#52Ancestors – Bachelor Uncle: uh, Cousin, Charleton Joshua Williams, Jr.

Try as I might, I could not find a bachelor uncle. My father had only one brother, who married; my mother had no brothers. My paternal grandparents each had brothers, all who married. My maternal grandmother (I’ve yet to identify my maternal grandfather) had brothers who all married, and so it goes back to my fourth great grandparents, all known male siblings were married. However, I had a paternal, male first cousin who did not marry. He was old enough to be an uncle, so I’m substituting him as my bachelor uncle.

Charleton Joshua Williams Jr
Charleton Joshua Williams, Jr., circa 1918, Jersey City, New Jersey

Charleton Joshua Williams, Jr., called, “Son,” was the oldest son of my father’s only brother, Charleton Joshua Williams, Sr., whom we called, “Jimmy.” Son was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1917,[1] exact date unknown, to my uncle and his wife, Julia Sinkler, who was originally from Dorchester County, South Carolina, near Charleston.[2] In 1920, three years after Son was born, his younger brother, Earle, was born.[3] By 1930, the family was living with Julia’s sister, Ida Sinkler Sterrett, in New York City.

Charleton Joshua Jimmy Williams Sr
Charleton Joshua “Jimmy” Williams, Sr.
Julia Sinkler Williams
Julia Sinkler Williams

In 1932, tragedy struck the family when Earle was hit by a car and killed.[4]  I’m not sure what impact this had on the family. Surely, they must have been devastated, but there is some evidence it was more destructive than one might expect. In 1940, Uncle Jimmy and Son were living in New York, as lodgers, without Julia. Son was working on the railroad, as a waiter, like his father.[5] I assume they were actually working together. I have yet to determine where Julia was. Was she just traveling to visit family? Had she moved away? I don’t remember anyone commenting on any of this. I do know that Earle’s death would influence my life as well. As part of teaching me how to cross the street safely, my mother admonished me that if I was not careful to look in both directions could result in being hit by a car and killed, like my cousin Earle. I confess that I did relay that history to my daughter, but I didn’t recount it as mantra-like as my mother had.

Earle Williams
Earle Williams, 1920-1932

Wherever Julia went, she returned. Sometime in the 1940s the family bought a home in Queens, New York City, not far from where my parents bought our home. There the three of them lived the rest of their lives.

I don’t ever remember any discussion of Son dating anyone. In fact, there was a lot of discussion about how he had never left home and seemed unusually attached to his mother. My parents suggested that this attachment had prevented him from forming relationships with potential marriage partners. Somehow, I think it all went back to the death of Earle. I think Son felt he had to compensate. I think Julia clung to Son in fear that she would lose him, the same as she had lost Earle. I think it trapped them both. One indication that was true was that Son had changed his name from Charleton Joshua Jr. to Charleton Earl. In fact, I was in high school before I learned that his name was supposed to be Charleton Joshua Jr. Whenever he introduced himself, he said his name was Earl. Reflecting on it now, all these years later, I think young Earle’s death was toxic for Son and Julia both.

Charleton Earl Williams, WWII
Charleton Joshua “Earl” Williams, Jr.

Julia fell ill and died Thanksgiving weekend, 1966.[6] On the one hand, Son seemed somewhat lost without her, but several months later he seemed to be coming out of his shell. He began to date my mother’s sister, Verne (Elverna) Lee Means. Son and Verne were a year apart in age[7] and had known each other from the 1930s when my parents married,[8] and they were in their teens.

Elverna Elizabeth Lee
Elverna Lee “Verne” Means, 1918-2000

By early summer they were discussing getting married. Everyone was very pleased. By everyone I mean my parents, my father’s sister, and Uncle Jimmy. I was pleased as well, as I was very fond of them both. Now that Julia had passed, Son dropped by to visit more frequently and I got to know him better. He and my Aunt Verne seemed very well suited.  They both seemed happier and my mother was very happy for them both. She felt they had each had unfortunate tragedies and now they had a chance to be happy, together. Alas, it was not to be.

When Fourth of July came, Son decided he would drive from New York to pick up my Aunt Verne from her home in Washington, DC, and bring her back to New York to enjoy the holiday. I wasn’t there that night. I was away visiting a friend in Hawaii. My mother said that they got back late and despite being very tired, Son, Earl, went to work his overnight shift at the Post Office. Sometime in the early hours of the morning a phone call awakened everyone to tell them that Son, Earl, had died, suddenly, at his desk.[9] To say that everyone was devastated would be an understatement. This tragedy was so overwhelming for my mother that she was too overwrought to attend the funeral. My father said that he and Aunt Verne stayed up each night that week into the wee hours of the morning, mourning Son’s loss and discussing all that one discusses when a loved one dies.

Charleton Son Williams-portrait (2)
Charleton “Earl” Williams, 1917-1967

No one informed me of Son’s death. My mother reasoned that there was nothing I could do, so there was no need to burden me with sadness while I was away. It was a couple of mornings after I had returned from Hawaii, in early August, while I was eating breakfast that my mother, clearly ill at ease about something, suddenly walked over to the table and put a prayer card in front of me. It actually didn’t register right away. Once I realized what it was, I was in shock. My mother reminded me that Son had cardiovascular disease. She speculated that the round-trip car ride and lack of rest before going to work had been too taxing. It seems as plausible as any explanation. I noted the date, 4 July, on the prayer card. I told my mother that I had experienced a very disturbing dream that night and wondered what it meant. I speculated it was somehow tied to this tragedy at home. Who knows, but I’ve always believed so.

I think Son’s loss always hung over our family in some unspoken way. My aunt never contemplated marriage with anyone again. She wouldn’t die for another 32 years, oddly enough, also on a July Fourth weekend.[10] I think my mother felt that both my aunt and Son had been cheated of happiness. I think my father just simply thought it was a very sad turn of events. I think he felt sorry for my aunt. As for me, I’m sure now they are happy together.

References

[1] 1930 US Federal Census; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Ida Sterrett, head; Charlton Williams, relative, age 12. NARA Roll: 1576; Page: 35A; Enumeration District: 0985; Image: 156.0; FHL microfilm: 2341311. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[2] 1900 US Federal Census; Census Place: Dorchester, Dorchester, South Carolina; Florence Sinkler, head; Julia Sinkler, daughter, birth month/year, Dec 1895. NARA Roll: 1526; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0068; FHL microfilm: 1241526. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[3] 1930 US Federal Census; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Ida Sterrett, head; Earle Williams, relative, age 10. NARA Roll: 1576; Page: 35A; Enumeration District: 0985; Image: 156.0; FHL microfilm: 2341311. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[4] New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948 [Database on-line]. Earl Williams, died: 1932. Retrieved from: Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[5] 1940 US Federal Census; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Grace Nailer, head; Charlton Williams, age 23, lodger; Charlton Williams, age 42, lodger. NARA Roll: T627-2667; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 31-1807. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[6] Find A Grave Memorial. Julia Williams, Died: 25 Nov 1966. Buried, Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com

[7] 1930 US Federal Census; Census Place: Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey; Louise Ingram, head; Elverna Lee, granddaughter, age 12. NARA Roll: 1387; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0073; Image: 289.0; FHL microfilm: 2341122. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[8] 1940 US Federal Census; Census Place: New York, Bronx, New York; Herbert Williams, head; Margaret Williams, wife. Roll: T627-2467; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 3-272B. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[9] Find A Grave Memorial. Charlton E. Williams, 8 [sic-this date is not correct, it was 4 July 1967, he was buried on 8 July] 1967. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com

[10] U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current [Database on-line]. Elverna L. Means, died: 2 July 2000. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

 

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Minnie Moses, Mother of 1930s Dancer Fay Ray, and The US Expatriation Law of 1907

In response to a concern about dual citizenship, Congress passed the Expatriation Act of 1907.[1] One provision mandated that women who married foreign born men would automatically lose their citizenship and be considered citizens of their husband’s country. If they were not eligible for said citizenship, they would then be stateless. Either way, they were no longer US citizens. It is interesting that the concern didn’t extend to US men who married foreign born women. I only learned about this law within the past two years. I don’t remember anyone mentioning this to me prior to that. Just recently I found a real-life example in my own research.

