Showing posts with label Virginia-Greensville County. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Virginia-Greensville County. Show all posts

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's a Small World!

On this past Sunday, I struck up a conversation with a woman inside the Hilton Hotel in Ft. Wayne before leaving for the airport. We had just attended the International Black Genealogy Summit and were all waiting for the shuttle when I discovered that she was from my father's hometown in Emporia, VA located in Greensville County. The lady lives in another state now. I don't remember how the conversation began--I think she may have asked where I was from and what places I research.

While we were on the shuttle, we talked more about the Emporia connection. During the conversation, I pulled out my cell phone and called a cousin (Carolyn) who is a lifelong resident of Emporia. My cousin asked me questions about the lady's family and I couldn't remember all of the details because I had put my notebook in my briefcase. So I handed the lady (Ethel) my cell phone. Cousin Carolyn and Ethel did not know each other, but both of them knew a lot of the same people from Emporia. Everyone on the shuttle had attended the conference and we all laughed as we listened to Ethel talking to my cousin Carolyn as if they had known each other for years.

Ethel's ancestors and my ancestors attended the same churches (Shiloh Baptist and Antioch Baptist.) One of her family members was also the community barber.

I'm looking forward to discovering more about the relationship between these two families.

Thank God for cell phone technology. Instead of waiting until I got home to call my cousin, I was able to use this technology to call her while Ethel was on the shuttle with me. Nothing replaces seeing her smiling face and hearing her excited voice as she talked to my cousin like they had know each other for years.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Uncle Moses Robinson

Uncle Moses Robinson (1893-1979) was the son of my great great grandparents, Joshua and Ersie Jane Providence Robinson. My Robinson family lived in the Skippers area of Greensville County, VA. He is buried in the Robinson Family Cemetery of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Aunt Lucretia

This is the oldest tombstone I have found so far in the cemtery of Antioch Baptist Church in the Skippers area of Greensville County, VA. I have not looked through the entire cemetery yet, so there is a chance there may be other older tombstones still visible.

L. C. Hill was Lucretia C. Robinson Hill, who was a daughter of my great-great grandparents Joshua and Ersie Jane Providence Robinson. Aunt Lucretia died at age 34.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Using Date Calculator in Genealogy Software (Continued)

Yesterday, I wrote about using the Date Calculator in Family Tree Maker 2009 and also introduced the saga of the two Bettys, who were two women freed from slavery in Greensville County, VA. (Read yesterday’s posting here)

My research question in this case was “Who was the correct Betty and which one could have been the mother of Henry and Allen Ferguson?” Was she the 47-year-old woman who registered on August 23, 1814, who was born around 1767 and freed by Nathaniel Mabry? Or was she the other Betty, the 60-year-old woman who registered on December 29, 1820 and was born around 1860? There is only a seven year difference between their ages, so how could I identify the correct mother? Betty #1 would have been around ages 30 and 31 and Betty #2 ages 37 and 38 when Henry and Allen Ferguson were born in 1797 and 1798.

Understand Laws of the Time
In order to understand how to possibly solve this type of genealogical mystery; a researcher must first understand the laws* of the time affecting Free Negroes in Virginia.

Beginning in 1793, the Virginia General Assembly mandated that Free Negroes or Persons of Color be required to register with the court every three years. The surviving register of Greensville County, VA was kept from 1806 to 1832.

Since there were no photograph identifications at this time, a physical description was written about each free person. This register entries indicated skin color (black, yellow), age, and any distinguishing marks or characteristics of each person. Free Negroes were required to carry a paper with them at all times documenting their freedom. Freedom was obtained from slavery by following three methods:

1. Birth (if their mother was free). Status of father did not matter.
2. Purchasing their freedom
3. By Will or Deed from slave master

The registration for Betty #1 indicates that she was freed in a will, however the registration of Betty #2 does not name the document that gave her freedom. Further research revealed that Betty #2 was freed by a deed from Dr. Jessee A. Bonner in 1820.

Establishing a Timeline
Creating a timeline is always helpful in genealogy research because it helps to see a clearer picture of a sequence of events. Documents used to generate a timeline for this case were:

  • Free Negro Register entries for the two Bettys and Henry and Allen Ferguson
  • Will of slave owner Nathaniel Mabry
  • Deed of slave owner Dr. Jessee A. Bonner
  • Virginia laws for Free Negroes


  • Abt. 1760: Betty #2 is born

  • Abt. 1767: Betty #1 is born

  • 1793: Virginia Assembly establishes a law requiring Free Negroes to register with court.*
    February 1795: Will of Nathaniel Mabry is proved in court of Greensville County, VA which included his wish for freeing his slaves including one named Betty. (Greensville County, VA Will Book 1, pages 277-282.)

