Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Heath Slave History: Exploring the Heath Slave Relationships and Connection to William Heath of Surry County, Virginia

BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front
The Georgia Heath slaves and their descendants all have one thing in common; they named their children after each other!!! So you are connected to Benjamin Heath, well which one? How about Phelps Heath or Felts Heath, again which one? You said Samuel, oh ok, but again which one? And you thought you descended from William, Isaac, Abraham, Ransom, Foster, Peter, Daniel, Anachy, Rebecca and again, I still ask you WHICH ONE? So the theory was birthed, the Heaths must have been related to one another.

After beginning my Heath family research in 1988 and digging deeper beginning in February 1993, I only knew as far back to my 2nd Great-Grandfather, Phelps "Tug" Heath who was born in Hancock County, Georgia. I also thought his first name was spelled Phelps, but it turns out it is spelled Felts. When I first began researching the Georgia Heaths, there were many and the many were spread from east Georgia counties such as Richmond, Burke, Emanuel, Washington, Greene, Hancock, Warren, Wilkes, Jefferson, Screven, and Glascock to west Georgia counties such as Harris, Talbot, Taylor, Houston, Pulaski, Monroe (in the middle), Macon, Muscogee, and Troup counties just to name a few but all these counties had one thing in common, they were all located in central Georgia and along the Central Georgia Railroad.

As I looked at the Georgia county map in 1993, I was fascinated by the fact that there were so many Heaths, black, white, mulatto, you name it and they were all living near one another with some right next door or over in the next county and with many instances where the names appeared to mimic one another. Abraham, Henry, William, Daniel, Foster, Peter, Benjamin, Jefferson, Turner, Asberry, Dollie, Celia, Hannah, Caroline, Anachy, Ellen, Lena, Sylvia, Rachel/Rachael, and Harriett seemed to be the most popular names in the Heath families. It is because of the naming convention and county proximities with one another I capitalized on the notion and teaching point that repetition is significant in family research.

In the Beginning: Finding the Heath slaves and their owners
Finding the Heath slaves was not all that hard as the 1870 census was filled with black Heath families in all the counties named above and I'm certain, I have probably missed a few. Once again, the names repeated themselves in all the counties with Benjamin, Abraham, Peter, and William topping the list for the males and Harriett, Eliza, Ellen, Sylvia (Silvie), and Rachel/Rachael topping the list for the females. The children's names also were very repetitious and many families lived next door to one another, with some also living next door to the white Heaths which meant there was a clue to the slave and slave owner relationship. Bingo, it was time to dig deep!

My slave owner research began by tracing the white Heath families in order to establish connections as well as migration patterns. I began mapping which Heaths were present on the 1870 census and worked backwards from there. It seemed all roads lead back to a white Heath named William and his parents as well as North Carolina back to Surry County, Virginia. And it was also through William, all roads led back to his father Adam, and Adam’s African female slave named Doll who was identified with seven other slaves.

The African female Slave Doll was identified as 1 of 8 slaves imported from Africa by Adam Heath in 1695. Their purchase was associated with Adam having been granted 386 acres in Surry County on the south side of the James River. William Heath was the son of Adam and Sarah Heath of Surry County, Virginia and husband of Elizabeth Gee-Heath. William and Elizabeth had a son named Thomas Heath who was married to a Sarah. Thomas and Sarah's sons Adam Heath, Abraham Heath, and Richard Heath were the original slave owners of many Heath slaves in Wilkes, Burke, and Warren counties in east central Georgia (but originally from or descendants of slaves from Halifax County, North Carolina) as well as our connection to the North Carolina to Georgia migration between 1782-1790. Thomas and Sarah’s slaves were the descendants of Doll, which has been confirmed through the historical documents of Adam Heath and his son, William Heath.

Thomas Heath received several of his slaves from his father William and ultimately passed down either as gifts or through his last will and testament, June 13, 1772 (Halifax County, North Carolina) the same slaves and their descendants to his sons Adam, Abraham, and Richard. I am focusing this background story on the three sons for a reason and that is the North Carolina to Georgia migration. Thomas Heath died in Halifax County, North Carolina in 1773, Abraham Heath and Richard Heath died in 1807 in Warren County, Georgia. Many of the Virginia Heath slaves and their offspring were documented in the wills thereby providing a connection to one another as well as a connection to the white Heaths slave owners. The slaves born in Virginia moved along with their children to Halifax County, North Carolina not by choice but forcibly by obligation as servants to the white Heath families and subsequently some of the Heath slaves were born in Halifax County and then their offspring were born in Georgia.

