Sunday, January 25, 2015

Not the Intention of Government to Give Land to Negroes ~ 1865

The Freedmen's Bureau had to squash the rumors of free land to former slaves and insure whites a Negro insurrection was not planned. Former slave owners feared an insurrection Christmas day 1865, to forcibly take the land.

Former slaves, in their new freedom, were encouraged by the Freedmen's Bureau to negotiate labor contract terms favorable to their interests.

Below is the Bureau's report from the area where my people lived.

Office Act'g Asst. Commissioner Bureau Freedmen
For Southern District of Mississippi
Natchez, Miss., Nov. 20, 1865

Captain Z. B. Chatfield
Sub Commissioner - Brookhaven

Captain"
On account of the general feeling of uneasiness that has taken possession of the minds of most of the white people of this District in regard to a negro insurrection and on account of the movement which appears to be contemplated among the negroes of leaving their present places of employment and seeking work on the banks of the river, I think that it would be advisable that you call a meeting of all the negroes on some particular day in each of the counties of your Sub District and make a speech to them, explaining that it is not the intention of the govt that the land shall be divided among them: that the govt does not intend to support any of them that they must depend on their own exertions for a living and that it is their best plan to contract for work for next year speedily as possible

Explain to them that the contracts are subject to your approval; that you will not approve any that you do not think are to their interests, and that they can more readily obtain work where they now are, and upon more advantageous terms than they can by going to any other place

In short, endeavor to prevent a movement of the negroes of this district from the interior to the river.

At the same time let negroes and whites understand that you do not favor the forming of any contracts with parties who have failed to comply with contracts the past year.

These are mere general heads. The main thing is to have a meeting and explain to them such things as you may think they have wrong ideas about.

After each meeting, make a report of it and its probable results.

Very Respectfully
Your Obt. Servant
George D Reynolds
Major & A. A. Comir. NFB
Sothern Dist, Miss

Sources:
Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-45832-31035-86?cc=2333768&wc=9L3S-92Q:1078469102,1078469101 : accessed 22 January 2015), Brookhaven (sub assistant commissioner) > Roll 11, Unregistered letters received, Jun 1865-Nov 1868 > image 18 of 214; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

The Black Experience in Natchez 1720-1880 by Ronald L.F. Davis

Image Courtsey of Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/92514996/

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Will not Sell Lumber for a Radical's Coffin

Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records are disclosing that some folks don't like change, even death would not bring a compromise. Making the Negro an equal in the political, economic and legal system of America was too much for some to endure. In the eyes of Henry Maxwell, Elisha Massey was a Radical. When Massey died, Maxwell would not loan tools or sell lumber for Massey's coffin.

I didn't find why Massey was accused of being a Radical. Voting for a Republican or voicing an opinion of equal rights would have been enough to put him in the hot seat with his neighbors.

Read below how it was recorded in the Freedmen's Bureau records.
September 12 1868

Died Elisha Massey an old citizen, 78 years, of Lawrence Co., Miss. on Fair River about 1/2 way to Monticello died on the 4th inst.

Henry Maxwell also an old citizen refused to lend tools with which to make Massey a coffin because Massey was a radical & also refused to sell the lumber (having a sawmill) for the coffin.

These two men do not connect to my family.

Source:
Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-45819-4954-45?cc=2333768&wc=9L33-MNR:1078469102,1078469104 : accessed 15 January 2015), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 78 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d

Photograph Courtsey of Library of Congress

Sunday, January 11, 2015

You Have One Week to Leave
1868

Reading accounts in the Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, for the area where my people lived, has revealed a pattern of firing folks close to harvest. If there was a valid reason for the firing or if the individual left without permission, they would not be paid per the rules established by the Freedmen's Bureau. Once the bulk of the work had been completed and the crop was near harvest, a thieving land owner could easily come up with a reason to fire his workers.

