Sunday, October 30, 2011

The First Mile Marker

Well, it hardly seems possible that it's been one year today . . . on my Mom & Dad's (dec.) wedding anniversary. . . that I set out to chronicle my research explorations. I'd like to give a special thanks to Julie Bartlett, archivist of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum, and of the Hampshire Local History Room at Forbes Library in my former hometown of Northampton, MA.

Following my relocation from Western MA to Western NC, I had shared with Julie my desire to one day become an archives tech, library tech, or public records clerk, and asked:
So, the big question is: without going back to school for a Master's degree, how can I best prepare myself to be marketable from what you see in the field?
This was her response:

This is so perfect for you so I hope it works out! The best advice is to volunteer. Sign up for Genealogy Random Acts of Kindness. Find out if you can get on a researcher for hire list at public, academic, state libraries and historical societies. Since you have a full time job with varying schedule, volunteering would be tough. Try for events or projects that don't have to keep to certain shift. Indexing is one that is always needed and can be done on your own schedule. Start going to library and archives conferences--state and regional ones. They usually have special rate for the unemployed which in Mass we define as a non-library job. Having a finished product such as an index or finding aid to show off at an interview is necessary. Does your family reunion group keep a website or blog that you contribute to? Maybe start a blog of all your genealogy research as a way to show off your skills? We recently interviewed someone for a reference job who had little experience but she kept a blog of what she read alone and with her kids proving her readers advisory would be fantastic and her writing skills were great. Of course, I would always be happy to give you a glowing reference for your research skills, knowledge of and love of genealogy, newspaper research, persistence, helpful, friendly, customer service attitude! I wish you all the best!
Thank you Julie for all your support over the years!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Follow-up on Sylvester Brown Gaskill: Bastardy Bonds

Following my last post, Ministers and preachers of Township 5: 1900, a cousin asked about the disclaimer at the bottom of the page concerning a message board post RE: black Gaskills and Amanda Gaskill's bastardy bond for the birth of Sylvester (July 1829).

Desiring to know how a person could conclude paternity from a bastardy bond, without the full transcription of the case (which this descendant claimed to possess), I searched for additional information on North Carolina bastardy bonds. In the book of transcriptions written by Betty & Edwin Camin they explain:
The "Bastardy Bonds" of North Carolina contains bonds posted because of the birth or impending birth of a bastard child. These bonds were intended to protect the county or parish from the expense of raising the child. When the pregnancy of a woman or birth of a child was brought to the attention of the court, a warrant was issued and the woman brought into Court. She was examined under oath and asked to declare the name of the child's father. The 'reputed' father was then served a warrant and required to post bond. If the woman refused to name, the father, she, her father or some other interested party would post the bond. In some cases, the mother and reputed father together posted the bond. If the woman refused to post bond or declare the father, she was often sent to jail. The records are indexed by county and complimented by a full-name index at the back of book for easy references. 
In light of the above information, Amanda Gaskill's specifics were transcribed as:

Carteret County:
Amanda Gaskill     July 1829   Bondsman: John N. Hamilton, Bondsman: John H. Styron, Bondsman: James Nelson.

It is possible that she named one of these men . . . the first bondsman listed, as the father of her child; but, it is also possible that these men got together to pay her bond because they had some other interest in the case. Without the full transcription of the case, it is impossible to know for sure.
For more about Betty Camin, see her home page.

My curiosity has led me to request a copy of the bastardy bond and a transcript of the case, if available, from the North Carolina State Archives. I'll keep you posted . . . .

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ministers and preachers of Township 5: 1900: Sylvester B. Gaskill & Martin Davis

Sylvester B. Gaskill;
1900; Township 5, Craven, NC;
Roll: T623_1190; page 9A;
Enumeration District 46.
The 1900 Census for Township 5 produced two clergymen. While Sylvester B. Gaskill, a very light-skinned mulatto*, had been enumerated as a preacher in 1880, here he was recorded as "minister." One might think that the current enumerator, Edward D. Bangut, merely chose another title for the position, however . . . .

