Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sister Cherry, A Slave

One person who has always fascinated me, even though she is only peripherally connected with my family, is Cherry, a slave in Washington County, Georgia.   She joined Union Baptist Church in Washington County on 25 Septermber 1848, listed as "a black woman, Cherry, belonging to one of the minor heirs of Hampton May".   In August 1855, "M. Garner, J. W. Mills, and W. Garner were appointed a committee to inquire into whereabouts of a colored sister known as May's Cherry."  The final mention was a month later:  "We, the committee on the case of our colored sister known to us as May's Cherry, find that she was suddenly carried off to Florida having no chance to apply for a letter or any to give satisfaction to the church, but we learned from good authority that her conduct was good and we heard nothing against her as a member of the church."   

This small exchange has always interested me because it does not actually concord with what I had been taught about slaves in churches in the South.  First, Cherry is apparently not going to the same church as her owners.  This is partly deduced from the fact that no one in the Church knew she had gone to Florida.  If the family that owned her also attended, there should have been reference to them leaving or getting a letter.  Even if she left because she was sold or given to another family member, they would have known and the committee enquiry should not have been needed.   I also found it interesting that the church apparently would have expected her, if she had time, to get a letter for her new church in Florida.  That and the fact that they had pursued her absence imply that they considered her an actual member of the church.  At some point, I would like to pursue what happened to Sister Cherry, just for my own curiosity.

Friday, February 7, 2014

John Becham

John Becham was born about 1790 and probably died in Crawford County, GA between 1845 and 1850.  He was taxed in 1845 but does not appear in the 1850 census, although his wife and children do.   I'm working on two mysteries regarding him now.  One is whether he was married once or twice. There is a marriage record for him and Susan Davis in Hancock County, in 1811.  However, in 1860 and 1870, his wife Susan gives an age that would make her birthdate 1800.  Even in Georgia at that time, 11 would have been too young for marriage.  The 1820 census has his probable wife at age 16-25, so she would have been young at the marriage, if not that young.  In 1830, she is probably one of the 3 females 30-39 in the household.  However, in 1840 his probable wife is still 30-39.   So, he presumably either married twice, both times to Susan, or possibly Susan made herself a little younger beginning with the 1840 census. 

The other is the mystery of what happened to his property.  In the last record for John, he is taxed for 202 acres of property in Crawford County.  However, 10 years later, all but his youngest son appear in the census but only paying poll tax, no property tax.  The youngest son was not of age yet. His widow does not appear on that tax list at all, so it looks as if the family lost the property.  So far I have not been able to find any probate records for John, nor any court notices concerning the sale of the property either after his death or for debt.   Next step will be to check the deeds in Crawford County.