Posts filed under ‘Historical Information & Tidbits’

Slave Ancestry and the Fort Family of Dallas County, Alabama

By following the history, and migration, of slaveholders, such as the Fort family, the descendants of African slaves who were held captive or birthed from relations with slaveholders, can trace their own roots. This article traces the lineage of the Julia Fort family of Marion Junction and/or Harell’s Alabama to the Fort family, and includes documentation suggesting that the paternity of Julia’s children connects to a slaveholder. With the advances of science of technology (DNA testing, and connection to information, databases and family members via the internet etc.), the lives of the enslaved Africans that have been lost to history can now be uncovered.  By using these tools we can give voice to ancestors, and piece together family history.

Public Domain Image

Public Domain Image

The Secrets of Slavery

The secrets of slavery are concealed like those of the Inquisition. My master was, to my knowledge, the father of eleven slaves. But did the mothers dare to tell who was the father of their children? Did the other slaves dare to allude to it, except in whispers among themselves? No, indeed! They knew too well the terrible consequences..”(p. 6, On Slaveholders’ Sexual Abuse of Slaves, Selections from 19th- & 20th-century Slave Narratives)

Slavery existed in America for 245 years (1620’s-1865). During that time, African people could be legally held as property. It was an accepted belief among society that African people (or anyone with dark colored skin) was considered inferior or not human. Along with that belief, slaves were not entitled to any personal rights or freedoms. Their lives were dictated by the demands of their masters.

Historical documents, and narratives, reveal that African women were viewed no different than animals when it came to bearing children – just as cattle were bred to bear offspring to be worked, sold or slaughtered, the same notion applied to enslaved women. 

Slave women had no legal protection and were often sexually exploited. Slave women were viewed as property, and had no choice or say so in what was done to them, because their body belonged to a master, and whatever he asked could not be refused. Those who objected or resisted faced harsh punishment that included rape, beatings or being sold off. In some cases, women were murdered. Popular attitudes of the time did not consider slave women capable of intelligence or feeling; and slaves were not considered capable of forming relationships or bonding with children or family, which made it easier for slaveholders to justify their cruel treatment of slaves, including breaking up families and selling off children.

The children born of relations between slaveholder and slave were often the product of rape or coercive control (a pattern of behavior that involves repeated, intentional and ongoing acts of abuse – including physical and psychological abuse, as well as institutional abuse). Coercive control results in a person being stripped of their sense of self and freedoms. The person is held hostage, in this case not just physically held as a slave but emotionally and psychologically held captive as well. That is to say what may be viewed as a “consensual relationship” could also be a result of the abuses of the slave system. If a slave became pregnant, it was a financial benefit to the slaveholder because the children would become slaves, who could be used for labor. In terms of ownership, a White slaveholder inherited any child born to his female slave. Ownership of children did not extend to males. 

Despite these harsh circumstances, there are stories passed down in families, and historical narratives and records, that indicate enslaved Africans fought to preserve family ties in the midst of great oppression and suffering.  

Jennifer Hallam writes (see source below): “Whenever possible, black slave women manipulated their unique circumstances in the struggle for their personal dignity and that of their families. As often as black men, black women rebelled against the inhumanities of slave owners.


Like their ancestors and counterparts in Africa, most slave women took their motherhood seriously. They put their responsibilities for their children before their own safety and freedom, provided for children not their own, and gave love even to those babies born from violence.

Even today, a remnant exists, passed down from one generation to the next through the traditions, the stories, the recipes, the spirituality and culture and other customs.

The Fort Family In America

…The Fort brothers are representative of artisans who strengthened their economic position beyond their wages by acquiring land and slaves and maintaining family ties…” North Carolina Architects and Builders Bio: The Fort Family

The Fort family is said to have originated as a Huguenot family in France who fled the country due to religious or political persecution. The original spelling of the surname as Liforti or Le Fort. I found historical records connecting members of the Fort family to French Huguenots, and immigrating to Lezant England. According to “Memorial Record of Alabama” which offers a history of the Burwell Jackson Fort family of Harrell’s (Vol. I, p. 866, 869 (Published by Brant & Fuller, 1893), “The ancestors of the Fort family in the United States are said to have been French, and to have been banished from their native country for political reasons. They settled in North Carolina, and one of the name was once governor of that state.” http://files.usgwarchives.net/al/dallas/bios/gbs446fort.txt

It has been established that the Forte (Fort) family traces its early origins back to Lezant, a civil parrish and village, in east Cornwall, England. The first known member of the family to set foot in America is Elias Forte who came from England to Isle of Wright County, Virginia. Few records of the first Elias Forte have survived; however, there is a recording dated Oct. 9, 1667, Isle of Wight, Va. when he served on jury. Elias Forte is also mentioned in a membership application for the Huguenot Society of America. Elias married Phillis Champion and together had 3 boys: Elias, John and George. From George Fort (1668-1719), the line of the Forts established in Harrell’s, Alabama would descend.

The name Elias Fort would be passed down to future generations of children – including my cousin Elias Fort, the oldest son of Wyatt and Anna Fort, former slaves held by the Fort family of Dallas County, Alabama. Evidence suggests that Wyatt, and his siblings, are progeny of a member of the Fort family and a slave named Julia who took the last name Fort after emancipation.

From Virginia, the George Fort family, and their descendants, migrated and became well-established in North Carolina and then Tennessee. The Forts owned land, livestock, and slaves – built stately plantation houses, and rose in the ranks of social and political standing.

In the shadows, slave families worked the land and maintained plantation houses. They raised families of their own, and prayed for freedom. 

Alabama Fever Brings the Forts to Harrell’s

Alabama Fever is the name for a land rush that happened after the Creek Nation was defeated in 1814 by Andrew Jackson, leading U.S. troops. The Creek Nation occupied a majority of land in Alabama. After the war, former Creek lands in Alabama and Georgia were ceded to U.S. territory. Much of this land was opened up for sale to White settlers. Thousands of pioneers left Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas seeking fertile farm land, and better opportunities in Alabama.