Fay Ray
Fay Ray, August 2006, at the 100th Year Celebration of her sister-in-law, Kate Lassiter Jones, Randolph County NC. Photo by Margo Lee Williams

I was doing some background research on the nightclub singer and dancer of the 1930s and 40s, (and later, member of Silver Belles) Fay Ray. Fay was the second wife of my 2nd cousin, 3x removed, Clark Lassiter.[2] I learned from a biography written about her that her father’s name was Dave Moses and her mother was Minnie Parrot. They lived in Natchitoches, Louisiana.[3] I was hoping to learn more about her background. The article mentioned that her mother died when she was still very young, and her father then married an Alma Barnes. For reasons not stated, she was sent to live with another family.

Since Fay was born in 1919, I looked in the 1920 census for the family. I found them quickly. Dave, Minnie, and Fay were living in Natchitoches, Louisiana.[4] I noted something which was not mentioned in the biographies I had read about her, Fay’s father, Dave Moses, was born in Syria. I wanted to be sure that I had the right family, so I kept looking for additional information. I looked for a death record for Minnie, but I found nothing. I did find Dave and Alma, no Fay, in the 1930[5] and 1940[6] censuses. Each census noted that Dave was born in Syria. I was also able to locate Dave’s naturalization records.[7] It noted that he immigrated from Syria in 1912, by way of Brazil, but he didn’t remember the name of the ship. He said his name when he immigrated was Deeb Moussa.[8] He also mentioned his wife’s maiden name, Alma Barnes. I had the right Dave Moses.

I went back to look at the 1920 census to see if I could identify something that would tell me anything about Minnie, Fay’s mother. That’s when I saw it. Next to Minnie’s name, in the citizenship column it said, “Al,” Alien. Yet the places of birth for her and her parents were listed as Louisiana. In accordance with the Expatriation Act of 1907, Minnie had lost her citizenship as a result of marrying Dave. Dave had not been naturalized yet; he was still a foreign national. Thus, Minnie had become a Syrian national at best, stateless at worst. Did she realize that? I have no idea. Fay, on the other hand, was considered a citizen, by virtue of her own birth in Louisiana.

Fay Moses 1920 census
Fay Moses in the 1920 Census, Natchitoches, Louisiana

Another anomaly found

From everything I have read and those conversations that I did have with Fay, I believe she was estranged from Dave and Alma. According to her biography she was about eight when Dave married Alma and they sent her to live with another family. I found her in the 1930 census living with Albert Graham and his wife Gladys. She was eleven years old.[9] According to her biography, she was not treated well by the Grahams, so she ran away that year.[10] The census revealed yet another unusual piece to Fay’s background.

In 1920, Dave, Minnie, and Fay, were listed as “w,” white. In 1930 and 1940, Dave and Alma were also listed as white. On Dave’s naturalization papers, he was listed as white. However, in 1930, and for the rest of her life, Fay would be known as a person of color (exact terms changing with the times). What happened?

Fay Moses in 1930 census
Fay Moses in the 1930 Census, Natchitoches, Louisiana

Truthfully, I have no idea why or how Fay slid across the color line, but I can speculate. I have no idea what either of Fay’s parents actually looked like. Someone from Syria could be very fair or very brown. I am assuming that Dave was more on the fair side since he was able to live out his life during segregation as a white man. What about Minnie?

As noted even less is known about Minnie, but in the biography about Fay it states that Minnie was from Houma. Houma is an area that continues to have a strong Native American presence. It is possible that Minnie had a mixed Native background with fair enough coloring to pass for white, but with such “dark” features as black hair and dark eyes. This is purely speculation. The real-life Fay was “fair,” but swarthy, with dark hair and dark eyes. It’s entirely possible that Alma, who was white, with unknown features, did not wish to raise a swarthy complexioned girl, whose dark features would always raise questions about the family’s “whiteness.” On the other hand, Fay’s background was clearly divergent from that of the average African American. Fairer complexion has often carried questions of whether a person thought they were “better than” their darker friends or family members, thus creating tensions. Leaving the smaller rural communities for the more cosmopolitan cities could provide better acceptance for people of all skin hues. If I am right about this scenario, it is no wonder that Fay never reconciled with her father. I can’t imagine what pain she must have felt at being given away.

Fay Ray Lassiter on tour
Fay Moses (Left) on tour with the 1942 production, Ship Ahoy, with Ethel Love (Middle) and Olive Sayles (Right). From Celebrating Fay, by Kurt and Klaus

In the end, this is all speculation. What we do know is that Dave and Alma sent Fay away and she went from a white home to a black home. Fed up with bad treatment, she left, eventually becoming the dancer and star, Fay Ray, who married my cousin.

References

[1] Brown, T. B. (17 March 2017). That Time American Women Lost Their Citizenship Because They Married Foreigners. Code Switch: Race and Identity, Remixed. Retrieved from: NPR.org

[2] North Carolina, Marriage Collection, 1741-2004 [Database on-line]. Fay Moses and Clark Lassiter, married: 27 October 2002, Randolph County, North Carolina. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[3] Kurt and Klaus. (n.d.). Celebrating Fay. Unpublished manuscript (Copy in possession of the author).

[4] 1920 US Federal Census; Census Place: Natchitoches, Natchitoches, Louisiana; Dave Moses, head; Fay Moses, daughter. NARA Roll: T625-617; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 38. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[5] 1930 US Federal Census; Census Place: Natchitoches, Natchitoches, Louisiana; Dave Moses, head; Alma J Moses, wife. Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0003; NARA Microfilm Series T626. FHL microfilm: 2340534. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[6] 1940 US Federal Census; Census Place: Natchitoches, Natchitoches, Louisiana; Dore [sic] Moses, head; Alma Moses, wife. NARA Roll: M-T0627-01414; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 35-3B. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[7] Louisiana, Naturalization Records, 1836-1998 [Database on-line]. Dave Moss, Petition. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[8] The only record that the author has found so far that seems to match the naturalization information is: New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [Database on-line]. Diab Moussa, Arrival 7 Sep 1913, New York, S. S. New York, from Southampton, England. NARA Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: 2169; Line: 10; Page Number: 65. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[9] 1930 US Federal Census; Census Place: Natchitoches, Natchitoches, Louisiana; Albert Graham, head; Fay Moses, Adopted Daughter. Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0001; FHL microfilm: 2340534. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[10] Kurt and Klaus. (n.d.). Celebrating Fay. Unpublished manuscript. (Copy in possession of the author).

 

#52Ancestors – In the Courthouse: Assault with intent to murder one Randall Farnell

When searching for information on one’s ancestors on Google, one usually hopes to find obituaries, marriage notices, birth notices, stories of how one’s ancestor helped found a town or church, not how someone tried to murder them. Of course, in genealogy, any information is good information, even negative information, so I was excited to see my great grandfather’s name, “Randall [sic – usually spelled “Randel”] Farnell.”

Randel Farnell
Randel Farnell, 1844-1928

According to the Southern Reporter,[1] in 1887, some of my great grandfather’s livestock died. He believed they were poisoned. My great grandfather, who lived in Live Oak, Suwannee County, Florida, sued a neighbor, Perry Davis, accusing him of being the one to poison the livestock. My great grandfather lost the case, Davis was acquitted. However, that was not the end of it.

