Family Lines of Slaves: The Missing Page

This blog post is an addendum to the preceding five posts.

There I’ve tried to piece together probable family lines of enslaved people, using the “Negro’s Ages” journal kept by my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd great-grandfathers in 1800s South Carolina. This journal listed names and birth dates of children under the name of each mother.

I thought I might be missing a page of that journal. And I was. Here it is, thanks to the good graces of archivist Karen Stokes at the South Carolina Historical Society, where I had donated the journal. She copied for me the missing page:

Fraser, South Carolina, birth dates of slaves


  • Joan’s Children No. 7th
  • 1 Guilford was born July 13th 1837
  • 2 Rufus was born Aug 30th 1839
  • 3 Aberdeen was born Aug 6th 1841
  • 4 Charles was born July 17th 1843
  • 5 Daphne was born Aug 14th 1846
  • 6 Peggy was born Dec 19 1848
  • 7 Cyrus was born Jan 1st 1861

Here is the color code for these posts: First generation green, second red, third blue, and fourth pink.

I’ve coded Joan red because I think she is the third of Peggy’s Children, from the last blog. She and her children would all be Peggy’s descendants.

Using the Joan’s Children and the Peggy’s Children pages, we can see the outlines of Joan’s life. She was born on 17 Mar 1818 and died in Oct 1895. Her childbearing years extended from 1836 to 1861. She named her sixth child Peggy, creating the mother-daughter-granddaughter group of Peggy-Joan-Peggy.

The Joan’s Children page suggests also some father-son and other male relationships:

  • (1) Rufus is Joan’s second male child, born in 1839. There is a Rufus on the Nanny’s Children page born in 1816, a likely age for the father of the Joan’s son Rufus. Notice the handwritten figures under all the names on Joan’s page–subtracting 1816 from 1904 would give father Rufus’s approximate age at death. 
  • (2) Joan’s last child, Cyrus, born in 1861, could be named for Rufus’s brother Cyrus on the Nanny’s Children page, who lived from 1820 to 1882. 
  • (3) Joan’s son Charles, born in 1843, echoes the name of a Charles born to Ciller in 1793.

In retrospect, we can see that the families of Peggy, Nanny, and Ciller do share a number of first names.  For example, in the last post we saw that Ben’s Peggy was specified, perhaps to distinguish her from other women named Peggy in this group.

Here are three techniques I’ve learned by working with this journal:

  • Use a daughter’s first name and birth date to find her page as a mother, moving forward. 
  • Use a son’s first name and birth date to match him with a father of the same name, moving backward. 
  • Look for first-name groups that repeat from generation to generation, indicating a family.


My last post gave only a transcription of the Hetty’s Children page. Here is a copy of the page itself:

Fraser, South Carolina, birth dates of enslaved people

  • Transcription:
  •  Hetty’s Children No. 6th
  •  Ovid was born Jan 1st 1804
  • Hetty was born 1808
  • 1 Phillis was born July 4th 1830
  • 2 Daniel was born March 15th 1833
  • 3 Sarah was born Oct. 15th 1837
  • 4th  Elisa was born July 9th 1840
  • 5th Charlotte was born March 31st 1843
  • 6th  Harry was born Dec 1st 1846
  • 7th [crossed out] dead [crossed out]
  • Annie was born June 22d 1852

I’d like to bring together all these posts about the “Negroes’ Ages” journal into an article. I’m considering several genealogical publications whose readers might know (or be) the descendants of some of these enslaved people. I welcome advice from the genealogical community: Which genealogical journal would be the best choice?


These posts will be less frequent for a while. Our family is undergoing big changes. Our new granddaughter is ten days old, living in Indiana. We are moving there from Connecticut and will buy a house in Fort Wayne, Indiana, near our family.

We’re starting the process right away. The realtors, the moving company, the packing up. This all will take a few months. We are now staring at 40 years’ worth of belongings—a formidable maze.

I’ll post again when I can – see you then!

Everyone stay well, meanwhile.


Part 5 of 5: More Family Lines of Fraser Slaves in South Carolina

This blog is the fifth in a five-part series. Here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Using the journal “Negroes’ Ages” – kept by my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd great-grandfathers who were slaveholders in 19th century South Carolina – I’ve  tried to piece together family lines of enslaved people.

Each journal page lists one enslaved mother and her children’s names and birth dates. Death dates are sometimes given.

Here are the journal pages reproduced in the first four blogs of this series.

Part 1: “A Lucky Glimpse: Family Lines of Slaves”

  • Nanny’s Children No 14th  (No means “number”)
  • Sue’s Children No 18
  • Minerva’s Children No 13
  • Hiram Hickman’s children

“Part 2: Family Lines of Enslaved People”

  • Kate’s Children No 8
  • Sucky’s Children No 19th
  • Lavicy’s Children No 10th
  • Little Diana’s children
  • L Caty’s Children
  • Mary Ann’s children

“Part 3: A Third Family Line of Fraser Slaves in South Carolina”

  • Dianna’s Children No. 4
  • Margaret’s Children No 21
  • Juno’s Children
  • Marilla’s children
  • Margaret’s children (Juno’s Margaret)

“Part 4: A Fourth Family Line of Fraser Slaves in South Carolina”

  • Ciller’s Children No 20
  • Rachel’s Children No 17th
  • Lavinia’s Children No 9
  • Phebe’s Children No 15th
  • Peggy’s children
  • Abby’s children No. 1
  • Sally’s Children
  • Ciller’s Children
  • Caty’s Children No.2

The count so far is 24 journal pages.

In addition, I’m publishing 12 more journal pages in this post (one is a transcription without a photo). That makes a total of 36 journal pages.

When I first held this journal in my hands, several months ago, I counted 37 pages. I photographed each page with my Flip-Pal. Or so I thought. Last month, I donated the journal to the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston. I plan to ask the archivist whether I missed copying one journal page, and if so, whether I can get a scan of that page by email.

Meanwhile, here are some suggested family lines for Peggy’s Children.

The color code is first generation green, second red, third blue, and fourth pink.

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South CArolina

A  transcription follows each posted page.

  •  Peggy’s Children No. 16th
  •  1 Mary was born July 26th 1813
  • 2 Henry was born  X  Feby 6th 1817
  • 3 Joan was born March 17th 1818
  • 4 Ellenor was born Aug 23rd 1822
  • Henry died Jany 5th 1888
  • Joan died Oct 1895

Two of Peggy’s daughters, Ellenor and Mary, seem to be listed with children.

Here is a page for Ellenor:

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South Carolina

  • Ellenor’s Children No. 5
  •  1 Jonas was born July 27th 1842
  • 2 Betsy was born Jun 25th 1844
  • 3 Crecia was born Sept. 19th 1845
  • 4 Xury was born Apr 15th 1849
  • 5 Sally was borne March 27th 1851
  • 6 Catherine was born March 10th 1853
  • 7 Elizabeth  May 10 1856
  • 8 Sucky was born June 16 1858
  • Rallston was born June 1860
  • Easter was born March 17th 1863

Peggy’s daughter Mary could be either of two people. I’ll call them Mary 1 and Mary 2.

