Author Topic: Identifying Levi Whitaker's (b1853 in GA, African-American) Parents?  (Read 107 times)

Offline meccasamaria

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Identifying Levi Whitaker's (b1853 in GA, African-American) Parents?
« on: Saturday 11 July 20 18:58 BST (UK) »
Hi all,

Apologies if I've posted improperly or left out important information: this is my first post on RootsChat :).

I'm currently trying to identify the parents of a Levi Whitaker, an African-American man who was born in March 1853 in GA, but moved to AL and ended up marrying Lottie McKinney there. I've found potential parents, but am having trouble identifying whether they're the parents of the correct Levi Whitaker.

I have found an African-American man named Levi Whitaker who was also born in 1853 in GA, and moves to AL. His father, Jacob Whitaker, has a Freedmen's Bureau bank account where he identifies two of his sons, Levi and Ruben. I can't find a death certificate for Levi, but Ruben's death certificate lists Jacob and Melvina as his parents.

However, I'm not sure if this is the right Levi. Jacob also identifies a "Julia Ann" as a child. There's a Juli Anna Whitaker who, in 1908 in AL, receives a pension as an army widow for a Levi Whitaker's death. I haven't been able to identify the veteran Levi Whitaker's birthday, and am not sure if the Juli Anna name is just a coincidence. However, the Levi I'm searching for marries Lottie McKinney and appears on the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census in AL as a farmer, so if the Levi that Jacob identifies is Juli Anna's husband, it can't be the right guy.

I was wondering if anyone might be able to help me work through this issue?

Happy to elaborate on anything and thank you!

Offline oldohiohome

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Re: Identifying Levi Whitaker's (b1853 in GA, African-American) Parents?
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 12 July 20 06:44 BST (UK) »
First thoughts.
You have posted in the right place, and seem to have included all the important information.

Some questions that might help sort out the problem, and I don't know the answers.

1. Can you find Jacob Whitaker's daughter Julia Ann and eliminate her from being a daughter in law? Did people on the Freedmen's Bureau records name daughters-in-law as children? I would guess not, but I don't know.

2. Are there any other records regarding Ruben Whitaker's death that might name his siblings? I'm thinking of one of those hand-out life stories from African-American funeral homes that were used because the papers wouldn't print an obit. Or can you learn his siblings somehow else? Did Ruben move to Alabama? to the same place as your Levi?

3. Regarding the Juli Anna who received the pension: for what war? Your Levi was too young for the American Civil War and probably too old, and settled down, for the Spanish-American war. Were there even pensions for the Sp-Amer War?

Can you tell if Juli Anna is white or black? All a part of a general strategy to eliminate this Levi. Find out as much about him as you can, and you may be able to eliminate him.

4. Were there naming patterns in Black southern families? In other words, did your Levi Whitaker name any children Jacob and Melvina?

5. You seem to have really "done your homework", so you might already have these resources:

This lady seems to know what she is talking about, I just haven't needed the information yet:
https://www.reclaimingkin.com/strategy-pension-records/
also
https://www.reclaimingkin.com/southern-plantations/

She would probably be willing to answer your questions as well, but I don't know for sure.

background info on "Records" she mentions:
https://www.worldcat.org/title/records-of-ante-bellum-southern-plantations-from-the-revolution-through-the-civil-war/oclc/12894903

I have a few of the indexes, but not the one for Georgia. Googling "lexisnexis antebellum south plantation series" turned up a lot of them, but I didn't find Alabama.

Tony Burroughs book, Black Roots, helped me get as far as I did with one of my friend's Black families. He might have a newer book out by now.

Offline meccasamaria

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Re: Identifying Levi Whitaker's (b1853 in GA, African-American) Parents?
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 12 July 20 18:09 BST (UK) »
Thanks so much for your help!!

Your suggestions were very helpful for resolving this issue! By taking your suggestion to search for Levi and Juli Anna (who actually turned out to be Julia Anna - misspelled on payment card), I was able to find the veteran Levi's actual registration. He was in the Union (so older than my Levi), and I confirmed it was him because they listed his rank, company, regiment, and first initial of his state on either document. From finding the other documents of his, I found out that he's older than my Levi, white, and lives in another state. So it looks like the Juli Ann thing is a coincidence and I've found my Levi's dad after all  :). Yay!

Thank you again!


Offline oldohiohome

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Re: Identifying Levi Whitaker's (b1853 in GA, African-American) Parents?
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 12 July 20 23:50 BST (UK) »
Congratulations. Remarkable that you have the names of parents of a man born in slavery in 1853. I didn't do nearly as well with the family I worked on, only finding their ancestor, whom they knew had been born a slave, on later census records.

Offline meccasamaria

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Re: Identifying Levi Whitaker's (b1853 in GA, African-American) Parents?
« Reply #4 on: Monday 13 July 20 02:54 BST (UK) »
Yeah, it can be tough... I was lucky to find this application! They asked for Jacob's own mom and dad, his birthplace, etc., so that record turned out to be a real treasure trove.