  • Abt. 1797: Henry Ferguson, son of Betty, is born

  • Abt. 1798: Allen Ferguson, son of Betty, is born

  • 1806: Beginning of Greensville County, VA Free Negro Register

  • August 23, 1814: Betty #1 registers in Greensville County, VA court

  • December 27, 1820: Dr. Jessee A. Bonner frees his slave Betty and her husband Sambo in a deed (Greensville County, VA Deed Book 5, page 368)

  • December 29, 1820: Betty #2 registers in Greensville County, VA court

Based on the documents and information used to create this timeline, I conclude that Betty #1, the former slave of Nathaniel Mabry who was freed around 1795 was the mother of Henry and Allen. Given that Henry and Allen were born free about 1797 and 1798, Betty #2 could not have been their mother because she did not gain her freedom until 1820 and the law in Virginia dictated that the mother had to be free in order for her children to be born free.

Additional Questions
As a result of this conclusion, I asked the question, “What was the age of Betty #1 when the will of Nathaniel Mabry was proved in 1795?” Using the Family Tree Maker 2009 Date Calculator, I typed in her estimated birth year of 1767 and the date of the known event as 1795. Before I typed in these variables, I clicked on “Age.” at the top of the dialog box in Item to calculate. The answer to this question is that she was about age 28 at the time of her slave owner’s will. Numerous other slaves were named in Nathaniel Mabry’s will and these individuals and families will be discussed in later postings.

*Note: Black Laws of Virginia : A Summary of the Legislative Acts of Virginia Concerning Negroes from Earliest Times to the Present (Paperback), Heritage Books (1936), ISBN-10: 1888265191 or ISBN-13: 978-1888265194

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Using Date Calculator in Genealogy Software

Thanks to Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings for last Saturday’s night fun (April 25, 2009) on using the Date calculator in genealogy software. When I need to determine a birth year or some other genealogical calculation, I always create a formula in the Microsoft Excel software. Occasionally, I use a pocket calculator or the computer calculator located in the Accessories section in Windows. I did not know that genealogy software had a date calculator until last Saturday night.

Family Tree Maker Date Calculator
I use Family Tree Maker 2009 and I accessed the Date calculator by clicking on the Tools menu and the Date Calculator option.

Date Calculation Project
Since last Saturday night, I have been using the Date Calculator feature of my genealogy software to calculate various types of dates. Today, I pulled out data from the Greensville County, VA Free Negro Register, 1803-1832. I was focusing on the Ferguson family because Sandy Ferguson and his wife Susan are believed have deed land in the 1870s for the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. I do not think that I am directly kin to the Fergusons, but several members of this family have married into my Robinson and Greenway family in the Skippers area of Greensville County, VA.

Henry and Allen Ferguson
In the register, the mother of Henry and Allen Ferguson is named as “Betty.” I had calculated their estimated birth years a long time ago and determined that they were born some time between 1797 and 1798.

The Two Bettys
Two Bettys were listed in the Free Negro Register and I had not calculated their estimated birth year because I wasn’t sure which Betty was the mother of Henry and Allen. Instead of using Microsoft Excel or a calculator, I used the Family Tree Maker Date Calculator.

Below, are the results along with the Free Negro Registration description on each Betty where I typed in the year they registered and age given on registration. The calculated birth year is in grey.

Betty #1
Betty, a free woman emancipated (as above*), about 47-years of age, 5' 4" high (in shoes), and has no material marks or scars on her head, face or hands perceivable. Registered August 23, 1814, Entry #44

*Note "by the last will and testament of Nathaniel Mabry, deceased, of record in my office" Indicated in Entry #43, the one above Betty's entry.

Betty #2
Betty, emancipated by Doct. Jessee A. Bonner, of a dark complexion, aged about 60-years, 5' 3-1/2 high (in shoes), a small scar or lump on her right arm, her fore teeth out, by occupation a Spinner. Registered December 29, 1820, Entry #81

Based on these estimated birth years, there is only a seven year difference between the two Bettys. Therefore, one could not possibly be the mother of the other one.

However, searching other documents and generating additional date calculations have provided an answer to this mother mystery.

Stay tuned tomorrow…

Monday, July 14, 2008

1930 Census - Moore Family

By 1930, Robert Moore had a third wife, Elizabeth Mitchell, whom he married on February 23, 1924, in Greensville County. Several of his children had married and left home (Washington, Hattie, Sarah, and Jack.)

1930 Census ~ Zion Township of Greensville County, Virginia

Sunday, July 13, 2008

1920 Census - Moore Family

By the year 1920, all of the Moore children had been born. Mary Eliza Robinson Moore was pregnant during this year, but died from childbirth complications on March 7, 1920.

1920 Census ~ Zion Township of Greensville County, Virginia

Thursday, July 10, 2008

1910 Census - Moore Family

By 1910, Washington Moore had died, and his son Robert had taken over the household and property and was also raising his children along with his wife Mary Eliza. Robert’s mother Ellen Moore was living in the household with the family. All of the children in this household lived to be grown, except for Kattie, who died around 1915 of whooping cough. This census was recorded on May 9, 1910 and Aunt Della Moore Richardson was listed as age 5 months. That would give her a birth year of 1909 instead of 1910. Since birth certificates were not generated in Virginia at this time, it was common to get birth years and dates mixed up.

