Ambrose Cureton…I am coming for you! Pt. 1

As we know when you are getting started or refreshing your research you have to stick to the basics of genealogy research. I am sure this line will take me past 1870. It’s going to be a challenge since I don’t know much about Tennessee. I will have to make a few turns because I am assuming I am leading into doing some deep rooted slave research on this line. African American slave research has its own set of genealogy challenges but we shall see. Now “what do I know about you” Ambrose Cureton:

  1. You are my great great grandfather on my father’s side. Your name is Ambrose Cureton. You are African or African American. I am not sure you were born in America due to some oral history. My Uncle Carl shared with me and my mother back in the 60s (here the hints from oral history) that Ambrose or his father (I do not have his father’s name) was a 9 year old African who came in on a slave ship either into North or South Carolina or from the West Indies. Also, my dad mentioned something about Dutch people when two Jehovah Witness individuals knocked on our door. I am not sure what that means actually and of course I am going by my memory. So, with this blog I am going with the thought that the 9 year old is Ambrose until some other evidence shows itself.  The plantation owner who brought Ambrose had the last name of Cureton and that is a good place to start.
  2. What resources are available for me to learn about TN and Cocke County, TN. I had to make a list where I can go to first:
    7.,_Tennessee_Genealogy#African_American It appears that Ambrose was born between 1833 to 1840 and thats only because of what I have seen on the 1870 and 1880 federal population census. Now we know the census are not always the most accurate so we will consider anything on the census on “quick leads” to follow up on.
    8. Another great site to check out is there is a State and a Slave research  forum. It’s time to post some questions and gets some help. Maybe I will connect with someone else who is also researching the area which is always good to have a genie buddy.
    9. Mapping the Freedmen Bureau site developed by Angela Walton-Raji and Toni Carrier can show the closest Bureau Office, maybe Ambrose went there for help once he became free-
  3. Yes, I first see you Ambrose in the 1870 census with a wife, Eliza and two children; Govan age 5 and Elizabeth  age 3 months. Where you free? or if not who “owned” you prior to 1865? Are you the only Blacks on this census page? Note where everyone was born-it looks like Tennessee is where most of the folks were born besides one in Kentucky and a few from North Carolina. As you see Ambrose your son, maybe your first born son Govan is 5 years old and is noted as being born in North Carolina. Why? (Yes, I will be bringing out my thoughts and talking to my great great grandfather while doing my research. It helps me to have good conversations with my thoughts).  I believe I resolved where Govan was born since he was the informant on one of his daughter’s dead record and he says he was born in Cocke Co. Tennessee. But let’s hold that thought anyway. Also, I know Ambrose you all show up in Loudon Co, TN in the 1880 Census with Govan, but not Eliza or Elizabeth maybe they have died prior to the move to Knox Co. for a few years and then Govan and family moves on to Ft. Wayne Indiana around 1917 and Govan dies in 1928. I will need to research for possible death records on Eliza and Elizabether before 1880. So note in the 1880 census in Loudon Co. there is a new wife and children and all of the children’s names in the 1880 census are just initials. Now if I ever meet that census taker, you know what I want to do to her/him, huh…initials only, geez another topic to blog about. It is time to do a “SO WHAT” and WHAT’s NEXT on what I know. ambrose cureton 1870 census Cocke County TN
  4. I have checked for other Blacks in the 1870 census and there are only three Black households per the census with the last name of Cureton: 1) James b. 1808 and Mary J b. 1819, there is a total of 16 in the household and the post office is Newport. 2) Elbert b. 1844 and Abagail b. 1845, household of 9 and the post office is Wamsburg. 3) Ame (Ambrose) b. 1833 and Elzia b. 1843, household of 4 and the post office is Wamsburg. I need to know if the other Black Cureton’s are connected to Ambrose or Eliza. If you both were previous slaves I will need to know who is connected to you or not. Just because Ambrose has the last name Cureton doesn’t mean he is a blood Cureton, or he took an owners name, but you never know.
  5. The census year of 1870 is key for African American research there are so many questions and possibilities that can arise from being found in the 1870 census. It is the first census where former slaves now have names and surnames in the federal census. It gives us names and approximately birth years and clues to birth locations. I have to keep wondering if the others are related…I will look at the birth years of these other two households, and the different post office locations, there is more to check our here. I wonder how far they were living from each other?  Hmmm! I have to find the locations of these post offices-I need a map of Cocke County!
  6. Next I checked for all of the white Cureton’s in 1870s in Cocke County. There are six white head of households: 1) RF b, 1811 and Nancy E b. 1829, only those 2 in the household and the post office is Newport 2) William b. 1816 and Mary b. 1820, 7 in the household and the post office is Newport 3) Robt b. 1840 and Cassandra b. 1845, 7 in the household and the post office is Parrottsville (a new one), 4. Catherine b. 1841 and Thomas b. 1850, 4 in the household and the post office is Newport, 5) Richard b. 1844 and Margaret b. 1845, 6 in the household and the post office is Newport. I also note all of the other surnames on this page and will review the rest of the “whole” county later.
  7. These post office’s are going to be key in determining where in Cocke County in 1870 the Cureton’s were living, the white and black Cureton’s. So I wonder if I can find out the locations of Newport, Parrottsville, and Wamsburg post offices. Okay I need to make a few posts on Facebook and see if anyone else is researching Cocke County, Tn and I also wonder if Wamsburg is an abbreviation for maybe Williamsburg, since the founder of Cocke Co, is William Cocke. (just a thought). I did learn that Newport is the county seat for the county and still has a post office, Parrottsville is a still a town and also has a post office location. Hmmm but no Wamsburg post office. I believe I have enough to focus on when I return from work.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of finding Ambrose Cureton!

