Posts

Northampton County Tithables, John B. Bell

Free Africans of Northampton County, Virginia 1662-1677

Free Africans living in Northampton County in 1660’s are listed in the Northampton County Virginia Tithables 1662-1677 as Heads of their own Household:

Bastian Cane and his wife Grace.

Emanuel Driggers

Bashaw Ferdinando and his wife Susan, and Hannah Carter.

King Tony and his wife Sarah.

John Francisco and Christian Francisco.

William Harman and his wife Jane.

Anthony Johnson and John Johnson, his son

John Kinge

Philip Mongon and his Wife.

Francis Pane

King Tony and his wife Sarah.

 

The Fight for Freedom

America’s First Freedom Fighters, Emmanuel and Frances Driggers

The Driggers’ should be known as one of the America’s earliest FREEDOM FIGHTERS. In February of 1623 at Bennett’s plantation Frances is listed with her son Peter in the list of the Living.  Frances was listed in Piercey’s Muster at Flowerdew Plantation in the 1624/25 as an African woman with young child of hers, which we now know is Peter.   Other than a listing of a African man, Emmanuel is not named until the 1640’s.  Emmanuel Driggers marries Frances prior to 1640 in Northampton County, Virginia.  They had at least seven (7) children, of which two were not their natural born children.

1. Elizabeth, was born in 1637 since she was eight (8) years old when she was bound to serve Francis Pott in 1645.  Her indenture to Potts stated: “given to my negro, Emmanuel Driggers by one who brought her up by ye space of eight years” (DW 1645-51, 82)

2. Jane, born May 1644 and noted as one (1) year old on 27th of May, 1645 when Emmanuel bound her to Captain Francis Pott to serve him until the age of thirty-one (31).   Like Elizabeth (above) Jane was not their biological daughter since her indenture read: “bought and paid for to Captain Robert Shepard” On May 24, 1652, Driggers paid for the balance of Jane’s indenture, freeing and releasing her from Potts.  Note: Jane was the biological child of Margaret Cornish and Robert Sweat of Robert Shepard’s household.  She was one of four children born of this relationship.

Emmanuel and Frances’ biological children were…

1. Frances, born 1640

2. Thomas, born 1644

3. Ann, born 1648

4. Edward, born 1650

5. William, born 1655

Frances, Emmanuel’s wife died before 1656 when he took a second wife named Elizabeth, an English woman.

Emmanuel and Elizabeth bore two (2) more children:

1. Devorax/Deverick, born 1656

2. Mary, born 1658.

Emmanuel and Frances Driggers along with most of their children received their freedom during a time when legalized slavery was emerging in Virginia.  How you ask?  The foresight and understanding of the English legal system.  Recording their contracts of indentured servitude set an end date to their indentured time. Legally freeing them from servitude and allowing their FREEDOM!

 

From Bermuda to Leigh's Priory

Who Were the Three Africans taken from Bermuda to Leighs (Leez) Priory, Felsted, England in 1621

ANTHONY/ANTONIO
One of the most documented early Africans to arrive in Virginia was Anthony/Antonio. Records show Anthony/Antonio arrived in Virginia on the ship ‘James’ from England in 1621.  Was he one of the first “twenty and odd” sold on the shores of the James River in August of 1619? The short answer is NO. However, its slightly more complicated than that.  Anthony/Antonio was among at least two others who found their way to Virginia from the pirating of the San Juan Bautista in the Bay of Campeche in the summer of 1619.  The San Juan Bautista is the same slave ship the first “twenty and odd” were pirated from.   Anthony/Antonio’s path would be slightly different than the “twenty and odd” who arrived on the White Lion.  From the San Juan Bautista, Anthony/Antonio was put aboard the Treasurer, which arrived at Point Comfort three days after the White Lion.  The Treasurer would be turned away or “warned” off allowing its Captain, Daniel Elfrith, to sail to Bermuda.  Anthony/Antonio would remain in Bermuda until 1621 when Gov. Butler would put him and two other Africans/Angolans aboard the ship “James” sailing for the Port of Southampton, England.  Once in the English port the three Africans/Angolans were taken to Robert Rich / Earl of Warwick’s Felsted estate, Leighs (Leez) Priory.   Before the end of 1621, Anthony/Antonio would be brought back to the south shore of the James River and indentured to Robert Bennett of Bennett’s Plantation also known as Warrosquarak.  There he would survive the great massacre of 1622 and remain in the area for nearly 30 years.  Anthony/Antonio was one of America’s first FREE Africans.

