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Genealogy

Martha McFarlane McGee Bell

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In honor of women’s history month, we will look at some articles about women from NCpedia as examples of how to trace your female ancestors. This post will focus on verifying the marriages of Martha McFarlane McGee Bell, born around 1735 and died about 1820.

Background

Martha first married John McGee about 1759. According to published memoirs about Martha (see source list below), John had been previously married with two children of his own. John left a will in 1774. At the time of John’s decease, there were five children. A few years later around 1779, Martha married William Bell. Martha died in 1820 while William died in 1821.

Problem

Although there are multiple sources that share information about her, few of them cite documentation to prove any of it. In the absence of reliable sources to back up the information, it is necessary to verify as much as possible through original records.

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Two African American Newspapers Newly Available Online – Baltimore Afro-American & Norfolk Journal and Guide

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The Government and Heritage Library has two African American newspapers newly available for online research: The Baltimore Afro-American and The Norfolk Journal and Guide! Both newspapers are accessible through the ProQuest Historical Newspapers database.

Currently, these databases are available on site AND to North Carolina state agency employees anywhere with their State Library card. Users may perform keyword and advanced searches as well as browse by publication year, month, and issue number.

The Baltimore Afro-American – Coverage: 1893 – 1988

Provides full text and citation/abstract coverage from April 29, 1893 to February 6, 1988, with some exceptions. This weekly newspaper is published in Baltimore, Maryland, and is still in print with current issues available at www.afro.com.

From the newspaper’s Facebook page (accessed 2017-02-24):

The Afro-American Newspaper was founded in 1892 by John Henry Murphy Sr., a former slave, when he combined his church newspaper “The Sunday School Helper” with two other Baltimore newspapers. Murphy led his newspaper to national fame by the time of his death in 1922, when it was led by his son Carl Murphy, who headed the paper for 45 years and established 13 national editions. Many prominent Black journalists and writers have worked for the Afro-American, including William Worthy, J. Saunders Redding, and Langston Hughes. It remains in the Murphy family, today led by publisher John Oliver.

Other reading about the history of the Baltimore Afro-American can be found here: PBS – Newspaper Biographies: The Afro-American

The Norfolk Journal and Guide – Coverage: 1916 – 2003

Provides full text and citation/abstract coverage from September 30, 1916 – December 30, 2003, with some exceptions. This paper was published in Norfolk, Virginia, and was founded on April 14, 1900. It is still printed today with new issues available at thenewjournalandguide.com.

From the newspaper’s Facebook page (accessed 2017-02-24):

The New Journal and Guide is Virginia’s oldest Black weekly newspaper and part of what makes Norfolk great. Now celebrating more than 100 years of continuous publication, we are a proud member of the African American Press comprising some 300 newspapers across the nation.

Other reading about the history of the Norfolk Journal and Guide can be found here: PBS – Newspaper Biographies: Norfolk Journal and Guide

Questions about these resources or researching at the Government and Heritage Library? Please feel free to email us at slnc.reference[at]ncdcr[dot]gov or call 919-807-7450!

Census Tips: 1840 Census

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Map of North Carolina during the 1840 census

Image courtesy of LEARN NC.

 

The 1840 census began June 1st and ended February 1st of 1841. Information given was as of the census day, not the day of enumeration. In cases like this, the census may have been enumerated on December 1st with an age given as 12, but that age was as of June 1, 1840, so it’s possible there was a birthday between the census day and the date of enumeration.

As in 1830, the 1840 census had a printed form for enumerators to use. Unlike other years, there were no missing census pages for any state. Also, a new state and territory were included: Iowa and the Wisconsin Territory. Although Oregon became a territory by 1840, it was not included.

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City Directories: Tracing a family through three generations

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a portion of the 1891 Raleigh City Directory that shows the Pettiford Family

1891 Raleigh City Directory

In December 2016, I talked about the basic information in city directories and how they can be helpful for research. In this post, I want to show you how I used city directories in conjunction with other records to trace the Pettiford family of Raleigh. I learned a lot from tracking this family from 1875-1930. Finding this them in the city directories led me to other records, such as deeds, marriage records, and in some cases, just confirmed relationships as you can see from the image above.

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