b. March 1839 in TN or NC (most likely NC); d. btw 1910-1919
My great-grandfather, Calvin, was born a slave in 1839. It appears that he belonged to the NEAL family, a slave of Chloe Neal, whose husband, John, died shortly before Calvin was born. The Neals owned a large family plantation in Franklin County, NC, from which they expanded westward to lands in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. Slaves, as well as many of the family members moved between these properties throughout their lives. Thus, it is quite possible that Calvin could have been born in TN, as indicated on his 1880 Census record, although all other records indicate that he was born in NC.
Here follows a timeline of Calvin’s life and relevant connections, as revealed during 12 years of research:
1838 – John NEAL dies in Tennessee. His slaves become the property of his wife, Chloe. Presumably, Calvin’s mother was one of those slaves.
1838-39 – Chloe Neal returns to Franklin County, NC with her three children, John, Leonidas, and Elizabeth Temperance
1839 – March - Calvin is born in either TN or NC on a NEAL plantation – There is further support here for the confusion about Calvin being born in TN, since John NEAL and his brother, James were settled there during the 1830’s. However, John NEAL died in 1838, and his widow, Chloe Crudop Perry NEAL returned to Franklin County with her children (and presumably her slaves) soon after that. If Calvin’s mother (name unknown) had been pregnant during that transition, it’s easy to see how and why perhaps someone may have told him he was born in TN, only for him to find out later that they were actually in NC at the time of his birth, or she may have even given birth to him on the way!
1851 – Chloe NEAL dies. Her slaves are divided into 3 lots, for her three children. 12 year old Calvin, valued at $620, is in the lot that goes to Elizabeth T NEAL.
1853 – November 28 - Elizabeth T. NEAL marries James H. YARBOROUGH
1855 – Feb. 6 – Birth of Herbert Neal YARBOROUGH, son of James H. and Elizabeth YARBOROUGH
1855 – April 10 – Elizabeth T. Neal YARBOROUGH dies. Her slaves (including Calvin) become the property of her husband, James H. YARBOROUGH
1855 – July 8 – Death of infant, Herbert N. Yarborough
1859 – June 8 - James H. Yarborough marries Arete E. Johnson (I am guessing that Arete may have also been previously married, and that her maiden name was EATON. This is due to a finding of a post-1900 will of her sister, who was never married and whose surname was EATON.)
1860 – August - James H. Yarborough dies. Calvin now becomes the property of his wife, Arete. (He and Arete had only been married for 14 months.)
1860 - December 27 – Calvin (slave) marries Precilla (slave) – The cohabitation record gives Precilla’s “maiden” name as SHAW. However, this researcher has not yet been able to verify that she was a Shaw slave. There are some positive leads, but I believe that Precilla, like Calvin, had multiple owners. They have left what I believe to be hints of these owners’ surnames in the middle names of their oldest children. The researcher believes it possible that Precilla may have also, at some point, been an EATON, WHITE, and/or KING slave. (EATON was the maiden name of James H’s second wife. It’s quite possible that Calvin met Precilla when James and Arete combined their property. KING was the maiden name of Sarah SHAW, the person I believe to have possibly owned Precilla originally. I have not yet found a WHITE connection.)
1862 – Louis (or Lewis) NEAL YARBOROUGH, Calvin and Precilla’s first child, is born. (Notice the middle name, Neal. This researcher believes that Calvin maintained an emotional (and/or perhaps more) attachment to the Neal family, into which he was born, and thus he wanted to give his son that name. Also, this is the first indicator that my great-grandparents wanted me to find and figure out some things about their/our history! I believe that all, or at least most of their 11 children were given middle names that connected Calvin and Precilla to their former owners, or perhaps maybe in some cases to people who had been kind to them. Here are the remaining children and their approximate dates of birth:
1864 - Samuel E. (believed to be Eaton)
1866 – Sarah H. (I’m not sure about the H, but the person I believe to have been Precilla’s main owner, was Sarah H. Shaw. I’ve been in touch with some of her family members, and it seems, according to the records they have, that she was much loved by her slaves. I also am suspecting a Neal slave, named Sarah (whose husband was named, Lewis), as the possible mother of Calvin, but I have nothing to verify that – it’s just a hunch.1867 – Thomas W. (WHITE?)
1872 – Henry KING
1874 – Quinea A.
1876 – Caroline B.
1878 – Josephine I.
1879 – Mattie Louise
1882 – Calvin Roy (my great-grandfather)
1884 – Eugene Carter
1863 – January 1 – Abraham Lincoln, in his EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION declares that all slaves are to be permanently freed in all areas of the Confederacy that had not already returned to federal control.
1865 – July – Final freeing of the majority of slaves under the Emancipation Proclamation. If my findings and resulting speculations are true, Calvin would have had at least four different owners during his life.
I do not know exactly when or how Calvin and Precilla gained their freedom, so I go with the assumption that they were held in bondage by Arete Yarborough (widow of James H.) until 1865. My guess is that she must have treated them well, since Calvin chose to take the Yarborough surname for his family, and since he and Precilla were married under her watch. I continue to press forward to find out as much as I can about this period in Calvin’s life.
