Monday, September 17, 2018

Sophia YOUNG - Are You My 3x-Great Grandmother?

I think I may have just (possibly) discovered the name of my 3rd great-grandmother, and if I’m right, it’s been right in front of me for YEARS!

My second great-grandmother, Anna GREEN, is one of my biggest “brick-wall” ancestors. Born between 1843 - 1845, she was Mulatto woman, of unknown origin, who came to Franklin County, NC under unknown circumstances sometime before 1870. I say 1870 because that is the first definite documentation of her there, however, circumstantial and conclusionary evidence leads me to believe that she was in the county as early as 1860, and, most certainly by 1864 when the first of the six children she would have with my second great-grandfather, Nathaniel Hawkins (a white man), was born. That first child was my great-grandfather, John Green.

I’ve been researching Anna since I first learned of her existence, which was sometime in the late 1990s. She is enumerated in 1870 and 1880 census records (along with her children), and that’s it. Nothing else. I know, from some of the records of her children, that she was still alive in 1890, but of course those census records are gone. By 1900, I no longer see her, anywhere.
By 1880, Anna had given birth to all six of her and Nathaniel's children. (There are 3 other children in the home. Their relationship to the family remains unknown.

Anyhow, Anna’s backstory is a mystery. In my early interviews with older family members in Louisburg, I learned that some of them had been told about Anna, but what they were able to recall was sketchy, at best.1 There was a story about Nathaniel’s father putting Anna and the children out of the house they were living in after Nathaniel’s death, but the problem with that is that Nathaniel died in 1879, and his father, Philemon Hawkins, had passed 23 years earlier, in 1856. (My research points to another Philemon, Nathaniel’s first cousin and brother-in-law, as the likely suspect who may have actually done this.) Then, there’s the additional lore that these grandchildren of Anna’s daughter, Mary Helen (Pidgie) Green, also shared with me – that Anna’s mother was “100% Indian”. Well, that doesn’t stand either, given the fact that the mtDNA testing, completed by a cousin who is a direct matrilineal descendant of Anna’s, came back pointing straight to AFRICA. Thirdly, the only thing my elderly cousins could recall about Anna’s possible origins was that she “came to Franklinton from somewhere because the white man wouldn’t stop bothering either her or her mother.” (Neither of the cousins telling me this could recall which one it was that the “white man” was supposedly bothering.) I’ve nothing to corroborate this last story, except for the fact that the ONE and only enslaved person I have any evidence of Nathaniel ever owning was a 15 year old female, who (for whatever reason) resided in Franklinton in 1860.2  (Nathaniel lived alone 12 miles away, in Louisburg, with his mother and three of his siblings, at the time.)2 

I really want to show the full context of this census page, because I’ve been questioning it for two decades. It appears to me that this may have been some type of work farm, or something, because of the way the enslaved people are enumerated as having different owners, none of whom seem to live on the same property, or, in many cases even in the same county. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Because my “informants" had insisted during our interviews that Anna Green was “never a slave”, for a long time I didn’t even consider that this 15 year old, owned by Nathaniel, could have been her. They talked of how their grandmother had told them that "Nathaniel loved Anna" and how he "put her and the children up in a house on his property and took care of them".They recoiled each time I even suggested that Anna may have been (at any point) enslaved. But, about 10 years ago, while reviewing my research (as I was doing this evening), it occurred to me that if this person was 15 years old in June of 1860, she could easily have been born in late 1844, the year I’d been using for Anna’s birth. Once I realized this, I began to consider that this could possibly be Anna! Perhaps she was enslaved at one time. Or, maybe Nathaniel had “saved” her from whatever she (and her mother?) were running from and he was labeling himself her owner (and a trader?) as a coverup. Could he have already been taking a liking to her? Was she a free person of color who he “enslaved” as a way of protecting her? These became possibilities, in my mind, and I haven’t discounted them, to this day; but I do realize the actual story is probably not one so romantic. Anyway, although I can’t know for sure from an enumeration on a Slave Schedule, I believe it is highly likely that the 15 year old female owned by Nathaniel in 1860, is Anna. My main reason for that is because, four years later, Anna was giving birth to my great-grandfather, John, and (again) that I've never found evidence of Nathaniel owning anyone else. Between 1864 and 1879, Anna and Nathaniel had a total of six children together, the last of whom was born the year of his death. 
Now for my ah-ha moment!
Enumerated just after the 15 year old female is a 46 year-old woman, owned by Martha YOUNG. For years, I’ve wondered if this unnamed woman could be Anna’s (the 15 year-old?) mother, but there’s never been anything for me to use to move forward on that hunch – nothing until tonight. Tonight, out of boredom, I decided to go through some of my old documents to see if I might notice anything new. My focus was on looking at the clusters of people enumerated on the census pages with my ancestors (and nearby). I decided to give another look at what I had for Anna Green, and, in doing so, I pulled up the 1870 Census for her.3

