Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Part 2: When the Ancestors Just Leap Off the Page!

Note: Part 1 of this research story can be read here.

Just when I think that tracing an African-American family couldn’t get any easier for some people just from sitting at the computer conducting online research, more information surfaces!  If only it had been this easy to break down that "1870 Brick Wall" when tracing some of my own enslaved ancestors! Nevertheless, the same excitement as if these were my blood people is still experienced. More has been found concerning Anthony’s roots in Upson County, Georgia, specifically his enslaved Kendall ancestors!

While researching the Kendalls of Upson County, I knew I had heard of this particular county before, but I just could not remember how.  Then, my mental light bulb came on!  Upson County was one of the focus counties of historian and genealogist David Patterson, who also moderates the Slave Research Forum board on AfriGeneas. He had gathered much data on enslaved African Americans in Upson County.  David wrote, “My project to examine Upson County society through slavery and Reconstruction began in 1994 as a simplistic response to the anonymity of the 1850 and 1860 Census Schedules 2 (Slave Inhabitants); I wanted to demonstrate the extent to which someone could construct a surrogate for the censuses, naming every slave who had ever lived in Upson County” (source).  Therefore, I was eager to send David the link to my blog post about the Kendall Family to see if he was familiar with Dr. David Lane Kendall Sr., who owned 61 slaves in Upson County shortly before he died on July 28, 1860.

Now, this is where it gets even “gooder”. How many people are fortunate to have information about their enslaved ancestors handed to them on a “silver platter,” so to speak? Not many! David excitedly responded to my e-mail with the following, “A few years ago I spent a day at Emory combing through all the relevant Kendall family papers. I can send you my findings after I get home….”  My excitement level elevated a few more notches after reading his e-mail!  Well, after waiting about 7 hours, David’s response appeared in my inbox. He provided the following concerning Anthony’s enslaved Kendall ancestors:

Betty Kendall Prater (Anthony’s 3rd-great-grandmother, born around 1846):

(1)   Betty inventoried and appraised at $900 on November 30, 1860. (Source: Upson County Record of Accounts Book E, p. 201) 
(2)   Betty distributed to Thomas R. Kendall, January 7, 1862 (Source: Upson County Record of Accounts Book E, p. 329)
(3)   My note: Betty was legally "owned" by Dr. Kendall's 17-year-old son Thomas when she gave birth to Wesley Kendall in/around 1863 (Anthony’s great-great-grandfather).

Harrison Kendall (Anthony’s 4th-great-grandfather; father of Betty; born around 1825):

(1)   Note: "Harrison, bought 1838" (Source: Chestnut Grove Farm Journal, 1834-1843; Loula Kendall Rogers Collection, Emory University; p. 5)  
(2)   Harrison in list of "Field Hands... Boys", 1840 (p. 32)
(3)   Harrison on Chestnut Grove "home place" for 1841 (p. 37)
(4)   Harrison listed in "Numbers and Names of Negroes, 1842" (p. 48)

Dorcas (Darcus / Darkess) Kendall (Anthony’s 4th-great-grandmother; mother of Betty; born 1830):

(1)   Note: "Dorcas, daughter of Cheener [born] 19 Decr. 1830"  (Source: Chestnut Grove Farm Journal, 1834-1843, p. 6)
(2)   Note: "Attached to Chestnut Grove Farm, 1834" (p. 5)
(3)   2 dresses made [for her] in May, 1836 (unnumbered page)
(4)   Listed as child of Cheener in 1842 (p. 48)
(5)   Probate of Dr. David Kendall's estate: Darkis & 3 children [not named here, but see next entry], inventoried and appraised at $2,000 on November 30, 1860  (Source: Upson County Record of Accounts Book E, p. 201)
(6)   "Dorcas & children, Nora, Tilday & Emeline" distributed to Mrs. Louisa Kendall (widow) on January 7, 1862 (Source: Upson County Record of Accounts Book E, p. 329)

Cheener / Cheena / Chena (Anthony’s 5th-great-grandmother; mother of Dorcas; possibly born around 1800):

