Surnames

My main paternal family names include; Bobo, Demings, Johnson, Chase, and Milbourn, Doman, and Jeffers.

My main maternal names include; Mays, Walker, Higdon, Ladson, Strother, Washington, Redd, Morris, Black, Sherman, Burks, and Steptoe.

The Bobo family record originates in Navasota, Grimes County, TX after the Civil War, but through DNA I’ve learned extends further back to the Bobo line founder – Gabriel Bobo (Baubau)  – a French Huguenot who immigrated to the US through England in 1861 and married a second generation colonist of Jamestown, Virginia, and Mayflower descendants. I am a direct descendant of the enslaved of Gabriel’s Bobo’s son Spencer Bobo and an enslaved woman, presumably Cornelius Bobo’s unidentified mother. White Bobo’s migrated from Virginia to South Carolina and later spread through the South to Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi with their enslaved. My 3rd great grandfather John Bobo was born enslaved in Virginia to Cornelius Bobo and Emma Brown, but landed in Navasota in 1860 (possibly one of the thousands of slaves shipped south to Texas by their enslavers to avoid impending emancipation or a runaway). His parents Cornelius Bobo and Emma Brown are listed on his death certificate witnessed by Bessie Fredonia Demings, my great-great-grandmother who married John’s son Dave. Cornelius Bobo and Emma Brown are the eldest Bobos on the record.

The Johnson record originates on Maryland’s Eastern shore in post-colonial Kent Island and Queen Anne’s County with free men of color around 1830 in the 1830 Free People of Color of Maryland census. The census is an amazing document – driven by the Maryland Colonization Society’s effort to enumerate free blacks in order to ship them to the American colony of Liberia. Were it not for this record I never would have found the eldest Eastern Shore descendants, Philip Johnson b. 1787 in Queen Anne’s County my 4th great-grandfather, and Emory and Charlotte Chase, both born about 1805 in Kent County, my 4th great-grandparents on the shores of the Chester River. My 3rd great-grandfather Walter Johnson (grandson of Philip Johnson) moved his family from rural Sudlersville in Maryland on the Chesapeake to the rapidly industrializing city of Chester in Pennsylvania, as part of the great migration in the late 1800s and became a prominent leader in the Black community there.

The Mays record begins in pre-emancipation Greenville, SC, and Charleston, SC in census records. The Mays, Choice, and Walker families were enslaved by area-farmers and held a close association, living and farming along the southern “frontier.” From Paris Mountain to the Gant area on the Reedy River in what is now downtown Greenville, the endogamous families intermarried, built lives, farms, businesses there. The eldest on this line appears to be Alex Choice, born in 1770 in Africa, according to records. James Mays (the first Mays on record), my great-great-grandfather was born a slave. Many families stayed, but my great-grandfather Van Matthews Mays b.1883  migrated his family to Cleveland Ohio in the early 1900s for new lives and opportunities.

The Redd record begins in the early 1800s post-colonial Virginia in the heart of the Shenandoah valley with both enslaved and  free families of color in records from Roanoke and Staunton.

The earliest of the Morris family was enslaved to the prominent Baldwin family of Virginia and later played a key role in Reconstruction politics in Virginia. The Black family records begin with an court case in the late 1850s. Incredibly, the Blacks were emancipated by their enslavers in a will that turned into a hotly contested yearlong court battle.