Tombstone Tuesday/This Day In Family History: Norman Scott Strickland’s Birth Day

Looking from Hunter's Lane across the fields of the Old Dodson Place, Mecklenburg County, Virginia

Travel south from Chase City, Virginia on the Boydton Road about 15 minutes, turn left at Dodson Corners onto Hunter’s Lane.  Follow the bend to the left, through a grove of pine to the meadows shorn of their grass by cows now shunning the noon heat among the shade of oak trees. Sitting on your left will be the headquarters of the Butcher’s Creek Hunt Club.Site of the Old Dodson Place, "Oakview" This house marks the site of the Old Dodson Place, the homeplace of George and Florette Strickland’s family during the depression, and where my father, Norman, grew up.  The youngest son in a family of four boys, Norman was born this day 1928.

This past spring I returned to this land, to breathe some ancestral smells, look out on rolling land my father once walked.  Had it not been for the company of coon dogs who rushed to greet me, I would have tramped through the long grass, risking contact with some very healthy poison ivy, to look for crumbled buildings and civil war trenches, farm garbage dumps and Grandfather-dug watering holes.  The air was hot and muggy, heavy with the fragrance of wild honeysuckle and white wild rose.

Oak Trees of OakviewTowering above me were oak trees, just acorns on the ground when my dad shot squirrels out of their predecessors. Thick brambles of poison ivy, honey suckle, rose, and pricker bushes grew at their base.  It would have been along hedgerows like these that rabbits hopped out, to eat by the road’s edge. And my father with buddy Charles D. would slowly approach in his daddy’s 1938 Ford pickup truck.  While one boy drove, the other would lie on the huge front fender, flat on his belly, rifle in hand.  Spot the rabbit, catch it in the scope, pull the trigger. The rabbit went from being vermin to being dinner.

Norman Scott Strickland grew up to leave this farm, to leave Chase City.  He was coworker to fellow General Electric electrical engineers for 35 years, a choir member of countless church groups, a community leader, a good neighbor; a gardener, a bird watcher, a dog lover. Most of all Norman Scott Strickland was a gentle friend, ever ready with a smile, particularly for his wife, and six children, and two grandchildren.  After losing a third battle to cancer 16 July 2006, Norman returned to the red soil of Mecklenburg County, where I can come and leave a stone in remembrance of his life well lived.

Surname Saturday–Sayles

Serena White Sayles–are you there?

That is what I ask every time I sort the Sayles’ family records.

My grandmother was a miracle baby.  Anna Florette Sayles was born in December 1901, less than a year after Lilly Dodson and Clifton Duvall Sayles married, a second shot at happiness that these two grabbed.  Clifton had paid court to Lilly shortly after arriving in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, but in the early 1870′s feelings ran high about Yankees.  Lilly’s oldest brother, Greene, and an uncle, Benjamin F. Dodson, had been killed in the Seige of Petersburg, 1864; Clifton’s father had served as captain in the 130th New York State Volunteer Infantry in 1863.  And Lilly’s parents, James and Sarah Rowlett Dodson, would not hear of Lilly marrying the young New Yorker.

Clifton stayed on the farm purchased in 1869 by his dad, Ira, and married Annie McCullough in 1879.  His mother, Serena White Sayles, had moved by that time to Mecklenburg County, while father Ira had returned to teach in New York.  The 1880s found Serena helping Clifton raise a family and teaching at private Chase City schools, while Ira Sayles traveled the east coast collecting and analyzing rock specimens for the young United States Geological Survey.

Ira fell ill in 1892 and finally settled in with Serena, Clifton and Annie, and several of his grandchildren.  He filed for a pension under the 1890 Civil War pension program and after his death 24 June 1894, Serena filed to receive the widow’s pension.  She had a cat and some books. Serena received the pension from 1897 until her death 16 July 1899.

Annie died sometime between 1 June 1900 and January 1901.

And Clifton, age 50,  immediately paid court to Lilly, who had never married.  She accepted his proposal and they were wed in Chase City, 9 January 1901. At the age of 45 Lilly had her first and only child, her miracle, my grandmother, 21 December of that same year.

