Caddo Parish Genealogy, Emancipated Slave, Virginia Genealogy

The Emancipation of Lou Patsy

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Lou Patsy was born about 1817 in Virginia

This picture tells a story, her eyes show it all. She had been through a lot, you can see it. I have her picture framed in my home and people always comment on her eyes and they are amazed that I have a photo of a slave ancestor. Lou Patsy and all of her children were among the few free persons of color in Caddo Parish. In 1840 there were 27 free persons of color in Caddo, in 1850 there were 39, and by 1860 Caddo had 69 free persons of color of which 14 lived on John Frederick Herndon’s plantation. We know nothing on Lou Patsy’s family at all. Our family lore says she was part Blackfoot but I’ve yet to confirm any Native American ancestry for her. My only family clue for Lou Patsy is the death certificate of her son Joseph that listed her maiden name as Charles. Lou Patsy was a slave owned by John Frederick Herndon, a large land and slave owner from Fredericksburg, Virginia. JF Herndon brought Lou Patsy to Caddo Parish in the late 1830’s and was one of the early settlers of Caddo Parish. It’s still unknown how JF Herndon came to own Lou Patsy. In 1840 JF Herndon emancipated Lou Patsy in the Caddo Parish court along with 2 of her children that she had by him. At 23 years old Lou Patsy and her children were now free. JF Herndon never married and lived with Lou Patsy and his children by her. They had 10 known children; Mary Ann, Sarah Jane, Joseph Henry, John Jr., Jacob, James B, Edward, Martha, Katie, and my great grandmother Fannie born in 1857.  Lou Patsy also had another daughter Isabella with an unknown father. Here are transcriptions of the two known court appearances on the Emancipation of Lou Patsy, one from 1840 the other from 1845. 1840 (on file at the Caddo Clerk and Shreveport Broadmoor Library) Caddo Parish Police Jury Minutes – 10/12/1840  A petition was laid before the Board of Police by Washington Jenkins Parish Judge of the Parish of Caddo at the request of John F. Herndon for the Emancipation of his Slave Patsy. The petition passed its first reading but was laid over until the next meeting for the purpose of obtaining more information. Caddo Parish Police Jury Minutes – 12/8/1840  The Court of Police after receiving the foregoing reports took into consideration and discussed the petition of John F. Herndon for the Emancipation of his colored woman, Patsy, which passed its first reading at the preceding Term of the Court and after due examination passed its second reading and is as follows: To his Honour the Parish Judge of the Parish of Caddo, Your petitioner a citizen of Caddo Parish respectfully represents to your Honour that he is the owner of a Colored woman named Patsy who from long and faithfull Services rendered your Petitioner both when he labored under Sickness and been in health, he is anxious and conscientiously believes it to be his duty to set at liberty together with her offspring your Honour will do me the favour to lay this petition before the Police Jury at its next meeting and a subsequent [illegible] and do and perform such other acts and things as may be necessary for the ultimate relief of your and he will ever pray be, Signed, John F. Herndon On motion it was resolved that the aforegoing petition be received and adopted and that the Slave Patsy and her offspring be emancipated for life. 1845 (Cad C 377 1806) – 29 Apr 1845 Herndon, John F to EMANCIPATION. Patsy Herndon, f, 28 and her 5 children, Mary Ann Herndon, Sarah Jane Herndon, Joseph Herndon, Jacob Herndon and John Herndon. *binds himself to take care of women and her 5 children. Wit. J B and Parsons, James W. Judge: Jenkins, Washington   –   pg69 No Land Only Slaves – Vol 3/Caddo Parish, on file at Caddo Clerk The first court appearance doesn’t name her two children but it is known that they were Mary Ann and Sarah Jane. The 1845 court appearance does name the five children she had. I have plans to get copies of all the original documents to see any additional information that may be there. Lou Patsy is listed in the 1850, 1860, 1870, & 1880 Caddo census with the same consistent information provided, born in Virginia around 1817. She is named in the Will of JF Herndon from 1880 so we know she was alive then. By 1900 she had died, it’s too bad the 1890 census was destroyed as it may have showed her listed again. She had a granddaughter named Lou Patsy Herndon that was born in 1894 so it’s possible that she died around that time and the granddaughter was named after her. Some of this family did very well with farming and timber on their land in Pine Island. In 1904 when oil was discovered in Pine Island it turned the whole scene around. Fortunes were made for some overnight. Many were also swindled by lease hounds and lost their land. Many were also ripped off via “slant drilling”. Someone could setup a well across your border and slant drill into your land and steal your oil. This happened to many in the area, and it happened to my grandfather. All and all Lou Patsy’s children did very well, namely her sons Joe and James and a few grandsons. Story of Joseph Herndon and Herndon Magnet School in Belcher – Story of Lou Patsy’s grandson David Herndon Raines here – Lou Patsy is said to be buried next to JF Herndon at the Herndon/Raines Family cemetery known as Rang Cemetery in Pine Island. I’ve heard that her original headstone had a dove on it. Something must have happened to it because I’ve looked around there a few times and can’t find her grave. That’s the story of The Emancipation of Lou Patsy and her children Thanks for reading Blessings

