Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Tom or McKinney, Larry, Ame, Silvia, Nan, York, Tom, Jack, and Jenny

Today, I’m especially pleased to bring to you a guest article written by Susan Speers. She reached out to me by sending a message to my Facebook page Opening Doors in Brick Walls. She’d found the image of the last will and testament of an ancestor in Georgia which included names of slaves and thought I would be interested in using it. I doubt I could bring across the connectivity I feel when writing about the names I find in West Virginia and Virginia as I have no experience researching families in Georgia. I believe the post will be much more powerful coming from a descendant of the slaveholder. Susan was a bit “blown away” when I asked her to be my first guest writer. After taking a day to consider, she came back thanking me “for offering the space and platform.”

Take it away, Susan…..

The Slaves of John Nicholson, Scriven County, Georgia, 1817

In searching for my maternal ancestors on, I came across the last will and testament of John Nicholson, Jr.[1] (born about 1768, South Carolina – died after 12 March 1817) of Screven County, Georgia. Nicholson’s will lists the names of nine enslaved people which may be of interest to anyone looking for enslaved ancestors in this part of Georgia.

Screven County (formerly called “Scriven” County) is on the Savannah River; the first county seat was Jacksonboro but it was moved to Sylvania in about 1847. German immigrants who arrived on the coast in the 1740s pushed inland to establish farms along the Savannah River in the second half of the 18th Century. Nicholson’s family was originally from Scotland.

From his will and a later deed, it appears that John Nicholson and his heirs were working several hundred acres in Scriven County, but I am not yet sure where his home farm was located. According to Wikipedia and local sources, cotton was the main crop by the turn of the century. For those searching for their ancestors in this part of Georgia, there are apparently additional wills on record in the Screven County Courthouse which may be helpful to search.

Georgia, Wills and Probate Records 1742-1992, (original records at District and Probate Courts at the county level in Georgia), Court of Ordinary, Screven County, Wills, Volume 2b, 1810-1902, image 34 of 475 ( : accessed 25 September 2017).

I have attempted to transcribe the will to make reading easier.

Will of John Nicholson

In the name of God, Amen. I, John Nicholson, of the state of Georgia & County of Scriven, Planter, being very sick & weak in body but of perfect mind & memory thanks be given unto God, calling into mind the mortality of my body & knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make & ordain this my last will & Testament; That is to say principally & first of all, I Give & recommend my soul into the hand of Almighty God that gave it & my body I recommend to the Earth to be buried in decent Christian Burial at the discretion of my Executors nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the Almighty power of God; and as touching such worldly state wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life. I give demise & dispose of the same in the following manner & form. First I give & bequeath to Elizabeth my dearly beloved wife during her natural life_ the following property namely one hundred acres more or less lying & being in the state & County aforesaid, bounded by Sarah Nicholson’s land on the south & Thomas Nicholson’s land on the north_ Also five negroes namely Tom or McKinney, Larry, Ame, Silvia & Nan, to have & to hold the said property during her natural life, at the expiration of which the aforesaid property shall be equally divided betwixt my three beloved children, Sarah, Thomas & Mary for their individual & particular use severally forever__ I also order & ordain that the present negroes which are deeded off say York, Tom, Jack & Jenny do remain in the present situation they are now in until the Debts are paid off__

I also demise & bequeath unto my daughter in law Margaret Streigle one hundred Dollars__ Also to her daughter Mary Streigle fifty_Dollars_ I also bequeath unto Sarah Streigle daughter to Martha Herrington fifty dollars _ Also to my Grandson John Sewall [Sowell] fifty dollars___ I Do hereby utterly disallow revoke & disannul all & every other former Testaments, Wills, Legacies, bequests & so forth, by me in any wise before named willed & bequeathed, ratifying & confirming this & no other to be my last will & testament, In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this twelfth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred & Seventeen__ Signed, Sealed published pronounced & declared by the said John Nicholson as his last will & testament in the presence of us – who in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereto subscribed our names. __

Nicholas Streigle
Joby Herrington                                John his mark Nicholson
Scriven County
Personally appeared in open Court Nicholas Streigle, who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God, deposeth & saith that he was present & saw John Nicholson Dec.d acknowledge & make his mark to the within written will & T. [the] deponent further saith that he saw Job Herrington together with himself subscribe the same as witness thereto Sworn to in open Court of 7th July 1817. Nicholas Streigle.

