Category: Shields Family Roots

Gone to Texas

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By , May 26, 2016 10:00 pm

I received my copy of “Historic Eagle Lake” yesterday. Eagle Lake, TX is where Robert Norris’ grandmother, Mary Ann Sewell Norris and her children went after the Civil War. Although I knew that they went to Texas I didn’t know when they left Alabama and why they settled in Eagle Lake where they became prominent citizens. Now I know that between 1873-1875 they joined Robert’s uncles Dr. Frank O. Norris and Dr. John K. Davidson who had established medical practices there. One of the more interesting discoveries was that in 1903 Dr. F.O. Norris built the only three-story structure in town for the kingly sum of $12,500. The Norris Building was described as “the finest office building between Houston and San Antonio.” Dr. Norris was also an alderman and Dr. Davidson served 4 consecutive terms as mayor. Another uncle, Samuel W. Norris, was postmaster and his wife Lucy succeeded him when he died in 1882 and served as postmistress for another 20 years. Their son, John Alexander Norris, was an engineer and, according to an entry in the Handbook of Texas Online, one of those responsible for establishing the Brazos River Conservation and Reclamation District in 1929, “the first such state agency in the United States to control and develop waters of an entire river basin.” I stopped in Eagle Lake about 5 years years ago on my way home from San Antonio and paid respects to our ancestors buried in the Masonic Cemetery but didn’t get a chance to go into town. The Prairie Edge Museum there has a lot of Norris history.

Historic-Eagle-Lake

A Family Finder Match

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By , June 23, 2014 7:49 pm

After being stalled in the search for my GF’s parents for so long, the floodgates have been opened! On Sunday, I sent out queries to five of my father’s 2nd-4th cousin matches on Family Finder. Everyone answered quickly with as much information as they could provide but I was unable to make any immediate connections except to one person who turned out to be a great grandson of Missouri Shields Priest, the lady in the photo I compared with my GF’s. I’m overwhelmed! It was just a few days ago that I was able to establish the paper trail and now I have the DNA evidence proving my GF’s Shields ancestry. This also helped answer another vexing question, i.e., whether one of Josiah Norris’ sons, or Josiah himself, fathered my GF. Since Josiah’s wife, Mary Ann Norris, was the Shields descendant, I am now pretty certain that one of her three oldest sons, James, John or William Norris, was Robert’s father. That means that Missouri Shields and Robert Norris were first cousins, 2x removed and shared about 3% of their autosomal DNA. That is, unless, my GF had DOUBLE Shields ancestry through his mother. So, big question, where do I go from here to look next for Robert’s Norris’ enslaved mother?

Better and Better

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By , June 22, 2014 8:00 pm

It just keeps getting better and better. After more than a decade, I was able to contact the woman who originally provided the deed gifting a slave girl Julia to my GF’s grandmother, Mary Norris. Thank goodness some of us keep the same email addresses!

Turns out she wrote a history of the Shields family. She was in the process of moving so couldn’t put her hands on it but she was gracious enough to provide some information “to keep you going” while she looks for it.

In the meantime, I found this article online. The William B. Shields referred to in the story is Mary Ann Norris’ maternal uncle making him my GF’s great grand uncle. The story of William Shields and his enslaved offspring is absolutely fascinating. It also illustrates the discussion yesterday that the children’s status follow the mother.

I can’t believe that two people that I corresponded with starting in 1998 about Dallas County, AL and the Black Belt genealogy in general turn out to be related to me! How fortunate for me that they are both still online.

Now if I can just confirm that the slave girl Julia is my missing GM, my work will be finished. I feel as though my GF is guiding my hand these days.

Victoria man learns he is a descendant of slaves, looks for relatives

Mary Rebecca Shields Ewers Yarbrough, Ewers' great-grandmotherFor most of his life, Daryl Ewers believed he was white, but two years ago, he learned he is a descendant of slaves.

“I just found out a few years ago that I am part black. I did not know this,” he said

Ewers, 54, of Victoria, said learning he has black ancestry is very exciting and his main reason for talking about it is because he wants to get in touch with his African-American relatives from whom his paternal family was separated during slavery.