Black Confederates, Caddo Parish Genealogy

Uncle Joe and the Battle of Mansfield

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Did he or didn’t he?

This is still the question I ask myself on a story passed down in our family lore. To this day our lore has been very accurate. Doing this research I expected to find a few tall tales as you would assume are in the family lore somewhere.

There is one story that still has me shaking my head, the story of my great grand uncle Joseph “Joe” Henry Herndon and the Battle of Mansfield. This story was told by Joe directly to my grandfather Dave Tyson and in turn has been passed down in the family. Joe Herndon was born free in 1840, the son of a white man John Frederick Herndon and a freed slave Lou Patsy. He was the older brother of my great grandmother Fannie Herndon.

Joesph Henry Herndon 1840-1924

Joesph Henry Herndon 1840-1924

The story is that Joe and his father John Frederick Herndon both participated at the Battle of Mansfield which took place on April 8, 1864 in De Soto Parish, Louisiana. They both fought for the south the story says. There was no information passed down in the story on what they actually did, just that they participated. When the battle was over it is said they rode mules back to Caddo Parish. This is the story.

When I first heard the story I thought, OK here’s one of those tall tales. I did not believe it at all. I’m thinking…. why in the world would a free black man fight for the confederates? It made no sense to me at all. Then I found out that a cousin Stan Armstrong had produced a documentary on this subject “Black Confederates: The Forgotten Men in Gray”. Stan’s great grandmother was Katie Herndon, another sister of Joe Herndon. See Stan’s films here:

Stan had heard the story from his family and he also had met a few of my aunts and uncles who knew the story. My uncles David and Tyrone have told me the story a few times and I just never believed it. I have found no military records for Joe or John Frederick Herndon. A possibility is that they volunteered and are not on record. I looked and looked for records to confirm this story and came up cold.

One day while going through a family law suit I stumbled on a clue. Joe Herndon was called as a witness in a case concerning inherited family land. The case had nothing at all to do with the Civil War but the attorney asked Joe Herndon these questions:

Question – “Joe, did you go to war?” –/ Answer – “Yes, sir”

Q. “Did your brothers go?” / A. “One of them did, yes, sir”

Q. “Which side did you go on — the South or the North?” / A. “South”

Q. “You fought on the side of the Confederacy” / A. “Yes, sir”

OK so now I’m thinking this story may be true after all. This statement by Joe says that his brother went, but no name is given. The brothers that would be of age were; John Jr. born in 1842, Jacob born in 1843, and maybe James born in 1848. Joe’s father John Frederick Herndon was born in 1796 and would have been 68 years old at the time of the Battle of Mansfield in 1864.

