Although each and every African-American born in America carries the blood which is from the direct ancestry of the strong and proud continent of Africa, we must start from some tangible descendent source here in North America. In tracing our family history in America starting in January 1994, our family on my grandmother’s side (which is my mother’s side of the family) is from Louisville, Georgia or Jefferson County, Georgia. Without using any written documented history, this information has been stored in my grandmother’s incredible memory all these years. She (Albertha Lydia Beatrice Williams Dennis) is a walking history book of people who lived more than one hundred years ago. She is currently 96 years old. After probing her memory, she told me that she had (in her possession) her grandfather’s (Nelson Bynes’) bible and a picture of him and one of his sisters, with a host of other pictures from the 1800s. In this old bible, Nelson (in his own handwriting) wrote the actual years of his family’s births, deaths, marriages, and membership to the church. The copyright of his bible is 1874. He has also written the name and death of his mother, Atline Clark Bynes – she died August 25, 1883 (my great, great, great, grandmother) she was born in Jefferson County, GA. After obtaining a copy of Nelson Bynes’ death certificate, I found out that Nelson was born in Burke County and died at the age of 83 on April 5, 1930 in Louisville, GA. On Nelson’s death certificate it lists both, his mother and father’s name. His father is Phillip Bynes (my great, great, great, grandfather) Unfortunately it does not list the birthplace of his father. They are all buried in the recently found African-American Erin Place Plantation Cemetery in rural Jefferson County somewhere in Louisville, GA. The cemetery is now listed as, “Greene-Rhodes Tract Cemetery.” There has to be further research done in the Jefferson, Louisville, Burke, and Waynesboro Georgia probate court records. These records carry one of the richest sources of information about slaves during the 1800s in the state of Georgia.
Phillip Bynes and Atline Clark Bynes were probably born somewhere between 1825-1829. Phillip was probably born in Burke County and Atline was definitely born in Jefferson County. Phillip Bynes and Atline Clark Bynes had a son, Nelson Bynes born during the month of August, 1846 in Burke County, Georgia. Nelson’s brother and sisters were Bob Bynes, Lue Jones, Mariah Howard, Caroline Bynes Williams, Bythie (not sure of last name), Violet (not sure of last name), and Juner Bynes. I was told that Nelson was the oldest of the siblings. (Because they were all born into slavery at that time, the circumstances in which the nefarious caucasian human beings created made the siblings of most blacks step-brothers or step-sisters, and their parents having different off-spring with different mothers and/or fathers). Mariah and Lue both had different fathers from Nelson, but the same mother. Bob Bythie, Violet and Juner had different mothers from Nelson, but the same father. Caroline and Nelson are believed to have both the same mother and father. Bob had a child with the name, Nelson. He also had other children of names we do not know. Violet also had children – she had children who were mulatto - Their names are Ticker and Archie. Violet was also a mid-wife who delivered black and white babies during slavery. Caroline had a son, Bobby Williams. Mariah had two daughters and two sons who all stayed in Midville, GA. Nelson wrote in his bible when his youngest sister, Juner died on Sept. 26, 1883 and he wrote when his sister Caroline died on April 13, 1887. Nelson’s sister Lue Jones died around April 4, 1930. They are all buried in the Erin Place cemetery.
Nelson Bynes as a young man was tall, dark, slender and handsome. Another interesting fact is that his right eye was a glass eye. The story behind the glass eye all began when something hit him in his eye. He took a long while before getting the eye treated. When he finally had the eye checked the doctor suggested that he needed that eye removed – and he did. Every morning he would have to clean this new glass eye.
