When I first started as Co-Historian for the George Family Reunion Committee of North Harlowe, Craven, NC back in 2005, the progenitors were believed to have been Emanuel and Matilda George. I was told that this bit of information had been found on some notes jotted down by the late Wilfred Lee Moore; however, the original version of "Our Family Tree" (1989) did not record any parentage for the first Georges linked to the family by the founders of the George Family Reunion Committee. Instead, the elders began with the following group of siblings, their marriages and offspring:
- Emanuel and Hepsie George,
- James Bland and Harriet (Kates) [sic] George,
- Nathaniel George,
- Martha Ann (George) and Isaac Carter,
- Nancy (George) and Esaw Godette.
I continued researching the ancestry of my husband's line, descendants of Isaac and Martha Ann (George) Carter for two years before my husband and I were able to attend the 2007 George Family Reunion. During that visit we made our first trip to the Kellenberger Room at New Bern-Craven County Public Library, where librarian Victor T. Jones, Jr. found the marriage records for my grandfather-in-law on microfilm.
He also showed me a book which proved to be very valuable in my research. Now available online, Paul Heinegg's Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, proved an interesting piece of information. At that time, however, I had no idea how the Carters, Canadays and Georges fit into the puzzle; but I held onto it for future use.
Also during that visit, we spent nearly a whole day at the Craven County Register of Deeds where I recorded all the old deeds for every Carter and George in the Index Books. I photocopied each one and began inspecting them for clues as soon as we got back to the Hampton Inn in Havelock.
One in particular stood out from the rest as proving the father of our original siblings:
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS: that we, Roberson B. Godette, James Godette, James George and Sarah Jane, his wife, Isaac Carter and Martha Ann, his wife, Theophilus George, William George, Eran Godette and Ann, his wife, the heirs at law, of the late Theophilus George of the State of North Carolina, County of Craven, for and in consideration of the sum of Five Dollars to us in hand paid by Emanuel George, the receipt wherof is hereby acknowledged, have bargained, sold and delivered, by these presents do bargain and deliver unto the said Emanuel George, the following described peice [sic] or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Craven, State of North Carolina, on the South side Neuse River and West side of Clubfoot's Creek, butted and bounded as follows:--
[Deed Book 190: page 114]
Here the paternal relationship is clearly stated, that the father of these siblings was Theophilus George. Marriage records show that Theophilus George's first wife was Mary Elizabeth Morris (md. 21 May 1831), with whom he fathered five children: Emanuel (b. 1832), Abijah (b. 1836), Deborah (b. 1838), Betsey (b. 1841), and James (b. 1846). His second wife, Sarah "Sally" Harkley, gave him seven more children: Martha Ann (b. 1849), Theophilus (b. 1850), Nancy (b. 1852), William (b. 1854), Edmond (b. 1856), Eliza (b. 1858), and Nathaniel (b. 1860). The children and their dates of birth were determined from Census records.
The following is one of the George deeds which records the sale of a tract of Heir Land divided and granted to my grandfather-in-law, Hezekiah Carter. In this deed are named three of the siblings of Hezekiah's mother, Martha Ann (George) Carter: Emanuel, Thelophilus and Nancy.
State of North Carolina)
Craven County) This Deed, made this 6th day of
January A.D. 1900 by Nathaniel George & Julia his wife
Theophilus George & Hepsey his wife & Nancy Godett of Craven
County and State of North Carolina of the first part to
Hezekiah Carter of Craven County and State of North Car-
lina of the second part, Witnesseth: That said party of the
first part in consideration of Thirty dollars to us paid by
Hezekiah Carter the receipt of which is hereby acknowled-
ged have bargained and sold and by these presents do
bargain sell and convey to said party of the second part
and his heirs the following land in Craven County
State of North Carolina adjoining the lands of Gilbert
Falls, Jesse Godett and others and others, bounded as
follows viz: On the North by Jeremiah Godett on the
East by Jesse Godett & Gilbert Falls on the south
Martha Ann Carter and Jim George and on the West
by William George. Containing by estimation Fifteen
acres be the same more or less. This land has been
recently laid off & lines all marked & corners placed
or marked but the notes of the survey were lost.
To have and to hold the aforesaid tract of Fifteen acres more or less
and all privileges and appurtenances thereto belonging to the said
Hezekiah Carter and unto his heirs and assigns
in fee simple forever. And the said party of the first
part for ourselves & our heirs, executors and admin-
istrators covenant with said party of the second part his
heirs and assigns that we are seized of said premises
in fee and have right to convey the same in fee simple
That the same are free and clear from all incumbrances and that we
will warrant and defend the said title to the same against the claim
of all persons whatsoever. In testimony whereof the said party of
the first part have hereunto set our hands and seals the day
and year above written his
Nathaniel George seal
Julia C. George seal
Theophilus George seal
Attest: Hepsey E. George seal
John S Morton mark
Nancy Godett seal
While some family members, including the other historian whose father had inscribed the names of Emanuel and Matilda George as the parents of the five siblings, refused to readily accept this connection as proof, further investigations only substantiate my claim as supported by other researchers from various branches of the family. Sometimes we attach sentimental value upon a loved one's suppositions that we find difficult to relinquish. . . . but accurate research must be verified by the artifacts and documents left behind, leaving a trace of their existence and contribution to a way of life deemed foreign to us today.