Saturday, August 17, 2013

Andy, York, and Tellie

I was excited tonight to confirm another ancestor who fought during the period of the Revolutionary War. I'm proud of my patriotic ancestors, and am continually amazed at men who "guarded the frontier" during such an uneasy time in our newly-formed collection of states. I say that because I firmly believe that we were not aware as colonial America that we "were": a country until after the Civil War, when the concept of the preservation of the Union was solidified. But that's another blog...

I was gathering some data online about this ancestor who hailed from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and I noticed he was a slave-owner. He is not the first of my ancestors to have owned slaves, so I continued on and didn't really think much about it.

I had found a couple of possible collateral relatives to this veteran, and if you have ever used collateral research in your genealogy, you know how important those other relatives can become. If you haven't used collateral research in your family tree, it's 20 lashes with a wet noodle to you, and we need to talk.

So I searched a cemetery just to see the burials with my veteran's surname contained therein. I found a couple of possible connections that I need to look at further, but that's not what really caught my eye.

I came upon York and Tellie (my ancestor's surname).

York and Tellie were an African-American couple. York was born in Spartanburg in 1842. No one apparently knew when Tellie was born, nor when she died. York's father has no burial in the cemetery, but his name was Andy, according to additional information listed.

They have my ancestor's surname. Andy too.

I realized that I had possibly come across the slaves of my ancestors, or at minimum, their direct descendants. That's never happened to me before.

In previous research, slaves owned by one of my family lines were mentioned usually in wills, first name only, and just listed like all of the rest of the property being distributed in those types of documents. I've yet to look for any more information on them, and I chalked it up to colonial Southern life. There was a certain neutrality in those first-name-only people I had seen listed.

Seeing York and Tellie and Andy tonight was different. They have our name, and carried our name through the present day long enough for their grandson (in the case of Andy, his great-grandson) to purchase proper cemetery markers for them in the same cemetery where they rest with other members of my family.

I'm still processing this as I write. But to Andy and York and Tellie...I'm glad to have met you.

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