As was shared in the post regarding basketball legend William (Bill) McNeil JONES, his parents were William A. JONES and Jessie L. GATLIFF. Both the JONES and GATLIFF families lived in the Toledo area prior to 1900 before the Great Migration got into full swing and the black population of Toledo swelled like many other Midwest industrial centers.
I thought it would be interesting to explore some of the families of early black/colored Toledoans and due to my curiosity regarding those families from my transcriptions of the 1840 through 1900 census information (I am currently working to transcribe the 1900 census). Unlike other persons I mentioned in this blog, a majority of these other black/colored individuals and families weren’t well known in the community. However, the history of regular people’s lives is just as important and interesting as more well known persons and a review of the family of Jessie GATLIFF is well worth sharing some information.
Jessie L. GATLIFF/GATLEFF was born in Chillocothe, Ohio in approximately 1882. Her parents were John H. GATLIFF/GATLEFF Jr. and Amanda GOINS/GOINGS/GOENS. She was the second of three children born to John Jr. and Amanda. She was the middle child between older brother Clark and younger brother Everett James.
The GATLIFF/GATLEFF family had lived in Chillicothe since approximately 1870. John H. GATLIFF/GATLEFF Jr. was originally born in Rockcastle County, Kentucky and was the son of John H. GATLIFF Sr (1823-1910) and Cynthia GATLIFF (1824-1913). This couple threw me for a few loops in researching them due to both Cynthia and John Sr. having the same surname. A review of Milton GATLIFF/GATLEFF’S death certificate – a son of John Sr. and Cynthia, and due to a clue revealed in a book about Cynthia’s mother Rose, it was shown that John Sr. took the surname of his wife when they were married. Due to that, I have not been able to track his family back further than John Sr. On his death certificate, shown below, his parents were unknown.
Cynthia GATLIFF/GATLEFF was also born in Kentucky in approximately 1824. Her mother Rose GATLIFF/GATLEFF was held as a slave and had to sue for her freedom in the courts of Kentucky. It took her nearly 20 years but she was eventually set free. As a free woman, she was enumerate on the 1850 census in Rockcastle County, Kentucky with some of her children and grandchildren. Rose was born in Virginia in approximately 1772 and was the daughter of a “mullatto” allegedly of mixed European and Native ancestry. She was described as having blond hair and blue eyes. Her case was based upon her stating that her mother was a native American and therefore she could not be held as a slave. In the late 18th century, indigenous people were no longer considered slaves and if she had been born to a Native mother, she would automatically be free. According the book “Rose, a Woman of Color: A Slave’s Struggle for Freedom in the Courts of Kentucky,” by Arnold Taylor, Rose, through her attorneys claimed that she was made a slave through illegal maneuvering. Jenny, Rose’s mother thought that she was putting Rose into an indentured servitude period, it was Rose and her attorney’s position that instead, Rose was instead enslaved. Documents were drawn up labeling her as a slave. The prosecutors alleged that due to the records of Virginia, as they discovered paperwork that supported that Rose was sold as a slave as a girl, that she was indeed a slave. They also alleged that her mother Jenny was not a Native American and instead a mullato with some negro ancestry. Many witnesses were brought forth for both Rose’s and the state’s case. Her attorney’s position was, that of course the persons who profited off of Rose would take advantage of her position as a mullatto child of Indian and white ancestry and make her a slave for their benefit, so the jury should not accept that the documents of Rose’s alleged status as a slave should be believed.
The book above was very interesting and gave a good genealogical account of Rose’s family, including her mother Jenny and her suspected father who was a white man that Jenny worked for. It also discussed that one of Rose’s daughters – Nancy GATLIFF/GATLEFF had been freed due to winning a case in Indiana, whereas her owner had taken her to that “free” state for more than 6 months and left her there. Nancy also won her case. One of the arguments against Rose, ironically was that since Nancy was freed due to Indiana’s laws regarding slaves, that Rose herself, must legally be a slave and not eligible to be freed based on her mother’s ancestry. Rose GATLIFF/GATLEFF died died a free woman around 1870 and at that time most of her children moved to Ross County, Chillicothe, Ohio including Cynthia and John Sr.
Due to John Jr. and Amanda being listed on the 1880 Census in Ross County, City of Chillicothe and because both Jessie L, born in 1882 and Everett, born in 1885 had birth records on file in Ross County, it can be determined that John Jr. did not move away from Ross county until after 1885.
