Sometimes the hardest part of your genealogy research is the living relatives. Searching for African American ancestors makes this increasing difficult as well. Over generations, African Americans did not talk about their ancestors. Sometimes stories were passed down, but not necessarily shared among everyone.
My family double related. You would think this would make it easier for me to get information. However, it’s not. It makes it more difficult. For whatever reason, my family, the Bessie Lowry/Aaron Spence side, isn’t that close with the other side, Rosa Lowry/Enoch Spence side.
My own perception of it is: The Rosa Lowry/Enoch Spence side MOVED. They didn’t stay in the small town and most moved on to MD or VA.
However, the Bessie Lowry/Aaron Spence side remained in Pasquotank (Elizabeth City/Newland area). Not many of them moved on. I guess from there, some members of the family seemed to have grown apart. I wonder if the Lowry sisters were close with each other. There was a 10+ year age difference between them, but it just makes you think. They married brothers, they should have been close.
Today’s family profile is of Aaron Edward Spence. Based on his death certificate, he was born 29 September 1853 in Pasquotank County, NC. I suspect he was born into slavery considering that his parents, Enoch Spence and Susan Williams are not listed on the 1860 census. Nor is he or his parents listed on the 1870 census. Black folk shied away from government people in those days.
I believe that Aaron and his parents were owned by slave owner named Thomas B. Williams. Now this is a guess based on the fact that Susan’s last name was Williams and Thomas’s wife, Ellen, was the neighboring white family in 1880 when Enoch and Susan finally showed up on the census. It’s possible that the family remained serving the Williams family even after emancipation. I know that Thomas owned slaves in 1860. Enoch would have been abt 53 in 1860 and Susan would have been abt 47. I’m ordering the estate records from NC state archives to verify this.
In 1877, Aaron had married Hester Riddick of Pasquotank County, NC (B: 1856), daughter of Edward and Sophia Riddick. Neither Aaron nor Hester shows up on the 1880 census. It’s possible that Hester died in childbirth because by 1888, Aaron had remarried. Dineppa (Dinah) Bogues/Boague of Pasquotank County, NC was his 2nd wife. They both were on their 2nd marriage. Dineppa was previously married to Oliver Foreman. I suspect that Oliver passed away and she remarried. However, she too also passed away. I haven’t been able to find record of that, but divorce was not something that was very common. In 1892, Aaron married for a 3rd time to Cora McCoy of Camden County, NC (B: 1871, D: 07 Oct 1922). That union yielded 9 children. Berna B: 1893, Enoch B: 1894, Herbert B: 1896, Clyde Lee B: 1898, Blariche/Blanche B: 1900, Pearl B: 1902, Mabel B: 1904, Aaron Edward B: 1906 and Charlie Mack B: 1909.
I believe Aaron to have been the youngest of his siblings or the youngest living. By 1900 census, his mother Susan was living with him. She’s listed as 86 years old at the time. She’s also listed on the census as having 6 children and 4 living.
These are possible siblings that I have to research further. Excuse the roughness of this, these are my notes.
- Enoch Spence born abt 1825. Only shows on 1870 census married to Prissy. By 1880, Prissey is a widow.
- Joseph Spence born abt 1830. Living near Enoch Spence on 1870. Married to Tilley.
- John Spence born abt 1832. Living in Pasquotank 1870 married to Winney–oldest son Anderson. Living nearby is a Williams (white) family by 1880, John died and Winney/Vinney is a widow.
- Jennie Spence. Married Edmund Sawyer 1873. Possible sister.
- Martha Ann Spence married Jacob Moore 1880. Possible sister. There’s a Martha L. Moore living with Hardy Measels in 1880 listed as widow and sister in law. Meaning she’s Hardy’s wife (Fanney) sister. Fanny maiden name was Temple. Married Hardy in 1871. May not be the same.
- Martha J Spence married Daniel Godfrey 1894.
- Nancy Spence married Alfred Ferebee jr. 1902. Possible sister. –Side Note, this is also the same Alfred Ferebee that could be a possible half brother to William Lowry. CORRECTION 08/04/08-Her maiden name is Griffin. She married Moses Spence then married Alfred. Not a true Spence.
- Sarah E. Spence married Henry Murden 1894. 1910 Henry Murden living in Pasquotank w/wife Anna. Then moved to PA.
Aaron died in 1920 and Cora died 2 years later in 1922 in Pasquotank, NC. Their death certificates state that they were buried at Hinton BG. However, I haven’t been able to locate that. My grandmother said that it’s located further down on Mill Pond Road. The same road my grandmother and great grandmother has lived for years.
Off to do more research.
For the sake of blogging, I’m only going to use one variation of the last name.
William M. LOWRY was born abt 1871. When I was researching him in the beginning, I only found him on the 1900 Census living with his wife Harriett (BANKS) and their children, Annie P (B: 1892), Maggie (B: 1893), George T. (B: 1894), Rosa J. (B: 1895), Martha A (B: 1899). I knew he had to be on earlier census that listed William. So, I did what any good amateur genealogist would do. I searched Ancestry.com by soundex.
That’s when I came across a William LOWERY and his wife Ann in Newland, Pasquotank, NC on the 1880 Census. This LOWERY was born abt 1820 in VA and I knew he couldn’t be the LOWRY I was looking for. He was much too old. In their home were grandsons of Issaac BOYKIN (B: abt 1868), William BARKER (B: abt 1871) and Alfred FEREBEE (B: abt 1875).
I started researching this William LOWERY and his wife Ann. On the 1870 Census, he’s listed as Wm LOWRY (B: abt 1817). In his home is his wife Annie (B: abt 1816), daughter Martha (B: 1852) and son James L (B: 1854).
With help of FRSNNC, I was able to make some connections. William BARKER listed on the 1880 census with his grandfather William LOWERY, is probably my William LOWRY. They are the same age. Considering that the elder LOWERY had a daughter old enough to have a child of his age. I began to think of the term ‘throw away baby’ and maybe my ancestor was the product of that. It’s possible that by the time he married, he decided to take the last name of his grandparents.
What I have been able to confirm is:
- My great aunt said that William Lowry (B: 1871) had a younger sister named Cora that married Jordan Thornton. Was able to find a marriage certificate for Cora Alphenia HOWARD age 69 and Jordan THORNTON age 71. Her parents are listed as James HOWELL and Martha LAURY Howell. (NOTE: I did the genealogical happy dance when I got this death certificate!)
- My aunt also told me that Cora lived in Washington DC when she met her in the 40’s or 50’s.
- Martha LOWRY married James HOWELL about 1877. I know this b/c in 1880 she’s living with her husband and children. The oldest being 3.
Cora is the link to help with this line of my family. Now, I’m looking for a death certificate.