Alabama Fever also marked the expansion of slavery, and with it wealthy settlers brought slaves into the new territory. Census records also indicate this; when looking at the names of freed slaves or their descendants, the birthplace of a mother or father is often listed. In my family, the birthplace of slave ancestors is listed as Virginia or North Carolina in a majority of my relatives who were then moved into Alabama. The plantation system rapidly took hold in Alabama. Planters sold cotton to buy more slaves, and then used slaves to produce more cotton“,”Between 1830 and 1860, Alabama’s white population increased by 171 percent and its black enslaved population by 270 percent.” (Encyclopedia of Alabama) The Black Belt contained one of the largest concentrations of slavery in Alabama. By 1849, Alabama was a leader in the production of cotton.

Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory but was admitted into the Union, and became its own territory in 1819. The creation of cotton plantations in Alabama, and the region, transformed and expanded the global economy.

The Forts were a respected family of American aristocracy, of their ranks, Burwell Jackson “BJ” Fort and his wife, Nancy Northington, made the migration from Robertson County, TN to Alabama in 1818. A network of rugged roads and Indian trails connected Tennessee to Alabama, along which the Fort family traveled.

The Fort family prospered in Alabama, settling in an area that was known as Bridges or Forts. The name of the town was changed to Marion Junction in 1857 with the creation of a railroad. The bulk of the Fort’s wealth was invested in land and in slaves.

Then tragedy struck, in 1822 Nancy Fort died, and was buried on the plantation. Two small children, William E Fort, and Eliza Ann Fort, were now motherless. In 1824, Burwell Jackson Fort remarried Charlotte Elizabeth Harrell, together they had 5 sons and 1 daughter.

On November 3, 1836, Burwell Jackson Fort suddenly fell ill while on a trip to Cahaba – 14 miles from his home. He called on a friend to help write a will, distributing his property among his wife and children. Within hours, Burwell Jackson Fort had died.

Among his sons, Elias William “EW” and Gabriel Holmes “GH” Fort became prominent farmers, it is here that the Fort family connects to that of Julia, an enslaved woman.

Fort Slaves

Public Domain: Photo published before 1923

Public Domain: Photo published before 1923

Few records exist concerning the slaves owned by the Fort family; however land documents can help trace the location of plantations. In addition, wills or probate documents, as well as labor contracts, can indicate names of slaves and slaveholders. Census records and family history are also valuable sources of information.

The stories that have passed down to me from my Elders are not usually a complete story, like an e-book easily accessible and ready to read… but rather are glimpses into memory, contain names that held close to the heart, and are fragments of history and how lives were impacted. Family history also emerges in a recipe passed down, a song carried on the lips, an old prayer or a faded photograph. I piece together these memories and fragments with documents, or speak other family members, in an effort to better understand my family and our history.

In this case, I had an idea that my Ford (Fort) relatives are racially mixed by comments such as “they could pass for White” and that relatives “were real light skinned”. There was a vague acknowledgement that the Fords (Forts) had a White ancestor. To be honest, it wasn’t a subject anyone wanted to talk about, let alone admit other than a few, offhand comments. The pain from the past still lingered… and with it, a stigma created by the institution of slavery and the resulting segregation and poverty of the Jim Crow era that kept Blacks “in their place”. Many Black families did not talk about or pass down what happened in times of slavery, believing it was better to forget or just move on. A new history or identity was then created over the scars of the past. Now with the emergence of diversity and equality in society,and access to the past through advances in technology, the younger generation is starting to ask questions and to dig deeper.

There are indications that my ancestor, Julia Fort (b. 1824-1882), raised her 5 children to identify as mulatto, and likely told them about their White father. Julia herself was mulatto. She lived and died in the rural community of Harrell’s, living on the Fort land all of her life. Census records show that Julia worked as a housekeeper and as a laundress. Sintha, a woman in her household who is believed to be a sister, worked as a cook. 

In the traces of the lives of Julia’s children there are indications that they did want to be acknowledged  – they identified as mulatto in a time where it was safer to identify as Black. In the 1910 Federal Census son Joseph “Joe” Fort identified his father as being “European” and having been born in Alabama, offering another clue. Joe’s death certificate states his father is “not legally recognized”, again an indication of a White father. In the rural community of Harrell’s the possible father would have belonged to a very small population of men. 

1910 Census, Joseph Forte Family, 624 Green Street, Selma Ala

1910 Census, Joseph Forte Family, 624 Green Street, Selma Ala

Marriage licenses also demonstrate a close connection between Julia’s family and the Forts. Her sister Sintha married Thomas “Tom” Harrell in December 1872, the ceremony was conducted on the E.W. (Elias William) Fort plantation. Also, in Dec 1874, Julia’s son Monk Fort (my ancestor) married his wife Julia Watkins on the Fort plantation.

Marriage License Monk Fort and Julia Watkins

Marriage License Monk Fort and Julia Watkins, 1874

In my family, I have discovered that children were commonly named after family members, and have traced a trail of familiar names to discover kinship ties. Wyatt Fort named his oldest son Elias, and his brother Monk Fort named his oldest son William. Is it a coincidence that that both are names passed down among the generations of the Fort family, and Elias is a name given to the eldest son? 

 

July 20, 1860 Slave Schedule, Harrell’s

The key to African-American slave ancestral research is finding the last owner, which is not an easy task The slave schedules for the 1860 and 1850 census enumerations list enslaved people under the names of their owner, identified by race (“Black” or “Mulatto”), age and gender. Researchers look for an ancestor who fits the description of the enslaved person then attempts to confirm the identity with other forms of documentation. 

In the 1860 Slave Schedule, the Fort families live next to each other, this is also shown in later census taken in 1870 and 1880 – and within those dates, former enslaved Forts are seen living and working on the Fort land. 

 

Charlotte Fort, widow of Burwell Jackson Fort Sr.

