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African American Lives 2 -- Hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
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Sharing Stories: One Family's Story
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STORYTELLER LOCATION YEAR TOOK PLACE TELLER'S PLACE OF ORIGIN HOW YOU HEARD
Many family members Norfolk / Portsmouth, Virginia 1800s Norfolk, Virginia Oral History, minute books, court records, deeds and wills

OLDEST DOCUMENT MEMBERS OF OUR FAMILY ARE DANIEL AND MARY WATTS

MARY IS POSTED AS WHITE FEMALE - DANIEL IS POSTED AS FREEMAN OF COLOR

IN THE 1810 TAX CENSUS OF NORFOLK VA . (MARYS FIRST HUSBAND IS A MALE WHITE NAMED DEMPSEY WATTS)

THE MULATOE CHILDREN OF DANIEL AND MARY ARE HENRY, NOAH, BARTLETT, AND BENJAMEN, THESE CHILDREN ARE BORN FREE ISSUE.

MARY IS TAKEN TO COURT FOR HER MARRIAGE TO DANIEL A FREEMAN OF COLOR. LATER MARY AND DANIEL FOUGHT A LEGAL BATTLE AGAINST THE FAMILY OF HER

FIRST HUSBAND ( DEMPSEY WATTS,) TO PROVE THE FREEDOM OF THEIR CHILD HENRY.

HENRY AND BARTLET ARE OFTEN "HIRED" OUT FOR A POOR TAX, HENRY IS HIRED OUT TO THE "CAUCASIAN" FAMILY OF DEMPSEY WATTS IN NORFOLK VA. (DEMPSEY WATTS IS THE FIRST HUSBAND OF HENRY'S MOTHER MARY)

DURING THE DAYS OF "HIRE" TO THE CAUCASIAN FAMILY OF DEMPSEY WATTS, HENRY IS PUT IN THE WILL OF ANN WATTS. SHE LEAVES HENRY AND HIS WIFE MARY HALL TO HER SURVIVORS . IN THIS WILL OF ANN WATTS HENRY IS REFERRED TO AS A "HIRE."

HENRY'S PARENTS DISPUTE THE WILL OF ANN WATTS, AND PROVIDE DOCUMENTS TO THE COURT OF NORFOLK VA. PROVING HENRY 1. WAS BORN FREE ISSUE, AND 2 HENRY IS A LAND OWNER.

IN MARY'S BID TO PROTECT HER MULATOE CHILD, AGAINST HER FIRST HUSBAND'S FAMILY, SHE DEEDS HER LAND TO HER SON FOR THE SUM OF FIVE DOLLARS. (THIS LAND WAS LEFT TO HER BY HER FIRST HUSBAND DEMPSY WATTS.

DANIEL DEEDS HIS LAND TO ALL FOUR SONS - APPROX 41 ACRES.

HENRY IS NOW IN CONTROL OF THE LAND ONCE OWNED BY THE FAMILY HE WAS "HIRED OUT TO."

IN 1853 HENRY BUYS ADDITIONAL LAND - WHERE HE AND HIS DESCEDANTS ARE STILL BURIED THE LAND IS NOW KNOWN AS WESTERN BRANCH OF CHESEAPEAKE VA.

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