Ann Turner Demings: Her Enslaver, Her Ancestor, Her Country

One of the most exciting developments in genealogy is the use of DNA to uncover connections to family lines. African Americans who take a genetic genealogy test and upload their results shouldn’t be surprised to see white ancestors as blacks with enslaved ancestors have on average 25% DNA that originated in Europe. I’ve added DNA to my research because I believe knowing my white ancestry can lead to finding more about the life of my black ancestors prior to the Civil War and Emancipation. Understanding my white ancestors, where and how they lived helps me to gain access to the potential vital records, documents, and information that can break down brick walls. I’ve used traditional research to identify numerous enslavers, and no matter what, I’m always surprised to learn the circumstances of how my ancestors were emancipated, such as the case of Levi Chase, my 3rd great-uncle, who was freed by his enslaver Susan Goodhand, in order to fight in the Civil War for the Union Army.

The emotional toll of uncovering enslavers can be heavy at times, as I empathize with my enslaved ancestors, but I’ve decided its worth the pain to know the whole truth of their lives. Now DNA has furthered my research so I can pick up where the paper trail leaves off. DNA has helped me find new generations of ancestors, as well as to understand their forced migration across the country during enslavement.

The discoveries on my Bobo line have lead me to white ancestors who were both enslaver and family, back across the continent to North and South Carolina, and even across the Atlantic Ocean to England and Holland.

Recently, I wrote about Mama Bessie Bobo, who was originally Bessie Demings, and her mother Ann Demings, my 3rd great grandmother. Using DNA, I was able to find the enslavers of Ann Demings (aka Ann Miles, Ann Demming, Ann Wood, Ann Turner), and to corroborate the finding by combining my research with a census, geographical, and archival data.

Ann Demings was born enslaved in August 1849 in Leon County, Texas, and lived in Mexia, Texas for most of her life, spending her final days in Dallas with her daughter’s family, the Bobo’s. She was buried in Mexia upon her death in 1917 at the age of 67. Previously, I explored theories in The Bobo Family: Mama Bessie about my 4th grandmother. I learned of distant white ancestors in the Miles and Day lines (uncovered through DNA matches). Two white Miles descendants (brothers) and Day descendants (sisters who married the Miles bros) moved from Alabama together to the adjacent county of Limestone in Texas. Because the Miles were slaveholders, I hypothesized that this could be the source of Ann’s roots. Ann’s maiden name was listed as “Miles” in her daughter Bessie’s social security application. Naturally, I wondered if her mother or father was a Miles. I now know that it’s very likely that the Miles DNA came from Bessie’s father’s line or possibly Ann’s mother’s line, but it did not come from Ann’s father. DNA enabled me to conclusively identify Ann’s father as a white man, a farmer named Aaron Turner Sr.

THE CLUES ADD UP

Last Spring, my 92-year old paternal grandmother shared her DNA with me. What a blessing. We uncovered that she had several white 3rd and 4th-cousins, and of course hundreds of 5th – 8th cousins with roots in Texas. This was not a surprise because we knew where the Bobo and Demings family came from, and we knew there was some white ancestry. My grandmother’s father Dave was very fair-skinned. But which side was it? Using the surname and geography match technique, I quickly saw a pattern among white cousin matches but they were too numerous to discern a pattern of common ancestry.

 So I turned to new tools used to analyze DNA data. I clustered my grandmother’s DNA matches using the Genetic Affairs “Autocluster” tool.

The cluster revealed these ‘cousins by the dozens’ indeed shared a common ancestor. Several had well-developed trees that were searchable on Ancestry. I was then able to compare trees and match locations, surnames, and generations to my grandmother in order to devise a probability of the most common recent ancestor (MCRA) shared by the matches.

