Surname Study – Vinson – Halifax County, NC – Part 1

Surname Saturday
Howell/Vinson
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Researching families in pre-Civil War North Carolina is often difficult.  Many records were “lost” and many families used the same first names in families often. I have found one way to make sense of the family lines is to do a surname study in a particular location. Often, many of the people with the same surname in the same area are related. By doing a surname study, I can sometimes determine the relationships between individuals with the same surname.  I like to begin with the 1880 census as it provides relationships to begin with. Census records before that don’t provide the relationship so you must guess about the relationships.

Using Ancestry.Com, I started with a search of the 1880 Census, all people with the surname Vinson, in Halifax, County, North Carolina. I downloaded the images for all the findings, but for the purposes of this study, I’m only interested in Name, Age, and Relationships. After I am able to connect any of these individuals to my Howell/Vinson line, I’ll integrate the documents I found into my sources.

1880 Census

Halifax County, North Carolina.

I found three families and three individuals with the Vinson surname during the 1880 Census in Halifax County[i].  They were:

  1. L. Vinson, Age 22, with his wife J.D. Vinson, Age 21. They had an unnamed child in 1879 that died at age 9 months (April 1880). (See the 1880 mortality schedule for details.)
  2. Robert Vinson, Age 32 and his wife L. N. Vinson, Age 26 and their four children
    1. R. Vinson, Age 8
    2. Fannie Vinson, Age 7
    3. H. Vinson, Age 6
    4. Emmett Vinson, Age 3
  3. Martha Vinson, Age 51, a widow and her two children,
    1. Albert Vinson, Age 24
    2. Lizzie Vinson, Age 14
  4. Elizabeth Vinson, Age 63
  5. G. Vinson, Age 20
  6. Geo Vinson, Age 64

1870 Census

I would expect to find all individuals over the age of 10 in the 1870 Census. A search of the 1870 Census found four white family groups.

The indexed version of the census indicates a very unusual household consisting of a black woman, Elizabeth Vinson, age 34, with two white children living with her. The two children are Littleburg Vinson, age 12 and William G Vinson, age11. The two children are clearly #1, L. Vinson and number 5, W. G. Vinson from the 1880 Census. Upon a much closer look at the image, it appears to me, that the indexer mistook the age and the race for Elizabeth. I read the image as race white (same as Littleberg and William, and an age of 54. That would fit the 1880 Census record for Elizabeth Vinson.



Next is J. Robert Vinson, aged 22. This is clearly number 2, J. Robert Vinson, in the 1880 Census.


Robert Vinson, Age 45, wife Martha, Age 41. With apparently four children.

  • John H. age 19
  • Thomas L, Age 16
  • Albert L. Age 14
  • Laura E, Age 4.

This is clearly the Martha Vinson family of 1880 before she became widowed.


Littlebury Vinson, Age 54 is obviously L. Geo Vinson in the 1880 Census.

Family Units

Looking at the 1870 and 1880 Censuses together I see the following family Units.

Widow Elizabeth Vinson (b. 1815-1817) & Children:

  • Littleburg Vinson (b. 1857-1858) Married J. D. _____ (b. 1858-1859)
  • Unnamed Vinson (b. 1879 – d. April 1880)
  • William G. Vinson (b. 1858-1959)

J Robert Vinson (b. 1847-1848) – Wife, L. N. Vinson (b. 1853-1854) & Children:

  • R. Vinson, (b. 1871-1872)
  • Fannie Vinson, (b. 1872-1873)
  • H. Vinson, (b. 1873-1874)
  • Emmett Vinson, (b. 1876-1877)

Robert Vinson (b. 1824-1825) – Wife, Martha, (b. 1828-1829) & Children:

  • John H. Vinson (b. 1850-1851)
  • Thomas L, (b. 1853-1854)
  • Albert L. Age 14 (b. 1855-1856)
  • Laura E “Lizzie” Vinson (b. 1865-1866)

Littlebury Geo Vinson (b. 1815-1816)


ENDNotes:

[i] Note: I only considered white families.

