Brickwall Breakthrough to 1778: Clara Mabry and Family

Great news!

Most recently, I have discovered more important details in the story of our own Clara Mabry.

Several 1856 newspaper articles referred to Clara as an “emancipated” woman, who was beholden to the “benevolent gentleman” for her “happy lot being cast.”

While Clara was indeed fiscally indebted, per the historical records, by the same token, the records show that Clara was born free. Well, she was as free as a person of color could be in ever tenuous times.

According to Greensville’s Register of Free Persons of Color, Clara’s mother was Amy Mabry, who, per the 14 Oct 1794 last will of Nathaniel Mabry, was set to be emancipated at the death of his daughter, Frances Mabry, was duly freed in 1814.

The bearer hereof, Amy, is one of the negroes that have become free at the death of Frances Mabry, by the Will of my father—she is at least 36 years old—

Yrs respectfully
N. Mabry
6 July 1814
No. 42 Augst. 8th 1814 Amy a free black woman emancipated by the last Will & Testament of Nathaniel Mabry dec’d of Recvd in my office ^abt. 36 years of age five feet 4 Inches high (barefoot) of a Dark complexion Has no unnatural marks or scars on her head face or hands perceivable.
No. 119 Oct. 27 Clara Mabry daughter of Amy Mabry free born of a yellow complexion 5 feet 3 inches high (in shoes about 21 years old, she has a small scar over her right Eye, + one on the left side of her neck, by occupation a weaver.
No. 198 Clary Mabry, daughter of Amy Mabry, born free, of a yellow complexion five feet three inches high, in shoes, about twenty-eight years old, has a small scar over the right eye, and one on the left side of the neck
Abstract of Oct 14 1794 Last Will of Nathaniel Mabry: Nathaniel Mabry (1730-1795), through various stipulations, emancipated a number of souls held enslaved. Clara Mabry’s mother, Amy, was one of those souls. Courtesy: Rootsweb

With this new information, a huge genealogical brick wall has been broken. I have shared how finding pre-1870 records can be a challenge in researching Black history in the United States. That Clara’s mother, Amy was born about 1778, we are very close to Colonial Virginia. It is more than powerful to consider that this knowledge is possible at all, let alone accessible via online records.

I take particular interest in Clara Mabry and her life story because I do believe her to be a blood relative of my maternal 4th great-grandmother, Emeline Potts Eppes.

As I continue to look for conclusive evidence about Clara’s familial relationship with Emeline, it is simply wonderful to have been able to discover so much about Clara.

Here’s a word about the unindexed records at FamilySearch, as I close out this chapter. Be sure to have a look and run a search for the location that you are seeking more genealogical information on. Treasures await. Treasures that you will need to pore over, but treasures nonetheless. I sourced each of the above original documents from those FamilySearch unindexed records. The efforts of FamilySearch, in terms of providing access to these genealogical gems, are very much appreciated.

This is our situation.

The Genealogy Situation Room

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