Tag Archives: Boston

The Granville County – Southern New England Tribal Kinship Connections

Beginning in the early 1900s (and in some cases a few decades earlier), large numbers of Granville County’s Native American families moved to industrial cities in Southern New England such as Providence, New Haven, Brockton, Boston, Springfield, Hartford, and New Bedford. Escaping racial violence, Jim Crow laws, changing economies, and education were among the most common reasons for this exodus to the North. Upon arriving in these cities, Granville’s former residents would form relationships with southern New England tribal peoples, often resulting in intermarriage and opening new kinship patterns. This blog post takes a close look at several examples of individuals from Granville County whose spouses come from southern New England tribes such as Narragansett/Niantic, Nipmuck, Mattakeeset/Massachusett, Nemasket/Wampanoag, and Montauk. The genealogies of their spouses who come from notable families including: Fayerweather, Hazard, Perry, Harry, Cornwall, Brooker, Granderson, Gardiner, Dailey, and Willard are carefully presented and offer an opportunity to compare and contrast Northeastern and Southeastern tribal ethnohistories.

This topic is of special relevance for me personally, because my maternal great-grandfather Edward Brodie Howell (1870-1942) left Granville County for New Haven in the early 1900s. Interestingly in New Haven, he had a business partner named Moses Spears who may be connected to the large Spears family of the Narragansett tribe. Documenting these kinship connections up and down the East Coast feels especially fulfilling to me, because I grew up and still live in southern New England and have family ties to the tribes here. I hope the research presented in this blog post will also give you a great appreciation for the resiliency of our ancestors and how their kinship patterns evolved when they moved North.

Before presenting the genealogies below, I’d like to offer a few points about southern New England tribal history. Just like Virginia and North Carolina, southern New England was the epicenter of early contact between European colonists and indigenous peoples. As a result of colonial attacks, genocide, warfare and disease, the indigenous populations suffered huge losses similar to what took place in Virginia and North Carolina. However the tribes rebounded and rebuilt their populations in part by intermarrying with European colonists and African slaves and indentured servants. Southern New England tribes also suffered from paper genocide which resulted in the loss of land and attacks on sovereign rights. In spite of those setbacks, many tribes have found success with federal recognition, economic development, and cultural revitalization in the 20th and 21st centuries. All of the southern New England tribes are Algonquian speaking peoples and many of their place names live on today in the names of cities and towns across the region.

I’d also like to especially thank Danny Menihan (Mashantucket Pequot tribal council member), Gloria Miller (Narragansett descendant), Cheryl Toney-Holley (Hassanamisco Nipmuc Chief and genealogist), and Ric Murphy (award winning author) for their contributions and assistance with my research.

Tribal_Territories_Southern_New_England (1)

 


William Francis Pettiford (1891-1985) and Edith Fayerweather (1910-2004) (Narragansett)

 

The first example I will discuss is that of the marriage of William Francis Pettiford and Edith Fayerweather, a Narragansett woman. William Francis Pettiford (1891-1985) was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1891 to John Pettiford (1840-1900) and Mary Copeland (born 1858). His father John Pettiford was born and raised in Richmond, VA and moved up North to enlist in the Civil War on 15 Nov 1861 in Philadelphia, PA. He served as a landsman for the U.S. Navy aboard the vessels USS Brooklyn, USS Richmond, USS Philadelphia and USS Princeton. After his service, he settled in Providence, RI where he married and had children with a widower named Mary (Copeland) Rogers who was also originally from Virginia.

Though John Pettiford left Richmond for the North, his parents and siblings remained in Richmond during and after the Civil War, and eventually relocated to Springfield, MA by the late 1800’s. John Pettiford’s paternal grandmother was a woman named Ary Pettiford (born 1809) who lived in the nearby city of Petersburg, VA. As with many free people of color in Virginia, she had to register her status as a free woman and did so on 14 July 1829:

No. 1518, Ary Pettiford, a free woman of color, born of free parents about the year 1809, dark complexion, four feet eleven and an half inches high. 14 July 1829. Petersburg, VA.

Ary Pettiford’s free born parents were Thornton Pettiford, born 1772, originally from Granville County, NC and Alice Goff of Virginia who were married on 31 March 1804 in Petersburg, VA. In the late 1700s/early 1800s, several individuals from the Granville County community moved (sometimes temporarily) to Petersburg, VA. Petersburg at this time may have been similar to what we know today as an “urban Indian community”. So when Thornton Pettiford moved to Petersburg, he did not do it alone and instead was joined by other Granville kinsman such as Jesse Chavis and Hardy Bass.

Thornton Pettiford’s wife Alice Goff most likely descended from a man named Edward Goff who was an “Indian” tithable in nearby Surry Co, VA in 1702. No tribe is specified in the tax list and I don’t know of additional genealogical research into the exact tribal origins of the Goff family. Further cementing his relationship with the Goff family, Thornton Pettiford and his fellow Granville kinsman Hardy Bass were paid as witnesses in a lawsuit filed by Fanny Goff against Molly Lee in 1807. I don’t know what the relationship was between Fanny Goff and Thornton Pettiford’s wife Alice Goff, but perhaps they were sisters.

