A Descendant’s Journey
As I reflect on the status of my blog Georgia On My Mind: Milledgeville’s Borgus & Lewis Family: A Descendant’s Journey- Reeves, Duval, Jones, Arnold, Huff
BORGUS: What’s In A Name? January 6, 2014,
What’s In A Name? Continuation on Corrine Borgus, January 14, 2014
I think about the journey as a descendant of these various family names and the intersecting paths that have contributed to my being who I am and whose I am! Coming up with the topic line “Georgia On My Mind” was not difficult considering that both of my paternal grandparents (Orian Ulysses Lewis and Fleta Arnold Lewis) and their ancestors, going back three and four generations, are all documented in Georgia particularly in the Eatonton Opposition, Putnam County, Baldwin County Milledgeville, Georgia as noted in the 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 census. I make no reference to the 1890 census simply because it was destroyed in a fire and is not available. Yet one can surmise that these families noted above were present in 1890 Putnam County/Baldwin County Eatonton and Milledgeville, Georgia. It is also more than likely that they were present prior to 1870. This data is not readily noted due to the nature of the Slave Schedules, which do not document by name but only by description. It is my hope in future blogs to make the connections verifying their presence and hopefully even the particular plantations where they may have lived.
As you may recall I begin my journey discussing BORGUS “What’s In A Name”? I chose this beginning because as I noted it was the family name that I had the least background data. I begin today mapping some of the trajectory of my journey documenting my family tree and genealogy adventure. The reason that I did not have a great deal of data on Borgus is as I noted in the previous two blogs my granddad Orian Lewis and his mother Corrine Borgus Lewis were very closed mouth about their family narratives. It was because I did not know anything of the Borgus line prior to my great-grandmother Corrine that initiated my online research once the opportunity presented itself, that was in 2006.
I initially began the journey to see how good or accurate my two grandmothers were in transmitting the oral history of their family trees (narratives). It was to my absolute delight that the online search through Ancestry.com proved my grandmothers to be the true Griots that I have come to know them to be. It is because of the gaps in the Borgus line that I began telling my oral narrative with that particular branch. It is only because of my paternal grandmother Fleta Arnold Lewis that I even had the most limited of information re my Greatgran Corrine Borgus Lewis. Gram Fleta knew some of the family narrative of her husband’s (Orian Ulysses Lewis) family. According to Gram Fleta my grandfather Orian’s grandmothers (on his Lewis branch) were the midwives who cared for Grandma Fleta’s mother (Rosetta Reeves Arnold) when she delivered her children.
I knew my great-grand mother Corrine as noted in my previous blogs. It was Grandmother Fleta who provided me with the maiden name Borgus for my Great-grand Corrine and the first name Tom for her husband. I never heard my granddad Orian Lewis ever mention his father by name. As a matter of fact I rarely heard him speak ever of his life in Georgia. Now mind you I was very close with my grandparents and grand dad passed May 5, 2005 and I was 48 years old at his passing. So I had spent many many conversations with him but he never disclosed anything of his family of origin. I must also say it was understood by way of my grandmother that this was a closed subject so not to even engage it. Grandmother Fleta would often begin to share some data but would always get cut short. My granddad has this uncanny radar of showing up just as Grandma was about to reveal some tidbit of his family legacy. It never failed and Grandma would go closed mouth yet again about the Lewis/Borgus family narrative.
Great-Grandmother Corrine lived to be three months shy of her 95th birthday. I was 18 years of age when she died and I knew nothing of her life her parentage or her narrative. Not for lack of trying. As I noted in previous blogs, I questioned her with great curiosity but to no avail. So it is with great sadness, I always felt at a loss for not knowing anything about her story. I began my journey on the Borgus line not expecting to find very much because of the limited data that I had.