Our Ancestors’ Heath Expansion in Georgia: Abraham Heath & Richard Heath's Slaves and the Migration Westward
Abraham Heath was in three specific counties in Georgia namely Burke, Wilkes, and Warren. Abraham's trail connects many theories of slave connections and relationships as well as just how did the slaves get to those specific areas. One caveat to that is Warren County was formed around 1794/95 out of Wilkes County. Burke County is just southeast of both Warren and Wilkes Counties. Richard Heath's records show he was primarily in Warren County, but nonetheless both Abraham and Richard owned a great number of slaves as documented in their last will and testament, for Abraham dated November 23, 1807 and probated January 4, 1808; for Richard Heath May 26, 1807 and probated January 4, 1808.

Abraham's slaves were willed to his wife, Winnifred Cotton-Heath, and his children: John Heath, Sarah "Sally" Heath-Chapple, Benjamin Heath (who was married to Nancy and relocated to Monroe County, GA; will dated September 10, 1838 and probated January 6, 1840), William Heath (who was married to Sarah Bonner-Heath; will dated December 12, 1813 and probated July 4, 1814 and Sarah's will dated February 3, 1846 and probated September 7, 1846), Adam Heath, Elizabeth Heath, Polly Heath-Barrow, Richard Heath, and Frances "Fannie" Burge Heath-Highfield, and Abraham Heath. Richard's slaves were willed to his wife, Rebecca Chapple (Chappell) -Heath, and his children Chapple (Chappell) Heath, Mack Heath, Elizabeth Heath-Hill, Sarah Heath-Moreland, Nancy Heath-Wright, Temperance "Tempy" Heath-Dewberry, Henry Heath (who was also willed land purchased from Burrell Searcy), Rebecca Heath, and Richard Heath.

Between Abraham Heath and Richard Heath and other associated families such as the Hubert, Ivey, Flewellyn (Fluellen), Barksdale, Felts, Chapple/Chapel/Chappell, Dickson, Battle, Barrow, and Wright families owned and more likely shared labor among the Heath slaves throughout Warren, Wilkes, Burke, and surrounding counties as well as the migration through central Georgia and into Alabama.

One notable Heath slave who was rented was Clack Heath who was a skilled worker and worked for the Barksdales, Huberts, Iveys, Felts, Dickson, and Battle families and was described in many instances as a skilled and reliable worker. Another skilled slave was Elisha "Lige" Heath who was a skilled wheelwright. Both Clack and Lige were owned by Henry Heath, son of William Heath and grandson of Abraham Heath, and it can be assumed that they were willed or given to Henry by William who also most likely received their parents from Abraham Heath and Winnifred Cotton-Heath through their wills in the early 1800s. Over in Talbot County, another Heath slave named Titus Heath worked for the railroad and bought his freedom and possibly his wife's freedom. Titus is a descendant of Celia "Celey" Heath as well as Dollie "Doll" Heath. Coupled with the fact of slave owning families migrating, the railroad expansion across central Georgia played a vital role in the migration of all Heaths and their families as well as the expansion and interaction of Heath slaves with other plantations, providing slave labor for the building of the Central Georgia Railroad, and becoming skilled and reliable workers while traveling with the slave owner(s).

Benjamin Heath, son of Abraham and Winnifred, relocated to Monroe County, Georgia with a great number of Heath slaves. Benjamin and his wife Nancy were the parents of Mary Ann Louisa Heath, Benjamin Green Heath (who relocated from Georgia to Cass County (formerly known as Davis County), Texas), Abraham Heath, William Lafayette Heath (he also relocated from Monroe County Georgia to Macon County, Alabama where he married Catherine Wilson and finally relocated to Cass County, Texas), and George Chapple Heath. The most interesting part about Benjamin and his family, we can clearly trace Heath slaves of Abraham and Winnifred that were willed to Benjamin who then passed them and their children down to his sons and daughter. The same Heath slaves migrated with the white Heaths from Warren County to Monroe County, Georgia, then over to Macon County, Alabama, and finally to Cass County, Texas. Some of the slaves included were Isaac, Dice, Tillman (known as Tillman Heath Dickerson), Mamie (Mymy in wills), Henry, Charles (known as as Charles Heath Richardson), Jeffery, Turner, Abraham, Fanny, Mary, Lydia, Anachy, another Fanny (girl listed in September 1838 will of Benjamin), Julius Caesar, Miles, and Jack. These slaves and many others appear in the 1870 Census in Davis County (as previously mentioned, Davis later became Cass County shortly after 1870 around 1872/73).