The Granville County Pettiford family are lineal descendants of the Nansemond Indian Bass and Anderson families, so in addition to Alice Goff’s unknown tribal origin, William Francis Pettiford was of Nansemond descent.

William Francis Pettiford genealogy
Genealogical pedigree of William Francis Pettiford (1891-1985)

 

Laura Pettiford
Laura Pettiford (born circa 1864), was the aunt of William Francis Pettiford. Her parents were Louis Pettiford and Lucretia Sewell. Laura spent her early years in Richmond, Virginia and relocated with much of her family to Springfield, MA. She later moved to Boston, MA. Picture courtesy of Janet Whitehead (Ancestry)

 

Census records indicate that William Francis Pettiford was a patrol driver for the Providence Police department. In 1942, he was required to fill out of a draft card for World War 2 and notably both the “Indian” and “Negro” boxes were marked for Race.

World World 2 card Willam Pettiford
The second page of the World War 2 draft card of William Francis Pettiford (1891-1985). “Indian” and “Negro” are marked for Race. Source: World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Rhode Island; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M1964

In Providence is where William Francis Pettiford met and married Edith Fayerweather (1910-2004). Edith Fayweather was born in the Narragansett Indian community in South Kingstown, RI, to Corinne Fayerweather (1893-1971). Corinne later married fellow Narragansett Indian Alvin Stanton, so sometimes Edith Fayerweather was known as “Edith Stanton”, the surname of her step-father.

Corinne Fayerweather (1893-1971) was the daughter of James Fayerweather (1857-1922) and Mary Elizabeth Harry (1861-1948). Both James and Mary Elizabeth were lineal descendants of the Sachem Ninigret (1610-1670) of the Niantic tribe, through the Harry family. The Niantic were close allies and merged with the Narragansett tribe, resulting in many Narragansett tribal members today, being also of Niantic descent.

 

Edith Fayerweather genealogy
Genealogical pedigree of Edith Fayerweather (1910-2004)
46625877_10100455541728270_7180796285069295616_n
Edith Fayerweather (1910-2004) is the little girl in the back row, second from the right. Edith’s mother Corinne Fayerweather (1893-1971) is seated in front of her with a baby in her lap. Corinne’s mother Mary Elizabeth (Harry) Fayerweather (1861-1948) is in front of her in the foreground. Picture courtesy of Danny Mennihan

 

Mary Elizabeth Harry
Mary Elizabeth Harry (1861-1948) was the grandmother of Edith Fayerweather. Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of Daniel and Mary Harry and was married to James Fayerweather. She was a lineal descendant of Niantic Sachem Ninigret. Picture courtesy of Dawn Hazard (Ancestry).
Sachem Ninigret
Ninigret (1610-1677), Sachem of the Niantic of Rhode Island. At times he allied with and at times was a foe to the British colonists during a pinnacle time in the colonization of southern New England (Pequot War, King Philip’s War). Edith Fayerweather is a lineal descendant of Ninigret, a few times over.

 

 


Rebecca Howell (1898-1996) and Benjamin Harrison Hazard (1898-1960)(Narragansett)

 

Rebecca Howell (1898-1996) was born in Fishing Creek township in Granville County, the daughter of Freeman Howell (1867-1917) and Lucy Ann Hedgepeth (1865-1953). Rebecca was also my grandfather’s 3rd cousin (as well as a distant cousin through other shared lineages). Both of Rebecca’s parents have deep roots in Granville’s Native American community from the Howell, Hedgepeth, Brandon, Evans, Bass, Bookram, and Scott families that are the subject of previous blog posts. Her Howell lineage goes through Freeman Howell (1777-1870) who was the progenitor of the “free colored” Howells in Granville, Person, Orange, and Alamance Counties. You can learn more about Freeman Howell here. Her Howell lineages extends further back into Tidewater Virginia, specifically to Dorothy Howell of New Kent Co, who was a Pamunkey woman that lived across the river from the Pamunkey reservation in the home of colonist Sherwood Lightfoot. You can read more about the Pamunkey origins of the Howell family here.

Rebecca’s Brandon lineage is connected to the Saponi/Monacan Brandon/Branham family which you can read about here. Her Evans lineage traces back to the Indian woman known as Jane Gibson the elder of Charles City Co, VA which you can read about here. Her Bass lineage traces back to the Nansemond tribe which you can read about here. And her Bookram family traces back to a Nanticoke man named Elias Puckham/Bookram who moved from Maryland to Granville County which you can read about here.

By 1910, Rebecca Howell and her family had moved up to New Haven, CT. She remained in New Haven through most of her life before living in a convalescent home in Stoughton, MA where she died in 1996. In New Haven is where Rebecca met and married her husband, a Narragansett man named Benjamin Harrison Hazard.