Here is a page for Mary 1:

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South Carolina

  • Mary’s Children No. 11
  • 1 Jim was born May 1 1835
  • 2 Nanny was born Oct 15th 1837
  • 3 Henry was born Apr. 23 1840
  • 4 Hymin [sp?] was born June 25th 1842
  • 5 George was born Oct. 29th 1844
  • 6 Sarah was born Nov. 30th 1846
  • 7 Hetty [sp?] was born Mar 5 1849
  • 8 [crossed out]

This Mary’s daughter Nanny could be the Little Nanny of this page:

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves

  • Little Nanny’s children
  • Mary was born [partly crossed out]  Oct 12th 1854
  • Melia was born Feb 15 1859
  • [blank] was born April 7th 1863

On the other hand, here is a page for Mary 2:

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South Carolina

  • Mary’s Children {Corbit} No 12
  •  1 Griffin was born Nov. 6th 1837
  • 2 Becca was born Nov. 14th 1839
  • 3 July was born July 15th 1841

This Mary’s daughter Becca could be on this journal page:

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South Carolina

  • Becca’s children
  • Mary was born Apr. 15th 1862 [or 1861]

Therefore, either of two generational lines for Peggy’s Children seem possible:

This line, with Mary 1, is one possibility:

Parent:  Peggy

| - Mary
born: 26 Jul 1813

  • | - Jim
  • born: 1 May 1835
  • | - Nanny
  • born 15 Oct 1837   Mary born 12 Oct 1854, Melia born 15 Feb 1859
  • | - Henry
  • born: 23 Apr 1840
  • | - Hymin [sp?]
  • born: 25 Jun 1842
  • | - George
  • born: 29 Oct 1844
  • | - Sarah
  • born: 30 Nov 1846
  • | - Hetty [sp?]
  • born: 5 Mar 1849

| - Henry 
born: 6 Feb 1817   died: 5 Jan 1888
| - Joan
born 17 Mar 1818  died: Oct 1895
| - Ellenor
born: 23 Aug  1822

  •  | - Jonas 
  • born: 27 Jul  1842
  • | – Betsy 
  • born: 25 Jun 1844
  • | - Crecia
  • born: 10 Sep 1845
  • | - Xury 
  • born: 15 Apr 1849
  • | - Sally 
  • born: 27 Mar 1851
  • | - Catherine 
  • born: 10 Mar  1853
  • | – Elizabeth
  • born:  10 May 1856
  • | - Sucky
  • born: 16 Jun 1858
  • | – Rallston
  • born:  Jun 1860
  • | – Easter 
  • born: 17 Mar 1863


This line, with Mary 2, is the other possibility:

Parent:  Peggy

| - Mary 
born: 26 Jul 1813

  •  | - Griffin
  • born 6 Nov 1837
  • | - Becca 
  •  born: 14 Nov  1839  Mary born 15 Apr 1862 [or 1861]
  • | - July 
  • born: 15 Jul 1841

| - Henry 
born: 6 Feb 1817   died: 5 Jan 1888
| - Joan 
born 17 Mar 1818  died: Oct 1895
| - Ellenor 
born: 23 Aug  1822

  •  | - Jonas 
  • born: 27 Jul  1842
  • | - Betsy
  • born: 25 Jun 1844
  • | - Crecia
  • born: 10 Sep 1845
  • | - Xury 
  • born: 15 Apr 1849
  • | - Sally 
  • born: 27 Mar 1851
  • | - Catherine 
  • born: 10 Mar  1853
  • | - Elizabeth
  • born:  10 May 1856
  • | - Sucky
  • born: 16 Jun 1858
  • | - Rallston
  • born:  Jun 1860
  • | - Easter 
  • born: 17 Mar 1863


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The remaining five journal pages call for more guesswork.

This page shows Ben Peggy’s children.

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South Carolina

  • Ben Peggy’s Children
  • 1 Tom
  • 2 Ben    21
  • 3 Beck   19
  • 4 Charlotte 17
  • 5 Peggy   15
  • 6 Ciller    13
  • 7 Jack was born Oct 20th 1851
  • [crossed out]
  • Nelson was born Feb 5th 1856

Here the first 5 numbers at the right may be the children’s ages. If those ages were recorded in 1856, the last date on this page, the children would likely have been born in the 1830s and 1840s.

The name “Ben Peggy” might signify “Ben’s Peggy,” meaning that Peggy is essentially Ben’s wife.  (This might even be the Ben who was born to Ciller in 1807, in Part 4.) The 1820 will of John Baxter Fraser mentions “Lucy & her two children to Wit Peggy & Nelson,” suggesting that the names Peggy and Nelson belong in a family group, as here.

Ben Peggy’s daughter Charlotte may be the Little Charlotte of this page:

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South Carolina

  • L Charlotte’s children
  • Mary was born Feby 16th 1863


And Beck may be the Bec of this page:

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South Carolina

  • Bec’s children
  • Major was born Dec. 18th 1862



Finally, here are two journal pages that I cannot fit with the others: (1) Hetty’s page and (2) Clarrissa’s page.

(1) I have Hetty’s page only in transcription:

  • Hetty’s children
  • Hetty was born in 1808
  • Ovid was born in 1804
  • Phillis 1830
  • Daniel 1833
  • Sarah 1837
  • Elisa 1840
  • Charlotte 1843
  • Harry 1846
  • Annie 1852

Some possibilities:

  • Hetty’s Charlotte may be the woman above, on the Little Charlotte page, who gives birth to Mary in 1863.
  • The Daniel under Caty’s children (Part 4) was born in 1854. Hetty’s Daniel was born in 1833. It may be that the Daniel born in 1833 is the father of the Daniel born in 1854.
  • Hetty’s Harry may be related to the Harry on the page below. The same name and birth year, with different parents (unless we are dealing with nicknames), is quite a coincidence. Mary 2, above, also had a child named July in 1841. Perhaps July was a name for men.

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South Carolina

  • Harry (July) Wilson, son of July and Dorcas Wilson, was born July 1846

If this page about Harry (July) Wilson was written after emancipation, it could be an example of a freed slave taking the surname of a neighboring family. Many people of the surname Wilson were close to our Fraser family throughout the 1800s.

(2) Here is the photo of Clarrissa’s page:

Fraser, names and birth dates of slaves, South Carolina

  • Clarrissa’s Children  No. 3
  •  1 Frank was born Sept. 14th 1846
  • 2 [crossed out] {Dead}  April 20 1849
  • 3 [crossed out]  April 7th 1852
  • [crossed out]  Sep 29th 1854
  • Cloe  Sept 20 1856
  • [crossed out]
  • Jacob was born Jan 12th 1862
  • Gabriel  July 1864

In Part 4, there is a Gabriel born in 1828 to Rachel, who is Ciller’s daughter. This Gabriel may be the father of Clarissa’s Gabriel born in 1864.


Many people made possible this series of five posts. My great-grandfathers kept records that are readable and fairly well detailed. My grandmother had the foresight to pass these records to her daughter, who saved them for her own daughter (my cousin), who was kind enough to share them with me and release them to the SCHS archive.

My genealogy friends on Twitter have shown me, by their example, how to make records like these comprehensible. They have also impressed on me that African-American genealogists today face extra barriers in tracing their ancestors–who did not have surnames and whose records are either nonexistent or prohibitively hard to find or interpret.

I hope the posting of these journal pages, with these sketches of possible family lines, will help recover some family histories.


Note: If I do obtain a lost journal page from the archivist, I will explore more possible family connections in another blog post.



Part 4: A Fourth Family Line of Fraser Slaves in South Carolina

This blog is the fourth in a five-part series. My intention is to fit together family lines of enslaved people, using the journal “Negroes’ Ages” kept by my Fraser ancestors of South Carolina in the 1800s.

This journal has 37 pages. Each page lists one enslaved mother and her children, with the birth date of each child. Sometimes death dates are listed as well.

During the course of this five-part series, I plan to post copies of every journal page. See the three previous blogs for Kate’s Children, Nanny’s Children, and Dianna’s Children – and for more background information.

In this post I’m suggesting family lines for Ciller’s Children, who have the earliest birth dates in my ancestors’ journal.

The color code is first generation green, second red, third blue, and fourth pink.

Fraser, slave birth dates, South Carolina

A transcription follows each posted page.