Shortly after Davis was acquitted, a large number of my great grandfather’s geese tuned up dead. He assumed Davis was responsible. The dead geese were in a lane near both properties, attracting other neighbors who gathered around the geese. The report doesn’t say, but it could be assumed my great grandfather was loudly accusing Davis and those gathered were speculating also about Davis’ involvement. The speculation apparently angered Davis. He went and got his shotgun, came back and confronted my great grandfather. According to the report, Davis leveled the shotgun at my great grandfather at point blank range. He threatened to kill my great grandfather, telling him the shotgun was loaded. Ultimately, Davis did not shoot. My great grandfather accused Davis of attempted murder. The State prosecuted Davis in Circuit Court. He was convicted in a jury trial. However, his lawyer filed an appeal saying that the State had not proved its case and that Davis had been wrongfully convicted and should have been acquitted. The case went to the State Supreme Court.

Davis’ attorney claimed that 1) the verdict was contrary to the law; 2) the verdict was contrary to the charge of the court; 3) the verdict was contrary to the evidence and the weight of the evidence; and 4) the evidence was not sufficient to sustain the verdict.[2] According to Davis’ attorney, the most significant evidence against the conviction was that Davis had not killed my great grandfather. The attorney argued that Davis had the shotgun aimed directly at my great grandfather. He could easily have shot him if that was his intention. Thus, the fact that he had not shot him proved he had no intention of shooting him, even though Davis had said, and others testified that he told my great grandfather he intended to kill him. Furthermore, the attorney argued, there was no proof that the shotgun was loaded, even though Davis had said it was loaded. In the end, the Court agreed with Davis’ attorney:

Held, that this evidence does not show an assault with intent to murder.[3]

Davis v State-Southern Reporter
Davis v. State, Supreme Court of Florida, March 4, 1889

I would love to know what my great grandfather had to say about that.

References

[1] Davis v. State (Supreme Court of Florida, March 4, 1889). The Southern Reporter, 5:803-804. Retrieved from: The Southern Reporter

[2] Davis v. State (Supreme Court of Florida, March 4, 1889). The Southern Reporter, 5:803. Retrieved from: The Southern Reporter

[3] Davis v. State (Supreme Court of Florida, March 4, 1889). The Southern Reporter, 5:803. Retrieved from: The Southern Reporter

 

 

#52Ancestors – Family Photo – Easter Sunday 1907

I am fortunate to have a number of family photos of various family members, but I chose this one, which is a particular favorite, because my Dad is the little boy in front, Herbert Randell Williams, “Herbie.” He was three years old at the time. His older sister, Lute Odette Williams, “Aunt Lutie,” told me this was taken on Easter Sunday morning. It was she who identified the other family members in the picture for me when I was still very young.

017 (2)
Easter Sunday 1907, 312 Woodward Ave., Jersey City, New Jersey. L-R: Rear: Iva, Lute, Jessie, Lela, Charlotte Williams L-R in front: Herbert, ((seated) and Charlton {standing) Williams

In front: Herbert Randell Williams, “Herbie,” my Dad. He was born on 10 August 1904 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He died on 2 April 1982, in Forest Hills, Queens, New York. He was married first to Emma Scott. They had two sons, Robert Arthur Williams, and Harvey Scott Williams. He married second, my mother, Margaret Lilly Lee. He was inurned at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, on K St. NW, Washington, DC. My Dad told me that he was sitting on his favorite stool that he took everywhere h could. It reminds me that I used to have a favorite stool I took around the house following my Mom or Dad.

Standing just behind and to the right: Charleton Joshua Williams, Sr. “Uncle Jimmy.” He was my Dad’s brother. He was born 13 May 1897 in Live Oak, Suwannee County, Florida. He died May 1978, in Queens, New York. He married Julia Sinkler. 27 May 1917, in Manhattan, New York. They had two sons, Charleton Joshua Williams, Jr. and Earle Williams. Earle was killed by a car when stepping off a curb when he was still a child. His brother, who took on the Earl name, but we called him “Son,” never married or had children. Uncle Jimmy was buried in the family plot at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens, New York. There are several amusing stories about Uncle Jimmy. One I remember is that he loved to walk and could walk great distances. Once he walked from Queens across one of the bridges to Manhattan. At some point a policeman stopped him because the dog looked so exhausted. When the policeman discovered how far they would have to walk to get home, he put them in a cab for the trip, reportedly saying he would lock my uncle up and take the dog away if he saw them in a similar condition again.

Standing Left to Right in the rear:

Iva Mae Williams, “Aunt Babe.” She was the youngest of my grandfather, William Gainer Williams’ (not pictured here) siblings. She was born 10 Feb 1887, in Live Oak, Suwannee County, Florida. She died 22 February 1953, in New York City. She married first Milton Harry Johnson. They had one daughter, Helen M. Johnson, who died young. She married next Elmer Augustus Dade, a vaudeville star and agent. They had one son, Elmer A. Dade, Jr. He was not known to have any children. She is buried in the family plot in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens, New York.

Lute Odette Williams, “Aunt Lutie.” She was my Dad’s sister. She was born on 25 August 1895, in Live Oak, Suwannee County, Florida. She died 13 June 1985, in Jersey City, New Jersey. She was married to Guy Mann. They divorced. She never remarried. She had no children. She is buried with her parents in New York Bay Cemetery, Jersey City, New Jersey. I adored Aunt Lutie. She was the one to first tell me about my Williams-Farnell family history. You can read more about her here.

Jessie Williams, “Aunt Missy.” She was my grandfather’s sister. She was the next to youngest. She and Aunt Babe did everything together. She was born in May 1886, in Live Oak, Suwannee County, Florida. She died 23 Feb 1954, in New York City. She was married first to Benjamin Austin Powell. She married second, Rex Wilson. She had one daughter with Rex Wilson, Norma Wilson, who died young. Aunt Missy was buried in the family plot at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens, New York.

Lela Virginia Farnell Williams, my grandmother. She was born 28 September 1876, in Lake City, Columbia County, Florida. She died 28 March 1914, in Jersey City, New Jersey. She married my grandfather, William Gainer Williams, on 12 February 1893, in Live Oak, Florida. They had four children, Lute Odette Williams (Aunt Lutie), Charleton Joshua Williams (Uncle Jimmy), William Gainer Williams, Jr. (he died in infancy), and my father, Herbert Randell Williams. My grandmother is buried with my grandfather and Aunt Lutie in New York Bay Cemetery, Jersey City, New Jersey. You can read about her autograph book from her years at Florida Normal College (now Florida A & M) and its influence on me here

Charlotte Williams, “Aunt Trim.” She was my grandfather’s sister. She was born 29 March 1881 in Live Oak, Suwannee County, Florida. She died in December 1965, in Elmira, Chemung County, New York. She married first, Sam Hadley, in Live Oak, Florida. They had one son, Henry “Harry” Hadley. She married second, Eddie Hall, in Manhattan, New York. They had no children. She married third, Josephus Silas. They had no children. She married last, Major Stewart, in New York. They had no children. She is buried in the family plot in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens, New York. Aunt Trim loved horse-racing. A favorite activity was to go to Saratoga, New York for the racing season. She reportedly had a picture of her grandmother, Frances Gainer, but when Aunt Lutie went to retrieve it after Aunt Trim died, her husband, Major Stewart, said that he had thrown it out with other old “junk.” Aunt Lutie was heartbroken.