Records note 4 slave houses

All Slaves Owned:

Gender

Age

Female

30 Mulatto

Female

28 Mulatto

Female

26 Black

Female

24 Black

Female

21 Mulatto

Male

17 Black

Female

8 Mulatto

Male

7 Black

Female

5 Black

Male

5 Mulatto

Male

3 Black

Male

2 Mulatto

Female

1 Black

Female

48 Black belongs to EW Harrell

EW Fort – 5 slave houses

Name of Slave Owner:

EW Fort

All Slaves Owned:

Gender

Age

Male

27 black

Male

27 black

Male

27 black

Female

27 black

Female

26 mulatto

Female

25 black

Female

15 black

Female

13 black

Male

12 black

Male

11 black

Male

11 mulatto

Female

8 black

Female

7 black

Female

5 black

Male

5 black

Female

3 black

Female

3 black

Male

3 black

GH Fort – Listed as 1 Slave House

Name of Slave Owner:

G H Fort

All Slaves Owned:

Gender

Age

Female

33 mulatto

Male

32 black

Female

30 black

Male

28 black

Male

28 black

Female

17 mulatto

Male

15 mulatto

Male

14 mulatto

Female

14 black

Male

12 mulatto

Male

10 mulatto

Female

10 black

Male

7 black

Male

5 mulatto

Male

4 mulatto

Female

3 black

Female

2 mulatto

Male

3/12 black

RJ FORT (IS THIS BJ JR??) HARRELL’S 8 Slave Houses

Name of Slave Owner:

RJ Fort

All Slaves Owned:

Gender

Age

Male

35 black

Male

30 black

Female

30 black

Male

28 black

Female

22 black

Female

23 black

Male

23 black

Female

22 black

Male

23 black

Male

18 black

Male

18 black

Female

18 black

Female

18 black

Female

17 black

Female

17 black

Female

20 black

Female

14 black

Male

14 black

Male

23 black

Female

20 black

Female

18 black

Female

36 black

Male

12 black

Female

11 black

Male

8 black

Male

5 black

Male

5 mulatto

Male

2 mulatto

Male

5/12 black

Male

5/12 black

Female

4/12 black

Female

4/12 black

I think it is likely my ancestors were held by GH Fort – notice how the names and ages of Julia and children match the description of slaves held by GH Fort on the 1860 Slave Holder Schedule. A grouping of mulatto slaves is not found anywhere else: 

Female 33 – Julia (she would have been pregnant in 1860, daughter Lizza was born in 1861)

Female 17 – sister, Sintha

Male 15 – son, Joe

Male 10 – son, Wyatt

Male 5 – son James/Jim

Male 4 – son, Monk

(It is also possible that other children were born to Julia who have not yet been discovered.)

1870fort

The 1870 Census shows the Fort families in this order:

The 1870 Census was the first that African-Americans were counted in after emancipation. Note the that Julia Fort’s family continued to work and live on the Fort plantation after emancipation. 

Dwelling 87: Elias Fort, son of Charlotte

Charlotte Fort, mother and widow of Burwell Jackson Fort Sr. 

Dwelling 88: Julia Fort and her children: James, Lizzie and Wyatt (Monk was found working on a distant farm). 

Sintha Fort, believed to be a sister of Julia

Dwelling 89: Gabriel Fort (son of Charlotte), his wife Catherine, and children

 

What has been established is that a mulatto woman named Julia was held as a slave by the Fort family of Harrell’s, Dallas County, Alabama. She worked in the household of the Forts as either a cook or housekeeper, and lived and died on the Fort plantation. During the course of slavery, Julia bore at least 5 children who identified as mulatto, the father of the children is reported to be of European origin and was born in Alabama. Julia’s children continued to labor on the Forts plantation for most of their lives, were married on the land, and likely Julia and kin were buried there as well. In a rural, isolated community such as Harell’s there was only a small population of slaveholder men who could have been the father.

As of yet there is not conclusive evidence regarding the paternity of Julia’s children but with advances in DNA testing, an answer may be closer… And the research continues… 

treaschesst.1

 

**PERSONAL NOTE** For me, the journey to uncovering my genealogy, and connecting with family members, is my way to honor the efforts and sacrifices made by the generations who came become me. When an ancestor is named, and their life story preserved, the path of their life, and mine, is brought together…not only in blood but in memory. I believe the most important inheritance our children could receive is not in money or objects but is in passing down our family story, the lessons, the old photos, the laughter and the faith…this is the backbone of our identity as individuals, and in a broader sense, establishes an America that is now diverse, multi-cultural, and free. ~ In Our Hearts, 2017

 

HISTORY RECORDS AND INFORMATION

Ancestry.com

(This page has a member name of InOur Hearts)

Encyclopedia of Alabama: Alabama by Wayne Flynt

Encyclopedia of Alabama: Alabama Fever

FORTS:

Clayton Heathcock Genealogy Site – Elias Fort I and Related Branches

Wiki Tree: Elias Fort I

 

AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY: 

AL Black Belt Heritage: The Cotton Kingdom Era

Retracing Slavery’s Trail of Tears by Edward Ball, Smithsonian Magazine

The Slave Experience: Men, Women and Gender by Jennifer Hallam

Sexuality between Slaveholders and Slaves in the Beginning of American History Part 1 by Melanie “CoCo” McCoy

The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

 

SPECIAL THANKS:

Thank you to my amazing cousin “S”  for your encouragement, advice and stories… you have contributed greatly to this article. I thank God for having met you, and hope to create new history with you! (Put your crown on – lol)

 

To Be Researched: 

“Letters from Fort family members in Alabama to Hilliard Fort of Halifax County, N.C., indicate that Alabama land was more productive than North Carolina land and encourage him to speculate in unclaimed lands in Alabama…”

“Correspondence between Whitaker and Fort family members and friends and other materials. Topics include family news, Halifax County news, plantation matters, and politics. Included is an 1864 letter from Jefferson Davis to Mrs. Ransom, a Whitaker family friend, discussing the whereabouts of her husband, Major General Robert Ransom Jr. The Addition also contains financial records and receipts including records of slave transactions, and clippings.” UNC University Libraries – Chapel Hill

February 28, 2017 at 3:05 am 4 comments

UK: New Adoption Rules Make it Easier to Trace Family Tree, Get Educational Entitlements

United Kingdom, Sept 29, 2014: The government established new rules to help facilitate “contact between ‘persons with a prescribed relationship’ and the birth relatives of a person adopted before 30 December 2005”.