Seaborn Goodall Cl’k, Recorded this 8th day of July 1817 by me S. Goodall, CCOSC

[Transcribed by Susan Speers]

Nicholson named five men and women who would remain with his widow Elizabeth Streigle (originally Streagle) Nicholson after his death and four others who were working out in 1817 but may have been sold as soon as his debts were paid.

The people listed to remain with Elizabeth Nicholson were: “Tom or McKinney, Larry, Ame, Silvia and Nan.” Nicholson stated that after his widow passed, these people were to be included in the division of the rest of his estate and divided among his three children: Thomas Nicholson, Sarah Nicholson, and Mary Nicholson, who later married James Gamble.

The people who were deeded out at the time Nicholson wrote his will in March of 1817 were: “York, Tom, Jack & Jenny.” It is not clear where they were working out or what would have happened to these people when Nicholson’s debts were paid.

In the 1830 U.S. Federal Census, Thomas Nicholson appears in “District 37” Scriven County with a total of 7 enslaved people and 11 free colored people. The ages range from children under 10 to adults. Other property owners on the same page include John Meades, who did not own slaves; James Gamble (2 female slaves and 9 free colored); and Robert M. Williamson (21 enslaved boys and men; 11 enslaved girls and women.)

In 1836, John Nicholson’s heirs Sarah Nicholson and James Gamble, who had married Mary Nicholson about 1816 and thus owns the land she inherited[2], sold three parcels of land totaling 375 acres to Thomas Nicholson. The deed description includes the names of adjacent owners which may be helpful to note: Thomas Green, James Meades, Alexander Herrington and Richard Herrington, Sr. The Herringtons were related by marriage to the Nicholsons; public trees on Ancestry indicate that Martha Striggles/Streagle Nicholson, born in 1787, had married Richard Herrington, Sr. in 1807. I have found no record that Sarah Nicholson ever married and no record for her past 1840.

In 1840, the U.S. Federal Census identifies the households of Richard Herrington, Martha Herrington, Sara Nicholson and Thomas Nicholson all on the same page.

  • Sarah Nicholson had a total household of 25 people, including of whom 21 were slaves. At this time, Sarah’s age is reported to be between 20 and 30 years old.
  • Thomas Nicholson had a larger immediate family of 10 with 6 slaves.
  • Richard M. Herrington reported a family of 4 with one slave. Richard M. would die before the end of the year.
  • Martha Herrington, between 30 and 40 years old, had a household of 23 people, including 15 slaves. This Martha could be the daughter of Richard M. and Martha, born about 1806.

This one page of Scriven County lists 31 households with a total of 503 people on these 31 farms, of whom 310 were slaves[3]. 61% of the area residents were enslaved, and 108 of those people were children under age 10, fully 21% of the overall population and 34% of the enslaved population.[4]

For more information on published slave names from Screven County, see the USGenweb page on the county.

I come into this tree because my mother was a descendant of Martha Gamble Carter, who I believe was a daughter of James Gamble and Mary Nicholson, although the records are not clear. I continue to research this line and would be interested in hearing from anyone in the Gamble, Carter, Streagle/Strigle or Nicholson families.

[1] Nicholson was a Revolutionary War soldier and his service is the basis for several membership applications to The Sons of the Revolution society.

[2] According to the property laws of the time…

[3] In 1840, in contrast to the 1830 census for members of the Nicholson family, there were no free blacks listed.

[4] The 1840 census form had different age brackets for white and slaves: white children were counted in columns for under 5, 5-10, 10-15, and 15-20 while enslaved children were counted as under 10, 10-24, on up. The census taker was asked to report how many individuals were actively working in agriculture or a trade. In Scriven County, anyone who worked worked in agriculture. These property owners did not report (or the taker did not enumerate) that the enslaved children were working in the fields.

© 2017, copyright Susan Speers.

Thank you, Susan, for releasing the names of Tom or McKinney, Larry, Ame, Silvia, Nan, York, Tom, Jack, and Jenny. If you are interested in getting in touch with Susan, please leave a comment for her below.


True's statementFollowing my three part series on the slaves of my 5th great grandfather James Sims during Black History Month in February 2015 I made a commitment to write a post on a monthly basis until I’ve RELEASED all of the names of slaves owned by my ancestors or owned by persons I’ve researched who were relatives or neighbors of my ancestors.