It is Florette’s handwritten family history that has clued me in to how special Serena was. Brought up in western New York during the 1830s Serena attended Alfred Academy where she met fellow student Ira Sayles.  They married and remained in the Alfred Academy family through its growth to a college.  In fact, Serena taught after she was married, quite an avant garde position for a woman.  That much was conveyed through family lore.  I have found all sorts of letters, poems, scientific notes, and journal articles that Ira wrote. Given Ira’s considerable correspondence that is public I keep hoping that sooner or later I will trip over letters he and Serena exchanged.  But so far I have nothing.

What and who was Serena? This educated woman who loved French? This New Yorker of Seventh Day Baptist sensibilities, who relocated from a thriving women’s suffragist community to a sleepy agricultural county in southside Virginia?  What did Serena do? Who did she befriend? How did she keep up her French and her thinking? Did Serena write poetry, like Ira?  Because my grandmother was the child of the second marriage, those details she would never have heard.  And the children of Clifton and Annie, whom Serena help raise, have long left the collective memory of my family’s lore.  I just keep wondering.

Serena–are you out there?

The “Lot” of Them: Part Two

AS the country’s enumerators set out to collect data for the young nation’s seventh federal census,  Congress was once again battling to find a compromise that would settle the slavery agitation once and for all–AND preserve the Union.  By the fall of 1850, California had been admitted as a free state, Texas had its boundaries redrawn to accommodate the eventual states of Arizona and New Mexico, a severe Fugitive Slave Act had been imposed nationwide, and the District of Columbia’s slave trade (not slavery) had been banned.  This was life after the Compromise of 1850, an earnest attempt to save the Union from disintegration.

William, Anderson and siblings were living in a world in which six of the first ten presidents were slave holders, and the eleventh, President Polk (1845-1849), made slave transactions from the White House. Abolitionists were a small but increasingly vocal fraction of the northern population.  Pro-slavery advocates, like John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, constructed arguments to guarantee slave holders’ rights citing the Fifth Amendment’s protection of private property. The culture of Franklin and Wake Counties, North Carolina, then,  would most certainly have condoned and encouraged the mindset that led the Strickland children to treat Leah’s “lot of slaves” as real  estate, property to be guarded, valued and settled.

As the political storm swirled,  Leah’s health deteriorated.  Sometime between 1 June 1850 and February 1851, Leah Jeffreys Strickland died.

BY 1851 Jasper of Wake County, North Carolina, Anderson of Franklin County, North Carolina and Nick of Fayette County, Tennessee had already sold their right title to the slaves to brother William.  John Hilliard of Franklin County, North Carolina had apparently sold his claim to Isham Young, John W. Perry, and Turner Young.  Therefore, on 2 May 1851 the group gathered to make the partition of Leah’s “lot” included: William G. Strickland, Joseph Hopkins and wife Julia, John Hopkins, administrator for wife Elizabeth, deceased, Jefferson Richards, administrator for seriously ill wife Ellen, Thomas Perry for wife Jane, Simon K. Strickland, Arabella Strickland and Isham Young, John W. Perry and Turner Young.

The value of the twenty-two slaves was listed as $10,824.  There being eleven children of Leah Jeffreys Strickland there were eleven lots assigned to the group.  Each lot was valued at $984, and “…therefore charge the more valuable dividends with such sums of money respectively to be paid to those of inferior value respectively, as will make an equitable division.”  The freeholders assigned to devised this distribution, Alpheus Jones, Noel Night, John M. Fleming, William H. Hood and HW Montague, listed the following:

Lot No. 1 Dennis and Hannah allotted to W.G. Strickland and valued at $850

Lot No.2  Richard and Candis allotted to Isham Young, John W. Perry and Fenner Young and valued at $925.

Lot No. 3 Fenner and Elizabeth allotted to W.G. Strickland valued at $1075

Lot No. 4 Riddick and Patience allotted to Arabella Strickland valued at $1000

Lot No. 5 Mariah and Andrew allotted to W.G. Strickland valued at $950

Lot No. 6 Mary and John K. Polk allotted to Jefferson Richards, Admr. Valued at $975

Lot No. 7 Carolina and John Peter allotted to Simon K. Strickland valued at $975

Lot No. 8 Sarah age 20 and Sarah age 12 allotted to W.G. Strickland valued at $1025

Lot No. 9 Martha and Alfred allotted to John Hopkins Admr valued at $875

Lot No. 10 Buck and Matilda allotted to Joseph Hopkins and wife valued at $1000

Lot No. 11 Giles and Ann allotted to Thomas Perry valued at $1174

17 March 1852 William G. Strickland purchased Richard and Candis, the negroes drawn by Isham Young, John W. Perry and Fenner Young.

