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Lizzie Taliaferro, My 2nd Great Grandmother. Have I found her?

In November 2009, I wrote about my 2nd great grandmother, Lizzie Taliaferro.  You can read that post .  As I stated there, Lizzie was the mother of my great grandfather John Wesley Taliaferro. I know nothing about her except that she was born in either Georgia or South Carolina, and that she was sold away or died prior to 1856.  The chances of finding any additional information on Lizzie were slim and I had pretty much given up.  I am learning more and more along this genealogy journey that you should never give up hope.

Background

As I am writing this post, it occurred to me that I need to give a little background before I proceed. Thinking about that, I realized that I have accomplished another research goal that I had not shared or written about and this needed to be talked about in order to properly lay out my case for finding Lizzie.

My 2nd great grandfather Miles Taliaferro and his son John Wesley Taliaferro were slaves of Richard Taliaferro and his son Edward Mobley Taliaferro of Fulton County Georgia.  Richard was married to Susan Mobley and her father was Edward Mobley of Chester, South Carolina.  I won’t go into the details here, but through my research I can document that a slave named Miles was owned by Edward Mobley at the time of his death in 1839.  I can also document that a slave named Miles was owned by the Richard Taliaferro family here in Georgia in 1856, and that the family had a direct relationship to Edward Mobley – his daughter Susan.  Based on those facts, I speculated that Susan Taliaferro had received Miles in the final division of her father’s estate.  But, I did not have a paper trail to document this because there was no final division of slaves in the estate packet for Edward Mobley that I received from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH).  I emailed the Archives requesting any other records for the estate of Edward Mobley, but was told there were none. There were some loose paper files, but I would need to come to the Archives and search them myself.  Short of taking a research trip to South Carolina to search the records for myself, I had hit a brick wall.

I knew in my heart that the “Miles” in Edward Mobley’s 1839 will and the Miles in the 1856 inventory and appraisement of the estate of Richard Taliaferro was the same person; the same Miles living near Edward Taliaferro in the 1870 and 1880 census.  I just had this feeling I was right. But, feelings are not proof and that’s what I needed – proof.

The paper trail for Miles leads to finding Lizzie.  Maybe.

Earlier this year I was elated to read that had online digital images of South Carolina estate records. This was my opportunity to search for more estate records for Edward Mobley. After searching for less than an hour, I hit the jackpot! The documents in the estate packet that I received from the SCDAH were there, but there were also other records that were not included in the estate packet, including a final division of slaves. This was just what I needed to prove and document that Miles was one of the slaves received by Susan Taliaferro.  Here is the list of “Slaves Allotted to Susan Taliaferro” (click to enlarge):

Source: South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1731-1964, Chester, Probate Court, Files 1788-1866, Apartments 049-050, Packages 776-813, Estate of Edward Mobley, Images 159-203, (digital image, Family Search,   :assessed 12 May 2011).

There he is on the next to last line “Miles 775”. I was so excited. But, wait!!  Listed right next to Miles is “little liz” and then “Elizabeth”. Could one of them be my great, great grandmother Lizzie?  I know very little about equating the appraised value of a slave with their age.  Miles was born about 1824, so at the time of the final division, 31 December 1839, he would have been about 15 years old.  He is appraised at $775.  Little Liz is appraised at $500 and Elizabeth at $300.  It saddens me to think of my ancestors in terms of a dollar amount. It brings tears to my eyes.  It is a very, very uncomfortable feeling.  Unfortunately, it is a necessary element in the analysis as I try to determine an approximate age for Little Liz and Elizabeth to further narrow down which is more likely my Lizzie.  I am thinking that Little Liz was a little younger that Miles and then Elizabeth a bit younger than Little Liz.  Some of the slaves in this group are listed in terms of their relationship to each other.  Could Little Liz and Elizabeth be related?  I ruled that as unlikely since other relationships were indicated.  Hopefully, someone with more knowledge on this subject will comment with their thoughts.   I welcome your input.