These posts are part of the Slave Name Roll Project (About the Project) administered by Schalene Jennings Dagutis who also blogs at Tangled Roots and Trees.

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #17 John Quincy ROYALTY 1866-1918

This is a spin-off of my 52 Ancestors: #14 Albert Spencer LILLIE (1848-1913) ~ Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can blogpost in which I featured a few photos from a collection of old photographs my 4C1R Joe Rooney shared with me. I asked Joe about using the photos and he kindly wrote, Please use them at your will.  I feel it is keeping it in the family and don’t need credit.  If anything, I appreciate your evaluations, identifications and detective work.  I’m hopeful you and yours enjoy them.  On a blog, in a book, above a cloud.”

Please contact me!
Are you related to a person mentioned in this post? Send an email to
openingdoorsinbrickwalls @ or message me on my Facebook page
Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

Links to previous posts in this series may be found in Old Photographs

#17 John Quincy ROYALTY 1866-1918

John Quincy ROYALTY was the third son of Samuel L. ROYALTY and Joanna PALMER. He never married.

A young John Quincy ROYALTY during his days as a schoolmaster in Kansas.

During his earlier years John was a schoolmaster in Kansas and Missouri. Later he became a detective and, according to his obituary, was a trusted employee of a leading firm doing this sort of work. His duties took him to various places in the West and he resided at times in Colorado, New Mexico and California.

In 1898 while in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he enlisted in Company E, First Territorial U.S. Volunteer Infantry, and served during the Spanish War until mustered out at Albany, Georgia, in 1899.[1] Officially designated as the First Territorial Volunteer Infantry, the regiment became known as the “Western Regiment;” the “Big Four” from the four territories: Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Indian Territory; or “McCord’s Infantry.”

John Quincy ROYALTY in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

After a visit to his old home in Pope County, Illinois, he returned to the West. In 1900 he was once again in Albuquerque, living in the household of his brother-in-law John R. BOSWELL and his youngest sister Olive ROYALTY, and working as a watchman for the railroad.

By 1903 he became a resident of Los Angeles, California. He was working as a watchman on patrol per the 1910 census.

“While employed as private watchman during Nov. 1917, he suffered an attack of acute appendicitis, and in spire (sic) of heroic efforts of the surgeons during a prolonged illness, complications arose, and his weakened vitality at last succumbed to death.”[2]

John Quincy ROYALTY, lying in state.

[1] “United States Index to Service Records, War with Spain, 1898,” Database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 June 2015), John Q Royalty, 1898; citing NARA microfilm publication M871 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm .
[2] “Pedigree Resource File,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2015-06-26), entry for John Quincy /Royaltey/, Submission ID MMDF-H5K.

Joe Rooney kindly gave me permission to use these photographs on my blog.

Joe ROONEY wrote on 15 February 2015: This collection of photographs was scanned at 300 dpi color by me. The original photos were sent by Sandra Lillie about ten years ago after she found them cleaning out a relative’s garage in Southern Illinois, finding no other takers (suckers). She believes they were a collection by L Vance Lillie. Many of the pictures seemed to be removed from frames or were in albums evidenced by fading characteristics and may have been from other’s collections. I scanned the reverse if there was laboratory advertising or writing. Some of the authors’ identification may be figured out of the handwriting matches. I did not scan the reverse of photos where there was only a three digit number that I believe to be sequence numbers on a roll of film. I didn’t spot any obvious helpful commonalities.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey



52 Ancestors: #12 Civil War Baby, Gordon Washington ROOP 1862-1930

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is my 12th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #12 Civil War Baby, Gordon Washington ROOP 1862-1930

My great-great-grandfather Gordon Washington ROOP, a photographer, miner, and farmer, was born 6 May 1862 in Floyd County, Virginia, during the Civil War.

Gordon’s father enlisted in Jacksonville as a private on 10 September 1861 in Company A, 54th Regiment of the Virginia Infantry, for a period of one year. He may not have known at the time that his wife was pregnant with their third child. The 54th was engaged in battles in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on 15 April 1862 and at Princeton, (West) Virginia, on 16 May 1862. Was Gordon’s father given furlough to be at home for the birth of his son?

Gordon’s father must have worried about his young family while he continued to serve in the Confederate army. He was NOT one of the nearly 23 percent of Floyd County men who chose to abandon the cause. The Confederate Conscription Act of April 1862 may have forced him to extend his service, when his initial commitment of one year expired, to a total of three years.