Nelson was seventeen years of age when the Negroes were declared “freed,” between 1863-1866 (In a few southern states illegal slavery continued for two or more years before slaves were actually considered free). During the Civil War between the North and the South, Nelson Bynes did not join the military, but he followed the Yankees to Savannah, Georgia, turned around, and went back to Louisville, GA. There he married Lydia Green Bynes – April 1867 (this was the first year of freedom – at least in Louisville, GA). Nelson married at the age of eighteen. There is very little information about his wife Lydia and her family that we know of. Nelson and Lydia Bynes had nine children; The first child was born two years after slavery had ended. Her name was Fannie Bynes born January 20, 1868. The second child was McDuff (everyone called him Mack born Sept. 15, 1870), The third child was Sarah (born Dec. 13, 1872), The fourth child was Emma (born Feb. 9, 1875), The fifth child was Nelson, Jr. (born Jan. 24, 1887), The sixth child was Violet (everyone called her Sugar born April 17, 1879), The seventh child was Martha (everyone called her Mattie born Feb 1,1881), The eighth child was Dorah (everyone called her Sang (born Dec. 1, 1882), and the ninth child was James (born Oct. 9, 1885).
The Bynes family was highly respected in the community of Jefferson county. Nelson Bynes (1846-1930) was the only person in the community who could weave a basket. He would use his large woven baskets to carry large quantities of cotton. Nelson was also a Mason (a secret order), one who was an elite, recognized and well respected. Another organization in which he was a member was the Benevolent Society. He was also well respected in surrounding counties. One reason would be the fact that he owned stock, which consisted of a two-horse farm, two mules, horse and buggy. The Nelson Bynes’ family were all members of the Farmer Grove A.M.E. church in the rural area of Louisville, Georgia.
In the early 1900’s (around 1915) Nelson had $1,000 dollars in the Louisville bank. Nelson Bynes rented from a land lord/land holder by the name of Bob Rhodes. The plantation that Nelson rented from was under the name of, Erin Place Plantation. Nelson had money and clout and he really wanted to own this land, and he could. Unfortunately, due to the fact of the harshest prejudice and racism shown by caucasians during those times shortly after the abolishment of slavery, he was told that the farm could not be sold to him. Instead of owning the land, Nelson rented it for many, many years. In exchange for the land in which he rented, he paid two bails of cotton that weighed 500 lbs. Nelson also had a log smoke house where he cured meat (ham) and made the finest sausage. Not only that, he also owned a sugar cane mill up until his death. People would come for more than 30 miles around to have their sugar cane ground to make syrup. Grinding sugar cane into syrup is what he did best. He would use a huge boiler to cook the syrup juice. He used a wooden trough to pour the syrup in. The wooden trough was also used for measuring the syrup. After the 4th talley, the 5th talley of syrup was used as payment for making syrup for his customers. He would then turn around and use the extra syrup to sell during the winter months. Indeed, Nelson Bynes (1846-1930) was a very smart man. His wife Lydia Green Bynes died in her early 50’s – April 22, 1900 and was buried April 23 in Erin Place cemetery. Nelson married a second wife, Lizzie, but they had no children. Lizzie did have children from a previous marriage. Due to misfortune and declining health, Nelson Bynes died April 1930 at age 83. He is buried in the Erin Place cemetery in Louisville, GA.
Nelson Bynes had a good relationship with Bob Rhodes the landholder who was a rich white man. Bob had a lot of timber, a lot of farmers, and a lot of property. Bob Rhodes was married and had one daughter. The daughter was older than my grandmother and she recalls that Bob Rhodes’ daughter married a very prominent judge. The judges’ name was Judge Hardeman. My grandmother remembers that Judge Hardeman worked in the Louisville/Jefferson courthouse. She also remembers that before Erin Place Plantation was named, it was also listed as Doyle Plantation. Bob Rhodes owned the land and was responsible for the burials of the blacks on his property. Before my grandmother got married in 1927, Bob stopped blacks from being buried in the Erin Place cemetery. My grandmother hasn’t visited the place for more than 75 years. She left Louisville when she was 16 years old. It is now the year 2004 and she almost 97. Erin Place Cemetery is located in the rural area or outskirts of Jefferson County, GA. My grandmother says that where she lived, in order to get to the cemetery, you had to cross a creek. There was also a Grismill (a place where you grind meal or grits) in the same area as the cemetery. She remembers that their house was east of the Erin Place cemetery. She also remembers that Atline Clark Bynes (died 1883) was the only one of the Bynes that has a tombstone at her gravesite at that time. The others she remembers did not have a tombstone. This cemetery dates back to slavery times. This cemetery is where most of the Bynes family is buried. We also have family buried dating back to slavery times in the Farmers Grove cemetery. Walden Grove is another cemetery where additional burials of the family are buried.
