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.


  1. You'll uncover the mystery some day good job Wayne!

  2. Wonderful!

    A mulatto designation on a census doesn't mean that one parent was white and one was black. It depends on the persons color and on the opinion of the census taker. The black/white parent could have happened generations back. As you noticed, a person can be one thing in one census and something else in another. And children of the same parents can be classified as black or mulatto, depending, as I said up there, on the whim of the census taker.

  3. MasterPiece! as always Mr Young! Keep doing U

  4. What an awesome find, Wayne! Thank you for sharing! I love to read about South Carolina finds!

  5. Wonderful research. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great research Wayne! Love reading your posts.

  7. Mr Young!!!!!!!! I fully believe we are

    1. we are what?.... lol
      you didnt finish the sentence.
      if you mean related please let me know if you have taken a DNA test and we can compare dna on ancestry, 23andMe or gedmatch websites. Never assume that we are all related until you can prove it with documentation!

    2. This message board cut my previous message.Hester Doe was the sister of or even possibly wife of Edward Doe and the sister of Louisa Doe. Edward Doe is my great great great great grandfather. Hester Doe was of household 624663. i wonder when she gained her freedom and if she gave birth to Judy prior to that freedom. Edwards sons JohnH Doe and ThomasJefferson Doe along with their wives had family portraits taken and they are mixed families whose children were very light some totally white. These white Does totally deny being black until I did this research and found that in actuality we are black. Hester Doe is my relative and if she is yours too we are related. ...and yes the Doe's blood DNA tests prove that even though they are white they have 13% african ancestry and all of our families birth certificates church records etc are from Barnwell SC. I am not assuming anything! All the best...

    3. Hi Raquelinda
      I am not a Doe descendant. Frank Young and Caroline Doe Young were my 2x great grand uncle and aunt. So the Doe families are not directly in my DNA. There is a Doe Freedman Bank Record that has a lot of detail on the Doe family. That's where I got the parent's names. Have you seen it?

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  9. Wayne thank you for sharing you family history with us. I understand that you are not a Doe Descendant but I almost certain that Iam related to the Hester Doe that you above.Im just trying to fill in the blanks do you still have the information on the Doe Freeman Bank Record?