Match after match pointed to a MCRA within the line of a white family by the surname of Turner who lived in Leon County at the same time as Ann. Finally, once I placed Aaron Turner Sr. into Ancestry Thrulines, which uses other people’s family trees and their DNA tests to hypothesize connections, dozens of Turner descendants on direct and collateral lines matched my grandmother in the same generation as Aaron Turner. Thrulines also revealed matches related to his siblings, first cousins, and Aaron’s parents, Charity Ann Clark b. 1752, and Thomas Reuben Turner II, b. 1754. The matches went further to Charity’s parents, William Clark b. 1709 and Hannah Peck, b. 1712. There are no less than 31 matches with Aaron Turner Sr. and 45 hypothesized matches with his mother Charity, 48 with Charity’s father William Clark! It was a pretty remarkable set of evidence.

Digging in, I found several pictures of Ann’s half brother, my 5th great grandfather’s son, Aaron Lloyd Turner Jr., on the family tree profiles of DNA Turner cousins. Aaron Jr. shares a remarkable resemblance to my great-great-grandmother Bessie.

Left, Aaron Lloyd Turner Jr., my 4th great-uncle, Right, Bessie Fredonia Demings, daughter of Ann Turner, my 4th paternal great-grandmother.

Aaron Turner Sr. was born in 1783 in North Carolina to Charity Ann Clark, and Thomas Reuben Turner II. He was one of eight children (many of whose descendants are the cousins whose Ancestry DNA profiles corroborated the relationship). Senior migrated to Henry County Georgia from Marlboro County South Carolina to an area called Bear Neck Creek. In 1838, he met and married Nancy King nee’ Nelms b. 1817. Nancy was 21 years old and Aaron was 55 years old. Nancy Nelms was born in North Carolina and married George Dickson in 1830 very young, but Dickson died and she re-married. Nancy already had several children with Dickson. Aaron, Nancy and his adopted children migrated to Texas around 1841 to Leon County. Leon County is southwest of Limestone County, whose county seat is Mexia where Ann and her family first appear in the record. It turns out Aaron Sr. was a Methodist preacher and that probably had a lot to do with his slow migration west. In fact, his father Thomas Turner was also a Methodist preacher, but more on that later.

Nancy and Aaron had more children including Junior who became a cattleman, fought for the Confederacy, and was a store clerk in Mexia by 1867. Aaron Jr. lived and worked not too far from Ann Deming’s home in 1880. In Nancy Nelms (Turner-Sanders) household, alongside Aaron Jr.’s and her other adult children lived a black man (age 22) named Jack Turner. Jack Turner also shows up on the 1869 voter registration as born in Georgia. Jack would have been born in 1870, but I can find no further trace of him in the record (for now). Jack may have been related to Ann, a half-brother perhaps, or just a laborer in the home.

So how did Ann come to be born of Aaron Turner Senior? Despite being a Methodist and a man of the cloth, Aaron Turner was a slaveholder. On the 1850 Slave Schedule for Leon County, Aaron owns three slaves listed as follows:

  • 32, Female, Black
  • 27, Female, Black
  • 2, Male, Black
  • 11 months, Female, Mulatto

The two enslaved women are of age to have children. The 2-year-old boy and 11-month-old “mulatto” girl are likely children of one or both of the enslaved women. The mulatto girl I surmise was Ann. But there is no guarantee as slave schedules were not true censuses of slaves, and have to be seen only as evidence a person was a slaveholder. In the 1900 census, Ann lists her father’s birthplace as Georgia and her mother’s birthplace as Alabama. The slave schedule was done on September 26, 1850 meaning if it was Ann, she would have been born in November 1849. The timing very much fits.

After emancipation, Ann Turner Demings may have made a mortgage for her own home with “two hundred gold dollars” in 1868 in town. It would be pretty remarkable for a formerly enslaved woman to purchase a home so soon after emancipation. The deed was for Lot 16, Block 24, made in 1868, recorded in 1872 and 1876 between A. Demming and W. R. Baker/A. Groesbeck. If it was Ann, where did she get the money? In 1880 Ann and her family lived near several perceptibly middle-class whites, including a carpenter, railroad agent, lumber merchant, and a minister in the middle of town. Records further show in 1900 she owned a home on Tyler street and then in 1910 owned a home on Carthage Street, also in Mexia. She was working as a nurse and raising her children. Some of the children’s father appear to be of Henry “Rufas” Deming, her first husband. A seventh child may have been with a man named Hickman as her son Arthur Caldwell took the surname Hickman.