Esquire Thurston's case was different, the landowner he worked for didn't dismiss him. The "angels," who may had permission of the land owner, demanded Thurston leave. Thurston had worked from January to August. He probably wouldn't share in the harvest if he left, which is why he took his case to the Freedmen's Bureau.

In all cases of dismissal or voluntarily quitting plantations, the laborer forfeits all unpaid wages, and his family or dependents will be dismissed at the discretion of the manager.
Freedmen's Bureau Labor Contract Rules

The Ku Klux Klan was established around 1866. Their growth fed off white southerners resentment that centered on the Reconstruction programs imposed on the South by a Republican Congress.

Here is how Thurston's case was recorded in the Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records.
Brookhaven, Miss
Aug 27 1868

Esquire Thurston col'd states & shows contract. He is at work for Thos W East on his (East's) farm in Copiah Co...8 miles from here between the Liberty & Gallaton Road & that on last Thursday night - a party of 5 calling themselves Angels came to his house (10 or 11 o'clock) & told him to leave. He could have one week to get away.

He is working for 1/2 the crop.

Esquire Thurston is not connected to my family.

Source:
Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-45819-4984-53?cc=2333768&wc=9L33-MNR:1078469102,1078469104 : accessed 11 January 2015), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 75 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Title: Visit of the Ku-Klux / drawn by Frank Bellew.
Creator(s): Bellew, Frank, 1828-1888, artist
Date Created/Published: 1872.
Medium: 1 print : wood engraving.
Summary: African American woman cooking, man seated alongside, and three children, with man from Ku Klux Klan aiming rifle in doorway.
Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-127756 (b&w film copy neg.)
Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: Illus. in AP2.H32 1872 (Case Y) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Don't Care for Dammed Yankees
1868

The Radicals, Republican party, made efforts to change the political, economic and legal systems of the southern states who had succeeded from the Union. Pepper Smith had no intentions of supporting Radicals and he made sure the people who cultivated his land wouldn't vote for the Radical ticket. Frank Baggett and the other men chose not to vote so they could maintain their jobs and keep their families fed, although they were still fired.

Frank Baggett, Mat Christmas and four other men had a labor contract, dated January 1868, with Pepper Smith near Monticello, MS. The men were to be paid half of the crop. Smith fired the men in July 1868 because of their political views. Smith said "he cared for none of the God dammed Yankees," and would not cooperate with the Freedmen's Bureau.

Here is how it was recorded in one of the reports in the Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records.

Frank Baggett and Mat Christmas (col'd) ? says they were in the fields plowing on Wednesday 23 June & Mr Smith came & had a long talk with them about the coming election. He told them, among other things, that anyone who voted against him to take his rights away could not cultivate his land. Frank replied as they were all dependent on him (Pepper Smith) for rations & little children to provide for, they would not vote at all rather than have any unpleasantness between them.

Neither Frank or Mat voted at all in order to please Mr Smith, although Judge Baggett (who once owned Frank) assured Frank that he had a right to vote as he pleased & could not be hurt.

Six men in all were discharged. All were taken back save these two: Frank & Mat.

In 1868, Frank's family consisted of a wife Tish, and their children: Ann, Ellen, Sam, M a female child, Silas, and William.

How does Frank Baggett connect to my family?
Frank's grandson Issie Baggett married Arie Demyers.
Arie was the daughter of Lawrence Demyers and Sally Miller.
Lawrence Demyers was the brother of my gggrandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher.

SOURCES:
Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-45819-4957-56?cc=2333768&wc=9L33-MNR:1078469102,1078469104 : accessed 5 January 2015), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 65 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-45819-4919-50?cc=2333768&wc=9L33-MNR:1078469102,1078469104 : accessed 5 January 2015), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 67 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C

Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-45832-31636-53?cc=2333768&wc=9L3S-92S:1078469102,1078468007 : accessed 8 January 2015), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 11, Registered letters received, Nov 1867-Aug 1868 > image 208 of 265; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Frank Baggett Cared for Soldiers' Widows
and Families

The men associated with my family received pensions based on their service as body servants in a Confederate regiment. Frank Baggett did not. He made application for a pension because he cared for the soldiers' widows and their families from 1861 to 1865 under the supervision of his old master, William Pickens Baggett.

