Milly Dicken

I’ve found another former slave that I’m interested in researching. Yesterday, I went to the Tennessee State Library & Archives and looked through a book that abstracted wills from Edgecombe County, North Carolina. I am on a hunt to figure out if I can find the slaveowner of my ancestor Rufus Tannahill McNair who was from Edgecombe County. From a quick look through the book, I have some potential leads.

However, I found some information on Milly Dicken that I want to get “out there” so, just as I did for Prosper, I’m on a quest! More to come later….

Update: I started a tree for Milly and her family.

I am intrigued by Prosper

Last night while transcribing the Roanoke Beacon newspaper, I came upon an entry that was a death notice for a former slave named Prosper Armistead. There were two tributes in this particular issue for him and as the paper identified who his slave owner was, I felt compelled to look up Prosper in the census. I found him sure enough, and then began looking at his family. Looking at this information, I felt a need to get it “out there” for one of his descendants to find one day, so I started entering his tree into Ancestry Family Trees.

As I continue to research further, I am now looking at the information about his slaveownwer, Dr. Robert Armistead. In the 1950 census, Robert has in his household a Thomas S. Armistead, one of the people very often mentioned in these issues of the Beacon that I’m transcribing – he was a lawyer and a very prominent person in the community. According to the UNC Archives, Thomas may not have been his son, but no wonder Prosper got such attention! Dr. Armistead himself appears to have died by 1860 as I find him in the 1950 census, but not 1960. The 1960 Slave Schedule shows that Thomas owned 23 slaves – including a 22 year old male and a 23 year old male – they are about the same age as Prosper. I wonder if one of them is he? I will have to look for the will of Dr. Armistead and see if there are any specific relationships spelled out.

I’m hoping that Prosper’s descendants know about him. I’m hoping that if they don’t, my efforts will one day help them. Though I believe the tone of the article that depicts Prosper “affectionately served” his master may be revisionist history, I do think this article would hold much value for his descendants.

Update: Dr. Robert Armistead is listed in the book published by the Washington County Genealogical Society – “Washington County, NC Cemeteries – Plymouth Township Volume I.” Robert wa s born March 18, 1800 and died August 3, 1857. He died of Typhoid Fever. His wife’s name was Marietta. They are buried in the Grace Episcopal Church cemetery.

This entry is likely going to keep expanding as I find new information. Prosper’s daughter Fannie, married a guy named Prosper Toodle. Their son, Prosper Toodle Jr. is listed as an undertaker in the 1930 census. I have seen the name Toodle Funeral Home since I started working with records from Plymouth – this must be the Toodle!

Annie Moore

If you’re into genealogy, no doubt that you’ve heard the story of the uncovering of the real Annie Moore, the first immigrant to arrive through Ellis Island. When the news came out about this last month, I read some info about it, but didn’t bother to read in-depth about it all. Tonite, I have just finished watching the press conference that was given at the NY Genealogical Society and am just absolutely blown away by it all! I watched it online at the new Roots Television, a genealogy focused website that has videos, blogs, and other information. To think that after all of these years her story has been discovered and shared internationally is amazing to me. If you get a chance, you should definitely watch it.

Finding relatives

When I really started reading genealogy sites online, I would often see stories and accounts of people finding cousins through their online searching. Well, in the past couple of months, I’ve located some too! Just yesterday a second cousin of mine found my family site and emailed me. A few weeks ago, I found a post on Ancestry from a woman who has turned out to be like a fourth cousin of mine and I’ve posted before of another lady I’ve met online who is possibly a fifth cousin. I am so moved by this and I really am glad that I am doing my family research. It goes to show just how connected we really are to each other!

No other major things to post about. I received the death certificate for one of Kalonji’s great-great grandmothers yesterday, but it had little revealing info. She’s proven elusive to find in any census records so one day I will have to do some serious handsearching. It did have her exact birth date though! Whereas all I had was abt. 1871, the death certificate reported her birth as March 10, 1871. Tomorrow, we are taking a trip to Evansville, so I will go to the public library and copy her obituary.