(1)   Cheener first mentioned: “Attached to Chestnut Grove Farm 1834” (Source: Chestnut Grove Farm Journal, 1834-1843; Loula Kendall Rogers Collection, Emory University; p. 5)
(2)   Note: “Wiley, son of Cheener, born 19 Jan. 1833”  (Source: Chestnut Grove Farm Journal, 1834-1843; Loula Kendall Rogers Collection, Emory University; p. 6)
(3)   Two aprons made for Cheena in 1836 (unnumbered page dating to 1836, list of clothes made) [would have been made by or under the supervision of Kendall’s wife, Louisa (Steele) Kendall]
(4)   Cheener listed among “Numbers and Names of Negroes 1842” (p. 48)
(5)   Dr. David Kendall’s daughter Loula Kendall Rogers wrote a list: “Old characters known in my childhood . . . Aunt Chena.  Cooked for the field hands.” (source: unnumbered, undated page from Loula W. Kendall Journal 1855-59, written in pencil in her adult or old age hand)
(6)   David noted the following: “Safe to assume Cheener died prior to Nov. 30, 1860 because she is not listed in Dr. Kendall’s estate.”

I still remain in awe about all of these findings – gathered just from sitting and researching at my computer! A special thanks to David Patterson for the additional information!

Provided by David Paterson.  Inscribed on the back: "Bellwood, Upson Co. Ga. The old Kendall Home.  A true type of the old Southern Plantation house.  The fence was only put up until a new one was built, and the carriage drive improved, like the pastel picture." [Added underneath in the shakier handwriting of old age:] - "This picture was taken when I was a child. Loula Kendall. 1850."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

When the Ancestors Just Leap Off the Page!

I received another 2013 Black History Month treat! But this time, the treat did not pertain to my ancestors.  Recently, a colleague mentioned to me how he and his family hardly know anything about his paternal grandfather’s father’s family. Anthony’s grandfather, David Penamon, was born in 1923, and the only piece of information they had was the name of David’s father, Charlie Kendall, and a location, Upson County, Georgia His paternal grandmother, Mabel Penamon, and Charlie Kendall never married, hence the lack of familial connection and knowledge of their Kendall roots.  So I took some time to see what I could find just sitting at my computer and accessing ancestry.com and other online databases.

Well, low and behold, Anthony’s ancestors started leaping off the page!  I was able to even break down the 1870 brick wall – at my computer!  It was amazing. Follow along to see what I was able to find out. I also hope that beginning researchers will learn from this post, and others will be inspired to see what they can uncover about their family history.

The genealogy rule of thumb in census research is to start from the known and proceed to the unknown. That is, start with the latest census available and keep proceeding back in time.  The 1940 census is the latest census which became available to the public in April 2012.  From 1940 to 1930, it was clear that David Penamon was being raised by his maternal grandparents, David Sr. & Mellie Penamon.  In 1920 in Upson County, just 3 years before David was born, the Kendall family was just several doors down from the Penamon family. Charlie Kendall was in the household! Based on experience, I ascertained beforehand that the Kendall surname may be spelled several different ways. I was right. In 1920, the surname was spelled KINDAL.

1920 Upson County, Georgia (Jug District): Charlie Kendall was found in the household of his father, Wesley Kindal, whose wife was Edna, and the children in the house were Robert (27), Jimmie (20), Charlie (18), and son, Willie (17).

I checked www.familysearch.org, a site containing an increasingly large amount of genealogical data provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and low and behold, the following information from Charlie Kendall’s death certificate was found:

Name: Charlie Kendall
Name of father: Wesley Kendall
Name of mother: Edna Davis
Death date: 28 July 1928
Death place: Yatesville, Upson County, Georgia
Age: 26
Birthdate: 1902
Certificate No: 19653

Charlie Kendall died when his son, David Penamon, was just 5 years old, hence the reason why David’s family knew little about him and his roots. 

Continuing back in time:

1910 Upson County, Georgia (Jug District):  Again, Charlie Kendall was in the household of his parents, Wesley & Edna Kendall, and their children in the house were: John (20), Robert (18), Ella (15), Lewis (14), Jimmie (12), Charlie (10), and Willie (9). Comparing the 1910 and 1920 censuses, the ages are off by a year or two, but age discrepancies in census records are common.

1900 Upson County, Georgia (Jug District): Surprisingly, Charlie Kendall was in Wesley & Edna’s household!  His death certificate reported that he was born in 1902, and the 1920 census reported that he was 18 years old. Therefore, this census revealed that Charlie was actually born Jan. 1896.  Also, in this census, the surname was spelled KENDAL. Wesley (38) and Edna (37) had been married for 14 years.

