Monday, October 26, 2020


I cannot believe that I didn't know about the memorial of  400 years of slavery in America  when I booked a trip to southern Africa in 2019.

Friday, June 28, 2019


On June 19, 1865, the slaves who were living in Texas got the word that they were free - two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It is the oldest national celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States celebration. It was on this day that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the war had end and the slaves were now free. 

General Granger read to the people in Texas General Order Number 3:

" The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation form the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.

Today, a video was made of me talking about how our family's reunion lead to discovery of our connection to Jesuit of Maryland Province. In 2004, our family, the Hicks/Estes family was planning a family reunion when we discovered 272 people including our Butler Family had been enslaved by the Jesuits of Maryland Province. The video will be put on a website hosted by the New England Historic Genealogical Society: 

If you think you descend from the 272 people enslaved by the Jesuits of Maryland, then check out this website to locate your ancestors. 



Monday, October 23, 2017


     Rachel Butler Hicks (seated), James Henry Hicks, spouse (left), Beverly Hicks, son, (right)
courtesy of Katie Pool Primas, granddaughter of Beverly Hicks

After reading the New York Times' article about the Jesuit slaveholdings, Katie Pool Primas sent me this photograph of my great-grandparents, Rachel and Henry Hicks, and their son, Beverly. Katy is the granddaughter of Beverly Hicks. I never thought that I would see the faces of my great-grandparents because they were deceased when I was born. With the photo, Katy included the message "hoping this will help you."  I was "over the moon" when I received this photograph. Beverly is the older brother of Nace Hicks, my grandfather.

Rachel Butler was born into slavery on Jesse Batey's Maringuion Plantation in circa 1852. She was the daughter of two of the original enslaved people, James Scott, born 1816, and Mary Butler, born in 1835. Rachel is also the granddaughter of four  enslaved people,  Bennett and Clare Scott and Nace and Biby Butler who were sold to Jesse Batey in 1838. This is a photo of Rachel,my great-grandmother, who was a child of four enslaved people and who was enslaved with them and her grandparents on Jesse Batey's plantation. Henry Hicks, my great-grandfather, was born in Virginia around 1851.  It is not known how and when he arrived in Louisiana.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Update: Beverly Hicks

William Beverly Hicks

I discovered more information about Beverly Hicks. I used the new Freedmen's Bureau records from Family Search which were indexed by more than 25,000 volunteers last year. There were 1,781,463 records released and they added significantly to Beverly Hicks' story.

One thing I learned from the records is Beverly had two wives. I was always conflicted about this because I have seen Beverly and Jane listed as parents in the Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic Church records and I also have seen Beverly listed with Mary in the census records. The 1870 Federal Census enumerates Beverly with Mary Hicks. There is a marriage certificate for Beverly Hix (sic) and Mary Bird also known as Byrd. They were married on 27 Dec 1864. I have not found a marriage certificate for Beverly and Jane but there is a record that states they were married.

A letter was submitted for consideration and an opinion to Capt. McDonnell. It states:
  • Beverly Hicks married a colored woman named Jane (also a slave). They lived together until 1863 when Jane was sold out of state.
  • Beverly became free in 1847!!!
  • After Jane was sold, Beverly obtained a marriage license in Halifax County and married a free woman named Mary Bird and they lived together since marriage.
  • Jane returned to Manchester in 1866(?) where she was owned and lived with Beverly up to the present time. The letter is dated Oct 15, 1866.
  • Jane and Beverly have 11 children and support was received from him.
  • Mary and Beverly have one child and Mary received support from him.
  • Both women claimed Beverly as their "lawfully" husband and want the Right of Possession be speedily determined.
  • Beverly runs on the Danville R.R. (I assumed "runs" means work.)
Beverly and Mary were living together according to 1900 Federal Census for Midlothian, Chesterfield, Virginia. On a bank form,  Emma Jane Hicks, 15, and John Hicks, 12, and George Hicks, 10, indicated that Beverly Hicks, their father, left Jane Hicks, their mother, during the war.