The first child of Nelson Bynes was Fannie Bynes born Jan 20, 1868. Fannie Bynes married and her last name became Cheeseboro. She lived a great deal of her adult life in Savannah, Georgia. Her children were Artie Cheeseboro and Mary Liddia Cheeseboro. Artie joined the church May 1882 as written by Nelson in his bible.
The second child of Nelson Bynes was McDuff Bynes or Mack born Sept. 15, 1870. He had twelve children; Sylvester who moved to Florida and had 2 boys; Gerdie who moved to New Jersey; Arnie who moved to Savannah, GA and had one daughter; Moses who moved to Augusta, GA; Eula who moved to Augusta, GA; Willie Bell who moved to Augusta, GA; Rufus who moved to Florida; Mack Jr. who moved to Augusta, GA; Erastus who moved to Augusta, GA; Thelma who moved to New York; Lillie who moved to Augusta and had one child; and the youngest was Joel or Little Buddy.
The third child of Nelson Bynes was Sarah Bynes born Dec. 13, 1872. Sarah was a member of the Eastern Star and at one time served as Worthy Matron. As a productive and active member, she attended many meetings and conventions. Sarah Bynes married Andy Williams and they had five children. The oldest child is Albertha Lydia Beatrice Williams born Dec. 12, 1907(my grandmother). Ensel Roosevelt Williams born Aug 1909 we call him Uncle Buddy - his nickname was “Innocent,” and he was a certified public accountant who later opened up a bakery on the northwest side of town in Atlanta, Georgia; Then there was Fountain Little Williams born Oct 1912 his nickname was Scrap; Artie Nelson Williams born Nov. 4, 1915; and the youngest Keziah Sarah Queen Williams born in 1917and lived most of her adult life in Chicago Illinois with her aunt Mattie. My grandmother outlived all of them and she is the only one out of this bunch who had children. Albertha married Mack Dennis and had six children; Mary Jane Dennis, Eunice Dennis Veal, Sarah Dennis Grier, Evelyn Dennis Harris, Constance Dennis Hunter, and Mack Dennis. Albertha’s grandchildren are Pamela Veal Walker, Andre Harris, Alan Grier, Sheila Veal Bozeman, Dwight Hunter, Trina Harris Ijemere, Joi Hunter Dickey, Derek Grier, and Keath Dennis. Albertha’s great grandchildren are Megan Walker, Marissa Walker, Jada Grier, Jade Bozeman, Joshua Bozeman, Nia Hunter, Chinedu Ijemere, Chiamaka Ijemere, Donavon Grier, Faith Dickey and David Dickey (Most of these persons currently reside in the greater Atlanta, GA Metropolitian area).
The fourth child of Nelson Bynes was Emma Bynes born Feb. 9, 1875. Emma Bynes married William Grant. They had nine children; Addie Mae Grant, Bill Grant, Charlie Grant, Nelson Grant, Fred Grant, Clarence Grant, Cleveland Grant, Amanda Grant and Eugene Grant. Out of this nine, I can tell you that Bill Grant married Lillie Dennis Grant and they had five children. Their children are Pauline Grant; Matthew Grant who had a son (Matthew Jr) and a girl; Mark Grant / John Grant(twins); and Dorothy Grant Owens who married Talmadge Owens and they had one daughter, Madge Owens.
