Friday, November 27, 2009

REGISTERED IN THE CHANCERY OF HEAVEN: The Marriage of Nelson Talbot Gant and Anna Maria Hughes

Whether with “Bible,” “broomstick,” or simply “bargain,” slave marriage was a sacred contract. Yet you don’t have to read many books on slavery, or slave narratives, to see that slave unions were frequently and repeatedly broken, either by slave owner or slave. What follows is how the validity of one slave marriage was upheld in a Virginia court of law.

Historians have long debated the notion of slave marriages. There was no law defining it and none forbidding it. The dominant legal system, of course, did not recognize the legitimacy of slave marriages, while some churches, as well as many in the slave community itself, considered such marriages binding. In addition to being the subject of many academic treatises, the debate has extended to the Internet. On one such online discussion forum, one member challenged others to provide a citation – any citation — that “documents where a court of law in any colony from Maryland and Delaware south . . . at any time, recognized a slave union as a legally binding contract, not only on the man and woman involved, but on their owner or owners.” Alternatively, he wrote, he would “settle for a case where a Christian minister … married a slave couple and was able to force the owner or owners to recognize the legally binding nature of the relationship, or convince a court to so rule.”i

Perhaps the case of Nelson Talbot Gant and his wife Anna Maria Hughes can serve as that example.


Nelson Talbot Gant was a former Virginia slave who upon his death in 1905 was called the most remarkable colored citizen of Muskingum County, Ohio.ii Those who are familiar with the story of N. T. Gant and who have visited his grave can’t help but be impressed by the grand monument that sits atop the grave of a man who had risen from slavery and poverty to a position of freedom, honor, and wealth within his adopted hometown. Some would think the marble obelisk a fitting symbol of the love and respect his family and community had this man who was called “one of the most remarkable men in [Zanesville’s] history [who] stood and will stand in a class by himself.iii

But they would be wrong – about the memorial that is. It stands not as a monument to honor the man but rather, it is this man’s enduring testament of a love for the woman who stood by his side through many trials and tribulations; it is his testament to the woman with whom he credits with “setting him on the Christian path” and with whom he had asked to “travel down life’s pathway with him, hand in hand, to rejoice with him when success greeted his efforts, and to sympathize with him when misfortunes came...iv” This woman, was Anna Maria Hughes, a “dark mulattov” with whom he had tied the marriage knot and it was said, bore him 12 The monument also serves as a reminder of the events that set them both on the road to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

Nelson Talbot Gant was born May 10, 1822 (although some records indicate alternative birth years of 1821 and 1823vii). His descendants have carried down a story of his birth in which Nelson was the half-white son of his owner and who was orphaned when his slave mother died giving birth to him.viii He allegedly was raised by Eve or Edith Gant,ix one of the two slave matriarchs on John Nixon’s farms. Nelson (or Talbot as he was called) grew to manhood on the largest of the farms called Woodburn Estate, located about three miles west of Leesburg, Virginia. Oral history maintains that Talbot had a special relationship with Mr. Nixon, possibly that of father and son.x Whatever the relationship, Talbot served in the capacity of body servant or valet to his master. It was probably with this proximity to John Nixon that Talbot would learn the sound business judgment and principles that would guide his future successes.

Anna Maria Hughes – or Maria as she was known – was born about 1826.xi When only two or three years old, she was among a group of slaves gifted by Sarah Elizabeth “Betsy” McCarty Russellxii to her three daughters Eliza, Sarah Elizabeth, and C.A.E. Jane Russell. Maria was raised in Leesburg among such prominent neighbors as the clerk of the Loudoun County court, several ministers, the state’s Commonwealth attorney, and a host of other attorneys, including John Janney, the Quaker lawyer who would later preside over the Virginia Secession Convention.xiii

The Rev. Bishop Daniel Payne, Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, noted that Talbot had come to the church as an adult but that Maria had come by her faith early.xiv In her teens, perhaps as young as 12, Maria had been allowed to attend the Colored Sunday School of the Leesburg Methodist Church under the leadership of Deacon Samuel Gover, later a minister of the gospel.xv Her classmate, and likely friend, was Winifred Jane Gant of Woodburn and apparent daughter of Eve Gant.xvi It is very likely that it was through Winifred that Talbot met Mariaxvii.

In 1843, despite their condition – slavery – and the limitations imposed on formal slave relationships, Talbot and Maria were married. Although no formal record of the marriage or marriage banns has been found, the couple marked May 11 as their anniversary.xviii Living in the heart of Leesburg, Maria was a house servant who, like other house slaves close to their masters or mistress’, may have been favored with a wedding in the “big house” with “dress up clothing” and a “regular preacher.” However, it is doubtful that the couple celebrated their marriage by “jumping the broom” because the wedding was solemnized by a Methodist ministerxix, possibly the Rev. Samuel Gover, Maria’s Sunday school teacherxx. It was reported that the ceremony was held in the home of Maria’s owner, xxi although no record, oral or written, has been found that describes the wedding or whether a reception followed. However, it is possible that the event may have been celebrated in a manner similar to the 1862 slave marriage of the future Bishop Lucius Henry Holsey and Harriet Turner of Georgia:

"The Bishop's wife and daughters had provided for the occasion a splendid repast of good things to eat. The table, richly spread, with turkey, ham, cake, and many other good things, extended nearly the whole length of the spacious dining hall. 'The house girls' and ''the house boys' and the most prominent persons of color were invited to the wedding of the colored 'swells.' The ladies composing the Bishop's family dressed my bride in the gayest and most artistic style, with red flowers and scarlet sashes predominating in the brilliant trail."xxii

However celebrated, Talbot’s and Maria’s 1843 marriage, solemnized by a minister with the consent of both owners, would later come to play an important part in Talbot’s fight for his life and Maria’s bid for freedom.


In September 1845, Talbot was freed by the will of John Nixon.xxiii Despite Virginia’s 1806 law that declared that any freed slave remaining in the Commonwealth more than 12 months after receiving his freedom shall forfeit that right and may be apprehended and sold,xxiv Talbot vowed to stay in Virginia until he could buy Maria’s freedom and take her with him. In July1846, the Potomac Furnace advertised for “one hundred wood choppers.xxv” Talbot may have answered that call, because according to various published sources, Talbot entered into a contract to cut 500 cords of wood at 40 cents a cord.xxvi But despite his best efforts, Talbot did not acquire any wealth. The 1846 personal property tax records for Loudoun County list Talbot without any personal or real property.xxvii Subsequent tax records for 1848, 1849, and 1850 report the same condition.xxviii

In early September 1846, twelve months after his manumission, Talbot was forced to leave Virginia. For reasons that will remain unknown, Talbot did not take advantage of an 1837 amendment to the 1806 Virginia law whereby any slave emancipated since May 1, 1806 could apply to the local court for permission to remain in Virginia.”xxix Given the climate of the times, perhaps Talbot dared not wait for the orderly process of the Loudoun Court where he would have to provide satisfactory proof that he was “of good character, peaceable, orderly, industrious, and not addicted to drunkenness, gaming or other vice.” Nor could he wait while a notice was posted for two months at the court house door and then wait for 3/4 of the justices to agree to permit him to remain within the Commonwealth.

