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Slaveholder vs. Slaveowner

I haven’t posted in a bit and this is probably an interesting subject to jump back in on, but it’s my site so…..

When I started peeking into my family’s past a few years ago, I knew that (if I was lucky) much of my research would lead to a “brick wall” around 1865.  With African-American genealogy this is the case more often than not.    I’ve found the names of several whites who possibly held legal title to my relatives before the end of the civil war  (Now, just typing that last sentence bothers me greatly).  I prefer to call these people “Slaveholders” vs. “Slaveowners”.  It’s probably a semantic argument at best legally, but I view my ancestors born into slavery as people held captive and not owned; as I don’t believe one human being can “own” another human being.  The notion seems to run counter to the very definition of human being.   One of the best websites I’ve ever found to help researchers on this subject is here.

So far, using a very less than definitive process, I’ve attempted to identify the last slaveholders for all of my ancestral lines.  Less than definitive is an understatement.  Given the lack  of names or identifiers other than gender and age, I pieced through the 1860 Slave Schedules and found people (slaves) close to the attributes I know of my relatives.  If there were any duplicate matches (more than one person fitting the profile), I don’t connect them in my database.  The results of what I’ve been able to compiled are listed below.Compiled potential slaveholder data

My next step is to explore what I can to find out about these slaveholders online.  After that, trips to Murfreesboro, TN and Lake City, FL to see if I can find legal documents to validate (or invalidate) what I’ve uncovered so far.  I know I have a few visitors out there from time to time, so if anyone has other ideas, please let me know.


Wordless Wednesdays

My Great Grandaunt Ellen Lorrelle Brown at 17

My Great Grandaunt Ellen Lorrelle Brown at 17

in her 30s

in her 30s

at 86

at 86

A Tale of Three Docks…

I think this is another example of a really interesting story that was probably a pretty taboo subject at some point in the last hundred years.  Oh well, here goes….

Another of my 2nd Great Grandfathers was a gentleman by the name of Dock Ross (b. 1859).  Dock was married to the former Bettie Coleman (b. 1863) in Murfreesboro, TN in 1879.  I’ve located Dock and Bettie (by the way, that’s Dock up there in the banner behind the word ‘journey’ and that’s Bettie between the words ‘My’ and ‘family’) in a combination of census and tax records from 1880 to 1891.  Prior to 1880, I haven’t been able to find either.  While I generally believe Dock was born a slave, I don’t believe he (unlike the majority of others in my maternal line) was born in Tennessee; more on that in a minute.

Dock and Bettie had 5 children including my Great Grandmother, Tennie Ross (b. 1897?).  She was quite a woman and, although this post isn’t about her, there is no doubt that a few later ones will be.  Dock and Bettie also had a son named after his father, Dock Jr. (1887).

Well, it seems that my Great Grand Uncle…. I’ll let the public record speak for itself:

Your petitioner, Sallie Ross (col.), would show the Court, that she, and the defendant, Dock Ross (col.), were married in Rutherford County in, or about the year 1909…. The petitioner, before the marriage, and under the promise of marriage, allowed the defendant certain privileges which resulted in her being with child and in the defendant being forced, by her parents to marry her…

This is an excerpt from a divorce petition presented to the Hon. Walter S. Bearden on the third Monday of January in 1916.  Once Dock participated in the shot-gun affair described in the document, he left town for parts unknown leaving behind his new wife and soon to be born daughter; Cressy.  Later in the document we find that Dock Ross cannot be found anywhere in the county and did not appear in front of the court to defend himself.  It seems certain that Sallie nor Cressy ever saw Dock again….

That would be the end of the tale were it not for the miracle of the internet and online access to priceless records (and a little supposition and detective-work on the part of yours truly).  I BELIEVE Dock relocated to his grandfather’s farm down in Plaquemines, Louisiana.  Why do I believe that you might ask.  Well a couple of pieces of evidence to lay my hypothesis on:

1) An older Dock Ross (b. 1825) lived in Plaquemines, Louisiana.  Clearly, not a definitive tie by itself.