 

Rebecca Howell
Genealogical pedigree of Rebecca Howell (1898-1996).

 

Rebecca Howell
Rebecca Howell (1898-1996). Daughter of Freeman Howell and Lucy Ann Hedgepeth. Photo courtesy of Gloria Miller.
Pantheyer Brandon
Rebecca Howell’s paternal grandmother was Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934). She was the daughter of Hilliard Evans and Betsy Brandon and a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek township in Granville County.  Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas1973

 

Benjamin Harrison Hazard (1898-1960) was the son of James Alexander Hazard (1867-1933) and Drusilla Jones (1871-1932). Both of Benjamin’s parents were from the same Narragansett Hazard family, with his father James Hazard being a double Hazard. Further back along the Hazard family line is an ancestor named Sarah Perry who comes from the large Narragansett Perry family. Certainly the endogamy that was common in Granville County can be seen in the Narragansett tribe through Benjamin Hazard’s family tree.

By 1920, Benjamin Hazard and his parents had moved from the rural Narragansett community in rural Rhode Island to the nearby city of New Haven, CT. The move was temporary for most of the family as they returned to Rhode Island by 1930. Benjamin however, remained in New Haven with his wife Rebecca.

Benjamin Harrison Hazard genealogy
Genealogical pedigree of Benjamin Harrison Hazard (1898-1960). As with Granville County, the Narragansett tribal community is quite endogamous, so Benjamin descends from the Hazard family several different ways.

 

Louisa Hazard
Louisa Hazard (1842-1907), the paternal grandmother of Benjamin Harrison Hazard. She was the daughter of Alexander Perry Hazard and Violet Sands. Picture courtesy of Gloria Miller

Marie Howell (1907-2002) and Harold Cornwall (1901-1991) Nemasket/ Wampanoag and Mattakeeset/Massachusett descendant

 

Marie Howell (1907-2002) was born in Brockton, MA to William Badger Howell (1878-1946) originally from Granville County, NC and Matilda Watson originally from Mecklenburg Co, VA. Marie Howell was also my grandfather’s second cousin. William Badger Howell had deep roots in Granville’s Native American community through the Howell, Harris, Evans, Chavis, Gibson, Gowen/Goins, Anderson, and Bass families. As with Rebecca Howell discussed above, William comes from the Pamunkey descended Howell family. Through his grandmother Jane Harris (1817-1900), William descends from community founder William Chavis (1706-1778) and wife Frances Gibson (1700-1781) via their daughter Sarah Chavis  (1730-1785) who married Edward Harris (b. 1730). As you can see in the family tree below, I am still working on confirming the exact identity of the Evans ancestors along the Harris line, but ongoing research indicates that this is the Evans family that descends from the Indian woman Jane Gibson the elder of Charles City Co, VA. So if you are using this information to add to your family tree, please note the Evans line is not yet confirmed. Additional lineages include the Nansemond descended Bass and Anderson families. And the Gowen/Goins family who were early residents of Granville.

Marie’s parents William Badger Howell and wife Matilda Watson moved up to Brockton, MA shortly after they married in 1905.  The family also spent a short time in New Haven, CT before returning back to Brockton, MA.

 

Marie Howell
Genealogical pedigree of Marie Howell (1907-2002)

 

In Brockton MA, Marie Howell met and married Harold Cornwall, a descendant of the Wampanoag (Nemasket) and Massachusett (Mattakeeset) tribes of Massachusetts. Harold Cornwall (1901-1991) was the son of Benjamin Cornwall (1869-1918) and Grace Jackson (b. 1879). Benjamin was the son of William Henry Cornwall (1844-1926), a veteran of the Civil War who enlisted in the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry. William’s mother Harriet Brooker’s lineage goes back to the Granderson family of Mattakeeset band of Massachusett Indians who resided in South Scituate (present day Norwell), MA and the Nemasket Band of Wampanoag who resided in Bridgewater, MA.

 

Harold Cornwall genealogy
Genealogical pedigree of Harold Cornwall (1901-1991)
Wampanoag map
Map showing the names and locations of Wampanoag villages/bands.

 

 

Massachusett Nation villages
Map showing the names and locations of the various villages/bands within the Massachusett Nation. Map courtesy of the Ponkapoag Band of the Massachusett Nation

It is possible that Harold Cornwall’s mother Grace Jackson (born 1879)  was of Montauk descent. Grace Jackson’s mother Keziah Gardiner (born 1850) was from Long Island, NY and her family descends from slaves emancipated by New York’s gradual emancipation laws, in the early 1800’s. Their former slave owner was a wealthy man named John Lyon Gardiner, proprietor of the estate on Gardiner Island. John Gardiner’s ancestor Lion Gardiner purchased the island from the Montauk Indians in 1639. John Gardiner was noted for also employing free people of color and Montauk Indians who worked side by side with the slaves, so some intermarriage among those groups may have occurred. Additional deep dive research on the Gardiner family is needed to see if there is anything to support this theory.

