52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 26 – Wiley Woodard (1)
Wiley Woodard (I) was born about 1784 in Brunswick County, Virginia. He was a black man, perhaps a slave or born as a free man of color. The story of finding him was amazing to me. Back in the day, the only way to research was writing down what was known based on interviews of family members about various branches. Knowing about my grandfather, John Henry Woodard, led me to finding his father, Wiley Woodard (2) and mother, Josephine Martin. They married in Meriwether County, Georgia on 18 July 1868. Documentation was found in John Henry Woodard’s West Virginia’s death certificate for 15 January 1932 and in the 1900 US Census for Meriwether County in the small town of Odessadale Georgia, leading me to Wiley Woodard (2) was born in Virginia about April 1825.
The challenge was moving back in time to Wiley Woodard’s (2) parents. The trial was finding information without “proper documentation” for Georgia didn’t begin recording deaths until later than what was needed. You see it appeared Wiley (2) died about 1905-09 for he was not found in the 1910 census and his wife; Josephine was listed as a widow in that record. While researching at the Georgia Archives standing in line to make copies, a red book was on a shelf above the copier. It caught my attention and was titled 1860 Georgia Census Index. I moved with the strong feeling that it needed to be check out while my thought was why do you need to look at that book, blacks where slaves then and weren’t listed until the 1870 Census. Going with the flow, I reach for the book and while still standing in line, looked for any Woodard listings. Sure enough, I found one listing for “Wiley Woodard” and quickly left the line and to pull the film for review on the microfiche machine. I found Wiley Woodard (I) listed as a black man and the path of my journey changed. He lived in Milledgeville, Georgia and additional records showed he was a free person of color born in Brunswick County, Virginia that worked as a brick mason and his sponsor (required at that time for any free person of color) was Thomas Crowder, also born in Brunswick County, Virginia. Wiley (1) was listed 1837-1845 in the Baldwin County Free Persons of Color Registers and in the 1850-1860 US Census.
Further research found that James Woodward, 1793-1839 of Norfolk, Virginia, a cabinetmaker emancipated his slaves. The question became was Wiley (1) one of the emancipated slaves? Thomas Crowder, Wiley I’s sponsor owned slaves and included Lucy with children, Wilson, Milton, Sally and Wiley among them. When Thomas died his friend H. J. Malone managed Thomas’ estate and purchased these slaves. H. J. died within a couple of years of the purchase and had a son, Chris Malone and Amanda Malone. Amanda was married to man named Gilbert and they lived in Meriwether County. Perhaps it is all a coincidence or mayhap it tells a story.
There are additional hints that lead me to claiming Wiley Woodard (I) and while I don’t tie him to Wiley Woodard 2, I do believe the ancestors speak on the journey.