Pension for body servants were decided by local county boards, by people who knew many of the men requesting pensions. Tho, Frank did not leave home to serve, he did get a pension for his services.

Frank was born about 1833. He was married to Tish, a woman he likely married before the Civil War. They had several children, the first one was born about 1856.

How does Frank connect to my family?
Frank's grandson Issie Baggett married Arie Demyers.
Arie was the daughter of Lawrence Demyers and Sally Miller.
Lawrence Demyers was the brother of my gggrandmother Alice Demyers Overton Usher.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 Not a Good Year

Between you, me and the gate posts, 2014 was not a good year. The year begun with my mother's hospitalization in the final stage of Alzheimer's, and ended with my husband in the hospital being treated for acute kidney disease. Time was spent in three different hospitals, a nursing and funeral home.

My mother's death, daughter's two miscarriages, grandson's pneumonia are behind us in 2014. Looming ahead is my husband's acute kidney disease and a diagnosis of autism for my grandson; the everyday responsibility of loving a daughter with schizophrenia.

37 Paddington expressed so well my thoughts on 2014.

One day at a time is my new mantra. Rejoice in today's goodness. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Breathe.

Monday, December 29, 2014

William Millsaps Discharged Rachael Rice
1868

Former slaves transiting to freedom made labor contracts with land owners. Those labor contracts had rules expected to be honored by the freedmen. If one of the rules was broken, the laborer could be dismissed without pay.

For impudent, profane or indecent language to or in the presence of employer, manager or the families, quarreling, fighting, stealing, disobedience, willful neglect of duty, quitting work without permission and offenses of the like serious character, the laborer will be carried before a Magistrate or other proper officer, for punishment all expense, loss of time, &c., will be charged against the laborer. In all cases of dismissal or voluntarily quitting plantations, the laborer forfeits all unpaid wages, and his family or dependents will be dismissed at the discretion of the manager.
Freedmen's Bureau Labor Contract Rules

Rachael Rice worked for the prominent Copiah County Millsaps family. She was to work for shares of the crops produced. Rice probably signed her contract with William Millsaps in early January 1868 , and when she was dismissed had worked about eight months. Millsaps gave Rice a blow to the head which required medical attention from Millsaps' son-in-law, Dr Robert Jacob Durr. Rice lost her job after she told Dr Durr who abused her.

Here is how Rice's case was described in the Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records.
Aug 24 1868

Rachael Rice (col) lives with Wm Milsaps about 20 miles from B'haven near Pleasant Valley Church (P. O. Pine Ridge, Copiah C.) states she has been working with him for shares crop this year, (5 hands in all) were to have 1/4 corn & 1/2 cotton, he was to furnish land, ?, & c, & furnish them in rations. __ Milsaps has now discharges her because she informed his son in law - Dr Durr M has struck her on the head last June with a stick. __ She was obliged to tell Dr Durr as he was attending her for the results of her blow & asked her what started it with Milsaps.

How does Rachel Rice connect to my family?
Rachel Rice does not connect to my family.
The doctor attending Rice was the son of Michael Durr, the slave owner of my 2nd great grandfather Josephus Durr. According to the 1860 Simpson County Slave Schedule, Michael Durr owned 62 slaves, his son Robert Jacob owned one slave.

SOURCE
Mississippi, Freedmen's Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-45819-4959-50?cc=2333768&wc=9L33-MNR:1078469102,1078469104 : accessed 29 December 2014), Brookhaven (subassistant commissioner) > Roll 12, Register of contracts, Jun 1865-Oct 1867 > image 74 of 101; citing NARA microfilm publication M1907, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.