Most of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire that occurred in the Commerce Department building in Washington, D.C. on January 10, 1921.

1880 Upson County, Georgia (Jug District): Wesley Kendall, reported age of 17, was living with his grandfather, Harrison Kendall (58)!  This census leapfrogged us up two generations! But, who were Wesley’s parents, and which parent was the child of Harrison Kendall and possibly his wife, Darcus Kendall?

Luckily, Wesley Kendall’s death certificate information was uploaded to www.familysearch.org.  It contained the following data:

Name: John Wesley Kendall
Spouse’s name: Edna Davis
Name of father: (not reported)
Name of mother: Betty Prayter
Death date: 18 October 1926
Death place: Yatesville, Upson County, Georgia
Age: 62
Birthdate: 05 Sept. 1864
Certificate No: 4179369

Now, I asked the question, where was his mother Betty Prayter in 1880?  Was Harrison Kendall the paternal or maternal grandfather of Wesley Kendall (aka John Wesley Kendall)?  Well, the following marriage information was found on familysearch.org, and it opened up more doors:  Bosan Prater to Betty Kendall, married Oct. 30, 1873, Upson County, Georgia.  Betty Kendall Prater was then found in 1880 living with her husband and their children. Apparently, her son, Wesley Kendall, chose to live his maternal grandparents, Harrison & Darcus Kendall, rather than reside with his mother and stepfather.

1880 Upson County, Georgia (Jug District):  Boss (Bosan) Prater (30), wife, Bettie (32), and children, Delia (7), Clara (5), Amos (2), and Paul (5 months).

1870 Upson County, Georgia (Thomaston District): Wesley Kendall was reported in his grandparents Harrison & Darcus “Darkess” Kendall’s household. However, a woman named Bettie Kendall with a 5-year-old John were living nearby. Perhaps, young Wesley (aka John Wesley) was reported twice in the 1870 census?

Also, a woman named Rhoda Chapman, age 60, was living with Harrison & Darcus? Was Rhoda the mother of one of them?  Perhaps, Rhoda would be another generation up Anthony’s family tree, possibly being his great-great-great-great-great-grandmother! 5 greats!

In the 1870 Upson County, GA census, I noticed other African-American Kendall families in the district. Could it be that there was a white Kendall slave-holding family in Upson County before 1865? The answer to that question was YES!  The 1860 Upson County slave schedule revealed one Kendall slave-owner in the county – David Kendall Sr., 61 slaves, 14 slave houses. See the following (the first page of Kendall's listing; only the age, sex, and color of enslaved African Americans were reported in the slave schedules.):

I then decided to google the following: Kendall “Upson County” Georgia.  The search results led me to two great findings:

(1)   A picture and biographical data on Dr. David Lane Kendall Sr. that was uploaded to FindAGrave. He was a physician in the county who built and resided at Bellwood Plantation.  He died in July 1860 in Upson County. The site contained the following picture:

Dr. David Lane Kendall Sr.
1790 – 1860
Posted by Alton Christie

(2)   Dr. David Lane Kendall's daughter, Loula Kendall Rogers, donated the family papers to Emory University here in Atlanta! According to the online finding aid, many of the documents date back during slavery, before 1865. Even some of the photographs date back to slavery, so who knows what may be in there!  
To go from knowing very little to knowing the names of ancestors going back to great-great-great-great-grandparents, a possible fifth-great-grandmother, the name of the slave-owner, and the name of the plantation in which the ancestors were likely enslaved would be a dream come true for many!  It was indeed a treat for me to take some time to uncover this information for Anthony – all at my computer!  When he and his family decide to pursue the Kendall research further, there’s just no telling what else will be uncovered.

Note: Technology and the digitization of pertinent records have greatly aided genealogical quests, but personal research excursions to state, local, and federal archives, courthouses, family history centers, libraries, ancestral cemeteries, and other places are still highly recommended to find more necessary documentation.