Not wanting to leave without his wife of three years, Talbot pleaded with Maria’s owner, telling her that he “could not live in the West without the person who was more dear to him than all the world.”xxx The Russell sisters refused to free Maria. Unable to pay, Talbot reluctantly left Virginia, but not without first pledging to Maria that he would soon return for her.xxxi

Upon leaving Virginia, Talbot apparently began making his way to Zanesville – a logical choice because that was where most of the other 21 Nixon slaves had been relocated after their 1845 manumission.xxxii It is believed that Talbot took the National Road through Cumberland, Maryland, across the low ridge known as Negro Mountain because of the many slaves and free Negroes living there, and traveled east of Catoctin Mountain into Washington County, Pennsylvania. He stopped near Chambersburgh, Pennsylvania where he met Dr. Julius LeMoyne and his wife Madeline, conductors on the Underground Railroad.xxxiii, Although it is not known what brought Talbot and the LeMoynes together, Talbot’s 1847 letter to the doctor indicates a friendship of sorts had been struck between them. Although no record has been found of a relationship between the LeMoynes and Talbot’s benefactors in Loudoun, Samuel McPherson Janney, Loudoun teacher and Quaker anti-slavery advocate, provided in his 1881 memoirs evidence of a lesser studied Underground Railroad through Loudoun into Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. In his memoir, Janney wrote repeatedly of visiting Friends Meetings in southwestern Pennsylvaniaxxxiv in the spring 1845 and meeting “a considerable number of blacks” he knew.xxxv

It is presumed that Talbot then detoured north from Chambersburg to Pittsburgh where he met several people friendly to his plight, and with their assistance returned through Chambersburgh and “from thence directly back to Loudoun my old home”xxxvi – all within 6 weeks because records indicate that by October 10, 1846, Talbot and Maria both were sitting in a Washington, D.C. jail.xxxvii

When Talbot returned to Loudoun in early October 1846, arrangements had been made to spirit Maria out of Leesburg without the knowledge of her mistress. According to the decades-later account featured in the Zanesville [Ohio] Courier, Maria had been at the home of Loudoun County Clerk of the Court, Charles G. Eskridge, who dutifully but belatedly informed Miss Russell that Maria had “eloped from his home three days ago.xxxviii” The couple met in “Washington City,” D.C. where they were directed to the home of a “colored man” who gave them comfort, shelter — and betrayal.xxxix Talbot and Maria were arrested and jailed in Washington where Maria spent 8 days before being taken back to Leesburg; Talbot was in jail 13 daysxl awaiting his first trial. That short trial was canceled when Virginia Governor William Smith demanded Talbot’s return back to Leesburg for trial there.xli Maria then spent 22 days in the Leesburg jail where “every effort known to the master to make the slave confess” was being used to make her say that she had been induced by her lover to run away.xlii Those efforts failed; Maria told anyone who would listen that she had run away and that Talbot had followed her. xliii

Talbot sat more than a month in the Leesburg jail. He faced sale and transportation to the Southern states or prison. A 1798 Virginia criminal code declared that the punishment for stealing any Negro slave is confinement to the penitentiary.xliv Talbot’s second trial, scheduled for Loudoun’s November 1846 monthly court, was postponed when the local Commonwealth Attorney, Burr William Harrison (neighbor to Miss Russell and Mr. Eskridge), was unable to get witnesses to come to Leesburg.xlv The prosecutor’s third attempt to try Talbot on December 9, 1846, would prove to be pivotal. For that trial, he had three lawyers,xlvi among them Maria’s former neighbor John Janney. The defense first made an impassioned plea that Talbot’s actions were rooted in his love for Maria: "This man has been united in holy wedlock to a woman for whom he has evinced the strongest feelings of attachment. . . Their vows have been registered in the Chancery of Heaven; and shall we attempt to set the laws of man above the Divine law, by separating those whom God hath joined? . . . But if it were possible for the prisoner at the bar to step forth in the complexion and lineaments of the Anglo-Saxon race, there is not a man on that bench, nor in this assembly, who would not applaud the deed for which he now stands arraigned as a felon.”xlvii

Unsuccessful on that argument, the defense then opposed the prosecutor’s attempt to compel Maria to speak against Talbot, arguing: “In this case . . . the objections to receiving her testimony [are] unusually strong. She not only stands related to the prisoner at the bar as his wife, but she is a slave, under the power and control of her mistress. Suppose that mistress should say to her, if you do not give evidence to convict your husband, I will sell you to the traders, and you will be carried to the Southern States. I do not say that the mistress would use such a threat, but we know it is in her power, and we know, too, how great is the dread these people have of being sold to the Southern traders. Taking these considerations into view, I trust the court will not allow her evidence to be taken.”xlviii

Prosecutor Harrison objected and insisted that Maria was a “good and competent witness against the prisoner,” adding that it was a matter of every day practice to admit the evidence of Negro women slaves against those men they “termed” their husbands. Mr. Harrison argued that Maria was under control of the law that regards slaves not as persons but as property. It would, Harrison said, be “manifestly absurd” to recognize a relationship of this kind which interferes with the legal rights of the master, and contradicts all the laws which are made for the security of his property.xlix No doubt drawing on precedents from other states,l Harrison took the position that there is no lawful marriage for slaves, nor can they make a contract that their owners cannot

This last point was ably answered by Attorney Janney. He took the position that Maria and Talbot had been lawfully married with the consent of both owners.lii They were, he claimed, united in matrimony by a minister of the gospel in a marriage that, if not registered in the chancery of law, was most assuredly “registered in the chancery of Heaven.” Janney continued: “The opinion expressed by the prosecutor, that slaves cannot be married according to law, would tend to the general corruption of morals and the most enormous abuses. Can it be possible, that the whole colored population of Virginia are living in a state of concubinage? No; it is the intention of the law to promote public morals, and not to degrade them . . . Maria is the lawful wife of the prisoner; and it is a point well established, that in a case like this, the testimony of a wife cannot be taken either for or against her husband. The reason is obvious: it would present so great an inducement to perjury that no court would be justifiable in subjecting a human being to so strong a temptation.”liii

The court agreed and Maria was not compelled to testify. Talbot was acquittedliv after the court rejected the testimony of a second


Within two months of the trial, the sisters Russell agreed to release Maria from bondage. Maria’s manumission, recorded Valentine’s Day 1847, is made in the name of “Ann Maria Gant, wife of Talbut Gant,”lvi an open acknowledgement of Maria and Talbot’s clearly legal relationship. Talbot’s friends helped him raise $500 of the $775 purchase price – almost double the value placed on her by the court two months previouslylvii. Talbot borrowed the remainder from Mr. Thomas Nichols, for whom he and Maria would work until 1850 to repay the monies borrowedlviii. Nichols, along with John Janney, was the co-executor of John Nixon’s will.lix John Janney also was cousin to Samuel McPherson Janney, with whom Talbot and Maria would live until 1850.lx

