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

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