MARY / MARIA
Mary, like Anthony/Antonio, was among the African slaves pirated from the San Juan Bautista in the Bay of Campeche, 500 miles from their destination of Vera Cruz, Mexico.  Mary was put aboard the “Treasurer” which arrived at Old Point Comfort, Virginia three days after the “White Lion.”  Warned of the pirating charges the Captain would face the Treasurer would disappear from the James River and reappear in Bermuda with a cargo of Africans. Mary, like Anthony/Antonio was among them.  In 1621, Mary would be put aboard the ship James, sailing from Bermuda for the port of Southampton, England where she would be taken with Anthony/Antonio and one other African to Robert Rich’s Estate in Felsted, England known as Leighs (Leez) Priory.  In mid 1622, six months after Anthony/Antonio was removed from Leighs/Leez Priory Mary was put aboard the English ship “Margaret & John” sailing to Virginia.  By 1623, Mary would be listed on a muster, like Anthony/Antonio, at Bennett’s plantation on the south side of the James River in the area called Warrasquarak.  Later, Mary would marry Anthony and they would be known as Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Johnson.  By 1644, they would have four children, two boys and two girls.

JOHN PEDRO

Like Antonio/Anthony and Maria/Mary, John Pedro was among the San Juan Bautista survivors brought to Bermuda on the “Treasurer” in 1619.  John Pedro is the third and last African to be put aboard the  “James” in 1621 sailing for the English port of Southampton and delivered to Robert Rich’s estate in Felsted, England known as Leighs (Leez) Priory.  Where the other two Africans (Antonio/Anthony and Maria/Mary) were sent from England to Virginia, John Pedro, a catholic, would take a different route.  In 1622 John Pedro was placed on the “Swan,” one of Robert Rich’s ships, sailing for Cape Cod, New England.  Within the year John Pedro would make his way to Virginia with Captain Francis West.  In 1623, John Pedro is listed on the muster at Captain Francis West’s plantation at the Eastern Shore where he would remain until West’s death in January of 1634.

Interesting fact:  The Angolan kingdom raided by the Portuguese in 1618/1619 where the San Juan Bautista survivors were enslaved was documented as a Catholic community.   John Pedro would be the first openly practicing Catholic in Virginia’s early Anglican settlement.

WHY DID ANTHONY, MARY AND JOHN PEDRO FIND THEMSELVES IN ENGLAND IN 1621?  Antonio/Anthony, Maria/Mary and John Pedro were taken to Leighs (Leez) Priory, the estate of Robert Rich II, Earl of Warwick in Felsted, England in 1621 as an aristocrat’s attempt to cement a political charade.

The Earl of Warwick was fully engaged in a court battle with Count Gondomar, the Spanish Ambassador in King James’ English court, over the Piracy of the San Juan Bautista’s Africans.  As FATE would have it, the Captain of the San Juan Bautista pirated by Rich’s Treasurer in the summer of 1619 was  no less than Count Gondomar’s kin. By 1621, deep within the court case, Gondomar is rabidly demanding his African slaves to be returned to his family’s possession. Believing he could convince Anthony, Mary and John Pedro to twist their testimony in his favor, the Earl of Warwick brings Anthony to testify before the court.  But, Anthony would not falsify his testimony and claims there were two ships at the raid, the White Lion and Rich’s Treasurer.  Instantly Rich/Earl of Warwick declares Anthony’s testimony invalid bringing to light the fact Anthony’s baptismal was unverifiable.  Angry over his testimony and unable to wait, Rich puts Anthony aboard the “James” shipping him to Bennett’s plantation on the south shore of the James River.  Mary and John Pedro follow as soon as the harsh winter months pass.

