Monday, February 4, 2013

Mary Winston's Land

Finding the will of Mary Peachy Demyers Winston, my half 2nd great grandaunt, where she bequeathed 290 acres of land to her heirs in 1895 made me curious how Mary obtained the land. Since she was married, I was also curious why her husband Andrew was not a joint owner.

Mary Peachy Demyers Winston and her husband Andrew and their children were the slaves of Peachy Ridgway Taliaferro. The Winston family were named on the 1852 inventory listing of Taliaferro, her alleged father.

One of Taliaferro's desires in his will, after his death, was that all his slaves remain on his Spring Hill Plantation for three years and the proceeds from their labor pay his debts. After the debts were paid, the slave property was divided into three lots. One third of his property was to be given to his wife Sarah, one third to his eldest son Richard, and one third to be equally divided between his children Sarah and Charles. The slaves was named and divided. Mary, her husband Andrew, and their three children were named in Lot 3, Richard's portion of his father's slaves.

Andrew Winston's occupation was described as a farmer in the Copiah County 1870 census, meaning he farmed his own land or he farmed land owned by someone else using his own tools. Andrew is also named on the 1870 agriculture schedule. He farmed 35 acres of land, had 1 horse, 5 mules, 2 milk cows, and 15 swine.

Winston Family in 1870 Census - Copiah County, MS

Mary and Andrew made their first land purchase from Samuel J Morehead and his wife Amanthis. The deed for this purchase is puzzling. It is dated May 18 1878 but the terms of the deed are for the years 1867 - 1869. The Winston couple purchased 208 acres of land for a total of $960. They paid $100 down and were to pay three equal payments of $286.66, payable 01 Dec 1867, 01 Dec 1868 and 01 Dec 1869. The deed was filed 30 Jan 1880.

Deed between Winston and Morehead

Samuel J Morehead was named as one of two executors of Peachy R Taliaferro's estate. Apparently, there was a close bond between the two men. Taliaferro entrusted Morehead to oversee his estate for the benefit of his family. Did Morehead and the other executor Richard Henry Taliafero, Peachy's eldest son, help Mary Winston with the purchase of her land?

African Americans made great strides during Reconstruction. Mary and her family may have secured their land independently of help from outside the family. Cousins share stories of how entire families worked together. Parents, children, and the children's spouses would pool all their monies to purchase land. There were several people in the Winston 1870 household capable of work to pool money.

The Winston couple purchased 80 additional acres 20 Jan 1891 from J J Holiday and his wife Mary for $560. They paid $240 down and four equal payments of $80 due 01 Jan 1892, 01 Jan 1893, 01 Jan 1894, and 01 Jan 1895. The deed was filed 05 Feb 1891.

Deed between Winston and Holliday

J J Holliday died in 1838 per information found on the internet. In 1880, his widow was living in the household of her daughter Sarah Jane and son-in-law Isaiah Rembert. It is likely Mary Holliday or one of her children sold the land to the Winston couple.

The deeds of the Winston transactions indicate Andrew and Mary were joint owners of the land, Mary's will tells another story, she was the sole owner of the land. I didn't find a record where Andrew had relinquish his ownership. Whatever the reason, Mary and members of the community in which she lived, recognized Mary as the owner.

Samuel L Morehead married Amanthis L Harris 20 Oct 1840 Copiah County, MS. Samuel was born in 1807, died in 1891. Samuel L Morehead owned 45 slaves, trustee for minor, 6 slaves - Copiah 1860 Slave Schedule.
John Johnson Holliday married Mary Mangun Ainsworth 05 Dec 1825 in Copiah County, MS. He died 19 Jan 1838 in Copiah County, MS. John's widow Mary was found in the 1850-1880 census in Copiah County. Mary owned 11 slaves in 1860.
Richard Henry Taliaferro, son of Peachy R Taliaferro was the other executor to his father's estate. Richard owned 44 slaves in 1860


  1. Interesting. I need to do some deed research for my Turner family in Lowndes. I keep wondering how they got their land and how much there really was.

  2. Deed research may be a little dull for some but I think it can be interesting.

  3. Hi Linda,

    These are my ggg grandparents. Are we able to connect?