Sunday, July 29, 2012

93.-94. Jane and Sarah Christmas

Two girls named Christmas are on the rolls for the Mordecai school. Jane Yancy Christmas is listed attending for three sessions, I think (1813a, and both 1815 sessions); Sarah Christmas is there for three other sessions, one overlapping with Jane (1812a, 1813b, 1815a).  Both have Lewis Christmas as the adult name attached to the account.

The Christmas family were locals in Warrenton; there is still a Christmas family historical house standing (barely) in town.  The Mordecais who stayed in the area mention the family's doings in their letters.  One hair-raising report finds a drunken "T. Christmas" chasing his wife through the streets with a stick, breaking down doors and signs, even beating a man in his rage, because Betsy Christmas danced with another man at a party.  (Caroline Mordecai Plunkett to Ellen Mordecai, 12 May 1826, Mordecai Family Papers, Southern Historical Collection; stay tuned, because Betsy Davis Christmas was a Mordecai alumna too--more on here in a few entries.)  A later letter indicates that this man's problems continued:  "Tom Christmas is out of jail, his mother & brother stood his securities." (Caroline Mordecai Plunkett to Ellen, 12 May 1828?, Jacob Mordecai Papers, Duke University)

Well, I can't complain about it being a common surname this time, but it's also not an easy name to google.  Nonetheless, because they're local and Warrenton isn't a big town, they're pretty easy to track down.

Jane Yancy Christmas (c1798-1820) was the daughter of Jane Yancey(1774-1845) and William Christmas (1766-1804); her mother remarried, so Jane also had a stepfather, Captain John Green (to make this family a little more complicated, John's first wife was William Christmas's sister, Martha). Jane was born and died in Warren Co., NC.  Her brother was Lewis Yancey Christmas.*  As their father had died by the time Jane and Sarah attended school, it makes sense that Lewis was the tuition payer in the school ledger. 

Her sister Sarah Christmas married John H. Marshall in 1818.  Sarah sometimes appears as Lucy D. Christmas in family histories, but with the nickname "Sally."  The names Lucy and Lewis could be confusing on siblings, and maybe she preferred a more distinctive sound?  She's "Sally D. Marshall" in a bit of 1820 paperwork about land.  I can't find a record of children or a death date for either Sally or John Marshall; they may have left the area.

*Lewis Y. Christmas freed a group of his slaves, acknowledged to be his own children and grandchildren, in his 1859 will, and left funds for them to be transported safely to a non-slave-holding state (or Mexico).  The will was contested by Lewis's white kin, but it was upheld in court.  The Christmas family, black and white, still has reunions that they call "Christmas in July"--here's a report from a recent gathering

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

92. Elbert Alston Cheek (1803-1871)

Another boy's name turns up in the Mordecai rolls.  Young Elbert Cheek attended the school for both sessions of 1813.  Only local boys attended the school (no boarding room for boys), so we know he was from Warrenton. 

As usual with historical lookups, it's easier to find a man--men owned property, men didn't change their surname on marriage, and men used fewer nicknames (no Martha=Patsy problem).  So it's quick to find that Elbert Alston Cheek was born on Valentine's Day in 1803, eldest child of Robert Tines (or Tynes) Cheek (1772-1841) and Mary Hinton Alston (1782-1864), according to a family Bible.   The Cheeks owned a plantation called "Shady Oaks" outside Warrenton, and Robert T. Cheek ran a hotel in town.  By the time he attended the Mordecai school as a ten year old, Elbert had a younger brother and three younger sisters (another younger brother died in infancy).  Four more brothers and another sister arrived after Elbert's time at the school.  He married Mary Sue Hayes (b. 1803) in 1825, in Warrenton; they had nine children together between 1827 and 1851.  Their adult children lived in Mississippi and Kentucky, with a few staying near Warrenton.   (Same details given here, with slightly different dates in some instances.)  Elbert Cheek is mentioned in the 1924 local history "Glimpses of Old Warrenton," in passing (as the father of a local Civil War veteran, Col. William H. Cheek--more about William here).

(Robert Tynes Cheek pulled a bit of a stunt for genealogists:  he left an extra $500 in his will to each grandson named Robert.  So there were four grandsons named Robert, including Elbert's oldest son.)

Found an obituary for an Elbert Alston Cheek V, who died young in 2008--must be some kind of kin, because that's not a common set of names.

91. Mary Cheatham

There's a student named Mary Cheatham in the rolls of the Mordecai school.  She was there for one year, 1814 (both sessions), and a William Cheatham is the name associated with her account.  William Cheatham appears in the Mordecai ledger, paying for "Miss Mary," in April 1814.  (William Cheatham also appears on the page for February 1816, without a child's name attached, possibly meaning he lived near enough to Warrenton or to the Mordecais in other places to have further dealings with them; or perhaps he had a niece who attended after Mary's time there.)

 I'm guessing that Mary Cheatham might have been from Chesterfield County, Virginia, only because a lot of Cheathams lived there.  But I can't find a William with a daughter Mary the right age.  Their names are too ordinary; and Mary might have gone by Molly or Polly or May later in life, and the Cheatham might have been spelled Chatham in some records.  The usual story!

Next entry:  another boy's name in the school rolls.