For Evers: “His Is A Story That Must Be Told And Retold. Too Few Young People Know His Story, and That is a Tragedy Greater Than His UnTimely Death”

The above quotation comes from former Executive Director of the NAACP, Benjamin Hooks. After searching through dozens of catalogs for hours on Ancestry, I realized I needed a few more leads and decided to start reading.

For this research to be complete, I still need the following:

1. Potential slave owners. I searched first through the Freedman Bureau Records in both Mississippi and Georgia for Mike Evers and found no leads, which means he was most likely, there is still a slight possibility that he is not, born a slave.

2. Marriage license for Medgar and Myrlie Evers. I was able to find the document for Myrlie’s second marriage, but have failed to find the license for the first marriage.

3. Social Security Death Index for Eddie Graham, Eugene Graham, Eve Graham, Margaret Evers, Jim/James Evers, and Jesse Evers.

4. Census documents for James Evers in 1880 and 1900 as well as his siblings. Census documents for the family of Jessie Evers prior to 1890.

My hope was to finish this research by the end of February, but then again I also planned on finishing my Flowers’ research in three weeks. No rush. No deadline. I enjoy doing this and it is better to take my time. To find some new information on Medgar and his family’s past, I decided to turn to a biography out of a few others written in 2011 by Michael Vinson Williams.

What I learned?

  • Medgar is named after his great-grandfather, Medgar Wright, his mother’s grandfather. This mean Jessie’s maiden name was Wright.
  • Jessie did not have only two children from her first marriage, she had three. Eve’s last name is not Evers, but Graham.
  • The author, I believe, made a mistake. In the book, Jessie’s first husband is listed as being “Nick” Grimm. At first, I thought I made a mistake and could not find a Jessie Grimm anywhere. Well, one was found, but she was white living in Maryland. Then, I started to think these children shared the same household with Medgar’s parents and siblings for two record censuses. In other words, census documents reign supreme in this case.
  • The children’s father, James Evers, turned out to be a tall, tough man (not a average height, built man according to his war draft)  “who didn’t take guff from anyone—at home or outside. He was the only black man in Decatur who refused to step down from the sidewalk when white people approached.” He taught his sons to not let any white folks beat them for if they do they should beat the hell out of them.
  • Medgar’s grandmother was Creole Indian.
  • James’ father, Mike Evers…owned and farmed two hundred acres of corn, peanuts, and potatoes out in Scott County, [which whites later took ‘illegally’ from him regarding an issue of unpaid taxes] just west of Decatur…Mike Evers was rough, fought a lot, and taught Daddy to have no fear. Daddy’s mother, Mary Evers, was part Creole Indian, with long, straight hair and high cheekbones.”

Updated family tree:

Evers Family Tree Redone

What did I learn?
DO NOT MAKE YOUR OWN ASSUMPTIONS. In the beginning I did find a marriage record noting the union of Mike and Mary Evers, yet I dismissed it because I though she was too old in my opinion to have a child in 1885. I felt because her first children were born in the late 60s and early 70s that she most likely would not have a child in 1885. Now, I know women can have children even at that age, but I just felt the age gap was too large in this case. Once again, I was wrong.

Deleted Lizzie and Sandy Evers from the family tree and added Mary Horn Evers. With that I found the 1870 Federal Census for the family and Mike and Mary’s marriage record. Strange thing is that I cannot find the family in the neither the 1880 Census or the 1900 Census. Still searching=)

image

1870UnitedStatesFederalCensus_287490848

It is always nice to find the 1870 Federal Census for whomever you are searching for and if they are black/African-American you really hit the jackpot. The problem is, it doesn’t provide you with as much information as other census, but hey I will take it over nothing. James has two older sisters, Eula (bn. 1870) and Eliza (bn. 1868). Mike worked as a farmer along with nearly 80% of his neighbors (roughest estimate known to society). His wife listed her occupation as keeping house, I love when they put that down, that is a job. No home value is given, but the birthplace of Mike is Georgia (confirmed, it is also listed on 1930 Census) and his wife’s Mary birthplace is listed to be Mississippi. With that I now ventured into what I am now going to call “no man’s land”, searching for the family’s slave roots.

Wish me luck!

Christina

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2 responses to “For Evers: “His Is A Story That Must Be Told And Retold. Too Few Young People Know His Story, and That is a Tragedy Greater Than His UnTimely Death”

  1. I love seeing this kind of research in progress! You explain it so well. Here is some unsolicited advice…

    On locating potential slave owners: I recommend beginning your search on the slave schedule in the area you believe they lived – it’s almost guesswork because there is never much detail and data is often incorrect; the next step is to find the deeds for potential slave owners – which are usually in state or regional libraries. The horrifying thing is we need to remember is to search property documents.

    On the Freedman Bureau: they weren’t always the main support group in a region, for example, Northern Alabama had a lot of contact with Freemen’s Relief Association of Philadelphia, not the Bureau.

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