Until Further Notice
April 8th Monthly Meeting
Due to concerns over the coronavirus, the Charlotte Museum of History - and Olde Meck's Family Research Center (FRC) - will be closed until further notice. If you have any questions or request inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The April 8th Monthly Meeting has also been changed. Gerald Montagna has agreed to postpone this presentation of Medieval English Genealogy, Part II until May 13th, when we will work out a way to share it electronically.
In the meantime, David McCorkle will present a program on Using Maps for Genealogy on April 8th. This meeting will occur online via the popular ZOOM application. See the Events tab for details. We will keep you posted about further developments.
We hope you and your family will be safe during these difficult days and that the FRC will be able to re-open soon. Check this website frequently for current status.
Randell Jones Announcements and Flyers
Article From Davidson Family Book
Jim Williams has shared an exerpt from the Davidson Family book he wrote with his late wife, Ann. It illustrates an aspect of 18th century life not usually considered. We hope you will find it interesting during this time when we cannot gather to enjoy our family history quests together...
The Story of “Plum,” Slave, Freedman, Property Owner
Between 1778 and 1800 a negro man named Plum appears in the county records several times. His story illuminates the life of an exceptional man who was a negro slave and became a free black man and owner of property.
In 1778 Samuel Wilson died and left his son John “a negro man Plumb” among other things.
In 1795 John Wilson died at the age of 38. Having neither wife nor child he left his plantation and the bulk of his estate to his half-brother William Jack Wilson who was age 17 at that time. William was the youngest child of Margaret Jack Wilson, Samuel’s third wife. He had been born after his father’s death and, since his father did not know whether the child would be a boy or a girl, was left only a small inheritance. The rest of the family, and John Wilson in particular, probably felt that they should make a more ample provision for the boy.
The will also made a large and exceptional provision: “…except half of the orchard and the two fields … for the use of my negro Plum during his lifetime, and at his demise sd lands are to revert to the sd. William.” He also left Plum “a mare, a plow and tackling, my belled cow and calf, all my everyday clothes,” and “which negro I hereby set free from all servitude as a slave & the above articles to be at his own disposal with a red heifer … a ewe and lamb, six head of hogs … two pots, and my bed and two blankets … and I also give to Plum an axe and a hoe.”
In July 1795 a motion was made in court to admit the will to probate. One of his sons, David, and others questioned (“caveated”) the will and asked the court to order that John Wilson’s belongings be collected.
While we cannot know David Wilson’s motives, he was probably acting on behalf of his half-brother William Jack Wilson. At age 17 William was a minor and although the primary heir, had no standing in court. This may have been an attempt to disinherit Plum or it might have been an action to establish the legality of this unusual bequest. If the court found in favor of Plum the court record would protect Plumb’s interests if an attempt were made to overturn the will when William Jack reached his majority.
In October 1795 the question was put to a jury which heard witnesses for and against and found “that the deceased had a right to devise” and the will was admitted to probate.
Two years later the court ordered that Plum be set free:
Whereas John Wilson, Deceased, late of the County of Mecklenburg in the State of North Carolina, did by his last will & Testament emancipate and set free from servitude his Negro man Plumb, and whereas it doth further appear from the representation of sundry respectable persons that the Said Negro man Plumb is a sober, Honest, inoffensive, & Industrious person and that he is worthy of his freedom for Meritorious Services rendered to his late Master. Ordered therefore from the above considerations that the Said Negro man Plumb be emancipated and entitled to such priviledges & immunities as the Law of the State grant to those of Colour in Similar situations, and that the Clerk of the Court give a Certificate under the Seal of the County of Such Emancipation.
The book quoted above is Jim and Ann Williams The Davidson Family of Rural Hill, North Carolina; Three Generations of a Piedmont Plantations (Jefferson, NC, McFarland and Company, Publishers, 2020). It is available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble and direct from the publisher.
The 2020 Census Is Here!
You may have received a notice from the U.S. Census Bureau requesting that residents of all communities sign-in to their website and fill out a series of short questions to help complete the 2020 enumerations of people living in the United States. Genealogists love census records as they help document where their families were and when throughout the years. Additionally, the US Government uses census data to determine where and how to distribute funds for things such as schools, infracstructure like roads and bridges, and other public services.
If you have received your notice but haven't filled out the questionare online, please consider doing so before 01 April 2020. You can also login to their website at http://www.my2020census.org to get more information on the census and how your participation is so valuable!
