Monday, September 28, 2015

Back In The Days When I Was YONGE (Part I)

I didn't follow my own rules about deciphering Old English penmanship up until a few months ago. It's the little things that really matter. I only knew my family surname was spelled YOUNG. It really didn't dawn on me that we were known as YONGE 200 years ago. I learned that from a book.

A few months ago, I found an passage in the book Black Slaveowners: Free Black Slave Masters in South Carolina, 1790 - 1860 by Larry Koger where William Simmons sold David Yonge, a free person of color, his wife Judy and son Frank for $1 each. I had recognized Frank as Frank (sometimes known as Francis) Young in the 1860 census as a free person of color. In addition, he lived near his brothers in Barnwell, SC.




I was so excited when I found this information and wrote about it in my blog "To be YOUNG and free." I knew that David and Judy were my 3x great-grandparents but that was by heart. I needed to prove it. Recently, ancestry.com released wills and probate records into their database. I found a lot of great information that will help expand my tree even further. Sometimes it is not straight forward as I had hoped. That's why you do not rely on just ONE source! I went to other research websites such as fold3.com and the SC archives database. I discovered a goldmine. Using all those resources, I was able to go back several generations to the early 1700s.


On Fold3.com, I found copies of the actual bills of sale from William Simmons to David Yonge. On July 25, 1814, David purchased his son Frank for an honorary sum of $1. If the census records are correct, Frank would have been 10 years old by this date.



On December 6, 1815, David purchased his wife Judy for an honorary sum of $1.The letter also states this would include all her future issue (i.e. children).




I found a third bill of sale which was not mentioned in the book. This time, William's generosity had run out. On June 20, 1816, David purchased his sons Bob and Gabriel for $600. In 2014, this purchase would have cost David $8,235. But guess WHAT! Bob is short for Robert! This is my 2x great-grandfather Robert Young! Census records were off by at least 10 years for both brothers. I am assuming Gabriel was born in 1806 and Robert in 1810.

William Simmons lived in St. Paul's Parish, Colleton County, SC. I consider this area one of my ancestral birth places since most of David and Judy's children were born there. Another son was confirmed as Wiley Young. He was born after 1816. There might be at least three daughters that I have not confirmed yet. I have to test those theories against my DNA if I can find a match in my list of cousins.

Where did David get the money to purchase his family? In the Journal of Negro History, occupations of free persons of color in the early 19th century included such trades as barbering, carpentry, tailors, butchers and shoemakers. In the 1860 census, Frank and Gabriel both indicated that they were carpenters. Therefore, it is likely they learned that trade from their father. David probably earned enough money through that skill to purchase his own freedom. One thing I didn't find were manumissions. I may not understand all of the circumstances for keeping the family as slaves after purchasing them but I do applaud him for keeping the family together. All 4 sons were found in the 1860 census as free persons of color. As a black slave owner, David might have freed his family upon his death. I haven't found any records confirming this yet.


What I did confirm is too much for one blog post. That's why I am splitting it up into three parts. Who would have thought that one small paragraph in an obscure book published in 1985 would have such an impact on my life 30 years later? I hope that Mr. Koger is still around so I can let him know how much his work means to me and that I was able to expand on it. The Yonges are alive and well!

6 comments:

  1. This is great Wayne! You found them! Crying happy tears.

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    1. i am not done yet! this is the 1st of 3 parts of the Yonge story.

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  2. Oh this awesome Wayne! I am sure that book was a labor of love for Mr. Koger. Whether he is alive or not, somewhere within his spirit he knew the importance of this information and sharing it so that you and other descendants could know their roots. So happy for you. Looking forward to your upcoming posts!

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    1. Thanks! I am writing part 2 as we speak.

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  3. So glad all the information is going online. You got to go so far back. I think I would of cried and been overwhelmed with the Bill of Sales. We look for those so hard. I'm still waiting.....Lovely Piece. Kudos to Mr. Koger. I think I may call my Mentor Mr. Spratlan tomorrow. Can't wait to come back and read more. Well Done my Brother!

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  4. This is so great! Wills and bills of sale - such great wells of information! And I'm with True, so glad information is coming online. Can't wait to read the rest of the story.

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