Sunday, December 7, 2014

Am I Seeing Double?



John Bass of Northampton County, North Carolina wrote out his will on June 14, 1777. He left 19 slaves to his children and grandchildren (Northampton Co. Will Book 1, p. 292). Let’s take a look at the names of those 19 enslaved people.

  To son Jacob Bass à one negro girl, BECK
  To son Isaac Bass à two negro women, Rose and Moll
  To grandson John Bass à one negro girl, Fanny
  To son Abraham Bass à one negro girl, Phillis
  To grandson Job Bass à one negro girl, Queen
  To grandson Council Bass à negro fellow SHARPER and negro boy Scotland
  To grandson Uriah Bass à one negro woman Hannah and negro boy Ben
  To daughter Alice Earp à one negro woman Peg and one negro boy Pompey
  To daughter Euridice Council à one negro woman, Dinah
  To grandson Jesse Bittle à one negro girl, Jane
  To granddaughter Winnifred Bittle à one negro boy, Davy
  To grandson John Bittle à one negro girl, Patt
  To granddaughter Margaret Bittle à one negro girl, Rachel
  To grandson Drury Bittle à one negro boy, Isham
  To daughter Elizabeth Bittle à one negro woman, Judith

Let’s jump back 9 years to 1768. There’s a Northampton Co., N.C. deed, dated Dec. 1, 1768, in which John Bass gives to his "well-esteemed friend," Margaret Murfree, widow, one negro boy Cesar and a negro girl Nan after his death (Northampton Co. Deed Book 4, p. 851).

An ongoing project has been tracking down these 21 enslaved people through wills, estate and probate records, deeds, and other records. You will see why I have taken an interest in the destiny of these 21 enslaved people. However, in this blog post, I will only show the path of BECK, who was willed to son Jacob Bass, and SHARPER, who was willed to Council Bass. You will really be cross-eyed if I presented others. lol


I learned that Jacob Bass died in 1794 in Franklin County, North Carolina. Fortunately, his estate file was found on (North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, Franklin County, Account Sales of the Negroes of Jacob Bass). BECK was still living, now an adult woman in 1794, and was listed in the inventory. She was the only adult slave and the rest were “boys” and “girls”; some of them or all of them may have been Beck’s children. Do you see any repetitive names?

  One boy, Synaker
  One negro boy, Cesar
  One wench, BECK and child
  One girl, Patt
  One girl, Rose
  One boy, Adam
  One girl, Lucy  
  One girl, Cherry


Now, let’s jump ahead by 36 years. John Bass’ grandson, Council Bass, died in 1830 in Northampton County, North Carolina. SHARPER, the “negro fellow” Council had inherited from his grandfather in 1777, was among the 20 slaves he named in his will (North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, Northampton County). My great-great-great-grandmother, Beady Bass, was also among the 20 enslaved people. Council made the following bequeaths on Sept. 4, 1830:

To daughter Martha Bass Mayo à Mima, Archie, Nancy, Alfred, Isaac, Goodson
To daughter Elizabeth Bass à Harry, Beady, Hezekiah, Jackson, Willie and three old Negroes, SHARPER, Rose, and Peggy
To granddaughter Susan Ann Crisp Staton à Zina, Mary Jane, Andrew
To granddaughter Eliza Coggins Hatcher à Senica
To daughter Charlotte Bass Holloman à negroe girls, Barsilla and Brittania

Look again at the 1777 and 1794 groups. Are you seeing double with some of the names?

Martha Mayo’s group were Mima (Jemima) and her children. Martha Mayo and her husband Frederick Mayo moved to Madison County, Tennessee after 1830. Madison County probate records revealed that Jemima had additional children after 1830 named Rose, Silvesta, Harry, Beady, Mary, and Willis. Jemima was reported as 61 years old in 1858, so she was born around 1797. Therefore, she was about 33 years old in 1830.

Look again at the 1830 group. Are you seeing double again?

Elizabeth Bass’ group, which included Grandma Beady and her children, were taken to Hinds County, Mississippi in 1849. Elizabeth and her husband/cousin Jesse Bass, Jr. had relocated to Mississippi. The following are verified names of six of Grandma Beady’s children: Eliza, Jemima, Hetty, Peggy, Jackson (my great-great-grandfather Jack Bass, born c. 1845), and Oscar.

Look again at the 1830 group. Are you still seeing double?

In the 1830 group, naming patterns, DNA, and census findings suggest that Mima, Harry, Beady, Seneca, and Jackson were siblings. According to Gedmatch, my father shares 18 cM of DNA with my cousin Janice, a great-great-great-granddaughter of Jemima (Mima) via her son, Archie. Archie Mayo’s granddaughter, Rosa Mayo Burton (1891-1956), was Janice’s paternal grandmother. I underlined her grandmother’s name for the obvious reason. lol

The 1830 census was taken shortly before Council Bass wrote his will. He was enumerated with 20 slaves, the same number of slaves he named in his will. Therefore, I decided to use the 1830 census to see what age range were the “three old Negroes, SHARPER, Rose, and Peggy.” The three oldest were in the following age range:

     One Male – 55 to 99: SHARPER
     One Female – 55 to 99: Peggy or Rose
     One Female – 36 to 54: Peggy or Rose

Now, let’s do a little math. In 1777, SHARPER was considered a “negro fellow,” which means that he was likely a young adult male, probably in his 20s. So let’s guesstimate that Sharper was around 21 years old in 1777. Fifty-three (53) years later, Sharper is named in Council Bass’ will and estate records. 21 + 53 = 74. Therefore, Sharper may have been around 74, give or take a few years, in 1830.

Grandma Beady Bass named one of her daughters Peggy. Her sister, Aunt Jemima “Mima” Mayo, named on her daughters Rose. In 1830, two of the “three old Negroes” were two women, Rose and Peggy. One was between 55 and 99, and the other was between 36 and 54. Was one of them their mother? Was the other their grandmother? Hmmmm…..

To add to the mystery, there’s a “Negro woman” named Rose and a “Negro woman” named Peg in the 1777 group. Grandma Beady Bass’ bloodline seems to definitely flow back to that 1777 group that John Bass “owned.” Interestingly, John Bass was born around 1700 in Norfolk County, Virginia. He, his parents, and siblings had moved to the Urahaw Swamp area of Bertie County (now part of Northampton County), North Carolina by 1722. Historian Paul Heinegg noted that John Bass was a slave-owner by Aug. 1742, when he proved rights on five “Whites” and three “Blacks” in Northampton County, North Carolina (Source). Was one of them the start of Grandma Beady’s bloodline in America? Hmmmm….

A lot more research to do…… (Suggestions, thoughts, and ideas are always welcomed.)


  1. I read through once and now will have to read through several more times and make notes. You have some good material to work with.


  3. I descend from this line. I'm not sure if you have researched the "white" line, but they descend from the Nansemond tribe and some of the family married free blacks. They are on the VA/NC border and several of those in VA had to marry in NC as they were considered Indian, but they still had black slaves. I have been noting the names of the slaves in wills too. They had more slaves than children....


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