WHO WAS MARY ADAMS?

The evidence shows that Mary Adams, mother of James Adams White and grandmother of William Ausie White and Melvin White, was a light-skinned mulatto slave who became the servant of Josephine Bale Harbour about 1852, when the latter married Burwell Strange Harbour of southern Cherokee County, Alabama.The slave was a gift from the bride's father, John Bale. By 1860 the Harbours were living in the Livingston District, Floyd County, Georgia. Mary Adams was a domestic servant in 1870 -- after emancipation --still working for the Harbour family. Josephine Harbour fell ill and died April 9, 1876. Mary was taken by William White to Dalton, Georgia, perhaps three to five years earlier. Josephine was institutionalized at De Soto community north of Rome. Perhaps it was a sanitarium. When Josephine left Mary left. More likely, Mary left earlier, reacting to events in her own life. It's not clear why she moved, but it's likely she feared living near Yancey White. Yancey had been arrested by the Freedman's Bureau for attempting in September to kill a Negro woman who accused him of bastardy in August 1867. James, Mary's baby, was humpbacked as an adult because he was dropped when he was a baby, many relatives have said. Was he hurt by Yancey White? For Mary, that was reason enough to move away.

William White, whom Mary housed in 1870, may have been her protector (as other sections will clarify), and she went away to Dalton, Georgia with him for protection. James took the surname White, as we can see on the 1880 Whitfield County, Georgia U.S. census. Mary passed for white in 1870 and 1880. Mary Adams White had only two children: Josephine Adams (who appears not to have gone to Dalton nor taken the name White), born 1858 or 1859, and James Adams White, born between 1861 and 1862. The Harbour plantation that Mary left was at State Line, Georgia, two miles east of Kirks Grove, Cherokee County, Alabama, on present-day Blacks Bluff Road. Burwell Harbour is buried at State Line Church Cemetery on that road. Josephine Harbour is buried in Rome, Ga.

In this section I trace as best I can the location of Mary Adams throughout her young life.  in 1834 Bale moved to Spring Garden, Alabama and in 1835 moved to nearby Goshen. A map below left shows those areas were in Benton County in 1840 and in Cherokee County in 1850.  Mary was born in 1837 in Goshen or Spring Garden if her mother was in service to the Bales. The 1840 slave census shows 1 female under 10 (likely Mary, age 3); 2 females 24-36 (one of them her likely mother); and one female 55-100. Bale was a decent man, and a Unitarian and he might have kept some slave families together. In 1840 the male slaves were: 3 under 10; 2 10-24; and 2 24-36. One of the latter was Jerry (later Jerry Akin) whom he bought in Greenville, South Carolina when he lived there. Born about 1806, Jerry was then 34, about 30 years older than Mary.

In 1850 the Bales lived at Arbacoochee in northern Randolph County. Mary was about 13 to 15. The slave schedule shows Bale had only one slave, Female, 16, black. This of course was Mary, the only one Bale said he retained, who was to go to his daughter Josephine.

Mary at The Harbour Plantation

When Josephine Bale (b. 1834) married Burwell Harbour around 1852 they stayed at his father's house for three years. In 1850 that house was in District 27 of Cherokee County, Alabama. The John Harbour farm was five houses away from the John Bale farm at Goshen in 1840 and likely at the same place in 1850, namely the strip of Southern Cherokee County that was in 1840 part of Benton County (illustration below). Mary probably moved in with Josephine at the Harbour family home in 1852, and in 1855 remained with Josephine when her husband moved her to a plantation at State Line, Georgia, north of Cave Spring.

The 1860 Census for Floyd County, Livingston District (page 343, Wm. Johnson, enumerator, date 28 July, 1860) shows the couple  at dwelling no. 1433: B. S. Harbour, farmer, $3500 in real estate, $4480 in personal property, born Virginia; and J[osephine] Harbour, 23, domestic, born Alabama. The post office was shown as Thomas's Mills. The couple's five  children lived adjacent at dwelling 1434 with head of household Patsey Harbour, 48, domestic, born Virginia, deaf -- a mother or aunt of Burwell Harbour. The slaves living there in 1860, including Mary and her oldest child Josephine, are shown in a table below.

In 1860 Yancey White, 49, was in Cave Spring district at Cave Spring post office, household 1511 page 352, date 30 July 1860 by Wm. Johnson. He had $3500 in real estate and $5639 in personal property. Cave Spring is a little over 4 miles from State Line Cemetery.

Adams was probably a name Mary took on emancipation, but it could be the surname of the father of her first child Josephine. There is no reason to believe that both Josephine and James were sired by the same father, but it is reasonable to believe that Mary Adams conceived both children while she lived on Blacks Bluff Road, unless she was required to travel with the family on visits. One record ("Family data collection" from Ancestry.com) shows Burwell Harbour's son James Meredith Harbour born 24 Mar 1860 in Piedmont, Calhoun County, Alabama -- which might suggest the possibility of the family having lived in that place. Burwell Harbour's brother Benjamin Moore Harbour patented land at Spring Garden in southern Cherokee County, Alabama. Mary Adams could have visited there, but her duty, and probably the fathers of her two children, were at the State Line farm near the future Blacks Bluff Road.

Location of State Line Cemetery, Floyd County, Ga.
1860 B.S. Harbour Slave Schedule, Livingston District.
No.
age
sex
color
1 slave house
1
25
M
Black
fugitive from
 the state.
1
19
M
Black

1
23
F
Mulatto
Mary
1
16
F
Black

1
5
M
Mulatto

1
3
M
Black

1
1
F
Mulatto
Josephine

The map at left below shows the new territory transferred to Cherokee County effective 1843 putting Spring Gardin in Cherokee County. Before that, Spring Garden was in Benton County. At right, the Arbacoochee Gold Mine where Bale 's wife received a letter from him in 1848. The 1850 census shows him in Randolph County, probably the same place, since Arbacoochee was on the Randolph/Benton County line.

John Bale in 1840 - mapArbacoochee, Randolph County - map 

MARY ADAMS LATER LIFE AND DEATH

This writer has not found any evidence of Mary White after 1880, and does not know when she died or where she was buried. In 1880 she was only 43. We know that her son James White returned to Floyd County and Cherokee County by 1889. He married Miranda Vassie Martin in Floyd County on 2 August 1889. The Martins in 1880 lived on Terrapin Creek in Cherokee County, having come to that county before 1870. Terrapin Creek would likely have been the Martin residence at the time of the marriage, as the Martin homestead 10 miles to the west, on Ballplay Creek in Etowah County, was not awarded until 1894. Did Mary Adams White also return to Alabama to live with her daughter? Did she remain at Dalton, marry, or find another home in Georgia? I found no answer.

Travis Hardin
revised 1 June 2017
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