Gardiner Island
The location of Gardiner Island is shown as part of the Montauk(ett) territory on this map of Southern New England tribes. Harold Cornwall’s Gardiner ancestors come from this island and could possibly be of Montauk descent.

 

Jack Ronald Cornwall died Dec. 31, 2010, at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Brockton. He was 80. Loving son of the late Harold and Marie (Howell) Cornwall, he was the brother of Janyce Russell, Joan Murphy, Harold Cornwall, Alan Cornwall and his wife Jean, Craig Cora and the late Elaine Cornwall. Jack is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins. Jack was a carpenter after serving in the Army during the Korean War. He was a member of the combat engineering division. He was also a member of the Nemasket Trading Post of the Wampanoag Indian Tribe. Jack was also a amateur boxer in the welter weight class. Visiting hour in the Sampson-Hickey-Grenier MacKinnon Family of Funeral Homes, 309 Main St., Brockton, Thursday at 10-11 a.m., followed by a service with the Rev. Dr. Gordon Postill officiating. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. Burial will be at Melrose Cemetery in Brockton. In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to the Old Colony Hospice, One Credit Union Way, Randolph, MA 02368. Arrangements by Sampson-Hickey-Grenier-MacKinnon Family of Funeral Homes. For directions to send an online condolence, visit http://www.mackinnonfuneralhomes.com.

Another Wampanoag connection to the Cornwall family, comes through the intermarriage withe Peters family. Hanford Truman Cornwall (1856-1922) was the brother of Harold Cornwall’s grandfather William Henry Cornwall. Hanford was married to an Aquinnah Wampanoag Indian Mary Peters who was the daughter of Samuel Peters and Mary Jeffers.


Badger Emory Howell (1911-1996) and Irma Champion (1911-1972) Wabaquasset Nipmuck

 

Badger Emory Howell (1911-1996) was the brother of Marie Howell (1907-2002) discussed above, so I will not provide an overview of his genealogy. As his sister, Badger descends from the Howell, Harris, Gowen/Goins, Anderson, Bass, Evans, Chavis, Gibson families of Granville County. Badger was also my grandfather’s second cousin. In 1931, Badger Howell married Irma Champion, a Nipmuck woman whose genealogy is discussed below.

 

Badger Emory Howell genealogy
Genealogical pedigree of Badger Emory Howell (1911-1996). He was the brother of Marie Howell (1907-2002) discussed above.

Irma Champion (1911-1972) was born in Scituate, MA to Benjamin Champion (born 1867) and Fannie Willard (born 1864) who were both originally from Woodstock, CT. Irma descends from the Nipmuck tribe on her maternal side which traces back to a Nipmuck man named David Dailey (born 1793). Because there were successive generations of out of wedlocks births on this side of the family along with several remarriages, the genealogy can be a bit tricky to untangle so I will explain this family line in detail.

Irma Champion genealogy
Genealogical pedigree of Irma Champion (1911-1972)
Nipmic villages
Praying towns of the Nipmuck Nation are roughly included in the blue circle. The Praying Town on the map labeled “Wabquissit” in the northeast part of Connecticut is where Irma Champion and her Nipmuck ancestors were from.

 

Woodstock, CT was the site of a “praying town” of Nipmuck Indians called Wabaquasset which was set up by missionary John Eliot. Woodstock is located in the Northeastern corner of CT, on the border with MA. In fact, the town used to part of MA until 1749.  It is here we begin with David Dailey who is discussed in the following text:

In 1850, however, Native people at Woodstock included: Charles Dorus, a shoemaker, with wife Mary Ann Dixon and children Franklin and Polly Dorus; his brother Esbon Dorus, a shoemaker, with wife Angenette White Dorus, their children Hezekiah, Henry and Betsey, along with Esbon’s mother Polly Dorus, his mother-in-law Betsey White, and a nephew James Nedson; and, relatives of the Nedson and Dorus families, Hosea Dixon, a basketmaker, with wife Hopey and their four children.

Other Woodstock Natives in 1850 included Sarah Crowd, serving in a white household; and the families of brothers George and DAVID DAILEY, both laborers, while other Indians were living at neighboring Thompson.

Source: Doughton, Thomas L. “Nedson, Dorus and Dixon Families
Nineteenth-Century Native Indian Community
At the Massachusetts and Connecticut Border” 1997. Online access:  http://massasoit.0catch.com/nedson.htm

Indeed in the 1850 census, we find David Dailey (born 1793) as the head of household in Woodstock, CT. His household consisted of his wife Abigail (Fellows) Dailey (born 1799), daughter Mary Dailey (born 1819), daughter Nancy Dailey (born 1834), and granddaughter Lydia Willard (born 1846). Everyone in the household is enumerated with the Dailey surname except for the youngest Lydia. This means Lydia’s father was a Willard. Given the ages of the two daughters Mary and Nancy, Lydia could only be Mary’s daughter.