  •  Ciller’s Children    No. 20 
  • 1 Charles was born Oct 2d 1793
  • 2 Rachel was born Dec 10th 1796
  • 3 Lavinia was born Apr. 17th 1800
  • 4 Phebe was born May 3d 1801
  • 5 Ben was born July 13th 1807
  • 6 Will was born June 25th 1809
  •  Charles died Sep 13th 1879
  • Rachel died Nov. 17 1880
  • [crossed out]
  • Ben died – 1898
  • Will died Decr 9th 1901

Ciller’s three daughters—Rachel, Lavinia, and Phebe—are each listed with children. Here are the pages that seem to match each daughter.

Fraser, slave names, South Carolina

  •  Rachel’s Children   No 17th
  •  1 Mariah was born Jan 21st 1822
  • 2 Gabriel was born Sept. 10th 1828
  • 3 Peggy was born Aug. 13th 1834
  •  Mariah died Nov. 24th 1891


Fraser, birth dates of enslaved people, South Carolina

  • Lavinia’s Children  No 9
  • 1 Legrand was born June 16th 1820
  • 2 Abbagail (Abba) was born May 31st 1824
  • 3 Sally was born Aug – 1833

Fraser, names of enslaved people, South Carolina

  • Phebe’s Children No. 15th
  •  1 Jim was born Oct 12th 1820
  • 2 Ciller was born May 7th 1828
  • 3 Charles was born July 14th 1833
  • 4thAlexander was born June 20th 1836
  • 5 Jack was born July 26th 1838
  • 6 Riner was born July 5th 1840
  • 7 X Phebe was born June 23d 1843
  • 8 Saby was born May 5th 1846
  •  X Phoebe died Sept. 2n 1867


Now we can look at the next generation:

Rachel’s daughter Peggy may be listed here with Dick as her child:


  • Peggy’s children
  • Dick was born Dec 29th 1854

Lavinia’s two daughters, Abbagail (Abby, Abba) and Sally, are probably on these two pages with their children:

Fraser, names of the enslaved and birth dates, South Carolina

  • Abby’s Children No. 1
  • Lavinia was born Sept 4th 1842
  • Legrand was born Aug. 17th 1845


Fraser, slave mothers and children, South Carolina

  • Sally’s Children
  • 1 [crossed out] (Dead)  Mar. 21st 1850
  • 2 [crossed out] Jan 1st 1852
  • [crossed out]
  • Julia was born April 3rd 1856
  • [crossed out] June 23 1858
  • Ellen Born April 23 1860

And Phebe’s daughter Ciller may be here:

Fraser, South Carolina, names and birth dates of enslaved people

  • Ciller’s Children
  •  1 Ben was born July 27th 1849
  • 2 Linda was born Aug. 16 1852
  • [crossed out]
  • Fannie  May 17th 1856.

Repeated names, as well as probable childbearing years for the women, suggest these connections. The names Ciller, Ben, Charles,Legrand, Lavinia, and Abbagail (Abba, Abby) recur as if they were within the same family. There seem to be two instances of mother-daughter-granddaughter with repeated names:  Ciller PhebeCiller and LaviniaAbbagail (Abba, Abby)Lavinia.

The 1820 will of John Baxter Fraser mentions the family group “Lucy and her two children Labinia and Abeline,” which pairs the names Lavinia and Abby. The will also names “Silla [perhaps Ciller] & her two children. Viz. Sylva and Abigail,” which may connect the names Ciller and Abby.

Yet here is one page I cannot fit with the others, even though it contains the name Lavinia:

Fraser, names of slaves, South Carolina

  •  Caty’s Children No. 2
  • 1 Coelia was born July 10th 1837
  • 2 Claiborne was born Oct. 1st 1840
  • 3 Lavinia was born Jan 8th 1843
  • 4 [crossed out] Killed by Lightning [crossed out]
  • 5 Leonora was born June 18th 1847
  • 6 [crossed out] {Dead} [crossed out]
  • 7 Dennis was born May 14th 1852
  • 8 Daniel was born May 23rd 1854
  • Epsey was born Feb 20 1857

The other pages posted here, though, do suggest these four generations of Ciller’s descendants:

Parent: Ciller

| - Charles 
born: 2 Oct 1793  died: 13 Sep. 1879

| - Rachel 
born: 10 Dec 1796 died: 17 Nov 1880

  •  | - Mariah
  • born: 21 Jan 1822   died: 4 Nov 1891
  • | - Gabriel
  • born: 10 Sept 1828
  • | - Peggy
  • born: 13 Aug 1834  Dick born 29 Dec 1854

| – Lavinia 
born: 17 Apr 1800 

  • | - Legrand 
  • born: 16 June 1820
  • | - Abbagail (Abba)
  • born 31 May 1824 Lavinia born 4 Sep 1842, Legrand born 17 Aug 1845
  • | - Sally 
  •  born: Aug 1833  Julia born 3 Apr 1856, Ellen born 23 Apr 1869

| – Phebe
born: 3 May 1801

  •  | - Jim 
  •  born: 12 Oct 1820
  • | - Ciller 
  • born:  7 May 1828  Ben born 27 Jul 1849, Linda born 16 Aug 1852, Fannie born 17 May 1856
  • | - Charles
  • born 14 Jul 1833
  • | - Alexander
  • born: 20 Jun 1836
  • | - Jack 
  • born 26 Jul 1838
  • | - Riner 
  • born: 5 Jul 1840
  • | - Phebe
  • born:  23 June 1843  died: 2 Sep 1867
  • | - Saby
  • born: 5 May 1846

| – Ben
born: 13 Jul 1807  died: 1898

| – Will 
born: 25 Jun 1809  died: 9 Dec 1901

The surviving descendants of Ciller would have been emancipated in 1865 in the Sumter district of South Carolina. They may have taken the surname Fraser, or one of the surnames used within the Fraser family: Atchison, Atkinson, Baxter, Boone, Hickman, Jones, Lynch, Paris, Postell, Washington, or Wilson.

Part 5 of this series will be about Peggy’s Children. That post will contain all the remaining lists of enslaved mothers and children from the “Negroes’ Ages” journal not yet included in the first four posts.

Part 3: A Third Family Line of Fraser Slaves in South Carolina

This is the third in a set of five blogs. My project here is to identify family lines of enslaved people, using a journal kept by my slaveholding ancestors in the 1800s.

This journal, “Negroes’ Ages,” lists names and birth dates of enslaved children along with the first names of their enslaved mothers.

After my cousin and I found this journal a few months ago, in her attic, I photographed every page with my Flip-Pal. By the end of this five-blog set, I hope to have published all 37 photographed pages. Readers of this blog can then access the entire journal.

Last week, I donated the journal itself to the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston–for those who want to examine it along with related Fraser documents.

The journal pages were written by my 3rd, 2nd, and 1st great-grandfathers. They were planters in the Sumter district of South Carolina:

  •             John Baxter Fraser (1767-1820)
  •             Ladson Lawrence Fraser, Sr. (1804-1889)
  •             Ladson Lawrence Fraser, Jr. (1828-1914)

Here is the color code for identifying the families of the enslaved: first generation green, second red, third blue, and fourth pink.

Today we look at Dianna’s children. These earliest names and dates would have been passed down by my 3rd great-grandfather, who died when his son and namesake was sixteen years old.

Fraser, slaves, South Carolina


Dianna’s Children No. 4

Joe was born Jan – 1812

Dianna was born June 3 1814

  • 1 Margaret was born Feby 3d 1831
  • 2 Will was born Apr. 20th 1832
  • 3 Juno was born June – 1834
  • 4 Isaac was born –  — 1836
  • 5 Anay [sp?] was born May 10th 1838
  • 6 Adeline was born Nov 20th 1841
  • 7 Caroline was born May 29th 1843
  • 8 [crossed out] {deceased} June 12th 1847
  • 9 Hester was born Feb 6th 1845
  • 10 Marilla was born Decr 21st 1849
  • 11 Alice was born July 27 1852
  • 12 Joe was born Dec 3rd 1854
  • [crossed out] (decsd) Jan 27 1859

Here, in a rare instance, the birth dates of both parents are recorded:  Joe 1812, Dianna 1814. We’ve also seen examples of death dates of slaves recorded, in earlier posts.

