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Early Black/Colored Toledo Families – (Harvey) FIELDS

Between 1850 and 1900 there were three black and mullatto families in the Toledo area with the surname FIELDS.  I am now certain that two of them are related based on some additional research.  The other FIELDS family – headed by physician James FIELDS, per the entry regarding him being Toledo’s first black doctor and there being an obituary about him with a pretty detailed biography of his life, I do not at the moment believe he was related to the other two black/colored FIELDS families in Toledo.  The various black/colored families with the surname FIELDS were as follows:

  • 1850 Census family headed by Harvey FIELDS Barber/Laborer
  • 1860 Census family headed by James A FIELDS  physician
  • 1870 Census family headed by George FIELDS  photographer

This post will focus on the family of Harvey FIELDS since his was the first branch shown in records as living in Toledo.  Harvey was listed as a Barber in 1850 and lived in Ward 1 of the city with his wife Jane and children:  Robert, Julius, William, Anna,  and John.  In the racial category, the entire family were labeled as “mullatto.”  Their older children were some of the few black/colored children who had attended school in 1850. On the 1860 Census Harvey was listed as a “laborer.”  The City of Toledo Directory began to be published in 1864 and unfortunately Harvey was never listed in the directory.

Harvey’s sons – Robert, Julius, and William FIELDS were listed as having been born in Canada in 1850.   Harvey stated his place of birth was Massachusetts, his wife Jane stated she had been born in Georgia.   However, on the 1860 Census Harvey was listed as also having been born in Canada along with his wife Jane and all of the older children in the family.  An additional child not listed in 1850 was Mary who was listed as 4 years old in 1860.  Due to the change in birth area, it is unknown whether Harvey was a free person of color prior to moving to Toledo or if he was an escaped slave.

Some searching into this family’s background showed that son William FIELDS was listed on the Ohio Civil War Roster as having served in the US Colored Troops in the 27th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company I.  Research into Ohio US Colored Troops (USCT)  enlistments showed that over 80% of black/colored service eligible men (by age), volunteered for the war effort.   I have been surprised in my on family’s history to discover that a large amount of my male ancestors, no matter their state of residence, served in the USCT.  Local history research into the the black/colored population of Toledo thus far shows a similar trend in that nearly every family I have researched had at least 1-2 volunteer soldiers for the war effort.

At the time of his enlistment, William FIELDS would have been  approximately 16-18 years old.  Older son, Robert FIELDS volunteered later in the war for the 189th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, Company A.  He would have been approximately 26 years old at the time of his enlistment in 1865.

The 189th Ohio that Robert joined was organized in Toledo and Camp Chase in Columbus in January of 1865 and was only to serve for a year of the war.  This was not a regiment of the USCT.   Though black and mullatto soldiers usually served in segregated commands, there were instances where they did not.

The 27th Ohio that William joined was organized in Delaware County in January of 1864.  It was the second regiment created of US Colored Troops organized in the state of Ohio.  This regiment stayed in service until the end of the war in 1865.  Below is a picture of their camp during service in Petersburg, Virginia.

Some interesting information discovered about the 27th Ohio was that they saw some active fighting. One of the more well known battles that they participated in was called the “Battle of the Crater” in Petersburg, VA shown in the picture above.  There were some members of the regiment who kept journals and records of their service.  One was an AME minister named James Payne who was stated by the Ohio Historical Society website as having originally hailed from Kentucky and who went to Lima to enlist.  A portion of Reverend Payne’s journal provided a harrowing and humbling account of the black soldier’s experiences during the war:

(T)wo regiments [the 43rd USCI and 27th USCI] drove the enemy from their breastworks, and took possession of the blown up fort; but while they did, all the white soldiers lay in their pits and did nothing to support our men in the struggle; they lay as if there was nothing for them to do for one hour after the explosion took place…How easily Petersburg could have been taken on the 30th of July, had the white soldiers and their commanders done their duty! But prejudiced against colored troops prevented them…I can only conclude that our men fell unnecessarily in the battle on the 30th. In their retreat, they received the cross-fire of the enemy, and no small number were killed by our own artillery.

Such was the terrible fate of the day. Time will tell who was in the fault, and who made the great blunder in the battle of the 30th of July.

Among the captured was my brother-in-law, William Johnson of Upper Sandusky, Ohio…but, I can only give him up into the hand of God, who knows just how to deal with his case. If he is murdered by the rebels all is right, his blood will speak for the cause in which he fell.


In 1870, Robert FIELDS, the oldest son of Harvey and Jane was shown living by himself in Toledo on the Census.  He was labeled as a Painter just as he had been in 1860 when he lived with his parents and siblings.  Neither Harvey nor Jane showed up in the City of Toledo on any census data that I have come across after 1860 nor in any death registers.  I also have never found mention of them in the city directory or with a query into newspapers thus far.  If ever anything is located this post will be updated.  However, I do believe that Harvey FIELDS and his family were related to the family of George FIELDS, Toledo’s first black professional photographer.  George FIELDS was mentioned in this blog in the post about one of the known UGGR administrators in the city of Toledo – William H. MERRIT.  George was Toledo’s first black professional photographer and moved to Toledo after 1860 and his professional address was located in the same building with William H. MERRITT.  Throughout the various census documents George was listed on, he stated he was either born in Georgia or Alabama, which leads me to conclude that both and and Harvey were either the children of escaped slaves or people who had been free people of color who lived in the southeastern region of the US and who subsequently, moved away from their home states.  George, unlike Harvey was listed in the City of Toledo directory starting in 1867.  A clue to there being a familial relation between Harvey, and photographer George FIELDS was the fact that per the 1868 Toledo directory, Robert – Harvey’s son,  and George FIELDS lived at the same address of  743 Erie Street.

Another clue was that in 1880, Robert FIELDS was counted in the household of Joseph and Lucy GARRETT.  He was labeled as their “grandson” along with his younger sister Mary FIELDS who was listed on the 1860 Census with him and their parents.  Within the GARRETT household was also 18 year old Olivia FIELDS and 17 year old Otis FIELDS.  These were the children of George FIELDS, Toledo’s first black photographer mentioned above.  Due to both sets of FIELD’s children being labeled as the GARRETT’s grandchildren, it was assumed that Robert and Mary were cousins to Otis and Olivia.  George FIELD’s first wife’s maiden name was Mary GARRETT (George married Mary GARRET on January 13, 1861 in Greene, Ohio) and these were her parents – the grandparents of Otis and Olivia.  It is uncertain if Robert and Mary’s mother Jane was the sister of George’s wife  Mary,  or if George FIELDS and Harvey FIELDS were brothers and the GARRETTs,  called Robert and his sister Mary their grandchildren due to them being cousins of their biological grandchildren.  Another relationship between these two families is that Harvey and Jane could very well have been the parents of George FIELDS.  They were old enough to be his parents and I’ve yet to find documentation of who George’s parents were.  Robert may have lived with George per the directory in 1868 due to them being brothers.  Due to that his children in the GARRETT household in 1880 may have been the nephew and niece of Robert and Mary FIELDS.

Robert FIELDS was also listed on the 1890 US Veterans Census where he stated he served with the regiment and company listed above.  Initially I was unsure if the Robert FIELDS listed on the veterans census was the same as the one I was researching, but a review of the city directory from 1888 to 1905 showed that Robert FIELDS was a Painter who lived at 524 Cherry Street in Toledo, which is at the corner of Summit and Cherry in downtown Toledo.  He lived with Mary and Otis FIELDS,  who were also listed on the 1880 census with the GARRETs as “mullatto.” This confirmed that Robert FIELDS was the veteran also listed on the 1890 Veterans Census.

In 1910 he was still listed as a Painter and was living with his sister Mary FIELDS at 645 State Street in the Canton Avenue district of Toledo.  This was one of the neighborhoods where a substantial amount of the black population resided until the 1930s until more began moving into the Pinewood District, currently called “Central City.”  Robert FIELDS was listed as 69 years old in 1910.

In 1920 Robert was shown residing in the Montgomery County, Jefferson Township National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soliders.  He was listed at being 80 years old at the time.  The last pension record I have on file for him below showed that he died on December 31, 1923 at the National Soldiers Home in Virginia.

He was buried at the Hampton National Cemetery.  Below is a picture of his grave

I could not find much info at all in regards to younger brother William FIELDS.  However, there was records of another, younger “colored,” Robert FIELDS who was born in approximately 1865-1866 and who died in Toledo in 1906.  On his death record, his father was listed as William FIELDS and the document said that this younger Robert was born in Petersburg, VA where William FIELDS’ regiment fought in the Battle of the Crater.

Harvey and Jane’s youngest child Mary FIELDS died at the age of 75 in Toledo in 1933.  She had been a resident of Toledo her entire life.  Towards the end of her life she was a patient at the Toledo State Hospital.  Upon her death, she was buried at the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, where it was noted that she was the sister of Robert E. FIELDS.

The other children of Harvey and Jane FIELDS listed on the 1850 Census, I could not find much information about.  In 1860 they had a son named John who was 11 years old that year.  Some queries on John FIELDS showed that someone with that same name died in the City of Toledo on December 30, 1883 of bronchitis.  However, some further digging showed that this was John Brewster FIELDS the youngest son of George FIELDS, the suspected brother or son of Harvey FIELDS.  However, there was also a record of a John H FIELDS in the Toledo directory during the 1900s.  In the directory John H. FIELDS was labeled with an occupation of Porter and he lived in various locations including Missouri Street (now Pinewood Street) and Wisconsin streets through the 1890s.  This John FIELDS lived with George in 1899, a year before George’s death, so this may have been the same John FIELDS who was enumerated with Harvey’s family in 1850.

