstone Tuedsay: Dred & Ellen Wimberly

Back in June, through the kind assistance of a researcher in North Carolina, I was sent photos of the headstones and home of the brother of one of my 3rd great-grandmothers.  This is Dred Wimberly and his wife Ellen Bertha (Jenkins) Wimberly. They are buried in Unity Cemetery in Rocky Mount, NC and their home is in Tarboro.

Dred was born a slave to James S. Battle (and hence my 3g-grandma was too) and because of his relationship to Kemp Battle, his later owner, after the Civil War Dred became a member of the North Carolina General Assembly.   Having these pictures is priceless to me.

Headstone of Dred Wimberly (1868-1937)

Headstone of Ellen Bertha (Jenkins) Wimberly - d. 1945

Home of Dred Wimberly - Raleigh St, Tarboro, NC

Connections Like Wildfire

Just a quick post this time, but I’ve had so many connections come out the woodwork this week from sharing family tree information online it’s been crazy.

  • got an email from a possible cousin based on her husband’s lineage from former slaves on the Kemp P. Battle plantation in Edgecombe County, NC where my 4th great-grandparents were also slaves.  There may be a blood connection between the slaves, but we aren’t sure and so are beginning to work collaboratively on trying to figure it all out.  She found me based on a blog post I did after Robyn sent me some labor contract information
  • was contacted through Ancestry from a cousin who is descended from a sister of my 3rd great-grandfather,  Edward Kilpatrick of Craven County, NC.   I did not have any additional information for his sister Caroline, but through the cousin, I learned that she married a gentleman named Robert White and they moved to Pitt county.  More information to add to the family tree!
  • got a follow-up email related to my stepmother’s Frye ancestry.  We think we have linked her tentative 3rd great-grandfather Leonard Frye to a very large Frye family w/ ancestry going way back. more to do on that line…
  • through my genealogy site was contacted by a Koonce descendant. No relation to me, but since I collect Koonces I have part of his family tree on the site.  I will begin adding his branch to the tree later this weekend.  He is descended from Phillip H. Koonce of Shelby County, Texas.
  • was contacted by someone interested in the spouse of someone who’s tree I’ve been working on as the Picot family associated with Washington County, NC – one of my GenWeb projects.
  • my cousin emailed me tonight to call my great-uncle.  He is a brother of my maternal grandmother and is very interested in helping to figure out the origins of his Lawhorn surname.  I called him and he saw an obituary in a nearby city paper of a woman whose last name was Lawhorne and informed me as a possible lead.  He said his father told him that his father came from Georgia, but we are still working on that. It was great to talk to him too!

All of this has been in the last 4 days.  I have hardly had time to follow-up on all of these leads, but I hope to squeeze in some time this weekend.  I’ve got major projects due for school over the next couple of weeks and have a couple of activities planned on the weekend, so we’ll see.  I haven’t even watched the tonight or last week’s episodes of Faces of America yet!

Are We Related?

Last night I received an email from a woman descended from an Annie McNair Dancy McCriddic.  She has found from Annie’s death certificate that her father was named William McNair.  William was born in North Carolina, and Annie was born specifically in Tarboro, Edgecombe County.   Today I called her and we had a great conversation about her quest for learning more about this McNair family.  She found my website and emailed me b/c of my McNair connections.

I’ve just spent some time going over the family structure and still haven’t found a conclusive relationship to my McNair line, but that does not mean there is not one.  Annie moved from North Carolina and was living in Texas by 1900, where she is living with the family of Powell Battle.   Powell was also from Edgecombe County and I believe associated with the same Battle plantation my own ancestors belonged to.

This will be fun to work with the researcher to try to figure this out.

This is Why I Never Go To Bed

I knew it was a mistake to get back on the computer after I *said* I was going to bed.  But, I had to check the email and feed readers “one last time.”  Well, now it’s going to cause me to be up long enough to do this blog post, but I couldn’t wait because what I found was too exciting!

Last week I learned of a new resources, a new website of NC  Maps.  I only had an opportunity to briefly consult it, planning to investigate it more in-depth this week.  Well, a researcher today shared the link with the Edgecombe County mailing list and pointed out in her post that the maps allow you to see the locations of properties. She specifically shared the link to at 1905 map.

So, off I go to look at this map and was elated to see my two surnames of interest EXACTLY just like I figured they were — the Wimberly property right next to the McNair property, and those two properties just south of the Battle property! 

I’ve been posting with some frequency lately on my McNair, Wimberly, Battle connections and this is just too perfect.   My 3rd great-grandfather, Rufus Tannahill McNair was likely the slave of Dr. Augustus Harvey McNair.  Rufus married Mariah Wimberly, whose mother was the slave of Kemp Plummer Battle and whose father was probably the slave of Robert Diggs Wimberly.  

I knew from census records that the white McNair, Wimberley and Battle families lived in proximity, but to have this visual is wonderful! Admittedly, I’ve not delved into land records very much for my research – this type of discovery definitely picques my interest.  Thanks so much to the North Carolina State Archives, the Outer Banks History Center, and the University of NC @ Chapel Hill for this wonderful resource!   This is truly made my day. :-)