Looking Past the Brick Wall - Slavery Research, Pt. II

This post is the second in a series on conducting slave research.  For the previous installment, please view the this link.

Looking Further- Establishing Ties Between the Two Sets of Owners

Internet research has concluded that Celeste Moore's maiden name was Celeste Ann Nichols.  A search on Ancestry.Com yielded the following:
Mississippi Marriages, 1776-1935
Robert F. Moore to Celest Ann Nicolls, May 29, 1834 in Claiborne County, MS
Hunting For Bears, comp.. Mississippi Marriages, 1776-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: Mississippi marriage information taken from county courthouse records. Many of these records were extracted from copies of the original records in microfilm, microfiche, or book format, located at the Family History Library.
This implies that Joseph and Elizabeth Nichols were Celeste's relatives.  Due to her mention in the deed record of sale to William D. Bush, it's likely that Celeste legally owned the slaves with Elizabeth Nichols and that they could have inherited or were gifted the slaves.  At the time, women were not usually included on deed records unless they had interest in the property that was being exchanged.
Further research also proves this point.  Close inspection of the deed records in Claiborne County, MS uncovered the original sale of the 540 acre plantation on January 19, 1837 (Claiborne County, MS Deed Book R, Pages 142-144).  In that record (between John and Margaret Guissom and Robert Moore and Joseph Nichols), there is no mention of of slaves.  It's likely that once the sale of the plantation was made final between the Guissoms, Robert F. Moore and Joseph Nichols, slaves from Celeste Ann (Nichols) Moore and Elizabeth Nichols (their wives) were brought to work the plantation.

Further proof can be found here:

Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of Mississippi by the Mississippi State Supreme Court, Volume 5, Page 208. EW Stephens Publishing Company, 1840
To add, the 1850 census record of Joseph Nichols, living in District 1 of Claiborne County, MS, lists a birthplace of Maryland listed. Caroline Russell Carson stated in her deposition that she was told she was born in Baltimore, MD

Genealogy of the Earliest Traceable Slaveowning Family

At this site, we find further documentation that states that Joseph and Elizabeth Nichols are the parents of Celeste Ann (Nichols) Moore.  

A Google Books search lists entries for the above parties in Mississippi Court Records, 1799-1835 by J. Estelle Stewart King and Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of Mississippi by the Mississippi State Supreme Court, Volume 5.  At these links, we find documented research that states that Elizabeth Nichols' maiden name is Elizabeth Carney.

Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of Mississippi by the Mississippi State Supreme Court, Volume 5, Page 204. EW Stephens Publishing Company, 1840

Elizabeth is the daughter of Celeste Ann (Brashears) and Arthur Carney and the granddaughter of Nanette "Ann" Tabor (nee Brocus, Brashears, Harrington).  She is also the great granddaughter of William Brocus, Sr, who is the subject of a case where the alleged misappropriation of his slaves (named Pitcher, Jimbon or Sambo, Charlotte, Mary, Fortune, Phil, and Cine) is mentioned (see image above).  The slaves were originally willed to his daughter, Ann, who had died, but they were not given to her or her heirs and were kept by administrators.  Joseph Nichols and Thomas B. Magruder sued on behalf of their wives.

Since the court process to properly administrate William Brocus, Sr.'s will went as late as 1836 (he died in 1805), it's possible that the 540 acre plantation was purchased due to land loss because of the final court decision. 

In Natchez Court Records, 1767-1805 by May Wilson McBee, early land transactions in the Mississippi Territory are noted between William Brocus, Jr. and Joseph Moore.  On page 408, 500 acres is noted as being sold from Jonathan Kemp to William Brocus, Jr. on January 3, 1805.  Brocus then sold it to Dr. Joseph Moore on April 9, 1805.  Several other William Brocus records are noted in the same book.  It's safe to say that both of these families most likely settled in Mississippi while it was still a territory.  Mississippi did not become a state until December 10, 1817.

Interesting Turns of Events

As per Mississippi County Court Records, Minutes of the Orphans Court, Claiborne County, MS, Elizabeth (Carney) Nichols was orphaned by February 1804.  (Page 34) Several people applied for guardianship over her, including Mathilda Carney (noted as her paternal grandmother), Nanette Harrington (her maternal grandmother), Tobias Brashears (her maternal great uncle) and her William Brocus, Sr. (her maternal great grandfather).  Ultimately, William Brocus, Sr. was given guardianship.

The tie to the Brashears family should come as no coincidence.  As noted in the previous post, Lucinda Bush married Marsham F. Brashears on May 1, 1828 in Claiborne County, MS.  Ann Brocus was married to Richard Brashears (allegedly in 1771 as per the Family Data Collection)  who was the brother of Marsham F. Brashears.  Through both of these marriages, the earliest verified owners (Celeste Ann (Nichols) Moore and Elizabeth (Carney) Nichols) were the niece and great niece of Lucinda Bush, the last verified owner.

There are a number of ways ownership could have been derived due to this family's unlucky fortune of having a lot of deaths.  A deep probe into individual county clerk records (wills, probates, deeds) is needed to determine an earlier record of ownership.


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