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Arriving in America
Destination The South
By Patricia Ann Taylor
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Patricia Ann Taylor
All rights reserved.
THE GREAT MIGRATION
To escape the uncertainty of the political and religion uncertainty found in England, many English families boarded ships at a great expense to sail for the colonies held by Britain. The passages were expensive, though, and the boats were unsafe, overcrowded, and ridden with disease. Those who were lucky enough to make the passage intact were rewarded with land, opportunity, and social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families went on to be important contributors to the young nation the United States where they settled. The Nettervilles and Gays were among some of the immigrants to arrive in North America.
Slavery had existed for hundreds of years. The Book of Exodus speaks about how the people of Israel were enslaved by the Romans. Webster defines a slave as "one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence". The demand for slave labor in the new nation led to trade in Africa that was through purchase or warfare and raids. European merchandise such as weapons, gun powder and rum was imported into Africa in exchange for slaves. There are many tribes across the continent of Africa. The close proximity of the settlements to the sea, offered very little safety from raids for slaves by Europeans slave traders who would navigate their ships to the shores of the ocean for their human cargo. The purchased or captured slaves were placed in forts that served temporarily as prisons until the slave ship reached its quota.
Africa has hundreds of tribes. The Bambaras tribe lived within the inland part of Africa (Niger). They probably were one of the tribes that was captured in warfare with other tribes and shipped out of Senegalese ports. The Bambaras are described as "tall and slender in build, with fine features and a fuller beard."
The Fula tribe was tall, lightly built people. The Wolof tribes who are of Fula origin also tend to be tall. My Taylor ancestors, Joseph William (1904) and his father William (1878) were tall in stature. Living in the swamps of Louisiana, as strong, tall men they worked as swampers (lumberman), cutting timber. Could they have been descendent of the Wolof, Fula or Bambaras tribes?
The term "Pygmies" is sometimes used to refer to a group of people found in Central Africa. Many were short in stature. My Asberry ancestors were often described as short in stature. A World War I Draft Registration dated 1918 show William Asberry (1895) my great great grandfather was short. My grandmother, Hattie Beatrice was approximately 4 feet 11. She was called "shorty". Could my Asberry family be descendent of the Pygmies tribe?
The exact African origin of slaves in Louisiana and Mississippi cannot be traced with any accuracy. The French largely controlled the Senegal region in Africa. It is possible that a great number of Africans in the French colonies were Senegalese, sailing from a Senegalese port. Some of the tribes near the Gambia River included the Wolof, Mandinka, Fulani, Fula, Serer, Jola and Manjago tribes. Ghana is the country which is called The Gold Coast. Some of the tribes near the Gold Coast were the Ashanti, Fanti, Ewe, Guan, Gurma, Ga-Adangbe, MoleDagbani, Luba, Mossi, Guro, Songhye, Fang, Baule, Dan, Bambara, Bete, Choku, Youre and Senufo tribes.
On July 28, 1998 I visited Elmina Castle in Ghana. As a fort, Elmina was holding slaves until they were ready for the Atlantic voyage. It was accessible to slave-carrying ships. There were quarters for merchants and traders; and there were dark dungeons where slaves were kept. There was also a courtyard for the branding of slaves. Men, women and children were kept in separate dungeons. I also saw an area where slaves exited for awaiting ships. Some of these slave ships were The Aurora, La Amistad, Brookes, Clotilde (the last reported ship to U.S. 1859-1860), Desire, Duc du Maine, Hope, Lord Ligonier, Wanderer and Zong. Other well-known slave forts were Cape Coast Castle, Cormantine and Goree.
Our nation was built on the backs of slavery. People like the Dutch and other Europeans went to the coasts of Africa where Africans were bought and captured to bring to this nation for profit. In their minds Africans were an inferior group and was most useful in servitude. Many men, women and children were taken from their homeland, despite their cry out. The ship was over crowed. They were shackled with smells of stench. They were washed down like animals with buckets of water poured over them. Many could not communicate with each other because of the difference in tribal languages. Despite the cultural difference, they soon realized that they needed each other. Their journey was long. Some committed suicide by throwing themselves over board into the Atlantic Ocean. Their travel from the coast of Africa to the shores of Maryland and Virginia were over 5,000 miles. The African man, woman and child were now in a foreign land. Shackled and scared they were sold to the highest bidder. They missed and longed for their families that were left in the mother land. At auctions Africans were sold like property. They could no longer identify with their homeland. They lost the use of their African names, language and customs. One of these African tribes is where I descended. Their new names were now Taylor, Martin, Veal, Gay, Asberry, Jones and Netterville. This group of people, against their will was bought, captured and transported via Trans-Atlantic, under deploring conditions to America.