Three daughters of Dianna and Joe had children:  Margaret b. 1831, Juno b. 1834, and Marilla b. 1849. Each daughter has a page in the journal:

Fraser, slaves, South Carolina, birth dates


Margaret’s Children No. 21

  • 1 [crossed out] {deceased}  Feb. 9th 1846
  • 2 Oma was born Mar 5 1849
  • Oma died April 31st 1879 [sic]

Fraser, slavery, South Carolina, birth dates


Juno’s Children

  • 1 Sharper was born May 1st 1852
  • [crossed out] Jun. 14th 1854
  • 2 Margaret April 25th 1856
  • 3 [crossed out] Mistake
  • Ned   Jan 30 1857
  • Caroline (decsd)  Oct 1862
  • George  Nov. 1865
  • Adeline Aug  1868
  • Child lost between these two [?]
  • Dianna   May 11 1873
  • Hannah  Decr 11 1875

Fraser, South Carolina, slaves, birth dates


Marilla’s children

  • Charles was born   July (decsd)
  • Mary was born  Aug 1868
  • William was born Decr 10 1869
  • Margaret was born  Feby 7 1871
  • Johnson (decsd) age 6 mo.
  • Johnson was born Feby 1st 1875
  • Ranger was born June 17 1877
  • Oma was born March 13 1879

The children of Marilla were recorded many years after the end of the Civil War. Although slaves were of course freed at the Fraser plantation after 1865, written work contracts mixed with slavery-style paternalism may have kept some routines in place for a while. (1)

Juno’s daughter Margaret, born in 1856 as a slave, had three children whose births were also recorded after slavery was ended:

Fraser, slavery, birth dates, South Carolina


Margaret’s children (Juno’s Margaret)

  • Alice was born  July 4th 1873
  • Rose was born June 19 1877
  • Ella was born Sept. 7 1879


In summary, here are the four generations we’ve pieced together as Joe and Dianna’s descendants:

Parents: Joe born 1812 and Dianna born 1814

| -Margaret 
born: 3 Feb 1831

  •  | - Oma 
  •  born: 5 Mar 1849  died: 30th Apr 1879  

| – Will
born: 20 Apr 1832 

| –Juno 
born: June 1834

  • | - Sharper 
  • born: 1 May  1852
  • | - Margaret
  • born: 25 Apr 1856 Alice born: 4 July 1873; Rose born: 19 June 1877; Ella born: 7 Sept. 1879
  • | – Ned  
  • born: 30 Jan 1857
  • | – George 
  • born: Nov 1865
  • | – Adeline 
  • born: Aug  1868
  • | – Dianna 
  • born: 11 May 1873
  • | – Hannah 
  • born: 11 Dec 1875

| - Isaac 
 born: 1836

| – Anay [sp?]
born: 10 May 1838

| – Adeline 
born: 20 Nov 1841

| - Caroline
born: 29 May 1843

| – Hester 
born: 6 Feb 1845

| – Marilla 
born:  21 Dec 1849

  • | – Mary 
  • born:   Aug 1868
  • | – William 
  • born: 10 Dec  1869
  • Margaret 
  • born: 7 Feb  1871
  • Johnson
  • born 1 Feb 1875
  • Ranger
  • born: 17 Jun 1877
  • Oma 
  • born: 13 Mar 1879

| – Alice 
born: 27 Jul 1852

| – Joe
born: 3 Dec 1854

All the living descendants of Dianna and Joe would have been freed in South Carolina, Sumter district. Maybe they took the Fraser surname, or else a surname from a neighboring family: Atchison, Atkinson, Baxter, Boone, Hickman, Jones, Lynch, Paris, Postell, Washington, and Wilson are possible surnames.

There will be two more family lines in the next two posts:

  • (1) Part 4: Ciller’s Children
  •  (2) Part 5: Peggy’s Children

In these two posts, I’ll also publish those few single lists of enslaved mothers and children that I haven’t been able to fit into larger generational lines. 

Future researchers, with this complete access to the journal’s information, may be able to see more generational patterns than I have found.

Comments and observations are welcome! It’s all for the cause of discovering unknown ancestors.

How much harder that task becomes when those ancestors have been enslaved and therefore deprived of surnames.


(1) Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. Harper & Row: 1988. See especially Chapter 4, “Ambiguities of Free Labor,” 124-175.


























Part 2: Family Lines of Enslaved People

 Brief Background:

John Baxter Fraser (1767-1820) of the Sumter district in South Carolina bequeathed his 55 slaves to his 9 children in his 1820 will. He kept slave families together in this distribution.

John Baxter’s son Ladson Lawrence Fraser Sr. (1804-1889), his 8th child, eventually owned most of his father’s slaves and their descendants as well. The reason was simple: Ladson lived the longest.

The 1820 will says that the surviving siblings will inherit the slaves of any sibling who dies . . . share and share alike, but without dividing slave families. It so happened that 7 of Ladson’s siblings died long before him: Mary, in 1833; Jane, 1840; Samuel, 1843; Elias, 1851; John, 1860; Thomas, 1863; and William, 1864.

Only Robert, who died in 1886, lived nearly as long as Ladson. Robert probably also owned some of his father John Baxter’s slaves and their descendants, just as Ladson did. So far, I have found no journals by Robert.

Family Lines of Slaves:

But Ladson’s journal—with its lists of enslaved women’s names and their children’s birth dates—has come down to me by chance. Using this journal and estimating the ages of childbearing women, I can piece together several generational lines of slaves and record some dates, as I did in the last post. This post is Part 2 of that project.

The code below is simple: first generation green, second red, third blue, and fourth pink – as in the last post.

Here is the page “Kate’s Children” in the handwriting of my 2nd great grandfather, Ladson Lawrence Fraser Sr.:

Fraser, Wilson, Hickman, Postel, Washington, Atchison


  • Kate’s Children No. 8
  • 1 Xury was born  June 4, 1819
  • 2 Edmund was born Sept. 14, 1821
  • 3 Richard was born (died in Virginia) July 10th, 1823
  • 4 George was born May 17th 1825
  • 5 Suckey was born Sept. 16th 1826
  • 6 Lavicy was born May 14th 1828
  • 7 Caesar was born  April 10th 1830
  • 8 Dianna was born March 10th 1832
  • 9 Caty was born  Apr. 20th 1838

Four of Kate’s daughters–Suckey b. 1826, Lavicy b. 1828,  Dianna b. 1832, and Caty b. 1835had children. This would be a third generation. Here are their journal pages, with transcriptions:

Fraser, Atkinson, Baxter, Boone, Jones, Slavery, Slave names


  • Sucky’s Children No. 19th
  • 1 Mary Ann was born July 5th 1844
  • 2 Dicy was born Sept. 10th 1846
  • 3 Delia was born Dec 3 1848
  • 4 Elvira was born April 20 1851
  • 5 James was born Feb 22 1853
  • Dick was born Nov 15 1856
  • Elvina was born Sept 2nd 1860
  • Phoeby was born Dec 4th 1862

Fraser, Boone, Atchison, Atkinson, Baxter, Wilson


  • Lavicy’s Children No. 10th
  • 1 Sentry was born Aug 25 1847
  • 2 Siby (?) was born Mar 23 1849
  • 3 Dick was born Nov 15 1850
  • 4 [crossed out] (decsd) June 30th 1852
  • 5 Edmond was born July 10th 1854
  • Harrington dead May 15th 1856
  • L  Xury Nov 1st 1858
  • Sumter June 4th 1860

Hickman, Lynch, Paris, Postel, Washington, Fraser


  • Little Diana’s Children:
  • 1 [crossed out] Aug 3rd 1852
  • 2 Rose [crossed out] Dec 15th 1853
  • 3 Emma was born June 4th 1855
  • 4 Isaac was born [crossed out] June 13th 1858
  • Scipio Nov 15th 1859
  • Bony Jan 1 1862
  • Sophy Jan 6th 1863

Fraser, Hickman, Postel, Paris, Wilson, Jones


  • L Caty’s [Little Caty's] Children
  • Washington born April 1857
  • Mitchell was born August 1860
  • Alex was born Dec 1862

And when Sucky’s daughter Mary Ann has a son, we can identify a 4th generation.

