Slaves Held by Miles Bembry

Miles Bembry I is the first Bembry I have on record in America, and my “brick wall.” Recently, I was surprised to discover that he moved from Edgecombe County, North Carolina, to Pulaski County, Georgia late in life to join his sons, Thomas and William.

Miles died in November or December of 1838. His son Thomas, my 4th great-grandfather, was his administrator.

It is unclear whether Miles left a will. His documents were filed under at least three different names on Family Search, and more may yet be discovered. A receipt dated shortly after Miles’ death refers to a will, but a later document declares that he died intestate because a will cannot be located. This all sounds slightly fishy to me!

There is however, a detailed estate inventory listing several enslaved individuals.


I had already seen these names in other documents, and so I can add more information to a few of them.

one negro man by the name of Gilford $1,500 (born about 1799 in North Carolina, more about him here)

one negro man by the name of Ben $800 (I originally thought this might be the Ben Bembry who married Mariah Fleming in 1871, however, that was a younger Ben, perhaps the son of this one.)

one negro man named Ned $1,000 (found on 1870 census in Hawkinsville, Pulaski County, born about 1810 in North Carolina)

one negro woman by the name of Hannah $150 (probably the Hannah listed as belonging to Miles’ wife, Nancy Ann Bryan, in Needham Bryan’s 1797 will. If so, it seems likely that she is the mother of some of the other people listed.)

one negro woman by the name of Dorcas $200

one negro woman by the name of Lish (found in a later court case as Phelitia) $700

the interest of one woman named Rose not in possession (subject of a later court case. She is probably the Rose listed as a pair with Guilford in William Bembry’s estate file. She could be his wife.)

one negro girl named Jane $800

one negro girl named Clarry $600

one negro girl named Lovey $450 (also named in a later court case)

Unfortunately, I have not found an account of the estate sale yet. I do know that several people were later the subject of court cases between Bembrys, so they seemed to more or less stay in the family. I have also heard that Ben and Ned were held by Marina Mayo Bembry, Miles’ daughter in law, until emancipation and then given land, but I have no documentation to prove it.

I am working on a project to add these individuals to the Bembry family tree in such a way that I can compile all the information I have about them. Unfortunately, Ancestry is not letting me upload my Family Tree Maker file at the moment, and no one seems to be able to figure out why. (Yes, the Bembrys broke the program!) Hopefully, that problem will eventually be resolved and I can make the information more available to descendants.

3 thoughts on “Slaves Held by Miles Bembry

  1. Hello Kelly, it is true that Ben and Ned were given land by Marina. Ben is my gggandfather and had a son John Bembry Sr. My Great Aunts and Uncles along with my Grandfather farmed that land into the late 1980s. I remember going there as a child with my Grandfather,to stay on the farm for the weekends during the summer. I can’t recall the amount of acres but it was a substantial amount. I have pictures of the farmhouse along with my ancestors on that very farm! My family still has family reunions on that land. There a large numbers of black Bembry s still in Hawkinsville till this day. I’ve been working on this tree since 1980 and have gained a lot of info from your post.


    1. Hi Darren. Thanks for this great information! I had seen it on a message board somewhere (maybe you posted it a long time ago) but I didn’t have the source. Do you think that Ben came with Miles from North Carolina? I know that Ned (Ben’s brother?) and Guilford were born there, so they most likely came with him. And Hannah, too. Maybe she was Ben and Ned’s mother, do you know? I will keep posting anything I find, and hopefully I can get my tree uploaded before too long and share it.


    2. Hi Darren! Do we know each other? If we don’t, then we should! Ben is my great, great-great grandfather as well. I’m on the Jim Bembry side (John’s brother) and have been working with Kelly (who’s been very helpful) as well as with others from the John Bembry, Alonzo Bembry, Mattie Bembry branches to put the puzzle back together again. I’d love to talk with you. Please send me an email with your contact information if you’d like to discuss further. Have you done DNA testing? My email address if


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