Interesting facts:  

The Angolan kingdom raided by the Portuguese in 1618/1619 where the San Juan Bautista survivors were captured and enslaved was documented as a Catholic community.   John Pedro would be the first openly practicing Catholic in Virginia’s early Anglican settlement.

Robert Rich was a Puritan leader as was Edward Bennett of Bennett’s Plantation.  Bennett’s plantation is the only puritan plantation in all of the Anglican settlement of Virginia until 1624 when Virginia becomes an English colony.

 

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits

Gus Hall Citrus Fruits

Gus Hall (1881-1956) began his long tenure in the citrus industry when he joined the South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association as General Manager in 1910.  Under his leadership, South Lake grew from humble beginnings to an operation handling 641,000 boxes of fruit annually.  One of Hall’s successful innovations while at South Lake involved featuring his face on the Gus Hall Combination Brand crate label, making him instantly recognizable while attending industry events in northern markets.  After 31 years with South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association, Hall left to form his own operation, Gus Hall Citrus Fruits.  His packing house, located just west of Oakland in Killarney, was constructed by T&G Railroad on State Highway 438.  From South Lake, he brought his Gus Hall brand label and added other labels including Boxcar and GH.  In 1946, he sold his interest in the company, and it was renamed Killarney Fruit Company.

 

 

Massacre of 1622

The Great Massacre of 1622

Massacre of 1622

Massacre of 1622

The day would be like no other yet it started as every other had. The fields were active and the town was a bustle with merchants trading up and down the river as the natives began to arrive with their own trade. Then, like a bell tolling out, the natives turn savage mutilating one unsuspecting settler then the next. Bodies are strewn about, with no pause for woman or child. They all lay tangled, one with another, hacked and disfigured.

When the savagery calms and the tallies are made, some three hundred forty-seven souls are lost, a third of the struggling settlement’s total population. Of the eighty (80) plantations that were beginning to flourish up and down the James River, they all lay in wait, now gathered within eight (8) to sustain a position of defense.

The San Juan Bautista's battle against the two English corsairs, the Treasurer and the White Lion.

Fate & Freedom

Discovering Margaret…..

Twenty and Odd Africans arrive in Virginia in 1619.  Most of their names are unknown, or quite possibly they were concealed.  The less known about the incident would be best.  The names we have are from the ‘List of the Living’ compiled after the Indian massacre of 1622.  They were Angela, Anthony, Isabel, Frances, Peter, Anthony, and Margaret.  The others were identified as only male or female as much about the whole incident would be camouflaged to protect the few involved.

Documents show that the Africans arrived at Old Pointe Comfort, Virginia in the later part of August, 1619.   The Captain, a former Calvinist Reverend turned Privateer, reported his only cargo as being “Twenty and Odd” Africans he took (pirated) from a floundering vessel off the coast of Vera Cruz, Mexico.  Under the watchful eye of the crown the incident is quietly reported.   John Pory, the Virginia Company’s newly appointed Secretary, writes in a letter to Sir Dudley Carleton dated September 30, 1619,

The San Juan Bautista's battle against the two English corsairs, the Treasurer and the White Lion.

The San Juan Bautista’s battle against the two English corsairs, the Treasurer and the White Lion.

“Having mett with so fitt a messenger as this man of Warre of Flushing.”   The letter goes on to tell of the arrival of some “twenty and odd” Africans brought by a Dutch Captain.

Was Pory disguising the ship to protect its captain and crew? Probably not.

Oddly, the letter was sent to Sir Dudley Carleton via messenger, Marmaduke Reynor, the English pilot of the White Lion.  This information alone is telling of some sort of an association. 
Was Pory’s loyalty to the company, trying to diminish the association by the cover of a Dutch marque?  Or was his loyalty to the Earl of Warwick?  Possibly it was to the English Crown.  But, clearly Pory’s loyalties didn’t align with the White Lion who was sent back into the English channels with a letter suggesting a Spanish piracy, not to mention, a cargo that would confirm Pory’s words.

Why?  There are several reasons.