“My great-great-grandfather was William B. Shields, a planter from Perry County, Ala., who had several biracial children by a black slave woman. I don’t know who she was. I don’t know her name or what their relationship was,” he said.

Before then, the Shields family, who was of Irish origins, had lived in North Carolina, he said.

First Lady Michelle Obama has descended from the white Shields family of the Carolinas, and Ewers said they may be related.

In 1848, Shields moved to Mexico with his family, where slavery was already abolished, and began negotiating with Alabama legislators. He wanted to will his plantation to his children, but the state of Alabama wouldn’t allow it.

“He also wanted to free them, so the state of Alabama did a special legislation on it where they could be free – but only in three or four counties,” said Ewers. Eventually, he did manage to gain legal title for his children as “free blacks” within the United States. Shields bought 3,300 acres in Polk County, Texas.

He taught his children to marry white to avoid having their families kidnapped and sold into slavery. He also taught his children how to read and write and gave them an education. They lived in Mexico until the Civil War ended.

“My great-grandmother, Mary Shields, and her brother were both arrested in Texas for marrying white, and there was a $500 bail,” said Ewers, who is a fiscal manager.

He learned his family’s history from discussions with family members and a 2010 book titled “Positos/Oakley Texas 1886,” by Mammie L. Ballard.

“Now, I don’t know where I fit in,” Ewers said. “I have been raised to believe that I am white, but now I find that is not true. Most people believe that I am Hispanic when they first meet me. Although I enjoy learning about my black ancestry, I certainly don’t feel as if I am a part of the black culture. So, if not white, then what am I?”

Shields’ son, Archie, and his son, also named William B., were Buffalo Soldiers in Brackettville.

And what is the most powerful message Ewers learned from all this?

“You don’t give up, you fight. It’s survival,” said Ewers. “I am strong because of the older generations. I am here, and I have a life to look forward to. If the slaves lived today, they could celebrate with us.”

Source: http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2013/jun/18/mn_ewers_061913_212580/?features

 

Shields Family Connection

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By , June 22, 2014 10:57 am

Forgive my babbling this morning but after a long night of researching I feel I’m so close to finding my paternal GGM. I’ve been looking for her for as long as I’ve been doing genealogy and I keep coming back to a single document shared with me about 15 years ago: an 1848 deed of sale between a William B. Shields and Mary Ann Norris gifting “a Negro girl Julia about twelve years old, and her increase if there shall be any to have and to hold the said Girl Julia and her increase unto her the said Mary Ann and her heirs as aforesaid forever.” I didn’t know it at the time but one of Mary Ann Norris’ sons (or her husband) fathered my GF (since “confirmed” by DNA tests). Last night and into the wee hours this morning, I discovered that Mary Ann’s mother’s maiden name was Shields and like William B. Shields, she was from NC. More research revealed that Nancy Shields had a brother named William Bryant Shields, the same age as William B. Shields. Between Ancestry and Family Search and posts on the AFRIGENEAS SURNAME FORUM between me and a William B. Shields’ descendant dating back to 2004/5, I found a Shields family tree that seemed to link Nancy Shields and William Shields.and there were photos of one of William’s mulatto children (his is a fascinating story that I’ll have to tell another day). To the point: the slave girl Julia would have been 24 or 25 years old when my GF was born in 1861. And, if she was a mulatto like William Shields’ own children, it would explain my GF’s appearance. It’s even possible that Julia was one of Shields’ own children! I’ve always believed that my GF’s mother died in childbirth or when he was very young as she was never mentioned and I haven’t been able to find her in any records so I don’t know how I can prove this but finding the apparent family relationship (there are still some discrepancies in the family trees so haven’t “proved” this yet) between Mary Ann Norris and William B. Shields gives me hope that I am on the right track once again. After I saw her photo, couldn’t help but think that Missouri Shields (William’s daughter) and my GF Robert Norris are related. What do you think?

Robert Norris - Missouri Shields

Source: Originally posted on June 19, 2014 on the AfriGeneas African American Genealogy Community on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203141351149465&set=gm.606086309505735&type=1&theater

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