Could a white man volunteer with a Negro? How would this work? It seems to me that Joe, even though he was a free man, would still have been with the colored troops and John Frederick with the whites. I’m still shaking my head on this one but that statement by Joe in this case does confirm the lore to a degree.  Joe does say that he fought for the Confederacy, just doesn’t say which battle.

My question has always been WHY? I had to do some reading up on the Civil War and the Battle of Mansfield and get an understanding of what role Shreveport played at that time. At this time Shreveport was a main center for the Confederacy and was a prime target to be taken. Shreveport to this point had been spared from any battles and I can understand why a free man would fight to protect his family and property. John Frederick Herndon was a large land owner and Joe Herndon was named in his father’s Will and received a good inheritance of land and money.

I wonder…..did John Frederick persuade Joe and another son to participate in the battle with an assurance that they would be named in his Will? OR, is this just a tall tale….

Thanks for reading

Happy New Years!

Caddo Parish Genealogy, Louisiana Genealogy

The Mother of Rodessa: Louisa “Mama Louie” (Dunn)

Broken headstone of Louisa Gipson (Gibson)

Broken headstone for Louisa Gipson/Gibson

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Transcription from Louisa’s headstone: Born in the year 1831 – Died November 8, 1901 – In memory of our dear mother who has gone to rest

I remember while growing up, I would hear that my Tyson name was a slave name and that the slave’s name was Dunn, known as “Mama Louie”. This is the story of my 2g-grandmother Louisa “Mama Louie” (Dunn) – I’ve heard her called “The Mother of Rodessa”

Louisa “Mama Louie” (Dunn) was a slave that was born around 1830 in North Carolina. I don’t know what area of North Carolina she was from. It’s possibly in the Pitt County area where the Tyson family came from. Louisa is the grandmother of my grandfather Dave “Pawpaw” Tyson.

Family lore says that Louisa was part Cherokee and she is described by my grandfather as; short, brown skinned, and with long hair. Pawpaw also said that Louisa spoke with an unusual accent that he wasn’t familiar with. I’ve also heard that her mother was pure African. Family lore says that Louisa’s last name was Dunn. I’ve yet to verify that name but it is consistent with every descendant I’ve spoken with. There is also lore that she may be part Irish. Dunn is an Irish name so maybe she was a descendant of a Dunn slave owner.

One hint I have for a Dunn family origin is a Joshua Dunn listed in the Pitt, North Carolina 1820 census in Capt. Noah Tison’s District (both spellings were used). There was a few Noah Tyson’s in Pitt County at this point, this Noah Tison is a cousin of Louisa’s owner Noah Samuel Tyson, my 2g-grandfather. I know there was a large plantation in Wake County, North Carolina called The Purefoy-Dunn Plantation. Many Tyson’s lived in Wake County also but I still haven’t found any connections of this plantation and the Tyson family, it is a hint.

At some unknown point Louisa relocated to Alabama where she was sold sometime around 1845 to Noah Samuel Tyson Sr. There was three Tyson brothers in Lowndes County, Alabama at this time; Noah and his two brothers Archibald and John Adams Tyson. Archibald was the older brother and John was the younger brother. I’ve been told by a few relatives that Noah was a overseer for his brother Archibald, I don’t know if this is true.

According to the family history book “The Tyson and May Genealogy of Pitt County” by Roger Kammerer, Tyson family lore says that these Tyson brothers moved from Pitt County, North Carolina to Alabama in the early 1830’s. The story says that they journeyed for 5 weeks with 12 negroes and 10 mules to get to Alabama. So if this story is true, I think it’s possible that Louisa and some of her family was among these 12 negroes, whom I assume were slaves.