Talbot’s and Maria’s tribulations did not end there. While working to repay his benefactors, Talbot was indicted by the Grand Jury for remaining in the state more than 12 months after regaining his freedom.lxi He was required to appear before the court to answer the indictment. But it appears that the court was unsuccessful in serving the bill of indictment because for every Quarter term that the court met, the case was continued to the next term of the Grand Jury.lxii During this time, Talbot may have been under the de facto protection of Samuel McPherson Janney, with whom he was “enumerated” during the annual personal property tax assessments for 1848, 1849, and 1850lxiii. In the June 1850 term of the court, the Grand Jury indictment against Talbot was dismissedlxiv and the certificate of freedom for 20-month old freeborn daughter, Mary E. J. Gant, was registered.lxv

Sometime after 9 June 1850, Talbot, Maria, and daughter Mary, left Loudoun and began to make their way to Zanesville, Ohio where old family and friends awaited.lxvi It appears they arrived in the full blush of falllxvii, with 50 cents in their pocket.lxviii Their arrival in Muskingum County, Ohio no doubt was delayed due to promises they made — the young family may have stopped in Washington County, Pennsylvania to visit with the LeMoynes and other friends along the way.lxix Once in Ohio, Talbot and Maria settled in Falls Township, just outside the city of Zanesville, Muskingum County, Ohio, where they prospered and raised and educated a family. Together, they made many new friends, among them the Rev. Bishop Daniel Paynelxx, Mr. Frederick Douglasslxxi, and an old Irish woman who had not forgotten the kindness that Maria had lavished on her in her time of needlxxii.

When Maria died on October 11, 1877 in Yorktown, Virginia, more than 30 years had passed since those early tests to the strength of their love and marriage. Talbot had Maria’s body brought back to Zanesville where she was buried at the top of Gant Circle in Woodlawn Cemetery. Within a few days of his death on July 14, 1905, Talbot was interred next to Maria. There exist today few enduring monuments to love. India’s Taj Mahal is perhaps the most famous, built by the Emperor Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal. On a much less grander scale sits the white marble obelisk Talbot had erected atop Gant Circle to mark the final resting place of his beloved Maria.


Slave couples planning to marry had more than the usual hazards of matrimony to face. As one former slave stated, “God made marriage, but de white man made de law.”lxxiii In slavery, as in every other aspect of human interaction, laws are commonly illustrated, or even extended, by court decisions. But decisions such as the one in the case of Nelson Talbot Gant and Anna Maria Hughes do not seem to have reflected the prevailing opinion in the slaveholding community or to have served in any important sense as a precedent in future cases. There is no record of the case being cited as precedent in later cases. Rather, it simply appears as an interesting but not very significant aberration of what was common legal practice.lxxiv


i Chesson, Michael; e-mail dated March 12, 1996. “Slave Marriages, “H-South Network, an electronic discussion group dedicated to the scholarly exploration of southern history.

ii “Nelson T. Gant rose from slavery to become wealthy, respected,” Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, Saturday, February 10, 1996, page 6A.

iii Ibid.

ivA Scrap of History,” The Courier, Thursday, August 16, 1888, page 2; Zanesville, Ohio.

v Record of Free Negroes, Loudoun County, Virginia. Certificate number 1406, dated 14 February, 1847. Page 51

vi Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County, Ohio, Embracing an Authentic and Comprehensive Account of the Chief Events in the History of the County and a Record of the Lives of Many of the Most Worthy Families and Individuals, Chicago, Illinois. The Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1892. Page 462

vii Record of Free Negroes, Loudoun County, Virginia, Certificate number 1333, dated 9 September 1845, page 25. Talbot’s manumission supports a birth year of 1822, as do a biographical sketch published in the Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County for 1892 [see previous note]. Other references, such as newspaper articles and historical biographies, cite a birth year of 1821, while several documents infer a birth year of 1823. An examination of the U.S. federal population censuses for Muskingum County, Ohio reflect this difference. For example, the 1860 return implies a birth year of 1823 while the returns for 1870 through 1900 imply a birth year of 1821, respectively.

viii. “Oral Interview with Margarette Goss Winn,” 26 July 1982, by Victoria J. Robinson, Alexandria, Virginia. Notes in possession of author. Ms. Winn, Talbot and Maria’s great-granddaughter, spoke of how Talbot’s unnamed mother had died alone in childbirth on the path leading from her slave quarters to her Master’s home.

ix At ages 53 and 70, respectively, Eve Gant and Sarah Anderson, are presumed to have presided over two of the three distinct family groupings among the Nixon slaves. In 1847, both women received deeds to land in Muskingum County, Ohio, in accordance with the provisions outlined in slave owner John Nixon’s, recorded in Loudoun County, Virginia, 8 September 1845.

x Oral Interview with Margarette Goss Winn, Ibid.

xi Loudoun County Record of Free Negroes, Certificate number 1406, Ibid. The clerk describes Ann Maria as 19, indicating a birth year of 1826. The 1829 deed of gift from Sarah Russell to her daughters [see Note 12] in which Anna Maria is described not as an infant but rather as “Maria, a girl” also supports a birth year of 1825 or 1826. However, the 1870 U.S. Population Census for Falls Township, Muskingum County, Ohio states that Ann M. Gant was a 41-year old mulatto female, indicating a birth year of 1828 or 1829. The 1860 census, taken 14 July 1860, indicates a similar birth year. Yet her gravestone says she was born in 1823. However, if Maria was born as late as 1829, she only would have been 13 at her 1843 marriage. It is more probable she was at least 16, supporting a birth year of 1826.

xii Deed Book, Loudoun County, Virginia, Volume 3S, page 130. Deed of gift dated 5 June 1829, Sarah M. Russell to her daughters Eliza, Sarah E., and C.A.E. Jane Russell. Sarah M. was the wife of John Russell and the daughter of Thaddeus and Sarah Elizabeth (Richardson) McCarty.

xiii 1850 U.S. Population Census, Leesburg, Loudoun County, Virginia, page 349. Neighbors included Burr Harrison, Commonwealth Attorney; John Janney, Lawyer; Charles Eskridge, County Clerk; and George Adie and William Evans, Ministers.

xiv “Biographical Sketch of Mrs. Anna Maria Gant by Bishop Payne,” The Christian Recorder, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 11, 1878; page 2, column 6.

xv Leesburg Methodist Church Minutes, Returns of the Leesburg Station for the Conference Year Ending March 1843. The minutes show that the students in Coloured Class No. __ included Anna Maria Hughes and Winifred Jane Gant. The Deacon was Samuel Gover. The returns for 1844 show that Winifred Gant and Anna M. Hughes were in attendance in Colored Class No. 3. Samuel Gover is listed among the Methodist ministers serving Loudoun County in 1843.

xvi Record of Free Negroes. Loudoun County, Virginia, 9 September 1845, pages 25-32. It is widely believed that the seven Gant slaves (excluding Nelson) freed on that date were the children of Eve Gant. Most of them were enumerated in George and Eve Gant’s household in 1850 census for Monroe Township, Muskingum County, Ohio.

