Mulatto ex-slave in her house near Greensboro, Alabama

My Slavecestors Names: Chisum, Estes, Gillentine, Walling

When endogamy headed to the slave quarters… (Featured image: Mulatto ex-slave in her house near Greensboro, Alabama by Jack Delano, May 1941. Library of Congress)

Earlier this year I urged the genealogy community to come clean about their ancestors who were both slaveholders and ancestors. I call these folks slavecestors – those who both contributed to the dark stain on the United States called chattle slavery and who also bore children with their own property or the property of someone else. This post will begin my effort in airing the names of such folks in my own lineage.

“Our great grandfather was white…”

Geneatography by Nicka Smith
Cornelius James Taylor, born about 1874 in Mound Bayou, Bolivar, Mississippi, is my maternal great grandfather. He married Dilcy Barber of Sicily Island, Catahoula, Louisiana. The lion’s share of my European DNA comes from Cornelius.

For those of us who have been steeped in African ancestored genealogy, the heading you just read is not an unfamiliar phrase. It’s something many of us have grown up hearing or have encountered when we begin asking relatives for information at the beginning of our genealogy pursuits.

This phrase is synonymous with my maternal great grandfather, Cornelius James Taylor. Cousins kept telling me about this picture of him and how he was “white.” It was just two years ago I saw it for the first time.

Note: In the African ancestored genealogy lexicon, my great grandfather being “white” could mean he: was bi-racial, had 3/4 or full European descent, or had the appearance of being fully European.

23andMe-EuroDominantPercentagesI pretty much believed this to be true based on his appearance, but science backed up the claim when I looked at my mother’s autosomal DNA results. While my grandfather had the appearance of being largely of African ancestry, his contribution to my mother’s DNA said something different. Of his 50% stake in her genome, 30% of it was European and nearly 20% was African. Appearances clearly aren’t everything. The question then became:

Who are the people who made this possible?

Cornelius’ parents, my 2x great grandparents, were Robert Taylor, born between 1850-1853 in Virginia and Amanda Jackson, born about 1850 in Mississippi. Both Robert and Amanda were marked as Mulatto on several records. (See two examples below (1) (2)) They lived in Mound Bayou, Bolivar, Mississippi and Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Amanda’s mother, Maria Jackson (born about 1820 in Virginia), my 3x great grandmother, was marked Mulatto on the once census I found her on, 1880.(1) Both of Robert’s parents were born in Virgnia and Amanda’s father was born in North Carolina.

Patterns began to emerge when I looked at the autosomal DNA matches of me and my mother. I kept running into the same couples:

  • John Chisum and Ellender Gillentine/Gillington (30)

  • Anna Chisum and John Walling (30)

  • Abraham Estes and Barbara Brock (23)

To date, the number of DNA cousins that I have is upwards of 20 for each of these couples, and that’s only on one DNA service.

I soon learned that the descendants of these three couples intermarried and created quite a web of endogamy, hence not only the high numbers of their descendants with whom I share DNA but the amount of DNA that I share with them is also exaggerated.  Relations range from 4th cousins (sharing 3x great grandparents) to 8th cousins (sharing 7x great grandparents) with 60 centimorgans of DNA being shared with my highest matches. So, this could mean that these folks were my 3x, 4x, or beyond great grandparents.

But, which one of their descendants birthed a child or children with someone who was enslaved?

That’s the question of the millenium. LOL I’ve spent A LOT time verifying information on every tree I’ve seen posted for my matches and online and to this day I have yet to find a single one with a preponderance of evidence on it that seems legit. Anna becomes Elizabeth, John will have a wife and then not have one, Moses Estes will be married to Elizabeth, but she’ll have 50-11 surnames that aren’t substantiated. It’s a time in the land.

I have been in contact with at least two groups of folks who are descendants of all these people and me and my mother are the only folks of African ancestry…unless there are others who are out there.

While it’s great to know I’m a descendant of the folks above, I also want to be able to learn more about the situation that created my ancestor. Don’t worry. I’m working on getting a direct male descendant of Cornelius and Robert tested. In the meantime though…

Is there anyone out there who is also related to any of these families?



