Five wives, nine lives, and an understated obituary.
Fanny Williams, a "free woman of color," indentures her eight year old son to Kenneth Bembry.
I've been deep into the weeds lately, organizing the first two generations of Bembrys. It's more or less like herding cats, particularly when it comes to Williams. I wrote previously about how I had mixed up Miles Bembry II and William Bembry I. To be fair, I wasn't the only one: their estate files were … Continue reading Four Williams and a Henry
There are two topics that are guaranteed to come up in just about ongoing discussion of American family history research: slavery and slave ownership. Genealogy television shows frequently explore the subject: of course you would expect to see that on Henry Louis Gates' excellent African-American Lives. But, it's remarkable how many celebrities (not all Southern) … Continue reading Researching Slave-Holding Ancestors
The 19th century starts off with yet another spelling of Bembry—and a mystery. (Read part I of the story here.) Miles is found on the 1800 census of Bertie county. His name is transcribed as "Banbury" but in fact it looks like "Bembury" or "Bembery" to me. He is listed as owning 69 slaves, after owning … Continue reading Miles Bembry Part II: 1800-1809
Miles Bembry was the first person that I know of in America to call himself "Bembry." However, the name was spelled several different ways, as it is even today. He first appears on the 1790 census of Martin County, North Carolina as "Miles Benbory." He has two females in the household, presumably Ann Bryan Bembry … Continue reading Miles Bembry Part 1: 1790-1799