Descendants now able to discover more of their medical background even if adopted due to a new rules. Previously, ONLY the adoptee and their birth relatives were able to utilize specialized adoption agencies to help research family history and make contact other family members.

Under the new rules, “persons with a prescribed relationship’ as anyone related to an adopted person by blood (including half-blood), marriage or civil partnership or by virtue of the adoption. This will include all relatives of the adopted person, including but not limited to the children and grandchildren of adopted persons” can gain access to information about their ancestors’ lives, research family history, discover their medical background and contact other family members. The consent of the adopted party is required before making contact UNLESS a) the person is seeking information that does not reveal identifying info, b) the adopted person cannot be found to give consent or c) the adopted person dies or is unable to give consent. The information will be shared through a government-run intermediary agency.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson: “It’s right that descendants and other relatives of adopted adults are able to access important information, such as medical records or genetic health conditions, which could impact upon how they live their life today.

They should also be able to find out about important events from their past, as well as make contact with family members if they wish.

“This positive change will help thousands of people discover their place in history, while keeping important safeguards in place to protect the right to a private family life for those who were adopted.”

Julia Feast OBE, from the British Association for Fostering and Adoption (BAAF): “We are very pleased that the government has extended the rights of descendants and other relatives to access an intermediary service whilst ensuring that the adopted person’s rights are not overlooked and will be at the centre of the decision making.”

Other reforms include: 

Establishing a fund of £19.3 million fund to assist adopted children as they settle into their new families by offering support services  and offering extended educational entitlements for adopted children.

Also, the government has published the Adoption Passport which provides all the rights and entitlements of adoptive parents, alongside new online maps to help potential adoptive families to gain  information about services in their area.  First4Adoption is the government funded information service for people interested in adopting a child.

The new rules will take effect by November 2014.

I personally have to wonder how much information is being shared, and if this could lead to privacy violations or safety concerns? I personally would not like someone digging up my medical records and having access to that information–at any time. It would be scary to go into a website and dig up private information about your ancestor which could easily be shared or made public. And what happens for children conceived out of rape or whose family member experienced domestic violence, what safety precautions are taken then? 

And do you really want the government to be the gatekeeper to your family’s genealogy and personal information? What kind of database is the UK government creating on its population anyways?

We will just have to see how this plays out… because this article does not offer alot of info.

Source: Go.Uk Press Release, 9/25/2014, “Relatives of adopted adults now able to trace family tree”: http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed133086

October 14, 2014 at 6:37 am Leave a comment

WF Harrell – Harrell Family Alabama

There was a post asking about the Harell family that founded Harrell’s Crossroads or Harrell’s in Dallas County, Alabama. My response became lengthy so I am making it into a post.

The post office of Fort or the town of Fort was renamed Marion Junction. The Fort, Harrell, and Rasco families are closely related. “Harrell’s Crossroads” is west of Selma on highway US 80.

Gabriel Homes Harrell born 12 Aug 1778 in Bertie County, North Carolina and died 16 Oct 1829 in Dallas County, Alabama. Originally settled in Cahaba. Gabriel Holmes Harrell married Frances “Fanny” Harrell. Mrs. Fanny Harrell was born April 4, 1781 in Bertie County, North Carolina and died in 1839 in Dallas County, Alabama. 

1810 United States Federal Census 1810 United States Federal Census
Name: Gabriel Harrell
County: Bertie
State: North Carolina
Free White Males Under 10: 2
Free White Males 10 to 15: 2
Free White Males 26 to 44: 1
Free White Females Under 10: 1
Free White Females 10 to 15: 1
Free White Females 16 to 25: 1
Free White Females 26 to 44: 1
Numbers of Slaves: 16
Number of Household Members Under 16: 6
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 9

Source Citation: Year: 1810; Census Place: , Bertie, North Carolina; Roll
39; Page: 168; Family History Number: 0337912; Image: 00109.

Children of FANNY HARRELL and GABRIEL HARRELL are:

i. CHARLOTTE ELIZABETH6 HARRELL, b. March 26, 1804, Bertie Co., North Carolina; d. December 08, 1870, Marion Junction, Alabama; m. BURWELL JACKSON FORT I, April 24, 1824, Dallas County, Alabama; b. December 28, 1797; d. Unknown.
46. ii. ELIZABETH ANN HARRELL, d. Unknown.
iii. WHITMELL F. HARRELL, d. Unknown; m. PHERABY FORT RASCO; d. Unknown.
47. iv. HARDIMAN ISRAEL HARRELL, b. 1809  d. Unknown. m. NANCY PRINCE FORT (b. May 13, 1802)
v. JOSIAH HARRELL, b. Aft. 1798; d. Unknown; m. LOUISIANA BRANTLEY, 1851; d. Unknown.
vi. MARY ANN HARRELL, d. Unknown; m. PASCHALL B. TRAYLOR; d. Unknown.

FAMILY OF W.F. HARRELL of HARRELL’S ALABAMA

Name: Whitmell Finis/Francis Harrell

Birth: April 10, 1806

Parents: Gabriel Holmes and Frances “Fanny” Harrell

Place of Birth: Bertie County, North Carolina

Married: Pherby Fort Rascoe

Pherby was born April 19, 1808 in Trigg County, Kentucky.  Her parents were Laban T Rasco (KY) and Sarah Reese (NC). She died on June 7, 1882 in Blount County, Alabama. And was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery Blount Co Ala. 

The Rasco were also originally from Bertie County but moved to Christian County Kentucky in the 1790’s and then to Dallas County in the early 1820’s.

