Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I’m A Parrott – Not the Bird

Yep, I’m a Parrott. Death certificates and oral history identified Parrott as the maiden name of my great-great-grandmother, Jane Ealy (born c. 1829), of Leake County, Mississippi. I quickly ascertained that she had likely been enslaved by William Parrott, who was a neighbor to William W. Eley, the last enslaver of her husband, Robert “Big Bob” Ealy, my great-great-grandfather. William Parrott was the only white Parrott slave-owner in the county.

Outside of identifying the names of potential slave-owners, many researchers feel that the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules are fundamentally useless. Why? When slave schedules were added to the U.S. federal census in 1850 and 1860, census enumerators were not required to list each slave by name.  The name of the slave-owner was reported with only a scanty description of each slave – age, sex, and color. Enslaved African Americans age 100 and over were supposed to be named in the 1860 slave schedules, but only some of them had their names recorded. Despite this inhumane act of not reporting our enslaved ancestors’ names, the slave schedules have provided a plethora of clues throughout my research. William Parrott’s 1850 slave report is one example.


1850 Slave Schedule, William Parrott, Leake County, Mississippi

When I saw how his slaves were reported, the first question that popped into my mind was, “Is this one family?” The second question was, “Is the first enslaved female (age 38) my great-great-great-grandmother – the mother of Jane and the others?” Well, I can identify 5 of the 13. They were the following:

Name – Estimated Birth Year Based on Census – Reported Birthplace in Censuses
(1) Jane Parrott Ealy – c. 1829 – Virginia
(2) John Armstead Parrott – c. 1832 – Virginia
(3) James “Jim” Parrott – c. 1835 – Virginia. Some of his descendants migrated to Holmes and Humphreys County, Mississippi. (UPDATE: I am a DNA match to his great-great-granddaughter.)
(4) George W. Parrott – c. 1841 – Mississippi. Reported birth state of parents is Virginia. Some of his descendants migrated to the Sharon and Camden area of neighboring Madison County, Mississippi.
(5) John Ealy – c. 1846 – Mississippi. Uncle John Ealy was Grandma Jane's first-born son, who was one of the two 3-year-old males above.

When conducting genealogy research, it’s imperative to collect key facts for further research. Here are some of the key facts:

(1) William Parrott arrived in Leake County, Mississippi from Lunenburg County, Virginia shortly before 1840 with slaves. He died shortly after 1860 at around 72 years old without leaving a will. Unfortunately, no estate records have been found. An interesting note about him from his granddaughter, Sally Parrott, who stated, "He was a Methodist preacher who rode horseback. In those days they called them circuit rider preachers." (Quote provided by Nicole Parrott Norris)
(2) William Parrott was reported in the 1840 Leake County, Mississippi census with 12 slaves.
(3) William Parrott was reported in the 1830 Lunenburg County, Virginia census with 8 slaves.
(4) From 23andMe, the DNA of my Dad, three Ealy cousins, and I (all descendants of Jane Parrott Ealy) match Charles Bonner (who is white) on the same spot on chromosome 19. Our chromosome 19 is mostly European. We all share 12 to 13 cM (0.17%) with Charles, with a predicted relationship of 5th cousin. We also match in Gedmatch.



(5) One of Charles' maternal 4th-great-grandfathers was John W. Parrott, who was born in Rockingham County, North Carolina in 1821. He migrated to Gordon County, Georgia by 1850. John’s father has not been identified by his descendants; this is their brick wall.
(6) Parrott researchers identified Rockingham County, North Carolina as the birthplace of William Parrott. He was born c. 1788. He moved to Lunenburg County, VA by 1819 because there’s a marriage record for him marrying Elizabeth Johnson, Dec. 15, 1819, Lunenburg County. William’s birthplace was reported in the censuses as North Carolina, and his children were born in Virginia.
(7) Repeated names within the families of Grandma Jane, John Armstead, James, and George W. Parrott include: Sylvester, Coleman, Benjamin, Jessie, Martha, George, and William. Naming patterns often suggest kinship.