Leah’s lot had remained in the Strickland family for 25 years, hired out perhaps, but never sold to the Deep South.  William G. took care to purchase claims to the lot from three brothers, and then to purchase the two slaves who were allotted at Leah’s estate distribution to outsiders.  His family in 1852 then included at least these slaves: Andrew, Hannah, Candis–all named in the first transaction of 1837–Dennis, Richard, Fenner, Elizabeth, Mariah, Sarah (20) and Sarah (12).  At his death in 1864 William’s widow, Sophia Ivey Strickland, listed 24 slaves as property; the Emancipation Proclamation had not changed the lives of these family members.  At least some of these slaves belonged to the “lot”: Sarah, the elder, had five children, Sarah the younger nicknamed Sallie had four children,  and Fenner.

From here the “lot” disappear from my records.  Perhaps they resurface in Freedman’s Bureau records, Federal Census’ or marriage records as Stricklands, living and working in the free soil of Wake County, North Carolina.



52 Weeks to Better Genealogy–DAR Challenge UPDATE

The database hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution has provided some keystone information–that set of facts which helps to confirm the identity of ancestors.  With that information I have gone back to another favorite site, footnote.com, and reassessed some saved items for a certain Israel Sayles, great-grandfather to Ira Sayles, who was great-grandfather to my father.

The soldiers of the Revolution did not serve in one year tours; in many instances regular army, the privates of the units, were called up for a few weeks or months at a time.  The Genealogy Research System indicated that Israel Sayles had served under at least two different captains, which would indicate at least two different tours of duty.  My Footnote search of their digitized National Archives had yielded several items, Military rolls and roster cards for an Israel Sayles from a Lippet’s Rhode Island Regiment and a Burlingame Rhode Island regiment.  The DAR data lends credibility to my conclusion that this is one and the same Israel Sayles of Glocester, Rhode Island.

So another branch of my family served in the Revolution!



The “Lot” of the Them: Part One

In my post “The Cloak of Defeat” I stated my intention to put out the details of all my family’s people, including their slaves, so that somebody somewhere might be able to shout “THEY are mine!” Since slaves were known only by first names in legal documents I am providing dates, locations, and slaveholder surnames with the hope such details are substitute keystone information.  I welcome your ideas and suggestions in the comments.

In 1827 Mary Gray Jeffreys of Wake County, North Carolina, bequeathed a “lot” of slaves to her daughter Leah Strickland, for life, remainder to her children.  The right and title to this “lot” and their increase was given for unknown reasons to Newton Wood, of Wake County, North Carolina, to be effective during the life of Leah Jeffreys Strickland, wife of John Perry Strickland.  At Leah’s death the right and title to these Negroes was to be passed on and divided among her eleven children: William Gray, Elizabeth (Hopkins), Matthew Nick, John Hilliard, Anderson Perry (my great-great-grandfather), Julia (Hopkins), Jasper D., Jane (Perry), Simon K., Arabella (Baker), and Ellen (Richards).

Upon Mr. Wood’s death (between 1827 and 1837), the right and title or claim to this “lot” was left to his children in undivided fourths: Mrs. Richard Barnum, Thomas N. Wood, William W. W. Wood, and Dallas R. Wood.

On 31 October 1837 the eldest of Leah’s children, William G. Strickland, purchased Mr. and Mrs. Richard Barnum’s interest and title to these slaves for $275.  The Barnum’s resided in Wake County, N.C.  At the time of the deed’s writing the “lot” included: Buck, Reddick, Andrew, Hannah and three children, Candace and four children, Patience and three children, and Martha.