Mexia 1893, Commerce Street

Between 1890 and 1900, Ann learned to read and write as indicated on the census. The census also confirmed she had 9 children, 7 of whom were still living. She was living with her daughter Ora Wright, son-in-law Green Wright, and grandchildren, Thomas, Herbert, and Charles Wright.

Her birthplace was listed as Tennessee, as were her parents. She probably never knew where precisely she was born because her birthplace is recorded as Tennesee, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama on various records. Did she know her mother? Why did she leave Leon County for Mexia? Did she know the Turner’s were family? Surely she knew the Turner family, living in the same small town in 1880 around the corner from her own home, and she could not have been able to ignore the striking resemblance to them in her daughter’s features, or perhaps her own. If Ann’s mother was either that 31-year-old or 26-year-old enslaved woman in the Turner household in 1850, then it is likely her mother was raped by Aaron Turner Sr., who was 66 years old at the time. Aaron Sr. died in 1851, so Annie never knew her biological father. Aaron’s widow Nancy remarried Drury Sanders in 1852, and moved to Grimes County, until she once again became widowed and moved to Mexia to live there until her death. What did Nancy Nelms make of her husband’s black daughter with her enslaved?

Life between two rivers

When the Texas and Central Railroad reached Limestone County in 1871, Mexia became a town when the Texas and Central Railroad Reached Limestone County in 1871. Prior to that, the land was part of a large land grant owned by a Spanish family (stolen from the Comanche tribe) the Mexia family lead by General Jose Antonio Mexia b. 180o. General Mexia fought in the revolution

Mexia and his American wife, the former Carlotta Walker, owned a big land grant in Limestone County that included the future town of Mexia.  Before the general’s last unsuccessful revolt against the Mexican despots, he and Carlotta had transferred the title of the Texas lands to their children, Matilda and Enrique and Enrique had been given more land near Mexia by his godfather, Marianno Riva Palacios of Palacios, Texas.

City History of Mexia

Mexia was platted in 1870 by the Houston and Texas Central Townsite Company. Lots went on sale in 1871 when the railroad was still under construction. A post office was built in 1872, and Mexia was incorporated the following year. Mexia went through an oil boom and bust in the early 1900s then quieted down to a small town population.

The 1877 Sanborn map of Mexia does include block 24 (Ann’s 1872 house lot), which was in the exact center of town adjacent to the railroad tracks, but the lot numbers only go up to 15 for the block. It may have been designated a different number in the map or a half lot. However, Carthage street appears on an 1891 street bordering different blocks suggesting Ann Deming moved and purchased a new house eventually.
1877 Sanborn Map of Mexia Texas

Enslaved blacks coming off the plantation in Limestone and Leon counties, between the Brazos and Navasota rivers, purchased land, farmed, and started their own communities in the 1870s. African Americans celebrated Juneteenth in Mexia in Booker T. Washington park in Mexia, which they purchased explicitly for the celebration. According to the Limestone Historical Association, land was deeded in 1898 as a permanent site for celebrating June 19th– the anniversary of the 1865 emancipation of slaves in Texas.

The county sent to the Texas constitutional convention of 1866, Ralph Long, an African American, and the area had other black legislators including Giles Cotton, Dave Medlock, and Sheppard Mullins. For many years at the park, the honorable Ralph Long was the featured Juneteenth speaker, presenting from the bed of a wagon parked in the shade to over 20,000 attendees.

