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 NC. 

Here follows a timeline of Calvin’s life and relevant connections, as revealed during my years of research:

1838John 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. 

1838-39Chloe 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!

1851Chloe 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.  Under NC common law, her slaves 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, daughter of Wood T. and Josephine Johnson.

1860 – 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.  

1862Louis (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. (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

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. Calvin would have had at least four different owners during his life.

Post-Slavery 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.)

1880 – (Census) 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.

1890 – GRRRRRRRR….akdfnasdfinaksdfasdfand!!!

1896 - 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.

1900 – Calvin 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 school teachers (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.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Hi Renate,

    I always enjoy reading your posts. I did not know about teachers and marital status . I wonder if that was just in NC or other states as well. How did you come across Presbyterian church records?

    1. I think it was pretty common for women to have to stop teaching when they got married. I have heard of it in other states.

    2. Hi, Karen. Thanks for reading!

      Yes, it was very common for localities to actually have it as a rule that school teachers were to be unmarried. My understanding is that once a woman married, her job was to be a homemaker, and not to be working outside the home. Perhaps that's something to research at a future date! :)
      As for the records regarding the Presbyterian Church, those were located at the Franklin County Register of Deed Office (in Louisburg).


  2. Very Good!!! How did you find the slavery information?? I have hit a brick wall and I think it is because I can't find their slave owner since a lot of documents do not list the name o the slaves :-(

    1. Hi. Finding the slavery information was a long process, spread over many years of research. There were many different sources - some found at the county courthouse, others at the state archives, and some (later) online. In most cases, it is necessary to research the slave-owning family to find records of enslaved ancestors, but before that comes the daunting task of determining who the owner(s) were. If you'd like more specific information, feel free to email me at yarsan@aol.com and/or join some of the many groups, on Facebook, dedicated to researching enslaved ancestors.
      Thanks for reading!

  3. A very complete timeline! Too bad about that 1890 census. I am sure I would find out so much important information if it hadn't burned!

    1. Wouldn't we all?!!!!! Thanks for being such a faithful reader (and commenter), Kristin!


  4. Very interesting story with a lot of deep research. Thanks for sharing.💕💕💕

  5. Great timeline and info. Yes it was a common practice for women to stop teaching once married. Sometimes it was required. Down in Randolph County in Strieby our founding minister's wife was our principal teacher. After he died she remarried and they were both teachers. When she died he remarried to yet another teacher. So like everything else in genealogy there are exceptions.