. . . . Martin Davis, who was also enumerated by Mr. Bangut, was recorded as a preacher. Possibly there was just an inconsistency.
Martin Davis:
1900; Township 5, Craven, NC;
Roll: T623_1190; Page: 11B;
 Enumeration District: 46.

Looking at the progression of Gaskill's enumerations:  1800: Preacher; 1900: Minister, I began to wonder if perhaps some other clergyman had a progression of titles shown through consecutive enumerations. 

*Disclaimer: While Sylvester Brown Gaskill had been enumerated as  "mulatto" (1850, 1870, 1880), "black" (1900), and "colored" on his marriage record, I recently received a response to my Rootsweb Message Board post RE: black Gaskills from a descendant of his daughter, Missouri Gaskill . . . .
The family legend was that Sylvester too was mulatto, however I was able to locate the bastardy bond from when he was born where his mother, Amanda Gaskill, gave the name of Sylvester's father. That man was white, the son of a Scottish family living in Sea Level (his name was John N. Hamilton).
This photo was posted on
by member: pvw321
White/Purcell Family Tree

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ministers and preachers of Township 5: 1870 - 1880: Sylvester Brown Gaskill

In 1870 there were still no black ministers in the post-Emancipation churches of Township 5, Craven County, NC. That is not to say that there were no sermons delivered by black exhorters or preachers, but the occupations of the majority of men in the township were related to an agrarian society.

In 1870, James Walker Hood was living with his wife and three children in Raleigh, NC.

By 1880, however, one black preacher 
emerges in Township 5: 
Sylvester Brown Gaskill. 

1880: Township 5, Craven, NC:
Roll: 959; FHF: 1254959; Page 190B;
Enumeration District 37; Image: 0548.

In 1900 he was enumerated as a Minister in Township 5. By 1910 he was deceased, his family had moved to Beaufort (Carteret County), and his name sake -- the son of David E. and Lessie (Davis) Gaskill -- was born (about January 1910).

One interesting note: after the 1860 Census, no more white Methodist Episcopal Ministers nor Free Baptist Ministers were enumerated in Township 5.

Reconstruction Churches and Social History, Part 2

When I began my focus on the development of the rural religious community of North Harlowe,  North Carolina, I directed my attention to Bishop James Walker Hood.

In August I had emailed Sandy Dwayne Martin, the author of the book, For God and Race, requesting guidance on accessing archival materials of the AME Zion in the light of the closure of the Walls Heritage Center at Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC. Since a bulk of Dr. Martin's research was conducted at the Walls Center, I had hoped that he might be able to share some of his gleanings related the Bishop Dr. Hood's missionary activities in the rural areas of Craven County.

Just last week I received a reply from Dr. Martin, giving me several leads and contacts, for which I am greatly appreciative. However, his personal research
". . . did not focus very much on the communities and churches which Bishop Hood founded or in which he operated."
 So, the three leads he recommended are on the top of my list for this week's correspondence:

  1. Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, NC;
  2. Church School Literature Department of the AMEZ Church; and,
  3. Evans Metropolitan AME Zion Church in Fayetteville, NC (Bishop Hood's home church).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ministers and preachers of Township 5: 1860: William Thomas, B.B. Culbreth & Pearce W. Gorrel

In the 1860 Census for Goodings District, Craven County, NC, I was able to locate three white Methodist Episcopal Ministers residing within Township 5. One was living in the household of William Temple where my husband's great grandfather* was apprenticed with his siblings following their parents' death.

William Thomas:
1860 Census; Goodings, Craven, NC;
Roll: M653_894; Page 9; Image 18;
 Family History Library Film: 803894.
Since first locating this document some years ago, I have often wondered how much exposure Isaac*, Nancy, Annanias and Zaccheus (recorded here as Zachariah) had to the teachings of the Rev. William Thomas. Only ten years before, Mr. William Thomas was enumerated as a 46-year-old farmer, living with his wife Elizabeth (30), and his children: John (12), Susan (10), William (7), Eliza (2), and Benjamin (0).

What happened during those years that his wife and four oldest children no longer lived with him, and that he and his youngest son no longer lived in their own home? And what events would cause him to leave farming and become a Methodist Episcopal Minister?