 

 

Will Anderson Walden Please Stand? Distinguishing between two men of the same name

Waldens in Randolph County and neighboring Moore County are sometimes difficult to sort out. Each of the family groups seem to use similar names for their children generation after generation. Walden and Lytle families’ researcher, Rik Vigeland has recently sorted out the two 19th century William Walden families of Randolph County in an upcoming article in the Genealogical Journal of the Randolph County Genealogical Society.[1] Similarly, there continues to be confusion between Anderson Walden of Randolph County, son of William Walden, a free man of color, of southeastern Randolph County and Anderson Walden of neighboring Moore County, an enslaved man. Time lines and attention to location, spouses, and children can help sort the two nineteenth century Anderson Waldens.

In the Census

The first Anderson Walden (herein, Anderson-1) was a free man of color born about 1800. He was the oldest of the four sons of William Walden and Levina Goins Walden.[2] They lived in the Southern Division of Randolph County in 1840[3] and 1850.[4] In 1860, the census divided the county into Eastern and Western Divisions, rather than Northern and Southern.  Anderson-1 was living in the Eastern Division of Randolph County, in the Foust Mills P.O. community.[5] In 1870, Anderson-1 was living in Wake County, in the home of his nephew, Haywood Walden,[6] son of Anderson-1’s younger brother, John Chavis Walden and wife, Martha Evans Walden[7], who were living next door.[8] Anderson-1 has not been identified in census records after 1870.

Anderson Walden, Haywood Walden & John C Walden in 1870 Census
Anderson Walden in home of nephew, Haywood Walden, next door to brother, John C. Walden, Wake County, NC, 1870 census.

The second Anderson Walden (herein, Anderson-2) was born enslaved about 1817, most likely in Moore County. There is no evidence he ever lived in Randolph County, but without knowing who all his enslavers were, there is no way to say definitively. His wife, Julia Ritter Walden, and children[9] were also from Moore County. Anderson-2 Walden never appears in any census records because he was known to be enslaved prior to 1865. He does not appear in the 1870 census, the first census to be taken after the end of slavery, because he died in 1869, as reported in the US Federal Mortality Schedules.[10]

Anderson Walden in Mortality Schedules-Moore Co.
Anderson Walden, blacksmith, died October 1869, Ritters Township, Moore County, North Carolina, 1870 US Mortality Schedules.

Family members

Anderson-1 married Sally Walden, 30 Nov 1830, in Randolph County.[11] Her parents have not been identified to date. Anderson-1 and Sally had the following known children: Thomas, Delana, Mosley, Brantley, and John W. Sally was apparently dead by 1850, when all names of household members are recorded on the census. In 1850, the household of Anderson-1 included all his known children, but Sally was missing.[12] In 1860, his household included “Bartley” [sic] and John.[13] In 1870, as noted previously, Anderson-1 was living in Wake County, with his nephew, Haywood Walden, son of his brother, John Chavis Walden.[14]

Anderson Walden in 1850 census Randolph County
Anderson Walden and family, Southern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina, 1850 census

Anderson-2 did not live long enough to be included with his family in any census records, having died in 1869.[15] He was known to be the husband of Julia Ritter Walden, of Moore County who had also been enslaved. Anderson-2 and Julia Ritter Walden had twelve known children: Bethania, Elizabeth, John W., Anderson Jr., James A., General B(ranson), Tima, Rebecca, Rhoda, Julia Ann, Margaret, and Henry Ruffin. In 1870, the first census after the end of slavery, Julia is living with eight of her children: Anderson, James, General B., Tima, Rebecca, Rhoda, Julia Ann, Margaret, and Henry Ruffin.[16] Bethania was already married to Jerry Ritter,[17] Elizabeth was married to Samuel Ritter.[18] John W. might be the John Walden, with Mary Walden (his first wife was said to be Mary Caveness[19]) and a small boy, McKay, on the 1870 census,[20] but in 1874, he married Margaret Ann Myrick, in Moore County.[21]

Julia Walden in 1870 Census
Julia Walden and children in Ritters Township, Moore County, North Carolina, 1870 census

Other Factors

Naming patterns.

The names of the children of Anderson-2 and Julia Ritter Walden point to possible other relationships. The name “Tima” was given to one of their daughters.[22] She may have been named for another family member named Tima Walden. There was a Tima Walden, born about 1820, an appropriate age to be a sibling of Anderson’s, who married Brantley Strickland in Randolph County.[23] Like Anderson-2 and Julia, she does not appear before 1870 and the end of slavery.[24] It is assumed she was previously enslaved.

Tima Walden Strickland in 1870 Census
Tima Walden Strickland (“Stricklin”), husband, Brantley, and children, Brower’s Township, Randolph County, North Carolina, 1870 census

Anderson-2 and Julia also had a son General Branson Walden. This child may have been named for another possible sibling, Branson Garner/Walden. Branson Garner/Walden was enslaved and the father of (Alfred) Islay Walden.[25] According to Islay Walden, Branson escaped west on falsified papers.[26] The potential sibling relationship between Anderson-2 and Branson is supported by the fact that Julia and her youngest son, Henry Ruffin Walden moved to Strieby after the death of Islay to help Islay’s widow, Elinora W. Walden, with the school.[27] Henry married Elinora in 1888.[28] Julia remained in the Strieby area, where she died in 1907, and was buried in Strieby Church Cemetery.[29] Julia and Anderson-2’s daughter, Tima Walden McLeod, and her husband, Jerry McLeod, also moved to Strieby, where she was named Postmaster in 1907.[30]  Tima and Jerry McLeod, were also buried in Strieby Cemetery.[31]

Julia Ritter Walden 1822-1907 (2)
Julia Ritter Walden, 1822-1907

Two sons named John W.

Both Anderson-1 and Anderson-2 had sons named John W.

There is no concrete information on what became of John W., son of Anderson-1. There are John Waldens in the records, but nothing to prove any one of them was this John Walden.

John W. son of Anderson-2, first married Mary Caveness, second, Margaret Myrick as noted above, after her probable death, he married Sarah Martin Ritter.[32] They lived in Moore County, but he died in Laurinburg, Richmond County.[33] He is buried in Moore County.[34]

Was there a relationship between Anderson-1 & Anderson-2?

There is no concrete information known to exist that can answer that question. However, it is plausible. Researchers have speculated for years that Islay Walden was a son of William D. Walden, Anderson-1’s brother. However, as shown, research has uncovered that Islay himself reported that his father’s name was Branson. He reported further that his father had been enslaved, but he had escaped from his enslavers by using falsified identity papers. However, it might be that the family oral history that Islay’s father was a free man, may have conflated the generations. Could it have been Islay’s grandfather, Branson’s father, who was the free man of color?  Again, all evidence is strictly circumstantial.

If it is assumed that Anderson-2, Branson, and Tima Walden were siblings, the fact that the two men have the same names as Anderson-1 and his brother, Stanford B., whose middle name is believed to have been “Branson,” points to potential family relationship. It could mean that one of the free Walden brothers had a relationship with a slave woman who was the mother of the presumed siblings, prior to a legal marriage to a free woman, but which brother?

Anderson-1 was old enough to be the father of the three presumed siblings, Anderson-2, Branson, and Tima. He was born about 1800,[35] making him about 17-18 when Anderson-2 was born. No age is known for Branson, but Tima was born around 1820,[36] making Anderson-1 about 20 when she was born. Tima was also found to be living in Brower’s Township in 1870,[37] where Anderson-1’s brother, William D. Walden was also living[38] and where he and his brothers had grown up. Branson was likely born about the same time period. Those facts combined with the fact that Anderson-1 did not marry until 1830[39] and the oldest of the presumed enslaved siblings, Anderson-2, had the same name as Anderson-1, potentially making them Senior and Junior, point to Anderson-1 being the likely candidate. What about the other brothers?

