Formerly, "Just Thinking", this blog presents the thoughts and experiences of a family historian working to demystify the past and uncover the stories of an elusive ancestry. NC surnames are YARBOROUGH, GREEN, HAWKINS, DUNSTON, DAVIS, BROWN, ROSS, HILL, BRYANT, and DAVENPORT in Franklin, Warren, Halifax, and Tyrrell Counties.
With so much of my family's history shrouded in darkness, is my personal mission to uncover the hidden details of my ancestry and bring them INTO THE LIGHT.
Sunday, January 7, 2018
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 1: "Start"
I am pleased to be participating in Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" initiative. The way it works is that Amy will provide a theme or prompt each week, to get us thinking about how to present something about an ancestor. That's it; it's just that simple. There are no rules about where or how the information is to be shared. It can be a blog post, tweet, Facebook post... whatever. The goal is just to get the information we've discovered about our ancestors into the public domain! To quote Amy, "The point is to get you to take that knowledge that you have and the discoveries that you've made and get them out of the filing cabinet/computer/pile of papers and do something with it."
The theme for week one is "START". When I first read this, so many things came to my mind, but the recurring thought was of my great-grandfather, Calvin Yarborough, who is the reason I started my research, over 20 years ago. After attending a (first) family gathering, in 1993, I learned of Calvin's existence, and realized that I knew nothing, at all, of my ancestors. That started me on a quest to learn of them, which began with just asking lots of questions of my elders (who knew little to nothing of our history). It wasn't until 1997, when I got my first computer and became a member of AOL, that I realized that there was a "thing" called genealogy research. I began to participate in some of the chat groups, there, and learned what I needed to do to start researching my people (in person, of course); and that was all she wrote!
So, for this first installment of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, I present my great-grandfather, Calvin Yarborough, the ancestor with whom my research began. Unfortunately, I have no photo of him, but that just reminds me that the work of genealogical research is never done; there is always something more to hope for, to seek out and pray for. One day, I believe I'll see his (and my great-grandmother's) likeness captured on film.
b. March 1839 in TN or NC (most
likely NC); d. btw 1910-1919
My great-grandfather, Calvin, was
born a slave in 1839 or 1840. 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
follows a timeline of Calvin’s life and relevant connections, as revealed
during my years of research:
– John NEAL, originally of Franklin County, NC dies in Tennessee, where he and his wife, Chloe, were living.
His slaves become the property of his wife, Chloe. Presumably, Calvin’s
mother was one of those slaves.
– Chloe Neal returns to Franklin County,
NC with her three children, John, Leonidas, and Elizabeth Temperance
1839-1840 – 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!
– 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.
– November 28 - Elizabeth T. NEAL
marries James H. YARBOROUGH
– Feb. 6 – Birth of Herbert Neal
YARBOROUGH, son of James H. and Elizabeth YARBOROUGH
– April 10 – Elizabeth T. Neal
YARBOROUGH dies. Under NC common law, her slaves become the property of her husband, James H. YARBOROUGH.
– July 8 – Death of infant, Herbert N.
– June 8 - James H. Yarborough marries
Arete E. Johnson, daughter of Wood T. and Josephine Johnson.
– August - James H. Yarborough dies. In a division of James' slaves, Calvin now becomes the property of his wife, Arete. (James and Arete
had only been married for 14 months.)
1860 - December 27 – Calvin (enslave)d marries Precilla (enslaved)
– The cohabitation record gives Precilla’s “maiden” name as SHAW.
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
1864 - Samuel E. (possibly 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 grandfather)
1884 – Eugene Carter
1 – Abraham Lincoln, in his EMANCIPATION
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. 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 Calvin regarded her (and James H.) well, since he 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
Precilla, keeping house, are living in Louisburg. They have 3 children
(Louis, Sam, and Thomas) living. Their daughter, Sarah, was “burned” and died
that year, at age four, according to the 1870 Mortality Schedule.
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 Paul's United Presbyterian
Church.) My grandfather, Calvin, Jr., with the help of his brother, Sam,
later built his house directly across the street from this church.) 1872-1888 - Calvin is elected several times to serve as a "poll holder" in Franklin County. 1872 - November - Calvin was paid $7.50 for services as a Deputy Sheriff.
1877 – August - Calvin purchases land in
Franklin County near the grave yard on the Louisburg and Newport Road for
$75.00. (This is now Mineral Springs Rd.)
Calvin, a farmer, but listed as a “RETIRED TEACHER”, 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. I have yet to confirm where Calvin taught, but his circle of
friends and fellow trustees included several educators, such as Williamson, Moses Hopkins, and George C. Shaw, so my guess is that he taught
with, or for, one of them. I do know that he was hired by the Freedmen's Bureau, and that he taught "two miles outside of Louisburg".
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.
- 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." I know that Calvin was a member of "The Pride of Louisburg" chapter of FAAM, but I don't know if this receipt is connected with that, or if it is from another organization.
and Precilla, now enumerated as 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. Sam is a carpenter, and both Quinea and Josephine are schoolteachers (which 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), 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, Jo had to stop when she married, since teachers back then were
required to be single. Caroline is a cook for a private family. Sam
is still a carpenter, his trade until he died in 1922.
Calvin (Roy) Yarborough, Sr. died
sometime after 1910, but before 1919, when his son (my grandfather), Calvin Roy
Yarborough, Jr. married my grandmother, Anna Beatrice Green. I have never seen the middle name "Roy" in any documents pertaining to Calvin Sr. but both his son and grandson used it, so I include it as an assumed middle name for Calvin.