After reading the book, Rebuilding Zion: The Religious Reconstruction of the South 1863-1877, by Daniel W. Stowell, my thoughts drifted toward Cousin Hattie (Carter) Becton's emphatic, "We were always Methodist."

Could it be that my husband's ancestors had been part of a biracial Methodist Episcopal church? . . . or had they broken away into an independent free black Methodist Episcopal congregation sponsored by the white church? . . . had they their own black preachers by 1870? or did they still listen to the white minister's sermons on Sunday morning? Another mystery to ponder. . . .

B. B. Culbreth:
1860 Census; Goodings, Craven, NC;
Roll: M653_894; Page 18; Image 36;
FHLF: 803894.
The Rev. B. B. Culbreth and wife, Ada M., were also enumerated in another's household: that of Marcus C. and Margaret Bogay.
Pearce W. Gorrel:
1860 Census; Goodings, Craven, NC;
Roll: M653_894; Page 11; Image 21;
FHLF: 803894.

The Rev. Pearce W. Gorrel was the only Methodist Episcopal to own property (valued at $6,500) in Goodings District in 1860.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ministers and preachers of Township 5: 1850: Abraham Taylor & Paul J. Carraway

As I began wading through page by page of each Census for Township 5 from 1850 to 1930, I discovered some interesting things...some of which may serve as subjects for the imagination more than sources of hard facts. Come along with me on this journey and you'll see what I mean...

In 1850, the U.S. Federal Census for Craven County, NC was divided into two sections: New Bern, and Not Stated. Somewhere within "Not Stated" lies Township 5. Within the 145 pages of this enumeration, only two ministers surfaced, both white:

1850 United States Federal Census; Craven, NC;
Roll: M432_626; Page: 321B.
 The first enumeration was for Abraham Taylor, a 51 year old Free Baptist Minister, and his family: a wife and daughter and three sons. Abraham married Mary Civils in Craven County on 5 Aug 1829 (Craven County Marriage Record Index, Marriage Register 3, marriage bond). In 1860 his wife is supposed deceased, and he is living with his children in Richardsons District, Craven County, NC. This places his residence outside of the North Harlowe area, which is enumerated as Goodings Distirict.

1850 United States Federal Census; Craven, NC;
Roll:M432_626; Page: 321B. 
The second enumeration was for Paul J. Carraway, a Methodist Episcopal Minister, age 25, along with his young wife and daughter. The Craven County Marriage Record Index records the marriage of Paul J. Carraway and Julia A. McCotter on 8 Dec 1964 (Marriage Register Book 1: Marriage Bond). In 1860 Rev. Carraway was enumerated in Cumberland, Cumberland, NC with his wife and then five children.

By going back before Emancipation, I find only white ministers. I have read about Master/Slave churches where freedmen also attended (Masters & Slaves in the House of the Lord, ed. by John B. Boles, 1998). I can try to  imagine a time when there were no organized black churches in the rural parts of Craven County. Perhaps my husband's ancestors attended a church such as this...or, perhaps they only worshiped corporately when circuit preachers came through for brush arbor or camp meetings. Possibly they had their own lay preachers...or some may even have traveled the long trek to New Bern. This is what I hope to discover.

Perhaps if I can place these white ministers with churches in the county, I may find their church histories overlap with those of the the freedmen. A cousin told me about Methodist churches in Harlowe and Adams Creek...and since the Rev. Carraway eventually became a Presiding Elder, I plan on contacting Dr. William B. Simpson, historian for the North Carolina General Commission on Archives & History.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Developing parameters for researching family church history

A cousin asked today. . .

Question for you...I was raised in a White Methodist Church...A black Presbyterian Church...and in the Summers I would be at the AME Church with my Grandmother. I did visit the Black Baptist Churches and have visited at least 40 to 50 other churches through campaigning.I know they all have their own church histories. My question to you is...are you looking at all the various types of Black Churches in the Harlowe, Craven County area, and also looking at the Political make-up of each church? 
Good questions! The purpose of my particular research is to reconstruct the greater religious and social atmosphere of the area where my husband's ancestors lived, which acts as a backdrop for the book I am writing. It also allows me to become more sympathetic with specific struggles and victories within the community.