Another well known Limestone African American was Giles Cotton. In late 1869 voters from Robertson, Leon, and Freestone counties elected Cotton, running as a Republican, to theTexas Legislature. He served from February 10, 1870, to January 14, 1873 on the Agriculture and Stock Raising Committee and Privileges and Elections Committee. 

Ann Turner was born on a homestead between the Brazos and Trinity River. Generally, there were no white settlements in the county prior to 1840, and the Turners were really pioneers. They were among the first wave of white settlers there in the 1840s as part of the Westward Movement. They lived alongside Keechi and Kickapoo tribes. During the Mexican War, Aaron Turner may have been a private in Chevallier’s Mounted Battalion (basically a Texas Ranger) between 1847 – 1848 under Maj. Webb and Maj. Walker. According to the record, Private Turner was discharged for killing cattle (no doubt to feed himself and his fellow rangers).

Aaron Turner, Private, Reed’s Chevllier’s Mounted Battalion.

By 1850 Leon County had 621 blacks; by 1855 this number had increased to 1,455, with a value of $757,296, which was $300,000 more than the assessed valuation of all the taxable land in the County in 1855. However, by 1870, Ann Turner, now Ann Demings and her husband Henry Demings were living in the next county over in Mexia. Henry Deming may have been the same Henry Demming “colored” registered to vote in nearby Freestone County in 1867. The record indicates he was born in Alabama and lived in Texas for 13 years prior, since at least 1854. Henry Deming is a bit of a ghost, appearing only by mention in later records.

I have not located Ann and Henry in the 1870 census, and in the 1880 census, “Ann Demming” is divorced. Ann’s household includes:

  • Mary Bell Demming, b. 1871
  • Ora Demming, b. 1874, twin
  • Zora Demming, b. 1874, twin
  • Bessie Demming, b. 1878
  • Willie L. Demming, b. 1878 or 1879
  • And infant (Herman Deming, b. 1880)

Bessie, Willie, and Herman’s father’s place of birth is listed as unknown, suggesting they may not have had the same father. I will explore Ann’s other children in a future post.

Meanwhile, in 1870, Aaron Lloyd Turner Jr. (Ann’s half-brother), and his wife Ella Fisher lived briefly in Western Retreat in Grimes County. By 1880, they have moved Limestone County to Mexia, where Aaron Jr. was a clerk in a store. He had several children with Ella. The census taker listed Aaron’s father as having been born in Alabama, and his mother in South Carolina. Its possible Aaron Jr. did not know precisely where his parents were born, but other records indicate both were born North Carolina – South Carolina border, moved to Georgia, then through Alabama, to Texas. Aaron Jr. may have moved from Grimes to Mexia to be near family. By 1880, his half-brother Marcus King, lived next door with his family and kept a saloon. His mother Nancy also appears to have left Grimes after the death of her 3rd husband.

Ann lived in Dallas, Texas briefly in 1910 with her daughter Bessie, now Bessie Bobo, and her grandchildren, before dying in 1917. She is buried a couple of miles outside Mexia in an African American cemetery, Mexia Memorial, where she has a prominent headstone.

TURNER’S MIXED-RACE LUMBEE ROOTS

When Aaron Turner Sr. died in 1850, his obituary read as follows:

“Died at his residence in Leon County, August 9th, 1851, Rev. Aaron Turner, aged 70 years. He was a native of North Carolina, married and emigrated to Georgia, when a young man, connected himself with the M. E. church and was licensed to preach the gospel. He was ordained in 1814 and imminently useful as a local preacher until 1848, when he emigrated to Texas. He left a widow and 6 orphans to mourn.”

George Tittle for the Texas Methodist Newspaper

Aaron Sr. of course left more than that behind, he enslaved four people at the time of his death. A good source for what happened to his enslaved would be his will, however, I have not been able to obtain his will yet. I did find the probate of Aaron’s father. Thomas Reuben Turner died in Marlboro County, South Carolina along the border near the Peedee River in 1822.