xvii Woodburn Estate, formerly Milbourne, home farm of John Nixon, was located near Hughes’ Store, three miles west of Leesburg, Virginia.

xviii Lewis, Zanesville and Muskingum County, Ibid

xix “An Interesting Case and an Important Decision,” The National Era, (Washington, D.C.,) 7 January 1847. Vol. I, No. 1, page 4. Martin Luther King Library, Washington, D.C. This article discusses the case of “The Commonwealth of Virginia versus Talbott,” as it was reported in the Loudoun (Va.) Chronicle of December 25, 1846. The case had been tried at the December 1846 term of the Loudoun County court. Extant copies of the Chronicle for December 1846 have not been found.

xx National Era, Ibid

xxi National Era, Ibid.

xxii Georgia in Black And White: Explorations in the Race Relations of a Southern State, 1865-1950. John C. Inscoe, ed., The University of Georgia Press, 1994. p. 109

xxiii Will of John Nixon, Virginia Will Book, Loudoun County, volume 2B, recorded 8 September 1845. Also, certificate 1333 in the Record of Free Negroes states that Talbot was “emancipated by the last will and testament of John Nixon, dec’d.”

xxiv Shepherd, Virginia Statutes at Large, III, 252; Chapter 63, passed January 25, 1806; in effect May 1, 1806.

xxv The Washingtonian Newspaper, 11 July 1846, page 6t. Microfilm of original at Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, Virginia.

xxvi Lewis, Thomas W., Zanesville and Muskingum County, Ohio: A History of the Indians Who Trod this Section Ere the White Man Came; of the Making of City and County by the Heroic Pioneers, and the Growth of Local Civilization During Six Score Fruitful Years, Volume II, Chicago, Illinois. The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1927, page 530.

xxvii Personal Property Tax Records, Loudoun County, Virginia, June 1846.

xxviii Loudoun County Personal Property Tax Lists: 1848B Second District, Ghant, Tolbert (free negro) residing with Janney, Samuel M. & son John and Janney, Francis; 1849A Second District, Ghant, Nelson residing with Janney, Samuel M. & son John; and 1850B Second District, Ghant, T. M. (free negro) residing with Janney, Sam’l M.

xxix Acts of the Virginia Legislature, Chapter 70, passed 1837. Compiled by June Purcell Guild in Black Laws of Virginia, published 1932. 1995 edition. Page 139.

xxx A Scrap of History, Ibid.

xxxi Interview with Margarette Goss Winn, Ibid.

xxxii Loudoun County, Virginia Will Book, Administrations, 1846. The second proviso of John Nixon’s will stipulated that his 22 slaves would be relocated to a free state upon their manumission. In July 1846, Executor Thomas Nichols was reimbursed for travel expenses related to relocating approximately 17 slaves. Talbot was not among those relocated at that time.

xxxiii National Historic Landmark Nomination for the F. Julius LeMoyne House; U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Park Service.

xxxiv Memoirs of Samuel M. Janney: Late of Lincoln, Loudoun County, Va.: A Minister in the Religious Society of Friends (Written by Himself). Philadelphia: Friends' Book Association, 1881., pages 92-93.

xxxv A Chronology of Important Events in African American History, by Mr. Eugene Scheel. February 1999, revised April 2004. Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, Virginia. See also Memoirs of Samuel M. Janney, page 93.

xxxvi Nelson Talbourt Gant to F. Julius LeMoyne, June 6, 1847. Papers of F. J. LeMoyne, Box A24, Folder 1, Washington County Historical Society. Washington, Pennsylvania. Various biographers of prominent Muskingum County residents offer a variation to this timeline, claiming that Talbot had traveled to Zanesville where he had met with abolitionists living in the Putnam area of Zanesville who had given him the money to purchase his wife’s freedom. Although Talbot could have made the round trip from Loudoun to Zanesville within 6 weeks, no record has been found supporting Zanesville historians’ belief that Talbot had traveled to Zanesville before 1847 or had met with the Putnam abolitionists before returning to Loudoun County for Maria. In his letter, Talbot also wrote about help he had received from “many friends in Pittsburgh” among them, Dr. Martin Delaney, who later would serve as a major in the Union Army and who would be among the first black students to attend Harvard Medical School.

xxxvii Letter from Gant to LeMoyne, Ibid.

xxxviii Scrap of History, Ibid. Mr. Eskridge was the Clerk of the Court for Loudoun County who one year earlier had recorded the manumission of the Nixon slaves.

xxxix Letter from Gant to Dr. LeMoyne, Ibid.

xl Ibid.

xli The National Era, Ibid. Because of jurisdiction changes at this time for Washington D.C., it has proven difficult to locate an order of extradition. The area now encompassing Arlington County and the City of Alexandria was retroceded to Virginia by an act of the United States Congress on July 9, 1846. However, the return was not effective until early 1847. There are gaps in some of the records produced during this time.

xlii Ibid

xliii Letter from Gant to LeMoyne, Ibid.

xliv Guild, Black Laws of Virginia, Ibid. page 161.

xlv The National Era, Ibid.

xlvi Talbot’s two other attorneys were Robert P. Swann of Loudoun County, and J.S. Carper. Robert Swann continued to advocate for Talbot as late as 1848, where, at a court held for Loudoun County on the 14th day of August in the year 1848, Attorney Robt P. Swann, Esq., submitted for Talbot an application to renew the certificate of freedom that had been lost [Loudoun County, Virginia Court Minute Book, Volume II, August Court, 1848; page 126].

xlvii The National Era, Ibid.

xlviii Ibid. Also, in his 1847 letter of the LeMoynes, Talbot wrote about attempts to coerce Maria to bear witness against Talbot.

xlix Ibid.

l For example, the opinion of Judge Matthews, case of Girod v Lewis, May term, 1819; Martin's Louisiana Reports, Volume 6, page 559. “It is clear that slaves have no legal capacity to assent to any contract. With the consent of their master they may marry, and their moral power to agree to such a contract or connection cannot be doubted; but while in a state of slavery it cannot produce any civil effect, because slaves are deprived of all civil rights.”

li National Era, Ibid

lii Letter from Gant to LeMoyne and National Era, Ibid. Talbot’s summary of his attorneys arguments match the reporting of the case in the National Era.

liii The National Era, Ibid.

liv Court Order Book, Loudoun County, Virginia, Volume II, December Monthly Court, 1846; page 209.

lv The National Era, Ibid. The Era quotes the Loudoun Chronicle as reporting: "The next witness called was a jet-black negro, who appeared in some trepidation at the prospect before him. The witness was discharged when the prosecuting attorney could not confirm that it was Talbot he had seen in the early morning hours after Maria’s departure.”

lvi Loudoun County Record of Free Negroes, Certificate number 1406, Ibid

lvii Loudoun County Court Order Book, December 1846; Ibid. Maria is stated to have a value of four hundred dollars.

lviii Gant Letter to LeMoyne, Ibid.