Date of Marriage: 1829

Children: Amelia S., Harrell Moss and Whitmell Henry Harrell and Finis Ewrin Harrell

Death: May 10, 1877

Place of Death: Hayden, Blount County, Alabama

Buried At: Harrell Cemetery, Blount County, Alabama

***

1850 CENSUS:

Place: Cahawba, Dallas, Alabama

Family#: 570

<strong>W. F. Harrell, 44, b. 1806, M Farmer 11,800 NC</strong>
Ferreby 42, b. 1808, F,  KY
Henry, 17, b. 1833, M, Student, AL
F. W. 10, b. 1840, M ”
A. S. 4, b. 1846, F ”
Miss Julia Bland 20, b. 1830, F,  GA

608/608 <strong>G. H. Harrell 30M Farmer 5,300 AL</strong> (GABRIEL H. HARRELL)
E. J. 30, F, NC (ELIZA J. KING-HARRELL)
O. A. 10M AL (DR. OSCAR HARRELL)
C. L. 7M ” (CALVIN LUTHER HARRELL)
F. B. 6F ”
M. W. 4, F ” (MATTIE, FLORIST)
G. H. 2M ”
G. G. Smith 30M Physician GA

NOTE: Marriage: Harrell, Gabriel H. m Eliza J. King – 27 Mar 1838 pg 106

On November 29, 1850, W.F. Harrell bought one lot and parts of two others in Cahaba from William Gwin & Rosy Ann (Wilson) Gwin. The Gwins sold Lot #231 and 80 feet running N and S and on the eastern side of lots #217and 218 in the town of Cahaba, Dallas Co., AL, to Whitmiel F. Harrell for$1000.00. (From Dallas County Book N, pp.627-28)

 

Source: 1850 Census, Dallas County, AL: <a href=”http://www.gwingenealogy.net/GENEALOGY/ALABAMA/census1850dallcoMYnames.htm&#8221; title=”1850 Census Dallas County AL” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>http://www.gwingenealogy.net/GENEALOGY/ALABAMA/census1850dallcoMYnames.htm</a&gt;

Gwin Family Deed/and or Mortgage Transcriptions and/or Abstracts: http://www.gwingenealogy.net/GENEALOGY/DEEDS/DeedsEtc.htm

DALLAS CO, AL MARRIAGES — APPEARING IN MARRIAGE BOOK I: 1818 – 1845: http://www.genealogytoday.com/pub/ALMARR.HTM

1860 SLAVE CENSUS:

<strong>HARRELL, W. F., 99 slaves, Harrels, page 63</strong> (DALLAS COUNTY, ALABAMA.
LARGEST SLAVEHOLDERS FROM 1860 SLAVE CENSUS SCHEDULES and SURNAME MATCHES FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS ON 1870 CENSUS. Transcribed by Tom Blake, May 2001: <a href=”http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ajac/aldallas.htm&#8221; title=”LARGEST SLAVEHOLDERS FROM 1860 SLAVE CENSUS SCHEDULES” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ajac/aldallas.htm</a&gt;)

1860 CENSUS

Place: Harrells/Harrells Beat, Dallas, Alabama

W.F. Harrell– Value of his real estate is $53,000. value of personal estate is $102,350. Occupation is farmer.

Post Office is in Forts.

<strong>W F Harrell, Whitmill Finis/Whitmill Francis E. Harrell </strong> 53 – born. 1807, North Carolina
<strong>P F Harrell </strong> 51- born 1809, Kentucky
T E Harrell 19, b. 1841, M
A S Harrell 13, b. 1847, F
W H Harrell 27, b. 1833, M
S C Harrell 21, b. 1839, F
C L Harrell 4, b. 1856, F
W T Harrell 2, b. 1858, M
W A Harrell 10/12, b. 1859, M
G W Stewart 25, b. 1835, M

United States Civil War Confederate Applications for Presidential Pardons

Name: Whitmill F Harrell
Event Type: Amnesty
Event Date: 1865 – 1867
Event Place: Alabama

“United States Civil War Confederate Applications for Pardons, 1865-1867,” index, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V4M8-DLH : accessed 07 Oct 2014), Whitmill F Harrell, 1865 – 1867; citing “Case Files of Applications from Former Confederates for Presidential Pardons (‘Amnesty Papers’), 1865-1867,” Fold3.com; NARA microfilm publication M1003, roll 5

1870 CENSUS:

Sometimes after the War Between the States, Whitmel Finis Harrell moved his family to Shelby County Ala for his health and by 1870 he was living in Blount County. Whitmel was a very wealthy planter prior to the War Between the States. He was financially ruined by the War and it’s outcome. He lost his health as well.

I found a source indicating that W.F. Harrell owned a quarry, “The limestone is thus favorably situated for quarrying, and it has been worked on a considerable scale at Blount Springs and Bangor.
One quarry between these two places, belonging to W. F. Harrell, is now in operation. This quarry is an open working and the face is almost 80 feet high, extending nearly to the top of the outcrop on the escarpment. The following is a section of the rock quarried:

Section of Bangor limestone at Harrell quarry.
Feet.
Gray seraicrystalline limestone……………………………. 28
Dark sem(crystalline limestone…………………………… 12
Gray semicrystalline limestone……………………….’…… 40
The limestone beds are separated by thin partings of carbonaceous
shale.

Limestone from this quarry is used for flux in the furnaces at Birmingham and Bessemer.”

Source: “Limestone and Dolomite in the Birmingham District, Alabama” by Charles Butts.  (p. 247-248) http://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/0315g/report.pdf

Place: Township 13 Range 2, Blount, Alabama

Post Office: Blount Springs

Whitmill Harrell/Whitmill Finis E Harrell, Retired Farmer, Value of Personal Estate $250

Forabee Harrell, Keeping House

1880 CENSUS:

Place: Township 13 Range 2, Blount, Alabama

Post Office: Blount Springs

Rheraba F. Harrel/Pherby Fort Rasco Harrell, Widowed, Keeping House

Ada Moss, b. 1867, Granddaughter. Father born in AL, Mother born in MISS.