2) Although his father disappears by the 1900 census (Bettie lists herself a widow), Dock II is in the household at about 13 years of age (ancestry.com lists him as “Doe” born May 1886, but given the rest of the household this is an almost certain conclusion).  I have not been able to find him in Tennessee after 1900.

3) A World War I draft card from Vernon Parrish Louisiana documents a Dock Ross, born in Murfreesboro, TN registering for the draft roughly a year after the divorce petition was filed in Rutherford County.  This Dock’s birth date was listed as June 1887.  He does list himself as a single man with no dependents, but that would certainly be expected given the circumstances.

4) Finally, Dock Ross died in Caddo Parrish (d. 1945) according to the Louisiana Statewide Death Index, 1900-49.  The birth date given in the index is estimated as 1884.

None of this, even in combination, could be held as conclusive.   It does make for some fun CSI-style investigative work during my research.

Benevolent Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

During my research a few years ago, I came across this description of the Rutherford County, Tennessee – Benevolent Cemetery.  I referenced it as a source for my Great Grandparents place of burial.  Several months later I went back to the site to check on a new name that I’d come across only to find the website gone.  Fortunately, I recently found a re-posting of the same information.  This time, with all the proper citations and references in place, I post it here where I can control how long its available for research.

Rutherford County, Tennessee – Benevolent Cemetery

Made available to The USGenWeb Archives by Jim Walker – J-Walker@worldnet.att.net


1100 Broadway,

Nashville, TN 37203 fax # 259-8093

By Trine Tsouderos, Rutherford Today

Murfreesboro – A person could pick his way through the scrubby field off

Highway 231 and never know he was stepping on and over the remains of 320

souls. Johnson grass and other weeds obscure the stones marking hundreds of

graves, mostly of African-Americans, in the Benevolent Cemetery.

Pushing aside the weeds, the names on some of the stones are difficult to


Some date back 100 years to when the cemetery was new and its owners, the

members of the Benevolent Lodge No. 11, were many and strong. The Benevolent

Lodge was an African-American club in Murfreesboro made up of members who

agreed to care for one another in illness and in mourning. Part of the

lodge’s legacy – the club itself is defunct – is its cemetery, which was

deeded over to Allen Chapel AME Church by one of the lodge’s oldest living

members, Mary Goodman.

The Rev. Melvin E. Hughes of Allen Chapel said his congregation periodically

received checks from local funeral homes because they had buried someone in

the Benevolent Cemetery. That helped pay for the upkeep, Hughes said.

But a few years ago, funeral homes stopped burying people in the cemetery,

and the checks stopped coming. Since then, the weeds have grown tall, the

graves have become obscured, and it has become easy to dismiss the cemetery

as a field of weeds. Hughes bemoans the state of the cemetery. The church

is in the midst of a major building program and simply does not have the money

to keep up the cemetery.

Donations or some kind of grant money is needed, he said. “At least to insure

it and keep it up,” Hughes said. He estimates it would take about $50,000 to

insure the cemetery and maybe put a fence up. Several people have made offers

to buy the cemetery land for business uses, which lies in a well-placed spot right

off Highway 231. So far, the church has turned them down. But Hughes said he has

contacted some local franchises about buying the cemetery. One half of it is still

available for burial, Hughes said. So far, there has been little interest in using

the cemetery for future burials, Hughes said.

Hughes said he hopes interest in the cemetery’s history and importance to

the county’s African-American community will spark donations to help pay for

its upkeep. Or perhaps people will start researching who is in the cemetery.

If some kind of historical significance can be attached to it, the church may be

able to obtain some kind of grant, he said. For instance, several people buried

in the Benevolence Cemetery apparently served in the Spanish-American War, in

which the United States joined Cuban rebels in the island’s fight for independence

from Spain in 1898.

For more information about the Benevolence Cemetery, call Allen Chapel AME

Church, 893-7842. The following names were taken off the tombstones in

Benevolent Cemetery in Murfreesboro and published in A History of

Rutherford County’s African-American Community by the Rev. Melvin E. Hughes

Sr. Some of the information is incomplete because of deterioration of the

grave markers.



