Friday, August 21, 2009

Checking in

I've been a little quiet on the blog scene lately but I wanted to check in, just in case anyone is still following me. I'll be honest - I've been a little discouraged that I didn't get many responses to my last several posts - especially the Mysterious Monday ones, so I've kind of just been doing my thing without blogging about it.

I have been following a few new leads on my Green mysteries, and I'm excited that I've finally heard back from the archivist at the Cornell University Library, who seems to have a bit of information on my great-uncle, William L. Greene, who obtained a Masters Degree from there in 1929. I'm hoping to see his records so that I can see how he was spelling his name at that point, since it is he who changed the spelling of the surname Green, to Greene, and thus all of his descendants carry that spelling, which distinguishes his line from all the rest of Anna Green's descendants. Unfortunately, I've been going back and forth with the archivist for several days because they need "proof of death" before they will release his records to me. (He was born in 1901......, but they have him listed as a living alumnae...hmmm). I have sent her the copy of his death certificate 3 times, but she keeps telling me that her email won't receive the document. Now, it's the weekend, so I guess I'm put off til Monday, but I might have to make a trip to a fax machine to get this ball rolling!

Also, on the Hawkins front - I've been having a dialogue with a fellow researcher, which started on the Hawkins board at Ancestry, and has now moved to us exchanging private emails. This was all spurned by my finding of Nathaniel Hawkins' great-grandfather's will, in which he mentions his grandson, Philemon, who was my gg grandfather, Nathaniel's father. I was surprised and excited to learn of the possibility that this Philemon may possibly have been Mulatto himself (although if he was, I don't think it was a well-known fact, and he must not have looked it). However, this other researcher disagrees with my interpretation of the language, and does not think he was. So, we've kind of been debating this, and although I have never read anything that would have indicated this as a possibility, and I know that my new friend is probably right, I can't discount it without proof to the contrary after reading the wording of Philemon Hawkins' will. On the same day that I discovered the will, I also ran across this letter from Philemon (the possible mulatto) to his father John. Knowing that he attended UNC makes it even less likely that he was Mulatto, I guess, but still... I need PROOF! One other thought that has occurred to me is that this John could have very well had two sons named Philemon, one being the child of his wife (and the one we all know about - Nathaniel's father), and the other being the child of the slave, Amy.

As I'm typing this, I'm having another ah-ha moment, as I realize another possibility. (Thinking out loud... well, actually on There has been a Nathaniel Hawkins that I've have run across many times in my research. He was in Warren County, and he was born in 1830, just like my Nathaniel Hawkins. I have held on to his information, and even shoeboxed him in Ancestry. He was married to a Green, but her name was, Patience. The reason I've not followed up on him more, is because he was listed as BLACK. So... now I have to wonder, if my Nathaniel Hawkins' father (Philemon) was half-Black, could this be my gggf???

Anyone who is interested can read the wording in question in the book, In Full Force and Virtue: , if you own the book, or you can read it here. It is the last paragraph on page 281. To me, it is clear here that Philemon is stating that his grandson (and namesake) is the son of his son, John and a negro woman named, Amy. The bold print is as it already was in the the reader, so I'm assuming that was done by the author. Also, to me it doesn't sound like he's in denial about this at all, but he is writing young Philemon out of his will and his "legacy" more because of his attempt to deceitfully and underhandedly get some of his grandfather's property.
I'm thinking:
1. Why would the grandson have to underhandedly try to write his way into his grandfather's will if he weren't mulatto, or a child outside of his father's marriage? It's obvious that Philemon was generously bestowing gifts upon his children and grandchildren in the will, and this last paragraph is obviously an addition that was made after the writing of the original will. To me, that means that Phil (the grandson) probably found out that he wasn't in it and did something to try to deceitfully change that.
2. How would Matthew, the slave boy, know so much? Well, again I can argue that there was much talk amongst the slaves (in and out of the quarters). The other researcher thinks that Matthew may have been Phil's child, and if he was, maybe his nephew tried to convince him to go in on the deceitful act, since he wasn't addressed in the will either. But nevertheless, folks talk, and I believe that Philemon was probably bragging or telling of what he'd done amongst his people, and that's how Matthew found out.
3. Philemon states that his grandson would not have "both this legacy and the property described in the said deed". Legacy to me means the family name and rights, which is different from property or wealth, and here Philemon distinguishes between the two. How often do we hear of people taking away the "legacy" from their own (White) children or grandchildren?

Your comments are welcome.