John Jr. was one of 10 known children of John Sr. and Cynthia GATLIFF/GATLEFF. Two of his brothers – James and Frank GATLIFF showed up in the Toledo City Directory in 1892 and 1895. By 1900, John Jr. and his sons Clark and Everett GATLIFF/GATLEFF were living in Toledo. Clark GATLIFF was also listed in the city directory in 1899 so we can conclude that members of the GATLIFF family moved to Toledo between 1890 and 1900.
Per the census document below, John Jr., Clark and Everett were living in a boarding house in 1900 located at 132 N. Erie Street. That address is now a parking lot located near the corner of Erie and Jefferson Ave in downtown Toledo. In 1900 John Jr. was working as a laborer. His oldest son Clark was a Porter in a barber shop while younger brother Everett, who was only 14, had “At School” listed as his occupation. By 1910, Jessie was also living in Toledo and was married to William JONES.
1900 CENSUS – GATLIFF/GATLEFF
There was never a record of Amanda GOENS/GOINS GATLIFF in Toledo and I have yet to find a death certificate for her. John Jr. re-married in 1914 to a woman named Martha YOUNG. He is last found in genealogical records on the 1920 census where he lived with his second wife Martha. John Jr. died in Toledo in 1921. His last known residence was 580 Norwood Ave, which was listed as his residence on both the 1920 census and his death record in 1921. That address currently is just an empty lot very close to interstate 75 in Toledo and the home probably was demolished to make way for the freeway.
John Jr.’s daughter Jessie GATLIFF married one of my 4th great uncles – William Allen JONES on April 27, 1907. Together they had nine children, eight lived to adulthood. Both Jessie and William were active members of Toledo’s black community from the early 1900s until their deaths in the 1950s. Jessie’s obituary labeled her as a “Church and Organizational Leader” and listed the many organizations that she worked and lead during her lifetime. Her obituary is listed below. She died on April 18, 1959:
As stated earlier, Jessie was the mother of William (Bill) McNeill JONES one of the first black basketball players who integrated professional basketball. Her youngest child – Elizabeth JONES WILSON died in Toledo in October of 2014.
Additional information regarding the brothers of Jessie GATLIFF JONES was also discovered, including an obituary of Everett James GATLIFF whose daughter Dorothy GATLIFF BROWN was hired as one of Toledo’s first black female police officers in 1946.
Below is a lint to a short family tree of the GATLIFFs. Please note that these particular descendants of Rose GATLIFF/GATLEFF are the Toledo branch. If there is any inquiries about this family please email me for a complete tree at email@example.com
GATLIFF family link
1850 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed on 3/3/2017 (Household of Maragret GATLIFF)
1860 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed on 2/26/2017 (Household of Cynthia GATLIFF)
1870 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed on 2/26/2017 (Household of John GATLIFF)
1880 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed on 2/26/2017 (Household of John GATLIFF)
1900 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed on 2/26/2017 (Household of John GATLIFF)
1900 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed on 3/31/2017 (Household of Albert SPEAD – boarding house)
1910 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed on 2/26/2017 (Household of Cynthia GATLIFF)
Ohio Deaths 1908-1953, via familysearch.org; accessed 2/26/2017 – death record of Cynthia GATLIFF
Ohio Deaths 1908-1953, via familysearch.org; accessed 2/26/2017 – death record of John GATLIFF Sr.
1910 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed on 11/15/2016 (Household of William JONES)
1920 US Census, via familysearch.og; accessed on 3/31/2017 (Household of John GATLIFF Jr.)
1920 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed on 11/15/2016 (Household of William JONES)
Ohio Deaths 1908-1953, via familysearch.org; accessed 2/26/2017 – death record of John H. GATLIFF Jr.
Michigan Marriages 1868-1925, via familysearch.org; accessed 2/26/2017 – marriage record of John H. GATLIFF Jr and Martha A YOUNG.
Ohio County Marriages 1789-2013, via familysearch.org; accessed 11/15/2016 – marriage record of William A. JONES and Jessie L. GATLIFF
1930 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed 11/15/2016 (Household of William JONES)
1940 US Census, via familysearch.org; accessed 11/15/2016 (Household of William JONES)
Toledo Blade Obituary Index, via Toledo Lucas County Public Library 2/28/2017; Jessie L JONES published April 20, 1959
Toledo Blade Obituary Index, via Toledo Lucas County Public Library 2/28/2107; Everett James JONES published January 20, 1953
Toledo Blade; “Blazing a Trail” published 2/26/2003