Understanding the Family Connection and Accepting the Past
For many years, I questioned just how are all these Heath families were connected and how and why did so many move west from Georgia into Alabama and onto Texas. From Texas, many also relocated to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and California. There were so many migration patterns, but the Heaths and their associated cousins from the Richardson, Dickerson, Haskins, Walker, Hubert, Barksdale, Battle, Dickson, Searcy, Harrell, Flewellyn/Fluellen, Rousseau/Russaw/Russell and Ivey families all seemed to follow the same patterns and this is a direct correlation to the slave owner and slave relationship as well as how slave families were relocated with the slave owners. Fast forward to today, DNA testing is confirming the links related to the Virginia to North Carolina to Georgia to Alabama to Texas migration of the above families. It is an awesome feeling knowing the documented research coupled with historical documents confirming both white and black families and DNA matches is ensuring we understand the family connections and begin the process of accepting our past.

In the instance of the great migration from Georgia to Texas, many black families were still in Georgia after the Civil War and appear in the 1870 and 1880 Census in Warren, Hancock, Talbot, Taylor, Monroe, and Muscogee counties many by 1880 and most by 1900 began appearing in Texas with their families right along with the previously mentioned slave families who relocated prior to 1870 between the years of 1850-1865. This can all be verified through many Texas voter registration lists from 1866-1867 which documented the year of arrival, years living in a given state, and associated years living in a particular county. Voter registrations and agricultural documents provided key details in identifying black Heath family members and associated families. Another interesting revelation is the fact there had to be some form of communication between the slave families after leaving Georgia as they were reunited after the Civil War and some years after 1870 and the 1880 Census. One thing is certain, the slaves and black families remained connected not only thru naming convention but by occupation as well as the connection back to the white families who originally owned them. Slavery is not something to cherish, but it something our Ancestors survived, conquered, and taught each surviving generation how to survive and advance forward. As a result of our Ancestors strength, perseverance, and unwavering faith, we must understand, acknowledge, and accept our past.

Thank You Ancestors for Preserving Our Family!
I am grateful for our past even the bad parts as without all of it, many of us would not be here today. Whether we accept slavery or not, whether we accept kinship between the slave owners or the slaves, or whether we accept the fact our Ancestors worked for less than their potential and worth or not is not the issue. Our present day issue of not wanting to accept the past and realize it was reality should not be an issue at all, but instead it should be our purpose to take the "issues" and past wrongs of this country enslaving others and leap forward and preserve our Ancestors' legacy. My Ancestors had purpose and my Ancestors had worth!! Today, the next hour, the next few moments, and throughout the journey of researching the Ancestors, my purpose and our purpose should be to preserve the legacy of our Ancestors as they guide us to greater and greater depths of knowledge as we continue to break down the brick walls. I acknowledge the purchase of the female slave Doll by Adam Heath in Virginia and I am grateful for her journey, her descendants becoming my Ancestors, and for the Ancestors birthing a great family spread abroad from coast to coast.

Humbly and Respectfully submitted in Honor of the Ancestors,

Danté Eubanks, August 24, 2017

Special Note: This writing includes over 20 years of combined research and collaboration beginning in 1988.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Thank you for the "One Lovely Blog Award"....It's all about Collaboration, Communication, & Support!

On September 28, 2014, I received a very nice surprise and one I never expected being new to the blogging community.  I was nominated for the "One Lovely Blog Award" by my new found DNA Cousin, Bernita Allen author of "Voices Inside my Head".  In addition to Cousin Bernita's nomination, I was also nominated by Tracey Hughes, author of "Tracey's Tree".

I never created a post for the "One Lovely Blog Award" in 2014 but today I thought to myself, there's no better time than the present to jump start another round of recognizing many who are pioneers in their own right in the genealogy community.  I want to give a special Thank you to both  Cousin Bernita and Tracey as I am just as honored today as I was in 2014 and humbled to be nominated by you both.  Anyone reading Cousin Bernita and Tracey's blogs will find them both amazing, interesting and very informative as well as give you a sense of pride and love for the Ancestors.