1870 Census from Louisburg, Franklin County, NC showing Anna Green and Sophia Young3
While reviewing this census page, I first studied everything about the entries for Anna and her two children, remembering and making a mental note that in this particular census, she was enumerated as “W” for white. Then, my eyes traveled to the entry below Anna’s family: Sophia Young. Hmm… I’ve seen this a thousand times, but never had this thought crossed my mind, before now. She’s the age to have been Anna’s mother! And, she’s in the next household - alone! But, something else was nudging me about this entry. YOUNG – the surname – I’d seen that somewhere before, in connection with something about Anna. Wait. Was it on the 1860 Slave Schedule, for the lady I’d suspected could have been the 15 year old’s mother? I had to look!

Cut out from the 1860 Slave Schedule from Franklin County, NC showing a 15 year old female, owned by Nathaniel Hawkins and a 48 year old female, owned by Martha Young enumerated one behind the other.
Well, lo and behold, look at that! The 46 year old woman, enumerated just after the 15 year old, was owned by a Martha YOUNG. Even though the age is a few years off from the woman owned by Martha Young in 1860, I believe this could be the same woman! Ages of enslaved individuals were often estimated, and we don’t know who was providing the information at either of these enumerations.

Could this be? Could I be looking at a name for Anna’s mother – a name I’ve had right in front of me for two decades???? With nothing else to go on, I may never know the sure answer, but I am certainly excited and think it’s a great possibility that Sophia YOUNG could (possibly) be my third great-grandmother! Woo-hoo! What do you think, dear reader?
Before writing this post, I did some preliminary (really quick) research to see what I could find on Sophia Young. This 1870 census was the only one I found her in, but further research will be conducted to look for her family connections, death/burial information, and anything else I may be able to find. The fact that this black woman was living alone, five years after the war ended, was right next door to Anna, and that my quick look doesn't find her with any other family attachments in the area really strengthens my suspicion that she could be the woman who "ran away from somewhere" to Franklin County, having left any other (possible) family behind. I'll be searching all the ads for a "Martha", to see if I get any leads, either in Virginia (where Anna says she and her parents were born on the 1880 Census, or in Tennessee, where one of the cousins told me she thought Anna may have come from. I’ll also do a little work on Martha Young to see what was going on with her. A quick look shows me that there were at least three Martha Youngs in the county at the time, so it will take some work.
The one (and only) thing I have that might somewhat contradict my current thinking is the fact that at least one of the cousins has mentioned that Anna was supposedly a PERKINS, orginally. However, I'm not sure if this is what she was told by her grandmother, or if she just got it from the marriage certificate SSA of Anna's son, William, who gave his mother's surname as Perkins.
I’d love to hear the thoughts of my readers on this. Please put your comments here on the blog (even if you also comment elsewhere) so that there will be a record of our conversations.

Thanks for reading! I look forward to your suggestions, thoughts, ideas, and input!


To read more about my second great-grandfather, Nathaniel M. Hawkins, click here.

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1.   Interviews with Florine Green Egerton and Harold Green, Louisburg, NC, 1998 – 2015 and Virginia Green Edwards of San Rafael, CA., 2007-2013.

2.  Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls

3.  Ancestry.com. online publication - Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.Original data - United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M432,

4.  Ancestry.com. online publication - Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003.Original data - 1870. United States. Ninth Census of the United States, 1870. Washington, D.C. National Archives and Records Administration. M593, RG29, 1,761 rolls. Minnesota.