Another son of the couple – Julius/Junius (or Lucious) I could not locate any additional information.    On the 1860 Census, he was listed as a “Sailor.”  His name never showed up again in the City of Toledo.  I also could not find any information about daughter Anna FIELDS.

It is currently unknown if there are any descendants of this FIELDS family still in the Toledo area.




1850 US Census, via; accessed 3/31/2017

Ohio Civil War Roster, Ohio Genealogical Society search engine, accessed 3/31/2017

Fighting for Freedom:  African Americans in the Civil War.  The Ohio Historical Society, accessed 3/31/2017

189th Regiment Ohio Infantry roster; accessed 3/31/2017

1910 US Census, via; accessed 3/31/2017

1920 US Census, via; accessed 3/31/2017

Ohio Deaths 1908-1953, via; accessed 3/31/2017 (Death Certificate of Mary FIELDS)

Toledo Race Riot of 1862

Transcribing the 1860 Census made me wonder if any of the people that were on that spreadsheet was affected by the race riot that occurred in Toledo in the summer of 1862.

Current events over the past few years have made riots become more heavily featured on news media. Naturally people have intense emotions and reactions to these occurrences. I, many times react in the same way to historical events of the same nature and this one that occurred in Toledo is one that personally effected me, especially after doing research on early black and “colored” citizens of the area.

The Toledo Race Riot of 1862 occurred in the month of July. It started due to a group of dock workers going on strike over wanting an increase in wages. Per the Toledo Blade’s article titled “Lawless Proceedings” published on July 8, 1862, the group of white men worked as “Stevedores” at the “Wabash Freight” company. They wanted an increase in their wages from 12 cents an hour to 15 cents per hour or they were threatening to strike. The supervisors on duty refused to pay the increased wage and the company hired other workers, both black and white to come and work on the docks at 12 cents per hour due to the striking Stevedores. When the striking workers saw this, they made threats to the agents of the company. The supervisors of the company contacted city officials and law enforcement due to the threats and threatening actions of the striking workers.

The mayor and law enforcement came and attempted to get the crowd to leave. The crowd began to have more mob like behavior with more threats and violence. The mob threw sticks, rocks, and bricks at dock worker and especially at the black workers who were employed. The Blade article stated that the mob used the above as “missiles” and that they surrounded the black workers and began physically attacking them. Many of the black men at the docks were beaten and attempted to flee. Most were able to get inside of the warehouse at the docks for protection where the company closed the door. During the melee, three black men were reported to have been injured at the docks, two had their arms broken, and one was stated to have his “head split open.” One of the black workers who was surrounded and being heavily beaten, took out a knife that was in his possession and stabbed one of the white attackers. He slashed two other white men with the knife then ran down the street to try to flee the mob. The white man who was stabbed was injured on his right side just below the lower rib. The injured man was reported to be named FITZGERALD.

Due to the anger over the white men being injured, the mob pursued the black man who stabbed the white men. Along their way they attacked all the black people they saw on the street and “pummeled” them according to the Blade accounts published on July 9th. The mob also attacked the homes of black residents.

As was stated in the post A Brief History of Toledo Public Schools, the City of Toledo was not segregated in earlier eras like it became in the 20th century. Black citizens lived among white citizens and there were no concentrated “negro” areas.

Someone in the mob was aware of a home where an “industrious black woman” lived. She was not named but it was stated that she lived in a house at the “edge of the city” near the canal. She was a widow and took in clothes and linen to wash as a business. The mob went to this woman’s house, and destroyed her house. The article in the Blade stated that they “demolished” her home and pulled apart placards and “threw them in the canal.” They then sought to kill her and her children. The woman was not at home as she had been working at the home of a white female citizen. The mob learned that the black woman’s children were being watched by her “German neighbors” and they attempted to get the children from the German neighbors. Word got to the neighbors in time where they were able to “steal the children away” with “one under each arm.” The mob attacked the home of the German family and destroyed much of their home and furnishings.

The mob continued to ransack the homes of all of the other known black citizens in the city at this time. They came to the home of William H. MERRITT (mentioned in the article Early Black Toledoans – William H. Merritt). Mr. MERRITT was the wealthiest black man in Toledo and lived at the corner of Jefferson and Erie Streets. One of his neighbors notified city and law enforcement officials who were trying to calm the mobs and they dispatched Reverend F.M BOFF a Catholic minister to the scene. He persuaded the mob not to destroy the home of Mr. MERRITT, the mob instead went across the street, on Erie Street and broke all of the windows out of the home of Benjamin TALBOT who was a negro blacksmith listed on the 1860 Census. The mob then entered Mr. TALBOT’s home and ransacked the inside of his home and destroyed all of his furnishings.

The mob continued their journey up through the Uptown district of Toledo. They attacked all the black people they saw on the street, including a black man who was walking down Monroe Street who was “severely beaten.” The mob also chased a black man who sought refuge at the home of a white attorney by the name of BASSETT who also called for city authorities and Reverend BOFF to come and talk down the crowd. The black man was safely able to escape the mob due to Mr. BASSETT’s assistance. Another black man was “pummeled” at 11th Street and Lafayette.

The city authorities finally were able to arrest over 20 individuals for rioting and assault. Articles regarding the court proceedings stated that the mob rioters were primarily Irishmen. One, by the name of Francis GAVIN was stated to have been the “ring leader” of the mob. The Blade published that Mr. GAVIN was new to the Toledo area and had solidified himself a “negative introduction” to the city. Other men named as perpetuators of mob violence were Patrick EARLY also described as a ring leader, James SHANNON, John HOOPER, James SMYLEY, Thomas TIERNAN, and James ROSS.

The city punished these men and others with what was considered a “severe” sentence of 30 days hard labor and a fine of $50 each.

Other newspaper accounts published accounts of the race riot that occurred in Toledo that day and stated that the rioters attacked black workers because companies were hiring negros over whites in Toledo.  Also that they felt they should not be paid the same wages as negros.  In a response to one of these publications, the Toledo Blade refuted those accounts of events.  The Blade published that whites and “colored” citizens had always worked side by side at the stocks and in various industries.  Also that due to the ongoing war, many white men had left Toledo to join the Army.  This resulted in a lack of available white men to be employed by area industries and so any man and especially any white man who was available to work would be able to easily find employment at a decent wage.


Free Black Virginians to Ohio – Viney and Viers Family

Finally got some time to devote back to the blog. I’ve been ill and just crazy busy with kid stuff over the past 3-5 months but as usual, I’ve been doing some quick (or long) research in between my last post and today.

I have recently started digging into my great grandmother’s family – the McCowns.

As a kid, I noticed that her family surname was on one of the stain glass windows at Third Baptist Church and I always thought they must have had something to do with the early beginnings of the church. Recently I was surprised to find out that one of her grandfathers was an early pastor.

My great grandmother’s father was named Hillus McCown.  His mother was Hannah Rebecca Viney/Vina.  Her parents were Madison Viney and Mary Viers.

Madison (or Mattison) Viney was born in approximately 1820 (around 1823) in Giles County, Virginia. He was born into a family of free people of color in the state of Virginia who had an ancestry back to the early 1700s.

Via information obtain from the website “Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware” I found information that showed that the Viney family (also spelled Vina/Vena/Veny/Venie/Venners/Veney, etc.) were the descendants of a white woman named Elizabeth Venners who had a “mullatto” child of mixed race named William Venners/Viney. William was born in approximately 1701 and had to sue for his freedom based on him being the child of a white (probably indentured servant) woman.

William’s granddaughter, Rachel Viney was registered as a “taxable” free negro multiple times throughout the 1800s. In 1825 she and her children were listed on a register of “free negroes” of Giles County, Virginia. The youngest person in the family listed on that register in 1825 was “Mattison Viney” who was listed as 2 years old in 1825.

Madison later moved to Ohio. Many free persons of color from Virginia migrated to both Kentucky and Ohio in the mid 1800s. The earliest record of Madison’s residency in Ohio was found via familysearch on the 1850 census.

1850 Viney Census

1850 Census of the “Vina” family 

Madison and his wife Mary were listed as living in Shelby County, Ohio in 1850. Upon seeing their residency, I researched to see if they had a marriage record on file in Ohio and found that they were married in Galia County, Ohio in 1839. His wife’s last name was listed as “Vires.”

Madison and Mary lived in the Shelby County area until 1880 when they showed up on census records living in Toledo, Ohio.  A history of Third Baptist Church showed that he was one of the early pastors of the church during its trying period in regards to finances and membership (“The Black Church – Third Baptist Church, Toledo, Ohio“).

The period between 1868 and 1891 was a Period of Struggle for the newly established Third Baptist Church, in leadership and finances. During this period, the record indicates there were nineteen pastors, several loans and two locations. The only names of pastors that can be recalled are Reverends Burch, Meadows, Mattison Viney, Thomas Frazier, Johnson and Dyer.

Madison and Mary had 14 children and I found various records regarding the marriages and deaths of their children throughout the US all the way to Texas and even one who was married in Canada.

Reverend Madison Viney died in 1897 and was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Mary Viers Viney was born in Virginia and moved with her family to Galia County, Ohio in the early 1820s. Information obtained from the website mentioned above (“Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware“) show that the Viers family was descended of a woman named Mary “Via” who had a mullatto child born in 1754 named Benjamin Viers.

Benjamin enlisted as a Private in the Revolutionary war in 1775 out of Henry County, Virginia. He subsequently came back to Virginia after the conclusion of the war but moved to Galia County, Ohio around 1823 with his family, including his then adult son, William Viers, the father of Mary Viers Viney.

Mary Viers Viney died in 1917 and was buried alongside her husband at Woodlawn Cemetery. Her death certificate confirmed that her father was William Viers along with listing her mother – Anna Douglas.