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The 1860 census helps to confirm that Lydia was indeed Mary’s daughter. By 1860, Mary Dailey had married a man named Richard Addison and with him had a son named Francis “Frank” Addison, born in 1857. In the 1860 census, Mary who is working as a domestic servant for a white Goddard family, is enumerated with the Addison surname. Her son Francis Addison is enumerated in the household as is her daughter Lydia who is also enumerated with the Addison surname. Because Mary Dailey had remarried, her daughter Lydia Willard who was from a previous relationship with a male Willard, adopted the Addison surname as well. Trying to explain the complex nature of the household to the census enumerator was something that Mary and her employers perhaps did not care to do. So it may have been easier to identify the entire family as Addison. Mary Dailey’s husband Richard Addison was enumerated in the 1860 census in a different household where he was employed which is why he is missing from their household.

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In 1861, John Milton Earle, released a census of Indians residing in the state of Massachusetts, commonly called the “Earle Report“. The Dailey/Daly and Willard surnames are listed under the Dudley band of Nipmuc Indians. The town of Dudley, MA borders the town of Woodstock, CT so these are likely people from the same Dailey and Willard families that resided in Woodstock. (Note: There is a Dudley Indian named Lydia Willard, age 13, residing in Uxbridge who is included in the report, but she is a different Lydia Willard than the daughter of Mary Dailey).Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 3.49.05 AM

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An excerpt from the Earle Report of 1861 showing a partial listing of the Dudley Indians. The Dailey and Willard surnames are found within this Nipmuck community.

 

 

By 1870 Lydia Willard (daughter of Mary Dailey), had two daughters: a daughter Fannie Willard born 1864 and a daughter Lillian Tanner born 1869. Lydia (enumerated as Lydia Tanner) and her two daughters were enumerated in the 1870 census in the household of a white family named Burley, where Lydia worked as a domestic servant. The two different surnames of Lydia’s daughters indicates that the oldest Fannie was born out wedlock, so she received her mother’s Willard maiden surname. The youngest Lillian was born to a marriage that Lydia had with a Tanner, so Lillian received her father’s Tanner surname.

Lydia Willard 1870 census

 

In the 1880 census, Lydia Willard’s daughter Fannie Willard was enumerated without her family and living as a domestic servant in the household of a white woman named Maria Corbin.

On 20 June 1893 in Hingham, MA, Fannie Willard married Benjamin Champion. Both Fannie Willard and Benjamin Champion were from Woodstock, CT, so they presumably knew each from their hometown. For reasons not clear to me, they moved to Hingham, MA where they married and they settled in nearby Scituate, MA. On the marriage record, Fannie Willard’s parents are listed as “James” and “Lydia Addison”. This further proves that Fannie Willard was the daughter of Lydia (Willard) Addison. Her mother’s surname was given as Addison on the marriage record because Lydia at that time was known as “Lydia Addison”. Because Fannie was born out of wedlock, James may be the first name of her father. But with no last name given, I am unsure of his exact identity.

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Index of the marriage record for Fannie Willard and Benjamin Champion showing that Fannie Willard’s mother was Lydia (Willard) Addison. Lydia was commonly know by her step-father’s Addison surname.

 

And finally we have the birth record of Irma Champion (1911-1972) which shows that her parents were Benjamin Champion and Fannie Willard.

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Varnell Mayo – A Soldier in the Celebrated 54th Regiment of the Civil War

Many people remember the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment from the popular film “Glory” (1989) and their courageous stand at the Battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina. Organized in Boston, MA and commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the son of a wealthy, abolitionist family, the 54th were the first “colored” regiment of the Civil War. The regiment was composed of a diverse set of men – some were free born, some had been enslaved, some were from the North, and some were from the South. But they all shared a common goal of abolishing slavery in the Southern states. Though most of the soldiers of the colored regiments were primarily of African descent, there were “colored” men of other mixed ethnic backgrounds, including Native Americans. In fact you will find many tribes from up and down the East Coast had tribal members who enlisted in the colored regiments. Granville’s Native American community can proudly claim a connection to the 54th regiment because of Varnell Mayo’s (1837-1900) military service.

Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (1837-1863) commanded the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first
Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (1837-1863) commanded the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first “colored” regiment of the Civil War.

Varnell Mayo’s Granville Roots:

Varnell W. Mayo was born around 1837 in Granville County, the eldest son of William Mayo (1805 – before 1850) and Joyce “Joisey” Chavis (1816 – abt 1906). William Mayo and Joyce Chavis were married 12 Jun 1834 with Joyce’s uncle William Chavis (1801-1854) as the bondsman. Joyce Chavis (1816-1906) and her brother Anderson Chavis (born 1816) were the children of John Chavis (1790-before 1840) and Sarah Anderson (born 1798). John Chavis (1790-before 1840) was the son of Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) an an unknown wife. Sarah Anderson (born 1798) was the daughter of Lewis Anderson Jr (1743-1805) and Winnie Bass (1752-1809). Thus Varnell Mayo descended from several of the prominent Native American families in Granville: Chavis, Anderson, Bass, Gibson. I’m unsure who William Mayo’s parents were, but he almost certainly descends from the Mayo family who were formerly enslaved by a man named Joseph Mayo who left a 1780 will that freed them. By 1789 Joseph Mayo’s slaves were freed in neighboring Mecklenburg Co, VA and  most intermarried with Native Americans/”free people of color”.