On 28 February 1842 William and his younger brother, Matthew N. Strickland, paid three hundred dollars for the remaining interests in these slaves from Thomas N. Wood and William W.W. Wood, then residents of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Dallas R. Wood had died. At the time of these deeds the “lot” included: Buck, Reddick, Andrew, Hannah, Maria, Candace, Giles, Caroline, Patience, Richard, Mary, Ann, Sarah, a child, Matilda, Dennis, Martha, Sarah, a girl of about 14 years of age, and Fenner.

In 1845 Jasper Strickland, the seventh child of Leah and John P. Strickland, became indebted to a William A. Jeffreys of Franklin County, North Carolina, in the amount of $300.  For one dollar Jasper “granted, bargained, sold, assigned, transferred and set over” to Mr. Jeffreys his future share in the “lot.” If he remained unable to pay this debt by 1 January 1846 then William Jeffreys could advertise the impending sale for twenty days and then proceed to sell the “lot” at  public auction to the highest bidder, at the Court House in the city of Raleigh, County of Wake, North Carolina.  At the time of this indenture the “lot” included:  Buck, Reddick, Andrew, Fenner, Dennis, Dick, Giles, Hannah, Candace, Sarah, Martha, Patience, Mariah, Caroline, Mary, Ann, Matilda, Salley, Betsey, John, and Daniel.

On 27 June 1846 big brother William paid Jasper $303.10 in full payment for his future right title and interest in the “lot”.  This payment was evidently meant to provide Jasper with the cash necessary to secure his debt to William A. Jeffreys thereby securing the ownership of the “lot”–Buck, Reddick, Andrew, Fenner, Dennis, Dick, Giles, John, Hannah, Patience, Martha and child Elizabeth, Sarah, Caroline, Sarah, a small girl, Ann, Candace and child John, Mariah, Mary and Matilda–who were in the possession of (Matthew) Nick Strickland and William at this time.

In the fall of 1846  M. Nick Strickland and William G. Strickland had Benjamin Marriott and John Harris determine the value of the slaves, and in December 1846 William bought Nick’s present interest in the “lot” for the sum of $250 and his future claim to the “lot” for $590.90.

Hereby in consideration of the sum of five hundred and ninety Dollars and 90 cents to me in hand paid bargain Sell and deliver unto Wm.G. Strickland one undivided Eleventh part of thereof the negro slaves herein after named it being my own sher (sic) of said slaves as Bequeath (sic) to me by my grandmother Mary Jeffreys Deceased. And I do further hereby in consideration of the sum of two hundred and fifty Dollars Give bargain and Sell and Deliver unto the said Wm. G. Strickland my undivided moity or half of said slaves during the life of our mother Leah Strickland it being our Interest in said slaves which I purchased from Newton Woods children for the life of my said mother to wit one half the said WG Strickland haeving (sic) bought the other half Provided that nothing in this Deed shall Release or aquit the said Wm. G. Strickland form the obligations set forth in said agreement on file in the court of Equity aforesaid (sic) to permit our mother Leah Strickland to have a limited use of the said slaves for her necessary support though upon the terms therein stated to wit the negroes which were bequeath (sic) Mary Jeffreys Deceased unto Leah Strickland for Life and afterwords to her children the Said negroes and present (sic) issue Named as follows Brink (Buck), Reddick, Dennis, Dick, Giles, Condin (Candace) and her child John, Mary, Ann, Sarah jr., Andrew, Sarah, son (last two words marked out), Fenner, Sarah Sr., Hannah, Patience and her child John, Martha and her child Elizabeth, Caroline, Matilde, Maren (?)

The 1847 North Carolina Tax List suggests that the “lot” now all resided with William G. Strickland, on his 436 acre farm in St. Matthews Township, Wake County, North Carolina.

In November 1848  Anderson Perry Strickland joined brothers Jasper and Nick in selling his future claim in the “lot” of Leah’s slaves to brother William.  As the eldest brother had amassed land and slaves during the 1840s, Anderson had set out on his own, establishing a home, a marriage and a family in the neighboring county of Franklin, North Carolina.  By 1848, Anderson’s obligations may have made the prospect of $500 cash more appealing than the prospect of someday inheriting some slaves.

Source:

Tate, Carla. Strickland Records and Family Groups.  North Carolina: self-published, 2007.