The fifth child of Nelson Bynes was Nelson Bynes, Jr born Jan. 24, 1877. He had no children. Written in the bible is the date that he joined the church, July 22, 1888.
The sixth child of Nelson Bynes was Violet Bynes or Sugar born April 17, 1879. Violet Bynes married and her last name became Scott. She joined the church on August 1, 1900. Violet died at the age of 31 during childbirth of her first child – neither survived.
The seventh child of Nelson Bynes was Martha Bynes or Mattie born Feb 1, 1881. Mattie married and her last name became Matthews. She did not have children. She joined the church on July 30, 1897. In 1915 she graduated from Morris Brown College and became a certified school teacher. She separated from her spouse and retrieved her Bynes last name. She moved up north to Chicago, Illinois. This talented aunt owned and bought a housing unit on the south side of Chicago. She died May 1974 at the age of 93. She is buried in the Burr Oak cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.
The eighth child of Nelson Bynes was Dorah Bynes or Sang born Dec 1, 1882. Sang Bynes married Thomas Marion and they had one child, James Marion. James Marion married Laura Mae Pollard and they had four children; James Jr. Marion, Evelina Marion Reese, Richard Marion, and Elizabeth Marion Waller. James Jr married and has two children, Thomas Marion and John Marion. Evelina married and has two children, Carlton Marion and Carla Marion (twins). Elizabeth married and has two children, Dena Waller and Kelcie Waller. The grandchildren of Evelina Marion Reese are Brandon Marion and Quinton Marion. Sang died at the age of 89.
The ninth child of Nelson Bynes was James Albert Bynes born Oct 9, 1885 and is buried in the Walden Grove cemetery in Louisville, GA. James Bynes married Lula Walden and they had seven children; Annie Mae Bynes Clay born Nov 3, 1910, Roger Bynes born Jan 28, 1912, Nelson Bynes born June 20, 1914, Columbus Bynes born Feb 1, 1916, Luella Bynes Gibbons born July 23, 1921, Rosa Lee Bynes Boyd born April 1, 1922, and Liza Bynes Walker born Aug 19, 1926. Annie Mae married and had thirteen children (Lula Mae Clay, John Henry Jr. Clay, James Clay, Charles Clay, Frank Clay, Sylvester Clay, William Clay, King Clay, Mary Lou Clay, Josephine Clay, Mary Pearl Clay, Leama Clay, Annie Mae Clay). Roger married and had three children. Nelson married and had two children (Mary Lou Bynes and Ronnie Bynes). Columbus married and had six children (Columbus Bynes Jr, Nelson Bynes, Sammie Bynes, Robert Bynes, Lonnie Bynes and Betty). Luella married Isiah (Jim) Gibbons and had ten children ( Jessie Mae Gibbons, Lillie Mae Stone, Rosa Lee Gibbons, Mildred Gibbons Davis, Lue Ellen Gibbons Grant, Corene Gibbons, Gwenette Gibbons, Janette Gibbons, Robert Gibbons, and Jo Anne Gibbons). Rosa Lee married and had seven children (Richard Jenkins Jr, Freeman Jenkins, Larry Boyd, Donald Boyd, Betty Boyd, Bessie Boyd and Willie Boyd Jr). Liza married and had six children (Charles Walker, Eloise Walker, Minnie Walker Jenkins, Louisa Walker Golden, James Walker Sr, and George Walker).
The "Walden / Bynes" family reunion is held every year during the first weekend in August and currently in its 12th year. Nelson Bynes(1846-1930) passed his old bible down to Sarah Bynes Williams. After Sarah died, the bible was passed down to Dora(Sang) Bynes Marion. After Dora(Sang) died, the bible was passed on to my grandmother, Albertha. She has this bible today in her possession.
Trina H. Ijemere
1171 Post Horn Run
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
Bynes Family Historian 2004