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."


  1. If only everyone's research path was this easy. Great research.

  2. You were right about the getting even "gooder" part :) Absolutely amazing!

  3. This is wonderful !! Don't we ALL wish our ancestors could be found so easily. Your friend has been blessed, first in having ancestors who wished to be found so badly, second in having a friend who knew how to look them up, and third in having a slave genealogy expert who studies that area available to contribute his notes.

  4. I am still in awe! I wish I was this fortunate! :)

  5. Gave me goosebumps reading this! What a blessing! Please keep me in mind if you ever hear of someone researching in Caswell County, NC. Surname Gwynn/Gwyn/Gwin/Gwinn. Thanks as always for sharing.

  6. Melvin,

    This is absolutely a magnificent example of 'Paying It Forward'.
    A lesson from the Ancestors. Thank you for showing us, teaching us, and reminding us to share!

    Peace & Blessings,
    "Guided by the Ancestors"

  7. This is amazing. I happen to be employed just across the street from the library that houses that information. I've found a bit of information regarding my family there as well, and happy to help if anyone else discovers this Emory connection.


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