For example, if you didn’t know about Edwill Thacker’s court case how can you possibly understand the significance of events that followed?
On August 11, 1837, Joseph Arabaugh (elder of the Christian Church) married Edwill Thacker and Polly Ann Napper. The marriage between two members of what would later be called by Calvin Beale, The Vinton County Group, is part of what makes an isolate, well, an isolate. All that intermarrying, besides making a nasty knot of impossibly tangled identities, solidifies all those interconnected alliances that contribute to the continued existence of the group.
According to the interview that Madeline Jones Norris did with Lizzie Dorton in 1983, Polly Napper was one of 11 siblings who came to Gallia County.
Of the 107 listed as Negroes in Vinton County (see map posted from the book, “The Color Line in Ohio”) Edwill Thacker’s family accounted for eight – all eight listed as mulattoes. In 1850 the family included, in addition to Edwill and Polly (ages 33 and 30 respectively), Fountain 13, Mahala 11, Charles H. 9, Elizabeth 7, Ebenezer 5, Alzada 3, and Lucinda 1.
Sometime after the 1850 census, and before the 1860 census, Edwill and his family moved to Pike County, Ohio. Edwill was not the first to leave the Vinton County enclave. Nor was he the first to move to Pike County.
In 1850, John A. Thacker and Ellis M. Thacker are found working as laborers in Jackson Township, Pike County. They are listed as mulattoes living on the farm of Clifford Smith. John Thacker found not only work on the Smith farm but also his future wife, Delilah Smith, the farmer’s 18-year-old daughter. The couple would marry later that year, on Christmas, and spend the next 55 years of married life living on the border of Jackson and Vinton counties.
In addition to the two Thackers living in Pike County, Polly Ann’s sister, Lucinda Napper Smith who on October 20, 1847 had married Sanford Smith also resided in Jackson Township of Pike County. In 1850, Lucinda and Sanford are listed as mulatto as well as their young daughter, Mary.
The 1860 Census finds Edwill and family living in Jackson Township of Pike County. The family at this time included Edwill (listed as Edward) 45, Mary (I believe this was still Polly) 43, Fountain 24, Mahala 22, Charles 20, Elizabeth 19, Ebenezer 15, Alzada 14, Lucinda 11, Mary 9, Sarah 6, Delilah 5, and Rosina 1. There is an “m” beside each of their names.
As far as we know Fountain, Charles and Ebenezer were the only sons that Edwill had. On November 7, 1861 Fountain Thacker, along with a cousin, John Freeman, enlisted in Company I of the Ohio 56th Infantry. A week earlier, a Joseph Thacker of Vinton County enlisted in the same company and unit.
An interesting side note about Fountain was posted on the Thacker family Genealogy forum, by Joyce S. Dennis on June 21, 2000 in which she stated:
“Fountain was thought to have been killed in the Civil War, so his wife remarried and took her son with her.”
True or not Fountain married his second wife, Sarah Crosslin on May 16, 1867. Though Fountain served in a “white unit,” in 1903 he is listed as Black on the death records for Franklin County.
Edwill’s two younger sons also enlisted. Charles went to Circleville, Ohio and enlisted in the 5th Infantry Regiment, Company H of the United States Colored Troops on June 19, 1863. His age is listed as 22. His height as 5 ft. 7 ½ inches, Complexion yellow, Eyes brown and hair straight. He told them he was born in Vinton County, Ohio and his occupation was farmer. According to the military compiled record, Charles spent May through August 1865 in the hospital. He mustered out on September 20, 1865 in Carolina City, North Carolina. On November 8, 1866, he married Maggie Blake in Pickaway County, Ohio. He died in Columbus on Oct 29, 1928. His race is listed as colored on his death certificate.
Ebenezer, the youngest son of Edwill and Polly Thacker, enlisted on February 27, 1864 at Camp Delaware in Morrow County, Ohio. His age is listed as 20, his eyes brown, his hair brown, his complexion “mulato,” his height 5 ft. 8 in. He told the recruiter he was a laborer by occupation and gave his birthplace as Pike County, Ohio. He was part of the 27th Infantry Regiment, Company E of the United States Colored Troops. He mustered out in Smithville, North Carolina on September 21, 1865.
Though Ebenezer is listed as white on his death certificate, he is listed as Black on both the 1900 and 1910 census.
The compiled military files for Ebenezer and Charles paint a picture of the appearance of two of Edwill’s children. However, a better picture is the actual photo of one of Edwill’s daughters. On the website, Find a Grave, a contributor has added the picture of Delilah Thacker Green. Married on February 10, 1875 to Thomas Frank Green, she is buried in Carr’s Run Cemetery in Jackson Township, Pike County, Ohio. Her death certificate lists her as “colored”.
