Friday, June 01, 2012

Daniel Gilliam Found in the Paper Trail: Wanted Dead or Alive, Part 1

Daniel Gilliam (?- 1867) is a man that I have come to know as my 2nd Great Grand Father. His name was never mentioned to me by any of the elders in my family growing up, and I happened to stumble across his name in documents pertaining to my 2nd Great Grandmother Hannah Singleton Gilliam (1842-1914) and her children (He was listed as the father). 

I heard stories about Hannah being born into slavery and that she had children with the plantation owner. I assumed that Daniel was the plantation/slave owner of Hannah but this theory of mine was shot down as I did further evaluation.   

Knowing that these stories should have evidence to back them up, I continue to research and analyze documents to possibly support or refute what has been told.  I do however have supporting evidence that Hannah was born a slave, but there is conflicting information in various documents as to who fathered her children.  (This information will be discussed in a much later post) 

When tracing Hannah who migrated from New Bern, NC to Worcester, Mass., she was mentioned as the widow of Daniel Gilliam in some of the Worcester City Directories.  The first listing of Hannah that I found in the city directory was in 1880 which had her listed as a laundress; this of course supported the stories my mother told about the laundering she did for well distinguished families such as the Higgins of Worcester.

So here I am wondering where Daniel is.  I never found his birth certificate.  I never found a death certificate, burial record, or any documents that would say that hey!!! There is a man named Daniel Gilliam and he lived.  I went on like this since 2000, until in March of 2102, I happened to find a Craven County, North Carolina probate record of Daniel Gilliam on the FamilySearch database.  

The probate estate record was the first and only document that is direct evidence that reveals that Daniel Gilliam lived and therefore died.  I conducted an extensive census record search, and it was fruitless.  It is my assumption that Daniel was born before 1840 as it is very likely he was born before Hannah.  The lack of documentation dispels my idea that Daniel could be of European descent , or a free person of color.  Since there is a lack of evidence, I believe that the brick wall I am up against is slavery, confirming my theory that Daniel was also born a slave.

The probate record documented that Daniel Gilliam died in 1867, approximately 2 years after the Thirteenth Amendment made slavery illegal.  

So now I want to look at these probate records and transcribe making sure that I get all the information that is very crucial to my research...(even some of the  names listed in the document are very important to my brick wall, which I feel is tumbling down).

To Be Continued.....