Wednesday, October 16, 2013

From Mississippi to San Jose: Our Family's start in California

Four generations of maternal ancestors. Photo is labeled on back: "Aunt Myrle- child, Grandmother- Mabel Pinkney , Great Grandmother- Sarah Venable Berry, Great Great Grandmother Grundy "
  This photo has hung in my family's home for as long as I can remember.  It's an important piece of our family history, as Grandma Grundy (that's what we call her in my family, I'll have to do more research to find out her first name) was our enslaved ancestor who migrated to California, where our family has been ever since. Grandma Grundy was still a slave when she was brought to San Jose, California from Mississippi with the family who owned her. Upon learning that slavery was not legal in California (the story goes that she was out running errands in town, got to talking to people and learned there was no slavery in the state) she immediately left the family and started a new life in San Jose. She bought a home and raised a family there.

My great grandmother Mabel Ritchardson (at this time her married name was Pinkney, as she was married to Elias Pinkney) is the young woman standing on the left. Her maiden name was Davis, so that's another surname I need to look into. To Mabel's right is her mother, Sarah Venable Berry, and at their feet is Mabel's baby girl Myrle Pinkney.

This document is captioned on the back "Mama's Marriage License for both times." 
   This marriage license is for Sarah Venable Berry (standing to the right of Grandma Grundy in the photo) and this is where the name Davis comes in. Sarah was first married to H.J. Davis of Massachusetts in 1882 at age 18. So it looks like H.J. Davis is Mabel's father. Here's where it gets interesting: Sarah (or someone at the county office?) got a little creative with her age on the second marriage license. She remarried in 1886 and her age is recorded as 19 years old at this time.