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My Alabama Shaw Family on My Father’s Side From 1861-2014

My husbands’ antebellum ancestors were peers of Great Grandmother Julie and next time, we will continue my family story that reaches from 1861 to 2014

Posted Aug 8, 2016

Annie Shaw-Barnes, Ph.D.
Author and Speaker
Cultural Anthropologist
Family Specialist
Family Education Specialist
Spousal Abuse Specialist
Christian Church Specialist
Racism Specialist

Hi everyone,

My husband, Bennie Barnes, shares his relatives who were Great Grandmother Julie’s peers and here is that story.

Timothy Benton, Bennie’s great grandfather, was born October 10, 1854. He grew up on the Benton Plantation in Holly Grove Township, where he was a slave owned by David Elbert Benton. David Benton was 10 years older than Timothy and apparently became the owner of Timothy through his father. Timothy was one of three slaves owned by David Benton, according to the 1860 Slave Schedule in the National Archives in Washington, D. C.

As a youth, one of Timothy’s jobs was to hold the lantern in the horse-drawn buggy to guide the way as the white Benton family traveled the dark roads.

Easter Lee, Bennie’s great grandmother, was born in February, 1854. She grew up on the Lee Plantation in Cypress Chapel Township in Nansemond County, Virginia, where she was a domestic servant.

Despite the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves in 1863, Easter, like many other slaves, continued to be held in servitude against her will.

On October 10, 1869, Joshua was born to Easter and two years later, a girl, Ida was born fathered by her master. Later, Easter ran away from the slave owner taking their two children.

She met Timothy and in 1874, the two were married. Timothy was a farmer and tilled the soil on the 50 acres of land he inherited from the slave owner David Benton.

Easter and Timothy lived on what came to be known as the Benton Farm. After Joshua and Ida came seventeen other children, one of whom died three days after he was born.

The Bentons were a happy family. Timothy was a soft spoken, very kind and generous man who is remembered fondly by his grandchildren as a strong disciplinarian. “If he gave you a whipping, you knew it,” said one grandchild.

The family had a swing for the children that extended from a large oak three in the front of the house. In the back yard, there was a well that often aroused the curiosity of the grandchildren, who persisted in going near it despite the warning from their grandfather, “Don’t go near the well children.”

Easter Lee Benton was a quiet woman who smoked a corn cob pipe and dipped snuff, two of her favorite pastimes. She was part descendant of the Mohawk Indians.

Although Timothy and Easter could not read and write, they made sure that their children received a formal education.

Timothy died on November 14, 1934 and his wife, Easter, died six years later on July 13, 1938.

Their children married and had large families, including Bennie’s grandmother Cherry who had six children, including Bennie’s mother, Isadora.

Bennie’s family shows several perspectives of slavery.

Bennie’s family concludes Grandmother Julie’ peers who show how others like her looked and were treated during the Antebellum Era and, therefore, give a flavor of the time she lived, and, next time, we will talk about Great Grandmother Julie and then continue the story of my Shaw family.

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