I have come to realize that when you work in an Archives you are always asking questions about people or records of days gone by and just when you think that you’ve found the answers to those questions, you have at least two more questions that pop into your head! It seems to be a never ending cycle, but one that I personally love!! You just never know when the answer to one of your questions will “pop up” at some unexpected moment.
In that vein, today’s post answers at least one question that I had a few years ago. In 2012, I wrote two posts regarding Humphrey and Amanda Taylor (Part 1, Part 2), an African American couple living in Xenia. This couple and their tragic story intrigued me and I found myself very interested in learning as much as I could about their lifes. In the previous posts, I alluded that there seemed to be some connection between Amanda and Yellow Springs because of receipts found in her lunacy file that indicated a monthly trip to Yellow Springs. That being said, there was no reason stated as to why Amanda made these trips.
Three years later, the names Humphrey and Amanda Taylor resurfaced in the Archives. This time in relation to a deed record where Wheeling Gaunt sold for $1, a piece of property in Xenia to Amanda and Humphrey Taylor. Two things grabbed my attention. First, maybe Wheeling Gaunt was the connection between Amanda Taylor and Yellow Springs. Second, the deed specified that the property was being sold for one dollar and their [Wheeling and Elizabeth Gaunt’s] natural love and affection for Amanda and Humphrey Taylor. Usually when you find the phrase, “natural love and affection” in a deed record, it’s a clue that there is a relationship between the grantor and grantees. The search was on to determine just what this relationship was!
While trying to find out how Amanda and Wheeling were related, Archives’ staff found some exciting information. First, a Last Will and Testament for John Gaunt, written in 1846 in Carroll County, Kentucky was found. In this will, Wheeling is listed as John’s “negro man” along with “Louisa, [John’s] negro woman” both given to John’s wife. Now the question becomes who is Louisa? For more detailed information and an image of the will, visit the Greene County Archives Blog, Out of the Clock Tower.
Back to the Taylors…..the 1880 Federal Census lists Humphrey and Amanda Taylor living with Amanda’s mother, Louisa Chandler. Hmmmmm, could this be the same Louisa listed in John Gaunt’s will? If so, what is her connection to Wheeling?
Archives’ staff determined that another look at Wheeling Gaunt’s estate file was needed just to make sure that we hadn’t missed anything. That’s just what was needed…..there it was in black and white, Wheeling’s bequest to leave a Xenia property to his sister Louisa Chandler!!! So there it was-the connection. Amanda traveled to Yellow Springs to visit her uncle, Wheeling Gaunt!
Of course, now there are several new questions that pop up! Did Louisa purchase her freedom from the Gaunt family? Then of course, there is the question of her and Wheeling’s paternity. The 1880 Federal Census lists Wheeling’s father as being born in Ireland. Was Wheeling’s father really his initial slave owner? Was this John Gaunt or another Gaunt? Stories of Wheeling’s mother being sold into the deep south when he was young still persist to today. Was this really the case? How did Wheeling and Louisa manage to stay together? All questions that the answers may lie in Carroll County, Kentucky.
We’ve all come to know Wheeling Gaunt as a very philanthropic man and these records indicate that he was just as generous to his family members as he was with others. How lucky we are that Wheeling Gaunt called Yellow Springs his home! Little did I know that when I became so intrigued by the Taylor family two years ago that it would lead to uncovering part of Wheeling Gaunt’s history before he came to Yellow Springs. And maybe, in a few more years I can answer the most recent questions regarding Wheeling and Louisa’s life.