My husband recently purchased the DVD collection of Alex Haley's Roots and Roots the Next Generation for me. I remember viewing it the first time around on my parents' black and white television. But years later, as many Americans did, I revisited it on television re-runs . . . and then again when it was released on VHS. That time around I borrowed it from Forbes Public Library in Northampton, MA, and viewed it with our daughter.
But this time, I took note of Haley's treatment of crossing into successive generations. Historical markers, such as the sharecropper houses on the former plantation, began to stir up imaginations within me about my husband's ancestors . . . especially in regards to young Isaac Carter and his apprenticed siblings.
Looking back to the 1860 Census once again . . . I have looked at it many times, and each time I take note of various details.
|1860 U.S. Federal Census; |
Goodings, Craven, North Carolina;
Roll: M653_894; Pages: 9-10; Images: 18 & 19.
This time my attention was drawn to household composition:
- William Temple (head, 55)
- Rhoda Temple (wife. 47)
- Henry C. Temple (son, 16)
- Hettie Whitehurst (60, w, House Work)
- William Thomas (57, w, Methodist Minister)
- Benjamin M. Thomas (10, w)
- Isaac Carter (19, b, Apprentice)
- Nancy Carter (16, b, Apprentice)
- Annanias Carter (14, b, [Apprentice])
- Zachariah Carter (12, b, [Apprentice])
- Nancy Jones (70, b, House Work)
- Stephen Priestly (30, mu, Boatman)
I reasoned that in the absence of their parents and grandparents' care, they must have had one of two possible living arrangements:
- either they lived in a portion of William Temple's home, or
- they lived in a cabin outside of William Temple's home, under the direct care and supervision of another African American servant.
As I now interpret this household composition, I am more inclined to believe the latter. It appears that Nancy Jones may have been the grandmotherly figure in their lives . . . the woman who cared for them.