lix Will of John Nixon, Ibid

lx Loudoun County Personal Property Tax Lists. See Note 62.

lxi Loudoun County Court Order Book, August 16, 1848; page 132

lxii Loudoun County Court Order Book, November 16, 1848, page 169; March 14, 1849, page 200; June 13, 1849, page 237; August 15, 1849, page 267; November 14, 1849, page 306; March 12, 1850, page 348.

lxiii Loudoun County Personal Property Tax Lists for 1848-1849, Ibid.

lxiv Loudoun County Court Order Book, June 9, 1850; Volume 12, page 10

lxv Loudoun County Court Order Book, Ibid, page 12.

lxvi According to the 1850 U.S. Federal population census for Muskingum County, Ohio, most of the Nixon slaves manumitted with N.T. Gant were living in Muskingum County, Ohio, after having been relocated according to the provisions of the last will and testament of John Nixon.

lxvii Although it appears that the family left Loudoun County sometime after the June 9, 1850 court, it is likely that they arrived in Zanesville sometime after September but before November because the family has not been found in the 1850 census returns for Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, or Washington, D.C. Although the official enumeration day of the 1850 census was 1 June 1850, the actual census day for the part of Loudoun County in which Thomas Nichols and Samuel Janney resided was early September. A sample of returns for communities along the family’s presumed route to Zanesville show census dates ranging from early July (Washington, D.C.) to late-August (Zanesville) to November (Washington County, Pennsylvania).

lxviii Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County, Ohio, Ibid.

lxix Letter from Gant to LeMoyne, Ibid. Talbot wrote that “I hope it will not be too long before we reach a land of Freedom where we . . . intend calling on you.”

lxx Rev. Daniel A. Payne [1811-1893] was a family friend. At the time that Payne wrote Maria’s obituary, Nelson was a Trustee of Wilberforce University, from which he resigned when Payne was dismissed for issue. Talbot had been appointed as a representative of the African Methodist Episcopal contingent to the 1881 Ecumenical Methodist Conference in London, which was headed by Bishop Payne. Nelson’s son NT Gant Jr. wrote and published a eulogy upon Payne’s death in 1893, an event of which he was most proud, as evidenced by his response to an alumni inquiry from Oberlin University.

lxxi Lewis, Zanesville and Muskingum County, Ibid. Also, the Christian Recorder, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, contains various references to Frederick Douglas’ visits to Zanesville and the Gant home.

lxxii Biographical Sketch, The Christian Recorder. Ibid.

lxxiii “Jump the Broomstick,” The Negro in Virginia, page 95. Compiled by the Workers of the Writers” Program of the Works Projects Administration in the State of Virginia. John F. Blair, Publisher, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 1994.

lxxiv Despite a Georgia court ruling in an 1864 murder case (William vs. State, Cat. III, p. 89) that “the marriage relation or what passes with them for that is recognized,” and the same rules of evidence must obtain in their trials for whites” prevailing rulings like that of Howard vs. Howard (N.C. 1858, Cat. II, p. 221), in which the court ruled that “the relationship between slaves is essentially different from that of man and wife joined in legal wedlock . . . With slaves, it may be dissolved at the pleasure of either party, or by the sale of one or both, depending upon the caprice or necessity of the owners.”

From Slavery to Prosperity: Three Generations of Gants

Generation One

  1. Nelson Talbert Gant1, was born about May 10, 1821 in Loudoun County, Virginia; and died July 14, 1905 in West Falls Township, Muskingum County, Ohio. Like many slaves, no record of his birth exists, nor has the identity of his parents been established. His first official biographical sketch, penned 42 years after arriving in Zanesville,i identifies Edith Tolbert, wife to a Mr. Gant, as mother to Talbot, while some descendants claim Edith or Eve as Talbot’s stepmother.ii Given Talbot’s light complexion (his certificate of freedom describes him as a bright mulatto), they also allege his father was white and might even have been John Nixon, his owner. However, no evidence has been found to either prove or disprove this assertion. Talbot had been described as a tall man – some cited his height as exceeding six feetiii despite freedom papers that point to a man of a slighter build.iv Whatever his height, he was a “man whom strangers were wont to turn and look at. There was a distinction in face and form. He spoke with weight, in short sentences and deliberately choosing his words.v

Within three years of arriving in Zanesville, Talbot had acquired 42 acres of land. Within 15 years he had acquired 300 acres of land. He became prosperous by his innovations in gardeningvi and raising early spring crops that brought high prices.vii At his death 55 years later, Talbot was one of the wealthiest and most influential colored citizens of Ohio,viii with an estate valued at more than $100,000. He served his adopted city, participating on the hospital board, as a trustee in the South Street AME Church, and on the board of Woodlawn Cemetery. Talbot was 84 years old when he died of heart failure on July 14, 1905 at the family home on West Pike just beyond Zanesville.ix

Sometime in 1843, Talbot married first, Anna Maria Hughes (probable daughter of Henny, who, along with Maria and another young girl, Hester, had been identified as slaves owned outright by Sarah M. Russell in her 1829 deed of gift).x Anna Maria Gant was born about 1826 and died on October 11, 1877 in Yorktown, Virginia while visiting her daughter Sadie.

Talbot married, second, Lavenia Julius Neal on January 9, 1879.xi Lavenia was born April 3, 1858, in Virginia and died in 1912 in Zanesville. xii Taking as his bride a young woman almost 27 years his junior, Talbot may have experienced a wedding probably very unlike his first one nearly 36 years earlier. Following a ceremony performed at the home of the bride’s foster parents, Talbot and Lavenia were feted with “a bountiful table spread with all the delicacies of the season.”xiii

Nelson Talbot and Anna Maria (Hughes) Gant were the parents of eight known children, all born in Falls Township, Muskingum County, Ohio, unless otherwise noted. Although evidence of eight births has been found, it’s been said that Maria had 12xiv or 13 children.xv All the Gant children who reached adulthood received the best educational advantages available for free Negro men and women. This generation started an unbroken chain of six generations of Gant descendants who have graduated college.

2. i. Mary Elizabeth2 Gant was born 29 Aug 1848 at Loudoun County, Virginia, although her death certificate lists a birth in 1850.xvi Elizabeth is likely the 20-month old “Mary E. J. Gant” whose certificate of freedom was registered in the Loudoun County Virginia court during its June 1850 term.xvii She also went by the name of "Lizzie."xviii It is doubtful she attended college, despite teaching briefly at a school near Licking View in Falls Township.xix Elizabeth married first, local barber Wesley Tate, on 20 September 1868 at Muskingum County, Ohio. xx In March 1878, Elizabeth filed for divorce, alleging drunkenness and adultery,xxi which led to the dissolution of the marriage sometime before 14 June 1880 when she was living once again in the home of her father.xxii Elizabeth married second, Edwin Washington, on 29 July 1880 at Zanesville.xxiii This marriage to yet another barber did not last either, for Elizabeth married third, Robert Manley, a laborer on her father’s farm, on 18 November 1886 at Zanesville. xxiv Elizabeth had no children, although she raised her sister Margaret’s youngest daughter as her own.xxv

Elizabeth died in Zanesville around noon on 20 October 1940 from chronic nephritis .xxvi According to her obituary, this retired schoolteacher had been sick for almost a month before she died. Mary Elizabeth J. Gant Tate Washington Manley was buried on 23 October 1940 near her parents at Woodlawn Cemetery, Zanesville.xxvii

3. ii. Henrietta2 Gant was born about June 1850. She may have been named for Maria’s presumed mother, Henny. Henrietta was 10 months old when she died March 20, 1851 at Falls Township. She was the first of the Gant children buried in the Old Quaker Burying Ground, Falls Township, in a plot in the back of the cemetery on land owned later by Nelson Talbot Gant.xxviii

4. iii. Alice2 Gant was born in 1855. She was 5 years of age when she died on 14 November 1860 at Falls Townshipxxix and is buried in the Old Quaker Burying Ground.