Fraser, Boone, Atkinson, Lynch


  • Mary Ann’s children
  • Johny was born June 1st 1862

We know only the mothers of children in this journal. Only rarely are the fathers mentioned. With mothers and fathers, we could have more complete lines of descent. As it is, we can make only a tree without fathers and without surnames–in matrilineal shorthand.

Thanks to Sally Knudsen @SallyontheGo for the following straightforward tree format that I’ve adapted from her most recent post. In review, here is the entire tree now assembled for Kate:

Parent: Kate

born: 4 Jun 1819, Sumter district, South Carolina (same location for all descendants)
born: 15 Sep 1821
born: 10 Jul 1823
died: in Virginia
born: 17 May 1825
born: 16 Sep 1826

  • |–Mary Ann
  • born: 5 Jul 1844  Johny born: 1 Jun 1862
  • |–Dicy
  • born: 10 Sep 1846
  • |–Delia
  • born 3 Dec 1848
  • |–Elvira
  • born: 20 Apr 1851
  • |–James
  • born: 22 Feb 1853
  • |–Dick
  • born: 15 Nov 1856
  • |–Elvina
  • born: 2 Sep 1860
  • |–Phoeby
  • born: 4 Dec 1862

born: 14 May 1828

  • |–Sentry 
  • born: 25 Aug 1847
  • |–Siby (?)
  • born 23 Mar  1849
  • |–Dick 
  • born: 15 Nov 1850
  • |–Edmond 
  • born: 10 Jul 1854
  • |–L  Xury 
  • born: 1 Nov 1858 
  • |–Sumter 
  • born: 4 Jun 1860

born: 10 Apr 1830 

born: 10 Mar 1832

  • |–Emma 
  • born: 4 Jun 1855
  • |–Scipio 
  • born: 15 Nov 1859
  • |–Bony 
  • born: 1 Jan 1862
  • |–Sophy 
  • born: 6 Jan 1863

born: 20 Apr 1838

  • |–Washington 
  • born : Apr 1857
  • |–Mitchell 
  • born: Aug 1860
  • |–Alex 
  • born: Dec 1862

Kate had 31 descendants, not counting those who died in infancy. They stretch into the Civil War years.

The living descendants of Kate’s line would have been emancipated in the Sumter district of South Carolina. They may have taken the surname Fraser, or one of these surnames used within the Fraser family: Atchison, Atkinson, Baxter, Boone, Fraser, Hickman, Jones, Lynch, Paris, Postell, Washington, or Wilson.

Kate’s tree demonstrates one of the many outrages of chattel slavery: It kept many generations of people from knowing their genealogical lines. Can we recover enough of that knowledge for African-Americans today to find ancestors? At the least, we should try our best.

More family lines of enslaved people will be in the next post.







A Lucky Glimpse: Family Lines of Slaves


Fraser, enslaved families, Boone, Hickman, Atkinson

A few weeks ago, my first cousin and I found an old, weathered journal in her attic. This journal was one among many, in an unexamined box of documents left to her by her mother.

The cover reads, “Negro’s Age’s 1848,” [sic] and underneath, “L. L. Fraser.”  The writing is barely visible in a bright light.


There are 37 handwritten pages. The title of each page is the first name of the parent—typically an enslaved African-American woman. Underneath is a list of children, by first name and birth date. The dates range from 1804 through 1879.

Several Fraser patriarchs owned slaves in my family. Here is a father-son-grandson line:

  • John Baxter Fraser, 1767-1820  ( my 3 x g grandfather)
  • Ladson Lawrence Fraser Sr., 1804-1889 (2 x g grandfather)
  • Ladson Lawrence Fraser, Jr., 1862-1918 (great-grandfather)

These three men all believed in keeping slave families together—they did not separate them by selling them or willing them to others. Therefore, Ladson Lawrence Fraser Sr. lived with the same enslaved families all his life, in the Sumter district of South Carolina. By scrutinizing this “Negroes’ Ages” journal, we can find tentative generational lines for some of Ladson’s enslaved families.

I’m color-coding in bold for clarity. Parent is green. Children are red. Grandchildren are blue.

Nanny’s Descendants:

One enslaved woman, Nanny, was given to Ladson Lawrence in his father’s 1820 will. See November 2012 post. Ladson received six slaves: “Dick, & his wife Kate, Nanny & her three children vix. Heram, Rufus, and Susanna.

Here is a page from the “Negroes’ Ages” journal:

Fraser, enslaved families, POCGenealogy, Washington, Lynch, Postel

  •  Nanny’s Children  No. 14th
  • 1 Herram was born [Deceased 1843] May 5th 1813
  • 1 Rufus was born Oct. 9th 1816
  • 2 Sue was born March 18th 1818
  • 3 Cyrus was born May 15th 1820
  • 4 Brister  was born June 7th 1824
  • 5 Minirva was born June 30th 1828
  • 6 Isaiah was born Sept. 23 1834
  •  Cyrus died April 13th 1882
  • Isaiah died Aug 27 1889
  • Sue died Feb. 8th 1900 age 82 yr 10 m 8 d.
  • Rufus died Apr. 12 1904 Age 87 yr 6 m

Notice that here are  the birth and death dates for four of Nanny’s children: Rufus, Sue, Cyrus, and Isaiah.

Their death dates are after Emancipation. These people may have stayed with their former owners (Frasers in the Sumter district) under one of those newly established work contracts. I’ve read how oppressive such contracts usually were. I always hope for exceptions—a little light in the deep woods.

Another journal page gives the children of Sue, Nanny’s first daughter:

Fraser, enslaved ancestors, Jones, Paris, Atchison, POC genealogy

Sue’s Children  No. 18

  • 1 [crossed out, perhaps died in infancy]
  • 2 Betsy was born Dec. 26 1848
  • 3 Hiram (?) was born Sep. 1st 1852
  • 4 Minerva was born Aug 1st 1854
  • 5      Nanny died Feb. 58   Jan 23 1857
  • Betsy died Dec 2nd 1884

I believe this Sue is likely Nanny’s daughter because the comparative ages seem right, and there are no others named “Sue” in this journal. We may have three generations here:

  • Nanny
  • Sue b. 1818 d. 1900
  • Betsy b. 1848 d. 1884  (There is no list of Betsy’s children.) 

Nanny’s second daughter, Minirva/Minerva b. 1828 [not the same as Sue’s daughter Minerva] had many children. Here is the  journal page:


  • Minerva’s Children  No. 13
  • 1 Martha was born Dec 7th 1846
  • 2 Robert was born May 21st 1850
  • 3 Susan was born April 11th 1852
  • 4 Ralph [crossed out] Dead April 1st 1854
  • 5 Winny was born April 26 1856
  • 6 Nanny was born June 10 1858
  • 7 Lizzie was born May 28th 1860
  • 8 Mariah was born Nov. 25 1862
  • 9 Ralph was born Oct 31 1864
  • Willie was born Feby 1870

Again we have two more generations after Minerva’s mother, Nanny.

Minerva and her children probably lived past Emancipation.  The census or the Freedmen’s Bureau may hold clues.