On the 19th and 20th of September 1863, while Gordon was learning to walk and beginning to talk, his father was fighting his last battle at Chickamauga in Georgia. On 1 November 1863, when young Gordon was a year and a half, his father died in Flewellan Hospital, in Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia.

Parents and Siblings

Gordon’s parents Gordon H. ROOP (1838-1863) and Emaline LESTER (1836-1877) married on 10 March 1856 in Floyd County, Virginia. They had two children by 1860: Dollie Ann Ellen (1857-1937) born 24 February 1857 and John Thomas (1859-1902) born 6 March 1859, both in Floyd County, Virginia.

When the American Civil War began on 4 February 1861 the young family of four was living in Floyd County. Emaline gave birth to her second son and third child, Gordon Washington ROOP, on 6 May 1862. He was given his father’s first name and, as a middle name, the surname of the first U.S. President. Sadly we do not know how much time Gordon Sr. was able to spend with his family while serving in the Civil War until his early death at the age of 25 in 1863.

Mother Remarries

The end of the Civil War in June 1865 brought changes to America, Virginia, and families in Floyd County. We don’t know what price Gordon, his mother Emaline, and his sibings paid for his father’s loyalty to the Confederacy. Gordon’s mother Emaline waited nearly six years to remarry. She was 32 when she married Pleasant D. EPPERLY, 21, son of Solomon EPPERLY and Rachel RATLIFF, on 6 February 1869 in Floyd County. A year later we see Gordon and his siblings in the household of their step-father and mother in the 1870 census.

1870 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 2 > HH#13-13; online : accessed 19 March 2014
1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 3 > HH#13-13; online : accessed 19 March 2014

Siblings Marry

Gordon’s sister Dollie Ann Ellen married her 2nd cousin 1 time removed Giles SUMNER (1855-1920) on 1 7 November 1873 in Floyd County. His brother John Thomas married Ardelia E. WAITMAN (1858-?) on 16 November 1876 in Camp Creek, Floyd County.

Orphaned at Fifteen

A little over a year after John’s marriage, Gordon was orphaned at the age of 15 when his mother died on 13 December 1877. Did Gordon stay with his step-father or did he go to live with his sister or his brother? Gordon and his siblings were close to their ROOP and LESTER grandparents as well as the SUMNER family, their great-grandparents. I hope that he was well taken care of until he married two years later.

Screenshot of five-generation pedigree for Gordon Washington ROOP generated by Ancestral Quest 14

Marries at Seventeen

1880rooppetersmarriage 002
Photocopy of Marriage License obtained by Louise Roop Anderson Akers on 24 Feb 2001 from the records of the Circuit Court, County of Floyd, Virginia. Louise sent the original certified copy to me in April 2001.

William L. SIMMONS joined Gordon Washington ROOP, age 17, and Milla Susan PETERS, age 23, in marriage on 1 January 1880 in Floyd County at Jordan PETERS’ residence. On the marriage record the ages of the bride and groom were fudged. Gordon was listed as 21 and Milla as 20.

Gordon and Milla were first seen together on the 1880 census. They lived on Alum Ridge in Floyd County near the Montgomery County line.

1880 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > ED 25 Page 4 Sheet 264B > HH#59-59; online : accessed 19 March 2014

Becomes a Father at Eighteen

Gordon and his wife Milla did not wait long to start their family. They had five children, four sons and a daughter, in ten years:

Ch 1: George Washington ROOP (1880-1950) born 19 September 1880in Floyd County, Virginia. Note: no birth record however WWI and WWII draft cards match date seen on his death certificate.
Ch 2: Walter Farmer ROOP (1883-1971) born 16 April 1883 in Montgomery County, Virginia.

Ch 3: Charles Turner ROOP (1885-1966) born 15 June 1885 in Montgomery County, Virginia. The father’s residence at the time was Raleigh County, West Virginia, and the birth was recorded there.

Ch 4: James H. “Old Man Jim” ROOP (1887-1962) born 30 May 1887 at Snuffer’s Branch, Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia.
Ch 5: [–?–] ROOP (1890-1891) born in June 1890 in Kanawha County, West Virginia. She died in a house fire in 1891.

Moves his Family to West Virginia

By 1885 Gordon moved his family to Raleigh County in West Virginia where he had the birth of his son Charles recorded. After the birth of their fourth son James, Gordon and Milla and their four sons moved to Kanawha County where their only daughter was born in 1890.

