Extract from will of Jacob Bunn, Northampton County, NC, 1790
Most American genealogies justifiably celebrate the accomplishments and deeds of ancestors, recalling how they experienced or participated in the historical events of their times. However, genealogies of white southerners often omit reference to a group of household members that contributed significantly to their family enterprises: that is, those household members held in slavery prior to the Civil War. Yet much as slavery was impossible to ignore in antebellum southern society, it is impossible to ignore within the primary documents of the era. Particularly disturbing is reading wills, where “Negroes” are parceled out to heirs along with livestock and household furnishings. One common formulation reads like that in the 1790 will of Nelson ancestor Jacob Bunn, of Northampton County, NC: “I give unto my grandson Elias Lewter one Negro woman by the name of Edy and all her issue to him and his heirs forever.” Thus does one man expect to condemn a woman and all her descendants to slavery in perpetuity.
No one in the family handed down stories of slavery, but a few, usually tragic glimpses remain in the historical record. Continue reading →
Recent posts have highlighted this family’s ancestors who were Scotch-Irish, French Huguenot, German, and Irish. And of course, there are the earliest posts that described the origin of the family’s surname amidst the European Jews of France and Hungary. While the family’s European antecedents include a diversity of influences, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that overall our origins were mostly British and more particularly English.
Using the the framework of the eight families representing the author’s great-grandparents, here are the estimated origins for each.
Estimated percentage of family origin by distinct ethnic/linguistic group. “British” refers to an origin on the island of Great Britain, including England, Scotland, and Wales.
If there is an archetypal image for an Irishman in the rural south before the Civil War, it would have to be Gerald O’Hara. He is a fictional character, of course, depicted as a colorful, hard-drinking owner of a Georgia plantation worked by slaves, married to an American wife, and father of three American-born daughters. His eldest daughter is much more famous than he: Scarlett, the fiery protagonist of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.
The Tenery family has its own Gerald and Scarlett. John Hockshaw and his wife Catherine emigrated from Ireland to the United States in the years prior to 1827 when their two eldest daughters – Isabella Jane and Mary Margaret – were born in South Carolina. John and Catherine had two more daughters born in 1830 and 1832; sometime between the two births the family moved to Giles County, Tennessee. Continue reading →
Overlooking the James River not far from Williamsburg stands a beautiful mansion called Carter’s Grove, built between 1751 and 1753. Carter Burwell, the grandson of one of colonial Virginia’s wealthiest and most influential businessmen Robert “King” Carter, paid for its construction on property purchased by his grandfather. It is a structure routinely included in books on architecture in early Virginia, and happens to be one of the few mansions of that era still standing.
Famous legends inhabit the walls. There are sword cuts on the wooden railing of the great stair allegedly made by Banastre Tarleton during British occupation of the house, when he rode his horse to the second floor as a dramatic method of wakening his sleeping soldiers who were quartered there. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington Continue reading →
American infantry storm Redoubt #10 during the Siege of Yorktown
How many members of this family participated in the American Revolutionary War?
By the time the family history reaches the Revolutionary War generations, there are hundreds of potential ancestors to account for. While identifying these family members is not yet complete, there is already plenty to share. So without further delay, you may click here to obtain a PDF spreadsheet detailing the 39 direct ancestors who are known to have contributed to American independence. The spreadsheet includes summary information about military service, pension application numbers, and identifying numbers for both Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution records.
Seven of the eight families are represented, the only exception being the Loebs whose immigrant ancestors did not arrive in the country until the middle of the next century. The list is a mix of those credited with helping the cause, including those who served in either the Continental Army or state militias, those who contributed to civil government, and those who are identified by the Daughters of the American Revolution as having provided “Patriotic” service. These patriotic contributions included providing supplies, money, or other material aid, as well as a few whose only known participation was taking an oath of allegiance to the new country. Continue reading →
By the time Charles Paysinger married Lola Belle Tenery on Christmas Eve, 1899, their families had been in the adjacent Lincoln and Giles Counties, Tennessee, for four generations. While many aunts, uncles, and cousins pursued their fortunes westward to Arkansas, Texas, or elsewhere, the portions of the family that remained had set deep roots along the Tennessee and Alabama border, having been there virtually since the beginning of European-American settlement. But the world was changing at the turn of the century and Charles and Lola Belle would pull up those roots and become members of the 20th century economy – following job and career opportunities – rather than engaging in the 19th century’s relentless westward pursuit of new agricultural land. Continue reading →
Farming. It was the occupation of most of the family in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama until the 20th century. The quest for farmland drove much of U.S. western expansion and settlement, and thus brought much of this family to Tennessee from states on the eastern seaboard. So what did one of these farms look like? Continue reading →
On New Years Day of 1845, an old soldier died in Pine Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh. His name was William Tenery (sometimes written “Trenary”) and while dates given for his birth are contradictory, he was certainly in his 90’s. His war was the American Revolution.
William was born and raised in northern Virginia in the areas historically occupied by Frederick and Loudon Counties (those counties were subdivided in subsequent years). Family historians claim his father Richard Trenary immigrated to the American colonies in about 1742 from Cornwall, England. Continue reading →