5. iv. Theodora2 Gant was born and died in 1855 at Falls Township, Muskingum County, This five-month old was buried in the Old Quaker Burying Ground.

+ 6. v Sarah2Ann “Sadie” Gant was born May 1855.xxxi She married Daniel Norton of Virginia on September 28, 1871.xxxii She died in January 19, 1919 at Yorktown, Virginia.

+ 7 vi Margaret2 Gant was born March 3, 1858xxxiii in Falls Township, and died September 21, 1924 in Zanesville.xxxiv Margaret married first Henry Williamson, on January 15, 1878 at Zanesvillexxxv and second, George W. Potts of Williamsburg, Virginia, on October 20, 1885. xxxvi

8. vii Benjamin2 F. Gant was born and died in April 1860.xxxvii Just 4 days old, the infant was buried in the Old Quaker Burying Ground.

9 viii Nelson2 Talbot Gant Jr. was born June 15, 1864. He graduated Oberlin College in 1889. He was proficient in Greek, so much so that his elevation to substitute teacher on the illness of the professor, prompted the retelling of his parents’ flight to freedom.xxxviii After graduating, Nelson returned home to assist with the family farm until his marriage to Florence Elizabeth Mintzing, in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland on October 27, 1892.xxxix At that time, he assumed full control of the farm. He noted with pride the eulogy he wrote for Bishop Payne’s 1894 memorial service and published by the Zanesville Courier in March 1894.xl He published additional articles about race, educations, and politics. On June 2, 1900 he went to work for the State of Ohio Insurance Department, where he worked for 12 years.xli Nelson then moved on to real estate and farming, making periodic trips to Zanesville to oversee the properties inherited from his father. After suffering from ill health for some time,xlii Nelson “folded his tent and silently stole away”xliii on November 14, 1942 in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio.xliv They had no children.

Nelson Talbot Gant and Lavinia Julius Neal were the parents of:

10. ix Talbert2 Henry Logan Gant was born and died on October 15, 1880.xlv

11. x Lavenia2 Logan Gant, born December 8, 1881xlvi and died September 1905,xlvii just months after her father. Lula was married to Dr. Edward H. Gee of Zanesville. They had no children.

Generation Two

6. Sarah2 Ann “Sadie” Gant (Nelson1) was born May 1855 xlviii at Zanesville. She attended the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music from 1869 to 1871; however Oberlin College Archives does not have a record that Sadie had ever graduated. It does, however, include her on its list of non-graduates.xlix At age 16, Sadie married Dr. Daniel M. Norton on December 28, 1871 at Zanesville.l The Norton family alternately is listed as McNorton in some Sarah died January 19, 1919 at Yorktown, York County, Virginia, two months after her husband. Both were apparent victims of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-1919.lii Both are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Zanesville.liii Sarah Ann and Daniel [Mc]Norton were the parents of two children named for her parents:

+ 12. i Nelson Frederick3 Norton was born September 28, 1875 at Yorktownliv and died in May Despite oral history alleging that he was adopted, a birth record for “Nelson Frederick Norton” was found, confirming he was the natural son of Daniel and Sadie.lvi He was married December 29, 1919 to Carrie R. Phillips, daughter of Thomas and Jennie S. Philips of York County. As a child, Dr. Nelson was sent to Zanesville and spent five years in the city schools, “thus securing advantages not obtaining in Yorktown.”lvii He was a graduate of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute at Petersburg, Virginia and the Leonard Medical School at Shaw University.lviii Like his father, Nelson was a physician and practiced out of his home. On Monday, April 15, 1935, Nelson was arrested for murder resulting from a “criminal operation” on an unmarried beer garden waitress in Elizabeth City, Virginia.lix Echoing his grandfather Talbot’s case, Nelson had a formal array of powerful attorneys at his side, including two white former Virginia Commonwealth attorneys. He underwent three trials, after which the charges were dropped.lx Nelson continued to practice medicine in Yorktown until his death. Although he and his wife adopted a young boy named Nelson,lxi he had no children of his own.

+ 13. ii Anna3 Maria Norton was born July 1880lxii and died 1949 in Norfolk, Virginia. Oral family history says Anna allegedly was adopted by Sarah and Daniel at her birth. No record of her birth has been found in the York County birth register. Anna married first, John C. Brooks after 1910 but before 1920.lxiii The couple lived in Norfolk, Virginia. During this marriage, Anna adopted a son, Daniel.lxiv Anna married second, Alexander Sampson McFadden of Norfolk.

7. Margaret2 Gant (Nelson1), was born March 3, 1858lxv in Falls Township, and died September 21, 1924 in Zanesville.lxvi Margaret married first Henry Williamson, on January 15, 1878 at Zanesville.lxvii She and Henry apparently were divorced by October 20, 1885 when she married George Westever Potts at Zanesville. Although family tradition claims that her father was not happy with Margaret's marriage to George, Talbot did apply for the marriage license.lxviii Margaret and George’s marriage was a bit tumultuous, perhaps because George’s wanderlust. They apparently did not share residence at least twice during their married life but they counted themselves as married.lxix After the birth of her sixth surviving child, Margaret suffered from ‘child bed fever.”lxx Margaret died at 10:55 a.m. on 21 September 1924 at her home in West Zanesville After suffering for several months from tubercular laryngitis. She was buried 24 September 1924 at Woodlawn Cemetery in Zanesville.lxxi

Margaret (Gant) Williamson and Henry Williamson were the parents of:

14. i Mariah Neal3 Williamson was born 12 March 1879lxxii in Muskingum County. Mariah married Louis C. Black on 6 November 1906 at Zanesville.lxxiii She died of chronic myocarditis on February 2, 1958 at her home at the age of 78.lxxiv She was interred three days later at Gant Circle, Woodlawn Cemetery in Zanesville. She had no children.