I do not have any photos of Varnell Mayo, his siblings, or parents. Varnell's first cousin Julia Chavis (1845-1939) is the elder woman seated in the middle. She was the daughter of William Chavis and Delilah Guy. William Chavis was Varnell's uncle and the man who provided the bond for the marriage of Varnell's parents William Mayo and Joyce Chavis. Julia is pictured here with her husband William Solomon Bibby, children, and grandchildren at the family farm in Franklinton, NC in 1898. (My great-grandfather Edward Brodie Howell's first wife Mary Bibby is standing on the right).
I do not have any photos of Varnell Mayo, his siblings, or parents. Varnell’s  cousin Julia Chavis (1845-1939) is the elder woman seated in the middle. She was the daughter of William Chavis (1801-1854) and Delilah Guy of Granville County. William Chavis was the uncle of Varnell’s mother Joyce Chavis. Julia Chavis is pictured here with her husband William Solomon Bibby, children, and two grandchildren at the family farm in Franklinton, NC in 1898. (My great-grandfather Edward Brodie Howell’s first wife Mary Bibby is standing on the right and NBA coach Henry Bibby and NBA player Mike Bibby’s grandfather/great-grandfather Charles Bennett Bibby is seated at the bottom left).

In the 1840 census, Varnell’s father William Mayo is shown living next to his brother-in-law William Chavis in Granville County and among members of the Harris/DewAnderson, Pettiford, Evans, Richardson and Mitchell families.

William Mayo is listed in the 1840 census in Granville County. Listed above him, is his brother-in-law William Chavis. Other members of the Native American community who are living nearby include: David Dew aka David Harris, Susan Richardson, Edward Anderson, Wilson Dement, Alsey Pettifor, and Maurice
William Mayo is listed in the 1840 census in Granville County. Listed above him, is his in-law William Chavis (1801-1854). Other members of the Native American community who are living nearby include: David Dew aka David Harris, Susan Richardson, Edward Anderson, Wilson Dement, Alsey Pettiford, and Maurice “Morris” Evans.
Source: Year: 1840; Census Place: Granville, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: 360; Page: 154; Image: 316; Family History Library Film: 0018094

In the 1850 census which is the first census in which every household member was enumerated by name, we see Varnell Mayo age 13 years, listed with his parents and siblings:

Varnell
Varnell “Varnal” Mayo is listed in the 1850 census in Granville County, age 13 years old.
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Tabscreek, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 84A; Image: 169

On June 7, 1858 in Caswell County, NC, Varnell Mayo married Sally Chavis:

Varnell Mayo and Sally Chavis married on June 1, 1858 in Caswell County, NC. Source: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.
Varnell Mayo and Sally Chavis married on June 1, 1858 in Caswell County, NC.
Source: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

In the 1860 census, we find Varnell and his wife Sally (“Sarah”) living all the way out in Hamilton, Ohio. During the decades leading up to the Civil War, many “free colored” families from North Carolina moved to Ohio because of hostile conditions from local whites. In 1835, due to an increased fear of growing abolitionist movements and slave uprisings, North Carolina passed a new constitution that disenfranchised all “free people of color” including Native Americans who fell under this social category. This new constitution took away the right to vote, the right to hold public office, the right to own firearms, and the right to move freely in and out of the state. Even though both Varnell and Sally were free born people, there was still the threat of being stolen and illegally sold into slavery. In Ohio, Varnell would find a growing abolitionist community with people who were committed to ending slavery.

Varnell Mayo and wife Sally (Chavis) Mayo listed in the 1860 census in Hamilton, Ohio. Source: Year: 1860; Census Place: Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: M653_963; Page: 207; Image: 78; Family History Library Film: 803963
Varnell Mayo and wife Sally “Sarah” (Chavis) Mayo listed in the 1860 census in Hamilton, Ohio.
Source: Year: 1860; Census Place: Hamilton, Franklin, Ohio; Roll: M653_963; Page: 207; Image: 78; Family History Library Film: 803963

Varnell Mayo Enlists in the 54th Regiment:

The next time we find Varnell is on April 28, 1863 in Boston, MA when he joined the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. He was enlisted by a ” R. P. Hallowell” – this is Richard Price Hallowell (1835-1904) who was in charge of recruiting soldiers for the 54th regiment. His brothers Edward Needles Hallowell (1836-1871) and Norwood Penrose Hallowell (1839-1914) were officers in the 54th. Edward was a lieutenant-colonel and second in command of the 54th (actor Cary Elwes’ portrayal of Major Cabot Forbes in “Glory” was based upon Edward Hallowell). Norwood left the 54th and commanded his own colored regiment – the 55th. The Hallowell brothers came from a prominent Quaker family in Philadelphia who dedicated their lives to abolishing slavery and fighting for equal rights.