Wife and Daughter Die in a House Fire

Sadly the daughter born in June 1890 was not named and died with her mother in a house fire in 1891 according to family tradition as recounted in genealogy notes by Linda Pearl Dickey Roop. Neither death records nor newspaper articles have been found to confirm the story and year of this event.

Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994) collaborated with Everette L. McGrew (1923-2008) on a book on the Roop family. The summer of 1994 she was diagnosed with cancer and died a month later. Everette took over the task of finishing the book which he titled My Mother Was A Rupe. He gave me an updated copy in 2002. Linda had done most of the work on our direct line as her husband is the grandson of Old Man Jim, Gordon’s fourth son.

Motherless Children Go into Foster Care

The four motherless boys were placed in the home of Henry Snuffer, the Sheriff of Kanawha County, and his brother, Lee Snuffer, until Gordon was able to care for them. Linda wrote, “Gordon married second to Nancy E. Johnson. When Gordon returned for his children, Walter, Charles and George went with him but James wanted to stay with the only family he knew, the Snuffers, so Gordon let him stay rather than insist he go with him. Henry and Martha E. Snuffer were a loving married couple who could not have children of their own. They took in and raised with loving care many children who had lost their parents.”

Further research brought to light that Lee and Eliza Snuffer, like Henry and Martha, did not have children of their own. James was living in Henry Snuffer’s and Charles was in Lee Snuffer’s households in 1900. Walter was with Gordon and his second family. George was not found. Is it possible that Charles, like his brother James, also wanted to remain with the Snuffer family he had been living with?

Mentioned in his Grandfather’s Will in 1890

Gordon’s grandfather James ROOP dated his will 31 January 1890. He died 2 November 1890 and final settlement of the will was made on 18 September 1897 in Floyd County, Virginia. In his will James ROOP mentioned among others, his son Gordon ROOP’s children Thomas, Gordon, and Dolly.

Marries a Second Time and Fathers More Children

Gordon Washington ROOP and Nancy Elizabeth JOHNSON (1860-1949) were married on 25 August 1894 in Pond Gap, Kanawha County, West Virginia, by L. D. Hill. [line 76]

They had five children in five years:

Ch 6: Samuel Pasley “Sam” ROUPE (1895-1956) born 30 October 1895 in Blue Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia [line 39].
Ch 7: Julia Ann ROOP (1897-1990) born 4 January 1897 in Cannelton, Kanawha County, West Virginia [line 40].
Ch 8: Amanda O. “Mandy” ROOP (1898-1994) born 20 March 1898 in Hughes Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia [line 12].
Ch 9: Hallie Beatrice ROOP (1899-1944) born 10 September 1899 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.
Ch 10: Hazel Vern ROOP (1900-1976) was born 28 December 1900 in Kanawha County, West Virginia.

1900 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED 41 Sheet 2B > HH #33-33; online : accessed 19 March 2014
1910 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Roe > ED 54 Sheet 6A > HH #100-106; online : accessed 19 March 2014
1920 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Kanawha > Cabin Creek > ED 79 Sheet 7B > HH#38; online : accessed 19 March 2014

Dies at the Home of his Daughter

According to Linda Pearl Dickey Roop, Gordon was living with his daughter, Amanda WITHROW in Donnally Hollow in Kanawha City, West Virginia, before he died so that he could get to the doctors more easily. Gordon Washington ROOP died at 6:30 a.m. on 30 January 1930 in Kanawha City; cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis with contributory factor being cardio-renal disease. He was buried in Jodie, Fayette County.

Gordon’s son Walter Farmer ROOP was the informant on the death certificate. Walter didn’t know the name of his grandmother and he got the name of his grandfather wrong. Or did he? The name he gave was Ham ROOP. Gordon’s father’s middle initial was H. in Civil War records. Is it possible that the H. was for Hamilton even though Gordon Sr.’s youngest brother was named Hamilton Null ROOP? Could Uncle Hamilton have raised Gordon Jr. after both his parents’ deaths?

Gordon Washington ROOP was survived by his second wife, all of his children except for the baby girl who died in the house fire, and his sister Dollie. His children’s families continued to grow giving him a total of 50 known grandchildren, 10 still living in 2014.

Gordon’s second wife Nancy Elizabeth Johnson died 14 June 1949 in Charleston.

The Charleston Gazette, Wednesday, June 15, 1949

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.