John Chavis Walden was born about 1807.[40] He was too young, being only 10 years old in 1817 and only 13 in 1820. Neither William D., born about 1817,[41] nor Stanford B., born about 1828,[42] were old enough. Thus, the most plausible candidate for the father of the three potential siblings, Anderson-2, Branson, and Tima, is Anderson-1. However, there is no evidence known to exist that can corroborate or refute this theory. Therefore, it is merely a working hypothesis.

Genealogical Summary

Anderson Walden (William1), called here, Anderson-1, was born about 1800, the son of William Walden and wife, Levina Goins Walden.  They lived in the southeastern part of Randolph County, North Carolina.[43] He died sometime between 1870 and 1880, most likely in Wake County, where he was last found living in 1870.[44] He married Sally Walden, 30 September 1830, in Randolph County.[45] She died before 1850. They had the following children:  Thomas, Delana, Mosley, Brantley, and John W. Walden.[46]

Family Record of Anderson and Julia Walden, by Henry Ruffin Walden, 1909
Family Record of Anderson and Julia Walden, by Henry Ruffin Walden, 1909.

Anderson Walden (father unknown), called here, Anderson-2, was born about 1817.[47] He was presumed to live most of his adult life in Moore County, where he died in October 1869.[48] He was married to Julia Ritter, date unknown. They were both enslaved.[49] Julia was born about 1822 in Chatham County.[50] She died, 15 January 1907, in Strieby, Randolph County, where she is buried in Strieby Church Cemetery.[51] Anderson-2 and Julia Ritter had the following children: Bethania, Elizabeth, John W., Anderson Jr., James A., General B(ranson), Tima, Rebecca, Rhoda, Julia Ann, Margaret, and Henry Ruffin.[52]

References

[1] Vigeland, R. (2019). Untangling Two William Waldens of Randolph County (Unpublished manuscript).

[2] North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [Database on-line]. William Walden, Probate Date: 1842; sons: Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[3] 1840 US Federal Census; Census Place: South Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; William Walden, head. NARA Roll M704-369; Page 56; Family History Library Film: 0018097. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

And 1840 US Federal Census; Census Place: South Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Anderson Walden, head; and John C. Walden, head. NARA Roll: M704-369; Page: 57; Family History Library Film: 0018097. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[4] 1850 US Federal Census; Census Place: Southern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Anderson Walden, head. NARA Roll: M432-641; Page: 88B; Image: 182. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[5] 1860 US Federal Census; Census Place: Eastern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Anderson Walden, head. NARA Roll: M653-910; Page: 320; Family History Library Film: 803910. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[6] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: White Oak, Wake County, North Carolina; Haywood Walden, head; Anderson Walden, birth year about 1803. NARA Roll: M593-1163; Page: 439B; Family History Library Film: 552662. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[7] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Haywood Walden and Lucrettie Walden, married: 13 Sep 1893, Wake County; Father: John C Walden; Mother: Martha Walden. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[8] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: White Oak, Wake County, North Carolina; Haywood Walden, head; Anderson Walden, birth year about 1803. NARA Roll: M593-1163; Page: 439B; Family History Library Film: 552662. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[9] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: Ritters, Moore County, North Carolina; Julia Walden, head. NARA Roll: M593-1149; Page: 579A; Family History Library Film: 552648. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[10] U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [Database on-line]. Anderson Walden, Blacksmith, married; died: Oct 1869, Ritter’s, Moore County, NC. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

11] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Anderson Walden and Sally Walden, married: 30 Sep 1830, Randolph County. Retrieved from:  Ancestry.com

[12] 1850 US Federal Census; Census Place: Southern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Anderson Walden, head. NARA Roll: M432-641; Page: 88B; Image: 182. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[13] 1860 US Federal Census; Census Place: Eastern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Anderson Walden, head. NARA Roll: M653-910; Page: 320; Family History Library Film: 803910. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[14] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: White Oak, Wake County, North Carolina; Haywood Walden, head; Anderson Walden, birth year about 1803. NARA Roll: M593-1163; Page: 439B; Family History Library Film: 552662. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[15] U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [Database on-line]. Anderson Walden, Blacksmith, married; died: Oct 1869, Ritter’s, Moore County, NC. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[16] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: Ritters, Moore County, North Carolina; Julia Walden, head. NARA Roll: M593-1149; Page: 579A; Family History Library Film: 552648. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[17]  1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: Ritters, Moore County, North Carolina; Jerry Ritter, head; Bethany Ritter. NARA Roll: M593-1149; Page: 577A; Image: 273916; Family History Library Film: 552648. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[18] 1870; Census Place: Ritters, Moore, North Carolina; Samuel Ritter, head; Elizabeth Ritter/ NARA Roll: M593-1149; Page: 576B; Image: 273903; Family History Library Film: 552648. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[19] Walden, H. R. (1909). John Walden. Family Record of Anderson and Julia Walden: From 1822-1907. (Rockingham, NC: the author), pp. 8.

[20] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: Sheffields Township, Moore County, North Carolina; John Walden, head. NARA Roll: M593-1149; Page: 607A; Family History Library Film: 552648. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[21]  1900 US Federal Census; Census Place: Carthage, Moore County, North Carolina; John Walden, head; Margaret Walden, wife; married about: 1874. Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0068; FHL microfilm: 1241207. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[22] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: Ritters, Moore County, North Carolina; Julia Walden, head. NARA Roll: M593-1149; Page: 579A; Family History Library Film: 552648. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[23] North Carolina, Deaths, 1906-1930 [Database on-line]. Adline Chestnut, deceased, 7 Dec 1917, Randolph County; Tima Walden, mother; Brandley Strickland, father. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[24] 1870 US Census; Census Place: Browers, Randolph County, North Carolina; Brantley Stricklin, head; Tima Stricklin. NARA Roll: M593-1156; Page: 317B; Family History Library Film: 552655. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[25] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Alfred I.  Walden and Amelia Frances Harriss, married: 17 October 1867, Wake County, “Son of Branson Walden and Rutha Walden.” Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[26] The Evening Post (2 July 1879). An Interesting Ordination (New York, New York). Retrieved from: Fultonhistory.com

[27] Williams, M. L. (2016). From Hill Town to Strieby: Education and the American Missionary Association in the Uwharrie “Back Country” of Randolph County, North Carolina (Crofton, KY: Backintyme Publishing), pp 93-98.

[28] North Carolina, Marriage Index, 1741-2004 [Database on-line]. H R Walden and Eleanor W Walden, married: 13 Dec 1888, Randolph County. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[29] Strieby Congregational United Church of Christ Cemetery. Julia Walden, 15 Jan 1907 (Asheboro, Randolph County, North Carolina). Find A Grave. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com

[30] U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 [Database on-line]. Tima S. Walden, 30 Dec 1907, Strieby, Randolph County, North Carolina. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[31]  Strieby United Church of Christ Cemetery. Tima S. Waldon McLeod, died 4 May 1908; Jerry McLeod, died 26 Apr 1908. Cemetery Census. Retrieved from: Cemeterycensus.com

[32] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011[Database on-line]. John Walden and Sarah Jane Ritter, married 8 Apr 1903, Moore County. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[33] North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [Database on-line]. J W Waldn, died: 14 Nov 1926, Laurinburg, Richmond County. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[34] U.S., Taylortown Community Cemetery, John W. Walden, 18 Mar 1844 – 14 Nov 1926 (Taylortown, Moore County, North Carolina).. Find A Grave. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com

