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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.