Please be sure you have read the previous post which provides resources and information that will help you discover further documentation on your ancestor. I am posting Part 2 to "Records are Tied to Geography" because I want to provide an example of a record that I would not have seen with my own eyes had I not taken a closer look at special collections held in repositories in the state and counties where Beverly Vance (1832-1899), my great great grandfather lived. In a few subsequent posts to this post, I will reveal specific type records that I have discovered, but the one we will uncover here is perhaps the most unique.
This process, which I call "looking under every rock and in every crevice," has really paid dividends when it comes to finding historical documentation. I did not know much about Beverly until I discovered him on the 1880 Census. I tell the story about that in a recent talk radio recording that you may listen to on the top right of this page. The desire I had from the start of this journey to search out my family history and leave a record for my posterity prompted our family to relocate to the area where the records of their lives could be researched. One of the first places that I visited was The South Carolinina Library on the campus of University of South Carolina in historic downtown Columbia. I had discovered a book entitled "One More Day's Journey: The Story of a Family and a People," by Allen B. Ballard. In his book Ballard references a testimony given by my great great grandfather in 1876 in Columbia South, Carolina.
The South Carolinina has the book containing that testimony, "South Carolina in 1876," a collection of testimonies given by Republicans and Democrats outlining an investigation into the interference of voting privileges of African-Americans and others who supported the Republican Party. After I submitted my request for the book to be brought to the table where I sat, my heart pounded and that moment of anticipation caused me to realize that for the first time I would be able to see and hold in my hands a record created during the lifetime of my ancestor. The fact that the words he spoke in 1876 were preserved for me to be be able to read forged an everlasting reverence for the place were I sat waiting.
As the librarian placed the volume in my hands and slowly walked away, I turned to the page referenced and my eyes fell upon his name. That was a very emotional moment for me. As I read through the testimony more of the story of Beverly's life unfolded before me. I have provided the testimony below. Now it is even available on Google Books and I have discovered other testimonies. Beverly was a man of great integrity. He served his family and took a strong stand in his community as a servant of that community. He is one of my role models. If he could speak today, he would explain that actions speak louder than words. I too believe that the way I live my life is the best indication of what I believe, and that speaks volumes in and of itself. I can only admire Beverly for paving the way for me, without ever seeing some of the blessings we take for granted today. He spent most of his life as a slave, voted in 1868 and in 1876, and according to his own testimony, was articulate. I still have many unanswered questions, but I know staying focused on uncovering the records in the places he lived will continue to prove successful. I hope my sharing this has inspired you to delve a little deeper and to have a greater desire to learn more about the ancestor of your choice.
The following is the testimony of Beverly Vance before the Senate in Columbia, SC. from the volume "South Carolina in 1876," title page and pgs 417-423, found in The South Caroliniana Library at USC in Columbia, SC. This testimony illustrates some of what this ancestor, who had great integrity, went through during Reconstruction.
(December 22, 1876, lived in Cokesbury, Abbeville, South Carolina, 44 years old)
1880 US Census with Beverly and Matilda Dunlap Vance and family