Viney Grave

Grave of Madison Viney and Mary Vires Viney – Historic Woodlawn Cemetery

Some checking onto the google news archives rewarded me with a picture of her and some of her grandchildren/great grandchildren. I’m not certain who the children are but it was great find as I usually don’t turn up any pictures of this nature.

Mary Viney and Grandchildren

Mary Vires Viney aged approximately 85 and McCown grandchildren

Mary, of course is the grandmother in the middle.  This was a picture posted in the Toledo Blade on February 11, 1990 and it listed this family as Grandmother Viney with the McCown family from 1905.

I am unsure of who the children are.  The article of which this picture came cited the Mott Branch library here in Toledo in regards to having a picture depository of African American Toledoans.  I plan on visiting there in the upcoming week in order to see if I can get a better copy of the picture and to see if any other names were noted in regards to the children.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH – A Brief History of Toledo Public Schools

The year 2016 marks the 90th anniversary of Black History Month.

Black History Month was started by  Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson and was initially called “Negro  History Week.”  Dr. Woodson was a devout scholar of the history of Africa and the African Diaspora and wanted to ensure that black people in America were knowledgeable about the contributions of black people, not only in this country but in the entire world and to humanity in general.

To further his aims of spreading knowledge regarding the history of black people, he and some of his colleagues and students started an organization called the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.  Today that organization is called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (or ASALH).  ASALH began in 1915 and today it issues themes in regards to Black History Month.

For 2016, the theme of ASALH is “Hallowed Ground, Sites of African American Memory.”  In honor of this theme I was interested in highlighting some areas and institutions that have been integral to black Americans of Toledo and as such I decided to focus on two items in particular – sites of the Underground Rail Road in Northwest Ohio and the role of education and specifically public education in Toledo due to one of black culture’s primary features being a desire for current and future generations to attain adequate knowledge needed to succeed in American society.

This post will focus on the Toledo Public School system and how it has been a trail blazer in the area of availability of public education for black youth and in regards to integration.

What we now know as the Toledo Public School system began in 1853.  As shown within the previous post regarding blacks in Toledo on the 1850 Census, there were over 40 black/colored families in the area in the City of Toledo during that time. Included within those families were 40 children 14 years and less in the city.  On the Census, only three of the black/colored children were labeled as having attended school in 1850.

Prior to becoming the city of Toledo or Lucas County, land was set aside in this area for the benefit of public education.  In 1785 and 1778, territorial law dictated that a square of land should be held for area public schools.

The constitution of Ohio emphasized a desire and a right to public education by including a provision in 1820 to allow local communities to collect taxes in order to provide educational opportunities to local children.

Early Toledoans also were interested in providing educational opportunities and so the first known schools were set up in the early 1800s in this area.

The first known school in Toledo was established in 1829 on the bank of “Ten Mile Creek” near the Ottawa River.  Another was set up in 1830 along “Mud Creek” near the present day Main Branch of the Toledo/Lucas County Public library.  Mud Creek was a branch of what all of us Toledoans know as Swan Creek.  In the mid 1800s, Toledo was a part of the “Great Black Swamp” and during the era when these schools were created, there were still areas, like Mud Creek that were yet to be drained and buried.  (An interesting aside is that some buildings in downtown Toledo still have sub-pumps working that are draining water from the buried creeks and swamp areas).  Classes were also held in 1835 in a wood frame structure located on Erie Street.  All of these schools were created prior to the establishment of Toledo as a city.

After Cityhood, Toledoans approved public funding to establish schools for white children of both genders in 1840, which was an innovative act being that females were not regularly allowed to attend schools in the United States at this time.  In 1849 the city established a Board of Education to oversee the public schools for the growing city.  A new brick school was built for white students on Lagrange Street on land donated by Jesup W. Scott and another was built in 1853 near Madison and 10th Street called Toledo High School and later Toledo Central High School.  This same year, the Board of Education included the education of black children in segregated buildings.

Due to the creation of new schools for white children, black children in Toledo begin to have classes held in the former wood frame school on Erie Street in 1853.  The city built a new school for African American children in 1858.  During that year 31 black children attended public schools in Toledo.

By 1871 Toledo fully integrated its public school system so all of the children attended the same schools.  There were a few pictures taken of early classes of students in Toledo in the 1880s in particular that I have reviewed.  I am always hoping to find one of my earlier relatives in those pictures due to having school aged ancestors in the 1880s.  Unfortunately, there are not many labels for the pictured individuals.  Some cute and interesting pictures of Toledo classes from the late 1800s and early 1900s are below:

stickney school 1888

Stickney School 1888 (5th Grade)

Stickney school 1888 1st grade

Stickney School 1888 (1st grade)

Fulton School 1894 4th grade

Fulton School 1894  – black child’s name is labeled as Lillie EASELY

Lagrange School 1916

Lagrange School 1916

Birmingham School 1926

Birmingham School 1926

As a result of the early integration of Toledo Public Schools, black residents in Toledo were able to receive the same education as all other children in this area.  A large amount of the junior high and high school aged children received a vocational education that would enable them to perform jobs during the height of Toledo’s industrialization and manufacturing boom.

During the 1800s, Toledo did not have as much segregation between different ethnicities as we see in the city today.  Many of the neighborhoods and the schools which today are more segregated based on residency, were not so prior to the intervention of local government and the creation of public housing which designated neighborhoods in the mid 20th century to either be “negro” or “white” developments.

As shown above, there were black students in various neighborhoods in Toledo in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Many of these areas are ones (East Side and North Toledo/Polish Village) that people today associate mostly with European immigrants, most notably the Polish for North Toledo and the Hungarians for the Birmingham neighborhood in East Toledo.  Though the black population was small, there have always been African Americans in Toledo in those neighborhoods and practically all others of the city.  Even though today people think of Central City as the neighborhood which is most important to the African American community, prior to the creation of public housing in that area, most black Toledoans lived amongst the Polish, German, Irish, and other immigrant populations.  There were pockets of black residents within all of the working class Toledo areas.  Many black Toledoans, including a large amount of my family lived in what is now the Warren Sherman area (especially near Canton Ave. and Woodruff Street near Cherry) and the Old North End .  Reviews of early year books and class pictures show a small, but constant amount of black students prior to 1900.

Unfortunately, I have yet to confirm that one of my relatives is in any of the early class pictures from the late 1800s.   Many of the pictures above I found via searches of the Google News Archive and’s records.  A lot of the actual year books held at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library of early Toledo schools do not label the pictures of attendees until they graduate high school and high school graduation was rare amongst all Americans during this time period.  Early yearbooks usually list all of the students in a particular grade on another page, but not under the picture like we see today.

Luckily, I do have some confirmed relatives from the early to mid 1900s that were labeled in high school year books.  I will gather and post those pictures on a later post in regards to providing information about using year books as genealogical resources.

In summation, education was highly sought by early black Toledoans.  Once public education was open to black students, families took advantage of these opportunities and African American residents in the area were much more highly educated versus black populations in more discriminatory areas in Ohio and around the country.  All of my great grandparents who were students in Toledo prior to 1930 all received high school diplomas at a time when completing high school was rare, even amongst white Americans.  Two of them also went to and completed college at the University of Toledo.




Difficulties of Slavery Research – Surname TRAYNUM

Thus far, on the blog I have primarily written about my maternal line due to their long roots in the Toledo/Northwest Ohio area. For the next month or so, I intend to focus some on my paternal ancestry and on some of my enslaved ancestors on my maternal side.

This post will primarily focus on the surname TRAYNUM and a line of my ancestors who migrated to Toledo during the height of the Great Migration period (1910-1960).

My great grandfather Talmadge TRAYNUM (1907-1984) came with his family to Toledo when he was only a teenager.  The TRAYNUM family moved here primarily for economic opportunities.  Prior to moving to Toledo, they lived in Anderson County, South Carolina.  This part of my family had lived in that county since the end of the Civil War.

Talmadge’s great grandfather’s name was Pinkney TRAYNUM (b. approx 1844, d approx .  In 1870 Pinkney TRAYNUM/TRAYNHAM lived with is wife Dicey TRAYNUM and 3 children – sons Lee (b. approx 1864) and Jacob (b. approx 1866), and daughter Hattie (b. approx 1870).  In 1870 Pinkney and Dicey lived in the same family with the JORDAN family headed by Laura JORDAN and two male children – Turner JORDAN and Patrick JORDAN (Patrick was listed as being “idiotic” which may have meant he was deaf, blind or had a developmental disability).  I have yet to find a connection between the JORDAN family and the TRAYNUM family.  I initially thought that Laura JORDAN may have been a relative of Dicey TRAYNUM but I am still unsure of the connection.

I am a descendant of this family through one of the youngest children of Pinkney and Dicey.  My third great grandfather, Robert TRAYNUM (b. approx 1873, d. March 14, 1933) migrated from Anderson County, SC to Toledo, Ohio as a part of the “Great Migration” of the 20th Century.

The Great Migration is considered one of the largest internal movements of persons to have ever occurred in the United States.   Over 6 million people participated in the Great Migration.  It was characterized by primarily rural black people moving from the Southeast to urbanized Northern and Western cities.

Though the Great Migration is a fascinating historical occurrence and will be the subject of the another post in the future, this post, will be about the difficulties of researching enslaved ancestors and some strategies I use to try to overcome the barriers in this sort of research.

So far, Pinkney and Dicey TRAYNUM, my 4th great grandparents are the earliest confirmed ancestors on my paternal line (my father’s father’s line of relatives).  I initially thought it would be easy to trace this family due to the unique surname of TRAYNUM (also spelled TRAYNHAM/TRAINUM/TRANUM/TRANEM/TRANHEM in various documents).

Boy was I wrong!  This line has actually been one of the more difficult lines for me to research.

