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.