Little Liz or Elizabeth – either one of them could be my 2nd great grandmother Lizzie Taliaferro.  Of course I realize it might not be either one.  But, this is probably as close as I’m going to come to finding my great, great grandmother and it’s just too much of a coincidence to ignore.

Every Saturday presents . The topic for Saturday, November 21, 2009, was “Who Is Your MRUA”. I’m a few days late, but here goes. The mission:

1) Who is your MRUA – your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number in your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name.
2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don’t you scan it again just to see if there’s something you have missed?
3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?
4) Tell us about him or her, and your answers to 2) and 3) above, in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or a comment on Facebook or some other social networking site.

Lizze was the mother of my great grandfather John Wesley Taliaferro. I know this because in his biography my grandfather, John Robert Taliaferro, said his grandparents were Miles and Lizzie Taliaferro; there was no surname for Lizzie. He also indicated that Miles and Lizzie were both born in Georgia. However, this may not be accurate. My research indicates that Miles was actually born in North Carolina, so it’s possible that Lizzie was born elsewhere as well. I do know that John Wesley was born in Georgia about 1844. By the 1870 census, John Wesley was married to Martha Jane Dorsey, and living right next door was his father Miles and wife “Mary” along with three children. Mary was born about 1835 in Georgia, but of course was too young to be “Lizzie” mother of John Wesley. In an 1856 Inventory and Appraisement for the Estate of Richard Taliaferro of Fulton County, Georgia, there is listed among the slaves- “Miles and son John” – there was no Lizzie.

I believe that Lizzie was probably dead by the time of this inventory. Of course, I cannot rule out the possibility that Lizzie had been sold to another owner. The thought that John Wesley could have been separated from his mother in that way makes me sad beyond words. I am still searching for any earlier Taliaferro slave records that might name Lizzie, and give some clues to her family, but so far I have not had any luck. Since I bellieve that Lizzie died (or was sold) sometime before the 1856 inventory, I need to look for records prior to that date. Prior to 1852 Fulton County was a part of Dekalb County which suffered courthouse fires in 1842 and 1898. There may be no extant records. Unfortunately, I may never find any information about Lizzie- mother of John Wesley Taliaferro.

Last week for Wordless Wednesday I posted a picture of my grandfather John Robert Taliaferro with the following source note: From: Arthur Bunyan Caldwell, ed., History Of The American Negro And His Institutions, Georgia Edition (Atlanta: A. B. Caldwell Publishing Co.,1917), 353 It did not occur to me to post the entire article from the book because it was “Wordless” Wednesday. My intention was only to give credit for the source of the photo.
Well, several people were curious and actually googled the book and read the entire feature. My friend over at Our Georgia Roots, encouraged me to step outside the box, make my own rules, and write as much as I want or need to write regardless of theme. Luckie continues to inspire me to become a better researcher, and to be more diligent in documenting my family history. So, I decided to post the entire biography of John Robert Taliaferro from the book History Of The American Negro And His Institutions, Georgia Edition. The book features African Americans who were making significant contributions to their communities, and who otherwise may not have been recognized or even known. As the title implies, there were also editions for other states, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. There were a total of seven volumes the Georgia edition was two volumes. If you had ancestors in any of these states, I would encourage you to seek out these books. Unfortunately, the books are very rare and not readily available. The Georgia edition has been digitized and is available online.
The article on my grandfather was sent to me by my cousin back in 2005. It was her way of sharing some family history with me. Thinking back on my first reading of the article, I felt as if I was sitting at my grandfather’s feet listening to him give me an account of his life up to that point in time. I was AMAZED at the amount of history on those few pages. A researcher’s dream!! I am posting the scanned pages from the original book a copy of which is in the possession of my cousin. It is literally falling apart, but is still a treasured family heirloom.
**Note: Click on each page image to enlarge.