Where are they all at?

I received some goodies in the mail today – more certificates and obituaries that I’d ordered. I was looking at the newspaper obituary for my paternal great-grandmother and it says that she had 47 grandchildren. In looking at my files, I see that I only have 28 listed. Who are these other grandchildren?? I know I have huge gaps where I don’t have information filled in, but part of this whole process makes me wonder if I’ll ever get the family groups completely accurate? Most likely not – I guess that’s the fun in the hunt huh?

In a different certificate, I learned of another generation back. In my last post, I related how I learned of my one of my paternal gg-grandmother’s father’s name. Well, I received his death certificate and it lists his parents. More names to search for in the census records! Though, given that Clayton himself was born in 1830, I am not sure I will find his parents as late as 1870.

New Family Info

I meant to put this in my post from yesterday, but I’ll just make it a separate post for now.. Earlier this week, I talked to a great-great uncle of mine and he shared with me some family history. His mother was essentially orphaned as a child. This much I knew. But what I did not know was how her last name was known (Harvey) if that was the case. It turns out, she was raised by her natural father and his wife. His wife was not her mother. Her mother was also married and when she was three, her mother left her at her father’s doorstep to be raised by him and his family. Drama stays the same doesn’t it?

But, while telling me this story, my uncle also told me the father’s name, so now I have yet another person to start tracking down :-) As yet, I still have not found him in the census that I expect him to be in, so I’ll keep looking!

Have I found a 5th Great Grandparent?

I have a census entry that puzzles me. One of my ancestors, Robert Cox is listed in the 1880 census with his family. In his household it lists an Affie named as his mother and a woman named Phoebee Benders, age 90 listed as his grandmother. However, I don’t know if this is Robert’s mother’s mother (I guess so as his mother also lives with him) or his father’s mother. Yet, if she is his paternal grandmother why is the last name different? I wonder if I have a case here where after slavery ended parts of the family took on different last names. I may never really know, but it sure will keep me looking for awhile!

Compounded to this is that there is also two young nieces living with him whose last name is also Benders. So, that makes me wonder if Phoebee is Robert’s wife’s grandmother. Who knows? But, for now, I have placed Phoebee is Robert’s maternal grandmother. Maybe I’ll get to find her real position one day. But in any case, she is either Robert or his wife’s grandmother, so that makes her my furthest back ancestor! (born abt. 1790).

1st "Official" post

These past 2-3 weeks have been exhilarating! I have been so fortunate to have been able to find great information on my ancestors and related family that I have just been walking around in a constant state of excitement. I have been so preoccupied in the hunt, I haven’t even taken the time for reflection that I intended this blog to bear. I don’t expect that I will post here more than weekly, or as I make great finds but we will see what happens. If I find that I am just not blogging like I think I should, then I will re-evaluate.

For now, here have been the highlights of my research:

1. I have received approximately 20 certificates (birth and/or death) on various family members from writing to the county specific register of deeds offices. I have requests out for at least 30 more and plan to write more requests this week for another 15 or so. Fortunately, the counties that my family are from have cheap fees for uncertified copies – the average price is twenty-five cents.

2. Using census records after I joined Ancestry I was able to find ancestors another 2-3 generations back on some of my lines. The ancestor tree for my maternal grandmother for example is complete to her great-grandparents and it is one of her lines that I have my earliest ancestor – Prince Walker born in 1812. I can only surmise that Prince was a slave but have not yet done any research to this end.

3. I have “met” and reconnected with family members. As a result, it is likely that I will make my best efforts from now on to attend my family reunions. I have two coming up this summer that I hope to be able to go to. Doing so will be an incredible opportunity to connect and hear family stories.

There has been so much more I have done, but I have to go to bed for now! Doing my family history is making me feel so connected to my past – it is a wonderful,wonderful thing. I am learning so much and truly appreciate being able to have this knowledge that I can now share with my own family.