It was with great surprise that I noted on the 1930 census in Milledgeville, Georgia my great grandparents Corrine Borgus Lewis and her husband (John)Tom Lewis. What’s In A Name? I will touch on that later as to the circumstances surrounding the (John) in the Tom Lewis naming situation. In any event on this 1930 census there are three teenage sons of Corrine and Tom in the household along with a 7 year old grandson as well as, are you ready for this, a mother in law of the head of household, 65 year old widow who was the mother of Corrine Borgus Lewis. The name of this woman my great great grandmother was Jennie Winkfieild (spelled incorrectly on the initial posted census of Ancestory.com) sic Winkfield. It is important to note that in the household among the three teenage boys was my “GRANDFATHER ORIAN LEWIS” age 17. He actually was living in the presence of his great grandmother. He actually knew her and her name and he never ever made any reference of this in all my years around him WOW. I found this out one year after his passing. Also in the house was my great uncle Cee Cee 11 years of age and my great uncle Otto 15 years of age and my first cousin once removed at 7yrs old Rogers Campbell. Rogers Campbell is significant in that he was the fourth generation in the household. His mom was my great aunt Geneva (Jeneva) my granddad’s oldest sibling and sister. A family generation pattern of four generations living under one roof was current in 1930, just as it was when I was a little girl in the late 1950’s and the fourth generation in the household.
Noting the name of Jennie Winkfield, I realized that my great Aunt Geneva (Jeneva) was named after her grandmother. Corrine Borgus Lewis named the first of her living children after her very own mother. Wait! If Corrine Borgus was great-grand mother’s maiden name, why was great great-grandmother Jennie’s married name, “Winkfield” and Corrine’s maiden name Borgus? Now my search was complicated by the fact that great- grand Corrine Borgus was born November 4, 1881 after the 1880 census and before the 1890 census. The absence of the 1890 census due to a fire made it impossible to note whose household great-grand Corrine was raised in during her childhood and teen years. The next census of 1900 when she was 19 years old, great-grand Corrine Borgus was married carrying the name “Lewis” of her husband Tom Lewis. The 1900 census has her in the household with her husband Tom and her new born infant Jennie Lewis.
I hope I have not confused you! Although I know Borgus to be the maiden name of my great-grand mother Corrine, in the year of 2006, I do not have any paper trail to prove such when I began my online search in 2006. The notation of Winkfieild misspelled as the marriage name of the widow Jennie on the 1930 census did not help. As I tried to track Jennie Winkfieild on previous census of 1920, 1910, 1900, and even 1880, I came up short. I note on those previous census, a Wingfield surname on the 1920 or 1910 census. I am not sure what this relationship is to Jennie Winkfieild. I suspected from the beginning that the spelling of Winkfieild was incorrect or a type error in the transmission of the census. It is later proven to be so when the ancestry.com updates the data. It is actually Winkfield. Even with the corrected spelling, I am left at a crossroads because I am not able to find a Mr. Winkfield’s first name so I have no idea of who the husband is of Jennie Winkfield.
I searched the earlier census of 1870 and 1880 for Borgus. Since I knew that Borgus was the name of great-grand Corrine, I search for a families connected to that name. I make the presumption that Jennie Winkfield will have the maiden name of Borgus. Based on the 65 years and estimated birth year of 1864 on Jennie Winkfield’s demographics of the 1930 census I am looking for a Jennie Borgus about 6 years old for the available 1870 census. I found an Andrew Borgus and his wife Missouri Borgus on the 1870 with a daughter named “Jane Borgus” (I wondered if is this was a variation in the spelling of Jennie) age 6. This would correlate with a birth date of about 1864 as noted for Jennie Winkfield on the 1930 census. It is also noted that on the census of 1880 in the household of Andrew and Missouri Borgus, the daughter was now noted as Jennie Borgus 16 years of age. It is these two censuses that document that Corrine Borgus’ mother Jennie Winkfield is Jennie Borgus. Important to note that there are no other Borgus families of color (Black, Colored, Negro or Mulatoo) noted in Putnam County, Georgia of 1870 or 1880.
