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.    



  1. Amazing how slowly some women age as years go by. LOL. This is such a beautiful photograph. I look forward to learning more about them.

  2. This is a beautiful four generations photograph. Everyone's attention is on the camera, including the little one.

  3. I am in love with that image! AMAZING Marissa!:)

  4. This is wonderful and exciting Marissa! Do you know where in Mississippi your ancestors were from? I've traced my maternal side to Yazoo City Mississippi before the civil war. Also I use to have a student with the last name Pinkney, do you have people in Colorado?

    1. Thank you! I need to do some more research to find out where in Miss. Grandma Grundy came from. I do know that my maternal grandfather's people came from Kosciusko, so there are a couple roads leading in that direction :)
      Your student in Colorado could be related to the Pinkney side of my family. They came from South Carolina and settled out west, while most other Pinkneys migrated to the midwest and northeast after slavery. Since there were so few out this way, would not be surprised if some of our Pinkney relatives ended up in Colorado.

  5. It is Wonderful to see this "OLD" photo which I rarely see with this many generations. I have one on my European side of the family my Grandma with her Mother and 2 Grandma's.