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Monday, March 31, 2014

52 Ancestors #13: Dafull's Story

Lester Fuller (March 31, 1901 – May 20, 1987)

Monday, March 31st, 2014, marked my maternal grandfather, Lester Fuller’s 113th birthday.  Lester, affectionately called “Dafull” by his grandchildren, died in 1987 at the age of 86 after a battle with prostrate cancer. I like to think that on the day Dafull was born; March went out like a lamb because he was a quite, courteous, mild manner, man.

Dafull ‘s parents (Hattie Vick Fuller and Willie Barnes) were not married when he was born so he got his last name from his step-father, Arthur Fuller.  Dafull did not lack from love because his step-father’s family embraced him as one of their own always calling him “Cuzin Fuller” or “Cuzin Les” and his father’s wife, Cora Darden Barnes, she once told Mom to call her “grandmother.”  I also believe that Willie Barnes loved Hattie because he named his twin daughters who were born in 1926: Hattie Lee and Cora Lee. 

Cora and Willie Barnes and Dafull.
To me, these two pictures show that Dafull and his father look like twins.

Like a lot of families, Dafull’s family was unique; his father and Ms. Cora had 13 children; Hattie and Mr. Arthur had 7 children with 3 dying during infancy.

In 1987, Dafull's four sisters visited with him.
This would be the last time they would all be together.

In 1919, Dafull married Classie Virginia Pate (“Mafull”) and in 1925, their only child was born, my mother.

Dafull and Mafull, on their wedding day in 1919.

Dafull was an auto mechanic for over 60 years. He retired in the late 1970s and stop “fixing” folks cars and trucks in the early 1980s which was around the time that he was diagnosed with cancer.  He loved cars, in fact, whenever my brothers would come home, you would find Dafull sitting in their car and/or looking under the hood. Besides his family and cars, he loved baseball, especially the “Cincinnati Redlegs”.

Dafull in background at the Ford Dealership in Fremont, NC.
The two white men are unknown.
Perhaps, one is his employer, Paul C. Blaylock.

Dafull unfortunately didn’t celebrate his birthdays like most people.  Mom said that birthday parties were off limits because he didn’t want a celebration but he did want an upside down pineapple cake. Mom didn’t find out why he didn’t want a birthday party until a few years before he died.  He told Mom that his mother died on his 15th birthday.  Mom said that Dafull told her that Grandma Hattie bleed to death but he didn’t tell Mom the circumstances.  Dafull said his Mom had been bleeding and he knew it was real bad so he asked his employer, if he could use his car to take Grandma Hattie to the doctor.  His boss said no but that Dafull could use the mule and buggy. Well, Dafull first had to get the mule and buggy which was located about a ½ mile away but when he return home, his mother was dead.  I don’t know why Dafull kept his secret for so long but I’m thankful that he told Mom before he left this earth. 

A few years ago when I was searching for Hattie’s grandmother’s will; I found a petition filed by Hattie’s husband Arthur.  Arthur had filed on behalf of Hattie’s children. The document listed all Hattie’s children including a Wilbur Fuller.  Mom and I were puzzled because we had never heard of Wilbur and Mom said that “Daddy didn’t have a brother name Wilbur.”  Simultaneously, something special happened; it was the year that released more death certificates for North Carolina. I found Hattie’s death certificate which confirmed that she died on Dafull’s birthday.  I also found Wilbur’s death certificate.  He was a baby and he was 4 months old when he died which meant he died 3 months after Hattie.  Hattie had died as a result of childbirth and her death was obviously painful for my grandfather because he lost his mom on his birthday and because he never talked about his baby brother that died.

Dafull, I like to think that in heaven you get to celebrate your birthday with your Mom, Mafull, Wilbur and everyone else you love.

Happy Birthday in Heaven Dafull! 

You and Mafull were a blessing to your family and I hope that we were a blessing to you.  Thank you so much for everything you ever done and sacrificed for us. 

His grandchildren.