[35] 1850 US Federal Census; Census Place: Southern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Anderson Walden, head. NARA Roll: M432-641; Page: 88B; Image: 182. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[36] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: Browers Township, Randolph County, North Carolina; Brantley Stricklin, head; Tima Stricklin, wife. NARA Roll: M593-1156; Page: 317B; Family History Library Film: 552655. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[37] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: Browers Township, Randolph County, North Carolina; Brantley Stricklin, head; Tima Stricklin, wife. NARA Roll: M593-1156; Page: 317B; Family History Library Film: 552655. Retrieved from: Anceestry.com

[38] 1870 US Census; Census Place: Browers Township, Randolph County, North Carolina; William D. Walden, head. Roll: M593-1156; Page: 319A; Image: 87; Family History Library Film: 552655. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[39] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Anderson Walden and Sally Walden, married: 30 Sep 1830, Randolph County. Retrieved from:  Ancestry.com

[40] 1850 US Federal Census; Census Place: Western Division, Wake County, North Carolina; John Walden, head, age: 43. NARA Roll: M432-647; Page: 198B; Image: 400. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[41] 1850 US Federal Census; Census Place: Southern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; William D. Walden, head, b. 1817. NARA Roll: M432-641; Page: 88B; Image: 182. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[42] 1850 US Federal Census; Census Place: Southern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Stanford Walden, head, born 1828. NARA Roll: M432-641; Page: 88B; Image: 182. Ancestry.com

[43] 1840 US Federal Census; Census Place: South Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Anderson Walden, head; and John C. Walden, head. NARA Roll: M704-369; Page: 57; Family History Library Film: 0018097. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[44] 1870 US Federal Census; Census Place: White Oak Township, Wake County, North Carolina; Haywood Walden, head; Anderson Walden, birth year about 1803. NARA Roll: M593-1163; Page: 439B; Family History Library Film: 552662. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[45] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [Database on-line]. Anderson Walden and Sally Walden, married: 30 Sep 1830, Randolph County. Retrieved from:  Ancestry.com

[46] 1850 US Federal Census; Census Place: Southern Division, Randolph County, North Carolina; Anderson Walden, head. NARA Roll: M432-641; Page: 88B; Image: 182. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[47] U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [Database on-line]. Anderson Walden, Blacksmith, married; died: Oct 1869, Ritter’s, Moore County, NC. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[48] U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [Database on-line]. Anderson Walden, Blacksmith, married; died: Oct 1869, Ritter’s, Moore County, NC. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[49] Walden, H. R. (1909). Julia and Anderson Walden. Family Record of Anderson and Julia Walden: From 1822-1907. (Rockingham, NC: the author), pp. 4-5.

[50] Walden, H. R. (1909). Julia and Anderson Walden. Family Record of Anderson and Julia Walden: From 1822-1907. (Rockingham, NC: the author), pp. 4-5.

[51] Walden, H. R. (1909). Julia and Anderson Walden. Family Record of Anderson and Julia Walden: From 1822-1907. (Rockingham, NC: the author), pp. 4; And Strieby Congregational United Church of Christ Cemetery. Julia Walden, 15 Jan 1907 (Asheboro, Randolph County, North Carolina). Find A Grave. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com

[52] Walden, H. R. (1909). Her Christian Character. Family Record of Anderson and Julia Walden: From 1822-1907. (Rockingham, NC: the author), pp. 8-10.

#52Ancestors – Surprise! Elmer Augustus Dade, My Great Uncle and Vaudeville Star. Who Knew?

In fact, I did know that Elmer Dade was my great aunt, Iva Mae Williams’ husband and that they had a son, Elmer Dade Jr., who was buried with his mother in our family cemetery plot, at Mount Olivet Cemetery, in Maspeth, Queens, New York City.[1] So it stood for many years. I had found everyone in the census of 1930[2] and 1940,[3] but I wasn’t researching my great aunt and uncle, I was trying to push our family line backwards, beyond her parents, my great grandparents, Joshua W. Williams and Ellen Wilson Gainer Williams. I’m not sure what happened first, but at some point, I did read the occupation column and noticed that Elmer Sr. was an actor. Given the time period he lived in, it was not a stretch to imagine he was possibly involved in Vaudeville. Little did I know!

Iva Mae Williams "Babe"
Iva Mae Williams, Aunt Babe, circa 1910

About three or four years ago, I was contacted by Deborah Lowe Wright, Director of the Pickaway County Historical Society, from the Pickaway County, Ohio,[4] asking if I had additional information about Elmer, other than what was in my on-line Ancestry tree and that there was an annual luncheon in Ohio honoring the founding families and others of note, from Pickaway County. I was encouraged to attend the following year’s event. I had a conflict and did not attend.

Subsequently, I set about adding documentation to Elmer’s Ancestry profile. In 2016, I was contacted again by Deborah Lowe Wright. She provided me with additional information about Elmer’s background. She told me that Elmer’s family originated in Orange County, Virginia, moving later to Pickaway County.[5] She asked if I had much information about his career in Vaudeville. She hadn’t found much at that point. I went out to Google to look for information and found for the first time that Elmer was a well-known performer and agent![6] I was wishing my parents and especially my father’s sister, Lute Williams Mann, were still alive. I knew that “Aunt Lutie” knew her “Aunt Babe” well. Surely, she had more information. Alas, I will never know.

In the intervening years, additional newspaper articles mentioning Elmer and his public appearances have become available on-line. Deborah Lowe Wright had created clippings that made my research easier.[7] His appearances around the country were met with great acclaim. He and his dance partner, and then wife (before he was married to my great aunt), Malinda Allen, were called “Royal Entertainers.”[8]  How exciting! However, there were other surprises, not totally unexpected, but nonetheless jarring.

Right now, in Virginia, there is a great upheaval over the discovery of pictures believed to be the governor, when he was in college, attending a party in black-face.[9] So, it is a subject in the forefront of my thought as the governor’s behavior and responses are hotly debated. Thus, it was more startling than it might have been at another time, to find that Elmer was known for some of his “black face” performances.  Before the current controversy, I would have considered it simply an historical reality, not having any immediate relevance to my current world. While certainly a racist image, it was what white audiences wanted to see. Thus, even African American performers sometimes felt obliged to perform in black face (I’m sure begrudgingly) in order to survive financially in a hostile world.

In 1925, the Cincinnati Enquirer noted that,

Malinda and Dade, whose ancestors hailed from Africa, are programmed as royal entertainers, and they are. It is not related to what court they are attached, but yesterday’s audience set up a court of its own and voted Malinda and Dade its prime jesters. Dance? Of course, in typical plantation style …[10]

Malinda and Dave "plantation dance?
Cincinnati Enquirer, 2 November 1925

The Muncie Evening Press wrote,

The Keith-Albee vaudeville will include Malinda and Dade, a clever tea mof [sic] blackface comedians who give negro dialect and song offerings.[11]

The Pittsburgh Press said,

Malinda and Dade, chocolate colored entertainers from the southland, will sing and dance in that whimsical fashion of the real Negro.[12]

The “real Negro?”

On the other hand, The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that Malinda and Dade were, “a pair of colored singers and comedians who are exceptionally gifted.”[13] Am I just feeling jaded and suspicious? “Exceptionally gifted?” Was that a genuine compliment? Does it mean exceptionally gifted despite being chocolate colored, blackface, royal jesters who sing and dance like real Negroes? I’m feeling sad, uneasy, and angry.

I have a hard time picturing my great aunt or any of my Williams family as “prime jesters,” or “plantation style” dancers, or being sympathetic to such behavior. Did Aunt Babe know exactly what he was doing? Did she just ignore it, content that he brought the money home? Was she more enamored with the fame than bothered by racial indignities? Did it seem removed from her life as homemaker and mother? I’ll never know.