 

NOTES:

Genforum: My grandmother’s wedding took place near Birmingham, AL in 1918. T<strong>her wedding book is signed by several Harrells, including Grace, Mr. &amp; Mrs. W. H. Harrell and what appears to be Mr. &amp; Mrs. W.F. Harrell.</strong> My grandmother wrote next to one of the Harrell’s “2nd cousin”. Keeping in mind that the Harrells need not have lived in AL to attend the wedding, does anyone have any family connections that might fit?
http://genforum.genealogy.com/harrell/messages/1431.html<a href=”http://genforum.genealogy.com/harrell/messages/1431.html&#8221; title=”Harrell on Genforum” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”></a>

ORIGIN OF HARRELL SURNAME: Researchers have found the surname Harrell established along the Scottish-English border about 400 A.D. Many families lived as clannish groups, and they often engaged in feuds. In the early 1600s, some of these clans were sent to Scotland and Ireland. Some were sent to the Colonies. They settled along the eastern coast from Newfoundland to Virginia and the Carolinas. Source: “The Harell Family”http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Spring99/Moulden/frame.htm

See also: Harrell Families of Early Hertford County, North Carolina: http://www.harrellfamilies.com/

Harrell, a Scottish-English surname, derived from Old French “hurer”, meaning to bristle, was a diminutive nickname for someone with lots of hair.

In Scottish Harrell family history, the family held a seat (feudal home) in Argylshire, and another Harrell family held an ancient seat in Northumberland on the English-Scottish border.

Harrell was established as a surname in England by Normans following the conquest in 1066; the earliest recorded use is in an abbey charter in 1154 where it is spelled “Horel”.

The surname Harrell also appears in Ireland where it may be an anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó hEarghail ‘descendant of Earghal’. Earghal was a given name with the same etymology as Fearghal,which may be anglicized as Fergal but is also the source of the surname Farrell. Fearghal was a popular given name for boys meaning manly or valorous in early Ireland.

American Harrell genealogy dates to 1676 in Maryland.

 

SOURCES:

AL Dallas L Archives, “Re: [ALDALLAS-L] Finis Ewing Harrell Sr. & Wife” by James R. Rasco (Jrrasco@aol.com): http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/ALDALLAS/2001-08/0997659505

Descendants of John Harrell Sr., Generation 4 by Claude (Chip) Thomas Harrell, Jr.: http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/h/a/r/Claude-T-Harrell-jr/GENE1-0004.html

Gabriel Holmes Harrell by Garland Lively, Rootsweb: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/HARRELL/2010-06/1276285019

Gabriel Holmes Harrell & wife Francis “Fanny” Harrell by James R. Rasco, Gen Forum: http://www.genforum.familytreemaker.com/harrell/messages/4324.html

Rascoe Family Tree, and Early Lineage by Tom Synder: http://tomesnyder.name/evanrees/Chapter7.pdf

Harrell Cemetery on Find A Grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gsr&GScid=23280

Whitmell Francis Harrell – Find A Grave, created by Nancy Alexander: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=94868604&ref=acom

Pherby F. Rasco Harrell – Find A Grave, created by Rose Ramos: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=HARR&GSfn=P&GSpartial=1&GSbyrel=all&GSst=3&GScntry=4&GSsr=1&GRid=40383860&

October 6, 2014 at 11:02 pm 4 comments

Rest in Peace Eliott Fort – March 5, 1931 (Houston, TX)

Name: Elliott Fort
Birth Date: 13 Jul 1884
Birth Place: Alabama
Gender: Male
Race: Colored (Black)
Spouse: Mrs Minnie Fort
Father: Monk Fort
Mother: Julia Watkins
Age at Death: 46
Death Date: 5 Mar 1931
Death Place: Houston, Harris, Texas, USA

Resided in Houston 7 years

Occupation: Laborer, Hughes Tool Co.

Address: 712 Shepherd Street

Cause of Death: Natural

Undertaker:  Fairchild Undertaking Co

Place of Burial: Evergeen Negro Cemetery, Market Street between Calles Street, Lockwood Drive & Sakowitz Street

The cemetery, divided by Lockwood Drive into two sections, contains approximately 5.58 acres out of Lot 7, Middle Tier of the Harris & Wilson Survey, A-32, Harris County, Texas.

Children:

Bernice Fort b. 1908

Carrie Fort b. 1907

Grace Fort b. 1906

Percy Fort b. 1905

Source Information:

Ancestry.com. Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.

Original data:Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas Death Certificates, 1903–1982. iArchives, Orem, Utah.

(Deette Dupree Nesbitt’s efforts to restore and save one of Houston’s oldest and most historic cemeteries, Evergreen which is located a few minutes away from downtown Houston, TX.)

 

Evergreen Negro Cemetery, Kay and Duane Douglass (Find A Grave #47176403)

 

Evergeen Negro Cemetery: Find A Grave

http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&GRid=90898850&CRid=2299628&

The Evergreen Negro Cemetery is the third oldest African-American Cemetery in Houston. There are former slaves and World War I veterans buried in this cemetery.

Every gravemarker in the cemetery has been photographed and placed on Find-a-Grave.

Requests for photos of gravemarkers will be impossible to fulfilled as more than 95% of the graves do not have gravemarkers.

If your family member is listed here and does not have a gravemarker photograph, please check at Ancestry.com or at FamilySearch.org for a Texas Death Certificate. Regretfully, that will be the only source of proof for the individual’s burial.

In 1960, 490 individuals, more or less, were removed by the City of Houston to expand Lockwood Drive from Sonora to Library Road. Re-interments were in other sections of the cemetery as well as at Eternity Park Cemetery, Oak Park Cemetery and Paradise Cemetery. Johnson Funeral Home, located in Houston, Texas, was awarded the contract for the removal and re-burial of the bodies. There are no records existing regarding the remains and relocation as there were no cemetery lot/plot records and many of the graves were unmarked and/or unknown individuals. At the time of the removal, very few family members were located who could connect names with burial location.

Research has located approx. 4.500+ individuals buried in the cemetery, many of which, are in unmarked graves.

These burials were located through a search of Harris County Death Certificates.

However, it will be an impossible task to determine if an individual is actually buried in the cemetery or if they were relocated as many of the removed during the road expansion project were from unmarked / unknown graves and only a few hundred gravemarkers were placed in the cemetery.

Elliot Fort on Find A Grave: http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=fort&GSiman=1&GScid=2299628&GRid=90898850&

This makes me want to cry! Where is the respect for our deceased loved ones, and their families? You will be remembered and held up in prayer.

