Friday, August 21, 2009

I've been MIA

It's been a year since I blogged on my family history. It's not that there have not been things going on worth sharing, I've just been a little busy.

In July of this year, I sent a copy of the family tree to NC to be displayed at the family reunion. It was not received as well as I had thought it would be received. I have literally spent a the last 10 years off and on, working on this history.

So at first, I was upset. But then I realized, I did not begin this for the family's approval! I began this journey to find out who I am; to find my place in the world; to find where I came from; to find a way to accept where I am and where I belong.

Along the way, I've learned a lot about myself and even more about my family and who they are and most importantly, who they were. The journey is not over. It may never be over. There may come a day when I may have to pass what I have learned into another's hands and pray that they are able to piece even more of our puzzle together.

I am learning to be at peace with myself. I am learning to quiet the negative voices, even if they are familiar and familial voices.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Digging up the past

This is an excerpt from a letter to one of my cousins who has shown interest in my family history research...

4 August 2008, Monday
Hi Cousin,

I’m writing to tell you some news about the family history. I think that I mentioned that I had been looking at wills to see if I could find our family being passed down as property. Well, I think I found Great-Grandma Mamie’s mother and aunts and uncles in someone’s will. First, I’ll list all of these people with their parents and then list what I found on the will.

Great-Grandma Mamie’s mother’s name was Harriet and her mother’s name was Esther. Esther (born about 1830) married Daniel (born about 1825) Boykin and these are their children, all born before slavery ended: Clara (1850), Betsy (1852), Sarah (1856), Harriet (1854), Troy (1858), James (1859), Abram (1861), Henderson (1862), Mary (1862), and John (1863).

I found these names on a will for Allen Barbary Sr.:

Alvin, Tilla, Reow, Furney, Susan, Abram, Henderson, Charles, Sarah, Primus, Louza, Albert, Milly, Catherine, Serena, Sowell, Catherine, Harriet, Hamlet, Lydah, James, Joseph.

Since Henderson and Abram were not common names in any of the records I found, I believe that this is them! I also think that either Allen Barbary Sr. was related to the Boykins or married a Boykin female. Also, Allen Barbary Sr. died in 1853, so this is our family in 1853.

I have not found Esther or Daniel on any wills as of yet, but I’m still looking. I thought I had found Daniel on a will for Tobias Boykin, but this man died before Daniel was born, so I was mistaken unfortunately.

My next step is to get these wills and find out who received our people and find wills from their older relatives to see if I can find our people’s parents and grandparents and see continue tracing our family. Wish me luck!

PS: I also wanted to mention how these people named slaves. There were names like Yellow Sarah, Dark Sara, Cuff, Cupit, Lovelace, Satirah, Tener, Cato, Right, Freece, Tamer, and Chainy. These people put less thought into naming slaves than they did naming animals. It was terrible. But then I would see names like Mingo and Kizzy and these are African names. So it looks like sometimes, we did get to name our own.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I have continued on with my research, even though I get negative feedback more than positive. But I am so glad I continued.
I might have found something.

I have begun researching will abstracts for Sampson County (1794-1900) and I believe I have found about six family members, possibly seven from the last slave family in my line. This would be in the early 1800s. I have found who I believe to be my great-great-great grandfather (Daniel Boykin), my great-great-grandmother (Harriett Boykin Ireland), and four of her siblings in these papers. One book (by EE Ross) has a Slave Index. In that Index, in with one slaveholder, I have found the children, including Harriett "Boykin". The family name was Barbery or something like that. I found Daniel under Tobias Boykin, who I also found listed with his father, brother, and son; all having wills.

Now I need to get hold of these wills.

I also looked for unusual names. I have a relative named Amret (Calvin Ireland's sibling, Harriet Boykin Ireland's sister-in-law). I found an Amret listed among the abstracts. I need that will also.

I am feeling hopeful; the search continues...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

An interesting and disturbing article...

Reproduced from THE TIMES Monday February 24th 1997

Beach yields mass grave of shipwrecked slaves

A mass grave containing the bodies of shipwrecked slaves has been uncovered on a holiday beach after Atlantic storms.

Up to 60 bodies are thought to lie beneath the rugged cliffs of Rapparee Cove in north Devon, where the treasure ship London foundered with all hands 200 years ago.

An archaeological team has begun excavating the site near llfracombe, which has yielded dozens of bones and three perfectly preserved teeth. Yesterday the first iron fetters were discovered in the shale. During the past 20 years several gold and silver coins thought to have come from the London have been found in the cove.

