Wednesday, June 30, 2010

37. A. E. Blankenship

There was a student in the rolls of the Mordecai school named A. E. Blankenship. She was at the school for its last year, 1818, both sessions, and an "Ed. Anderson" might be connected to the account.

A. E.? I suspect her first name was shorted to initials because her last name was long and there was limited space in the ledger. Could be Ann Eliza? Anne Elizabeth? Something more unusual? We can guess she was probably born 1805-1810. But I'm coming up empty with only these slim details to work from. There were certainly other Andersons connected to the Mordecai school community, and there were Southern families named Blankenship, in Virginia and North Carolina, but I can't find any aha! family history charts to even tentatively attach to Miss A. E. Blankenship.

Yet. Do you know this student's story? Leave a comment or links for this entry to be expanded.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

35. and 36. Eliza Anne Bennett and Jane Bennett

Some very Jane Austeny student names this time!

Eliza Anne Bennett attended the Mordecai school for both terms in 1818, with Richard E. Bennett as the adult associated with her account, and Petersburg VA as the place name.

Jane Bennett attended the Mordecai school much earlier than Eliza Anne, for six terms, from the beginning of 1811 to the end of 1813. She is also listed as being from Petersburg VA, but her account is associated with a Thomas Bennett. There's further note that she must have been married by 1827 (because the Mordecais mentioned her as married in a letter that year).

So who are the Misses Bennett? Hmmm... First thing I find in the genealogy forums is a Jane Grey Bennett marrying a Thomas N. Lee in 1823, in Petersburg VA. Elsewhere she's Jane Gray Bennett Lee, born 1802 to Sarah Elizabeth Wall (1778-1847) and Thomas Bennett, named for her maternal aunt Jane Gray Wall Shore Haxall (1766-1831), married to Thomas Noble Lee. She seems to have had a daughter Jane Gray Lee who died in infancy in 1824. Through her mother's family, Jane Gray Bennett was related to many of her classmates, including Olivia and Margaret Barrow. (The Grays were in Virginia beginning at Jamestown c. 1616, so many of the planter families of the area could claim Gray kin.)

Jane's husband Thomas Noble Lee was an Englishman, a tobacconist born in Yorkshire, who "held thirty or more slaves in the tax assessments for 1836 and 1838" and was a member of the PBMA (Petersburg Benevolent Mechanics Association), according to L. Diane Barnes, Artisan Workers in the Upper South: Petersburg, Virginia, 1820-1865 (LSU Press 2008). He was also a director of the Petersburg Savings Institution when it was founded in 1837.

None of these leads turn up the Eliza Anne Bennett who also attended the Mordecai school. There's no reason to think the girls were sisters--different men paid their accounts, and they didn't attend school together. But they're both from Petersburg, and they may have been related somehow. And none of the leads on Jane Bennett give any clue of her life after the mid-1820s. I'll dig up the Mordecai letter about her from 1827 to see if that sheds any further light on her story after getting married.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

34. Sarah Batte

A student named Sarah Batte appears in the rolls of the Mordecai school. She attended for the last two sessions of the school, in 1818. She's listed as being from Bellfield and an Alexander Batte is the adult name on the account.

Alexander Watson Batte (1778-1853) of Greensville County VA seems a good candidate for the adult--he married his first wife, Mary Pettway, in 1803, which would be time enough for their daughter to be at the school in 1818. The Alexander Watson Batte House in Greensville County was built starting in 1815. He married his second wife Elizabeth Spencer in 1819, so presumably Mary Pettway Batte died in 1818 or earlier--providing a reason for the girl to be at school (many of the Mordecai students were there following the death of a parent, while practical arrangements were made at home). And there is a Belfield District in Greensville County--it was a town before 1887 when it merged with Hicksford to form Emporia.

Still, can't find any evidence of a daughter named Sarah, born to Alexander and Mary Pettway Batte. There's only mention of Alexander Batte's daughter Cornelia Alvinia Batte, born 1819, so her mother was Elizabeth Spencer. So Sarah might have been a niece or other kin.