Caddo Parish Genealogy, Louisiana Genealogy

The Mystery of John White


My great grandparents Willie White Hayes and Isabel Young with 5 of their grandchildren, my father & siblings; l/r – Ruby (my father), Earnestine, David, Claude, Myrtle, and baby Dorothy on Isabel’s shoulder. Mira, Caddo Parish, Louisiana 1931

Welcome to the Tyson Family Roots Blog

I decided to start this blog with my 2g-grandfather John White, born around 1842 in Louisiana. His parents and any confirmed siblings are currently unknown. The only records for John is the 1870 Caddo Parish census, and a death certificate of his son that names him. John White died before 1880 so I have very little to go on with him. Our family lore had named most of the children he had with his only known wife Jane Hill. These children were confirmed in census records.

John White is the grandfather of my paternal grandmother, Willie Lee Hayes-Tyson. Grandmother got the Hayes name from her father Willie White Hayes, the last child of John White and Jane Hill. The family lore is that John White died when Willie was very young and Willie ended up being raised by an uncle, Mr. Hayes. We do not know the first name of this Mr. Hayes. He may be a Samuel Hayes that is living close to John White in the 1870 census listed with a wife Rose. I’m told that Mr. Hayes married the aunt of Willie and that we were not related to the Hayes family. I’m unsure of this and have no family information as of yet for Samuel and Rose Hayes to connect them.

1870 Caddo ward 7 census showing John and Jane White with children; Elvira, Peggy, and Frank

1870 Caddo Parish ward 7 census showing John and Jane White with children; Elvira, Peggy, and Frank

John White married Jane Hill possibly very close to the end of the Civil War. Their first known child Elvira was born around 1865. This hints that John and Jane may have lived on the same plantation as slaves or close by. The 1870 Caddo Parish ward 7 census shows John White and family, listing John as a farmer. This ward 7 is the Belcher area of Caddo Parish. The census shows that John could not read or write and his personal estate value was $100. The 1870 census didn’t ask the birthplace of parents so I missed seeing what John would have listed there. They added that question in the 1880 census.

The 1880 Caddo census shows Jane now widowed living with her children; Peggy, John, Willie, and Bethanie. Our family lore named a child Bertha and I assume it was Bethanie. The age listed for Willie in the 1880 census was really off, an obvious case of wrong enumeration. My great grandfather was born in 1875, we have his family bible with the date of his birth and the census listed him at 14 yrs. old. Elvira and Frank are not listed and may have died or not living in the home with Jane. Family lore also says that John White and Jane Hill had seven children and my great grandfather Willie was #7.

from the bible of Willie (White) Hayes, listing his birth date of Dec 10, 1875

from the bible of Willie (White) Hayes, listing his birth date of Dec 10, 1875

Caddo Parish started issuing death certificates in 1911 so there is no death certificate for John White nor have I found a marriage certificate for John and Jane. I’ve combed through newspaper announcements and other local sources and have still come up cold. The only clue I’ve found for John White’s death is from the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885. It listed a negro John White that was shot and killed in Nov. 1879 in Caddo Parish. It listed him as born in Texas, married, a farmer, and 27 years old. Not quite a fit with the birth place of Texas and the age doesn’t match up. The John White in my tree should be born in Louisiana and around 37 years old at that time.

This was a brutal era in Caddo Parish and across the southern states. Caddo was nick named “Bloody Caddo” due to the constant killings of blacks after Emancipation. From the years 1865-1876 Caddo Parish had 566 homicides making Caddo the most violent parish in the state. Some of these killings against blacks were politically motivated, any black that dared vote Republican would end up dead. I wonder if John White was among these killings. You can read and download the PDF; Bloody Caddo: White Violence Against Blacks in a Louisiana Parish 1865-1876, written by Gilles Vandal on my website.