Walter Rucker Oct. 23 1924 September 24 1926

Savannah Rion Feb. 20 1898 Oct. 2 1899

Ellen Alexander 1831 Oct. 30 1911

Samuel and Minnie Shanes Family

Edgar Shane

Joe Shane

Willie Shane

Nexie Virginie Murfree March 2 1884 Nov. 1 1903

John B. McClellan Jr. Nov. 26 1894 May 13 1934

Joe Alexander 1820 June 15 1904

Louis McDowell Feb. 23 1910

Nathan Turner Jan. 7 1847 Jan. 11 1906

Ike Foster 1864 1959

Adam Delbridge

John Cheers

Isaac and Fanny Fisher:

Issac April 20 1904

Fanny April 4 1894

Sir Thomas Moore Sept. 24 1874 Jan. 22 1901

Nacissa Turner

Hattie Newell May 27 1879 Sept. 2 1898

Mindora Carney Aug. 28 1879 Aug. 30 1898

Richard Vaughn Nov. 5 1900 Dec. 18 1912

Frances Thompson 1893 Nov. 15 1903

Deck North Sept. 7 1909

Henry Smith

Belle Roberson May 10 1846 April 5 1908

Joseph R. Pickett March 12 1846 Oct. 21 1899

Rev. B.F. Anderson Feb. 15 1840 March 3 1915

Mattie B (rest of identification was destroyed)

Fred Barns 1850 1926

Lidda Howse April 9 1880 May 31 1931

Charley F. Howse

George Keeble Feb. 5 1910

Sons of William and Mary

L.I. Harden May 25 1856 1914

Dr. G.C. Harden Jan. 18 1856 July 28 1932

Ollie L. 1880 1954

Virgil 1884 1966

Oscar Sehorn

Fannie Alexander Lytle Nov. 13 1898 Nov. 13 1936

James and America Eules

Luke Malone Feb. 22 1933 July 11 1916

Mattie Pickette April 25 1897 July 17 1916

Rev. E.D. Childress April 19 1917

Matthew Thompson Sept. 18 1891 Dec. 12

Salem Jordan Sept. 27 1879 Oct. 11 1916

Annie Tilford 1870 May 27 1919 Star Chamber 399 Quite,TN

Willie Jarrett Feb. 6 1887 June 16 1939

Eldres Miller 1900 1967

George Scruggs March 17 1919

Nannie G. Williams

Lethia Cunningham

Lizzie AUSB April 13 18? Dec. 16 19? (Remainder of information

was destroyed)


Mattie Sue Long Aug. 25 1872 July 15 1955

Mariah 1845 1929

Hillard 1848 1918

Gustic Lasiter

Jimmie Lasiter 1851 1935

Felix Avent Oct. 28 1876 Aug. 6 1961

James Childress Feb. 4 1897 April 19 1927

Roxie and H Dillard

Annie Bell Butler 1898 1973

William Fletcher 1841 1926

Eugene M. 1881 1925

Fannie K. 1883 1927

Fannie Cowan 1889 1828

Winter 1831 1931

Terrie Fuggett 1886 1938

Thompson Feb. 19 1916 Dec. 5 1928

Dee Phillips Jan. 25 1928 ?

Minnie B. Woodson March 20 1881 Nov. 14 1929

Robert T. Johnson July 6 1902 Oct. 17 1929

Vernon Robinson

Seppie Quarles Dec. 21 1987

Mable Mitchell July 16 1988

Oscar Gordon Jr. July 19 1928

Carrie T. Weatherly Black June 9 1920

Homer Weatherly

Ben Sublett Sr. Oct. 5 1894 March 6 1933

Jim Hickman April 1 1957

Joseph Alexander 1867 1932

Maranda Hodge Sept. 10 1880 Aug. 6 1933

Van Hickman Feb. 23 1938

Wyoming Smith Nov. 11 1947

Clemmie E. Price Smith Nov. 11 1947

Ed Williams 1877 1947

Zera Smith March 25 1951

Hattie M. Johnson Sept. 6 1984 Oct. 27 1948

Irene James Keeble 1864 1951

Susie Murray Lyons 1866 1949

Fannie Prim Jarrett April 18 1898 July 14 1948

Fannie Ree Woodson 1916 1948

Nora Moore 1879 1944

Rufus Brandon Feb. 6 1963

Mattie Frazier McClain Aug. 25 1881 Dec. 25 1955

Robert Hyde Aug. 1 1905 Aug. 4 1955

Johnie 1984 1962

Carrie 1897 19?