I have no information on any parents or siblings of Louisa. I have her succession records and they state that at the time of her death in 1901 she had no known relatives other than her children and grandchildren. This succession was filed in 1936 by her only living child, Robert “Sambo” Tyson and included all the Tyson heirs of Louisa. The case name was:

Succession of Louis Tyson Gibson & Richard Gibson – Filed Jan. 7, 1936, D.D. Pyburn: DY. Clerk, REC: OLJ

Excerpts from Succession of Louisa Tyson (Appeal) – Jan 4, 1937-Shreveport, LA

“The record discloses that Noah Tyson purchased, in Alabama, the slave Louisa, who was about sixteen years old, and her infant son, Richard, and brought them first to Mississippi and subsequently to his plantation in the northern part of Louisiana. Prior to the Civil War, Louisa gave birth to four more children, Mollie, Jeff, Catherine, and Robert. According to the custom of the time, she assumed the surname of her master (Tyson) and gave the same name to her children, including the first born, Richard….

The evidence is barren of any private writings in which Noah Tyson Sr., acknowledged any of Louisa’s first five children, or called them his children, or that he ever, in public or in private, acknowledged them as his children or called them his children in conversation or that he helped to educate them as his own children. The trial judge excluded all evidence to establish by reputation that Noah Tyson, Sr., was the father of the first five children, but allowed, over plaintiffs’ objection, first, parol evidence of statements made by Louisa Gibson that the father of these children was Noah Tyson, Sr., and, second, statements and declarations made by the children themselves as declaration against interest made at unsuspicious times…

Sometime during the year 1860, Richard Gibson, a slave owned by Aaron Gibson, who lived in the southern part of Arkansas, began to visit Louisa in her slave quarters on the Tyson place and continued to do so at comparatively regular intervals on week-ends, and by him she gave birth to five more children, viz., Chesley, Gus, Hannah, Narcisse, and Loudella. It appears that Richard continued to live on the Gibson plantation immediately following the Civil War until about the fall of 1866, when he moved to the lower portion of the Tyson place and there built a cabin, taking Louisa Tyson and her children, including the first five, to live with them. On August 7, 1870, Louisa Tyson and Richard Gibson were formally married, in order that they might join the church, and Richard became a preacher in the church. During the existence of the community, Louisa and Richard acquired 211 1/2 acres, situated in the parish of Caddo in what is now known as the “Rodessa Oil Field.” Richard died about the year 1897, and Louisa died on November 9, 1901. Prior to Louisa’s death, three of her children predeceased her, viz., Loudella Gibson, Narcisse Gibson, and Mollie Tyson.”

You can see from this succession record that Noah purchased Louisa in Alabama when Richard (my great grandfather) was a baby and she was about 16 yrs old. Richard was born in September of 1844, so I put the event at around 1845. The record also shows that Louisa and her children claimed that Noah Samuel Tyson Sr. was the father. This case was concerning Gibson land in Rodessa and NOT to prove if Noah Tyson was the father of these five Tyson children of Louisa; Richard “Dick”, Mollie, Jefferson, Catherine, and Robert “Sambo” Tyson.

This case was to establish that the five Tyson children were heirs of Louisa and Richard Gibson’s 211 acres in Rodessa. When Richard Gibson died in 1897 (intestate-no Will) the land went into Louisa’s possession as they were legally married in 1870. Then when Louisa died intestate in 1901 all ten of her children were heirs to the land in Rodessa. Since ALL of Louisa’s children were born out of wedlock they were all heirs to this land.

This is why the succession was finally filed in 1936. Many years had gone by with her land never being legally dealt with. Prior to the Rodessa oil boom that land was used by the Gibson family for farming and timber and some land was leased/sold to some Spearman cousins. The succession was in conjunction with a lawsuit my Tyson family filed against their Gibson and Spearman cousins along with United Gas Company. United Gas had leased the land and was making millions of dollars from the oil wells. I have these case files and this case was pretty nasty. The case is “Tyson v. Spearman” 190 La. 871. The Tyson heirs were labeled as:

“illegitimate white bastards”… “adulterous bastards, the issue of an illicit union with her master, Noah Tyson, Sr., a white married man, and were therefore incapable of being acknowledged by or of inheriting from their mother.” From Succession Of Louisa Tyson

To this day the term “white bastard” is still used in a joking way with the Tyson & Gibson cousins. I’ve heard it myself a few times. We know that our grandparents fought it out in court over this land and luckily we still get along and can joke about it. We had nothing to do with it. I’m sure Louisa never thought her children and grandchildren would fight in court over her land.

