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.