Experts believe that the grave is the largest burial ground of slaves discovered on the British coast. The bodies were apparently considered heathen by the locals and unfit for Christian interment.

Skull bones emerged three weeks ago but the dig could not begin until police had established that there were no suspicious circumstances. Scientific tests have confirmed that the skulls are of African descent.

The dig is unlikely to solve all the mysteries surrounding the 300-tonne barque, which had been chartered as a transporter by the Admiralty during the French Revolutionary Wars.
She was thought to have been bound for Bristol with her booty and 60 French black slaves captured during General Sir Ralph Abercromby's Caribbean campaign. On the afternoon of October 9, 1796, the ships master, Captain Robertson, approached llfracombe seeking shelter from a gathering storm.

Pilots rowed out to help him to dock but he tried instead to moor to a buoy at the mouth of the harbour.

According to a later account by a Captain Chiswell, held in llfracombe museum, one pilot shouted: "Where are you from?" Robertson, described as a "ruffian captain", was said to have screamed back: "From Hell, bound for damnation."

His ambitious manoeuvre failed and the ship, with its prisoners chained in the hold, was dashed against the rocks. Chiswell wrote that the ship contained five treasure chests, only four of which were recovered.

He described the cove as "covered with the bodies of negroes" and recorded that the corpse of a young woman, "a naked lily fair", was also washed up.

The excavation will concentrate on a ten-yard area of the cliffs which has been eroded by winter storms. Pat Barrow, an amateur archaeologist who is co-ordinating the dig for llfracombe museum, has spent 25 years researching the London's history. He believes the slaves were officially listed as prisoners of war. Britain's abolition of slavery was still 38 years away, although by the early 19th century liberal politicians were campaigning against it.

Mr Barrow said: "There's no doubt the skipper could have sold the slaves, probably at Bristol, if he'd wanted to. It is unclear why he was so reluctant to dock at llfracombe. The reports of the time suggested the wind would have been favourable. I believe the skipper was worried that local people would discover the slaves in his hold and try to release them. This area had a very strong religious tradition."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

And the beat goes on.... and on.... and on....

I still have not moved any further in my search to uncover information. I have found a couple of new contacts who may be able to help, one lives in Philly near me and the other in NYC. Now that I have exhausted all of the "easy" processes, it gets a bit more difficult now.

I have requested a book of Sampson County wills from the late 1700s through the late 1800s and hope to find my family among some of the other valuables being passed down in families. There could be a chance that my great-great-great-great-grandmother might be listed within these papers; possibly even her mother. Then I can add one of two more branches onto my family tree. That would be great and it would look like this (sort of); Me - Joyce - Essie - Mamie - Harriett - Esther - her mother - her mother. I like writing this down because the more I find out, the longer my line gets and the happier I am about doing all this work.

I am also checking with all the local churches that my family attended to see if that reveals any useful information.

In addition to this, I have decided to go back to the archives in Philly and start going through the Freedman's Bureau records backwards. Supposedly, the marriages were put at the end. Hopefully I will unearth some good news.

I am also reading and re-reading all of the articles that I've collected so far to see if I can find a new path of exploration.

I'm hopeful.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

No mystery solved...

I contacted the Duplin County Register of Deeds to find out that they actually have their records online. What a nice surprise. So I immediately logged on and searched for my mother's paternal grandmother.

Once again, I was completely disappointed. Annie M. Darden/Derden was not listed among the deceased in Duplin County. It's as if she disappeared after the 1920 Census. I am not sure exactly how to proceed here. I know that her father's name was John, but that is a very common name. I know that he was related to another John Darden and a Jack Darden. But I have been told they were cousins. I have found Jack Darden and his family on the census. I'm thinking that perhaps I should find Jack again and see who's living near and around him. Maybe I'll find something interesting.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Family history still a mystery

It's June, 2008; summer already. I feel as if I am not accomplishing very much as far as my family history is concerned. After a recent trip (earlier this month) to North Carolina and pleading with the clerk at the register of deeds to allow me to copy the D Index for death records, I am still no closer to solving one of the many mysteries of my family.

My maternal grandfather's mother died (I assume) sometime between 1920 and 1930. She is listed on the 1920 census with her children, but in 1930, the children are listed with their sister and brother-in-law. I have scoured the D Index for her name, but it's not there. There are many Dardens listed (her name is Annie M. Darden, possibly listed as Anna, Dorden, Doeden, Derden).

Then I had a thought. What if she died in Duplin County and not Sampson County and her name is misspelled??? I plan to call the Duplin County Register of Deeds and beg them to copy and send me their D Index.

Fingers crossed.