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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.

Proximity of polling place to residence plays a vital role in voter turnout. My voting precinct just happens to be right around the corner from my house in easy walking distance. But, for many of our ancestors such convenience was not the case.
 
In a September 11, 1881, issue of The Atlanta Constitution, a legal notice from Fulton County, GA, addressing the Commissioners of Roads and Revenues, contained a petition signed by citizens of old Blackhall district asking the Commissioners to sustain the new district laid out by the ordinary of said county. The petitioners were also seeking to have laid out another new district and requested that three commissioners be appointed to lay out the district. The first two names on the petition were S. M. Taliaferro and E.M. Taliaferro. They were Edward Mobley Taliaferro, former slaveholder of my Taliaferro ancestors, and his son Samuel Mobley Taliaferro. Also among the signers were my great, great grandfather Miles Taliaferro, and his sons John Wesley Taliaferro (my great grandfather), and Alex Taliaferro.

Edward Mobley Taliaferro was one of the three commissioners appointed to lay out the new district. Two of the commissioners, Samuel Hape and T.A. Poole, objected to the new district stating it would be “a matter of public inconvenience”; they gave their recommendation for a change in the lines between the two districts. Edward Taliaferro disagreed with his fellow commissioners stating “I beg leave to report that, in my opinion, it is the wish of a majority of the people of said part of the county, and it would certainly be to their convenience to have a district laid off,….” and he went on to give his recommendation for the lines of the district. Taliaferro further stated “[t]he reasons for wanting a [n]ew district are that a majority of the voters and the people are remote from the places of holding court and voting, to wit: East Point and West End.” The Commissioners approved the new district as recommended by Edward Taiaferro. The new district was known as South Bend district. My research shows that my ancestors and many of their relatives lived in this South Bend district.

One can only speculate as to the reasons why Commissioners Hape and Poole objected to the formation of the new district, or why Edward Taliaferro did not side with his fellow commissioners. The politics of this would surely make interesting reading. Considering the time period, a trip from South Bend to either East Point or West End was probably more than a mere “inconvenience”. Realistically, the eventual formation of this new district was probably not for the convenience of my ancestors and their African American contemporaries. Nonetheless, I cannot help but feel a certain sense of pride knowing that my people were actively participating in this process during a time when I am sure they continued to face many of the injustices of that era.

**Click on image to enlarge.

Source:The Atlanta Constitution, 11 September 1881, p.5, digital image, Footnote.com (http://www.footnote.com : accessed 31 October 2009).