Sunday, July 30, 2006

James Presly Ball

James Presly Ball
I only have one individual listed in my compilation with the surname "Ball". He is James Presly Ball and he appears to have spent enough time in Lewisburg to register as a free man (in 1847). The Registry of Free People of Color 1846 - 1964, index by James Talbert of the Greenbrier Historical Society, 12/31/2001 (Appalachian Springs Newsletter of the GHS, 6/2002) contains an 1847 entry (entry # 12) dated 12/27/1847 for James Presly Ball, 22 years of age, the son of William & Susan Bell, free person of color.
James Presly Ball became a photographer of some importance in the Cincinnati area.
Information on James Presly Ball can be found at: Black_photography
10874493 - "becoming the Richard Avedon of the 1880's"
Appalachian Springs, Vol 10, # 3, 2004 (which refers the reader to )

Monday, July 24, 2006

James P.D. Gardner

James P.D. Gardner -
James P.D. Gardner was co-counsel (with Dr. Rucker) in the SHUE murder case. (See Greenbrier Ghosts and Other Strange Stories by Dennis Deitz). In Dr. Montgomery's papers he indicates that James P.D. Gardner was the "first negro to practice law in Greenbrier & Mercer counties". He was the husband of (1) Eliza Myles Gardner & (2) Alice Walley Gardner. He was the son of Fannie Perkins & Stephen Gardner. He was born in 1867 & can be found on the 1880 Greenbrier County census (Lewisburg District) as a mulatto male, age 13.
More information on James P.D. Gardner can be found at:
-- Perkins Family History
-- The Negro Historical Sketch of Lewisburg, West Virginia by M.J. Cabell - Through the Looking Glass (in the Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society, Volume VII, No. 5, 2003, p. 91)
-- Mercer County History, 1984 by the Mercer County Historical Society, P.O. Box 5012, Princeton, W.V., 24740
-- Historic Cemeteries of Lewisburg (a brochure published by the Lewisburg Visitors Center)
-- Will of Stephen Gardner

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Profile: John Henry
In the 7/12/06 post I metioned that one of the most famous workers in U.S. History may have hailed from southeastern W.V. In a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC article (July 1972), Mountain Days, Mountain Voices by Bryan Hodgson, p. 126, he describes John Henry as a "legendary Black man" who "died" ... "while outworking a steam drill" ... near Talcott in the early 187o's". (Talcott is in Summers County)
A Caucasian Haynes family genealogist told me that certain members of his family believe that John Henry may have been enslaved by Robert Shanklin (and he directed me to the Will of Robert Shanklin). ( I think this would be a good subject for the progam "History Detectives").
Also see,

Mary Ann Littleton Hughes

Profile: Mary Ann Littleton Hughes
In the previous post I mentioned that a resident of Greenbrier County (GC) had been a domestic servant for the Lieutenant Governor of Confederate Virginia.
Mary Ann Littleton Hughes was the daughter of Cook & Maria Littleton. She appears to have been the sister of James H. Littleton & John Littleton. She was the aunt of Eliza Ann Littleton (Ellis) Davis & she was the mother of Maria Hughes Pryor (who was the wife of Haskins Pryor). She was the mother or grandmother of Elvira Hughes.
Mary Ann Hughes can be found in the 1870 GC census where she is listed as a domestic servant for Samuel Price.
Samuel Price had been the Lieutenant Governor of Confederate Virginia. He was a lawyer and an elected official in WV serving on a number of Constitutional Conventions including the secession convention. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a vacancy which occurred when Sen. Allen Caperton died (& he served in this capacity from 8/1876 - 1/1877)
In 1880, Mary Ann is working for Samuel Price's sisters, Priscilla & Mary A. Price. (She is enumerated twice in 1880, once at her workplace & once with her brother, John Littleton) At least two other relatives of Mary Ann Hughes worked for the Price Family (John Littleton & Mary Lucinda Page Kelly - MLPK worked for Margaret & Jane Price).
Mary Ann Hughes can be found in the 1900 & 1910 GC Census records. She died on 5/19/1911 and is buried at the Old Colored Cemetery at Lewisburg. She shares a marker with her brother, James H. Littleton (although the marker says "Litton"). The marker indicates that Mary Ann was 112 years old at the time of her death. I think she was, more likely, 83 -91 years old when she died. In the 1900 & 1910 census information she is shown as widowed but I have not been able to find a husband either through my own research or through the research of a paid genealogist. A photo of the grave marker for Mary Ann Littleton Hughes can be found in BLACK RESIDENTS OF GREENBRIER, MONROE, POCAHONTAS & SUMMERS COUNTIES, WEST VIRGINIA by C. Haynes (copies of which are housed at the Greenbrier Historical Society in Lewisburg, the WV Division of Culture and History at Charleston, the WV State University Library at Institute & the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans - with the GHS having the most recent edition).
Mary Ann Littleton Hughes appears to have been the aunt of my great grandmother, Mary Alice Spriggs Kelly Knight McVey & she raised this ggrandmother.
I have been unable to locate or speak with a Price descendant. It would be interesting to know if Samuel Price kept a diary and, perhaps, made reference to his domestic servants. Comments made by him are included in the proceedings of the various constitutional conventions and these comments & his positions on various issues give some idea of what he may have been like as a man.
Though Samuel Price had a house in town (in Lewisburg) he also had a farm about 5 miles outside of town.
I often wonder about the conversations that Mary Ann would have overheard in the Price household. It is a shame that there are no written recollections/diaries by people like Mary Ann Littleton Hughes.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It is clear to me that the Black residents of southeastern West Virginia were intricately involved in the politics and daily life of the area. One man (who I've previously mentioned) broke the horse that a Confederate General would later ride. One woman (my great aunt) was a domestic servant for the Lieutenant Governor of Confederate Virginia. Another man was the first Black elected official in WV. Still another was co-counsel in the only case (the Shue case) in which a ghost helped to convict a man of murder. The famous entertainer "Bricktop" was from Greenbrier County. The area claims the most famous worker in U.S. history, "John Henry". The esteemed photographer, James Presley Ball registered in Lewisburg as a free person of color in 1847. The disputed child of President Thomas Jefferson (who was the oldest child of Sally Hemings and known as Thomas Corbin Woodson) lived in the area for a while.