Upon the death of Thomas in July 1822, his will instructs that his “negroes” should be divided equally among his children, along with the rest of his property. In the probate, an inventory lists his enslaved:

  • Ceasar $130
  • Ned $600
  • Luke $600
  • Roger $600
  • Hannah $125
  • Jeffrey $475
  • Sarah $150

Given the enslaved were valued based on age and condition – the males at $600 were likely adults in their prime. Caesar was probably elderly, as is Hannah, because of their very low value. Sarah is likely a young adult as well based on her valuation. Were the enslaved of Aaron Turner Sr. descended from Thomas’s enslaved or were any of them among Aaron Jr.’s enslaved? Or did Aaron Jr. inherit the slaves as a dowry from his wife Nancy’s family?

The will of Thomas Reuben Turner, Sr. names his following children:

  • James Turner (also a Methodist preacher)
  • Aaron
  • Jane
  • Thomas Jr.
  • Moses
  • John
  • Mark
  • Mary

Thomas’s first wife Charity was not named in the will, so we can presume she died before this date.  This detail was uncovered by Mrs. Edmond L. Crow, a descendant of Thomas Jr., later recounted by Gail Blancett.

We know from records that Aaron Sr.’s wife Nancy Nelms was married once before to Dickson P. King in Georgia in 1830 when she was a young teen. A school teacher, she had three children before Dickson’s death around 1841, Marcus, Louisa, and Lucius King. After remarrying she had Mary Ann Turner, David Turner, Noah Turner, Francis Turner, and Aaron Lloyd Turner Jr. with Aaron Sr. The 1850 census in Leon County Texas gives Nancy’s place of birth as North Carolina, and that of the Turner children in Leon County, Texas.

I was able to trace Thomas Turner back to Marlboro County South Carolina by examining Turner family research (collateral lines of Aaron Lloyd Turner and his cousins) in blogs, forums, and published histories of this line. I also used DNA again to corroborate relationships. The research lead me to a wide variety of historical records that establish a migration of the Turners from North Carolina to South Carolina, Georgia, and then Oklahoma and Texas. Some Turners also migrated to Arkansas. For example, in the records of the Daughters of the American Republic of Texas is a description of the life of the grand-nephew of Aaron Sr., George Washington Turner.

“George Washington Turner, son of Thomas Turner Jr. (came to Leon, TX in 1843 and lived with “Uncle” Aaron Turner). He was born Nov. 18, 1833, Henry County, GA, son of Thomas Turner Jr. and Gincy Parrish. After the death of his mother in 1843 he moved west to Texas and lived with his Uncle Aaron Turner. He was a Confederate and after the Civil War, in 1869 he founded Old Bethel Methodist Church, 8 miles outside of Mexia. In 1894 he moved his second family to Altus, Oklahoma.”

Daughters of the American Republic of Texas Vol. 1

Thomas Reuben Turner II and his wife Charity Ann Clark lived along the South Carolina – North Carolina border at a time when the area was considered the wild frontier between 1750 and 1800. The land was swampy and wet, full of creeks and rivers. The land was home to the Lumbee Indians who were made up of both indigenous peoples, and the descendants of formerly enslaved Africans who escaped and free people of color. In The History of Old Cheraw’s, by Bishop Alexander Gregg, Thomas Turner Sr. was listed as clerk for Cheraw District in 1773.  He further states on 9 June 1775 the Lt. Governor named twelve magistrates for Cheraw Dist., SC and Thomas Turner Sr. as being in the list of names.

Further research into the Turner line reveals that it is very likely too that Thomas Turner was mixed-race, descended from Lumbee Indian and probably Irish person. The following observation was made by Rev. Eli W. Caruthers in 1856 about the Turner family living along the North Carolina-South Carolina border during the American Revolution.

