Most Distant Known Ancestor: Nellie Gardner (1802- 1922)
Nellie Gardner was born in Virginia. She is suspected to have died of a very old age. By all accounts she had a very challenging and interesting life. She was a slave. Emancipated in Washington DC on July 16, 1862 after the death of her owner Amelia L. Young. The emancipation records describes her as a “dark Mulatto.” Nelly was married several times. Different Freedman’s Bank records in Gloucester, Virginia of her brother Peter Gardner (Aug. 22, 1870) and James Gardner (Sep. 3, 1870) lists RANDOLPH and GRAVES for her surnames. These records also list the names of her other siblings: Daniel Gardner, Bailey Gardner, Sarah Thornton, Lucy Banks/Laughton.
Information concerning Nellie’s move from Virginia to Georgia is not known; however, an 1870 Census record shows that her son Spencer Gardner was born in Terrell County, Georgia in 1822. By 1870, Spencer was 49 years old and married to Laura Graves. Their children were: Aaron, Ephraim, Austin, and Sarah. Interestingly in the same year, Nellie is 74 and married to William Graves. Several children are listed: Henry, Julia, Peter, and Margaret ranging from 1 to 8 years of age. Considering Nellie and William’s advanced age, the children listed in the household were probably their grandchildren. Also, could the “Laura Graves” that Spencer married had been his step sister or relative of his step father, William Graves?
In 1880, Spencer’s son Aaron Gardner was 24 and married to Louisa Love in Terrell County. Further records show their children as Robert (Aaron B.?), Sallie, Edward D., Furd, Ulysses, Pearl, Peter, Spencer, Laura, and Hanna. This same year lists Nellie Gardner in her own household as 80 years old and divorced.
Aaron’s oldest son Robert Gardner was 23 in 1900 and married to 32 year old Mealie Harper?/Knighton. The two were married on November 21, 1892. Robert and Mealie had a small family for that era, only two children: Bishop and Margaret. Robert died on May 9, 1922 from a lightening strike as noted on the death certificate informed by his brother Ulysses.
Margaret Gardner (Robert’s daughter) married Frank “Cab” Slade on May 12th, 1901 in Dawson, Georgia (Terrell County). Margaret and Frank moved to Sylvester, Georgia (Worth County) by 1920. The family matriach, Nellie was still living at 116 years of aged and residing with her grandson Mose Simons in Worth County. She died on March 16, 1922.
Margaret and Frank Slade’s children were Roosevelt, Nathaniel, Benjamin, Thelma, and my grandmother, Irish, who married my grandfather Bennie Lee Jackson. Margaret died from a heart attack on February 2, 1984.