“Know Your Roots, they are Strong and Long”

Happy digging from familytreegirl

(Feel free to share my blog posts, I write them to keep myself focused and share tips, etc. Just make sure you cite where you received the information. Mahalo!

About familytreegirl

Shelley Murphy, aka “familytreegirl”, a native of Michigan residing in Central Virginia, Shelley has been an avid genealogist for over 25+ years researching the Davis, Marsh, Goens/Goins/Goings, Roper, Boyer, Worden, Cureton, and Murphy family lines. She is a Coordinator and faculty for the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI), presents Genealogy 101 workshops at the local community college, state and national genealogy conferences. She holds a Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and works as an adjunct professor for Averett University. Murphy is known for her inspiring and interactive “Getting Started” Methods and Strategies for genealogy research, “Time and File management” along with interesting problem-solving methodology lectures. Shelley currently has 20+ publications with Charlottesville Genealogy Examiner and the Central Virginia Heritage, a publication of the Central Virginia Genealogical Association. She is an instructor for the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI). Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, Adjunct Professor, Professional Genealogist. Volunteers for American Red Cross as a Disaster Services Instructor, facilitates financial education workshops for the last 8 years, and former licensed Real Estate Broker
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6 Responses to Ambrose Cureton…I am coming for you! Pt. 1

  1. kristin says:

    My great grandparents, Louis and Celia (Rice) Cleage (Clage in the census) were living in Loudon County TN in 1880. Hackberry post office.

    • Wow! I didn’t know that…Have you done any research there? My grandmother Viola Cureton was born there. 1895

      • kristin says:

        My grandfather was born there in 1883. His father was sharecropping. The family appears in the 1880 census at the Hackberry postoffice, 11th Civil District. I haven’t done any research there. I have been to Athens, Mcminn County, which is where they were living by 1897 when my great grandmother married her 2nd husband. Athens is where they started out.

    • I have been there -I was told there was two African American cemeteries in Loudon. I wonder how close your folks were to mine?

  2. kristin says:

    In the 1900 census my great grandfather Louis Cleage was working on the railroad and my great grandmother had remarried and she and all her children were in Athens, McMinn County. However, my great grandfather’s sister, Angeline Cleage Rhea and her husband were living in Loudon Cty, Civil District 2, District 0097. Husband was Jacob Rhea and he was a railroad laborer. In 1910, She and her husband and her sister, Tennie were living in Loudon Cty, Civil District 5, District 0143. Tennessee Clage died there in Philadelphia, Loudon Cty in 1912. Angeline died 12 April, 1926 and was buried in Loudon Cemetery, undertaker F.M. Quinn. Not the best handwriting, but that is what I make out.

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