Finally, Sue’s son Hiram b. 1852 may have taken the surname Hickman after Emancipation. Hickman was a popular middle name within the Fraser family. Hiram’s age would fit with these birth dates for his children in the journal:

Hickman, Fraser, enslaved families, slavery, African-American genealogy 

  •  Hiram Hickman’s children
  • Charley – 4 years old Decr 1st 1872
  • Brister – 2 years old March 19th 1873
  • Fanny – 9 years old Feby – 1873

If my guess is correct, then, this journal when seen as a whole includes four generations of at least one family line of slaves. (I’ve coded the great-grandchildren pink.)

  • Nanny
  • Sue and Minerva
  • Hiram and many other grandchildren (above)
  • Charley, Brister and Fanny

Hiram’s  family might be in the 1870 census under that “Hickman” surname, in the Sumter, SC district. This family line might easily yield to more research. With luck.

Any genealogical clues are precious. I’m tagging this blog with surnames that were also used as middle names in the Fraser family, just in case the Fraser slaves adopted these last names when freed:

  • Atchison
  • Atkinson
  • Baxter
  • Boone
  • Hickman
  • Jones
  • Lynch
  • Paris
  • Postel
  • Washington

Maybe there are other slaveholders’ journals out there, waiting to be found—with birth dates, death dates, and relationships that can be inferred.

I’m copying each page of this “Negroes’ Ages” journal with my Flip-Pal before I turn it over to the South Carolina Historical Society for the archive. Maybe these pages can be used to detect more family lines. I’ll put them in a later post.

And I’m fervently hoping there is someone out there in genealogy land who will find this post helpful in their family research.

Surprised by Connections

Family history is a group sport. The Internet is in play. And everybody wins!

Social Media

Since my last blog post, I’ve been wrestling day and night with a giant family tree–using information sent to me by a third cousin. He found me on the Internet, of course. He asked me a while ago to verify his research, person by person, and help prepare materials for archiving at the South Carolina Historical Society.

I agreed. His goal was my goal, too. Research for this third cousin’s tree is connected with research for my own family tree.

He and I have great-great grandparents in common. They lived in the 1800s, a man and wife who occupy the narrow waist of a sizeable “hourglass” tree. For my cousin and me, eight descendant lines (many of them from the 1600s) converge in this one couple. These lines all begin with original immigrants.

Here are our common great-grandparents:

Fraser, Boone, Kirven, McCutchen

Hannah Atkinson Boone Fraser (1808-83) and Captain Ladson Lawrence Fraser, Sr. (1804-89)

The original immigrant surnames that feed into this couple are Boone, Croft, Fraser, Johnson, Lynch, Patey, Pinckney, and Vanderhorst. Gratefully using my third cousin’s material, I’ve filled out these early lines during the last six months. I’ve posted stories about several people belonging to these families.

But last month, with added prompting from my cousin, I was introduced to six more original immigrant lines: Bradley, McCottry, McCutchen, Montgomery, Wilson, and Witherspoon. I realized then that I am connected to all of these families. It is all one tree, by descent and by marriage.

I was up against the full range of my cousin’s material. He and I both had a lot at stake here. How could I NOT do everything possible to verify his research, enhance my own, build an enormous tree, and create huge descendant printouts for the SCHS archive?

Family connections were calling. I put aside Twitter and my blog posts. I rolled up my sleeves.

It’s lucky that I’m obsessive and compulsive, ho ho! This job took several hundred hours.

When I began this last push, the family tree stood at about 1,200 people. Now this tree, which joins my cousin and me and many others, embraces over 1,800 people. The supporting documents, historical and genealogical, amount to many times that number.

This third cousin and I will meet in Charleston on July 19th at the South Carolina Historical Society. We have an appointment. They’re ready to take our submissions into their archive.

And that is the reason I’ve been absent from my blog and from Twitter, for weeks now. Sorry, everyone. I’ve reached a stopping point, and I’m back.

Yes, this tree is far from perfect. Each piece of data is not exhaustively proved. But each person does have genealogical documentation. This project will be grist for further research–by us as well as others. My cousin and I have photographs to add, and scanned handwritten documents, and original letters, and . . .

Internet connections can feel magical, like postcards from the void.

I had several other surprise connections during my time away:

(1) A Presbyterian missionary from the Congo (see my last post) reached me through my blog and offered to take a photo of my relative’s grave in Bulape. So generous of him! I’ll try to reach my relative’s living family members and send them the photo.

(2) Two living mixed-race relatives contacted me by email, “out of the blue,” with friendly thanks for my genealogical posts on the Internet and for my family-memoir book. I was thrilled to hear from them, and I plan to keep up this correspondence. They descend from my 1st cousin 3 x removed, who died in the Civil War fighting for the Confederacy. History, go figure.

(3) In an attic box at another cousin’s house, I found more than a dozen small books: journals kept by Ladson Lawrence Fraser, both Sr. and Jr. (See the photo of Sr., above.) They owned slaves. One of these books lists the birth dates of slave children under each mother’s name, across a span of 60 years. This information could help people today in their search for enslaved ancestors. Here is a sample page:


Next week I’ll begin to transcribe and post this journal here. The more connections we can make between past and present, the better.

The Congo and the South

Another missionary has appeared in my family tree.  Leighton McCutchen died as a Presbyterian missionary in the Congo in 1936. He was 30 years old.

Born in 1906 to a large, companionable family in South Carolina, Leighton married a woman from Texas in 1930. A few years later, they had a son.

By 1935, Leighton must have felt a call to missionary work in the Congo. The UK Passenger Lists of March 31, 1935 show Leighton, his wife, and his one-year-old son sailing to Southampton, England on the S. S. Statendam. On April 8, 1935, the New York Passenger Lists record them returning to the states.

On that trip, I suppose, Leighton may have been making arrangements in England to join the American Presbyterian Congo Mission.

Here is the next record of Leighton that I have. The first part:


So Leighton died on December 9, 1936 of septicemia—that is, a severe and suppurating infection. He was buried in the Bulape Cemetery in the Belgian Congo. His death must have occurred no more than 20 months into his missionary work.

Here is the second part of that record:


His wife took his belongings with her. A cousin seems to have already been in the Congo, at the Mission, to accompany her to Leopoldville and support her in filling out this form. I see no mention of a child here, but the question is not asked.

Yet I did find this picture of Leighton, his wife, and his son. It must have been taken within the 20 months after his trip to England and before his death:

Leighton McCutchen, wife, and young son. From

Leighton McCutchen, wife, and young son. From

If only I could find a speech, or a journal, about Leighton’s aspirations to be a Presbyterian missionary to the Congolese. What kind of idealism and purpose? Why the Congo? Leighton may have been named after our family’s famous missionary to Africa, John Leighton Wilson. Did he feel Africa was his destiny?

Some history may help us put ourselves in Leighton’s shoes.

King Leopold II came to the throne of Belgium in 1865. Working with the famous explorer Henry Morton Stanley, (1) Leopold strong-armed local Congolese tribal leaders into signing over their land rights to him. He called his resulting colony the “Congo Free State.” Free? Hardly. From 1885 to 1908, Leopold forced indigenous people into life-threatening labor. Millions of Congolese died under Leopold’s brutal working conditions, while Leopold’s Belgium grew rich and famous from the yields of rubber and copper.  

Does this scene sound familiar? This is the Congo of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, woven from Conrad’s own previous experiences as an employee of Belgium in the Congo. This is the Congo whose foreign tyrant is satirized by Mark Twain in King Leopold’s Soliloquy.  This is the Congo described by Adam Hochschild (1999) in King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. This Congo is a nightmare of colonialism and rapacious inhumanity.

Some might think this Congo evokes the South in the days of slavery. Others might object that the South was not that bad. But is it wise to dispute degrees of inhumanity? I’d rather notice the irony that in 1865, when Leopold ascended to the throne, freedom was being granted that same year, by constitutional amendment, to all blacks on America’s plantations. History! Injustices wax and wane.