Developing educated theories are a part of conducting genealogy research. Educated theories are often the basis of further research to hopefully find documentation to prove or disprove sound assumptions. DNA technology can also play a big role. With these key facts, I have theorized the following:

(1) The slaves of William Parrott appeared to have been one family, with the 38-year-old female in 1850 as possibly being the mother. Perhaps the father may have been William Parrott's one male slave in the "24 to under 36" age category in the 1840 census, and he may have died shortly before 1850? Perhaps, he was "mulatto"? See No. 3.
(2) Grandma Jane, John A., and James Parrott were likely born in Lunenburg County, Virginia.
(3) Grandma Jane herself was not reported as "mulatto" in the censuses and was never known to be of mixed parentage, although one of her sons (Paul Ealy) was said to have green eyes. However, based on the amount of DNA the five of us share with Charles, one of her parents may have been fathered by a white Parrott from Rockingham County, N.C. The father may have been William Parrott or maybe one of his brothers, Benjamin, Joseph, Abner Jr., or Riland Parrott. It's quite possible that Grandma Jane's "massa" might have been her white grandfather.
(4) The DNA match with a white Parrott descendant seems to suggest that Grandma Jane’s family may have been enslaved by the Parrotts for several generations. William's father, Abner Parrott (born c. 1750) died in 1797 in N.C. having owned over 20 slaves. The 1790 census of Rockingham County reported him as owning 21 slaves.

Hopefully, a current or future Parrott researcher will read this post and provide further information to prove (or disprove) any of these theories. Additionally, perhaps the information expounded in this post can assist a current or future Parrott researcher.

 Grandma Jane’s 2nd youngest daughter, Martha “Sissie” Ealy Kennedy (1865-1895), my great-grandmother

16 comments:

  1. Excellent post Melvin. I like how you outlined your theories. I am sure this will help a future Parrott researcher.

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  2. I'm making NoTes! Writing our educated theories out in Blogging really helps you see the bigger picture. Hope a Little Birdy flies in with some Parrott news! Great Work Mel!

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    1. Thanks, True! Since I enjoy writing, I type out all of my thoughts. I have many electronic files of "research journals". It definitely helps to see the bigger picture and what may be missing or what you can look for.

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  3. Fantastic post, I love how you outline the steps for researching the slave schedules! Great work!

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  4. Awesome analysis as always Cuz!

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    1. Thanks, Cuz! We gotta identify the name of the 38-year-old female in 1850, who was likely Grandma Jane Ealy's mother. Another generation in our family tree.

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  5. Fantastic post. A wonderful example of blending DNA with traditional genealogical resources as well as a heavy dose of critical thinking.

    Have white Parrott researchers considered that their line might have come from the Eastern Shore of Maryland?

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    1. Thanks, Julie! I am not sure if they've tied the Parrotts to those in MD.

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  6. Hi Melvin, The Parrott name caught my eye as my great aunt, Precious Moore Johnson married her second husband, James David Parrott in 1926 in Braddock, PA near Pittsburgh. Uncle Dave's father was Joseph Parrott. Uncle Dave and my great grandfather had been friends in Charlotesvile and Culpepper, Virginia. In Virginia, Uncle Dave had previously been married and had a stepdaughter, Edna and a son Robert. I'm not sure if any of this information is helpful to you. but it can't hurt :)

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  7. My Great Grandfather's name is George W Parrott of Lena, MS and My Grandfather's name is TB Parrott of Lena MS. I may be a missing Link. Pattie Darby Smith daughter of Emma Parrott of Lena MS.

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    1. Hi Pattie! Your George W. Parrott (born 1863) was the son of John Armstead Parrott. Do you have a picture of George W.?

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  8. My Name is Ruby Todman Grand-Daughter of Adocia(Theodocia) Lenora Parrot - Todman Daughter of Catherine Evangline Hetherington who was married to a Mr. Benjamin Parrot born 24. August. 1865 in the British Virgin Islands. I have been searching for years looking for the Parrot Family

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  9. My Name is Ruby Todman Grand-Daughter of Adocia(Theodocia) Lenora Parrot - Todman Daughter of Catherine Evangline Hetherington who was married to a Mr. Benjamin Parrot born 24. August. 1865 in the British Virgin Islands. I have been searching for years looking for the Parrot Family

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  10. Anyone know of a Lucius Oxford? Telafare?

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