So on Sunday, the day after I’d met her at the African-American Family History Seminar, I had lunch with my cousin Karen. We got together at Marie Callender’s in Arden-Arcade, California. She had brought along a bag full of photos and information.
First, the “back story,” as they say: One of the major brick walls in my research has been with the Brayboy family. Syntrilla Brayboy (1843-1920?) was my great-great-grandmother. She married Lewis LeJay and one of their children was Sylvia LeJay (1863-1940). Sylvia married Richard William Gines (1860-?); they were my mother’s grandparents.
I knew from census records that the Brayboys came to Louisiana from South Carolina, but not much more. Syntrilla Brayboy doesn’t appear by name in any census record. That’s in part because having been born in 1843, she was twenty-seven years old–and presumably married–by the time blacks were first identified by name in the census records. Based on incomplete oral histoory about her siblings’ names, I had deduced that Syntrilla was the daughter of William (born c. 1795 in South Carolina) and Bettie (born c. 1798 in South Carolina) Brayboy. But I didn’t know for sure.
Karen, a self-employed consultant, has been studying her family history for more than 15 years. She has amassed a great deal of information about the Brayboy family. She knew, for instance, that William and Bettie had a number of children other than Syntrilla, one of whom was Billie Jr. This person married one Peggy Presly. The Presly family had also come from South Carolina. Karen is a direct descendant of Billie Brayboy Jr.
Most importantly, Karen knew that the Brayboys had been held as slaves by a man named Boykin Witherspoon. This is a key piece of information that answered a lot of questions for me.
Boykin Witherspoon was born in South Carolina in 1814. He was the descendant of Irish immigrants. He married Elizabeth Edwards in 1841. They resided at Society Hill in Darlington County. The family appears to have been quite wealthy. In 1854, the Witherspoons relocated from South Carolina to De Soto Parish, Louisiana.
Boykin Witherspoon had 100 slaves in South Carolina in 1850. The 1860 slave schedule for Louisiana shows him with 138 slaves in Louisiana. According to Karen, when he relocated in 1854, Witherspoon brought with him a number of slaves, including persons surnamed Brayboy, Presly, and Jefferson. All of these names appear in my family tree. It’s not clear to me how many slaves Witherspoon brought with him, but you can imagine that the relocation was quite an operation!
I think I have identified Billie and Bettie Brayboy on both the 1850 slave schedule for South Carolina and the 1860 slave schedule for Louisiana. I did it this way:
1880 Census De Soto Parish, Louisiana
Braboy, William 85 M B South Carolina
Braboy, Bettie 80 F B South Carolina
Braboy, John 60 M B South Carolina
1860 Slave Schedule, Witherspoon, De Soto Parish, Louisiana
1850 Slave Schedule, Witherspoon, Darlington, South Carolina
The other known children of William and Bettie also seem to fit on these slave schedules. I also think I found several of the Jefferson family.
Now I need to know how they came to be surnamed “Brayboy,” a moniker associated with the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina.
Karen had photos of headstones, other relatives, and much more. We’ll get together and process more of it!
March 12, 2007 Monday at 3:35 pm