Using Deeds to Discover Your Enslaved Ancestors Part 2: Henderson Bagley

Recently a man and his son visited from Wake County looking for information on their enslaved and later freed ancestor, Henderson Bagley.  I was not there when they visited unfortunately, but I have kept in touch  with them over the phone and through email trying to decipher the enigmatic past of Henderson Bagley.

Henderson Bagley marriage record 1866

The marriage of Henderson Bagley and Hana Williams. Taken from Family Search.

On 22 August 1866 Henderson Bagley and Hana Williams registered their cohabitation in Wilson.  According to the 1870 census, Henderson Bagley  was listed as  living in Chesterfield, Nash County  with his five children and no wife.  In 1880, Henderson and four of his children were living in  Old Fields Township in Wilson County.

Bagley family 1870 census

The Bagley family in the 1870 Census. Taken from Ancestry.com

I thought that the name Henderson was so unique that if I found it in a record as an enslaved person’s name, it would be a good chance that it would be Henderson Bagley.  But the name was more ubiquitous than I realized.  The name Henderson  appears several times in Nash County, NC, Division of Estate Slaves  1829-1861, abstracted by Timothy W. Rackley, as the name of a slave owned by the Boddie family.

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henderson_bagley49henderson_bagley72In Johnston County deed books I found eight different entries of a slave (or several) named Henderson.  According to the 1870 census, Henderson was born in about 1830, therefore the most promising deed listed here  is from 14 March 1837, where they list a seven year old boy named Henderson.

Henderson in deedsIn a Wilson County will I found a record that lists an enslaved person named Henderson.  The will is from 1862 and I would have hoped that it  listed Hana or one of their older children from the census, but no such luck.

henderson wilson county wills2

This image is from “Abstracts of Wills, Wilson County, NC 1855-1899” by Robert Boykin

Although I found not a few entries that listed a man named Henderson in deeds, wills and estate records, it is difficult to determine if any of them are the Henderson Bagley that I was searching for.  Not often is the research as cut and dry as it was with Mariah and Bryant Pender from my earlier post.  But the fact that I found an enslaved man (or men) named in the records 14 times is a great indicator of how useful deeds, wills and estate records can be used to good effect.

Lisa Henderson (no relation) has also posted some info about Henderson Bagley on her blog.

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Two Unidentified Photos from Wilson County

taylor_wade_richard

The first unidentified photo I received from a patron who was in the library researching the Taylor family of Wilson and Nash County.  The photo was taken in Wilson at Winstead Photography studio, which I cannot pin down the date for because I can’t find them in any city directories from the 1890’s or early 1900’s.  Certainly their dress looks like the turn of the last century.  One of the men may be named Wade or Richard Taylor.

Unknown lady

Yesterday I went and visited Lewis Neal’s impressive Wilson County history collection that he has stored in his garage. This was a photo that he did not know who was pictured.  The photograph  was found in the old Drake theater on Nash street when they were cleaning it out.

Southern Campaign Revolutionary War Pension Applications

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Part of James Robinson Jr. of Chester County SC’s Revolutionary War pension application. Signed by the Gamecock himself General Thomas Sumter.  There were many James Robinsons during this period in the backcountry of SC and western NC and are difficult to sort through.

Last night the local history and genealogy librarian from the Rocky Mount, NC Public Library gave a great presentation on a problem she had tracking down a patron’s Revolutionary War ancestor.  The complication she had with the ancestor, who was named John Evans, was that a previous researcher had combined records of two different John Evans into one person.  One lived in Anson County and one lived in Nash County.  She was able to discern these two individuals by looking closely at deeds and pension applications.  The pension applications really sealed the the deal and the patron was was informed that the John Evans she was looking for lived in Nash County and was forced by threat of hanging into the patriot militia for 18 months as punishment for talking about joining a band of Tories in Edgecombe County.  One of the resources she used was the Southern Campaign Revolutionary War Pension Applications website.  I had used the site before but for some reason I had forgotten about it, so today I’ve had a lot of fun poking around looking for my distant relations that were involved in the American Revolution.  It is a great resource, go try it out!