1910 Census ~ Zion Township of Greensville County, Virginia

I informed Aunt Della of her correct age this past Sunday. Read more about the conversation as well as a discussion about getting one’s age corrected on the Afrigeneas discussion “Getting Aunt’s Birth Year Corrected.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

1900 Census - Moore Family

By 1900, Robert Moore had married Mary Eliza Robinson, the daughter of Joshua and Ersie Jane Providence Robinson. The married on February 2, 1899 in Greensville County. Charley Wilks was a son Washington and Ellen’s daughter, Martha. Emmet Moore, who was listed here as a nephew of Washington on the 1900 census, was the son of Luther Moore. Luther Moore was the son of Henry and Eliza Moore. Therefore, Washington and Henry Moore were probably brothers.

1900 Census ~ Zion Township of Greensville County, Virginia

Monday, July 7, 2008

1880 Census - Moore Family

By 1880, Grandma Ellen had a third child by Washington Moore named George, who was born around 1874. The Moore family had moved the Zion township of Greensville County possibly to the Liberty area where they remained the rest of their lives. Junious Scott was married by this time and Pleasant Lundy was living with his father Charles Lundy in Chesterfield County, Virginia.

1880 Census ~ Zion Township of Greensville County, Virginia

Sunday, July 6, 2008

1870 Census - Moore Family

The 1870 census was the first census which listed individuals who had formally been enslaved. Washington and Ellen Moore, and other former slaves had been free for five years when the 1870 census was taken. They married around 1865 and this was Ellen’s third marriage. Junious Scott is believed to be a child from the first marriage and Pleasant Lundy from the second. (See article on Grandma Ellen's Three Sets of children.) Martha and my ancestor Robert Moore were from the union with Washington Moore.

Robert Moore was the father of my paternal grandmother, Hattie Moore Pair (1902 - 1956)

1870 Census ~ Hicksford Township of Greensville County, Virginia

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Three Sets of Children of Ellen Moore

It is through conversations with my great aunt Della, a sister of my paternal grandmother Hattie Moore Pair, that I have learned clues about the life of my ancestor Ellen Moore. Although Aunt Della remembers fragments about the family of her paternal grandmother Ellen, these clues have aided me in finding documents to piece together the life of Grandma Ellen.

Ellen Moore was born into slavery around November 1841 in Virginia and worked as a Cook during slavery. I do not know what part of Virginia she was born in, but I find her in living in Greensville County, VA beginning on the 1870 census. Her grandchildren did not recall her ever naming a slave owner and I have not yet identified one through my research. Aunt Della, who is now 98 years old, has repeatedly told me that her Grandma Ellen had three sets of children (two sets born during slavery).and the third set born afterwards. Aunt Della’s father Robert Moore (1869-1955) was born in the family of the third set of children.

From her recollections, Aunt Della named Junious Scott as part of the first set and she remembered seeing him. She remembered hearing about Pleasant Lundy, but she was not sure which set of children he belonged. Other children of the second set, she recalled, were named David and Mary. She did not remember much about David, but she remembered that her Aunt Mary married a Spratley and lived in Petersburg, VA. During Aunt Della’s childhood, her grandmother sometimes lived with her daughter Mary Spratley in Petersburg and with her son Robert Moore (Aunt Della’s father) in Greensville County, VA.

The 1870 census is the first document that I have found on Grandma Ellen Moore. This record lists her husband Washington, and some of the children whom I learned about through oral history. Although the 1870 census does not list family relationships, either future censuses or other documents, give information on the relationships of these children to Grandma Ellen.

1870 U. S. Census, population schedule, Household of Washington Moore,
Greensville County, VA, Hicksford Township, roll #1649,
Sheet 7, Page 352, Dwelling 53, Family 54, Lines 12-17.

Three Sets of Children of Ellen Moore (Continued)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Will of David Thweatt of Greensville County, VA

Slaves were often listed in wills and deeds of slave owners. In some cases, a slave owner freed his slaves through a will or deed. Such was the case with David Thweatt of Greensville County, VA.

In his will, he freed his slaves under certain conditions and gave some indications of kinship.

“I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Rebecca Thweatt for and during her natural life the use of my negro woman SALL, together with her two daughters HANNA and SUKEY.” “After the decrease of my wife, my said negroes above named together with their increase if any, become liberated and free.”

I also give and bequeath unto my said wife the use of my negro boys, BOB, DICK and JIMMY until they shall severally arrive to the age of twenty five years in case my said wife shall survive until that period then it is my will and desire that she continue to enjoy the use of my said negroes BOB, DICK, and JIMMY during her natural life, and after her decrease in the latter case on their arrival to the ages of twenty five years in the former case.”

The will of David Thweatt was proved in the court on May 20, 1789. His wife, Rebecca, was qualified as Executrix at May Court 1790.

Source: Greensville County, VA Will Book 1, Page 133, July 8, 1788