I did find an article that dated from the time period during which Elmer and Aunt Babe were married, a 1939 funeral notice for another vaudeville star, Mae Brown, who performed with her deceased husband, Garland Howard as Howard and Brown. [14]  The funeral services were at historic St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, in Harlem.[15] Among those mentioned as having sent floral arrangements were, “Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Dade.”[16]

There are some interesting anomalies regarding my great aunt and Elmer. I have yet to find their marriage record. They are listed as married in the 1930 census,[17] the 1940 census,[18] and his World War II registration.[19] According to the Social Security Death Index, he died in 1971 in the Bronx, New York.[20] However, I have not found a death record for him. I suspect that is because the New York City death index records later than 1965 are not public.[21]

Elmer Dade WWII Draft Registration
Elmer Augustus Dade, World War II Draft Registration.

Despite my discoveries about my great uncle’s blackface performances, I still take pride in his career. He was part of theater history, the good and the bad. As usual, I wish I had known more about this earlier, before everyone who had first hand knowledge was dead. That’s the eternal lament of a genealogist and family historian.

References

[1]  Burial plots of Iva Mae Williams Johnson Dade and Elmer Dade Jr. Section R, Mount Olivet Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens, New York. Certificate in possession of the author.

[2] 1930 US Federal Census; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Christina Hill, head; Elmer Dade, brother-in-law; Iver Dade, sister. NARA Roll: 1574; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0930; Image: 275.0; FHL microfilm: 2341309. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[3] 1940 US Federal Census; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Elmer Dade, head; Iva Dade, wife. NARA  Roll: T627-2650; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 31-1108. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[4] Collins, S. (18 Jan 2018). Author presents research on Circleville’s African American History. Circleville Herald (Circleville, Ohio). Retrieved from: circlevilleherald.com

[5] 1900 US Federal Census; Census Place: Circleville Ward 3, Pickaway, Ohio; Elmer Dade, “father’s birthplace: Virginia.” NARA Roll: 1313; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0102; FHL microfilm: 1241313. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[6] Uno. (19 Jan 1952). Burlesque Bits. The Billboard (Nielson Business Media, Inc.), p. 46. Retrieved from: Google Books

[7] Dlowewright.  Retrieved from: newspapers.com

[8] Elmira Star-Gazette. (5 Jan 1924). At the Elmira Theaters, Majestic (Elmira, New York), p. 7. Retrieved from: newspapers.com

[9] Kelly, C. (7 Feb 2019). Virginia governor apologizes for ‘racist and offensive’ costume in photo showing people in blackface and KKK garb. CNN. Retrieved from: cnn.com

[10] The Enquirer. (2 Nov 1925). B. F. Keith’s–Vaudeville (Cincinnati, Ohio), p. 5. Retrieved from: newspapers.com

[11] Muncie Evening Press. (25 Oct 1925). Theaters: Wysor Grand (Muncie, Indiana), p. 12. Retrieved from: newspapers.com

[12] The Pittsburgh Press. (18 Nov 1923). Joe Brown at Davis Theater in New Act (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), p. 45. Retrieved from: newspapers.com

[13] The Philadelphia Inquirer. (9 Oct 1923). ‘Miss Philadelphia’ and ‘King Neptune’ (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), p. 15. Retrieved from: newspapers.com

[14] Snelson. F. B. (25 Nov 1939). Mae Brown, Well Known Actress Dead. The New York Age (New York, New York). Retrieved from: newspapers.com

[15] St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church. (n.d.). Our History. Retrieved from: stmark138.com

[16] Snelson. F. B. (25 Nov 1939). Mae Brown, Well Known Actress Dead. The New York Age (New York, New York). Retrieved from: newspapers.com

[17] 1930 US Federal Census; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Christina Hill, head; Elmer Dade, brother-in-law; Iver Dade, sister. NARA Roll: 1574; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0930; Image: 275.0; FHL microfilm: 2341309. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[18] 1940 US Federal Census; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Elmer Dade, head; Iva Dade, wife. NARA  Roll: T627-2650; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 31-1108. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[19] U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [Database online]. Elmer Augustus Dade. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[20] U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [Database on-line]. Elmer Dade, Date of Death: Aug 1971. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[21] New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. (12 Jul 2017). New NYC death indexes available, 1949 – 1965. Retrieved from: newyorkfamilyhistory.org

 

#52Ancestors – At the Library – Emsley Phillips Lassiter in the Lawrence Carter Papers

Carthage Public Library-Aug 2013
Henry Henley Public Library, Carthage, Indiana. Photo by Margo Lee Williams, 2013

In 2013, I was researching the story of my 4th great uncle, Emsley Phillips Lassiter, born free around 1811, he was the oldest of the children of my 4th great grandparents, Miles Lassiter and Healy Phillips Lassiter, from Randolph County, North Carolina. Emsley had moved with the Quaker migration of the 1830s to Indiana. I had gone to Indiana to visit the community to which he moved, called the Beech Community, near Carthage Indiana. With the help of friend and distant relative, Nancy Barry Kline, and Carthage library board member, Claire Mercer, I was able to do research at the Henry Henley Public Library in Carthage, Indiana, even though the library was technically closed for the afternoon. This library was very important to my research because it is the home of the original, but unpublished, collection called the Lawrence Carter Papers.

Emsley Phillips Lassiter in the Lawrence Carter Papers

Lawrence Carter home - Carthage, Indiana - Aug 2013
Lawrence Carter Home, Carthage, Indiana. Photo by Margo Lee Williams, 2013.

Lawrence Carter was born in 1905 and descended from a Beech Community family. Carter wrote several notebooks about its history, especially the families of Beech Community.[1] He devoted a small section to my 4th great uncle, Emsley,[2] in which he first quoted Thomas Newby (who had published information on those whom he called the “colored pioneers” of Carthage[3]), reiterating that Emsley traveled with Henry Newby (Thomas’s father) in 1832, and that Emsley lived with and worked for Newby in those early years in Indiana. However, that cannot be completely corroborated. Henry Newby is listed in the 1840 census, but there were no people of color counted as living in his household.[4] Since Emsley married Elizabeth Winburn on 03 Apr 1845,[5] in Rush County, they should have been listed in the 1850 census, but they were not. They could not be accounted for as living in her father’s, (Tommy Winburn) household either.[6]  Even a page-by-page search did not yield their whereabouts. Searches of other counties, even other states, have yielded nothing.  However, Carter mentioned that at one point “Em” lived in the “old Baptist Church House,” which may explain it. A census taker, who was not from the immediate community would not likely think there was anyone living in a church. That may explain 1850, but it did not answer the question of where he was in 1840. His whereabouts in the 1840 and 1850 censuses was even more puzzling based on his real estate purchases during the same time period.[7]

Margo Williams under Henry Henley portrait at Carthage Public Library-3 Aug 2013
The Author in front of Henry Henley Portrait, Public Library, Carthage, Indiana. Photo by Nancy Barry Kline, 2013.

Again, like Newby before him,[8] Carter also claimed that another Beech resident, Farley Lassiter, was a cousin of Emsley’s. This author had never heard of a Farley (also known as Farlow) before. Inquiry of various Lassiter family members in the Lassiter Mill community in Randolph County revealed no one there had heard of Farley either.

Margo Williams at Carthage Public Library-4 Aug 2013
The Author at the Front Desk, Henry Henley Public Library, Carthage, Indiana. Photo by Nancy Barry Kline, 2013.