Margaret Gant Williamson Potts and George Westever Potts were the parents of six known children,lxxv all born in Springfield Township, Muskingum County, Ohio, unless otherwise noted:

+ 15. ii Sarah Ann Elizabeth Potts, was born May 26, 1886 in Hampton, Virginia and died February 25, 1937.lxxvi She married Bernard Goss, on September 11, 1911 in Clayton, St. Louis County, Missouri.lxxvii

16. iii George G. Potts, was born August 4, 1887 in Hampton, Virginia. The one-year old died of typhoid fever on August 10, 1888lxxviii just months after the family had relocated from Virginia to Muskingum County.

17. iv Clarence Burris Potts was born October 26, 1888lxxix and died December 11, 1966 in Sandy, Clackamas County, Oregon.lxxx Clarence attended Pratt Institute like his siblings, but did not graduate. He served in the U.S. Colored Troops from April 1913 to April 1917. He re-enlisted at Fort Shafter, Hawaii from May 1917 to his discharge in March 1919.lxxxi No marriage or children for Clarence have been found. Records for Clarence alternately list his given name as Lawrence.lxxxii Clarence was buried in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.lxxxiii His obituary said that he had no known relatives.lxxxiv

+ 18. v Norman Tolbert Potts was born July 28, 1890.lxxxv He died December 4, 1934lxxxvi in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois of tuberculosis and complications due to alcoholism. Norman married Dorothy Estella Woods between January 20, 1920 and mid-1922.lxxxvii

+ 19. vi Royce Houston Potts was born November 21, 1891 and died December 7, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York, of old age and pneumonia. He married Hermione Olympia Watts of Natural Bridge, Virginia on May 13, 1916 in New York.

20. vii Margaret Potts was born March 18, 1895 and died March 21, 1980 in Zanesville of gastrointestinal hemorrhage.lxxxviii While her mother battled with childbed fever, Margaret was placed in the care of her Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Robert Manley. Margaret never left their home and was treated as their adopted daughter. Throughout her adult life, Margaret was alternately known as Margaret Manley Potts or Margaret Manley, although three generations of nieces and nephews affectionately called her Aunt Shug. Margaret never moved away from Zanesville, living out her life as the last Gant descendant in that city. She was an accomplished pianist, performing at weddings, funerals and Sunday Church services.lxxxix Upon her death, she was buried in Gant Circle, in Woodlawn Cemetery, Zanesville. Margaret never married and had no children.

Generation Three

15. Sarah3 Ann Ellen Potts (Margaret2, Nelson1), was born May 26, 1876 in Hampton, Virginia and died February 25, 1937 from complications from surgery.xc Three years after graduating from Pratt Institute in New York City, New York,xci she married Bernard Goss, son of Charles Goss and Susan Alexander, on September 11, 1911 in Clayton, St. Louis County, Missouri. After Bernard’s death in January 1916, Sarah removed her family to Kansas City, Missouri where she was as a teacher at Lincoln High School for 20 years.xcii Sarah’s body was returned to Zanesville for burial in Woodlawn Cemetery. Sarah Potts and Bernard Goss were the parents of three children, all of whom graduated college.xciii

18. Norman3 Tolbert Potts (Margaret2, Nelson1), was born July 28, 1890.xciv He died December 4, 1934xcv in Chicago, Cook County, Ohio of tuberculosis and complications due to alcoholism. After graduating from Pratt Institute,xcvi Norman served in the U.S. Army Infantry in a unit from Chicago. At his enlistment, he was a senior medical student at xxxx medical college, now Northwestern University Medical School. Norman married Dorothy Estella Woods between January 20, 1920 and mid-1922. Norman Potts and Stella Wood were the parents of one child.

19. Royce3 Houston Potts (Margaret2 Nelson1) was born November 21, 1891 in Falls Township, and died December 7, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York.xcvii Royce graduated from Pratt Institute in 1913xcviii and worked as a mechanical engineer. He married Hermione Olympia Watts of Natural Bridge, Virginia on May 13, 1916 in New York. Royce was buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Royce Potts and Hermione O. Watts were the parents of three children, all of whom attended college.


i Biographical and Historical Memoirs, Ibid

ii Oral Interview with M.G. Winn, Ibid

iii Lewis, Zanesville and Muskingum County, page 531

iv Record of Free Negroes. Certificate number 1333. Ibid. The clerk writes “the said Nelson T. Gant is about . . . five feet 9-3/4 inches high.”

v Zanesville and Muskingum County, Ohio, Ibid. page 532.

vi “Nelson T. Gant rose from slavery to become wealthy, respected,” Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio Saturday, February 10, 1996, page 6A.

vii The Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, Sunday, November 2, 1969, page 4.

viii The Daily Courier, Zanesville, Ohio, July 15, 1905, page 1

ix Ibid.

x Loudoun County Deed Book 3s, page 130. Henny “a woman,” Hester “a girl,” and Maria “a girl,” may represent a family group that had come from Sarah Russell’s paternal McCarty or maternal Richardson families. Unfortunately, this deed is the only record found in which Henny and Hester are named.

xi Unknown Newspaper clipping pasted inside Gant Family Bible. The clipping appears to be cut from a Parkersburg area newspaper published within days of the January 19 wedding.

xii Lavinia Gant Carroll headstone, Woodlawn Cemetery, Section GG, Gant Circle, Zanesville, Ohio

xiii Unknown Newspaper clipping pasted inside Gant Family Bible, Ibid.

xiv Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Muskingum County, Ibid.

xv Biographical Sketch of Mrs. Anna Maria Gant, Ibid.

xvi Certificate of Death, State of Ohio, File No. 63712.

xvii Record of Free Negroes, Loudoun County, Virginia, Certificate number 1679, page 114. Samuel Janney affirmed that Mary E. J. Gant is the infant daughter of Ann Maria Gant who previously had been registered as freed woman.

xviii Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 10, page 193.

xix “Death Comes to Mrs. Robert Manley,” The Zanesville Signal, Zanesville, Ohio; 21 October 1940. page 7.

xx Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 5, page 587

xxi “Sidewalk Notes,” Zanesville Daily Courier, Zanesville, Ohio, Tuesday, March 5, 1878

xxii 1870 Federal Population Census; Falls Township, Muskingum County, Ohio. Roll M593_1250; Page 78

xxiii Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 8,.

xxiv Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 10, page 193.

xxv Elizabeth Manley obituary, Zanesville Signal, Ibid. Margaret’s daughter Margaret Potts was called “Miss Margaret Manley.” Census records for Falls Township, Muskingum County, Ohio for the years 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 also refer to this relationship.

xxvi Record of Deaths, Muskingum County, Ohio, Volume 236, page 610.

xxvii Elizabeth Manley obituary, Zanesville Signal, Ibid.

xxviii Zanesville Times Recorder, 2 November 1986, Section D, by Lawrence Fulkerson.

xxix Zanesville Times Recorder, Ibid.

xxx Zanesville Times Recorder, Ibid.

xxxi Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 6, page 427. Sarah was 16 when she married on September 28, 1871.

xxxii Ibid.

xxxiii 1860 U.S. Census, Population, West Zanesville Post Office, page 126, dwelling no. 920. The enumerator recorded a middle initial of "E."

xxxiv Ohio Death Certificate, , File No. 51379. Information provided by her daughter, Mariah Williamson.