Another trick of history, in this case, is the fact that American Presbyterian missionaries to Africa—several of them from the South—worked to expose Leopold’s savage inhumanity. Lachlan Vass, a Southern Presbyterian missionary, wrote this in 1898:  

  • “How bad are the conditions? . . . I am in a position to say from personal experience . . . that the conditions in the Congo have not in the least been exaggerated . . . . I am a Southern [white] man from the black belt of eastern [North Carolina] and I don’t think we are often loaded with praise for our love of the Negro . . . but I wish to protest in the strongest terms to the absolutely inhuman way these poor people in their own country are being butchered by the white man, and all under the cloak of Philanthropy.”

The writings of Vass, Morrison, Hawkins, Sheppard, and other Presbyterian missionaries helped open the world’s eyes to Leopold’s crimes against humanity. According to Wikipedia here,

  • “In January 1900 the New York Times published a report that said fourteen villages had been burned and ninety or more of the local people killed in the Bena Camba country by Zappo Zap warriors sent to collect taxes by the Congo Free State administration. The report was based on letters from Southern Presbyterian missionaries Rev. L. C. Vass and Rev. H. P. Hawkins . . . and the subsequent investigation by [William] Sheppard who visited the Zappo Zaps’s camp. . . .  In January 1908, Sheppard published a report on colonial abuses in the American Presbyterian Congo Mission (APCM) newsletter, and both he and Morrison were sued for libel against . . . a prominent Belgian rubber contractor in the area.”

In 1908, Leopold’s personal rule ended. After Leopold’s overthrow, and moving forward into the 1920s and 1930s, the labor situation in the Congo was a few notches less inhumane, yet it was still hostage to the colonizing Belgians. Missionaries could improve education and health care, but they were themselves in a position vulnerable to co-optation by the greedy Belgian government. This photo is from this link:

Presbyterian Missionaries in Luebo Congo with Bakubac chief chief. From this link. Photographer #PHC-DIG-10103

Presbyterian Missionaries in Luebo Congo with Bakubac chief chief, c. 1915-1917.         Photographer #PHC-DIG-10103


Now back from the Congo to the South. Back to William Henry Sheppard, a black Presbyterian missionary from Virginia, whom we just mentioned as protesting with others against Leopold II. (2) In his earlier years, as a young man, he wrote to the Presbyterian Foreign Missionary Board in Maryland. He asked them whether he might start a mission in Africa. After enduring two years of their vague rejections, he approached them in person. He was directly told that the board would not send “a black man without a white supervisor.”

The white man who volunteered to go with Sheppard was Samuel Norvell Lapsley (Lapsley is one of my surnames), described as an “eager but inexperienced white man from a wealthy family.”  Together, they resolved to work with equal numbers of white and black missionary assistants.

William Henry Sheppard, 1865-1927

William Henry Sheppard, 1865-1927.        From wikipedia.

 After his heroic missionary service, Sheppard returned to his native Virginia in the early 1900s. One Sunday, he spoke from the pulpit at a Presbyterian church. A rich white woman invited him to a dinner reception afterwards, at her house. She led him to the back porch, built off the dining room. From there, he spoke through a raised window to her guests eating dinner. He answered their questions about his experiences in the Congo. Link here.

Sheppard’s treatment is a typical Southern anecdote, and a comparatively mild one. I am juxtaposing the Congo with the South because I think my missionary relative, Leighton McCutchen, may also have had such a juxtaposition in mind, in some way. I can only speculate about his thoughts and feelings. Of course, it was idealistic and dangerous to join a mission to the Congo. That quest killed Leighton and left his family bereft. But at least in the Congo the path forward was clear. The good guys and the bad guys were both identifiable.

By contrast, back in the South, lynchings were at a peak in the early 1900s. The victims were blacks and black sympathizers. The South was filled with conflict, violence, and uncertainty when slaves were freed in 1865, and more uncertainty when the freed slaves struggled to make their freedom real—no easy task. How could you be sure exactly what your neighbors were thinking? Southern politics were hopelessly complicated, tied up with the disenfranchisement of blacks, Jim Crow laws, segregation, secret murders, sharecropping, the Red Shirts, and all the other trappings of “slavery without the chains.”

The South in those days would disorient anyone’s moral compass. And those stiff winds—which way were they blowing?


(1) This is indeed the famous explorer Stanley who was said to ask, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” He was not known to be respectful of blacks. 

(2) See William Sheppard, Presbyterian Pioneers in Congo (Nabu Press, 2010), and William E. Phipps, William Sheppard, Congo’s African American Livingstone (Geneva Press, 2002).



Goodbye for a short while, everyone!

Your comments are always welcome!

I’ll return to my post(s) sometime after the first week in June.

Family events are summoning me now.



China, Anglicans, Trouble

Last post:  Rev. William Jones Boone, Sr. sets out to China in 1837 as an Anglican missionary, intending to bring the Gospel to the Chinese. He envisions over 300 million people there as potential converts. He believes the Chinese are an industrious and obedient people, ready to receive the good news and hope that Christianity can bring them.

Flash forward to 1884 in Shanghai, where Rev. Boone Sr. is still a revered memory to both Anglicans and Chinese.

In 1884, Rev. William Jones Boone, Jr., his son and namesake, is in trouble. He plans to be consecrated as the fourth Bishop of China in the fall. Yet loud voices are directed against him, during the summer months, from within the Anglican Church: charges of incompetence, calls for a thorough investigation. These voices speak against his consecration. Some want him to resign.

Objections to Rev. Boone Jr. (my 3rd cousin 3 x removed) are found in columns of The North China Daily News, as well as letters to The Southern Churchman, the Board of Missions, the Foreign Committee, and targeted individuals.

The entire correspondence is available at this link.  Caveat reader: This is a long, verbose set of accusations and defenses.




In these pages, Mission members in Shanghai express their opinions, as do Anglicans from the United States. Many fire complaints at Rev. Boone Jr. for the way he runs the church services and the mission school, St. John’s College. My own summary of their heated claims:

  • Boone’s services are too “Romish” or Roman Catholic, with too much “ritualism.” There are too many colors in the garments. Rev. Boone is said to have heard confessions. He has a gold-colored cross on the altar. He makes the sign of the cross too much. He uses red for Easter, to please the Chinese, instead of pure white.
  • Boone’s college teaches too much English language and not enough of the pure Word of the Gospels. There is insufficient discipline. Older Chinese students have been found at St. John’s gambling in the evening hours instead of studying. This mission is not worth financial support.
  • The Rev. Boone and Mrs. Boone do not work hard enough. Boone’s Chinese is only mediocre. He does not supervise the mission activities closely enough. Is he relying upon the name of his famous father? Will the Chinese mission become a “sinecure for Boones”? The Presbyterians now have more missionaries to China than the Anglicans. Something must be done.

My one observation:  These complaints seem to be primarily about the status and purity of the Anglican Church itself, and its reputation, rather than about the spiritual welfare of 300 million Chinese souls. I’m just sayin’.

This lengthy correspondence includes only a few letters from Boone himself. He resists being dragged into the controversy. Here is a brief excerpt from Boone’s short letter on June 17, 1894:

  • We have a grave and reverent ritual at St. John’s. We have no ritualism. The distinction is a real one, and easily understood by those who are conversant with the revival of Church life following on the Oxford movement.

This comment draws a swift and angry reply from one of Boone’s main accusers, Ferdinand McKeige. An excerpt:

  • I must confess my inability to draw the hair line between a “grave and reverent ritual” and “ritualism”. . . . The wearing of cassocks, birettas, and varied colours upon different occasions, together with such paraphernalia as a brass cross, a super-alter, etc., certainly leads one to presume that ritualism abides on the premises, unless informed to the contrary.