In the 1840 Rush County census it was noted that there were two Lassiter (“Laston/Laster”) families of color: one was “Farlow,”[9] the other was “Patient” (“Patience”).[10] Farlow’s household only had one adult male and one adult female, presumably he and his wife, Martha (Bass). Patient’s household listed two possible adult males: one in the 10-23 age category; the other in the 24-35 age category. Judging from later census records, one of those adults was most likely Seth Lassiter, born about 1814-1815,[11] which hovers around the crossover age of 23-24. Emsley, on the other hand, would be firmly in the 24-35 age category based on the birth year of 1811, which was most consistent over time, making him 29 in 1840.

This also seemed to eliminate the possibility that he was living at his father in-law Thomas Winburn’s home. Winburn’s household showed no males in that age category.[12] Thus, the most likely explanation was that Emsley was living in the Patient/Patience Lassiter (Laston/Laster) household.

Because of the way the 1840 census is recorded, generally listing families alphabetically, it is often difficult to determine who is neighbor to whom. However, Farlow/Farley is listed on page 42, with John Roberts and Willis Roberts (both families of color originally from Northampton County, North Carolina), while Patient/Patience is listed only one full page away from Henry Newby. She is on pages 409-410, and he is on pages 411-412.  It should be noted that although Patient/Patience and Farlow/Farley have been determined to have come from Randolph County, the exact nature of their kinship bonds to Emsley has not been determined.[13]

Margo Williams at Carthage Public Library Aug 2013
The Author Reviewing Pages from Lawrence Carter’s Notebooks. Photo by Nancy Barry Kline, 2013.

Carter’s essay on Emsley mentions several other pieces of information. According to Carter, Emsley had a sister named “Penn,” presumably short for “Penina,” a name which he and Elizabeth gave to one of their daughters.[14] However, since all the children of Miles and Healy (Phillips) Lassiter have been identified through Randolph County, North Carolina records as well as private, Lassiter family, records, this is unlikely.[15] On the other hand, his wife, Elizabeth, did have a sister named Penina. This is most likely the “Penn” to whom Carter was referring.[16]

Carter also claimed Emsley moved to Grant County and died there. The above census review indicates otherwise. However, he did move to Grant County. According to historian Stephen Vincent, in his book, Southern Seed, Northern Soil, he moved there about 1865.[17] It is not clear why he moved to Grant County. Although there was a Weaver community there and his daughter, Mary Anna, later married a Weaver,[18] he was not living in the Weaver community. He was living in Fairmount, near Henry Winslow, from North Carolina, and probably a member of the large Quaker Winslow family that migrated to Indiana about the same time as Henry Newby. As noted above, however, Emsley returned to Rush County by 1880. Again, in contrast to what Carter wrote, Emsley died in Indianapolis, on 10 March 1892.[19] Exactly when he moved to Indianapolis is not known, but sometime in the late 1880s, since he does not appear in available city directories before that time.

Margo Williams at Carthage Public Library-rev-2 Aug 2013
The Author at the Henry Henley Public Library, Carthage, Indiana. Photo by Nancy Barry Kline, 2013.

Emsley’s widow, Elizabeth, was found living with daughter, Cristena Laster Overman,[20] in Center (Marion), Grant County, in 1900.[21] Elizabeth died there on 21 April 1908. She is buried at Estates of Serenity, Marion, Grant County.[22]

 

References

[1] Moore, W. L. (Processor) (2012). Lawrence B. Carter Notebooks, N.D. In Manuscript and Visual Collections Department, William Henry Smith Memorial Library. Indiana Historical Society. Retrieved from: IndianaHistory.org

[2] Carter, L. (n.d.). “Emsley Lassiter,” in original unpublished notebooks at the Henry Henley Public Library, Carthage, Indiana (Copies provided by Nancy Barry Kline).

[3] Newby, T. T. (1916). Colored Pioneers: Emsley Lassiter. Reminiscences of Thomas T. Newby (Carthage, Indiana). Retrieved from: Archive.org

[4] 1840 US Census, Ripley, Rush, Indiana; Roll: 93; Page: 209; Image: 425; Family History Library Film: 0007729, Henry Newby, head. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[5] Rush County, Indiana. General Index to Marriages, 1822-1907, FHLM #1630369 Items 3-4, and Marriage Records v. 6-8: 152, 1843-1861; Emsley Lassiter and Elizabeth Winburn. Family History Library Microfilm #001630189. See also: Ensley Lassiter, “Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959,” Retrieved from: FamilySearch.org

[6] 1850 US Census, Ripley, Rush, Indiana; Roll: M432-170, Page: 537B; Image: 336. Family Number: 728, Thomas Winburn, head. Retrieved from Ancestry.com

[7] Williams, M. L. (2014). The Emsley Lassiter Family of Randolph County, North Carolina and Rush County, Indiana. Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, 32, 59-78.

[8] Newby, T. T. (1916). Colored Pioneers: Farlow Lassiter. Reminiscences of Thomas T. Newby. Retrieved from: Archive.org

[9] 1840 US Census, Ripley, Rush, Indiana; Roll: 93; Page: 214; Image: 435; Family History Library Film: 0007729; Farlow Laston, head. Retrieved from Ancestry.com

[10] 1840 US Census, Ripley, Rush, Indiana; Roll: 93; Page: 208; Image: 423; Family History Library Film: 0007729; Patient Laston, head. Retrieved from Ancestry.com

[11] 1850 US Census, Ripley, Rush, Indiana; Roll: M432_170, Page: 550B; Image: 362, Family Number: 916; Seth Lassiter, head. Retrieved from Ancestry.com

[12] 1840 US Census, Ripley, Rush, Indiana; Roll: 93, Page: 211; Image: 429; Family History Library Film: 0007729; Thomas Winburn, head. Retrieved from http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&db=1840usfedcenancestry&rank=1&new=1&MSAV=1&msT=1&gss=angs-d&gsfn=Thomas&gsln=Winburn&msrpn__ftp=Indiana&uidh=hx1&pcat=CEN_1840&fh=0&h=2040288&recoff=7+19+20&ml_rpos=1.

[13] Williams, M. L. (2014). The Emsley Lassiter Family of Randolph County, North Carolina and Rush County, Indiana. Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, 32, 59-78.

[14] 1870 US Census, Fairmount, Grant, Indiana;  NARA Roll: M593_317; Page: 41B; Image: 86; Family History Library Film: 545816;  Emsly Lasters, head. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[15] Williams, M. L. (2011). Miles Lassiter (circa 1777-1850), An Early African American Quaker from Lassiter Mill, Randolph County, North Carolina: My Research Journey to Home (Palm Coast, FL & Crofton, KY: Backintyme Publishing, Inc.) pp.103-130.

[16] 1850 US Census, Ripley, Rush, Indiana; Roll: M432-170; Page: 537B; Image: 336; Thomas Winburn, head. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[17] Vincent, S. A. (1999). Southern Seed, Northern Soil: African-American Farm Communities in the Midwest, 1765-1900 (Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press), p. 200, n14.

[18] Indiana Marriage Collection, 1800-1941 [database on-line] Grant County, Marriage Records Volume II Book 7:199.  James Weaver and Mary Lassiter. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[19] Indiana Deaths, 1882-1920 [database on-line]. Name: Enssly [sic] Laster. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[20] Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001 [Database on-line]. Cristena Laster and Joseph Overman, 29 April 1881, Rush County. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[21] 1900 US Federal Census Place: Center, Grant, Indiana; Joseph Overman, head; Elizabeth Lester [sic], mother-in-law. NARA Roll: 373; Page: 23B; Enumeration District: 0030; FHL microfilm: 1240373. Retrieved from: Ancestry.com

[22] U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1700s-Current [Database on-line]. Elizabeth Laster, 21 April 1908, Estates of Serenity, Marion, Indiana. Find A Grave. Retrieved from: Findagrave.com