When pursuing slavery research one has to have a calculated plan in my opinion.  My first line of tackling this portion of my family tree for ancestors prior to the Civil War was to do like I did for my maternal WHITFIELD/WESTRAY line and look toward court records, specifically probate and wills issued in the county where my ancestors lived in 1870.

In 1870 Pinkney and Dicey lived in Anderson County, South Carolina.  On the website there is a list of databases by state and usually every state in the USA has a section for Court, Wills, Land Claims, and Probate.  I looked into Anderson County and scoured through all of the electronic records for the TRAYNUM surname and all its variations.

The only one I found was for a man named Lazarus TRAYNHAM.  Lazarus TRAYNHAM’S will listed out his slaves and named his wife and children who he willed his property (including slaves) to via this document.

None of those names match Pinkney or Dicey, nor Lauren JORDAN.  Initially I thought that maybe one of the slaves had changed his/her name after obtaining freedom as this was sometimes the case with formerly enslaved persons.  They may have always gone by a different name amongst family and the black community whereas their owners may have named them a different name that was not used after emancipation.  So, I then checked the 1860 and 1850 Slavery Schedules to see if Lazarus TRAYNHAM had any slaves who were near to age of my ancestors.

Only one male was similar in age – Alex TRAYNHAM (spelled Alx in the will).  So I looked up Alex TRAYNHAM on the 1870 Census and found that he was listed separately from Pinkney TRAYNHAM so Pinkney definately was not Alex.

I reviewed all the other wills and probate information, tax assessors records (slaves were taxable property so this is always a good resource to review when conducting slavery research), and looked through both Family Search and vital statistics information for South Carolina.  All of this was of no avail.  I never found a marriage record for Pinkney and Dicey.  I have never found a death certificate for them either.  Dicey, was listed on the 1900 Census when she was over 70 years old so I was hopeful since she reached the 20th century, I would find something about her in particular, but I never have.

Unfortunately in many southern states, they did not routinely keep birth and death records until it was federally mandated by the government in the 1910s and so if Dicey died prior to that time, it would be hard pressed to find her information online.

I kept looking online specifically for many years for information about this family and am still looking to this day.

So as stated above, slavery research can be very difficult.  Some states, like Virginia have more online information published online (will write about Virginia ancestors in post next week), but no matter what, it is difficult and will be very time consuming.  There are a few tips I have found helpful in slavery research that are shared below:

  • Review probate and will indexes and online books (if you are not in the location where your ancestor was enslaved) to look up wills and tax records
  • If your ancestor was a slave on a large plantation, many times those plantations kept records of their business dealings and there may have been published a record of that plantation, consult with librarians and historical societies and see if you can look up a plantation history that may include your ancestor
  • Do some genealogical research on the white family who owned your enslaved ancestor, your ancestor may have been willed to a daughter who married, yet the slave kept her father’s last name after emancipation
    • On this, don’t hold any sort of crazy grudges about slavery.  Most people I know don’t, but it must be said.  Slavery existed and we can’t act like it didn’t happen.  People alive today are not the same people who owned your ancestor and they may be a useful resource in tracking down your ancestor, especially if they know of a genealogical sketch or book about their family

The most important tip is to be okay with not finding out any additional information on specific lines of enslaved ancestors.  As stated above, slavery existed and it was a system that did, indeed de-humanize individuals and not respect our ancestors as the people that they were.  Due to the attitudes and societal norms during those eras we have to come to grips with the fact that we may never know anything else about our ancestor’s lives beyond our furthest known great grandparent who was a slave.  I personally take comfort in the fact that their strength is the reason I am here today.  They did exist and I am grateful.  Be grateful for what you know about them.

Bill JONES – Basketball Pioneer

While looking up different topics to write about, I came across the Toledo’s Attics post regarding African American’s in Toledo Sports. In the basketball section, there was a short article about William (Bill) McNeill JONES who was a great basketball player from Toledo and one of the first black players to integrate professional basketball. Bill JONES was born in Toledo in 1914, which made me wonder if he was related to one of my JONES lines.  Bill JONES was a basketball star when he attended Woodward High School here in Toledo.  He also was a player for the University of Toledo and is currently in their athletic hall of fame.  After college he was on a team that integrated the National Basketball League in the 1940s which later merge with the Basketball Association of America and became the National Basketball Association (NBA).



Of course JONES is a very common surname, but due to the year of his birth being prior to 1920, I felt that maybe there was a connection due to there not being many black people in Northwest Ohio during that time period.

I also remembered that I do have a William A. JONES in my genealogy.  He is a part of the “other” JONES family in my ancestry.  As shared in the JONES/ROBINSON post, I have two lines of JONES families who are not related to each other.  Both of them are on my maternal line and confusingly, they married into each others families rather early on.  Harold WHITFIELD, whose mother was Martha (Mattie) JONES WHITFIELD, went on to marry Florence ROBINSON WHITFIELD, whose mother was Nancy JONES ROBINSON mentioned in that post.  So both individuals in this couple had mother’s who were from a family with the surname JONES.  I know, I know, it is confusing!!  But this post will be about the line of Martha (Mattie) JONES WHITFIELD.

Mattie JONES was born in Ohio in approximately 1865 (d. 1949 Toledo, Ohio).  Her father was John A. JONES (b. approx 1835, d. approx 1890) who on census records indicated he was from Mississippi.  Her mother was Amy BLICK(S)/BLECK(S) JONES  (b. approx 1846, d. 1903) who stated she was from Virginia.  This JONES family moved to the Northwest Ohio area around 1876-1880.  On the 1870 census the JONES family was living in Berlin Township, Delaware County, Ohio.  Delaware County is in Central Ohio and has an interesting history being that it was home to two union camps during the Civil War.  One for white troops and the other for black troops.  I have found some information linking John A. JONES with being a Civil War soldier in the US Colored Infantry, but I cannot confirm this as even halfway true due to the very common name of John JONES, I intend to delve into military genealogy hopefully later this year for all known/suspected veterans in my family tree.  In 1870, John A. JONES was a farm laborer and had real estate valued at $300 and had a personal estate listed at $200 in Berlin Township, which I felt was pretty rich for that day and time, especially for a black man.  Amy JONES stated that she was “uncertain” about her age, which lead me to conclude that she was a formerly enslaved person, though I feel both were more than likely former slaves.  As an aside, I am working on finding out more about Amy JONES.  Her maiden name was spelled horrendously on various documents pertaining to her children’s marriages and deaths but I am going to attempt to link her with a family in Virginia to conduct some slavery research and see if I can find out more about her.

On the 1880 census, the JONES family were living in Swan Creek, Fulton County, Ohio, which is in Northwest Ohio.  They were the only black family living in the county at that time according to the book mentioned in the JONES/ROBINSON post “Blacks in Ohio in 1880.” This was a book that listed all the black people in Ohio according to the 1880 Census.

John A. JONES was listed as a farmer on the census.  All of the children, except the two youngest William JONES (4 years old) and Hattie JONES (1 year old) were marked as having attended school within the year.  Neither John A. JONES nor Amy JONES could read or write.

According to Toledo city directories, this JONES family lived in the City of Toledo by 1886.  John JONES became a “drayman” the same occupation as Elias WHITFIELD who married Mattie JONES and became his son-in-law.

Due to John A JONES and Amy JONES having a son named William, I wondered if Bill JONES was the grandson of John A. and Amy JONES.  Further research into his background, using Bill JONES’ birth date and pulling up records for the 1920 census showed that Bill JONES was the son of William A. JONES and Jessie GATLIFF/GATLEFF JONES.  William A. JONES and Jessie GATLIFF/GATLEFF were married in Toledo on April 27, 1907.  Jessie listed her parents as John GATLIFF and Amanda GOENS/GOINS.  She was born in Ross County, Ohio.  William A. JONES listed his parents as John A. JONES and Amy BLICK/BLECK.  He was born in 1875 in Delaware County, Ohio!

So the basketball pioneer (William) Bill McNeil JONES was my 5th cousin!  Pretty far removed but for me, not by much in the genealogy world.

William A. JONES and Jessie GATLIFF/GATLEFF JONES went on to have 7 known children.  Three of those children had the same names as members of my “other” JONES family.  Bill JONES was named after his father William of course.  Bill’s sister Elizabeth was named after their aunt and Bill’s older brother John was named after their grandfather John A. JONES.

Due to their longevity in Ohio with a documented family history since the 1860s, the JONES family would qualify as a “Century Family” with the Ohio Genealogical Society.

I will also look further into the genealogy of Jessie GATLIFF/GATLEFF since she was from Ross County, Ohio.  Ross County had a pretty large, long presence of free people of color and GOINS/GOENS especially is a very familiar name for Ross County and warrants additional research.


Toledo’s Attic:

1870 Census –

1880 Census –

1920Census –

Ohio, County Marriages 1789-2013 –


Early Black Toledoans 1850 Census

After creating the post “Early Black Toledoans 1840 Census” I became interested in reviewing other early census records of NW Ohio and SE Michigan.

I perused both the 1820 Census and 1830 Census of Monroe County, Michigan Territory due to Toledo, prior to its official formation, being a part of Michigan until the conclusion of the “Toledo War” and the it subsequently became an Ohio city.

I also decided to look up the 1850 Census and see if I could find more black/colored residents who may have been listed on 1840 like the NICHOLS/NICKOLAS family of 1840. I’ll write more about (very interesting) findings on the 1820 and 1830 censuses on a later post and after additional information, but wanted to share the data I pulled from the 1850 Census on this entry.

The 1850 Census was the first which listed out every household member by name and age. For those who worked (particularly males) it also listed an occupation.

Other information found on the 1850 Census was the state or origin of every resident, whether or not the resident was married in 1850, whether the resident could read and write, or if the resident attended school that year.

