Nancy Crawley – Slave of Hopkins Family

This post is part of the Slave Name Roll Project. The individual(s) identified as slaves below were the property of my ancestors. Documenting my findings is one small contribution towards helping others in their own research. Hat tip to Cathy Meder-Dempsey and her post on Frank (the individual I was also researching) and great description and commitment to this project.


Lora Morris - Grandmother CrawleyIn the course of a fairly general search of the Hopkins family in archived newspapers, I ran across a 1967 article in the Charleston (WV) Gazette about Lora Viola Morris. The article focuses on Lora’s longevity and a bit of her life story as she approached her 100th birthday. The paragraph that caught my eye was this:

She has a bit of rheumatism, and doesn’t move as fast as formerly. She feels she must have inherited her longevity from her grandmother, Nancy Crawley, who was a slave of the Hopkins family at Madison, Boone County. She lived to be 113.

Working backwards, I was able to trace Lora back to Nancy Crawley. From what I can piece together, she was born around 1810, give or take a few years. Per the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, she was mother to three children, two of which I have identified.  Louisa Crawley and Julia L. Crawley were born in 1846 and 1851 respectively, and presumably into slavery. I have not been able to identify a spouse for Nancy or father for Louisa or Julia.

1880 Census - Crawford & Crawley
1880 Census – Crawford & Crawley

Another relation is Henry Claughton (sometimes spelled Clawton) who appears on the 1880 U. S. Federal Census in Boone County as head of household and Nancy’s cousin. Henry and Nancy appear together in the 1900 U. S. Federal Census in Boone County as head of household and housekeeper (an interesting characterization, given that Nancy is shown as 90 years of age at the time). Henry appears in the 1870 census with his own family, and I’m still working on tracking those as well; although I have no idea if he also has a connection to the Hopkins family, I have learned that researching on the edges often is helpful in finding information about the direct line. The image above is the 1880 Census with Nancy, Henry, and Minnie Myers in one household (Minnie is Nancy’s granddaughter via Julia and her first husband). The next household listed is Julia and her 2nd husband and children. The following household is Henry’s son Charles and his family.

1860 Slave Schedule - HopkinsThe slave owner was either Henry S. Hopkins or one of his two sons, Henry H. Hopkins or Mandaville J. Hopkins. All three are my direct ancestors. (Henry H. and Mandaville were half-brothers, and each is my 3rd great-grandfather through separate lines; that’s a post for another day.)

Henry S. Hopkins is shown as the owner of 20 slaves on the 1850 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedule; there is a 41 year old female who fit the bill. Henry S. and both of his sons are listed as owners of 6, 4, and 6 slaves respectively. The closest match is a 60 year old female owned by Henry S.

I am marking this post with the “Dead End” tag because I can’t confirm a) Nancy’s birth or death date; b) Nancy’s spouse and/or father of her children; and c) which of the Hopkins was her owner. I also can’t find Nancy in the 1870 census; this isn’t entirely not unexpected, given this was only a few years after the end of the Civil War, and many households were in transition (if not chaos), especially for African-Americans. Additionally, Boone County was a major locale for military actions during the Civil War (as evidenced by the letter from Annie Hopkins to her husband Mandaville); the Boone County Courthouse was burned to the ground during an 1861 battle. There’s also an account of a male slave escaping with his wife and children from Henry H. Hopkins, with the family drowning and the slave being captured; I’ll write that as a separate post. In summary, conditions in Boone County in 1870 were such that many individuals may not have been enumerated in the census that year. And of course there is the possibility and Nancy and her family were not in Boone County at that time.

Given that Nancy lived a couple of decades into the 20th century, and had a well established extended family, I’m hoping eventually to find a photo of her. Finding the initial reference to her in the newspaper article really inspired me to dig more deeply into the slave history of my ancestors, and I’d love to put a face to the name.

3 thoughts on “Nancy Crawley – Slave of Hopkins Family”

  1. Leslie, what an interesting way to discover information about former slaves. Well done! I’ve added a link to this post to the Slave Name Roll project. Thank you for your contribution.

  2. Hello. I am doing some research and I have been lead here. By the way it looks by records, we may be related. I love to communicate with you further . So if you’re interested just let me know. Peace and light. Clark

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