Next week, I’ll be wishing another departed love one a happy birthday,
my sister, Mercedes Artis.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

52 Ancestors: #11 Cassie Exum Sherrod

This post is part of an ongoing research challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The challenge was created by Amy Crow.  Ms. Crow asked that each participant write about one ancestor per week. Last week I wrote about Jack Sherrod. This week, we will look at Jack's wife, Cassie Exum Sherrod.

Cassie Exum Sherrod was my great-great grandmother who was born about 1850. I am a descendant of her first born child, Fannie Sherrod Powell. Besides Fannie, Cassie and Jack were the parents of William, Ida Sherrod Wilson, Mary, John, Benjamin, Dallas, Exum, Arthur, Sissie and Cora Sherrod Ward Powell Barnes.

This page is from Jack and Cassie's bible.
The bible is currently in the possession of a granddaughter of Arthur Sherrod.

According to Jack’s pension file, Jack and Cassie were married on January 11, 1868 by Ben Sauls.  At the Wayne County Courthouse in Goldsboro, NC, is a book titled “Black Marriage Register April 1867-October 1867.” This book or cohabitation report lists Jack’s parents name but unfortunately, Cassie’s parents are not listed; however, we do have her maiden name: Exum. 



Most of their lives, Cassie and Jack lived in Wilson and Wayne counties N.C.  In 1870, Jack and Cassie were living in the Black Creek area of Wilson County, NC.  Jack was 26 years old, Cassie was 25 and Fanny was 4 years old. Black Creek, NC is less than 20 miles from where Jack lived as a slave (Goldsboro, NC). I don't know why they left Wayne county but perhaps they left the area to get away from their former owners. 

1870 Census report for Jack and Cassie 

Ten years later, 1880, Cassie and her family were living in Nahunta in Wayne County, NC. Jack was described as a 37 year old farmer.  Cassie was 36 years old and Fannie was the oldest of the children.  Besides Fannie, there was William, Ida, Mary, John and Benjamin. On the 1900 census, Cassie and Jack reported that they had been married for 32 years.  Cassie stated that she gave birth to 11 children with 9 living.  This probably includes the seven still living at home:  Ida who is described as a school teacher, John, Benjamin, Dallas, Exum (which was Cassie maiden name), Arthur and Cora. The two deceased children were daughters, Mary and Sissie who perhaps was born "still born" at birth. 

1900 Census record of Jack and Cassie


By 1910, Jack and Cassie are living with 2 grandchildren in their home.  The census states that they have been married for 42 years and only 8 of their children were living.  The grandchildren living with Cassie were Thomas who was 8 years old and Zelma who was 5 years old.  Thomas and Zelma were children of John Sherrod. John died in 1904.

1910 Census for Jack and Cassie


In 1915, Jack Sherrod died.  After his death, Cassie lived most of her life in Wilson, NC.  She outlived Jack by 25 years. Jack died on May 8th; he was 72 years old.  His son Arthur was the informant for his death certificate and Arthur provided Jack’s parents names as: Tempie and Denis Barnes.

1915 Death Certificate for Jack Sherrod

Following Jack's death, Cassie petition for a widow's pension but she had to verify Jack's death.  Her  relatives whom I believe are her brothers, Noble and George Exum, provided testimonies on Cassie’s behalf after Jack died.  Apparently neighbors and relatives came to the house after Jack died. 

 Cassie’s Widow Pension File


Noble Exum on July 15, 1915 said that he had known Jack since Noble was 10 years old and that they all lived in the Sauls neighborhood (Eureka).  Noble said that Cassie lived with his parents and that she was 17 or 18 years old when she married Jack.  Noble was 12 years old when the couple married and he was present at the couples’ wedding.  George B. Exum said that Cassie lived in his father’s home at the time of their marriage.  George had known Jack since George was 6 or 7 years old.  In 1870, I found George and Noble living with their parents who might also be Cassie’s parents or her older brother: John and Safronia Exum.  John Exum's personal property valued at $400 according to this census. I believe that Noble and George are Cassie’s brothers.  If not, why was she living in their home and why did she marry in their home. 