So, to answer the first part of this question:
No, I do not plan to examine all the various types of Black churches in the area. I plan to focus on the older family churches formed by Northern missionary efforts during Reconstruction which have significant impact on our ancestry. 

 Let's take a look at the older family churches found within the Havelock, NC area.

While there are many other churches in the greater New Bern/Havelock/Beaufort area of Craven County, the above churches have cemeteries which have been recorded on family death certificates, and which have been spoken about by living family members. 
So, the first step in establishing which churches you need to focus your historical research on is to make a list of those recorded in your ancestors' obituaries (church membership) and death certificates (church cemeteries).

To answer the second part of this question: 
My only interest in the church's political involvement came from my readings about  Bishop James Walker Hood, who advocated for equal educational opportunities for Blacks. In 1864, free public education was a new notion; however, most articles in the North Carolina Times, such as the following one, advocated for education of white children:

North Carolina Times, New Berne, Wednesday, Mar. 16, 1864
It appears, however, that the provision "for the moral and religious training of the colored children of North Carolina" came from a combined effort of the Union Army and Northern philanthropy. And years later, Bishop Hood strongly advocated for the education of Blacks.
North Carolina Times, New Berne, Saturday, March 25, 1864

From Bishop Hood to local ministers

In 1867, Bishop Joseph Jackson Clinton offered missionary Hood a position to stay in New Bern; however, he addressed his desire to move on to the eastern and western portions of North Carolina. His short three-year stay  was not what I had expected when I went into this research. He accepted a pastorate at Fayetteville, NC where he he was positioned closer to Raleigh, allowing him greater opportunity for political advancement.

So, after pinpointing his Craven County involvement to a period between 1864-1867, I turned my attention to Hood's sermons from that period.

Was there anything evident in his messages to the Church that would hint of his political and social aspirations for his people in the way that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had presented?

While waiting for two books of Hood sermons to arrive via InterLibrary Loan (ILL), I turned my attention to the Census between 1850 and 1930. . .

Who were the men noted as ministers in Township 5? What were their affiliations? On what level of the family tree might they have made an impact? And what would tracing their family over time show about their careers? 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Early Stages of Forming a Reconstruction Church & Social History

When I first began my search for histories of the local churches in eastern Craven County, North Carolina I had very little to go on. 

Beginning with the Hezekiah Carter Timeline: 1874-1922, I started filling in the gaps with bits of religious history I came across. According to the online history of Piney Grove AME Zion Church, Rev. James Walker Hood arrived in New Bern, NC on January 20, 1864.

In order to learn more about this period, I first read the book, For God and Race: The Religious and Political Leadership of AMEZ Bishop James Walker Hood, by Sandy Dwayne Martin. The biography divides Hood's life into six parts, starting at 1831 and ending with 1918. 

I focused my attention on Part II: Chapter Two: Hood's Religious Activities in the South, 1864-1872. Martin's attention, however, is fixed on the first two AMEZ churches established in New Bern and Beaufort, NC. No mention is made of visits inland to the forested areas of North Harlowe and Havelock. 

The question remains:
As a missionary, did Hood preach in the rural areas of the county, or did representatives of the community go to the city to hear him preach and then report back to their church family? 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Making sense of a community's church & social history

My voice has remained silent for about a month now, but I have not been on a true hiatus. I've been searching microfilmed newspaper reels...

   ...reading the sermons of James Walker Hood...
                 ...searching out sources on

                         ...ordering and now reading several books
                                            via InterLibrary Loan....

You may also notice that I've tinkered with the pages at the top of the navigation bar. 

I've decided that in order to thoroughly prepare for writing the book, I must forego my former routine of serial GeneaBlogging for:
  • Amaneunsis Monday: The Civil War Pension Files of Isaac Carter, and
  • Treasure Chest Thursday: Beginning an Inventory

Beginning this Fall I will be using my Craven County, North Carolina resources to illustrate how you can develop a social/religious history of your ancestors in their own communities. And you will be able to find links to these posts on the African-American Church History page.

Once this initial phase is completed, I will continue with The Civil War Pension File of Isaac Carter.

I hope you'll stop by...and please feel free to interact for our mutual benefit!