I created a spreadsheet of the black/colored families listed on the 1850 census, which I will post on this blog in the future along with the spreadsheet I made for 1840. Hopefully this will give other genealogist and local historians more information regarding the earliest black Toledoans or just provide some interesting reading material.

On the 1850 Census there were 43 black/colored families listed with a total of 121 residents within those families.

As on the 1840 Census, not all people were actually African American, many were multi-racial and there were whites who had married a black spouse who I included due to them being a part of the 43 families.

During this time period, the City of Toledo was not the same size and distance that it is today, as such, I included different areas that now make up the city. I was unsure of a few of the areas that were listed and I will have to research them more and if there are any changes to this data in the future I will update this post.

Some raw information from the 1850 Census is as follows:


  • There were 54 resident labeled as “black”
  • There were 62 residents labeled as “mullatto”
  • There were 5 residents who were labeled as “white” who lived with black or mullatto heads of households
  • There were 50 females
  • There were 71 males


  • The average age of all individuals was 21
  • The average age of males was 19.26
  • The average age of females was 23.14
  • The oldest male on the 1850 census was William NICKOLAS  who was 59 years old
    • Remember, he was on the 1840 Census as well as a black head of household
  • There were two females who were the oldest females – Peggy CRUMMEL and Alice LUCAS were both 60 years old
    • Note – There was a white male with the surname CROMWELL on the 1840 Census who was tallied as having a black female aged 36-55 living with him in his home.  Peggy CRUMMEL may have been a part of the CROMWELL household of 1840.
  • There were two males who were the youngest male babies in Toledo – James AMBROS and James KINES(HINES) were both 8 months old
  • The youngest female was Sarah WILSON who was also 8 months old


On the 1850 Census the residents were listed by residence in Wards and in certain townships that now make up the City of Toledo.  In 1850 there were 4 Wards.  Townships which are included in this tally are Manhattan (now North Toledo/The Old North End), Washington Township, Port Lawrence (downtown), and Oregon (includes current Oregon and East Toledo).

  • Ward 1 contained 24 residents
  • Ward 2 contained 22 residents
  • Ward 3 contained 0 residents
  • Ward 4 contained 67 residents
  • Manhattan contained 8 residents
  • Oregon contained 0 residents
  • Washington Township contained 0 residents
  • Port Lawrence contained 0 residents


There were 17 states/countries listed that residents stated they were from.  Please note that during this era, Toledo was a part of the Underground Railroad system and as such, many black or mullato (mixed with black or lighter skinned) residents who may have been escaped slaves, would have been hesitant to share their state of origin for fear of being recaptured and sent back to slavery.  Other research material I have read regarding Ohio and Pennsylvania relatives indicates that lying about their state of origin was very common for escaped slaves and that many of them would not provide a location.  This can be seen in Toledo’s black residents of 1850 being that 11 individuals stated that their place of origin was “unknown.”  Residents on later census records I have reviewed changed their states of origin on later census dates.

Below are only listed the top 10 places that black/mullatto residents stated that they were from:

  • 31 individuals stated they were born in Ohio (this included a large amount of children/babies)
  • 11 individuals stated they were born in New York (this included the large NICHOLS/NICKOLAS family)
  • 9 individuals stated they were born in Canada
  • 9 individuals stated they were born in Michigan
  • 8 individuals stated they were born in Virginia
  • 7 individuals stated they were born in Tennessee
  • 7 individuals stated they were born in Pennsylvania
  • 6 individuals stated they were born in North Carolina
  • 6 individuals stated they were born in Indiana

Some locations of note are as follows:

  • 1 individual stated that he was born in Massachuesetts
    • His name was Harvey FIELDS, a barber by trade
    • The 3 oldest FIELDS children (William, Julius, and Robert) were the only black/colored children who attended school in 1850.  They were listed as born in Canada.
  • 1 individual stated that she was born in Ireland
    • Her name was Mary Ann CAMPBELL a white woman married to James CAMPBELL a black man from Virginia working as a Drayman
    • They had 3 mullatto children on the census (Castillia, 7; William, 5; and Mahala, 2)


As stated above, women’s occupations were usually not described on early census records unless they were heads of household.  Though there were some single women who would have been considered heads of household in Toledo, their occupations were not listed.  Not all of the men had occupations listed either even though in 1850 all men aged 15 and older should have had their occupations listed.  Two men had occupations listed as “none” – George FRENCH an 18 year old mullatto and William NICHOLS/NICKOLAS who was the oldest man in the black/colored community in Toledo in 1850.

  • 11 men stated that they were a Barber
    • Black/mullatto men who were barbers during this period had a much higher rate of socio-economic mobility due to being businessmen.  They were some of the most influential and well off members of the black community though not all had the same amount of prestige.
  • 6 men stated that they were a Cook
  • 4 men stated that they were a Waiter
  • 3 men stated that they were a Drayman
  • 3 men stated that they were a Laborer
  • 3 men stated that they were a Teamster
  • 2 men stated that they were a Porter
  • 2 men stated that they were a Painter
  • 1 man stated that he was a Cooper

Some of the more interesting occupations only had one man who worked in that position:

  • 1 man stated he was a Musician
  • 1 man stated that he was a “Reseller of Old Clothes”
  • 1 man stated that he was a Store Maker
  • 1 man stated that he was a “Recef”
    • I have seen this occupation before on old census records but don’t know what it is so I will have to do some more research on this one
  • 1 man stated that he was a “Gurny”
    • I have also seen this one but don’t know what it was.  Information I have come across inclines me to believe that a Gurny was a man who carried things around or was a delivery man of some sort

Some other interesting items taken from this research was that the most popular surname amongst Toledo’s black/colored population was WILSON.  There were 2 households with the surname WILSON.  The second most populous was NICHOLS/NICKOLAS as was on the previous 1840 census.  There were 4 households with the surname NICHOLS/NICKOLAS.

The lone black/mullatto family that lived in Manhattan/North Toledo were called the LEBLEW family.  I am thinking that this is a mis-spelling and it may have been a French name.  The male head of household’s name was Arvill/Orville and he was a mullatto who stated he was from Canada.  He could not read or write.  He was married to a white woman named Jane who stated she was from Michigan.  Their household included 6 children who were labeled as both white and mullatto.  Many times the skin color of the individual dictacted whether or not a census taker labeled an individual a particular race.  The older children of the family were labeled as “white” – Margaret, 15; Mary, 12, and Cyril, 10.  The younger children were all labeled as “mullatto” – Tabatha, 8; Francis, 5; Catharine, 2.  The older children may have had lighter skin than the younger children or may have had a different father who was white.

One individual would not provide their first name.  His last name was DEASE and he was a Cook.  He stated he was born in “unknown.”  His wife – Celia DEASE provided her name and that she was born in Ohio.  Mr. DEASE may have been a runaway slave hesitant to give out his information.  Mrs. DEASE, due to being born in Ohio was more than likely free born so would not have had to fear the release of her name like her husband.

There was a MANLY family listed as well, which was very interesting being that the same family looks to have become “white” by the 1860 Census.  In 1850 the MANLY family, living in Ward 2 of Toledo was headed by “mullatto” Levi MANLY and his wife Sarah MANLY with their 4 children.  By 1860 Levi MANLY was living in Springfield and was a farmer and was listed as “white.”  The entire family was labeled as “mullatto” in 1850 by in 1860 they were “white.”

UPDATE:  Another interesting tidbit regarding this census is the entry for James E. FRANKLIN and his wife Clarkie FRANKLIN.  The information found stated that Clarkie FRANKLIN was initially Cynthia PETTIFORD and that she married James FRANKLIN on July 12, 1834 in Wake County, North Carolina.  James E. FRANKLIN stated he was from North Carolina.  He was 39 years old in 1850 and was working as a Carpenter.  He lived in Ward 1.  Additional reading for pleasure on the Afrigeneas website stated  about this family as follows:

James E. Franklin & his wife Cynthia Pettiford were married in Wake County, NC per mar. bond dated 12 July 1834. By 1850, they resided in Toledo, Ohio. Three known descendants are Anne (1839), Bill (1856) and Sarah (1857).

Cynthia’s father William Pettiford served in the Revolutionary War

Another interesting tidbit on this census for me personally was that there was a WHITFIELD family on the 1850 Census.  As indicated in a previous post, I have a line of WHITFIELDs on my maternal side.  I am not sure if this earlier line of WHITFIELDs are related to me and more digging will be necessary.  My early ancestor Elias WHITFIELD may have come to Toledo due to having a relative already living in the area.  The 1850 WHITFIELDs were headed by John WHITFIELD and his wife Hannah.  Hannah and the oldest of the WHITFIELD children in 1850 were all born in Canada.  John stated that he was born in Virginia but he may not have told the truth if he were an escaped slave.  I have done some earlier vital records searches on the WHITFIELD family looking up my known family members and I did find out that two of the 1850 WHITFIELD children died and were buried in Toledo.  Jacob and James WHITFIELD were the only twins in the black/colored community of Toledo in 1850 and were 4 years old at the time.  Information I have found has shown that Jacob WHITFIELD was one of the known Civil War soldiers from Lucas County, Ohio.

Some information about his service is below:

Jacob Whitfield was the third child born to John and Hannah Whitfield in 1846 in Ohio. In 1850, Whitfield was residing in Toledo, Ohio, with his parents and four other siblings.

At the age of 18, Whitfield enlisted on September 8, 1863, in Lucas County. He was mustered in on September 20, 1863, at Camp Delaware, Ohio. He was described at 5′2″ with black hair and eyes. He was a laborer.

In November and December 1864 Whitfield was hospitalized and entitled to back pay and a bounty. From January to August 1865, he was detached to the division’s ambulance train. He was mustered out on September 20, 1865 having received his last pay on that April. Whitfield was due a $100 bounty, and owed a sutler $35.