“Near three hundred men, under Colonel Peter Robison of Bladen county, in passing through the country had halted at Stuart’s, now McPherson’s mill creek, to take breakfast, when Colonel McNeill, with all his force, came upon them so suddenly, that they had no time to rally, and were scattered forthwith. How many, if any of the Whigs were killed, I have not learned; but John Turner and Daniel Campbell, two of McNeill’s men were killed on the ground; and Dougald McFarland, another of the Tories, was, soon after, found dead near the place. Matthew Watson, a Tory, took young Archibald McKizic by surprise and held him a prisoner; and one story is that, being an acquaintance, and knowing that Turner, a mulatto, would kill him on sight, he gave him a chance to escape…

…It was Wade’s intention (a rebel officer) to scour the whole country and put every man of them to the sword. They were therefore greatly relieved in their feelings when his revenge seemed to be satisfied, and when he began to turn his course toward home. He turned down through the upper end of Robeson county and passed through the lower side of Richmond, by the Rockdale mills (i.e. modern Scotland Co.), into the Peedee country.

At the Rockdale mills, there lived some free mulattoes by the name of Turner, who were Tories and very wicked. The troops engaged in this expedition, having been disbanded, and Captain Culp having gone home, some of these mulattoes followed him to his own house, called him out at night, and accused him of whipping one of their brothers. He refused at first to come out, and they threatened to burn the house; but still he refused, until they began to apply the fire; then he came out between two young men, one on each side, holding them by the arms, and begging for his life; but the Turners told the young men that, If they did not wish to share the same fate with Culp, they must leave him. They did so; and he was Immediately shot down in his own yard. It is said that they not only murdered him, but his family also, and then burned his house, which stood about a mile below Hunt’s Bluff. Old Major Pouncey’s wife was Culp’s daughter….”

SOME REVOLUTIONARY INCIDENTS, Rev. Eli Caruthers, 1856.

On 29 Dec 1760, Thomas Turner the 1st (Moses and Thomas Reuben Turner’s father) was issued a land grant by Lord Granville for 640 acres in Anson County, North Carolina adjoining Abraham Carson’s land. Obviousy, after the revolution, the land grants were absolved. In 1775, Moses Turner, father of Winney Tedder (a line my grandmother shares more than a few DNA cousins with) appears in Richmond County, NC census. Moses Turner appears to be living east of Gum Swamp in then Anson County prior to 1779 when he was granted 100 acres next to Thomas Turner (likely his father’s land). Richmond County was created from Anson County in 1779.

Moses Turner was listed on the 1790 census in Richmond Co, NC. His brother Thomas Reuben Turner had moved into what is now Marlboro County, SC by then. On the 1790 census, Moses Turner’s family were all enumerated in the “Other” column. This column was for those considered “Free Colored” by the census taker. Moses Turner’s household included in it seven free persons of color and one slave.

Other family researchers have speculated the Turners were of Lumbee Indian extraction given the naming patterns of some of Moses Turner’s children, but it’s doubtful if we’ll ever conclusively know if they were Lumbee or simply descendants of free blacks who intermarried with whites and ultimately adopted a white ethnicity.

Lumbee Indians, year unknown.

By 1800, Moses had joined Thomas in neighboring Marlboro District, South Carolina (Richmond and Marlboro were adjacent counties along the border). Marlboro District had been formed in 1798 from Cheraw’s District. Moses Turner was listed on the 1800 census in Marlboro District, SC, along with Thomas Turner.

Further DNA research along collateral lines of the Turners revealed the following related surnames as DNA cousin matches; Turner, Tedder, Quick, Locklear, Driggers (all Richmond County, NC, and Marlboro County, SC families). Ancestry DNA matches that include these surnames and Thrulines appears to corroborate that Moses Turner was Thomas Reuben Turner’s brother, and as we know, Thomas and his brother were slaveholders.

Plymouth Rock Lands On Me, Hard

In 1964, Malcolm X gave a speech in New York where he famously remarked, “We are not Americans. We are a people who formerly were Africans who were kidnapped brought to America. Our forefathers weren’t the Pilgrims. We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; the rock was landed on us.”