My great grandfather Willie White Hayes died in 1936 and his death certificate didn’t list his father, only his mother Jane. So I ordered the death certificate for the other son John White Jr. and his did list both parents. It also confirmed a half-brother Rev. Alonzo Martin who signed the certificate as his brother. This death certificate and the 1870 census are the only records I have for John White. I’ve found no records for him in the Freedmen’s Bureau Records, land, tax, marriage, or military.

death certificate for John White Jr. naming parents John White and Jane Hill

death certificate for John White Jr. naming parents John White and Jane Hill

I believe John White may have come off the plantation of Reuben White, a large slave owner in Caddo Parish. Reuben White had a plantation called Rush Island Plantation which was near Shreveport. Reuben White was one of the early settlers of Caddo Parish and is listed in Caddo’s first census of 1840. This census shows Reuben owning 19 slaves. By 1860 he was Caddo’s largest slave owner listed in the slave schedules with 162 slaves and a few males and females that match the age for John and Jane.

There is no family lore of what plantation John or Jane lived on or them being the descendants of a slave owner. I’ve yet to see any list of Reuben White’s slaves or family papers. I do have records of many slaves that he bought or sold which are recorded in the book No Land Only Slaves Vol 3, covering slave records for Caddo Parish. None of these records name a John or Jane that match.

My aunt Earnestine would stay at times with her grandparents Willie & Isabel Hayes. Earnestine has a remarkable memory and is known in the family as “The Hall of Records”. She recalls vivid details of events and names of almost everyone that came to their house. She will tell what they were wearing and what the weather was like that day. She told me that her grandfather Willie told her that his father John was born in Caddo Parish around the time Caddo was incorporated which was 1838-39. Earnestine, as well as the rest of the family always say the White and Hill side of the family lived around Belcher and Dixie. Some also lived in Bossier Parish around Plain Dealing.

My grandmother “Mother Willie” knew some of these relatives but since her passing in 2000 at 98 yrs. old we have lost contact with them. There is one person in particular that I’m still working on trying to connect, Rev. Morris Austin of Shreveport. His picture hangs on the wall of my aunt Lottie’s (Sug) house, and I had asked her who he was. She says he’s a relative on the White side of the family but doesn’t remember the connections. I called Morris Austin, now in his 80’s and we had a good long talk about the family. He was glad that I’m doing this research and told me that he is related to us on the White side but doesn’t know the ancestors name. He recalled a great grandmother Jane Bradford which is a good clue as there have been other marriages between the Bradford & White family. I bet Mother Willie could tell me this one.

The six known children of John White and Jane Hill were; Elvira, Peggy, Frank, Bethanie, John Jr., and Willie. Peggy married William House; John Jr. married Minnie Lee; and Willie married Isabel Young. At a family reunion in 1999 I met the son of John White Jr. named Reuben Glassell White. That name Reuben definitely stirs my curiosity. When I met him I didn’t have this information yet or would have asked him about that name, and he passed away in 2002.

The pedigree charts for John White and Jane Hill are here at my website –

There is a few possible relatives of John White that always seemed to be living close by, either to John in the 187o census or to Jane in later census records. Joe White, Daniel White, Johanna White, Alex White, and Solomon Martin are all people that lived close by.

Joe White was born around 1820 possibly in South Carolina (his census records are conflicting). Joe lived close by in 1870 and 1880. In the 1900 census he is living next to Jane who is now married to Adkins Martin. Living with Joe White is the father of Adkins Martin, Solomon Martin, born about 1839 in South Carolina. He is listed as the brother to the head of household, which was Joe White. Solomon may have been the brother of Joe’s wife Sarah, I’m not sure of her maiden name. I’ve seen another Caddo researcher naming her as Sarah Miles but I don’t know if that’s correct.

Adkins Martin is the father of one of Jane’s other known sons, Rev. Alonzo Martin, and another possible son named Eli Martin. After John White died Jane had more children, the ones known to the family were; Lawson Harris, Alonzo Martin, Arana Collins, and one Aunt Earnestine calls “Uncle Baby” who I think was Eli Martin.

So goes The Mystery of John White. This story will continue with my blog on my 2g-grandmother Jane Hill. Thanks for reading…..


