Friday, November 19, 2010

The passing of time:

The passing of time:  historical events are important to the everyday life of a people.  Although, we are not always affected, for good or bad, by events around us, we are often changed by these events in some way, often without our awareness.   (Hindsight is clear)
Ø      On February 3, 1870, the 15th amendment granted Black men (not women) the right to vote.  My great grand parents were alive and well; however, I have no yet located evidence to indicate they voted.
Ø      In 1882, Thomas Edison switched on the first commercial electric lights in New York Central Station.  If you have ever tried to live without electricity, even for a couple of days, you can appreciate the value to the electric light. I have tried living on oil burning lamps for a couple of days.  The dim light, the smell of burning oil, and the milk smoke in the air is not romantic.
Ø      In 1882, the outlaw Jessie James was shot and killed by one of his partners.  Sometimes we die as we have lived.
Ø      In 1882, congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, suspending entry into U.S. of all Chinese laborers for 10 years.  So what the railroad construction was complete?
Ø      In 1882, Pace v. Alabama--Supreme Court ruled that an Alabama law providing severer punishment for illegal interracial sexual intercourse than for illegal sexual intercourse in which both parties were of the same race did not violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.  Enough said!
Ø      In 1882, Polygamy became a felony by the Edmunds Act as passed by the U.S. Congress.  So someone has a problem with me having two husbands?!

In 1880, ten years after the 15th amendment granted Black men the right to vote, Cassie Cashion Gray was a 38-year-old free woman living with her free 65-year-old blacksmithing husband, Nelson, in Carsonville, Taylor County, Georgia.  She was a housewife and mother of 12.  Nelson and Cassie had been slaves in this area and they remained there after slavery.  In 1880, two children, Brooks and Sallie, had married and moved out of the home.  Remaining with the family was:
1.       James Gray, age 17
2.     Martin Gray, age 14
3.     Josephine and Josie, age 12
4.     Amy Gray, age 9
5.     John T. Gray (aka Saul Riley), age 8
6.     Admon Gray, age 6
7.     Elin C. Gray (Cassie), age 3
8.     Georgia Gray, granddaughter, age 1
9.     Marietta Brooks, age 2
10.  Peter Gray (uncle), age 75
Grandchildren, Georgia and Marietta, were in the home as was Uncle Peter, grandmother Sarah’s brother, who, by the way, was still farming, no retirement for Uncle Pete.
The Gray family was not complete.  The 1880 Federal Census was taken in June and Uncle Archie Gray was born in July 1879, a year earlier; however, he was not listed on the census.  It is likely he was napping or he might have been with another family member, an aunt or a cousin.  In the next two years, the Grays would complete their family (at least for this set of Nelson’s children) with the birth of Champion Nathaniel Gray on 22 January 1882. 

Champion is my paternal grandfather.  I am not sure of the date of this picture.  It was given to me by Cassie Gray, great Uncle Martin Gray's daughter, way back in the 1980's.  The three brothers were on the picture together.  He appears to be a mature man; however, there is no record oral or otherwise that I have "yet" located to indicate Champion was with his brothers John T. and Martin after he was married and living in Mississippi.  He was a small man, slight in built and short in stature.  His only daughter, Cassie, my mother, and my aunts recall him as firm, rigid, and mean.  I love him very much.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Then there were three…

Then there were three…
My grandfather, Nelson, married a young slave named Cassie.  Cassie came to the plantation from North Carolina.  She told her children that her last name was Cashion and her mother’s name was Annie.   She was born around 1840.  She would later tell her children that she never knew what slavery was until she came to Georgia. 
Cassie had a son, Brooks Gray, before she married Nelson.  To this family of three, Cassie and Nelson added 12 children, one set of twins.  The couple remained in the Taylor County Georgia area nearly all their lives.  Nelson died in this area about 1890.

By 1900, Cassie Gray, age 57, had experienced the pain from which no woman truly recovers: the death of her husband and the death of a child.  Her first daughter, Sarah Gray Duncan (aka Sallie), died in 1905.  In 1900, Cassie was living with her 3 youngest sons, Admon (25), Archie (20), Champion (18), and a granddaughter, Florence Gray (10).  Her world was changing fast with Admon’s marriage to Lulu in 1903 and Archie’s marriage to Emma Little in 1906.  Her nest was emptying and she was finding herself with less work to do.   Her children were scattering to Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Texas, and Tennessee.

 In 1910, Cassie, age 69 with no children to cook, garden, sew, wash, or chastise, found herself living in Worth County Georgia with her and Nelson’s first son, James G. Gray and his wife, Evelina Raines, and children.  Momma Cassie is believed to have died in Worth County Georgia, as she does not appear with any of her children after 1910.
Her son, Martin Gray, wrote that she was a beautiful woman, half-Cherokee/half white, small in stature, stubborn, sharp-tongued with hair like taffy and the color of a Roan horse.  In spike of her spicy personality, she must have been loved deeply by her family.  In 1880, she had two grandchildren and Nelson’s uncle Peter living with them in Carsonville, Georgia. 

Her name, Cassie, has followed every generation since her death, my aunts, my sister, my cousins, and my nieces, all have been named for a little spicy-mouthed half-breed woman from North Carolina. 
Her baby, Champion, is my grandfather.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Male Child, Nelson

About 1820 in Taylor County Georgia, a male child was born of mixed ethnicity.  His mother was a young slave girl named Sarah.  Sarah lived on the plantation of Archibald Gray, her owner.  Sarah was not alone on the Archie Gray plantation.  Her brothers Jack, Adam, and Peter also lived on the plantation, along with her two sisters.  Neither the parents of the slaves nor the names of the sisters have been identified.  
The male child was called Nelson and he is my great-grandfather.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crawling thru data...

I started gathering family history data in 1980.  I have tons of data and sources, nearly 8000 records.  The Atlanta Family History Expo hyped me up and caused me to remember some "rules of the game" that I learned years ago, and that I have pushed to the back of my file box.  I am repenting!  I will be more focused!  I will be more organized!  Nevertheless, I will reply "NO" more often.

My purpose for this work is to introduce and to create pathways for the next generation to love, respect, and honor those who came before us.  I am not naive enough to think that everything my ancestors did was done for us.  However, some of it was, even a small bit of their life choices were for me and the next generation...and for that I find joy.

I am happy to have met everyone and I hope to see you again soon, working permitting.
Many thanks and much love...

My First Blog!

My First Blog!
I am in Atlanta learning about family history.  I want to share my Gray Family from Georgia and my Taylor Family from Mississippi.