What’s In A Name? Where are all the Borgus family outside of the Andrew and Missouri household? This is a question that I asked then and continued to ask throughout the years as the name Borgus after the 1880 census seems to diminish from Putnam County. I will shine on more light about this later. Now if you recall that I mentioned earlier that my Great Aunt Geneva was named after her grandmother Jennie (Borgus) Winkfield. The 1900 census shows that Corrine and Tom Lewis named their daughter Jennie. So how did she become Geneva (Jeneva)? Remember the boy child Rogers Campbell of 7yrs old on the 1930 census. Well his daughter, my second cousin Cynthia revealed to me just in the past few months that her grandmother (my great aunt Geneva) was named Jennie but that when she began school her teacher made her spell her name as J-E-N-E-V-A (Geneva). My cousin stated she was told this by her grand mother Geneva. This really set me off! I embrace the principle of Kujichagulia/Self Determination, naming self; defining self and speaking with ones own voice and agency. So this, even all these generations later did not sit well with me. My cousin Cynthia shared this as I informed her of the name of our great great-grandmother Jennie Borgus Winkfield. We both appreciated the gravity of the teacher changing the name of the child “Jennie Lewis” who was named after her grandmother, Jennie Borgus (Winkfield).
What’s In A Name? What is the meaning of it all? Now why was Corrine Borgus carrying the maiden name of her mother and the name of her grandparents Andrew and Missouri Borgus? It was obvious by doing the math that Jennie Borgus was sixteen years of age when she gave birth to Corrine Borgus in 1881. Who was the father of Corrine Borgus and what was his surname? This question has not been answered. I attempted to see if Winkfield was a family living in proximity to the Borgus family on the1870 or the 1880 census in Georgia. This was not the case. It was my hope to maybe track a teen Winkfield who may have been the teen sweetheart of the Jennie Borgus of 1881. It was becoming obvious that Corrine Borgus carried the name of her grandparents because she was born out of wedlock to a teenage mother. Was this the reason of all the secrecy? Although I know that even during those times that unwed pregnancy may have carried some embarrassment, my inner spirit felt this was not the core cause of the secrecy. Something resonated in my spirit that there existed a more involved cause. Supposition maybe, but my spirit is being led to this deduction by what I call my ancestor antennae.
So great-grand mother the child of an unwed single teenager! I knew it was time to call the other family elders, my Aunt Loretta and “my first cousin once removed” Brenda. Cousin Brenda is the daughter of my grand dad Orian’s sister Gussie Lewis (Simmons). Thank goodness my great aunt Gussie did share with her daughter the legacy of her mother’s paternity. Cousin Brenda did confirm that her grandmother Corrine was the daughter of a single teenage mother. This was told to Cousin Brenda by her mother Gussie who was Corrine’s second living daughter. My Aunt Loretta my dad’s youngest sister and the daughter of Orian Lewis also noted that she had heard the whispers that her grandmother Corrine was the child of a single teenage mother.
What’s In A Name? The Meaning of It All! Now the search was on how to find the father of great-grand mother Corrine. There were not Winkfield families in the vicinity. I looked to see if there was a household in close proximity that might have a teenage son or a son in reasonable age range who could have been the possible beau or teenage sweetheart of Jennie Borgus! I so wanted to believe in a teenage love affair that led to the circumstance of a sixteen year old pregnant with child. There was nothing that rationally could lead me to such a connection. Although I did not see any links in houses in close proximity yet I kept being drawn to a household with the surname of Abrams…Cannot explain why but even without any teen male in this household the surname house hold of Abrams kept tugging at me.
As I a moved on with my search and left the hunt for Corrine’s father I picked up some other data that began to generate excitement. The 1900 census noted the parentage of Missouri Borgus. It noted that her parents were from Africa. This was not a common notation. As a matter of fact from the 1870, 1880, 1900 censuses this was not noted on any of the households for pages and pages of the census. It is noted only in three other circumstances and the correlation of this astounded me. On the 1870 Putnam County, Georgia census it was noted for a Caesar Walker on page 5 of 139, household 259 and on a Valentin Walker page 6 of 139 household 269, these two households were neighbors and in close proximity to each other and in close proximity to the household of the Andrew and Missouri Borgus who lived in household 272 noted also on page 6 of 139 of the Putnam County, Georgia 1870 census. They were neighbors. As a matter of fact Valentin Walker lived three properties down from the Borgus property. Now in the many years of doing this research, one thing I came to know was true, that many of the families, sibling, children and parents lived within doors of each other in very close proximity on the same plot of land. I noted this on all of my family relations particularly in Putnam County and Baldwin County of Eatonton and Milledgeville of Georgia.