September 30, 2014 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment

Ames Bag Manufaturing Company Selma, AL

Here is some interesting history about the Ames Manufacturing Company (now closed) in Selma Alabama… written by Bobbie Ames:

“My husband inherited the old Ames Bag Manufacturing Company in Selma, Alabama, at the end of WWII. It was the largest manufacturing plant in the area, and had hundreds of employees who had worked there for many decades. It had awards for the efficiency of the operation and for the race relations, which were always remarkable in those years.This was not true of every business in those days.

The demand for cotton and burlap bags dwindled, and the company was forced to close or to make a transition to other products. Space does not permit me to expound on this remarkable story which has been related in corporate boards over the nation as an inspiration.

Just let me say this: Our Selma and Blackbelt employees unanimously wanted to learn new methods of manufacturing and they remained true to my husband’s business, as they learned new skills of making fiber and plastic containers of every kind imaginable. They made the first miniature Morton Salt and Accent cans for one example. The very first “Wet Ones” were designed in part by Jack Green, our on-sight ngineer. I never knew if he had his PE or not. He was a genius. These were fast changing skills for a work force that never finished college. They had the character to love learning new skills, and they shared Prayer and Scripture over the loud speaker. They had an open door any time day or night to the “Boss’s office.” We all shared moral absolutes and family values. I prayed with many individual mothers who worked there. There was no racial divide in that workforce.”

Source: “The Battle for the Minds of Children: American Education at the Crossroads” by Bobbie Ames, Alabama Gazette, 03/01/2014: http://www.alabamagazette.com/story/2014/03/01/education/the-battle-for-the-minds-of-children-american-education-at-the-crossroads/200.html

On September 20, 1979, A F2 tornado hit and that Ames Bag and Packaging Company sustained major damage when the roof and 3 walls of one of the buildings collapsed, causing $25,000 worth of damages. There were no fatalities, 2 people suffered minor injuries.: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/bmx/?n=tornadodb_1979

If you have anything to contribute, please post below in the comments–your resources, web links, stories and thoughts are appreciated!

NOTE: Just discovered my relative Ira Smith worked at the Ames Bag Manufaturing  Company in Selma.

Ira Smith (b.1891)  m. Alma J. Smith (b. 1897). According to the City Directory, Ira and Alma lived on 1538 Range Street in Selma.

 

August 4, 2014 at 10:53 pm Leave a comment

Julia Watkins 1870 Census – Harrells Crossroads – Dallas County AL

1870 Census Harrell’s Crossroads, Dallas County Alabama

Enumerated August 16, 1870 by SJ Martin, Assistant Marshall

Julia Watkins married Monk Fort, also of Harrells Crossroads, in 1874. The family alternately is recorded as using the last name “FORD”. Monk Fort died somewhere between 1895-1900.

Monk and Julia are recorded as having 9 children: William b. July 1877, Elijah (Elliot) b. July 1879, Pettus (James Pettus) b. July 1884, India (Judie?) b. Jan 1888, Pinkie b. Jan 1890, Daisie b. Sept 1893 and Charlie b. Jan 1894. There is also a Mary.

I believe James was also called James Pettus, Pettis, and Pettus Fort/Ford.

Name: David Watkins
Age in 1870: 60
Birth Year: abt 1810
Birthplace: Georgia
Home in 1870: Harrells, Dallas, Alabama
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Post Office: Marion Junction
Value of real estate:
Household Members:
Name Age
David Watkins b. 1810 Georgia, Black, Farm Laborer 60
Excey Watkins b. 1851 Georgia, Black, Farm Laborer 19
Simon Watkins b. 1854 Georgia, Black, Farm Laborer 16
Julia Watkins b. 1857 Georgia, Black, Farm Laborer 13

The Family Next Door Is:

David Watkins Jr., b. 1844, Georgia, Black, Farm Laborer

Fannie Watkins, b. 1841 Georgia, Black, Farm Laborer

Edward Watkins, b. 1863 Georgia, Black

Clark Watkins, b. 1867 Alabama, Black

Source: Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

July 29, 2014 at 10:24 pm 5 comments

Afro-Argentine Resurgence: The Whitest Country in South America Begins to Embrace its African Roots

“Having pride in melanin is revolutionary, rebellious. It takes strength and a special type of courage to refuse to compare yourself to what society deems as beautiful which is anti-black, against every drop of melanin on your skin. Stay the course.” — Afro Latina Army: https://www.facebook.com/AfroLatinoArmy

_________

 

Argentina does not have a recognized Black population, and even the origins of its Black history have been repressed…97% of the country’s population identifies itself as “White”. Where did the population of Blacks go? And what does this mean for descendants of Africans or the Mixed Race population?

Afro-Argentine Women (Wikipedia)

From 16th to the 19th Century, millions of free Africans were forcibly removed from their homelands and under horrific conditions sent to the New World as slaves. This forced migration is one of the worst tragedies in human history–known as the “Middle Passage”. An estimated 12 million Africans were brought into Latin America, mainly arriving at the port cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, to be sold at auction or sent to plantations, and other places of forced labor, in chains. Argentina is a country built on the bloodied backs of slave labor.  During the Middle Passage, hundreds of thousands of Africans were brought into Argentina on slave ships, beginning in 1587. In a second forced exodus, these Africans have been erased from the social conscience of Argentina.

Historical records say the first Africans arrived in Argentina in the 16th century, in the region of Rio de la Plata to work primarily as domestic servants and in agriculture. By the lat 18th and 19th century, the population of slaves had greatly increased that in some parts of Argentina, Africans counted for half the population of regions like Santiago del Estero, Catamarca, Salta and Córdoba. Argentina officially abolished slavery in 1813 buts its practice continued until about 1853, when the Black population began to drastically decline. In Buenos Aires, the population of Blacks was 30% in in 1810, by 1887, that number dropped to a staggering 1.8%

The reason for the decline in African population? Two contrasting set of theories- Historians cite two reasons for the Black “disappearance” from Argentina– war with Paraguay (1865-1870) where thousands of Blacks fought on the front lines, and were killed. Other Blacks fled the country, seeking safety in Brazil or Uruguay.