Here are the rules for this award:
   1.  Thank the person who nominated you and link to that blog.
   2.  Share seven things about yourself.
   3.  Nominate 15 bloggers you admire (or as many as you can think of!)
   4.  Contact your bloggers, let them know that you've tagged them for the One Lovely Blog Award.

Seven Things About Me:
   1.  I have been in Ministry since February 1995 and Pastoring since December 2014.
   2.  I am considered the walking family tree.
   3.  I love reading history.
   4.  My son Isaiah is named for my favorite book in the Bible.
   5.  I love walking through cemeteries (for me, it's connecting with the Ancestors).
   6.  I love movies and have a huge movie collection.
   7.  I am the father of 9 children.

15 Bloggers I Admire:
There are so many awesome genealogy blogs that it was really hard to narrow down to 15.
Here is my list (in no particular order):

   1. Finding Eliza by Kristin Cleage     
   2. Genealogy Circle by Cindy Freed
   3. Our Alabama Roots by Luckie Daniels
   4. Claiming Kin by Marlive Taylor-Harris
   5. My True Roots by True A. Lewis
   6. Tracey's Tree by Tracey Hughes
   7. Roots Revealed by Melvin Collier
   8. Ancient Echos from the past by Xzanthia  Zuber
   9. Saving Stories by Robin Foster
 10. The Legal Genealogist by Judy Russell
 11. Pieces of Me by Stephani Miller
 12. Geneabloggers by Thomas MacEntee
 13. Repurposed Genealogy by Jennifer Campbell
 14. Carolina Girl Genealogy by  Cheri Hudson Passey
 15. Tracing Amy by Amy Cole

As I continue to explore my own Ancestry and conduct genealogy research, I am reminded I am here to honor the Ancestors. This experience is rewarding but there is no greater reward than to honor and cherish the legacy of those who have gone before us. This blog is a sincere tribute to my Ancestors, and I am truly appreciative of the those above for sharing the knowledge of their Ancestors as well as contributing to helping others in the genealogy community. It's all about Collaboration, Communication, and Support!

Humbly Submitted,

Dante' Eubanks

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The History of Talbot, Taylor, Wilkes, and Warren Counties in Georgia

The East Central Georgia to West Central Georgia Connection: A Brief Synopsis into the Georgia Counties of Talbot, Taylor, Warren, and Wilkes and Their Family Affiliations

Wilkes County
Wilkes County, named for British politician and supporter of American independence, John Wilkes, is considered Georgia's first county established by European Americans. It was the first of eight original counties created in the first state constitution on February 5, 1777 with the other seven counties being organized from existing colonial parishes.
Wilkes was unique in being land ceded in 1773 by the Creek and Cherokee nations in their respective Treaties of Augusta. It is located in the Piedmont above the fall line on the Savannah River. Interestingly, between the years 1790 and 1854, Wilkes County's area was reduced as it was divided to organize new counties as population increased in the area. This is a very significant fact in history as the Heath, Hubert, Barrow Searcy, Dickson/Dixon, Flewellyn/Fluellen, Harrell, Thweatt (also spelled Thweat, Threatt, Threat), Barksdale, Bonner, Ivey, Cody, Battle, Skrine, Hillsman, Felts, and other allied families first came to Georgia by way of Wilkes County before migrating to other surrounding counties and further migration westward to Talbot, Taylor, Harris, Macon, and Muscogee counties in west central Georgia. The Georgia legislature formed the counties of Elbert, Oglethorpe, and Lincoln entirely from portions of Wilkes County whereas Madison, Warren, Taliaferro, Hart, McDuffie, and Greene counties  were created partially from Wilkes County lands.
Since Wilkes County played an important part in the fabric of the Unites States history, it also has played an important role within the fabric of the Hubert, Heath, Barksdale, Runnels, Greene, Thweatt, Searcy, Ivey and Battle families whose long standing history and ties to Wilkes County as well as subsequent counties formed from Wilkes or portions of Wilkes County. Wilkes County was the site of one of the most important battles of the American Revolutionary War to be fought in Georgia. During the Battle of Kettle Creek in 1779, the American Patriot forces were victorious over British Loyalists which in that time was a huge victory for the new nation fighting for independence and freedom.