Name Changes of Newly Freedperson; Coastal Georgia

Name Changes of Newly Freed-persons

From doing genealogy research on Coastal Georgia families, I have found that some families changed their names after the Civil War (usually about 10-20 years later).  No record has been found in the courthouse of a legal name change in most instances; however, the change can be found in census and family records.  It isn't known why the change happened decades later, but I like to assume that it took this long to decide on the perfect name and usually a name that had no identity or connection to enslavement or slave owners in the community.

The common knowledge among many researchers is that newly freed persons took or was given the name of their former masters; however, this isn't necessarily always the rule.  Before the Civil War the enslaved were known by their given name and the last name of their owner so that it was known where they lived or to whom they belonged.  So, Peter Nicolau was Mr. Nicolau's man Peter and after freedom came Peter was still known as Peter Nicolau and not because he was given this name or chose this name, but because he was known as Nicolau's man and may not have decided on his own family name; the government had to call him something.  Having a surname was a new concept so many people did not adopt surnames until years later; after freedom was obtained.  By 1900, Peter's family became the Mack family.

Entries are listed below by the first known surname and then second known surname.  Dates in parentheses are the birth and death dates.  Most of the information was gathered from following public records and personal family histories.

The term "married" is used loosely here.  In many instances no legal record of marriage was found yet a couple were living together as husband and wife.  The marriage could have happened in a different county/state or the persons were not aware that they had to file a license to marry (after all, they never had to do this before the War).

Abbreviations Used:

abt. = about
bef. = before
d/o = daughter of
m. = married
s/o = son of
unk. = unknown




            July Becket (1835 / bef. 1900) in 1870 census he has the surname BECKET then in 1880 he is known as FLYNN and this is the name that his descendants continued to use.  It is believed that he may have had a brother or other relative named Sam Becket-McClure.
            July's wife was Nancy (1836 / bef. 1920) and together they had at least 9 children:  Ida Becket-Flynn Lane (1863 / unk. m. Isaack Lane); Tena Becket-Flynn (1866 / bef. 1930 m. William Carroll); Dolly Becket-Flynn (1868 / unk.); July Becket-Flynn, Jr. (1870 / 1959 m. 1st Hettie Ann Hippard 2nd Martha); Moses Becket-Flynn (1872 / unk.); Henry Becket-Flynn (02- - 1874 / unk.); Queen Becket-Flynn Watson (1876 / unk. m. Joe Watson); Maggie Becket-Flynn (1879 / unk.); and Rosa Becket-Flynn (10- - 1878 / unk. had children with unknown spouse).  July Flynn, Jr.'s wife may have been a cousin; she was the daughter of Columbus Hippard & Peggy Jenkins.
            It is possible that July was enslaved on the Scarlett family properties in what is now Brookman Community, Glynn County.



            Sam Becket (1839 / bef. 1900) shows up in the 1870 census with the surname of BECKET then after 1880 the name is changed to McCLURE by  his children and is continued to be used by the descendants.  It is believed he may have had a brother or other relative named July Becket-Flynn.
            Sam was married to a woman named Patience Parland on 1 February 1872 (d/o Henry & Diana Parland) who may have died by 1879; they had one son named January who was born about 1878 (no further record was found on him).  On 18 October 1879 he married the widow Peggy Jenkins (it is unknown if this is her maiden name).  She was previously married to a man named Columbus Hippard who had served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.  She had twin children by Columbus before he either died or moved away: Andrew H. Hippard (01- - 1873 / 02-18-1961 m. 1st Augusta Blue 2nd. Theresa Blue). Sam and Peggy had two children together: Winsor McClure (12-05-1879 / 02-06-1928 m. Debora Wright) and Rebecca (McClure) Henderson (03- - 1884 / 09-27-1965 m. John Henderson her step-brother).
            Sam no longer appears in census records after 1880 so he may have died sometime between 1880-1900.  Peggy went on to marry one more time to widower Jacob Henderson sometime before 1909 (Jacob's son John married Peggy and Sam McClure's daughter Rebecca).  It is believed that Sam Becket-McClure was formerly enslaved by the Scarlett family and may have lived and worked at Oak Grove Plantation.  According to her death certificate, Peggy Jenkins Hippard McClure Henderson died 24 July 1938 and was buried at Oak Grove the next day.
        Although not confirmed, it is likely that Peggy could have been enslaved on the Dover Hall Plantation that was originally owned by Thomas Dover and inherited by his nephew William Dover Jenkins.  This was a "neighboring" property to the Scarlett holdings connected by the Turtle River.  Peggy may have taken her owner's name, or she may have been his child.  W.D. Jenkins had a family with one of his enslaved women and at the time of his death he had sent them north to live as free-persons of color.



            Peter Nicolau (1835 / unk.) was listed in the 1870 and 1880 census as Peter Nickelo and Peter Nicolass; by 1900 his children all took the surname MackPeter was likely enslaved on Marengo Plantation owned by the Nicolau family located in northwest Glynn County.
            Peter's wife was Mary (1842 / unk.) and together they had at least 9 children:  James Mack (04- - 1865 / bef. 1930 m. Annie); William Mack (08- -1866 / unk. m. Emma Davis); Olive Mack (1869 / unk.); Paul Mack (1875 / unk. m. Mary Emma Dunham); Polly Mack (1875 / unk.); Timmons Mack (02- -1878 / unk. m. Emma Parland); Doctor Mack (04- -1880 / unk.); George V. Mack (04- -1881 / unk. m. Mary Higginbotham); Jane M. Mack (04- -1883 / unk.); and Sylvia Mack Bailey (04- -1891 / unk. m. Ross Bailey).






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