Mark Tyson


31 thoughts on “The Mystery of John White

  1. Congrats!!!!!! Now I wlll have to look over notes on my Caddo LA folks. I know a Few, I bet you guys have a big FB group. Look foward to more. Here’s hoping more family finds you.

    • Thank you True! This is one side of the family with lost connections, I know tons of my Tyson side but this side has been hard to connect all the dots. I’ve spoke with other people from the White & Hill family and none can make the connections. Leave no stone unturned….

  2. Mark, welcome to the world genealogy blogging! Your blog is excellent and I can tell you now I’ll be stopping by to learn more about your White ancestors because my maternal great-grandfather, Jack White, born Andrew Jackson White, is a mystery ancestor for me at the moment. Though he lived and died in the Houston, TX area, family believes he came from Louisiana. It would be cool if we turn out to be cousins huh? Okay I’m claiming you as kin already– LOL!! I will let you know what I find out!

    Excellent post indeed!!

    • Thanks Marlive, this is a new journey with blogging. The White & Hill name is so common that it’s hard to connect them all. One thing is that they all seemed to live in the same area so I just research every White & Hill family in Caddo & Bossier. Much blessings….

  3. You have a lot of interesting research here. I like the way you told where you got each piece of information. Good luck with putting the missing pieces together!

  4. Were you able to find out if John White had any siblings or other relatives name Charles White born in or around 1824 in Tennessee? My research shows that he married a young lady named Louisiana. She was born in 1819 in Alabama.

    • Hello Derrick, thank you for reading my blog. As of yet there are no confirmed siblings of John White. Just other’s in the area that are on my “possible relative” list. No Charles White on my list there. This is a hard line to trace, absolutely no records for John White other than the 1870 census and a few death certs. of his children naming him. Have a blessed day …. Mark

      • Quinten Hoskins says:

        Tyson, this may be far fetched but I too come from an ancestor with the last name Dunn from north Carolina. My third great grandmother name is Mellie Dunn. She was born in 1838. I am trying to do more family research and maybe we can put some clues together and possibly figure out if there is a match. Perhaps you can email me when you can.

      • Hello Quinten, thanks for reading the blog and your reply. The Tyson family that owned my 2g grandmother Louisa Dunn came from Pitt County, NC. She was born in NC but I’m unsure of where she was born. I just know where the Tysons lived. Do you know where your Dunn ancestors came from and have you taken any DNA tests? Blessings….Mark

  5. Daniel White says:

    Wow! I am the 4th great grandson of Reuben White. Peter White was his “son” . born in 1832 in LA. Peters death certificate says that Reuben was his father and his mother was an unknown slave. I’m assuming a slave of Reuben white. I wish I could find out more about Peter White’s mother but being a slave no real records of her are available.
    Thank you for putting this info on line. If I can help make any connections please let me know.
    Dan White

    • Wow is right! I’m still trying to figure this part of the family out so my hunch remains that Reuben White could have owned my 2g grandfather John White. Have you done any DNA testing? This might be one way to see if we both descend from Reuben OR another unknown White. Where was Peter born & raised?

  6. Dan White says:

    I have not had DNA testing. But I am going to do that. I have a copy of Peter wait death certificate. I believe he was born in Louisiana and later moved to Texas. In 1860 he moved to Canada and worked in Yarmouth Nova Scotia . He worked in the shipyards. Later married a Blackfoot Indian from Ohio. Then they moved to Leslie Michigan and started a farm. If you send me a message it I will send you a copy of the death certificate and pictures of two of them.

  7. blackgirlgonekbeauty says:

    I came across this post while searching my family’s roots in greenwood Louisiana. I have a relative by the name of Elvira Dotson buried in the greenwood cemetery and I am curious to know if somehow our families could possibly be related. I am trying to find out more information about our family history as well.

  8. Shan Hunt says:

    I’m a 4th generation granddaughter of Della White, I would love to have some additional information on the family tree.

  9. Ashleigh says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article! My bloodline stems from Washington Reams and Isaac Reams. They were slaves on the Reuben White Plantation as well, sadly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s