I have previously written about Frank W. Page who broke the horse "Traveller". In future posts I will write about the other folks mentioned above.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Annie Matthew Perkins (more information)

In the previous profile regarding Annie Matthews Perkins, I indicated that she and three friends were killed in a car accident in Fayette County on 10/28/1928. Today, I searched the WV Death Certificates on line ( & learned the identity of the three friends. They were Josephine Cooley Jackson (about 35 y.o.) (WV DC # 12683) and her sons Charles Walter Jackson (17) (WVDC # 12682) & Tearance B. Jackson (14) (WV DC # 12684). Earlier today an aunt supplied me with the surname "Jackson" but putting it into the WV DC site revealed only the two boys. I knew there was a fourth person in the car so I attempted a new search and put a single asterisk in the space for last name. I then selected Fayette County, the year 1928, & the tag for "exact date". This search yielded every death in Fayette in 1928. I then scrolled down to find everyone who died on 10/28/1928 & found Josephine Cooley Jackson.
Josephine Cooley Jackson was the wife of Tarance Jackson. She was the daughter of Howard Cooley & Rose "Emma" Johnson Cooley. She was also the mother of Juanita Jackson.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

45th United States Colored Troops -
See (or click on html if necessary).
The WV Division of Culture and History indicates that the "45th" was "primarily credited to ... Pennsylvania" but that "two companies were credited to ... West Virginia". Further, they indicate that "most ... medals earned ... remain unclaimed". They say that medals may remain unclaimed because many members of the Unit were not from W.V. See &

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Marriage Bonds at the Greenbrier Historical Society - Lewisburg, West Virginia


Marriage Bonds from the GHS range in price from $4 - $10 (I had indicated that they were $4).
A copying machine copy of a marriage bond is available to members for $4 and $6 for non-members of the Greenbrier Historical Society. A computer generated/color copy is $6 for members and $10 for non-members.
"The Darkies" is a section in a Nickell family compilation held by the GHS. This section amounts to two or three typewritten pages the subject of which is the Moore family of Brushy Ridge, Greenbrier County. It appears that some individuals enslaved by the Nickell family (of Nickell's Mill) changed their surname to Moore post-emancipation. Most notably, Samuel Moore (Uncle Sam/Big Sam) changed his name. Sam was married to Emily Peck Patton Moore. He was the brother of John Moore (per History of Brushy Ridge). He appears in th 1870 & 1880 census records. The wedding of Dora Nickell & Samuel Kilbreath took place at his home in 1875. The wedding of George Washington Moore and Martha Jackson took place at his home in 1880. In "the Darkies" it states that Sam "was for all of his life with Dr. Matt Nickell ... " & that he was "one of the best drivers in that part of the country". There is a family historian for this family.

For more information on Sam Moore see:
--Dr. Montgomery's papers at the GHS
--History of Brushy Ridge
--WV Death Certificate # 10222 (death of his daughter Dora Manuel)
--Black Residents of GC, MC, ...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Bishop Matthew W. Clair, Sr. & Fannie Mead Walker Clair

Bishop Matthew W. Clair, Sr.

This writer discovered a red booklet on the shelves of the General Lewis Inn in Lewisburg, GC, WV in 2002. The booklet was called BISHOP MATTHEW W. CLAIR, A BIOGRAPHY by Dr. Margaret B. Ballard. I alerted the owner that the booklet (which was on shelves with old books and magazines) probably had some historical value. She was kind enough to allow me to take the booklet to the GHS where they made a copy for their files. When I returned the booklet to the Inn they said they would keep it in a safe & secure location.

Matthew W. Clair was the son of Anthony Clair & Ollie Green. He was the grandson of Peter James Clair, Sr. & Clorie Clair. He was born at Union, Monroe County (MC) in 1865.

The booklet mentioned some of the following things about Matthew W. Clair:

The Clair Chapel in Omaha, NE is named after him; he was the husband of Fannie Meade Walker of Baltimore who he married in 1889; he had five children with Fannie; his second wife was Eva F. Wilson & he married her in 1926 and they had no children together; there is confusion as to whether his middle name is Walker or Wesley; he attended Howard University and Boston University School of Theology; he died in Washington, D.C. though an historic marker in MC indicates that he died in Covington, KY; his grandparents came to MC from Richmond, Va. before the Civil War & they probably lived on the plantation of Henry Alexander (which property was later inherited by Alexander's daughter & her husband, William Gaston Caperton).

Bishop Matthew W. Clair may be the "Matison Clair" who can be found on the 1880 Census at MC, Union, Black Male, son of Ollie Green (40).

For more information about Bishop Matthew W. Clair see:
-- Monroe County Deed Book
-- Will of Peter James Clair - Monroe County Will Book 12, p. 504
-- Journal of the GHS, Vol 7, #5, 2003
-- Black Residents of GC ... (see below)
-- Historical marker on State Route 3 in his honor (one of the first two Negroes in Methodism to achieve the office of Bishop)