(1) “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch( : accessed 26 November 2015), Mandy Taylor in household of Robt Taylor, 8th Ward, Concordia, Louisiana, United States; citing enumeration district 24, sheet 128A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0452; FHL microfilm 1,254,452.

(2) “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch( : accessed 26 November 2015), Robert Taylor, Police Jury Ward 8, Concordia, Louisiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 36, sheet 5A, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,374,525.

10 thoughts on “My Slavecestors Names: Chisum, Estes, Gillentine, Walling”

  1. Hello I am also an African American descendant of John and Ellendar Chisum, through there son James Stewart Chisum. He owned my 3 great grandfather in Tennessee. We recently got a DNA match with the descendant of Claiborne Chisum, who was the son of James and grandfather of John. Interesting that you are researching the same family

    1. Thanks again for writing me Cheryl. I’ve spent some time looking at potential ways that my folks are wrapped into the Chisums and I’ve discovered an Isaac Taylor who was born 11 Dec 1781 in Botetourt County, Virginia, USA. He died on 02 Jun 1854 in Sparta, White County, Tennessee, USA. Isaac was a state senator with James Chisum and is mentioned in the Chisum and Robinson Family papers here: There’s a possibility that James, one of his descendants, or one of his relatives is actually the ancestor of mine while Isaac Taylor or one of his relatives was the actual slaveholder. So, I’d be working with two families. I’ll keep you posted on if I’m able to substantiate this.

  2. I can help with this. First, Abraham Estes’s wife’s surname was Barbara, but not Brock. I do realize many trees list this, but they are incorrect. Moses was Abraham’s son, and his wife’s name was Elizabeth, but we don’t know her surname. Moses’s son John, married Elizabeth Chism, the daughter of…you guessed it….John Chism and Elizabeth Gillentine. This connects two of those couples together in one line. I have written about these folks on my blog at

    Moses Estes wife, Elizabeth

    Abraham Estes wife, Barbara

    Moses Estes, son of Abraham

    Abraham Estes, wife Barbara (not Brock)

    John Combs Wife – While this article is not directly about the Estes, Chism and Gillentine families, it does document where they lived.

    1. Thanks so much for posting all this info Roberta! I’ve been following your blog for a while to try to make sense of all the stuff I’ve seen posted online and it’s helped A LOT.

  3. Pingback: His name is Thomas Jefferson Chisum – who is nicka smith?

  4. So far as I know, I am related to Abraham Estes; my great-grandmother was an Estes from Clay Co., MO. And yes, my DNA shows that I am a tiny bit African. It would be interesting to delve in further!

  5. Hello Nicka,

    My name is Bob Guild and I, too, am related to Abraham and Barbara Estes – they are my 7th Great Grandparents I just found this post and am most interested in the results. Abraham’s son, my sixth great grandfather, Elisha Estes, was a slave owner in Virginia and died in 1782. I have a copy of his Last Will & Testament – you may have a copy of this already, but if you don’t, I’d be happy to forward a copy.
    I’m just beginning this part of the journey, in search of my African American relatives. I would love to share any information I may have and at the same time find a possible connection between us.

    1. Hello
      I have done a lot of research into the family of a freed slave in Oregon. Amanda Gardener-Roberson-Deckard-Estes-Isham? was born in 1833 Clay County Mo. Her Mother was Amy Estes, owned by Nancy Corum. Nancy gave Amanda to Lydia Estes when she married Anderson Deckerd.

      She came to Oregon with them in 1853. Amanda became engaged to Ben Johnson, but when Lydia Deckerd and many of the family died and in an epidemic, Amanda postponed her wedding to care for the family. Ben, went to Jacksonville OR to mine for gold. His cabin still exists hidden in a forest of poison oak! I was there last year but promised to keep it secret. I took photos!

      Amanda married Ben Johnson and when one of the Deckerds daughters died, they raised her child, Ella Maud. Mr Deckerd gave them a house across the street. Ben owned a blacksmith shop and patented inventions. Amanda voted on her 80th birthday. She was a member of the WCTL, Women’s Christian Temperance League and is in their photo.

      There’s much more to this story. I really want to document Amanda’s family.
      Thanks, Patti Webb

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