1870 – (Census) Calvin (a farmer and former school teacher), and Precilla (keeping house), are living in Louisburg. They have 3 children (Louis, Sam, and Thomas) living. A daughter, Sarah was “burned” and died that year, at age four. Addendum, added 2/5/11 - See post: Calvin Yarborough - TEACHER
1872 – Calvin is named as one of the trustees of the “Colored Presbyterian Church” in Franklin County on a Deed of Indenture between the church and J.C. Wynne (and wife). The church was buying land in Louisburg. (This is Saint Pauls United Presbyterian Church, which my aunt still belongs to.) My grandfather, Calvin, Jr., with the help of his brother, Sam, built his house directly across the street from this church.)
1877 – August - Calvin purchases land (for himself) in Franklin County near the grave yard on the Louisburg and Newport Road for $75.00.
1880 – (Census) Calvin, a farmer, and Precilla now have eight children living (Louis, Samuel, Thomas, Henry, Quinea, Caroline, Josephine, and Mattie). Just a few doors down lives the renowned, John H. Williamson, with whom Calvin is connected via the church, and who was a pioneer in Negro education in the Franklin County area. Calvin's circle of friends and fellow trustees included several educators, such as Williamson, Moses Hopkins, and George C. Shaw.
1888 – September 15 - Calvin is again named as a trustee on a Deed of Indenture between E.N. Dent and the Colored Presbyterian Church, this time for $100.00.
1890 – GRRRRRRRR….akdfnasdfinaksdfasdfand!!!
1896 - Apparently, Calvin was in a Union, or was a Mason or something. I have a handwritten receipt, which was in the Yarborough Family Bible at my grandparents' house, which states, "Recd of Calvin Yarborough 38.63 for a pymt for Mr. Levitt from the colored union (or mission) meeting this the 21st day of December 1896."
1900 – Calvin and Precilla, now 61 and 56, respectively, have been married for 40 years. Several of their adult children live in the home with them. Sam, Quinea, Carrie, Jacqueline, Mattie, Calvin (18), and Eugene (16) are all still single! (What was wrong with my ancestors – were they ugly or something???) Sam is a carpenter, and both Quinea and Josephine are school teachers (which probably explains why they weren’t married).
1910 – 71 year-old Calvin is now widowed. (Precilla died sometime before October of 1903, when Mattie got married.) Sam, also widowed, lives with his father, as do Quinea (Clennie in the census, which was probably for “Quennie”), Caroline, and Josephine (“Joe”), who is also widowed, although her married name (Lane) is not noted in the census. Neither Josephine, nor Quinea are still teaching. Most likely, Joe had to stop when she married, since teachers back then were require to be single. Caroline is a cook for a private family. Sam is still a carpenter, his trade until he died in 1922.
Calvin Yarborough, Sr. died sometime after 1910, but before 1919, when his son (my grandfather), Calvin Roy Yarborough, Jr. married my grandmother, Anna Beatrice Green. To date, I’ve identified close to 300 of his and Precilla’s descendants, spanning five generations. Unfortunately, out of the 20 or so cousins I’ve had contact with, none seemed to know, or have any additional information about Calvin and/or Precilla, nor has anyone shared pictures of them or either of their children with me. (I’m very blessed to have a picture of my own grandfather, Calvin, Jr., which was supplied to me by his daughter.) The search for more information continues. The ancestors want me to know…
This concludes the known (to this researcher) history of Calvin R. Yarborough, Sr., and, coincidentally, all that is known to this researcher about his wife, Precilla Shaw.
1. Who were Calvin's parents? Who were Precilla's?
2. Where did Calvin teach, and when? Why didn't he continue as a teacher?
3. Why is it that Calvin didn't seem to rise to the level of prominence of so many of his cohorts?
4. Was Calvin one of the founding members of the "Colored Presbyterian" Church? If so, why don't they have this in their history? Why doesn't the current church recognize that this Colored Presbyterian Church is them? (I have had conversations with the church historian and the current pastor. They only have the story of the White missionary ladies who came from up north to start the church, but they were not aware of the names or interactions of the early trustees, who secured the land, etc. for the church. This is important to me to try to establish while my 89 year old aunt, an elder in the church, is still living. Also, my late uncle, Calvin Yarborough, III, was a deacon, trustee, and elder and played a prominent role in the day to day funtions of this church prior to his demise in 1997. They both deserve to get their props as still-active descendants of the church's founding members! (In retrospect for my uncle, of course.) 5. What was Calvin doing from 1880 until his death (other than obviously serving the church)? How can I find more records on him? Is there any hope that I might ever find a picture?
6. What union was Calvin a member of?
7. What was Calvin's date of death? Did he die of tuberculosis, like so many of my family members did between 1910 and 1929?
8. Is there any chance that there is a marker for Calvin's grave? I'm sure he has to be buried "on the hill" in the Colored Cemetery. But where?