Just months before the African’s arrival, Samuel Argall, the acting Governor of Virginia, was ordered to return to England to face questioning from the King’s Privy Council regarding the suggestion Virginia was nothing more than a Pirate’s haven.   The thought of a Spanish Piracy by an English ship so soon might be the last straw to an English King’s already tarnished image with Spain.  Proof of a Spanish piracy would surely condemn the Virginia Company, giving King James good reason to revoke their patent.

Another reason…..there were two ships involved, two English Corsairs.  When the Treasurer arrived at Pointe Comfort carrying Africans just days after the White Lion, oddly the Treasurer was immediately turned away, or was the ship warned off?  The Treasurer, captained by Daniel Elfrith was owned by Robert Rich II, Earl of Warwick, one of the most influential and powerful men in England.  The Treasurer would sail for Bermuda, an island known to be under the Earl of Warwick’s hand, where he could control the secrecy of the situation.

England would be tricky, as the White Lion was a common sight in the Port of Plymouth where the ship sat for years.  Reverend Jope had purchased the decayed White Lion from a member of his congregation, who captained the ship during the Elizabethan War between England and Spain 1585-1604.  In fact, it was the Port of Plymouth where Captain Jope re-launched the White Lion’s sails after the ten (10) years it took to refurbish the old war ship.    The White Lion, it’s captain and it’s crew were English, not Dutch as Pory’s letter would suggest and now their identities would need to be hidden under the association of a “Dutch” marque.

As fate would have it, the San Juan Bautista’s Captain Acuna, who reported the incident upon his arrival in Mexico, was kin to Count Gondomar, the Spanish Ambassador who was in the inner circle of England’s King James.  When the Spanish Captain Acuna makes claim to his kin that two English Corsairs pirated his San Juan Bautista just off the coast of Vera Cruz, Mexico stealing some fifty or sixty African slaves, Virginia becomes the target of Gondomar’s rage and demands retribution. For an English Captain in the year of 1619 the act of Spanish piracy would be a death sentence, for it was less than two years earlier Sir Walter Raleigh was be-headed for Spanish piracy, a result of Gondomar’s insistence under the Maritime Peace Treaty.
 

Continue to follow this blog as I reveal my findings while discovering Margaret.

How I found it, once again......

Our Responsibility to our Ancestors Gravesites

How I found it, once again......

How I found it, once again……

 

Over two years ago, my husband and I relocated to Keystone Heights, Florida, returning to live on family property that was purchased some hundred years earlier by his family.  Not long after arriving, and with much persistence on my part, we take a short trip to an old cemetery to locate one of Florida’s First Pioneers.  Jonathan Knight, who arrived with his family in Florida in 1843-44 is my husband’s gr. gr. gr. great-grandfather.  He settled in the area then known as Black Creek, which is now part of Middleburg.

Upon arriving at the cemetery, I noted its separate cemetery signs with two (2) different names, one being Forman Cemetery, the other Fowler Cemetery.  As we looked for his ancestors graves, my first impression was that the cemetery was well maintained.  We start our search checking one then the next, reading the names and dates, but finding no success.  Frustrated, we begin to leave.  As I turn back for one last look, I notice an area in the corner, mounded with leaves, dead limbs, and debris from the other graves (old plastic flowers) that had been discarded.  At first glance I thought it was only a trash pile.   I walk closer and I notice first one head stone and then another.   I walk around to view the names as they are facing away from me.  As I read the names, instead of being excited that I had found his ancestors, my heart sinks.  One headstone reads Jonathan Knight, the other of his wife, Elizabeth.  My emotions erupt as it is devastating to find their graves in such condition.

My first thoughts…..Why was the other part of the cemetery freshly mowed, free of debris, while their graves are among the trash pile?  Who would do such a thing?

Appalled and without answers, we schedule a day to return to clean up the area which clearly seemed to be purposefully neglected.  We remove the debris, cut down vines as well as hanging limbs from the trees that have grown out of control and rake away the heap of leaves left to rot on top of the graves.  After several hours of work, the area looks like a gravesite once more, instead of the trash pile that we found.  For several months, I revisit the cemetery often finding it much as we left it, neat and without debris, yet I still wonder why their gravesite had been left in such conditions.