The marriage certificate indicates that Beverly's parents are John and Amy Hix. A photo of a gravestone on Find a Grave is inscribed with the name of William Beverly Hicks, birth Apr 9, 1826 and death June 25, 1901. His spouse is Mary A. Byrd Hicks (1846-1927). Children: Thomas Rufus Hicks (1883-1965). Note: The 1900 Federal Census lists Thomas as 17 yrs. so I think that this is our Beverly. The other child who was listed is Alexander Hicks (1886-1950). This is the first time I have seen Alexander's name but they are the ones who buried Beverly. William Beverly Hicks is buried at First Baptist Church Cemetery in Midlothian, VA.

Our family did not know that Beverly Hicks' full name was William Beverly Hicks until I located the grave on Find a Grave.

Monday, July 17, 2017

DNA Links Adopted Child to Jesuit Slave

DNA kits were one of the Christmas gifts I gave to my husband, Jerry, and my daughter Dana. I was in Cuba when an email was sent on April 12, 2017 to me by Judy Riffel, the lead genealogist for the Georgetown Memory Project. I had no access to WiFi because it was scarce in Cuba. I arrived home on April 16th  which was Easter Sunday, so needless to say, I didn't check my email until the next day.

Judy stated a DNA kit I administered to D.J. was a match for Frank Campbell, a man who had been enslaved by the Jesuits of Georgetown and sold down river to a plantation owner in Louisiana. She also asked me if D. J. was a GU272 descendant which refers to the 272 slaves sold and the name of the association that was formed by the descendants. To say I was stunned by this news would be an understatement. 

I immediately sent Judy an email. I told her that D.J. was my daughter Dana Johnson and I gave her the kit for Christmas. Then I dropped the bombshell: Dana is adopted!  Ordinarily, one would expect my child to be a GU272 descendant because I am descendant. What are the odds that an adopted child who was born in California in 1971 would be a descendant of a GU272 slave??? We are both GU272 descendants but descend from different ancestors! My ancestors are the Butlers and Dana's are the Campbells. I learned of Dana's connection to Frank Campbell on April 17th, the same day an article by Rachel Swarms, published in the New York Times on April 17, 2016 which drew world-wide attention to Jesuit slaveholdings.

Who is Frank Campbell? On March 12, 2017, Swarms wrote an article, "A Glimpse Into the Life of a Slave Sold to Save Georgetown," in the NYT. The article was about Frank Campbell who  was a part of the 1838 sale of  slaves to Jesse Batey. Frank's photo was discovered in a scrapbook that belonged to the Barrow family, a big-time slave-owning family. What is the significance of this photo? It is the only photo that exists of a Jesuit slave who was sold in 1838.

As soon as I learned of my daughter's connection to Frank Campbell, I asked Janette Birch, a member of the Butler Team, to assist me in researching the Campbells in California. I finally had a name to research! Janette sought assistance from Barbara Brazington, another Butler Team member, and a Campbell descendant was located in California.This Campbell is too old to be Dana's father but he has three sons. The father does not bear the Campbell name but his mother's maiden name is Campbell. Now all I need to do is to determine which of these sons was 20 years old in 1971. 

Another article was published about Frank Campbell on May 24, 2017, "Echoes of Injustices: The image of a slave brings closure to a Terrebonne parish family." This article provided me with the names of the descendants of Frank Campbell. My first reaction was to call, but I decided  a letter would be less intrusive. I picked one descendant to write who was featured in the article and on the TV news and sent a letter about my daughter and  her connection to their grandfather. I was a little anxious while I awaited a response. Finally, after an agonizing week, I received a response. The descendant agreed to make attempts to assist me in the search for Dana's father, but needed more information. I looked for my copies of the adoption documents and couldn't find them. They are around here somewhere, probably in one of the boxes in the garage where it  has been since my move to Spokane 12 years ago. I asked my daughter to send her copies and they are on their way. By the time this article is printed in the Digital Digest, I will have an answer. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Finding Nace Butler, Jr., The Runaway Jesuit Slave

In November 1838, the Jesuits of Georgetown, sold 272 slaves to two plantation owners in Louisiana.  Fifteen of my family members, were sold and were shipped down river on the Katharine Jackson of Georgetown. My great-great-great-grandparents, Nace and Biby Butler, and their 13 children were on that ship  except one, Nace Butler, Jr.who ran away.