Upon their arrival to America, for those who survived, the new colonies were producing abundantly amounts of tobacco and cotton and desired slave labor. Slavery in states such as Virginia and Maryland went on for years. History tells us that Africans was brought to America as early as the 1700's.
The Great Migration, was not from Africa, but was from the thirteen colonies to the southern states. The thirteen colonies were Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania. Residents of the thirteen colonies were mostly independent farmers who owned their own land and voted for their local government. In the 1760's and 1770's the colonies united militarily in opposition to Great Britain with the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. In 1776, they declared independence and formed a new nation, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The slaves worked from sun up to sun down. As slaves, they worked as field laborers, carpenters and domestic servants. If rebellion took place, they were beaten or sold. Many African families were torn apart. The 13th amendment, the Emancipation Proclamation with the Civil War abolished slavery in December 1865. Many of the people that were enslaved participated in the Civil War. Upon the end of slavery, Reconstruction began.
The Africans needed ways and means to make a living. The Freedom Bureau and the Maryland Union Commission were established to assist with food, housing and transportation. Maryland thought that it was best for most Blacks to be transported south. Migrating from Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, my ancestors now found themselves living in the towns of Woodville, Mississippi and Plaquemine, Louisiana.
A question that may come to mind is how did the enslaved people from Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia arrive in Mississippi and Louisiana? One mode of transportation used was the steamboat. The Edward James Gay Steamboat was built in 1859. This steamboat and others like it carried thousands of bales of cotton and passengers (slaves for cheap labor) making their owners rich. My ancestors, Nancy Jones, Patsey Martin, Isaac Asberry, William Veal, Mary Veal and Joe Netterville as slaves, provided labor making their owners prosperous and rich.
Perhaps my ancestor, Nancy Jones aka "Unice" born about 1815 and died 1913, is one of the Africans that was taken from her tribe and brought to the New Nation. The 1880 census under place of birth columns for mother and father were left blank. What does this mean? Could Nancys' parents been descendent of Africa? Was "Unice", Nancy's African name? Her children are listed on the 1870 census with names of Sarre, Peyton and Armlia. Could those be African names? Was the name "Nancy" given to her by her slave owner and the surname "Jones" attached following her Emancipation? How did she arrive at the name of Jones?
Isreal Taylor was born about 1827 and his wife Affay Taylor born about 1829 in North Carolina. Official documents show Isreal's parents was from Virginia and Maryland. What tribes in Africa did Israel's parent derive from when the ship docked on the ports of Virginia and Maryland? Was Affay also one of the Africans who arrived in North Carolina and later sold by her owner to a Louisiana slave owner where she met Isreal? The answers to these questions will forever be unknown.
William Martin born about 1812 in Maryland and his wife Patsey Martin was born about 1815 in Virginia. Could they have been born at an earlier date? Are they too possibly Africans who were stolen or sold by their own "people" into slavery in exchange for weapons, gun powder and rum? Watching the movie "Twelve Years of Slavery" produced by Steve McQueen, based on a true story brought a sharp pain to my heart. One of the characters, "Patsey" was sexually" exploited by her master and because of jealously, by his wife, "Patsey" was punished and severely beaten with multiple lashes for leaving the plantation to go to a neighboring plantation for a bar of soap. This scene was particularly unbearable because my great great great grandmother was named "Patsey" and was born about 1815 (around the same period as the character in the movie) in Virginia and later found herself also living in Louisiana where the movie, a true story took place.
Isaac Asberry was born about 1820 and his wife Julia Asberry was born about 1820. Both are from Virginia. Are they too Africans that was given the names of Isaac and Julia by their Virginia slave owner? My Asberry ancestors are known for having short statutes. Could this be a clue to what region or tribe they might have derived from in Africa?