THERE'S MORE! Click here to read Part 2 of this research story!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Family Picture: A Black History Month Treat

The Cannon Beckley Family, Pontotoc County (College Hill), Mississippi, taken in 1900
Shared by Diane Beckley

On February 7, 2013, my cousin, Diane Beckley of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, posted this wonderful picture on Facebook. This picture was of her great-grandfather, Cannon Beckley of Pontotoc County, Mississippi, with his young wife, children, and grandchildren. Immediately, Cousin Francis Bailey, another great-granddaughter, dated the photograph when she stated, "That's the photo where my grandmother, Lillian Beckley Wheeler, was still in vitro -- her mother was expecting her, and Aunt Eugenia, the absolute last of the clan, hadn't even been thought about." Lillian was born on July 6, 1900, and Eugenia was born in 1902.

Cannon Beckley was born into slavery near Abbeville, South Carolina in 1840 on Rev. William H. Barr’s farm. Barr’s son, William Barr Jr., later took Cannon, as well as his parents, siblings, grandmother, and others, to Pontotoc County in 1859. There in Mississippi, Cannon married twice, to Lucy Black and later to Eliza Weatherall, who collectively gave him a total of 20 children, born from 1865 to 1902. Taken in the year 1900, this picture is him with most of the 20 children, as well as several grandchildren. Cannon died in the College Hill community of Pontotoc County three years later in 1903.

Before 1999, I knew absolutely nothing about Cannon and the Beckleys. I did not have the slightest clue that these people were my relatives.  However, I had knowledge that my mother’s paternal grandfather, William “Bill” Reed of Senatobia, Mississippi, was born into slavery in 1846 in Abbeville County, South Carolina. I also knew that he was separated from a number of family members during slavery, including his father, Pleasant, a name he gave to his youngest son, my great-uncle Pleasant "Pleas" Reed.  The oral history that Grandpa Bill Reed passed down was that he was born a Barr, as he was born on a farm owned by a Barr Family in South Carolina, but he was later sold to a Reed, hence the reason why his last name became Reed.  These important tidbits of history about Grandpa Bill was known throughout the family, especially by family elders who had the fortune of knowing Grandpa Bill personally before he died in 1937 at the old age of 91. He would love to tell stories about his early life in South Carolina underneath his sycamore tree.

However, 1999 was the pivotal year. That was when I figured out that William Barr Jr. and his mother Rebecca Reid Barr of Abbeville, South Carolina had first "owned" Grandpa Bill during slavery, before selling him to her nephew, Lemuel Reid, in 1859.  I obtained a copy of the will and estate records of Rebecca’s late husband, Rev. William H. Barr, from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History in Columbia. The estate record contained a slave inventory, dated March 14, 1843, three years before Grandpa Bill was born (see below). However, not only did the inventory contained my great-great-grandfather, Pleasant Barr, but my late cousin Isaac Deberry Sr. (1914-2009), a grandson of Bill, immediately recognized the name Cannon on the inventory. He exclaimed, "Cannon was his brother! Grandpa talked about him all the time! They were close when Grandpa was on the Barr place" (paraphrasing).

The Slave Inventory from Rev. William H. Barr’s estate, March 14, 1843, Abbeville County, S.C.
Abbeville County Probate Court Records. The Probate Records of William H. Barr, 1843. Box 14, Package 291, Frames 322-330, Roll #AB.6.

Turns out, Cannon was actually his first cousin, not brother, whom he was forever separated from in 1859 and never saw again. Grandpa Bill Reed never knew that Cannon and other family members, including their grandmother Fanny Barr, were living just 75 miles east of him near Pontotoc, Mississippi when he, his younger sister Mary, and others were enticed to migrate to near Senatobia, Mississippi around January 1866, shortly after becoming free. As oral history stated, an unknown man told them that “Mississippi was the land of milk and honey with fat pigs running around with apples in their mouths!”

So I continue to look at this picture with fascination. I am still in awe. Grandpa Bill’s long-lost, brother-like first cousin Cannon, whom he never forgot, planted the roots of a large family in Pontotoc County, as well as Cannon’s brothers, Edmond, Jacob Jr., Clay, and Lewis Beckley, who was named after their maternal grandfather, Lewis Barr. These five Beckley brothers became known as “The Beckley Five,” who were the sons of Grandpa Bill’s father’s sister, Sue Barr Beckley. Aunt Sue had a total of 12 children. I never thought in a million years that I’d be able to see a grand picture like this of Cannon and his big family. 

This discovery story of family separation, triumph, and reunion is told in 150 Years Later: Broken Ties Mended.