Black-white, white-black, the family of the man whom the Supreme Court of Ohio had proclaimed white teetered back and forth across the color lines for the following eight decades.
1. For a complete list of regimental histories, see Mike Northway’s wonderful website, CIVIL WAR ARCHIVES.
2. The listing of Ebenezer Thacker’s race was ambiguous when I first looked at his death certificate. The single letter did not conform to the “M” that the county clerk used when writing the “m” for married or male. However, the long flourished sweep at the tail end of the letter for race, made me wonder if it was indeed a “w.” Therefore, I searched the LDS image files in Madison County for a similar looking letter and found that the clerk had done the same conformation for a John M. Roberts. I used Ancestry to confirm that the John M. Roberts who was born in August 21, 1833 and died July 17, 1914 in Madison County (Ebenezer died July 3, 1914 in Madison County) was listed in 1900 and 1910 as being white, confirming that both Ebenezer and John M. Roberts had been listed as white by the county clerk’s office at the time of their deaths.
1. Jackson County, Ohio, Marriage Register, Probate Court, Volume 1, No 753, Edwill Thacker and Polly Ann Napper, 1837, Jackson County Probate Office, accessed and photographed by Teresa Snyder, 20 May 2008.
2. Norris, Madalene Jones (1985). A Genealogy of the Broady, Harris, Napper, Thacker and Trent Families. Trotwood: self-published.
3. Beale, Calvin L. “American Triracial Isolates,” Eugenics Quarterly, Vol. 4. No. 4. December 1957, pp. 187-196, Accessed online 14 May 2009, Melungeon Heritage Association, http://www.melungeon.org/
4. Quillen, Frank U. The Color Line in Ohio: A History of Race Prejudice in a Typical Northern State, Ann Arbor, George Wahr, 1913, accessed online at http://books.google.com/books, 30 November 2010.
5. 1850 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 1040, Head of Household, Edwill Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.
6. 1860 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Pike County, Jackson Township, visit 1150, Head of Household, Edward Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.
7. 1850 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Pike County, Jackson Township, visit 940, Head of Household, Clifford Smith, online digital image, Ancestry.com.
8. 1850 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Pike county, Jackson Township, visit 740, Head of Household, Sanford Smith, online digital image, Ancestry.com.
9. Scott, Margaret Hiles and Mollenkamp, Merdrith (1991). One Hundred Years, 1815 -1915, of Pike County, Ohio Marriages. Waverly, Pike County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society.
10. Historical Data Systems, comp. American Civil War Soldiers [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 1999.
11. Ancestry.com. U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2007.
12. Dennis, Joyce S. “Pike Co., OH Thackers,” Genforum, Thacker Family Genealogy Forum, 21 June 2000. http://wwwgenforum.genealogy.com 2010.
13. Death Record of Fountain Thacker, Probate Record, Franklin County, Ohio: Volume 3, Page 326. "Ohio Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997," database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/). Index entries derived from digital copies of originals housed in various repositories throughout Ohio.
14. Compiled service record, Charles Thacker, Pvt. Co. H, 5 th Regiment Infantry, US Colored Troops, Ancestry.com. U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2007.
15. Compiled service record, Ebenezer Thacker, Pvt. Co. E, 27th Regiment Infantry, US Colored Troops, Ancestry.com. U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2007.
16. Certificate of Death: Charles Thacker, Filed 31 October 1928. State of Ohio, Dept of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Reg. Dist. 392, File no. 60497, digital images from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: 3 July 2008.)
17. Certificate of Death: Ebenezer Thacker, Filed 4 July 1914. State of Ohio, Dept of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Reg. Dist. 783, File no. 40605, digital images from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: 29 December 2010.)
18. Certificate of Death: Deliah Green, Filed 3 March 1924. State of Ohio, Dept of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Reg. Dist 45600, File no. 8600, digital images from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org : 31 January 2009.)
19. Certificate of Death: John M. Roberts, Filed 18 July 1914. State of Ohio, Dept of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Reg. Dist. 783, File no. 40611, digital images from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: 29 December 2010.)
20. FindAGrave.com, Carrs Run Cemetery, digital images ( http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 29 December 2010), photograph for Deliah Thacker Green (1853-1924), Pike County, Ohio.
21. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Franklin County, Columbus Ward 4, visit 322, Head of Household, Ebenezer Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com
22. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Madison County, Union Township, visit 190, Head of Household, John M. Roberts, online digital image, Ancestry.com.
23. 1910 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Madison County, London Ward 2, visit 446, Head of Household, Ebernezer (sic) Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.
24. 1910 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Madison County, Union Township, visit 140, Head of Household, John M. Roberts, online digital image, Ancestry.com.