Reverend  William Jones Boone, Jr. (1846-1891)

Reverend William Jones Boone, Jr. (1846-1891)


On October 28, 1884, Rev. William Jones Boone, Jr. is officially consecrated as Bishop of China, with all due ceremony. He seems to have relied upon his fellow bishops – Moule, Scott, and Williams – to support him and quell dissent by essentially ignoring and “rising above” it.

News of this famous controversy reaches London. On November 4, 1884 (a week after Boone’s consecration), the most popular song at the Lyceum Theatre during a burlesque drama is this one:

There is a Mission place,
Out Jessfield way;
Where they teach the young Chinese,
Day after day;
There they thought ‘twould be a “boon,”
If they had a bishop soon.
But now I see they’ve changed their tune,
Far, far away.

In 1891, seven years after his consecration, Rev. William Jones Boone, Jr. dies and is buried in China.

His one surviving daughter Phoebe Elliot Boone, born in China in 1873, emigrated to the United States and married a man from Delaware, in April of 1895. She and her husband settled in Missouri and had three children.

It seems that Phoebe Elliot Boone escaped just in time.

Around 1900 the Boxer Rebellion erupted in China. It was “the worst disaster in missionary history.” The Boxers killed many Christian missionaries and Chinese Christians, especially in North China. After that, “the West lost the certainty of its conviction that it had the right to impose its culture and religion on China.” (1)

I wonder how Bishop William Jones Boone, Sr. would have interpreted the Boxer Rebellion.

Boone, China, Anglicans

The Boxers killed many thousands of Chinese Christians. Image from Wikipedia.



(1) Larry Clinton Thompson, William Scott Ament and the Boxer Rebellion: Heroism, Hubris, and the Ideal Missionary.  Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishing Company, 2009, 1. Quoted in Wikipedia.

The Bishop of China. Really?

Really. William Jones Boone (my 2nd cousin 4 time removed) decided at age 26 to leave South Carolina for China. He was the first Anglican missionary to China, with the title of Bishop.

Boone, South, China, Episcopal


In this long 1837 address, Boone explains the reasons for his choice. A summary:

1. Christ’s words in Mark 16: 15 are explicit: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” There are 300 to 400 million people in China, a third of the human race.

2. The Chinese are obedient, because they are used to patriarchy and despotism. They are cheerfully industrious and lovers of education. They will be easily converted to Christianity.

  •  The gospel once fairly established in a nation where order, peace, and industry thus dwell, may be expected soon to extend over the whole empire; for we know that it is the orderly and industrious of every country who constitute the great class from which the Christian Church is filled . . . the further removed they are from savagism, the sooner shall we be able to make them acquainted with the gospel of Christ.

3. The Chinese are idolaters and heathens who need to be rescued “from the shades of night and death.” Who can resist this call to be “a co-worker with God”? Who can resist “millions of perishing sinners calling upon us by their destitution to supply them with the bread of life”?

4. Christian missionaries are excluded from China at present. (That’s because the Jesuits made the Chinese government think Christianity was a scheme of political intrigue.) But we can still send missionaries to the Chinese “out of empire,” to the islands of Batavia, Singapore, Penang, Bianca, and so forth. We can thus create “internal ministers” to return to China. We can also send books to China, translated from English to Chinese—for instance, the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.

Boone, China, slavery, Episcopalian

The Reverend William Jones Boone (1811-1864).


These are Boone’s reasons. Looking at his expression in this picture, I believe I can see a zealous and unstoppable resolve.

In June of 1835, Boone sailed from New York with two other Episcopalian ministers to Batavia. Two years later, he returned to America to marry Sarah DeSaussure from South Carolina. He sailed with her in 1837 from Boston to Batavia and Singapore.


Boone was certainly sincere. His life’s work was to spread the word of God. The Episcopal Mission worked hard to help the Chinese.

Yet people are to some degree shaped by their culture. In Boone’s address, I hear not only a minister but also a Southerner who comes from a long line of slaveholders, back to his 2nd great-grandfather who founded Boone Hall.

As I read Boone’s words, I substitute “African slaves” for “Chinese.” I compare and contrast his probable understanding of the two groups, so as to further comprehend why he spent his life in China. American slavery, after all, is somewhat like an “at-home” version of colonialism, with its mix of cruelty and paternalism.

Boone sees the Chinese people, unlike the African slaves he grew up with, as perfectly obedient and industrious. The Chinese thrive under a despotic system. The Chinese are cheerfully industrious and eager to learn—the opposite of the stereotype for African slaves. Maybe Boone’s silent undertext goes like this: How much more the Chinese would appreciate our religious instruction than the slaves back home ever could! From these 360 million souls, Christianity could spread throughout world!

Such a vision may have helped motivate Boone to sail to the other side of the planet.

Boone presumed that he understood the Chinese people, just as Southern slaveholders presumed that they understood their slaves. The white man, carrying the “white man’s burden,” used to believe he knew what was best for those heathens and savages of a different color. (Perhaps in some circles he still does, alas.)

The slaveholders were wrong about their slaves. They did not understand them. They were astonished, when freedom arrived, to know what their slaves had actually been thinking and feeling:

  • Perhaps the most striking illustration of the freedmen’s quest for self-improvement was their seemingly unquenchable thirst for education . . . white contemporaries were astonished by their “avidity for learning” . . . when [a Freedmen’s Bureau agent] informed a gathering of freedmen that the “were to have the advantages of schools and education, their joy knew no bounds. They fairly jumped and shouted in gladness.” (1)
  • [In Sherman’s wake] on plantation after plantation, “perfect anarchy and rebellion” reigned, as the accumulated resentments of slavery burst forth in violence and in the conscious flouting of the planter aristocracy’s authority and self-esteem. Planters’ homes, smokehouses, and storerooms were plundered; an overseer was murdered; on one plantation blacks refused to listen any longer to the local white minister, but “would shout and sing after their own fashion.” The magnificent plantation home at Middleton Place near Charleston was burned to the ground, the vaults of the family graveyard broken open and the bones scattered by the former slaves. Charles Manigault, who had considered himself and indulgent master, was stunned by the “recklessness and ingratitude” of his slaves . . . (2)
  • [Freedmen] took particular offense at contentions that American slavery had been unusually benevolent and that “harmonious relations” had existed between master and slave. ‘All of us know how happy we have been . . .’  declared one black orator. . . . (3)
  • Northern whites who ventured South to proselytize among the freedmen proved no more successful than Southerners in winning black converts, partly because of their ill-disguised contempt for uneducated black ministers and their emotional services. Teachers employed by the American Missionary Association used Bible classes to inveigh against “heathenish habits such as shouting” and “unchristian” behavior like that of the black funeral mourner who “clapped her hands, threw them over her head screaming ‘glory to God’ . . . dancing up and down in front of the pulpit.” (4)

Yes, the slaveholders were wrong about the slaves.

So was Boone similarly wrong in his preconceptions of the Chinese? What conflicts had to be “sorted out,” as the British would say?

British Ships Attacking Chinese War Junks. By E. Duncan. Wikipedia commons.

British Ships Attacking Chinese War Junks. By E. Duncan. Wikipedia commons.

There is more to this story. I’m about to read some lengthy correspondence in The Southern Churchman. That will inform me about the heated objections to the consecration of Boone’s son, William Jones Boone Jr., as the 4th Anglican Bishop of China.

To be continued in the next post . . .



(1) Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. 1863-1877.  Harper & Row, 1988. 96

(2) Foner, 71-72.

(3) Foner, 78-79.

(4) Foner, 91.

(5) The East India Company iron steam ship Nemesis, commanded by Lieutenant W. H. Hall, with boats from the SulphurCalliopeLarne and Starling, destroying the Chinese war junks in Anson’s Bay, on 7 January 1841.