Within the next few months I find myself on a mission taking a Cemetery Rehabilitation and Preservation class, and become certified in the laws and practice of preserving historic cemeteries.  It included the do’s and don’ts of gravesites and what to use to clean and care for the headstone itself (depending on the era, there were many different types of materials used), the area surrounding the grave, as well as listing the cemetery within the historic registry.  After all, it was over a hundred-fifty years ago when Jonathan Knight was buried in Forman Cemetery.

For the next year or so, I continue to return, picking up any debris that might have blown into the corner where the graves were located.  Then for several months, I’m unable to return, for one reason or another.  But, this past Friday, on my way home from a trip to Orange Park, I’m driving through Middleburg when the resounding thought hits me.  “I should take a quick detour to check on the cemetery.”  As I arrive, I’m shocked to find debris thrown on top of the Knight graves once again. Large limbs are lying across one, with a sheet of plywood leaning against another, and trash strewn about.  I turn to look at the other areas of the cemetery and find it clean, and free of any debris.  As I turn back to the Knight graves, once again I’m left disheartened.

WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS?   I just don’t understand.

James A. Reaves and Jimmie Letson Reaves with their young family

The Third Generation in Winter Garden

James Alexander Reaves was born on May 4, 1861, just before his father Daniel Asbury Reaves joined the 3rd Florida Infantry.  As a young boy, James arrived in Winter Garden with his parents, younger sister and brother along with his baby brother that was not yet a year old. James himself was only eight.

On June 4, 1884, James married Jimmie Tellula Donnie Letson.  Jimmie was born April 24, 1864 to Sethiel J. Letson and MaryAnn E. Dearing.  Her father, like James’ father Daniel was a Civil War Veteran.  By 1887 when James’ parents along with most of his siblings returned north to settle in Bradford County, Florida, James remained at Reaves Settlement in Winter Garden along with his younger brother Mark Bryan Reaves.  James was an established citrus grower and farmer who had acquired a vast amount of land.

James and Jimmie had nine (9) children.

Alberta (Ada Belle) Reaves was born in May of 1885. She would marry Dudley Lanier Clyatt by 1908, in Worthington Springs, Union County, Florida.  Dudley was the brother of Samuel “Dee” Reaves’ wife, Mattie.

Olin Reaves was born November 8, 1887, in Winter Garden, Florida.  He died November 18, 1906.

James Glover Reaves was born September 7, 1889, in Winter Garden, Florida.  James Glover married Minnie Ada Walker, and they had five girls.  He died October 21, 1973 in Micanopy, Alachua County, Florida.

Ida Reaves was born 1891, in Winter Garden, Florida.  She married W.D. Martin from High Springs, Alachua County, Florida.  She died January 16, 1980.

Irvin Raleigh Reaves was born July 16, 1892, in Winter Garden Florida.  Irvin married Winnie Roberson and established his residence in Marion County, Florida.

Mabel Claire Reaves was born March 30, 1894 in Winter Garden, Florida.  She married Edwin F. Johnson and had four children.  Mabel and Edwin Johnson remained at Reaves Settlement (Beulah) until their deaths.  They are buried at Beulah Cemetery, in Winter Garden, Florida.

Creasy Reaves was born in 1896 in Winter Garden, Florida.  She married Albert Bronson and they had three children.  Creasy died in 1936, at the young age of forty, in Winter Garden, Florida.   She is also buried at Beulah Cemetery.

Sethiel Asbury Reaves was born in March 21, 1898, in Winter Garden, Florida.  He married Sallie Frances Martin and died May 3, 1973, Marion County, Florida.

Mamie Mildred Reaves was born March 5, 1900, in Winter Garden, Florida.  She married William Eugene Hendry and had five children.  She died November 4, 1933, in Highlands, Florida.

James Alexander Reaves died May 9, 1939.  His wife Jimmie continued to live in Winter Garden, until her death in May of 1951.  They are both buried in the Beulah Cemetery in Winter Garden, along with many other Reaves ancestors.  Many generations of their descendants remain in Winter Garden, Florida today.