1870 Census Record for John and Saphronia Exum

 In 1940, Cassie died. She was living in Wilson, NC and she was 90 years old. Unfortunately, the informer for her death certificate state that Cassie's parents were Cassie and Louis Hall. I know this isn't correct because in Cassie's own words from the many document found in Jack's pension file and her cohabitation record; Cassie said that she was an Exum. I believe the information that Jack and Cassie provided rather than the information that someonelse provided. I know by experience that some of the information provided on death certificates are incorrect and that’s how I feel about Cassie’s parents names on her death certificate. 

One of the many documents found in Jack's pension file located at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.


As former slaves, Cassie and Jack did well for themselves. They raised 10 children and assisted in raising some of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Three of their grandchildren still resides in the Wayne county area, including a granddaughter who lives in the "homeplace" or as one relative called it "the house that Jack built."   


I still have a number of questions concerning Cassie. First, was Catherine her real name and was Cassie her nickname? Was John Exum her brother or father and why was she living with John and his wife when Cassie married Jack Sherrod? Who was her people and where did they come from if not North Carolina? And finally, was Cassie owned by the same slaveowner as Jack? 


1870 Census - Black Creek, Wilson, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1166; Page: 452A (Jack and Cassie Sherrod).

1870 Census - Nahunta, Wayne, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1165; Page: 159A (John and Saphronia Exum).
1900 Census - Nahunta, Wayne, North Carolina; Roll: 1223; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0107; FHL microfilm: 1241223.
1910 Census - Nahunta, Wayne, North Carolina; Roll: T624_1137; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0112; FHL microfilm: 1375150.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #10 - Jack Sherrod – “A Man of First Class Standing”

That is the description that Special Examiner of the Bureau of Pensions, T.H. Goethe provided after interviewing Jack Sherrod. Well, I don’t know what “above the average” means but I agree that Jack was first class. 
This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  If you want to know more about this challenge check out her blog NO STORY TOO SMALL. This week I’m writing about my great-great grandfather, Jack Sherrod.  Jack was my paternal grandfather, Sylvester Powell’s grandfather.  Sylvester’s mother, Fannie Sherrod was Jack’s eldest child.

Jack’s Pension File

The 135th United States Colored Infantry (U.S.C.T.) was formed in Goldsboro, North Carolina on March 27, 1865.  This infantry lasted until October 1865.  If I was a newly enlisted soldier, I would say that was great timing!

I found Jack’s pension file at the National Archives and it provided a lot of information.  First, the authorities thought that Jack had died during the war and was impersonating another soldier. Jack had to tell his life story just to prove that he didn’t die during the war and that he was Jack Sherrod and not Jack Sherwood, his comrade who died beside him. Incidentally, Jack Sherrod and Jack Sherwood were being transported to the army hospital when Mr. Sherwood died of pneumonia.

Because of his declining health, in 1905, 61 year old Jack Sherrod began applying for an invalid pension increase. He had a large goiter under his neck and a “wen” on his right hip. His folder included testimonies from Jack, his sisters, Jennie Cox and Annie Mitchell. Additional testimonies came from some of his former army comrades, some white people in the community and his neighbors: Noble, George and Patrick Exum who might had been his wife’s family.
Jack’s pension file gave me “happy highs” with the amount of information that it provided.  I’m happy that I was able to confirm and find more information about him. But I was also sad because of his struggle and what he went through to fight for his pension increase for a few extra dollars.  For example, in his file was an envelope that read “picture of a soldier.” Finding the envelope made me happy, but once I saw his picture I was sad again.  It was his picture and he was leaning against a chair.  He had a tumor the size of a granny smith apple on his right hip and a goiter which may be the largest that I have ever seen under his neck.  In his testimony Jack talked about how a few of his ailments did not occur until he became a soldier.  It also made me very sad that Jack had to be photographed in the nude.