xxxv Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 8,

xxxvi Ibid. Volume 10, page 48.

xxxvii 1850 U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedule, Falls Township, Muskingum, Ohio; Roll T1159_30; Line Number 18.

xxxviii Scrap of History, Ibid.

xxxix Ibid, dated January 21, 1905, 2 pages

xl Nelson Talbot Gant Jr. Alumni Profile, dated 7 February 1895, 1 page

xli Ibid, dated October 31, 1925, 3 pages

xlii Letter from Mrs. N.T. Gant to Mr. Donald W. Love, Oberlin College, dated January 5, 1943. She explains that Nelson had been in poor health for two years.

xliii Nelson Gant [Jr] Obituary, Cincinnati, Ohio, Thursday, November 19, 1942.

xliv Nelson Gant [Jr] Certificate of Death, State of Ohio, File Number 65700

xlv Gant Family Bible, original in the possession of the author

xlvi Gant Family Bible, Ibid.

xlvii Lavinia Gee headstone, Woodlawn Cemetery, Section GG, Gant Circle, Zanesville, Ohio

xlviii Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 6, page 427. Sarah was 16 when she married on September 28, 1871.

xlix "Oberlin College Archives"; List of Non Graduates – Classes 1869-1883, page 223.

l Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 6, page 427. The marriage ceremony was performed by Rev. Daniel A. Payne.

li For example, Daniel McNorton household, 1910 U.S. Population Census return for York County, Virginia.

lii As a prominent physician serving the Negro population in Yorktown, Dr. Norton would have been at the forefront of efforts to treat residents felled by the disease. It was not unheard of for physicians to bring the illness home to their families.

liii Daniel M. and Sadie McNorton headstones, Woodlawn Cemetery, Section GG, Gant Circle, Zanesville, Ohio.

liv History of the American Negro: Virginia Edition, edited by A.B. Caldwell, volume V, page 176. Published 1921. Atlanta, Georgia

lv Nelson [Mc]Norton obituary notice, “Colored Citizens News of Interest,” The Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, Wednesday, May 19, 1948.

lvi Birth Register, York County, Virginia.

lvii History of the American Negro, Ibid.

lviii “Dr. McNorton held in White Woman’s Death,” New Journal and Guide, Portsmouth, Virginia, Saturday, April 20, 1935.

lix Ibid.

lx Various articles, New Journal and Guide, Portsmouth, Virginia, May 25, 1934; June 15, 1935; October 12, 1935; and December 1935.

lxi Nelson Norton household, 1930 U.S. Population Census for Yorktown, York County, Virginia, Roll 2464. E.D. 3, page 3A.

lxii Daniel Norton household, 1900 U.S. Population Census for Nelson, York County, Virginia, Roll T623_1732. E.D. 74, page 14A.

lxiii John C. Brooks household, 1920 US Population Census, Norfolk, Virginia, E.D. 232, page 18A.

lxiv John C. Brooks household, 1930 US Population Census, Norfolk, Virginia, E.D. 112-113, page 198.

lxv 1860 U.S. Population Census, West Zanesville Post Office, page 126, dwelling no. 920.

lxvi Ohio Death Certificate, , File No. 51379. Information provided by her daughter, Mariah Williamson.

lxvii Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 8,

lxviii Ibid. Volume 10, page 48.

lxix Margaret Potts household, 1900 and 1920 U.S. Population Censuses for Muskingum County, Ohio

lxx The Cherokee Physician by Jas. W. Mahoney, 1849. Child bed fever, more technically termed puerperal fever, was regarded as one of the most fatal diseases to which lying-in women were subject. When it occurred, it usually attacked within the first few days after delivery. When the fever continued for a time, it was very apt to change to typhus.

lxxi Ohio Death Certificate, , File No. 51379.

lxxii Register of Births, Muskingum County, Ohio, , Volume 2, page 293.

lxxiii Marriage Register, Muskingum County: Volume 17, page 417.

lxxiv Muskingum County, Ohio Record of Deaths, Volume 430, page 92.

lxxv The 1900 U.S. Population Census for Falls Township, Muskingum County, Ohio reports that Margaret had given birth to nine children, of which 6 were surviving. An examination of the known births indicates that the two unknown children may have been born and died between 1892 and 1899.

lxxvi “Mrs. Sarah Goss Dies in Kansas,” Zanesville Times Recorder, Tuesday, March 2, 1937, page 6.

lxxvii Bernard Goss and Sarah E. Goss Marriage Announcement, Clayton, St. Louis County, Missouri. Photocopy in possession of author.

lxxviii Death Records, Muskingum County, Ohio, Volume 2, page 207. Birth date ased on his age at death (1 year and 6 days).

lxxix Register of Births, Muskingum County, Ohio, Volume 3, page 141

lxxx Oregon Death Index, 1903-98 [database on-line]. Certificate 17341 Provo, Utah: Original data: State of Oregon. Oregon Death Index, 1903-1998. Salem, Oregon: Oregon State Archives and Records Center.

lxxxi Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the World War, 1917-18, page 13624

lxxxii Social Security Death Index for 551-26-9478 and corresponding application match birth and parental information for Clarence B. Potts. Additionally, the veteran’s burial record for Clarence Potts matches his military record.

lxxxiii Willamette National Cemetery, Plot K 3092

lxxxiv Clarence B. Potts obituary, The Sandy Post, Sandy, Oregon, Thursday, December 22, 1966, page 4.

lxxxv Register of Births, Muskingum County, Ohio, Volume 3, page 141

lxxxvi Certificate of Death, Cook County, Illinois.

lxxxvii In early 1920, Norman was listed as single [Elizabeth Hutchings household, U.S. Population Census, Chicago, Ward 2, Illinois, ED 99, page 11B]. Daughter Norma Logan Potts was born in 1922.

lxxxviii Certificate of Death, State of Ohio, File number 020779

lxxxix “Tate-Croston Wedding,” The Times Recorder, Zanesville, Ohio, Monday, August 25, 1947, page Nine, column 4.

xc “Mrs. Sarah Goss Dies in Kansas,” Zanesville Times Recorder, Tuesday, March 2, 1937, page 6.

xci Diploma, Pratt Institute, 1908, photocopy in possession of author.

xcii Sarah Goss obituary, Ibid.

xciii Daughter Margarette Goss attended Kansas State Teacher’s College, Emporia Kansas [Life Certificate No. 3390 issued by Kansas State Teachers College, August 1, 1931, photocopy in possession of author]; son Bernard Goss graduated the University of Iowa, Iowa City [Bernard Goss obituary, June 1966]; son Cassel C. Goss completed studies in mechanical and architectural drafting [Affadavit, U.S. Committee on Fair Employment Practice, November 11, 1943]

xciv Register of Births, Muskingum County, Ohio, Volume 4, page 182

xcv Certificate of Death, Cook County, Illinois

xcvi Diploma, Pratt Institute, 1912, photocopy in possession of author

xcvii Social Security Death Index

xcviii Diploma, Pratt Institute, 1913, photocopy in possession of author