Vinson/Vincent line of Halifax, NN

Researching the Vinson/Vincent line of Halifax, North Carolina

Howell-Darling-2017 Research
Howell/Vinson/Vincent Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.

Getting to know ancestors that lived before 1850 is always difficult. The census records before 1880 do not include relationships and census records before 1850 only include the name of the head of the household. Because of that, it is really difficult to know all the names and to learn all the relationships. It isn’t a wall, but certainly researching families before 1850 can feel like a closed road.  For me, my wife’s third great-grandfather, Burkett Vinson is such a person.  He shows up once in the 1840 Census with a small household of five individuals. After a frustrating time trying to find more about him, I decided to do a name/location study regarding his surname in his location. Such a study can help associate people into relationships and can help reduce errors.

Using Family Search, I searched the 1850 Census for surname Vinson in Halifax, North Carolina. The system returned six results from two families. Both were new to my research:

  • Littleberry Vinson, Age 34, his apparent wife, an apparent daughter, Laura, and an apparent son Robert.[i]
  • Robert Vinson, Age 30, and his apparent wife, Martha.[ii]

Next, I enter the information into my software, (I currently use Family Tree Maker 3.1.) documenting my sources very carefully.

Besides the obvious family units I’ve discovered, it was also interesting to learn many of the little nuances of the individual’s lives. For example, Littleberry Vinson distinguished himself in testing at Brinkleyville Academy in 1831[iii]. He became a lawyer. Then, in 1840, he toasted vice presidential candidate John Tyler for devotion to Republican principals and support of the Constitution. That article’s use of “Esqr.” confirms that Littleberry was a lawyer. His toast suggests his political affiliation indicating that Littleberry Vinson was likely a Whig.[iv] (Harrison and Tyler ran on a Whig party ticket. Also, today’s Republican Party wasn’t established until 1854.)

Unfortunately, my experience researching this family is that Vincent and Vinson were used interchangeably depending upon the ear of the person hearing the name. Sadly, a search for “Vincent” yielded another 13 results and three new previously unknown households.

  • John Vincent, Age 32, with his apparent wife, Leonora, and three daughters, Virginia, Elizabeth, and Susan. Also in the household is a 30-year-ood Eliza Beasley. (These were my wife’s ancestor family. John is my wife’s 2nd great-grandfather and Susan is her great-grandmother.) [v]
  • Elizabeth Vincent, Age 64 with a 25-year-old Nancy Vincent in the household.  (This would be the wife and daughter of the deceased Burkett Vinson.)[vi]

New Households:

  • Michael Vincent, age 27, his apparent wife and an apparent son, Walter.[vii]
  • James Vincent, Age 19 & John Vincent, Age 16[viii]
  • Phil Vincent in the household of James Snow.[ix]

Of course, all the “apparent” relationships above are guesses. I’ll add that, because of the ages, I’ll guess that James and John (ages 19 & 16) were brothers.

Next, I need to expand upon these Vincent families and understand how they fit into the larger picture.


Endnotes

[i] 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – Littleberry Vinson – Halifax, North Carolina. See: 1850 Census – Lettleberry Vinson – Halifax, North Carolina.pdf. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4BC-343.

[ii] 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – Robert Vinson – Halifax, North Carolina. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4BC-XH3.

[iii] Roanoke Advocate (Halifax, NC) · 1831-11-24 · Page 2 – Various Vinsons achieve honors (Newspapers.com)

[iv] Roanoke Advocate and States Rights Banner  ((Halifax, NC), ), Newspapers.Com, 1840-07-29 · Page 4 – Volunteer Toasts – Littleberry Vinson

[v] 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – John Vincent – Halifax, North Carolina. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4BC-QTG.

[vi] 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – Elizabeth Vincent – Halifax, North Carolina. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4BC-QTB.

[vii] 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – Michael Vincent – Halifax, North Carolina. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4BH-BDY.

[viii] 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – James Vincent – Halifax, North Carolina. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4BC-QZ7.

[ix] 1850 Census (FS), 1850 Census – Phil Vincent – Halifax, North Carolina. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M4BC-NTY.