There is no further information about Whitfield after he was discharged. He possibly died in June 1866 and was buried in Forrest Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio. Plot: section OC, lot 39, grave 199.


UPDATE:  January 2017 – there were no updates to this Census for additional persons with inclusion of different areas referenced in 1870 Census post.  However, notes regarding some individuals listed are as follows:

Toledo Ward 2 15 Price, B. A. 35 M Black Musician Illinois Mentioned in Warren AME History (
Toledo Ward 4 19 Rice, Henry 15 M Black Waiter unknown Mentioned in Warren AME History (
Toledo Ward 4 29 Richmond, Alfred 30 M Mullatto Barber Tennessee Mentioned in Warren AME History (


Below is a copy of the spreadsheet for the 1850 Census:

Family# Name Age Gender Race Occupation Birthplace Attended School Cannot Read Condition Ward/Township
1 Hall, William 26 M Mullatto Cook Unknown Ward 1
1 Hall, Eliza 37 F Mullatto New York Ward 1
2 Washington, Eli 0.67 M Mullatto Ohio Ward 1
2 Washington, Estera (?) 3 M Mullatto Ohio Ward 1
2 Washington, Henry 21 M Black Barber Unknown Ward 1
2 Washington, Josephine 21 F Mullatto Michigan Ward 1
3 Stanton, Nancy J 24 F Mullatto Tennessee Ward 1
3 Stanton, Henry 26 M Mullatto Barber Pennsylvania Ward 1
4 Frilds(Fields), John 1 M Mullatto Ohio Ward 1
4 Frilds(Fields), Anna 4 F Mullatto Ohio Ward 1
4 Frilds(Fields), William A 6 M Mullatto Canada X Ward 1
4 Frilds(Fields), Junius(Julius) 8 M Mullatto Canada X Ward 1
4 Frilds(Fields), Robert 11 M Mullatto Canada X Ward 1
4 Frilds(Fields), Harvey 35 M Mullatto Barber Massachuesetts Ward 1
4 Frilds(Fields), Jane 35 F Mullatto Georgia Ward 1
5 Mitchel, Jane 35 F Black Unknown Ward 1
5 Mitchel, ______ 40 M Black Cook Unknown Ward 1
6 Franklin, Clarkie 39 F Mullatto North Carolina X Ward 1
6 Franklin, James E 39 M Mullatto Carpenter North Carolina Ward 1
7 Nickolas, George 38 M Mullatto Painter New York Ward 1
8 French, Julia 16 F Mullatto Canada Ward 1
8 French, George 18 M Mullatto None Canada Ward 1
8 French, Spencer 56 M Mullatto Teamster Unknown X Ward 1
8 French, Mary 57 F Mullatto Michigan X Ward 1
9 Rolp(Ross), Robert 23 M Mullatto Labor Unknown Ward 1
10 Nickolas, Wilson 17 M Mullatto Painter New York Ward 2
10 Nickolas, Elizabeth 18 F Mullatto New York Ward 2
10 Nickolas, Edward 22 M Mullatto Drayman New York Ward 2
10 Nickolas, Marlon 24 M Mullatto Drayman New York Ward 2
10 Nickolas, Calvin 27 M Mullatto Carpenter New York Ward 2
10 Nickolas, William 59 M Mullatto None Virginia Ward 2
11 Anthony, Maria 36 F Black Maryland Ward 2
12 Kines(Hines, James 0.58 M Mullatto Ohio Ward 2
12 Kines(Hines), Mary 5 F Mullatto Indiana Ward 2
12 Kines(Hines), Sarah 25 F Mullatto North Carolina X Ward 2
12 Kines(Hines), James 31 M Mullatto Teamster North Carolina Ward 2
13 Manly, William 2 M Mullatto Indiana Ward 2
13 Manly, Roxana 4 F Mullatto Indiana Ward 2
13 Manly, Malinda 5 F Mullatto Illinois Ward 2
13 Manly, Obadiah 15 M Mullatto Tennessee Ward 2
13 Manly, Sarah 24 F Mullatto Tennessee Ward 2
13 Manly, Levi 45 M Mullatto Teamster Tennessee Ward 2
14 Crummell, Jane 11 F Mullatto Ohio Ward 2
14 Crummell, Peggy 60 F Black Maryland X Ward 2
15 Price, Albertina 1 F Mullatto Ohio Ward 2
15 Price, Louisa 3 F Mullatto Ohio Ward 2
15 Stanton, Harriet 18 F Mullatto Tennessee Ward 2
15 Price, Caroline 27 F Mullatto Ohio Ward 2
15 Price, B. A. 35 M Black Musician Illinois Ward 2
16 Wilson, Sarah 0.58 F Black Ohio Ward 4
16 Wilson, Robert 2 M Black Ohio Ward 4
16 Wilson, Maria 22 F Black Conneticut Ward 4
16 Wilson, Francis 24 M Black Barber Pennsylvania Ward 4
17 Nickolas, George N. 27 M Black Barber Virginia Ward 4
18 Williams, Harvey 19 M Black Barber Michigan Ward 4
19 Rice, Henry 15 M Black Waiter unknown Ward 4
20 Graves, Ann 28 F Mullatto Ohio Ward 4
20 Graves, John 31 M Black Porter Virginia Ward 4
21 Van Pelt, Louisa 24 F Mullatto Ward 4
21 Van Pelt, Henry 34 M Mullatto Barber New York Ward 4
22 Walker, Nancy 26 F Black Mississippi Ward 4
22 Walker, Elias 30 M Black Barber Virginia Ward 4
23 Williams, John 24 M Black Waiter Virginia Ward 4
24 Alexander, Thomas 38 M Black Waiter Kentucky Ward 4
25 Matthews, Benjamin 23 M Black Waiter Louisiana Ward 4
26 Coleman, Alfred 26 M Black Porter Kentucky Ward 4
27 Watkins, John 25 M Black Cook Tennessee Ward 4
28 Rivers, Frank 30 M Black Barber Ohio Ward 4
29 Richmond, Marcus A. 8 M Mullatto Indiana Ward 4
29 Richmond, Catherine 28 F Mullatto Pennsylvania Ward 4
29 Richmond, Alfred 30 M Mullatto Barber Tennessee Ward 4
30 Bartlett, Elizabeth 22 F Black New York Ward 4
30 Bartlett, Anderson 30 M Black Cook North Carolina Ward 4
31 Whitfield, Robert 0.83 M Black Ohio Ward 4
31 Whitfield, Jacob 4 M Black Ohio Ward 4
31 Whitfield, James 4 M Black Ohio Ward 4
31 Whitfield, John W. 5 M Black Canada Ward 4
31 Whitfield, Ann M 7 F Black Canada Ward 4
31 Whitfield, Hannah 22 F Black Ohio Ward 4
31 Whitfield, John 26 M Black Recefs Virginia Ward 4
32 Dease, Celia 25 F Black Ohio Ward 4
32 Dease, ________ 28 M Black Cook unknown Ward 4
33 Nickolas, Charles 25 M Black Butcher unknown Ward 4
34 Lucas, Alice 60 F Black unknown Ward 4
35 Buck, James L 2 M Black Michigan Ward 4
35 Buck, Alice 5 F Black Ohio Ward 4
35 Buck, Miles 6 M Black Ohio Ward 4
35 Buck, Alice 26 F Black Pennsylvania Ward 4
35 Buck, Miles 40 M Black Barber Pennsylvania Ward 4
36 Campbell, Mahala 2 F Mullatto Ohio Ward 4
36 Campbell, William 5 M Mullatto Michigan Ward 4
36 Campbell, Castillia 7 F Mullatto Michigan Ward 4
36 Campbell, Mary Ann (White) 31 W White Ireland Ward 4
36 Campbell, James 33 M Black Drayman Virgina Ward 4
37 Pule, Franklin 18 M Black Labor Pennsylvania Ward 4
37 Smith, Nancy 22 F Mullatto Canada Ward 4
37 Smith, George 25 M Mullatto Store Maker Canada Ward 4
38 Smith, William 1 M Mullatto Michigan Ward 4
38 Smith, George 5 M Mullatto Michigan Ward 4
39 Ambros, James 0.58 M Black Ohio Ward 4
39 Ambros, Julia Ann 23 F Black unknown Ward 4
39 Ambros, James 35 M Black Reseller of old clothes Pennsylvania Ward 4
40 Lynn, Mary 33 F Mullatto North Carolina Ward 4
40 Lynn, Henry 38 M Black Cooper Virginia Ward 4
41 Wilson, Charles S 2 M Black Ohio Ward 4
41 Wilson, Lovejoy 3 M Black Ohio Ward 4
41 Wilson, George H 6 M Black Ohio Ward 4
41 Wilson, Henrietta J 9 F Black Ohio Ward 4
41 Wilson, Cassandria S 12 F Black Ohio Ward 4
41 Wilson, Frances C 14 F Black New York Ward 4
41 Wilson, Julia Ann 36 F Black Conneticut Ward 4
41 Wilson, William H. 42 M Black Grower(sp?) Maryland Ward 4
42 Griswold, Daniel 25 M Black Cook New York Ward 4
43 LeBlew, Catharine 2 F Mullatto Ohio Manhattan (North End)
43 LeBlew, Francis 5 M Mullatto Ohio Manhattan (North End)
43 LeBlew, Tabatha 8 F Mullatto Ohio Manhattan (North End)
43 LeBlew, Cyril 10 M White Ohio Manhattan (North End)
43 LeBlew, Mary 12 F White Ohio Manhattan (North End)
43 LeBlew, Margaret 15 F White Indiana Manhattan (North End)
43 LeBlew, Arvilla 36 M Mullatto Labor Canada X Manhattan (North End)
43 LeBlew, Jane 39 F White Michigan Manhattan (North End)
Total Number of Individuals 121
Number labled “Black” 54
Number labeled “White” 5
Number labeled “Mullatto” 62
Number of Mixed Race Families (white wife) 2
Average Age 21.00206612
Average Age of Males 19.26760563
Average Age of Females 23.14795918
Number of Females 50
Number of Males 71
Age of Oldest Male (William Nickolas) 59
Age of Oldest Female (Peggy Crummel & Alice Lucas) 60
Age of Youngest Male (James Abros & James Kines(Hines) 0.58
Age of Youngest Female (Sarah Wilson) 0.58
Number of children who attended school in 1850
(Frilds/Fields) children in Ward 1.   Father was only Mass born resident.
Number Older than 15 74
Number 15 or Younger 47
Ward 1 Residents 24
Ward 2 Residents 22
Ward 3 Residents 0
Ward 4 Residents 68
Manhattan (North End) Residents 7
Oregon (East Side) Residents 0
Washington Township Residents 0
Port Lawrence Residents 0
Birthplace of Canada 9
Birthplace of Conneticut 2
Birthplace of Georgia 1
Birthplace of Illinois 2
Birthplace of Indiana 5
Birthplace of Ireland 1
Birthplace of Kentucky 2
Birthplace of Louisiana 1
Birthplace of Maryland 3
Birthplace of Massachuesetts 1
Birthplace of Michigan 9
Birthplace of Mississippi 1
Birthplace of New York 11
Birthplace of North Carolina 6
Birthplace of Ohio 31
Birthplace of Pennsylvania 7
Birthplace of Tennessee 7
Birthplace of Virginia 8
Birthplace Unknown 11
Occupation of Barber 11
Occupation of Butcher 1
Occupation of Carpenter 2
Occupation of Cook 6
Occupation of Cooper 1
Occupation of Drayman 3
Occupation of Grower(Gourny) 1
Occupation of Laborer 3
Occupation of Musician 1
Occupation of Painter 2
Occupation of Porter 2
Occupation of Recep/Recef 1
Occupation of Reseller of Old Clothes 1
Occupation of Store Maker 1
Occupation of Teamster 3
Occupation of Waiter 4
First Most Popular Surname – WILSON (2 households) 12
Second Most Popular Surname – NICKOLAS (4 households) 9