The pension file confirmed Jack’s parents name and confirmed Cassie’s family, the Exums. Second, I discover that Jack had 3 half-siblings including a brother, Stephen, who had the same mother as Jack.  In fact, I found Stephen in the 1870 and 1880 census in Wayne County but Stephen and his family disappear after the 1880 census.  I’m happy that I have a Union solider in my family, but as fate would have it; my ancestor’s name is not on the USCT Memorial in Washington, DC.  Ironically, Jack Sherwood’s name is on the Memorial wall. This makes me wonder how many other soldiers' names are missing from the Memorial.

Jack and Cassie

Jack Sherrod (8/14/1843 - 5/8/1915) and his wife, Cassie (3/1850-6/20/1940) were the parents of Fannie (1869-?) who married George Powell, William (1871-1916), Ida (1873-1918) who married Alonzo Wilson,  Mary (1877-1895), John (1875-1904) who married Addie Edwards, Benjamin (1879-1937) who married Annie Edmundson, Dallas (1881-?) who married Mary Taylor, Exum (1883-?), Arthur (1885-1955) who married Effie Diggs, Sissie (1887-1887) and Cora (1888-1972) who married Columbus Ward, Robert Powell and John Barnes.

His Siblings

The cohabitation record for Stephen Davis stated that Stephen’s mother was Tempy Davis, which meant Jack and Stephen had the same mother.  In Jack’s pension file, he stated that his mother’s name was Tempy Davis and his father was Denis Barnes who Jack said “was sold away when I was small.”  I don’t understand why Jack did not adopt the last name of “Barnes” or “Davis?” Jack also testified that his brother, Stephen, lived in Greenville, North Carolina and two his sisters: Jennie who “lived on the land of James Flora,” near Fremont and Annie lived on Green Street in Wilson, North Carolina.

In 1870, Stephen Davis was living in Wayne County with his wife, Elizabeth and his mom, Temperance Davis. Yes, Stephen and Jack’s mom was alive and she was 45 years old but by 1905, Jack said Tempie was dead.

  1870 Census for Stephen Davis' Family

In 1905, Annie Mitchell was 64 years old and she lived on Green Street in Wilson, North Carolina.  Annie said that she was originally owned by the same slave holder as Jack: John V. Sherard but she was sold away before the war.  Jack’s sister, Jennie was 59 years old in 1905 and she lived 2 miles from Fremont, NC.  In Jennie’s deposition, she said that she and Jack had the same mother.  She also said that Jack was born and raised in Wayne County.  Jennie Cox, Jack Sherrod and Stephen Davis had the same mom: Tempy Davis. 

Slaveowner John V. Sherard
In Jack’s testimony, he said that “the solicitor was his one and only slave owner” and that was John V. Sherard (1822-1897). Note, John V. Sherard’s last name was spelled different from Jack's.  John V. was the son of Gabriel Sr. and Elizabeth Sherard. Gabriel Sr. died in 1847 and Elizabeth died in 1873.  According to the Sherard/Sherrod family history which I found in the book “Heritage of Wayne County North Carolina” by the Wayne County Historical Association, it stated that John V. was one of the earliest graduates of UNC Chapel Hill. On the 1860 slave census, John V. is listed as a slave owner in Goldsboro, NC with 15 slaves.  One of which is Jack but who are the others and are they all related to each other. 

1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules for John V. Sherard

Jack Sherrod did very well for himself and his family.  It’s apparent that even when faced with adversity, such as slavery, a family separated, fighting for pension increase, Jack always remain a man of “first class standing.”

Top picture is Jack Sherrod;
Bottom row from the left: son, Dallas Sherrod;
son, Arthur Sherrod; Arthur's son Kemmie and Arthur's wife, Effie Diggs Sherrod;
daughter, Cora Sherrod Ward Powell Barnes.

[1] 1870 Census: Nahunta, Wayne, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1165; Page: 163B; Image: 330; Family History Library Film: 552664.
 [2] 1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules, National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653.