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    The Jubilee Singers. (1875). Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Wordless Wednesday – May 28, 2008 Folow-up

The picture that I included in my first Wordless Wednesday post for this blog is that of Dr. Robert Fulton Boyd (1855-1912). The photo comes from the December 9, 1899 issue of the black newspaper, The Colored American.

Along with the picture is a short article informing readers that Nashville has two Dr. Boyds. “…R.F. Boyd, a doctor of medicine, who is a professor of gynecology or something like that, in Meharry Medical College. This Dr. Boyd has a singular hobby – buying property, farms and things and building great big office buildings right in among the white folks. This fellow has just finished a building, a pressed brick structure, with something like 50 rooms in it and sandwiched it right in between a Cathedral and the leading hotel in the city. Then he had the irrepressible nerve to hire a Negro stone-mason to chisel his black name “Boyd” on a big piece of marble and to put it way up high, between the fifth and sixth stories, so everybody could see it. Now, what do you think of this chap?”

That’s great! I am pretty sure I’ve seen a picture of this building, but will have to dig it back out. Maybe not. I wonder if the black stone-mason was McKissack (whom I have blogged about before.)? I have previously added a picture of Dr. R.F. Boyd’s headstone to FindAGrave and I have just added this picture. Should be of interest to anyone who has him in their family tree.

The other Dr. Boyd mentioned in the article is Richard Henry Boyd (1843-1922). From the article “…this Boyd runs a publishing house and employs seven five Negroes and pays his proof readers and big dogs in his house $20 and $25 a week. This Boyd has a hobby – buying fine printing material. The other day he put in a big Babcock press worth $4000. He now has four big presses running constantly, and the only complete bindery for the product of big books owned by Negroes. The publishing business is conducted in two magnificent buildings, and the property, which the Board owns, and the plant, is valued at $80,000.”

Interestingly enough, this weekend as I was adding burial listings to the Greenwood Cemetery, I added the grave of Sadie B. Wilson who “served under three generation of Boyds at the National Baptist Publishing Board.” Richard Henry Boyd is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, but I have not yet found him. I will be going back to do more pictures this weekend, so maybe I’ll find him soon.

Nelson G. Merry & the Old Nashville Cemetery

I posted this on my main blog, but it is worthy of posting here too.

This must really be the week of the Merrys because I had another great find today! I received a notice in my email today that the Nashville Public Library posted an online index to a listing of more than 19,000 names of people buried in the Old Nashville Cemetery. The listings are drawn from a series of internment books held by the Metro Nashville Archives, 1846-1949. So, I decide to take a look and guess what I find – more Merrys.

It is difficult to be precisely sure of all the exact relationships, but I think it lists another four children of Nelson & his wife Mary, in addition to his mother. Also, there are some other Merrys that I think may be related as they are buried in Nelson’s plot. I am confused though on precise locations, because, I have been to Nelson’s grave and it is not in the Old Cemetery, but it is listed in this database. I may have to call the Metro Archives or go see the books in person to understand more about locations. Mt. Ararat, where Nelson is buried, does have an affiliation with the City Cemetery, but I think there is an issue with naming. But to summarize who is listed in this database…

  • Clancy Cousins – died at age 18, 11 Mar 1850. States that she is free colored female, and sister of Nelson Merry, who is also noted as free. Her cause of death was Fever. It is correct that Nelson was free.
  • Merry, infant boy – died 14 Jan 1851. States that he is the son on “N. Merry” and died of Croope. Now, this could be either Nelson’s son, or a son of his brother, Napoleon.
  • Merry, infant girl – died 6 Oct 1854. States that she is the “daughter of Nelson Merry” who is a free colored man.
  • Merry, infant boy – died 12 Jan 1857. States that he is the son of “Ann Merry” who is a free colored woman. This may or may not be Nelson’s son. His wife Mary’s middle name was Ann, so it could be that her middle name was used in this instance, or the infant’s mother could be a different person all together.
  • Merry, Mrs. Sidney – died 26 Jun 1873. The only note on this one is box paid on Nelson Merry’s lot. This is Nelson’s mother! From census records, I know that Sidney lived with Nelson in 1870, but she was no longer there in 1880. In the 1870 census, she is listed as being 80 years old, but in the 1850 census she is also listed as being 80. So, given the 1850 census date, I had already estimated her year of birth to be about 1770. This cemetery listing matches that and if she died in 1873, that would make her just around 100 years old! I can’t wait to go search for an obituary.

Now, these dates may be actually burial dates and not dates of death – I need to check that in the source books. But, in addition to these whom I think the relationship is clear, there are others:

  • Two infant children of a Jas. Hoss (or Sloss) that are on the lot paid by “N. Merry”
  • A 100 year old woman named Angeline Thomas that is on the lot paid by “N. Merry.” Her date is 24 Jan 1872.
  • A 29 year old man named William King who is listed with Sidney Merry and is also in “box paid by Nelson G. Merry”
  • An infant boy listed as the son of George Merry, who is listed as free colored man.
  • An infant boy listed as the son of a Francis Merry
  • Merry, Mary – died in 1855. The listing just says “Nelson Merry’s lot.” She was 10 years old. I’m not sure who she is because in 1850, Nelson & Mary are only listed with one child, John Wesley Merry.

All of this gives me reason to really go back and research other Merrys in I can find them. How intriguing! Now, the fun is not over. I decided to visit the website of the city cemetery and was happy to see that they are very involved in genealogical causes. They have posted a list of people buried in the cemetery whose descendants have contacted the cemetery, and they have a volunteer looking up obituaries of people buried there and they are providing links to those obits. Very progressive! If only more cemeteries would do this!

Mt. Ararat Cemetery

On my main genealogy blog, I posted today about something relevant to this blog – I visited Mt. Ararat Cemetery – many of the individuals I’ve seen on the pages of this newspaper have been buried here.

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