Varnell Mayo's Military records confirm that he is the same Varnell Mayo from Granville County, and enlisted on April 28, 1863 by N P Hallowell. Source: The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the U.S. Colored Troops, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored); Microfilm Serial: M1898; Microfilm Roll: 11
Varnell Mayo’s military records confirm that he is the same Varnell Mayo from Granville County, and was enlisted in the 54th Regiment on April 28, 1863 by Richard Price Hallowell.
Source: The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the U.S. Colored Troops, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored); Microfilm Serial: M1898; Microfilm Roll: 11
From left to right brothers Richard Price Hallowell, Edward Needles Hallowell, and Norwood Penrose Hallowell. The three brothers came from a Quaker family that were staunch abolitionists. Richard was responsible for recruiting men in the colored regiments and continued to fight for equality after the Civil War. Edward was second in command of the 54th Regiment and took over the command when Col. Shaw was killed at Fort Wagner. Norwood was the commanding officer for the 55th regiment.
From left to right brothers Richard Price Hallowell, Edward Needles Hallowell, and Norwood Penrose Hallowell. The three brothers came from a Quaker family that were staunch abolitionists. Richard was responsible for recruiting men in the colored regiments and continued to fight for equality after the Civil War. Edward was second in command of the 54th Regiment and took over the command when Col. Shaw was killed at Fort Wagner. Norwood was the commanding officer for the 55th regiment.

In the remarks section we see that Varnell was listed as wounded in action at Morris Island on July 18, 1865 (this should read 1863). Additional muster roll pages clarify these remarks.

In the July/August 1863 muster roll, we see Varnell Mayo was absent because he was “wounded in the attack at Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863”. There it is, Fort Wagner! Just three months after enlisting in the 54th, Varnell Mayo fought in a major battle that would earn the 54th a distinguished place in history noted for their bravery, heroism and sacrifice.

The July/August muster roll shows that Varnell Mayo was absent because he was in the hospotal recvering from wounds sustained at Battle at Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863. Source: The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the U.S. Colored Troops, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored); Microfilm Serial: M1898; Microfilm Roll: 11
The July/August muster roll shows that Varnell Mayo was absent because he was in the hospital recovering from wounds sustained at the attack on Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863.
Source: The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the U.S. Colored Troops, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored); Microfilm Serial: M1898; Microfilm Roll: 11

If you’ve studied the Civil War or have even seen the film “Glory”, you will remember that Fort Wagner was the site of a Confederate fort on Morris Island in South Carolina. Colonel Shaw volunteered his 54th regiment to lead the attack despite knowing they would likely sustain a high casualty rate. Though the Union Army in 1863 began organizing colored regiments, most did not see any action on the battle field because of racist views that colored troops were unfit for battle. Instead most of the colored regiments were simply used for manual labor. Col. Shaw recognized that this was an opportunity to show his peers that his troops were no less capable than any other white regiment. 600 men from the 54th lead the charge that historic day on July 18, 1863 with 30 being killed in action (including Col. Shaw), 24 later dying from their wounds, 15 being captured, 52 going MIA, and 149 being injured. This accounted for the nearly 272 total casualties out of 600 men for the 54th regiment.

“Storming Fort Wagner” depicts the 54th Regiment’s assault on Fort Wagner on Morris Island, South Carolina.

We learn from additional muster rolls and discharge records that Varnell Mayo suffered a gunshot wound in his left foot at Fort Wagner and he spent the remainder of his time after the battle in a soldier’s hospital in Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island. He luckily did not succumb to his injuries and he survived the Civil War. Varnell was discharged from active military service on May 13, 1864 at De Camp General Hospital on David’s Island in New York. In the records we see that Varnell indicates a desire to go back to Columbus, Ohio and that is where the military transported him.

Varnell Mayo received a disability  discharge on May 13, 1864 as a result from a gunshot wound to his left foot. Source: The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the U.S. Colored Troops, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored); Microfilm Serial: M1898; Microfilm Roll: 11
Varnell Mayo received a disability discharge on May 13, 1864 as a result from a gunshot wound to his left foot.
Source: The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the U.S. Colored Troops, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored); Microfilm Serial: M1898; Microfilm Roll: 11

I have not located any correspondence between Varnell Mayo and his family during the war. However a fellow solider in the 54th named Lewis Douglass who also survived the Battle at Fort Wagner, penned a letter to his fiancee that I think expresses the sentiment that many soldiers of the 54th felt including Varnell:

This regiment has established its reputation as a fighting regiment not a man flinched, though it was a trying time. Men fell all around me. A shell would explode and clear a space of twenty feet, our men would close up again, but it was no use we had to retreat, which was a very hazardous undertaking. How I got out of that fight alive I cannot tell, but I am here.
My Dear girl I hope again to see you. I must bid you farewell should I be killed. Remember if I die I die in a good cause. I wish we had a hundred thousand colored troops we would put an end to this war.