Eva Mai Smith Feb. 21 1970

Ruth Smith Nov. 21 1969

Charlie Smith July 4 1879 April 11 1948

Alta Bonds

James Pickett 1871 1957

Eugene M. Woodson April 17 1912 May 12 1961

Frank Sublet 1876 1961

Rev. Jessie C. Alexander 1906 1968

Jim E. Gaine May 14 1964

Edna Mitchell May 1 1964

joe Robinson 1883 1963

Willie Robin King 1883 1967

Andrew King Nov. 13 1970

Joe W. McIntyre 1901 1971

Minnie H. McIntyre 1900 1966

Leana M. Jordan May 20 1870 Dec. 19 1964

Sam Ella Sanford 1910 1983

Pearline Haynes 1912 1963

Bessie Allen Oct. 12 1907 Feb. 10 1974

Armenta D. Norris May 17 1919 April 24 1974

Cora Ramsey

Early McGowan Sr. 1909 1984

Mary E. Davis Dec. 20 1984

Lutisha Allen Nov. 12 1886 Oct. 20 1972

Bishop S. Jarrett 1892 1970

Ruby Lee Womack Feb. 22 1919 May 10 1974

Rev. Hugh Trimble Feb. 8 1976

Everleana Reece June 27 1976

Vella McKnight 1886 1969

Millie Bass

Fannie C. Taylor Dec. 14 1906 Dec. 10 1971

Mildred Brown Jan. 18 1972

Leana Ramsey Dec. 12 1971

Annie Lou McGowan Oct. 22 1912 Dec. 24 1972

Minnie J. Hatchett 1910 1973

Nannie H. Jordan June 22 1985

Howard Moore 1900 1984

Maggie Kate Howse 1903 1984

Victoria Taylor Feb. 24 1886

Brenda Bigsby March 20 1986

Lucille Smith Nov. 10 1983

Joe M. McGuire (remainder of identification was lost)

Caleph Smith 1909 1983

John Thompson Jr. July 2 1932 April 23 1983

Wayman Johnson Jan. 1 1983

Minnie Brown Jan. 19 1983

H-llum Howse (remainder of identification was lost)

Leon Williams Sept. 24 1982

Cal H. Puckett May 26 1982

Johnny Crocckett May 26 1982

Hattie Crowford (remainder of identification was lost)

J-h Ferguson (remainder of identification was lost)

Christie Burns Dec. 5 1980

Earl Gatson Jan 1 1899 Nov. 6 1980

Bessie Nunn June 19 1919 Oct. 26 1979

Eugene Franklin Dec. 25 1927 Feb. 7 1979

Alonza Williams June 13 1978

Andy Drake March 5 1909 March 7 1978

Roosevelt Davis Feb. 13 1978

Randall Davis June 13 1989

Lizzie Maney May 26 1989

Charles Majors Jan. 17 1989

Walter Allen Dec. 3 1912 Dec. 15 1988

Goldie M. Davis 1912 1988

Joe Mosley March 31 1988

Calvin Anderson Feb. 19 1988

Mattie Mae Mullins May 14 1907 Feb. 23 1988

Lee. C. Fields Feb. 20 1903 Jan. 23 1988

Annie B. Smith June 12 1987

Henry C. Puckett Oct. 29 1932 Aug. 12 1987

William I. Brown May 18 1977


USGENWEB NOTICE: In keeping with our policy of providing

free information on the Internet, data may be used by

non-commercial entities, as long as this message

remains on all copied material. These electronic

pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit

or for presentation by other persons or organizations.

Persons or organizations desiring to use this material

for purposes other than stated above must obtain the

written consent of the file contributor.

This file was contributed for use in the USGenWeb

Archives by: Jim Walker

< J-Walker@worldnet.att.net >


Wordless Wednesdays

Grandfather MJ Bynum (center) and his golf buddies

Grandfather MJ Bynum (center) and his golf buddies