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…”
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.
I 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(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MD62-RP4 : 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(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MPTP-GPZ : 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.