Tuesday, March 11, 2014

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks #10 – Wiley Woodard I

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks #10 – Wiley Woodard I

The question is could Wiley Woodard (1) be the gggrandfather of this branch?  Twenty-four years ago, my family journey began with a focus on my maternal side of the family.  I quickly learned that often assumptions would be shared that were generalities and not necessarily facts.   A genealogist with a master’s degree told me that being African American more than likely I would have success on the maternal side.  Being new to the family history journey, I followed his lead and began with Susie Mae Young, my grandmother who died in 1937 when my mother was four years old.  I secured her death certificate and found the documented listed both her parents as unknown.  The informant was the first cousin, Charlie McClendon, of her husband John Henry Woodard.  Interviewing my mother taught me that Matildia (Harris) and George Freeman raised my grandmother and were somehow related.  They were grandparents to my mother and her siblings.  I began interviewing my mother’s siblings and learned Matildia and George raised Susie Mae since she was an infant.  Some said they heard her mother died in childbirth yet no one knew her name.  On that leg of my journey it was a dead end back in the day so I took the path to my mother’s paternal side, Woodard.

I quickly learned about my grandfather’s family, the Woodard’s from Georgia.  Guess the genealogist with a master’s degree didn’t mention the exceptions of the African American family.  Found the Woodard family in the 1900 US Census living in Meriwether County Georgia.  Learned my grandfather was the youngest of Wiley (2) and Josephine (Martin) Woodard that were married in 1868.   Wiley was born in 1925 in Virginia and one of their sons was name Wiley (3).  The search was on to find out information about Wiley’s (2) parents.  While standing in line at the Georgia Archives, I happened to look up and saw a bookshelf with oh about ten books on the ledge.  A large red book caught my attention titled 1860 US Georgia Census Index.  Going with strong feelings, I reached for the book and before opening it wondered what the heck, no African American are listed in this index, this was before freedom.   Flicking through the pages to Woodard, I landed on Wiley Woodard in Baldwin County Georgia.  Thoughts were that this couldn’t be my Wiley for surely he was a slave.  I headed to the microfilm files that would have more details, found the film and loaded on the machine.  This was a black man, Wiley Woodard(1).  More research led to the learning of this Wiley being a free person of color, brick mason living in Baldwin County Georgia that was born in Brunswick County Virginia with Thomas Crowder also born in Brunswick County being his sponsor.  Further exploration led to Thomas’ death and a will administered by Charles Malone in 1836.  Charles Malone purchased in a private sale, one Negro, woman Lucy and children, Wilson, Sally and Mill for $1,350.  Charles died shortly after acquiring this slave family.  Interesting enough, I found Gilbert Malone in Meriwether County (1803-1838) who married Amanda Leveritte in 1821.  Is there a tie could Gilbert have inherited the slave Lucy with her children Wilson, Sally and Mill?  Gilbert’s widow Amanda own thirteen slaves in the 1850 census.

This family historian has hunted for the documentation and found nothing definite yet something led me to find the 1860 US Census in Baldwin County that led me to Wiley Woodard, born 1784 in Brunswick County Georgia.  Perhaps Wiley (1) belongs to my family and the questions remains will I ever be able to prove it?

Happy hunting and my twenty four year journey continues.

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