Antonio Ruiz (Falucho) Antonio Ruiz (died February 6, 1824) was an Argentine soldier. He is the national hero of Argentina. Falucho is the nickname of Second Corporal Antonio Ruiz, an Afro-Argentine soldier of the Independence War

Due to the increase in the number of Black men, many Black women sought White partners instead, “diluting” the population (or creating an entirely new population!). The Mixed-Race population was not acknowledged as Black because “People of mixed ancestry are often not considered ‘black’ in Argentina, historically, because having black ancestry was not considered proper,” said Alejandro Frigerio, an anthropologist at the Universidad Catolica de Buenos Aires, according to Planete Afrique (“Black Out”).The term “Negro” is used to describe anyone with dark skin, regardless of ethnicity. Or, mixed race people may be identified on a census as “white” or any number of races. It is believed this Mixed Race population with African ancestry may have blended into any number of ethnic groups, and descendants may not know they are Black, “According to some researchers, as many as 10 percent of Buenos Aires residents are partly descended from black Argentines but have no idea.” (Mixedracestudies.org) Alternately, this group was forced into hiding, to the point they shed any connection to their ancestry, heritage and even began to deny being Black.

And, in 1871, an epidemic of Yellow Fever hit Buenos Aires, killing thousands. Epidemics of Cholera followed. Freed Blacks were segregated from society, forced into menial jobs where they earned barely enough to survive, and most could not afford medicine or treatment to combat disease. The unsanitary, cramped quaters of the ghettos increased the spread of disease.

Others dispute historical accounts, saying the government, led by President  Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1868-1874), engaged in genocide against the Blacks. Under the leadership of President Sarmiento Argentina sought to re-create itself as a “white” country, an extension of Europe.

Sarmiento wrote in his diary in 1848: “In the United States… 4 million are black, and within 20 years will be 8 [million]…. What is [to be] done with such blacks, hated by the white race? Slavery is a parasite that the vegetation of English colonization has left attached to leafy tree of freedom.”

Sarmiento also writes, “I come to this happy Chamber of Deputies in Buenos Aires, where there are no gauchos, or black, or poor…”

Many believe President Sarmiento’s oppressive policies which included forcing Blacks into military service at such large numbers that they were literally being killed off at such a rate their population began to vanish. Until slavery was abolished in 1853, owners of slaves were mandated to cede 40% of slaves for military service. Blacks made a large population of the troops–their numbers rising to 65% of military population. Slaves were promised freedom after 5 years of service, though this rarely happened. (“Mixed in Different Shades”). Some slaves were enticed into the military with the promise of freedom, again, that rarely happened. Argentina fought in military conflict and wars from 1864-1870, decimating the population of Blacks.

Another government policy forced Blacks into ghettos, where they would be decimated by disease, mainly cholera and yellow fever,  is what caused the drastic decline in population of Blacks.  Can you imagine how horrible that would be to suffer in agony, and die from an highly contagious illness that would consume your family, your neighborhood, your community. You be helpless to stop the disease as it claimed your children, your parents, your family…and the lifesaving treatment needed would be denied. This happened to Afro Argentines– the deaths were human lives, people who were real and living, ow gone. The policies were so effective that by 1895, there were so few Blacks in Argentina that the government didn’t bother including their numbers in the census. These are not numbers–these are human lives, families, children, a generation of possibly… murdered through covert genocide.

In the 19th and 20th century, Blacks were encouraged to leave the country through immigration. At the same time, from 1880-1950, a large number of Europeans were migrating into Argentina. European immigrants were welcomed, and given incentives to come to Argentina while non-Whites were discouraged, and kept away. 

The Blacks who did remain in Argentina were hidden, and often concealed their identity for safety. Reports also say that Census takers were so opposed to Blacks that they refused to report Blacks on the census, even if they had African features, and instead referred to them by another race, usually White. The African survivors became a forgotten part of society.

 

There is such strong racial discrimination against Blacks, that even survivors of the genocide will not admit they are Black or have any Black ancestry. Yet the roots of African heritage remain in Argentina’s culture, their language, their dance.. And new generations of Argentina are starting to embrace their Black and/or Mixed Race ancestry, fighting for resurgence of Black Argentinians, proud of their heritage, and willing to publicly proclaim their existence as descendants of Blacks. Some of these organizations  include “Grupo Cultural Afro,” “SOS Racismo,” and”Africa Vive” , all have helped to revive the African heritage of Argentina, and raise awareness about their existence as a real, living People. There are also Afro-Uruguayan and Afro-Brazilian migrants who increase the African culture, and have joined with these organizations and others, to share their heritage.

My blog is about finding who you are through connecting to your ancestry, it’s about giving voice to our Elders, and having pride in our family and culture.. I support the Afro Argentines! You are Beautiful! Your Voice is powerful. Your history and culture has value, purpose..it brings color and vibrance to this world. You are a treasure. Hold your head high with pride. Tell the stories to your children, pass down your songs, your recipes, your dance, all that has been passed down before you… Let Africa rise in your blood again, reclaim your heritage. You honor your ancestors, and you give a blessing to your children, to the future generations in doing so. xoxo In Our Hearts xoxox

Read More:

“African Descendants in Argentina (Afro-Argentines)” by Trip Down Memory Lane, 10/17/2012: http://kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com/2012/10/african-descendants-in-argentina-afro.html

 

“Afro-Argentine Wikipedia”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro-Argentine

 

“Black out: How Argentina ‘Eliminated’ Africans From It’s History and Conscience” by Palash Ghosh (International Business Times), 06/04/2013:  Blackout: How Argentina ‘Eliminated’ Africans From Its History And Conscience.

“In Buenos Aires, Researchers Exhume Long-Unclaimed African Roots” by Monte Reel (The Washington Post), 05/05/2005: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/04/AR2005050402125.html

 

“Mixed in Different Shades: Argentina” by Administrator, 07/22/2010: http://www.mixedindifferentshades.net/south-a-central-america/argentina.html

 

 

July 24, 2014 at 6:04 am 1 comment

Older Posts


Categories

Enter your email address to follow "In Our Hearts" and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow In Our Hearts: A Family Tribute & Scrapbook on WordPress.com