Our connection to the Jesuit slaves has been known for more than 12 years. It was first discovered in the spring of 2004 as the family was making plans for a reunion in New Orleans. I continued to look for Nace, Jr.,  having found a person I suspected was my ancestor buried in the St. Ignatius Church Cemetery, St. Mary's County, Maryland online on the church's website in 2007.  The website included photos of the church, St. Ignatius, and a list of the people buried in the cemetery.  An Ignatius Butler was listed on parchment in the church as well as Gladys Butler, Lucinda Butler and Johnston Butler.

The search for Nace, Jr. took on a new life after the Georgetown Memory Project(GMP) was formed. In November 2015, Richard Cellini, an alumnus of Georgetown University,  founded the GMP to identify the the slaves sold in 1838 and to located their living descendants. As a member of that organization a new search was launched, first by me and then by a member of the Butler Research Team. We came to the same conclusion: Ignatius Butler who is buried at  St. Ignatius is our Nace Butler, Jr., the runaway.

I thought that we were on the right track when an Ignatius "Nace" Butler along with a wife and children  were located on the 1870 census  in the St. Inigoes, St. Mary's County, Maryland.  His birth date was estimated to be 1818.  In the Jesuit Plantation Project records which include the profiles of the slaves, Nace Butler birth date is 1818.  

In December 2016, I was contacted by Glendon Stubbs, the great-great-great grandson of  Ignatius Butler.  He provided me with a descendant chart for Ignatius Butler constructed by Malissa Ruffner, a professional genealogist hired by the GMP. Her research confirmed what we found: Ignatius Butler is the runaway who was born in 1818 and died

  to be continued

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Honoring Sgt. Malbert Montgomery Cooper

Today I placed some flowers and a flag on Sgt. Malbert Montgomery Cooper's grave.  He did not have a headstone for his grave when he was buried on May 2, 1979. It took six years of negotiations to get an government-issued marker thanks to the efforts of Veterans Service Director Chuck Elmore, Veterans Service Officer Nadel Barrett and me, Patricia Bayonne - Johnson, President of Eastern Washington Genealogical Society in Spokane, Washington.

On May 11, 2009, I went to Spokane Memorial Gardens, Cheney-Spokane to photograph the headstone to accompany an article I had written 
about Sgt. Cooper.  My husband and I traveled to the cemetery and went to the office to get the location of the grave.  We wandered around the area where the marker should have been for an hour but couldn't find one. So we headed back to the office and the staff looked again  and gave us the bad news: Sgt. Cooper was buried without a headstone because he was buried by Public Assistance which would not pay for a headstone. They would only pay for the burial. But the good news was because Cooper had been in the military, the government would issue a headstone.  All I needed was his DD214 - his discharge papers.

I contacted Chuck Elmore by email, starting a process that would last six long years to get that government- issued headstone. I had two appointments with Elmore to discuss the documents and photos I had for Sgt. Cooper. Chuck knew all the places to be contacted, so he took over from there.

The matter was complicated because Sgt. Cooper did not have any relatives. He was married twice and the last woman had a son, but he had not been adopted by Cooper. It was difficult to find the paper work on Cooper but Chuck was successful. Then I got more bad news: I had to be the next of kin to apply for a government headstone. Well, I am not the next-of-kin; I am just an interested party trying to get the government to do the right thing. The man served his country and he deserved a headstone! That was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard  in my life! Chuck even talked to  Senator Patty Murray about it; the last response she got from the VA, was if we wanted a headstone we would have to take them to court.

Then Elmore hired Nadel Barrett, a Navy veteran in January 2015.  Nadel, a lawyer, took over Cooper's case and was successful in getting an approval from the VA without having to go to court. I received a call some time in May 2015 after the headstone was installed. My husband and I immediately drove out to see it.  A full military burial ceremony was held on  May 27, 2015. I have never attended a military burial ceremony and it was very moving - Honor Guards, Flag Folding, Taps and a gun salute.  What a Day!