William Veal was born about 1802 and died 1885. His brother, Robert Veal, Sr. was born about 1807 and died 1895. Official documents show their place of birth is Tennessee. William married Mary (1819-1890) of Maryland. Robert married Maria (1820-1900) of Georgia. This family, according to their dates of birth may have been Africans that found themselves on a crowded ship with other tribes, scared and unable to communicate with the African lying next to him or her because of language. Many questions will forever be unknown. How did the brothers who once lived in Tennessee meet their wives who lived in Maryland and Georgia? Did the Tennessee slaveholder sell one brother to a Maryland slave owner and the other to a Georgia slave owner? Official documents shows William's third known child, Mary Veal (my great great great grandmother) was born in Maryland in 1836. The 1880 census shows the brothers, William and Robert, had migrated to Woodville, Mississippi. It appears that my Veal ancestry had migrated to Mississippi before the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Mary Veal's son, my great great grandfather, Anthony Gay was born in 1857 in Mississippi. This migration from Maryland to Mississippi took place between 1836-1857. It is highly unlikely that my Veal family ancestors moved from Maryland to Mississippi voluntarily as during this period they were enslaved. Did the Maryland slave owner sell William Veal to a Mississippi slave owner? This question will forever remain unanswered. Mary Veal born in 1836 may not have been born in Africa, but her mother Mary Veal was born in 1819, most likely had to endure that long journey across the Atlantic that most say took at least 15 weeks.
There was some interbreeding between Africans, with the Indians and with the Whites. A new race of American Blacks was created, a race with the blood of many tribes and many nations in its veins. Sophia Gay, my great great great grandmother (1863) often talked about having Indian in her bloodline. Sophia's mother was born in 1815. Sophia's children had features of light-skinned, straight nose and straight hair. Pictures of her nieces, distinctively shows evidence of interbreeding. There were twenty-one known Indian tribes in the area of present day Mississippi between the years 1500 and 1800. The focus here will be on Indian tribes reported during the late 1700s when the conflicts, alliances and cultural dissolution of most tribes reached their peak. Regional boundaries of the State of Mississippi did not exist during the period of time represented for these tribes. Streams and rivers were generally associated with tribal locations. Some of these tribes included the Acolopissa, meaning "those who listen and see"; the Biloxi, meaning "first people", the Capinans/Moctobi, little is known of them, their origin, what their name means or what became of them; the Chokchiuma, meaning "red crawfish"; the Chickasaw, meaning "to sit', were a large, strong, war-like tribe, they continuously fighting with adjacent tribes as well as the French. As a tribe, they were never defeated and only by treaty in 1832 did they give up their Mississippi lands and move to Indian Territory in Oklahoma between 1837 and 1847; the Choctaw were one of the largest tribes in Southeast Mississippi, the meaning of their name is unclear; the Houma, meaning "red". They plaited their hair and tattooed their faces. The Homochitto National Forest is nearby Wilkinson County where my Veal and Gay ancestors called home. Could my great great grandmother, Sophia Gay bloodline be linked to the Homochitto Indian Tribe? The Natchez were one of the best known tribes in Mississippi due to French settlement in their territory. Other tribes included the Choula/Chula, Griga, Ibitoupa, Koroa, Ofo/ Ofogoula/Mosoplia, Pascagoula, Pensacola, Quapaw, Sawokli/Sabougla/ Samboukia, Taposa, Tiou, Tunica and Yazoo tribe.
In Mississippi, the Natchez area was the first Mississippi region where plantations were established. African slaves were introduced into the Mississippi plantation system in the early 1700s by French colonists. Tobacco was the first major crop that thrived from African slave labor. The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney allowed the White planter to greatly increase their wealth via the production of cotton. The plantation system involved the planter living in a elegant home far from the farm land. The planter hired overseers to live on and manage the plantations. Afrikan-slave labor was used by large-scale and small farms. After the Civil War, many newly "freed" American-born Afrikans worked in the pine forests cutting trees for lumber and turpentine (see Taylor section).
Woodville, Mississippi, where my Veal and Gay ancestors called home, is located on Highway 61 about halfway between Natchez and St. Francisville, Louisiana. It is about 130 miles from New Orleans, Louisiana. Woodville was first settled near the turn of the nineteenth century and was incorporated as a town in 1811. The county seat, Wilkinson was named after a Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army, General James Wilkinson. It is reported that the first African slaves were brought to Wilkinson County prior to 1790 and were settled in the western part of the county. Many slaves from Wilkinson County fought for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. My research found my ancestor Robert Veal was enlisted in The United States Colored Troops on February 16, 1864 in Natchez, Mississippi (see Veal section).
Excerpted from Arriving in America by Patricia Ann Taylor. Copyright © 2014 Patricia Ann Taylor. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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