Conversation with Kenyatta D. Berry
Olde Meck was honored to partner with the Charlotte Chapter of the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society to present nationally known genealogist Kenyatta D. Berry for a Conversation With Kenyatta, on February 12th. Kenyatta is a host of the popular PBS series, Genealogy Roadshow, an attorney, professional genealogist, and the author of the helpful research guide The Family Tree Toolkit: A Comprehensive Guide to Uncovering Your Ancestry and Researching Genealogy.
Ms. Berry answered questions posed by interviewer Heather Andolina about various topics including her personal genealogy experiences, tips for doing research, the particular difficulties of African American research, and the use of DNA testing in family history. She also answered audience questions and personally signed many copies of her book, which attendees purchased following the presentation.
Some highlights from Ms. Berry:
Newspapers are one of her favorite, underutilized sources.
A wonderful African American resource is the History of the American Negro and Its Institutions by A. B. Caldwell.
2020 is the 150th anniversary of the 1870 Census, which was the first census to enumerate former slaves by name.
To improve your results, study your history, especially for the specific counties you are researching.
The use of DNA in genealogy is currently like the Wild West. However, you never know what it will tell you.
Don't force relatives who will not open up about the past. Find other sources.
Her most rewarding experiences have been seeing the reactions of people when she told them new information about their ancestors.
Photos from Olde Meck's February 12th Meeting,
"Conversation with Kenyatta D. Berry:"
Navigating Mecklenburg County Deeds
Deed records can provide a wealth of information to fill out our ancestors' stories but can oftentimes be difficult to access. We are excited to announce an addition to our website which will make the process of finding valuable Mecklenburg land records easier than in the past.
As part of her internship for a course in her Masters of Library Science program at East Carolina University, Ann Martin, now an Olde Meck member, has recently completed a helpful video tutorial to walk users through the process of accessing the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds website. If you have Mecklenburg ancestors and have ever wanted to view old deeds and land transactions, this video will facilitate your journey.
Ann describes the basics of deeds, what they consist of, and how they can help with family research. She then provides easy to follow navigation through the Register of Deeds website using a specific example.
(1) Click Start Button below to begin. Be sure to view in Full Screen (icon at bottom right of video)
We hope you will find Ann’s video tutorial useful and search for the deeds of your ancestors. Please feel free to give us feedback on this new feature.
Organize Your Family History Research
At May's monthly meeting, Lynn Bancroft presented a program on methods to help us organize our family history. She discussed useful hints and presented a sampling of different charts which can enhance our research. Based on Family Tree Magazine’s 8 Habits of Highly Organized Genealogists, Lynn described how the following tips may be helpful:
- Keep the big picture in mind.
- Take charge of paper files.
- Go digital.
- Establish an organization routine.
- Take advantage of tech tools.
- Designate a workspace.
- Color-code folders and files.
- Create a kit for on-site research.
Lynn gave explanations of how to implement each of these habits and had copies of the charts she presented available for attendees to take home. Lynn's Research Organization Presentation is available to Olde Meck members who missed attending the meeting.
Monthly Meeting - Using Maps and Mapping Tools in Genealogy
It's great to find the exact location or at least general area where you ancestors lived on a modern map, but that alone is only part of the story. Please join us ONLINE on Wednesday, April 8, at 7:00PM to ...
Monthly Meeting - Medieval English Genealogy, Part II
Gerald Montagna returns to fill out the remainder of his study of English life from medieval times. At our October 2019 meeting, he focused on the upper class nobility and its structure. This new presentation will describe the common folks who lived during ...
Echoes of Our Ancestors - 2020 National Family History Conference
Learn new strategies, resources, and techniques to sharpen your family history skills at the NGS 2020 Family History Conference.
Beyond The Barriers, Sponsored by Olde Buncombe County Genealogical Society
Presenter Dr. Thomas W. Jones, a board-certified genealogist, award-winning writer & recipient of awards from genealogical organizations, will offer 4 sessions designed to help both beginning & experienced researchers find paths around research barriers. Topics include 1) “Building ...
AAHGS Annual Conference
The AAHGS Annual Conference is the largest international African American conference that promotes African-ancestored family history, genealogy, and cultural diversity by bringing together subject matter experts who promote scholarly research, provide resources for historical and genealogical studies, create a ...