Day 112: Roots  

Posted by Sarah in , , ,

Today's Task: 3/17 Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

"Find out where you come from. Trace your roots as far back as you can and see if you find out anything new or interesting."

ho boy... So many marriages and divorces in my family, but I can trace most of them back to at least early Texas settlement in the 1800s.

"Samuel Isaacks and his father Elijah Isaacks are both listed in the Texas Handbook Online which is sponsored by the Texas Historical Association and The University of Texas. Elijah was married to Ester Donoho. Samuel married first Nancy Allen and second Martha "Patsy" Richardson. Samuel is considered the first Jewish settler in Texas (even though they had to swear allegiance to the Catholic Church in order to live in Texas and own land.) Samuel was unmarried at the time. However, two unmarried males were allowed to constitute a family for the purpose of fulfilling the Austin 300 family contract. You can read about the Isaacks online in the handbook. Elijah was a delegate to the Convention of 1832. He was the son of Samuel and Mary Wallace Isaacks and was born in South Carolina in Feb. 22, 1775. Elijah was in Texas illegally until 1830 when he became part of the Bevil Settlement. Europeans roots and even surnames have little bearing on their Jewish heritage, since people of the Jewish faith lived in every European Country and often took local surnames. However, Samuel's second wife, was not of the Jewish faith. I do not know about Nancy Allen."

"William Ashworth, free black colonist and landowner, was born in South Carolina about 1793. In 1831 he moved from what is now Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, to Lorenzo de Zavala'sqv colony in East Texas. His father, Moses Ashworth, a white man, also came to Texas before the Texas Revolutionqv and settled in San Augustine. William and his brother Aaron Ashworthqv obtained an order of survey from George Antonio Nixon,qv but before they could locate their lands the revolution began and the Texas provisional government closed the land offices. During the revolution Ashworth sent a substitute, Gipson Perkins, to the Texas army. Perkins served from July 7 to September 7, 1836, in Capt. B. J. Harper's Company of Beaumont Volunteers.
Opposition to the immigration of free blacks into the area of present Jefferson and Orange counties appeared as early as 1835. The committee of public safety at Beaumont warned the General Councilqv against admitting free blacks into Texas, and the council passed an ordinance forbidding their immigration. The law was not enforced against William Ashworth, however, or any of the many Ashworths who followed him to the area.

In 1838 Ashworth obtained a franchise from the Jefferson County board of roads and revenues to operate a ferry across Lake Sabine and up the Neches River to Beaumont. His ferry and landholdings were threatened, however, by an act of the Texas Congress passed on February 5, 1840, which ordered all free blacks to vacate the republic within two years or be sold into slavery.qv White neighbors came to the aid of Ashworth and his relatives with three petitions to the Texas Congress requesting their exemption from the act. This support brought about the passage of the Ashworth Actqv of December 12, 1840, which exempted the Ashworths and all free blacks residing in Texas on the day of the Texas Declaration of Independence,qv along with their families, from the act of February 5.

In 1842 Ashworth and his relatives again faced a threat to their livelihood when a traveling land board charged with detecting fraudulent claims refused to certify the headrights given them by the Jefferson County board of land commissioners. The land board refused certification on the grounds that their jurisdiction did not cover free blacks. The board members nevertheless joined three members of the Jefferson board, along with some seventy other citizens, in petitioning Congress to make a direct issuance of the certification patents. The suggested bill easily passed the Texas Congress and was signed by President Sam Houston.qv

In 1850, of the sixty-three free blacks in Jefferson County, thirty-eight were named Ashworth. William Ashworth probably had the longest residence of any Ashworth in the area at that time. He and his wife, Leide or Delaide, a native white Louisianan, had seven children listed in their household in the 1850 census, although they probably had older children who had started their own families. While other Ashworths experienced legal difficulties because of interracial marriages, William and Leide appear to have been left alone. The 1850 census describes Ashworth as a farmer with large property, including two slaves. He and many of his relatives apparently were respected in their community as wealthy and relatively autonomous free blacks. "

That's why I tell people I'm "American". No sense associating with some European country or religion I have no real connection to. :)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at Tuesday, March 17, 2009 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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