Saturday, June 27, 2015

Peter Callaway (aka Kellaway) and Elizyabeth Johnson - forbidden lovers

Peter: (abt 1630 – 1713)
 Elizyabeth (aka Elizabeth): (1654 – 1739)

Family lineage: 1 Peter Callaway, 2 William Callaway, 3 Zachariah Callaway, 4 Sarah Callaway, 5 Eliza Frances Walker,
 6 Emarine Bartram,  7 Queen Rebecca Dickerson, 8 Edna Bethel Franklin, 9 Judith Ann Hayward

Like several other family legends who got their start in England, 19 year old Peter Callaway craved adventure in a land he thought was calling his name.   But turning that dream into reality was something else again, especially when he experienced the stomach-turning fact that the cost to finance such a dream would far outweigh his ability to pay for it.   And he certainly couldn't use a Visa card or drop in for a heart to heart visit with an astute banker, who would certainly question how the loan would be repaid – and when.  

So Peter went to “Plan B” and sold himself to a sea captain, who first agreed to provide him with transportation to America and then sold him to an American settler for 6 pounds.  In return, the young man was legally bound to serve the investor for up to 7 years in some capacity.  Both sides profited from this arrangement because: 
  • Peter would be able to fulfill his dream of building his life in America;
  •  his new master would be getting fairly inexpensive labor to work in his home and fields; and in addition
  •  would be granted at least 50 acres of prime land for each  headright he sponsored (person transported to America)
The plan was not without its potential downside, however, since the travelers often became ill and died at sea, leaving the colonist with nothing to show for his investment - unless he could convince the land office that he should still be granted the land because he had lived up to his part of the bargain. 

Early Virginia House of Burgess's
Peter Callaway's contract was awarded to William Pressley, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses  in Northumberland County, Virginia  (although English kings had always reserved the right to decide the fate of their colonies, the colonists themselves drew upon their traditional English rights and insisted on raising their own representative assemblies. Such was the case with the Virginia House of Burgess's, the first popularly elected legislature in the New World.)

Mr. Pressley must have been quite wealthy by the standards of that time.  After all, he could not only pay 6 pounds for Peter's passage, but he was able to invest 136 more pounds to pay the passage for 22 additional headrights, which included Mrs. Pressley and their three sons.  It was a good deal for him!  Besides bringing his family to America for a fairly minimal cost, his labor force had grown and he had been awarded more than 1,150 of acreage to add to his holdings.

No one knows for sure whether Peter was  a carpenter before he sailed for America or learned the trade during his indenture period.  What is known is that he used that skill to make a living after completing his obligation to Mr. Pressley.  And it's also likely that before he left the Pressleys, the 24 year old was awarded “freedom dues” (a pre-arranged termination bonus which often included 50 acres of land perhaps granted through a headright, money, a gun, clothes and/or food.). 1664 was his "freedom" year, during which time he took whatever skills and treasure he might have gained and traveled across the Chesapeake Bay into Maryland where he settled on the Wicomico River, a 13 mile tributary of the Patawomeke (or Potomac) River

The timing was good for an entrepreneur such as Peter  because Europeans were just beginning to realize the territory's great potential.  That change might have been good news for the early settlers with land and services to buy and sell, but it wasn't so great for the resident Indian tribes, including the Wicomicas, whose land holdings were being chipped away by ambitious settlers.  
This tribe had gained fame when, in 1608, Captain John Smith had written about his discovery of the 130 Indian men living in the Wicomica village on the mouth of the Patawomeke (Potomac) River.  Compared to other Europeans of that time, the Captain seemed to be open-minded toward the natives and described them in glowing terms as comely and civil.  He even referred to their chiefs as kings and emperors.

If there were women in his life during his first six years on the Wicomco, they are unknown to this day.  But he was obviously ready for love when he met 15 year old Elizybeth
Johnson who – even in those days - was too young to marry but old enough to get pregnant and thrown out of her home by her embarrassed family.  Somehow the desperate - and suddenly homeless - girl connected with the local Wicomica Indians, who offered her shelter and support during her pregnancy.  Even before her baby girl was born, Elizabeth knew that the child would suffer terribly for her mother's "sins" and be an outcast in the community.  So following her daughter's birth, she left her with the Indians and returned to town and the man she loved, knowing that more heartache awaited them. 