That quote pretty much describes a common African American sentiment about the Pilgrims, but what I learned about Charity Ann Clark (my white 5th great grandmother) makes that quote particularly poignant. Of course, I beg to differ from X’s description, blacks are Americans, we built this country with our blood, sweat, and tears, but then Malcolm X was really saying we are not perceived as Americans by racists. Efforts like the 1619 Project are revealing that our presence here pre-dates the formation of the American project, and is very much in the colonial roots of this country. The truth be told, it’s even more complicated because European Americans with colonial roots and African Americans share an intertwined history in blood.

Here’s what I learned. Charity Ann Clark’s paternal line descends from England and Holland, and her family arrived in the Plymouth Colony as Pilgrims on the Mayflower. Charity Ann Clark’s great-great-grandparents were Thomas Roberdes Clark (born 1599 in England) and Susanna Ring (born in Holland in 1611) who sailed on the Mayflower to the new continent with Myles Standish to start the Plymouth Colony of England. Thomas Clark is said to be the son of John Clarke, the actual pilot of the Mayflower (my 10th great-grandfather). Clarke’s story is straight bananas, concluding with his death in a battle between the Powhatan Indians at the Jamestown colony.

Replica of the Mayflower, New England Historical Genealogy Society.

Growing up, to my white history teachers, nothing could be more thrilling than to be a Mayflower descendant. For me, it was always a painful thought. Learning more about my ancestry and recovering my once-lost history is my thrill now. I acknowledge that uncovering this Turner line and accepting it into my history is difficult. We know precisely how the Turners intersect with my enslaved African ancestors and the truth of it hurts, but it is no less true.

Early America is often portrayed in the most romantic terms, and democracy is spoken off as the result of the intent of pursuing freedom. Within the great project of America, one cannot look away from the fact that early democracy was really about establishing and protecting minority rule of poor whites, women, enslaved Africans, and the removal and genocide of millions of indigenous peoples. Minority rule was codified in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. Violence, rape, murder, torture, enslavement, theft, unjust laws, broken treaties and of course the Translatlantic slave trade was how minority rule was established and maintained in order to create property and profit for wealthy white men. And yet, against hundreds of years of persecution, against the odds, people resisted, in the dream that democracy would one day belong to them.

Incidentally, the Speedwell which was supposed to accompany the Mayflower with pilgrims sprang a hole in it off the English coast after leaving Holland and didn’t make it on that fateful voyage. It became a slave ship captained by the great-great-grand uncle of the enslaver of my free 4th great-grandfather Emory Chase (on my grandmother’s maternal line) who was very likely descended from the men of Senegambia that were stolen away on the Speedwell.

I reconcile some of these remarkable facts now with the knowledge Ann Turner saw enslavement, emancipation, and Reconstruction. She survived and thrived. She learned to write, became a homeowner more than once, raised a large family, among whom the first college graduate in the family would include.

She gave her daughter Bessie Demings Bobo the name Fredonia after the first “Fredonian rebellion” in the Texas Mexican war that Aaron Turner briefly fought in. For Ann, Bessie was an act of freedom.

Sources.

  • Ancestry.com
  • Genetic Affairs.com
  • Mexia History Blog
  • Limestone County Historical Society
  • Limestone County Deed book Volume E. pg, 612.
  • US Census, Texas, Mexia County 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910
  • US Census, Texas, Freestone County 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910
  • US Census, Texas, Leon County 1850, 1860, 1870
  • US Slave Schedule, Leon County 1850
  • Granville Tract, Grant Book No. 30, page 322. 1750
  • Probate, Marlboro County, South Carolina, Thomas R. Turner, 1822.
  • The Royal Colony of North Carolina, Granville Tract
  • “A Collection of Upper South Carolina Genealogical and Family Records”  Vol. II, edited by James E. Wooley (copyright 1981 by Southern Historical Press).  The information is said to have been given by Mrs. Edmon L. Crow of Dallas, Texas, 7 Aug 1853.

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