Early Black Toledoans 1840 Census

Though I haven’t posted here in a while, I have been, as usual, reading a lot about black history in Toledo both on the web and at the library.

I have been reviewing a lot of old census records in trying to find early Pennsylvania ancestors but it has become rather tedious and when I get bored, I decide to give myself a new tasks.

Due to there being a lack of published information regarding the earliest known black Toledoans, I decided to make a spreadsheet of all of the identified black residents on the 1840 census.

Both Toledo and Lucas County were incorporated in the late 1830s. As a result, the 1840 census is the first federal census that included Toledo and Lucas County.

Toledo was formed in 1836 by the combining of two towns already in existence here in the swampy area that was northwest Ohio. The town of Vistula was where the present day Vistula neighborhood stands, hence it being referred to as Toledo’s “first” neighborhood. Port Lawrence was where the current downtown of Toledo now stands. Cherry Street was the divider between the two towns. In order to increase their economic prowess, both towns decided to join and incorporate as the City of Toledo. Know one really knows for sure why the name “Toledo” was chosen, but Toledo it was and still is today.

Upon formation, Toledo was just a small city with a little over 1000 residents. Of those residents, only 37 were listed on the 1840 census as being “free persons of color.”

Please note that during this era a “free person of color” could be any sort of person that was not classified as “white” so we cannot know for sure if all of the 37 listed were black. They could have been “mullato,” which would be a bi-racial or multi-racial person, they could have been Native American or Asian or even Jewish or Irish depending on how the census taker classified different types of people. There were no strict guidelines and it was mostly left up to the census takers to classify as they desired.

The 1840 census did not list out all members who lived in a household like later censuses did. Only the head of household was listed and there were tally marks indicating how many people in that household of a particular age group resided in the home. Many of the free persons of color who lived in Toledo lived with white persons and so we do not know their names.

The names listed below were headed by a person who was a free “colored” person:

Phillip LEWIS- 3 household members
Edward SHOTO- 2 household members
William NICHOLS- 11 household members
Charles WILLIAMS – 2 household members
George WASHINGTON – 4 household members
John JOINER – 1 household member

The names in the following list were white heads of household who had free persons of color who resided in heir household and we cannot be sure of their identities:

N. W. LAWTON – 3 colored males in household between 24 and 36 years of age
Washington CROMWELL- 1 colored male between 24 and 36 years, one female 36-55 years, one female 24-36 years, one female under 10 years for a total of 4 free persons of color
Robert NICHOLAS – 1 colored male between 24 and 36 years of age
D.V. MORTON – 1 colored female between 24 and 36 years of age
C. H. Ryder – 2 colored males between 24 and 36 years of age
Robert SIMS – 1 colored male between 36 and 55 years of age
Peter LEWIS – 1 colored male between 24 and 36 years of age
Oliver WHITE – 1 colored male between 24 and 36 years of age

From the above figures one can see that the majority of Toledo’s earliest “colored” population lived in their own households (23 out of 37). The remainder lived with whites, probably their employers. Many black Americans and other persons classified as “colored” performed domestic servant work and many times would live with their employers.

For what its worth, I was happy I didn’t find any slaves in Toledo. Even though Ohio was a “free” state, a slave master’s rights were protected wherever he or she traveled and it is not unheard of to find slaves in “free” states or territories in census records of this era.

I looked up the heads of households labeled as “free persons of color” as detailed above and only found solid info regarding the largest of the families listed in 1840.

William NICHOLS was listed on the 1850 census as William NICHOLAS. The 1850 census had much more data than the 1840 census. He was still living in “Ward 2” of Toledo. William had a year of birth listed as 1791. He stated he was born in Virginia. He was still listed as a head of household and was listed as a “mullatto” living with persons who look to be his adult children all of whom were born in New York (Elizabeth, 18; Calvin, 27; Marlon, 24; Edward, 22; and Wilson, 17 NICHOLAS)

It was interesting reviewing all of this information as the period between 1800 and 1860 is of great interest to me at the moment for both Ohio and Pennsylvania history.  It was very interesting to see how much the population of Toledo grew between 1840 and 1850 on the census records.  There were many more pages in 1850 versus 1840 and even additional “wards” and “districts” enumerated by the census takers.

Maternal Genealogy – JONES/ROBINSON Families

Some of my earliest ancestors to move to Toledo arrived in Northwest Ohio between 1860 and 1870.

Nancy JONES was born in 1859 in Bainbridge, Ross County, Ohio. She was enumerated with her family on the 1860 United States Census when she was 8 months old.

Her parents were Mary JONES and John Wesley JONES who was listed as an “ME Minister” on the Census record. I believe that “ME” stood for “Methodist Episcopal. My maternal line have been members of Warren AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church for many generations.

Nancy was the youngest child listed for Mary and John JONES on the 1860 Census. She had two older siblings listed as well. Her older sister’s name was Martha JONES and her older brother’s name was John JONES Jr.

John W. JONES Jr. was the oldest child. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1852. Martha JONES was also born in Pennsylvania but in 1854. Nancy JONES was the first of the JONES children born in Ohio.

John W. JONES Sr. stated on the 1860 Census that he was born in Maryland. He was born in approximately 1805. Mary JONES stated that she was born in Pennsylvania in approximately 1823.

I found Mary JONES and her three children on the 1870 Census living in Washington Township, Lucas County Ohio.  Washington Township is now a part of the City of Toledo.   On the 1870 Census there was another JONES child listed who was a younger sister to Nancy JONES. The youngest JONES child was named Francis JONES and she was born in 1860. I believe that they moved to Northwest Ohio around 1866. The Toledo Lucas County Public Library has a death record for a John JONES in 1867 but I am not certain that this is “my” John JONES due to the common name. However, he is the only John JONES listed in the death records between 1860 and 1870 and I am 80% certain that this is “my” John JONES.

During my genealogical compilation for this family, I was faced with many odd, in my opinion, difficulties. When you start out doing genealogy, one should start from the most current generation and work their way back. Luckily, Nancy JONES did not die until 1950 so my grandmother and her sister (my great aunt, who is still alive) knew Nancy JONES and they were able to provide me with a decent genealogical link to her that was easily verified via the census record information contained within

My grandmother remembered Nancy as Nancy BAKER. She stated that Nancy, her grandmother, had lived with them for a time when she was a child. So going by that information, I looked up Nancy BAKER and basically hit a wall on this family that lasted for about 10 years.

In 2010 the 1940 census was released. I was not actively researching during that time due to regular life’s busy-ness so it wasn’t until around 2012 that I searched again for genealogical information. I looked up my grandmother on the 1940 Census since she was born in 1936. I thought it would be cool to have such a close link to historical information. My grandmother died in 2004 and I still miss her dearly and I was thinking of her at the time when I looked her up in 2012.

That query did pull up my grandmother, her siblings, including my great aunt who is still alive and their parents. It also showed that a Nancy BACKER lived next door to them which finally gave me a true connection to Nancy BAKER.

Many times on Census records surnames and given names are horrendously mispelled. Finding a Nancy, who was listed as approximately 80 years old in 1940 was extremely exciting for me!

From there, I found that Nancy had been living with a man named Stephen BAKER on the 1930 Census. At that time she also lived near my great grandmother. A big tip for people using Census records for genealogy is to peruse the entire handwritten page for neighbor’s names. Many times, people lived near their relatives or with their relatives and with today’s technology, if you search for a specific name, it will only provide you a printed, transcribed version of exactly what you were looking for so it is up to you to do additional digging.