That fear soon became a reality.  Even though Peter wasn't a Quaker, he and Elizabeth were subjected to Quaker courts, known for giving harsh sentences – especially to couples who had not waited for their wedding to take place before having a child. 

During the court hearing on March 26, 1667,  Elizabeth Johnson named Peter Callaway as the father of her baby, and Peter did not deny his responsibility.  After hearing their pleas, the court delivered a shockingly harsh sentence - especially on Elizabeth, who was a minor at that time.  According to the Somerset County Judicial Records of  1671-1675:

  • Both Peter and Elyzabeth were to be publicly whipped unless Peter paid 1,000 pounds of tobacco to the court and Elizabeth paid 100 pounds as security for future good behavior.  In addition, Peter was to give the girl  one hundred pounds of tobacco for the "abuse" he had caused her (which could be used to pay her fine), and he had to deposit securities for the maintenance of their child so that no one else would be responsible for her financial requirements (lucky for him he had earned some money after arriving in Maryland and was able to pay the fines).

    They both were required to sign a bond of matrimony which would bind them to each other for a lifetime, which didn't seem to be a problem since that was their intention to begin with.. 
    The sentencing didn't sound too bad until one gets to the the next part of the penalty which decreed that Elizabeth was to be sold  to a Maryland settler, Thomas Ball, as an indentured servant and during her seven years with  Mr. Ball, she would be cut off from her new husband.

Stories about Elizabeth's life during those seven years say that she often wandered off to visit the Indians (no one seemed to know why she did that, but it seems pretty obvious to me that she needed to see her child and spend time with her Indian friends who offered her friendship and acceptance)  Poor Thomas Ball didn't get a good bargain when he accepted Elizabeth as his servant. Every time she wandered off  he was ordered to bring her back and deliver her to the Magistrate for disciplining (which didn't seem to stop her from wandering off again).

The punishment was obviously not the same for males and females at that time.  By 1672, while poor Elizabeth was only into her fifth year of servitude, Peter was given 50 acres of land for service to the province and was able to accumulate other large holdings of land and build his wealth.  Finally, at age 22, she completed her 7 year sentence and returned to Peter.

The Callaway marriage, despite its rough start, lasted for many years - once Peter and Elizabeth were finally able to live together as a married couple.  The first of their six legitimate children was born almost 8 years after their marriage, which confirms the 7 years they had to spend apart after their marriage.  There is no record of what happened to their first child, but it is believed she was raised by the Indians and lived with them her whole life.

Both of the Callaways lived long lives, with Peter dying in 1719 in his late 80s (several months after his death, Elizabeth Callaway registered her own cattle mark, which showed that she was now the owner of their property.).  She died in 1739 at age 85.
For more information on this interesting couple see  Clayton Torrence's book, "Old Somerset on the Eastern Shore of Maryland: A Study in Foundations and Founders."  and

Saturday, June 13, 2015

William S. Copeland, a young soldier for the Confederacy

Family lineage:  Son of Robert Hatten Copeland  1 , Charles Mabry Copeland  2, 
Charles Thomas Copeland, Sr. 3, Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr. 4

1847 - 1914

"They do not know what they say. If it came to a conflict of arms, the war will last at least four years. Northern politicians will not appreciate the determination and pluck of the South, and Southern politicians do not appreciate the numbers, resources, and patient perseverance of the North. Both sides forget that we are all Americans. I foresee that our country will pass through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation, perhaps, for our national sins."-----   Robert E. Lee, May 5, 1861.

Robert Hatten Copeland

If you've been following the stories in this blog over the last year or so, you've probably already met the "Snakeman",  Robert Hatten Copeland, his wife, Sara Minerva (last name unknown)  and two of their sons, Asberry and Dickson.  Robert's family was not without its challenges, which included Robert's physical deformities, but nothing could have prepared them for the death of 49 year old Sara, who suffered "dropsy" (today's congestive heart failure) and died  two years before the Civil War broke out, leaving behind her husband,  nine sons, ranging in age from 6 to 19, and one 18 year old daughter, Nancy. 