Source: http://civilwaref.blogspot.com/2014_07_01_archive.html

Lewis Douglass’ wishes for more colored regiments did come to fruition. As a result of the 54th’s actions at Fort Wagner, many thousands more soldiers enlisted in the colored regiments and are credited with turning the outcome of the war to the Union Army’s favor.

Varnell Mayo after the Civil War:

Though he had returned to Ohio, Varnell Mayo’s roots and heritage were in Granville County and he returned to marry a woman from the Native American community. On September 29, 1874 in Granville County, Varnell married Francis Howell (1842 – before 1920), daughter of Alexander Doc Howell and Betsy Ann Anderson. I’m not sure what happened to Varnell’s first wife Sally Chavis, but the last I can find her is in the 1860 census in Ohio. She likely died or divorced Varnell. I also don’t know of any children born to Varnell and Sally.

Sadly it appears the marriage between Varnell Mayo and Francis Howell did not last long because Varnell is shown in the 1880 census living back in Columbus, Ohio without Francis and listed as “divorced”. In today’s society we have a better understanding of how war can mentally and emotionally harm soldiers and have a medical diagnosis “PTSD” – post traumatic stress disorder. I don’t know if Varnell suffered from PTSD because this was not something that would have been diagnosed in the 19th century but I think it is understandable that his experiences from the war may have been too much for him to carry on normal social relations. Varnell was on the front lines of a very bloody battle in which his commanding officer and many of his comrades did not survive. I can’t imagine how he could not have been traumatized by that experience.

Varnell and his second wife Francis did have one son together named Abram Mayo (1870-1945). Abram’s marriage to Julia Harris on January 7, 1891, shows additional evidence that Varnell Mayo was estranged from his family. On the marriage record, Abram’s father is listed as “William Mayo” (Varnell’s middle name was William) and that his location was “unknown”.

In 1891, Varnell's son Abram Mayo married Julia Harris. Abram lists his father's name as
Varnell’s son Abram Mayo married Julia Harris. Abram lists his father’s name as “William Mayo” (Varnell’s middle name was William) and that his location was “unknown”. (The marriage license was initially requested in December 1890, and the marriage ceremony took place in January 1891. )
Source: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

Varnell Mayo passed away on March 3, 1900 in Springfield, Ohio. His tombstone is located at Ferncliff Cemetery also in Springfield, and you can see from the photo below, his service with the 54th Regiment is memorialized on his tombstone for all to see.

Varnell W. Mayo's tombstone in Ferncliff Cemetery in Springfield, Ohio. His service with the 54th is memorialized on his gravesite. Source: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=21484449&ref=acom
Varnell W. Mayo’s (1837-1900) tombstone in Ferncliff Cemetery in Springfield, Ohio. His service with the 54th is memorialized on his gravesite.
Source: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=21484449&ref=acom

In 1897, highly acclaimed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens revealed his bronze relief sculpture in honor of Col. Robert Should Shaw and the 54th Regiment. The sculpture sits prominently at the edge of the Boston Common and directly across the street from the state capitol. The relief depicts Shaw and his soldiers when they departed for battle on May 28, 1863. Their march through Boston brought them to the exact same spot where the sculpture is located. One of these soldiers was Private Varnell Mayo of Granville County.

Colonel Robert Gould Shaw  and 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment were memorialized with a bronze relief sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gardens in Boston, MA.
Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment were memorialized with a bronze relief sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Boston, MA.
On May 31, 1897, Augustus Saint-Gaudens' bronze relief sculpture of Col. Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment was revealed in a big celebratory event. Living veterans of the 54th marched in front of the statue that day. Varnell Mayo was still living in 1897 and it is possible that he was one of these men. Source: Massachusetts Historical Society
On May 31, 1897, Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ bronze relief sculpture of Col. Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment was unveiled in a big celebratory event in Boston, MA. Living veterans of the 54th marched in front of the sculpture that day. Varnell Mayo was still living in 1897 and it is possible that he was one of these men.
Source: Massachusetts Historical Society

Addendum

The city of New Bedford, MA on July 18, 2015 unveiled a new public mural dedicated to the memory of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. New Bedford like Boston, was a hot spot for abolitionist activity and many soldiers in the 54th hailed from New Bedford. This beautiful mural is another testament to the bravery and honor of the 54th .

Mural honoring the 54th Regiment located in New Bedford, MA. Source: http://www.turnto10.com/story/29580393/mural-unveiled-dedicated-in-new-bedford-for-54th-mass-infantry-regiment
Mural honoring the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment located in New Bedford, MA.
Source: http://www.turnto10.com/story/29580393/mural-unveiled-dedicated-in-new-bedford-for-54th-mass-infantry-regiment