Monday, February 2, 2009

HAM African American Origins in Virginia

HAM(M) Surname
African American Origins in Virginia

James Ham of Ashe County once told me that he once heard of African Americans carrying the name "Ham."

He looked at me as if he was surprised, as if he never heard of that. Well, yes, Jim they do exist. African American HAM's are out there somewhere. I suspect many of them now live near the larger cities in northern US.

I have to admit, when I started research on my ancestors, I was disillusioned by the Television series "Roots."
I thought I'd ve sure to find my plantation owning ancestor being cruel to their slaves. After all, I was researching my line in the south.

The reality is, I found plantation owners were few and far between, and certainly not in my direct line. I was not finding those slaves. No Kunte Kinte, no cracker jack slave master. No drama. The main thing I found in my line was mountain men, and a Church. The Church seemed to have some importance to them.

What was I doing wrong?

Nothing. Turns out that our research showed most HAM folks could not afford slaves. I was certainly not seeing many slaves among mountain men. But, we did find those slaves among other HAM lines. And yes, there was cruelty. As you will see below, a negro named Jack had an severe experience in the public Court of Amelia County.

I have seen a transcript that reported my William HAM owned a female slave in 1860.
I thought perhaps owned for less than 10 years to take care of an elderly couple. However, the actual image of the 1860 Census shows no slaves for the couple. The Census indicated by a mark in one column that his wife could not read. So, perhaps there could have been an error in transcription.

In my search for my own ancestors, I was hearing those (supposedly shameful) reports that some of my ancestors most likely deserted during the Civil War. Well, O.K., I can understand deserting when one lone deaf and dumb male is left out of the war to handle the farming for five other families whose males were off fighting for the cause. But, if you don't own slaves to start with, and when you get news that your first cousin dies, your step brother is maimed, and your father has passed away, then sure, I suppose I'd want to leave and tend to my father's funeral as well. But, that's another story.

African American ancestry is not something I concentrated on in the book. There were just not that many slaves to be found, in comparison with the rest of the material. But, you can glean some evidence for African American origins from a review of our volume on Virginia. For example, Geneva had researched Amelia County, and found an interesting story there.

Upon gaining their freedom, slaves would usually take on the last name of their owners. I suppose that was simply because they needed a last name. (While they were slaves, they only had first names in almost all cases.)

With the advent of President Obama, I am hoping that we might begin to see more African American participants in the HAM DNA Project.

Anyways, I tooks a quick survey of a timeline on African Americans in Virginia. We have detailed records from over 22 Virginia Counties in volume #2, and only about 9 of these Counties report African slaves in those early years. (Sorry, at the moment I don't recall exactly how many Counties we researched in Virginia and have in our book.)

More details on these entries that can be found in volume 2 of "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC."

African Americans associated with the HAM surname:

First slaves to appear

1751 Estate of John LUCAS includes 3 slaves in Orange County, VA. Attending are Samuel HAM and William HAM
1760 Thomas HAMM estate divdes up his slaves in Caroline County, VA
1765 William DULANY to William HUME transaction of 2 slaves in Culpeper County, VA
1766 Thomas HAM witness to the will of Richard JONES, mentions negro woman Nancy in Amelia County, VA
1775 George HAM gives one negro boy named Lott to Dudley JOLLY in Amelia County, VA
1782 George HAM owns 2 blacks on the Enumerations in Amelia County, VA
1782 Mary HAM owns 4 blacks on the Enumerations in Amelia County, VA
1782 William HAM owns 5 blacks on the Enumerations in Amelia County, VA
1783 Stephen HAMM owns 3 blacks on the Enumerations for Amherst County, VA
1787 Mary HAM 6 blacks on the Enumerations in Amelia County, VA
1787 William HAM 4 blacks on the Enumerations in Amelia County, VA
1787 Stephen HAMM owns 6 blacks on the Enumerations for Amherst County, VA
1787 William HAM 1 black on the Enumerations in Madison County, VA
1790 George HAM and David ALLIN report stolen property in Amelia County, VA.
Missing include sheets, one tablecloth, shirts, and overalls.
A negro named Jack (property of William EGGLESTON) pleads not guilty, but is found guilty and burnt in the hand as he stands
at the bar.
1796 Samuel HAM has 1 negro on the Tax Lists for Greenbrier County, VA (now WV)
1800 John HAMM has one slave in Amelia County, VA
1800 William HAMM has one slave in Amelia County, VA
1800 William HAMM has one slave in Amherst County, VA
1804 William HAM will frees his slaves in Amelia County, VA. These freed slaves become successful landowners and slave owners themselves.
1810 Elijah HAM owns 5 slaves on the census for Albemarle County, VA
1810 James HAMM owns 1 slave on the census for Amelia County, VA
1810 Stephen HAM names slaves in his will in Amherst County, VA
1810 John HAM owns 3 slaves on the census for Amelia County, VA
1810 Stephen HAMM owns 16 slaves on the census for Amelia County, VA
1819 Joseph HAM names negro woman Leah in his will in Orange Co., VA
1833 Negro Ham is on the List of "Free Negroes" in King and Queen County, VA
King and Queen County 1833 lists "Free Negroes" Patty HAM, Henry HAM, Penelope HAM, Agnes HAM, Shadrack HAM, Roberta HAM, Randal HAM, Dandridge HAM, and Davy HAM
1835 Samuel HAM estate lists 12 slaves in Orange County, VA
1856 Stuther HAM loans slaves to his mother in Albemarle County, VA
1860 Betsy HAM is a free woman of color in Amelia County, VA

Counties listed above, from volume #2:

01 Orange County beginning in 1751.
02 Caroline County beginning in 1760.
03 Culpeper County, this is for the HUME surname, beginning in 1765.
04 Amelia County beginning in 1766 with the JONES family.
05 Amherst County beginning in 1783.
06 Madison County beginning in 1787.
07 Greenbrier County (now WV) beginning in 1796
08 Albemarle County beginning in 1810.
09 King and Queen County beginning in 1833.



Christine harris said...

My grandmother originally last name is ham before she got married it became a Harris my grandmother is originally from Memphis Tennessee I'm try to find out how did the ham come from Virginia to Tennessee carrying the last name Ham

Unknown said...

Check your DNA in Ancestry theirs Ham(m)'s in there now