Monday, March 9, 2015

To be YOUNG and free

It was a pleasant surprise to find my ancestors as free persons of color in the 1860 Barnwell SC census. The nagging question was HOW?

For almost 10 years, I examined the surroundings, the documents, the relationships and my DNA test results to uncover any clues to who these people were and where did they come from.

In 1860 Barnwell County, SC there were 10 Young households. Of those ten, these four Young families of color were as follows:

Allendale Township
Frank Young b. 1804 a free colored man who was employed as a carpenter. He was known as Francis Young in the 1870 census.
Caroline Young b. 1824 his mulatto wife. Her parents were Titus Irvine and Judy Doe b. 1810. Titus was a slave of the Erwin family of Barnwell. Judy's mother Hester Doe b. 1775 was a free person of color in the 1820 Barnwell census.
David Young b. 1840 their black son. Lived near parents in 1870 Beldoc Township. David had children Frank Young b. 1864, Letitia Young b. 1867 and Emma Young b. 1869. No wife was listed.
Julia Young b. 1851 their mulatto daughter.
Sarah Young b. 1861 their black daughter.

Gabriel Young b. 1815 a free colored man who was also a carpenter. His family lived next door to Frank in 1860 and 1870.
Hannah Young b. 1813 his mulatto wife.
Edward Young b. 1855 their mulatto son.
Louisa Young b. 1856 their mulatto daughter. Named after her aunt.

Four Mile Township
Robert Young b. 1820 a free colored man who was a farm laborer. He was my 2x Great-Grandfather. Robert died between 1880-1890 in Hampton without any death record.
Nancy Young b. 1830 his mulatto wife. She was my 2x Great-Grandmother.
Loreander Young b. 1847 their mulatto daughter.
John Young b. 1852 their mulatto daughter.
Louisa Georgianna Young b. 1856 their mulatto daughter. Named after her aunt. Yes that name is popular!
James Nunnus b. 1841 a free mulatto farm laborer who was a tenant in the Young household. He was actually James Nunez from Burke Co., GA. James married Louisa in 1880.

Lower Three Runs Township
Wiley Young b. 1818 a free colored man who was a farm laborer.
Louisa Young b. 1822 his colored wife.

Over the past few years, I had befriended several people online claiming to be descendants of these families. Once we were able to compare DNA, it was determined that all 4 heads of their respective households: Frank, Gabriel, Wiley and Robert were indeed brothers.

But no one knew anything else. For years we couldn't a single shred of evidence. There were inventories, wills and other documents that were provided by the white Young families of Barnwell during the early to mid 1800s but not a single one had any of our ancestors' names on it. We couldn't verify the parents of those four men either. To add more confusion to the mix, the Y-DNA test results indicated that I am of haplogroup I1, which means I descend from someone of Northern European ancestry. The census records between 1860 to 1880 change the ethnicity of the Young brothers from colored to mulatto and then black.

There were two Young families in nearby Burke County, GA that also needed to be addressed. Burke County was only 4 miles away from Barnwell County and separated by the Savannah River. Burke's county seat is WAYNESBORO (what are the odds of that happening?). Allen Young (1784-1860) and Jesse Young (1777-1872) were free persons of color in the 1830 Company 66, Burke County, GA census. Allen was a mulatto born in GA, with wife Lesia "Lucy" Young had 12 children and they all relocated to Hamilton, TN in 1850. Jesse was also a mulatto born in Kentucky, married to Martha Young and had at least 5 children. There were probably more after 1830. Jesse died in Charleston, SC. It seemed like Jesse was a likely candidate to be my direct ancestor. That was until this weekend.

My 3x great-grandfather was David Young (spelled Yonge) was a free black man who purchased the freedom of his wife Judy and son Frank from William Simmons of St. Paul's Parish, Colleton Co., SC. If the years are correct, Frank was 10 years old when he was freed on July 25, 1814. Judy was subsequently freed on December 6, 1815. That would mean that the rest of Judy's children (hopefully including Gabriel) would have been born free. That is why I never found their names in any wills or slaves' bill of sale.

I did find David Young as a free person of color in the 1820 census. He lived near 2 other FPOC families, Betsy Bass and Sally Bass of Darlington, SC. I do have Bass ancestors but that mixture occurred back in the early 1700s in VA or so I thought. I would have to dig further into that to identify any relationships to the ones in SC. No other records on David were ever found. Was David a mulatto? DNA suggests yes, but who was the father? Aren't children of a mulatto and black still considered mulatto or just referred to as colored? Who knows what they were classified back then. As long as they were free I don't mind.

Doing research in the St. Paul's Parish resulted interesting results. On April 11, 1772 Algernoon Wilson was marking his 280 acre territory. His neighbors included Francis Yonge and his wife Susannah. There goes that name again. My Frank Young was also known as Francis. Could this be my 4x great grandfather? I couldn't find Francis' will or David's emancipation records. But I'm still looking.

I did find the November 6, 1817 will of Susanna Yonge in Barnwell, SC. She was a widow with one surviving daughter, Harriett P. Hagood, wife of Gideon Hagood along with their children. Susanna left a negro wench Patience and her two daughters Rhoda and Louisa, to Harriett. The will was proved on August 2, 1819. I wonder if that is the same Louisa that married Wiley? And who was David's mother? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

After I started writing this I googled Francis Yonge and the floodgates opened wide. I will have to go into detail about the ancient Yonge family of South Carolina at a later date. Apparently, we have our own ISLAND.

Bonus pic: We still kept the naming conventions alive in the 1900s. Left to right my dad William Young, his cousin Frank Young and another cousin Miller Murray at President Kennedy's funeral. No new Davids yet so far. I guess our generation broke that chain, but I will keep your memory alive David in this blog.