Early Virginia African Americans

Updated: May 14

While we research our newest project entitled above, we find that most Blacks who lived in parts of Louisiana originate from Virginia. This new Documentary will chronicle my journey to find out the history of "Morgan Hughes".


Joan C. Morgan (Slave Owner). My Great Great Grandmother Millie Baine was born in 1818 in Virginia (assuming she was a Slave). Abt 1843 or 1845 she gave birth to Gabriel (Gabe) and John Morgan (twins). The bible stated that the children were the property of the (Slave Owner). However, She is mentioned in some Census reports as being Mulatto.


Life in Early Virginia


From many of the documents I reviewed, life was different for the Black man and woman in Georgia compared to those who lived and worked in the Southern States like, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and the Carolinas. Virginia is a proud State. They kept many records. It was not difficult to trace family in Virginia. The migration of Early Virginian's to the South is amazing. When you read the Census many families stayed close. They were doors apart. The cousins might be right next door. But what I love is figuring out how everyone is related.


The Move to Tennessee


My Great Grandfather, Henry Swafford was born abt 1829 in Virginia. He is on the Slave Registry of 1860 (in Georgia) but he has not arrived in TN as yet. His owner's are Swafford's and the Worthington's are the neighbors along with the Billingsley's. The city of Bakewell and Pikeville are where Issom Hughes possibly originated. The town of Bakewell was started by Reverend Hughes (Slave Owner). Many of the slaves were heavy into religion as they had a master who preached to them every Sunday about how to be good slaves for their masters. Rev. Hughes had multiple son's who also owned slaves. There is a Hughes Cemetery in Chattanooga, TN.


My paternal 1st Great Grandfather was James Hughes and his wife was Harriett Porterfield. I find them FREE on the 1860 FREE Inhabitants list. They would have been overlooked as the Census worked did not follow directions. They were to mark ethnicity for everyone OTHER than WHITE. However, this worker marked all Whites as Whites and nothing for those of color. We had to compare names for 1870 Census to make sure we had the correct person, Interesting story, James Hughes was in the Confederate Army. On July 1, 1865 he is marked as "DESERTED". I found that to be the case for most Black men listed in the Confederate Army. I see that he joins the Union Army to help them spread the word that Slavery is over. Major John Adams is his sponsor. No mention of Harriett or James after 1870. They are lost to history.


Plot for the Hughes Family Slave Owners


The Move to Mississippi: "The Morgan and Hendricks" Migration (Maternal Side of The Family)


Gabe Morgan went to Mississippi around 1865 or possibly earlier. He was not a slave. His father made sure by making all of Millie's children FREE as she was. Gabe was a Hostler in DeSoto County MS prior to marrying his first wife who was Mulatto (Ella or Ellen Washington). Ella and Gabe had 6 kids before she left him to pass for White or Indian on the Oklahoma Reservation where she is rumored to have married a Mr. Kerr and had many children with him.


By 1900 Census Gabe has remarried abt 1880 and his first set of kids are all grown and out of the home. He now has 7 additional kids ranging from 18 to 2 with Missouri Short Morgan Douglas. It was difficult to trace Missouri as her children did not know that Douglas was her last husband's name and NOT her maiden name. It was discovered when I found Missouri Morgan's sister's (Harriett's Turley] Death Certificate. I find a hidden treasure. It stated she was born in South Carolina and her parents were James and Mary Short. So when I pulled the Census report for 1870 and, Missouri and Harriett were there with their other siblings whom I never knew existed. It is the only record of her siblings as they are lost to the world after that 1870. It appears this is when they moved to Mississippi as they were in the Panola, Mississippi in 1870.


The Moment of clarity came when I reviewed others on the 1900 Census of DeSoto MS. I found my maternal great grandma's father living down the street. He was listed as James Douglas Short with his wife (Mary Francis Short). I began to continue to dig to see what else I could find out about Missouri Short Morgan. I found a young man who was in the home with she and her sister and my grand uncles and aunts in 1920 living as an orphan down the street. It took a while to find out the correct maiden name (3 years). When her sister's death certificate finally became available. It told the story of who they were and where they came from I found that Missouri was not originally from Mississippi. She was born in South Carolina. Her parents came to Panola, MS when she was small. I found the census and her sibling listed.


By the end of my search I found not only did my grandparents come to Los Angeles in their migration the parents who were still living in 1920 also came and made this home Missouri's dad is buried in San Bernardino, CA and my grandma's mom (Pennie Williams Hendrix) also buried here a few feet from her children.







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