Asberry or Asbury Copeland
Dickson Copeland
Except for Andrew, his youngest child,  all Robert's sons joined the war effort, but didn't fight together.  Dickson, Robert's second son, fought with the 1st Georgia Regiment and was able to return home after the war ended; but  two others didn't live to see the war end.  They were 27 year old George, killed in a train wreck, and 25 year old Asberry, who died of injuries received while fighting with the 56th Regiment Georgia Volunteers and was buried as an "unknown soldier" in Lauderdale, MS (until 1999 when his great grandson, Col. Billy Copeland, proved that he was not unknown, and his headstone finally was given a name).

Robert and Sara's seventh son, William, was a young teenager when war broke out, and of course he couldn't see any reason why he couldn't join his brothers in the fight.  Needless to say, his father would have considered 14 much too young to leave home, let alone go to war.   It's not known whether he manipulated his father into giving him permission to join up or, after packing some supplies and clothes, ran away during the night to join the 9th Georgia Volunteer Infantry which had been formed in 1861 and was commanded by General James Longstreet.

The battle flag of the 9th Georgia

Captain George Hillyer
George Hillyer, who became the Mayor of Atlanta after the Civil War ended,  was a Captain on the morning of July 2, 1863, but finished the day as a senior officer after the leadership of the regiment turned over six times during the battle of Gettysburg  (his first-hand experiences during that battle were described in his book "My Gettysburg Battle Experiences").   By the end of the day not only Confederate officers had been lost in the section of Gettysburg known as the "Wheatfield", but there were only 151 men left of the 340 who had picked up their muskets that morning.  Fortunately for the Copeland family, William was one of them.

General James Lonstreet
General; Ulysses S. Grant
The remnants of the 9th went on to fight in the “Knoxville Campaign, (a series of battles and maneuvers in East Tennessee during the Fall of 1863), and the “Battle of the Wilderness” in the heavily wooded area of northern Virginia in May of 1864 (which was the South's first battle against Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant). During that battle, heavy casualties were suffered on both sides and looked like a certain loss for the Confederacy -  until General Longstreet brought in his troops, including the 9th Georgia, and sprung a surprise flanking attack. Ironically, General Longstreet was wounded by friendly fire.

General G.W.C. Lee
When comparing General Robert E. Lee's 1861 reasoned call for calm and action (quoted above) to the following frantic message written by his oldest son, General George Washington Custis Lee, in 1863, it is obvious that the mood in the South had changed and tension had increased dramatically.
Fellow Soldiers! Men of Georgia!
A ruthless foe is on your borders-almost at your very doors, and if not repelled, will desecrate the soil of our beloved State with his polluted and unhallowed tread; Will you suffer your homes to be desolated, your wives, sisters and mothers insulted and outraged by the vandal hordes of the North, who are destitute of humanity and strangers to all the laws and practices of civilized warfare? Our hope, our safety, our freedom, and all that men hold most dear, depend upon the stalwart arms and unflinching courage of our people. Rally, I beseech you, to your country's call! Go and battle side by side with your comrades in the field! Let none point the finger of scorn at you or your descendants after you, but rather live cherished in the memory of your country and the pride of your children's children; or be numbered with the once gallant and ever honored dead, whose names and memories will adorn the pages of future history.                    "Daily Intelligencer", Atlanta, 1863

Thankfully, 17 year old William survived all these deadly battles and returned home no longer a callow and innocent youth, but a man who had lived through blood and defeat. Eventually he and his first wife, Otelie, and their 2 children settled in Coweta County, where he became a successful farmer who was always striving to better farming conditions in the area. After Otelie's early death, he married Alice Allen with whom he had another child. From comments made in his obituary, it is obvious that he was not shy about sharing his convictions and was highly thought of until his death at age 66 in 1914.

For a full description of the 9th Georgia Volunteer's people and battles during the war, see