The Tyson family won this lawsuit in 1938, it settled for 2 million dollars which was one of the largest cases recorded in the area to that date. The case was handled by the law firm Cook & Cook which today is one of Northern Louisiana’s top law firms. This is a very large Tyson family so there was many heirs to divide up what was left after the attorney fees. My family still owns a few acres of this land in Rodessa that was recovered through this law suit. There was actually numerous law suits concerning different family land in different locations. This will be a future post on inherited land. My mother is an attorney so I love studying these cases, it’s in the blood.

I have yet to find the document where Noah bought Louisa in Alabama but I have a possible record. A Bill of Sale from 1845 in Alabama shows that Archibald Tyson gifted for $1 a 16 year old female slave named Lonie to Amanda Tyson. There was also a 20 yr. old male slave Abram included in this transaction (no future info for Abram). Noah S. Tyson’s wife was Amanda (Brinkley) and I believe these gifted slaves were to Noah’s wife because I haven’t found another Amanda Tyson in the family tree at that time. This Bill of Sale is recorded in the Caddo Parish deed and conveyance records which seems to me to verify that it was a record of Noah and Amanda Tyson. The brothers Archibald and John stayed in Alabama and it makes sense that Noah and Amanda’s slaves would be on record in Caddo Parish. Noah Tyson settled in Caddo Parish around 1847 and became one of the founders of the town Frog Level which was renamed Rodessa in 1898.

Louisa was known as Mama Louie and I think it’s possible that this Bill of Sale which is found in a book of transcribed slave records “No Land Only Slaves Vol. 3-Caddo Parish” could be a mis-spelling of Louie. So I think it’s possible that this Bill of Sale could be for Louisa, but can’t say for certain. On my next trip to Shreveport I will be finding out if I can get a copy of the original document. The 1850 Caddo Parish Slave Schedules for Noah Tyson show a female that matches Louisa and one 6 yr. old male that matches Richard who was born in 1844. Another 2 yr. old female is listed that matches the age for Louisa’s second child Mollie, born in 1848. Noah Tyson was never a large slave owner like his brother Archibald, who at the end of the Civil War is said to have had 300 slaves. This 1850 Caddo slave schedule shows Noah with 6 slaves.

The 1860 Caddo Parish slave schedules show Noah Tyson owning 13 slaves and 3 slave houses. There are three females listed as 30 yrs. old, so one of them could be Louisa. None of her five Tyson children seem to be listed, so this supports the family lore that Noah didn’t treat her children as slaves.

A theory I have is that Louisa was owned by Archibald and that Noah was Archibald’s overseer. The 1840 Lowndes census shows Archibald owning 41 slaves and Noah didn’t own any slaves on record. I think it’s possible that Noah got Louisa pregnant while he was her overseer and that Archibald gifted her to Noah’s wife Amanda. Just a theory……

The 1870 Caddo Parish ward 7 census shows Louisa living with her husband Richard Gibson, who was listed as a farmer. I’m not sure what crop Richard was growing but Caddo was cotton country so I would assume he was growing cotton. Living with them are most of the Tyson children and her Gibson children. Living next door was Richard Tyson and his first wife Josephine. The census listed her as, black, 40 yrs old so born around 1830. By the 1880 census Louisa and Richard Gibson were now on their own land in Rodessa. Louisa is listed in the census as 45 yrs old so born in 1835. The 1900 census shows Louisa widowed, living alone. Her neighbors were mostly her Tyson and Gibson children and their families. This census listed her as 75 yrs. old and born in 1825. The 1880 & 1900 census listed both of Louisa’s parents as born in North Carolina.