After much research, I found out that Nancy was not originally married to Stephen BAKER. I had been looking for my 2nd great grandmother under the last name of BAKER due to thinking that BAKER may have been her maiden name. Instead I found out that Nancy was originally married to a man named James Edward ROBINSON.  Stephen BAKER was her second husband.

I found the death certificate of my 2nd great grandmother on familysearch’s database for Ohio Deaths. She died in 1941 from kidney disease. On her death certificate her mother was listed as Nancy JONES and her father was listed as James ROBSON. As with BACKER on the Census, ROBSON was written incorrectly. She was actually a ROBINSON.

This discovery allowed me to pull up all of the information regarding James Edward ROBINSON and Nancy JONES ROBINSON on Census records all the way back to 1900.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a solid marriage certificate for them. Due to Nancy being in Lucas County, Ohio on the 1870 Census, I know that she lived in this area. Lucas County kept pretty good records for deaths, marriages, and births long before most states started to do this consistently. I did find a marriage record for a James E. ROBERTSON and Amanda JONES for November 11, 1874. I am somewhat sure that this is James and Nancy ROBINSON. Throughout the years ROBINSON has been spelled in many variations including the following: ROBINSON-ROBSON-ROBESON-ROBISON-ROBERTSON and another crazy variation that I will speak of below, which caused another brick wall for me that lasted until this year (2015).

James Edward ROBINSON showed up in the city directory for the City of Toledo in 1876.

He death certificate states that he was born in Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania.  His father’s name was listed as Frank ROBISON and his mother as “Becky” only.

Upon further review of ROBINSON’S in Pennsylvania on the 1860 and 1850 census records, I found a James E ROBINSON on the 1850 census listed with his father Franklin ROBINSON and mother Ellen ROBINSON.  Even though Ellen differed from what was listed on James’ death certificate as his mother (Becky), I am 100% sure that Ellen was James E ROBINSON’s mother.  Many times the informant who fills out a death certificate did not know the name of the person who passed away.  Information I have found lead me to believe that Ellen ROBINSON may have died or separated from her husband Franklin by the early 1860s.  On the 1860 census, Franklin ROBINSON is listed with his son but this time the name was listed a Edward James ROBINSON.  On various census records throughout the years, James Edward was listed as Edward James.  I am certain that he was the same person due to always being listed with his wife Nancy and their children as either James E, James Edward, Edward, or Ed.  The switching of the first and middle name is actually what made me know 100% that this family was the ROBINSON family I was looking for.

I have yet to find any death records for Franklin ROBINSON or Ellen ROBINSON.  I did find an exciting tidbit regarding Ellen in an online scholarly article about the effect of the Fugitive Slave Act on blacks in Harrisburgh, PA, but I will save that for another entry.

Due to census records not providing much detailed information prior to the 1850 census, I am temporarily at another road block for this family.  An interesting tidbit I am currently looking into is the fact that Franklin, Ellen, and James E ROBINSON lived with Thomas and Dinah WATKINS on the 1850 census.  I am going to attempt to connect the WATKINS families with the ROBINSON family and I am hoping that they are relatives of Ellen and/or Franklin.

After moving to Toledo, James Edward ROBINSON married Nancy JONES.  They eventually had seven children – Francis (1876-1932), Edna (1880-1929), Edward (1884-1951), Florence (1892-1941), Fred (1894-?), Naomi (1894-?), and William Alton (1898-1917).

Florence ROBINSON was my second great grandmother.

James Edward ROBINSON died in 1910.

As stated above, Nancy JONES ROBINSON BAKER did not die until 1950.  She was 90 years old when she passed away.

One of the best finds I discovered just this year was finally locating James Edward and Nancy ROBINSON on the 1880 Census.  After searching through both electronic records at the library via micro film, on family search and via census records and via hardcopy 1880 census indexes at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, I was unsuccessful in locating this couple in Toledo or in PA or anywhere really.

I had decided this past summer to make a visit to the Newberry Library in Chicago since we make frequent visits there to see family.  I was initially only looking up a specific family that also was an early settler in NW Ohio – the WHITFIELDS.  I will write another post about that research later.  After finding the information I was looking for on the WHITFIELDs, I decided to look up other holdings of the library and they had a book which was loosely titled (going off my memory here, will edit later with the correct title) Blacks in Ohio in 1880.  It basically was a book that contained a list of all the black or mullatto or other “colored” residents in the state of Ohio on the 1880 census.

Within that book, I found all of my Ohio lines and due to there not being many black people in Toledo itself in 1880, I also saw a entry which listed a Nancy and Ed “BOBISON” who had older children who matched the names of the older ROBINSON children mentioned above.

I wanted to scream at the library!!  It was soooo exciting for me to see them in this book!  I had almost given up on this line and just chalked it up to not having any other way to research them.

Upon reviewing the 1880 “BOBISON” family it showed that they lived in a house with a Mary JONES and her children, John and Francis JONES.  This was how I found an entire new generation of the JONES family detailed above.

I am currently trying to connect the ROBINSON and JONES families to see if they both lived in the Harrisburgh, PA area.  Hopefully it won’t take another 10 years to find a connection.


The Story of Mrs. Hannah Davidson – Former Slave/Toledo Resident

The second formerly enslaved person interviewed by the WPA (see The Story of Mrs. Julia King) was Mrs. Hannah Davidson. Mrs. Davidson was approximately 85 years old at the time of her interview in 1937. She was interviewed by a person identified as K. Osthimer.

At the time of her interview, Mrs. Davidson lived at 533 Woodland Ave. Below is a picture of her home obtained from the Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s “Images in Time” collection. This collection contains many pictures of homes, businesses, and neighborhoods in Toledo from the 1800s forward. Mrs. Davidson’s home was photographed between 1937 and 1965 and the photograph was a part of a tax assessor’s records.

Hannah Davidson House

UPDATE:  I recently found a picture of Mrs. Hannah Davidson at the google news archives website.  She is pictured with another woman who is labeled as the “oldest members” of an organization.  I am thinking they were the oldest members of Third Baptist Church:

Mrs. Davidson is on the right


In the narrative, it was shared that Mrs. Davidson lived off of a $23 a month “old age pension.”  She was a boarder and rented a room in her home.  Many black Toledoans rented rooms as boarders or rented out rooms in their home for extra income during this time period.

Mrs. Davidson stated that her maiden name was Hannah Merriwether and that she had four sisters and two brothers.  Her parents names were Isaac and Nancy Merriwether.  She was born in Ballard County, Kentucky in approximately 1852.  She and her family were the slaves of Emmett and Susan Merriwether.

Mrs. Davidson’s story is dramatically different from that of Mrs. Julia King’s being that Hannah Davidson’s family did not come to the Toledo area via the Underground Rail Road as runaway slaves.

Mrs. Davidson stated that her folks were sold so many times that she “lost track” of them.  She also mentioned that she and her sister  Mary were kept over twenty years after emancipation by their slave master as slaves because the master would not let them leave.  She spoke of how she desperately wanted to learn to read and go to school but that the one black man who came to her county to teach “colored” people was beaten and run out of town by whites.  Mrs. Davidson eventually learned to read by herself with the help of WPA programs in the 1930s.

Mrs. Davidson reiterated many times about how hard she had worked her whole life.  She spoke of how one time she was so tired that she hid under a house just to take a nap and go to sleep because she was exhausted.

She also mentioned that her mother was the last slave to try to leave the plantation.  Her mother tried to take Mrs. Davidson as well but their master would not let the mother take her children.  Her mother was kicked off the plantation and Mrs. Davidson never saw her again.  Later on in life Mrs. Davidson forced her own sister Mary to leave the plantation by threatening her with a rolling pin.

Mrs. Davidson mentioned that “terrible” things happened to herself and her sister Mary.  She did not go into detail but it is well documented that female slaves were highly likely to be sexually assaulted and abused.

When she was 31, Mrs. Davidson stated that she married her husband William L. Davidson.  She stated that at the time of the interview, she only had one grandchild still living – Willa May Reynolds who was a teacher in City Grove, Tennessee.

Mrs. Davidson was a member of Third Baptist Church in Toledo.

My favorite quote from Mrs. Davidson was “I believe we should all do good to everybody.”

The idea that she maintained such positivity throughout her lifetime is a testament to the human spirit and is indicative of black American culture in regards to strength in faith and hope for the future.

I was very saddened and inspired when initially reading Mrs. Davidson’s narrative.  It is also interesting to compare the two persons interviewed in Toledo – Mrs. Julia King and Mrs. Hannah Davidson.  Mrs. King’s family escaped slavery when she was a young girl and so Mrs. King did not have to live with the trials of this horrible institution like Mrs. Davidson.  Mrs. Davidson did not get the benefit of being educated and thus could not obtain employment such as that afforded by Mrs. King’s background and subsequent work for the local government.  Mrs. King owned her home while Mrs. Davidson rented a room in  her old age.  The contrasts between the two women really do show how oppression and forced servitude and a lack of freedom can drastically reduce the opportunity afforded to one in their life.

The Story of Mrs. Hannah Davidson


William DAVISON/DAVIDSON born 9/8/1865 died 3/10/1920 ( – Ohio Deaths 1840-2001)

George DAVIDSON born 1898 in KY, lived in 1930 in Toledo, Ohio ( – 1930 Census) son of Hannah DAVIDSON

Wanda DAVIDSON born 1915 in OH, lived in 1930 Toledo, Ohio ( – 1930 Census) daughter of Hannah DAVIDSON

Hannah DAVIDSON born 1852 in KY, lived in 1930 Toledo, Ohio ( – 1930 Census)

Helen DAVIDSON died 1/18/1928 in Toledo, Ohio ( – Ohio deaths 1908-1953) wife of George Davidson