My second genealogy goal this year was to take one step back past 1870 for the Hathorns, namely Mahala. I had followed her through the census with various names, a range of ages and fluctuating races. She was recorded as Haley, Holly and Mahala. Her birth year was recorded from 1830 to 1843. Sometimes, she was listed as Black and sometimes she was mulatto. But she there from 1870 to 1910 with a family that I could document.
Last week, I began preparing to research the community of Hollidays Creek as a slave owning community. I had two clues that may lead me to the former owner of Mahala and decided to follow what I had. My first clue was the chosen surname of the family – Hathorn. There were Hathorns listed in the 1860 slave schedule for the near vicinity of Hollidays Creek. My second clue was a Freedmen’s Bureau Labor contract dated 1865 between N.C. Hathorn and several freedmen. The freedmen were listed as follows:
Gerry – 24; Mahala – 22; Lucy – 21; Calvin – 18; Jane – 15; Rachael – 14; Bertro – 12; Ann – 11
Sanco – 26; Henry – 6; Willis – 5; Jack – 4; Unreadable; Easter – 1
The name Sanco stood out for me for two reasons – 1) He was listed with the children and 2) I had seen his name in my review of the 1870 census. Further research found him living in 1870 and 1880 with the family I had identified as the possible slave owners of Mahala. He was also listed in a family tree on ancestry.com. His father was named as N.C. Hathorn. I immediately contacted the owner and received the response below:
Hello. I will be happy to tell you what I know about Sanco. I am not sure of birth or death dates, so the birth date is from the census, and I have really guessed at his death. In 1870 he was living with his half brother, Samuel Baskin Hathorn and they were about the same age. In 1880, he was living with his half sister, Sarah Hathorn & husband James “Jim” Clark. These were my G Grandparents. Apparently, Sanco always knew who his father was and after the Civil War, he refused to leave. My knowledge of him comes from my grandfather, Grover Cleveland Clark, who called him what all the family called him, “Uncle Sanco”, and they knew his story. He lived in the house with them and helped with house chores and Sarah’s children. Remembering the stories my grandfather told of him, leads me to think that he was a “childlike” person. He would get mad about things and expected to go everywhere with the family and to be treated as family. Once he was not envited to a wedding and he was so mad about it. They brought him some of the wedding cake and he would not eat it. He said “I don’t want no old cold cake”. My grandfather would tell this and laugh and laugh.
I never heard anything about a girl friend or relationship, so do not know if he had children. I do not think he ever lived away from the Clarks. As with many Hathorns, he had horrible arthritis and crawled on his knees in later years, unable to walk. ( Sarah also had arthritis and was an invalid, bed-ridden for some years before her death.) They said he used two long cow leg bones for crutchs as they were the right length for him. That was one of the things my Grandfather told–Uncle Sanco would hit them with the bones if they misbehaved, so they tried to stay far enough away to avoid being “disciplined” with the bones. From all that I heard, he really loved Sarah and looked out for her.
After this email, I am now more inspired to research Mahala and our kin. I can’t make any claims now as to the relationship between Mahala and Sanco and the Hathorns and the others listed in the labor contract, but I know that it can be figured out with some work and guiding voices like this one!