Louisa’s succession said that all of her children other than Richard were born on Noah Tyson’s plantation. All but the last few Gibson children were born before emancipation. I have the marriage certificate for Richard & Louisa which shows that they were married in Caddo Parish by Rev. Anthony Beasley. Too bad these marriage certificates from Caddo at this time didn’t list the parents. The witnesses listed were; John Aaron, William Stewart, and Charles Dillard. John Aaron and William Stewart were whites from the area, both listed in the Caddo 1870 census. I’m unsure who Charles Dillard was or any connection of either witnesses to Louisa.

Marriage certificate for Richard Gibson & Louisa Tyson

Marriage certificate for Richard Gibson &  Louisa Tyson

Louisa’s son Robert “Sambo” Tyson lived to 92 years old and my uncle David talked family history with him often. Sambo said that they lived in Noah’s slave quarters and that Noah treated them kindly. Noah would feed them out of a big trough; Louisa would fill the trough up with cornbread and pour buttermilk over it. They also made their own spoons and forks from hickory and cypress wood. Sambo said that Noah’s slave children played and ate with Noah’s white children also.

Our family lore of Louisa being part Cherokee has never been verified. I gave an autosomal DNA test to my uncle Tyrone Tyson a few years ago. The main reason I purchased this test for him was to see if any Native American DNA would show. Louisa is one of four ancestors in my tree that are said to be mixed with Native American and I still can’t find any proof of that lore. His test showed zero Native American or Asian DNA, just Sub-Saharan African & European. I know that autosomal DNA tests will vary between siblings so it is possible that we carry Native American DNA but from that one test I still can’t verify. My father has 13 siblings (most still alive) and I’ve wondered what another sibling’s test would show. I’ve learned that the DNA from all of our ancestors gets passed down through a series of re-combinations and some DNA gets lost. If our Native American ancestors go back 6 or 7 generations or more it may not show up in a test taken now. Tyrone’s test was done by

I’ve looked into the owner of Louisa’s husband, Richard Gibson. Aaron Gibson from Miller County Arkansas was born in 1829 in North Carolina; in 1853 there is an Aaron Gibson who married Jane Freeman in Richmond, North Carolina. The 1850 Richmond census shows an Aaron Gibson with his mother Mary and siblings. In the 1860 census Aaron Gibson is found in Sulphur Fork, Lafayette, Arkansas, married to Jane with their oldest child born in 1855, so it is a possible match.

This area of Sulphur Fork borders Miller County. Aaron Gibson bought land in Miller, Arkansas in 1860 which places him right where Richard Gibson was living when he started his relationship with Louisa. If this is the same Aaron Gibson, then Richard Gibson may come from the Richmond, North Carolina area. Richard Gibson’s parents are unknown and the succession for Louisa says that when Richard Gibson died he had no known relatives other than his five children with Louisa. The area that Aaron Gibson lived in was very close to the Arkansas-Louisiana border and Rodessa is only a few miles from that border. So it wouldn’t have been that hard for Richard Gibson to get to Rodessa to visit Louisa. It’s possible that Noah Tyson and Aaron Gibson knew each other to let Richard travel back and forth over the years.

Louisa’s headstone says she was born in 1831, which if is true means that her first child Richard was born when she was only 13 yrs. old. Richard has his birth date listed on his headstone of Sept 7, 1844. The 1900 census asked your birth month and Louisa has listed that she was born in May, the record also says that she was the mother of 11 children with 10 living. Since no other child is known of it is possible an unknown child died as an infant.

Louisa died on November 8, 1901 in Rodessa. No death certificates were issued in Caddo Parish before 1911 so she has no known record of her death. She was the mother of 10 known children – 5 Tyson and 5 Gibson, and 95 known grandchildren – 61 Tyson and 34 Gipson/Gibson, which is the most grandchildren for any woman I’ve documented so far. Louisa is buried in our Tyson family cemetery known as Sugar Hill in Rodessa. A plan that my uncle David and I have talked about is to restore her headstone with all the Tyson & Gibson children listed. View the Gipson/Gibson and Tyson pedigree charts here:

Well that’s all I know about Mama Louie for now……..

“The Mother of Rodessa”

Thanks for reading

Love & Blessings

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