I was beginning to get that ancestor antennae buzz. It made me sense that the Caesar and Valentin Walker (from Africa with parents from Africa) are male relations (brothers?) possibly even twins since they are both noted as 75 years old with birth year abt.1798. The ancestor antennae buzz also vibrated that they were the male relations (brothers ?) of Missouri maiden name yet unknown, whose parents were also from Africa. Although Missouri’s demographic data on the 1870 and the 1880 census does not note parentage from Africa the 1900 census clearly states it. It would not be unusual that the data in the earlier censuses were not reflective of Missouri’s voice but that of someone else. The later census of 1900 may be more reflective of Missouri’s own awareness and oral narrative. The continued research to mine out others who list Africa as origin of birth of their parents or self is limited to only a few individuals five in fact Caesar Walker and Valentin Walker, Sylvia Cummings, Gabe Williams and Missouri Borgus. All who live within doors of each other on either the 1870, 1880 or 1900 census. Out of Africa is particular to only these individuals on the many pages of the census for Putnam Opposition Eatonton or Baldwin County of Milledgeville Georgia.
The 1880 census for Putnam County Georgia on page 5 of 16 notes a Sylvia Cummings born abt. 1810 age 70 who lists her parents as being from Africa. The census notes that she is born in Virginia. Sylvia Cummings is the mother of “the head of the household” John Harris who is noted as head of household on page 4 of 16 of the census in the household number 31. Sylvia Cummings is living within doors of Missouri Borgus and Andrew Borgus who are in household 38 noted on page 5 of 16 on the 1880 census. Finally on the 1900 census page 1 of 17 Gabe Williams is the other individual who lists his father as being from Africa, his mother from Virginia and his self from Georgia. Now note Gabe Williams lives next door to Missouri Borgus and Andrew Borgus on the 1900 census.
The consistency of these individuals being the only individuals listing Africa as the origin of the birth of one or both parents and self is too much of a coincidence or co existing occurrences since I do not believed in happenstance of coincidences. The continued proximity of their dwellings reinforces my ancestor antennae buzz that these folk out of Africa are all related. This is why I call Missouri Borgus “A Georgia Peach a Seed out of Africa.” Now I do not have a definite paper trail but I have let the head limitation give way to the spirit buzz of the ancestors (as my fellow genealogist Luckie Daniels of AAGSAR African American Genealogy & Slave Ancestry Research, keeps telling me follow the voice of the ancestors do not over think it.)
I surmise with supposition that the Walker men born 1798 are the oldest of the Out of Africa Clan, both parents and themselves born in Africa. Sylvie Cummings is the next in order born about 1810 in Virginia to parents who are Out of Africa. Missouri Borgus born about 1847 in Georgia re census with both parents Out of AFrica and Gabe Williams the last of the bunch born about 1836 whose Father is noted out of Africa but mother out of Virginia and his status is born in Georgia.
I will have to begin to mine the Virginia census for any relevant data on the possibilities of what may be a link between the Walkers, Missouri Borgus Sylvia Cummings and Gabe Williams.
Now I noted earlier that for years I kept gravitating to the ancestor spirit resonating in my ear that the Abram surname household had some connection to Jennie Borgus. This feeling continued for years as I searched out the possible father for Jennie Borgus’ baby girl Corrine. The immediate Abrams/Abraham household next to the Borgus (who lived two doors away in house number 38) did not have a teen or male son in proximity of Jennie’s age of 16. This was on based on the 1880 census, page 5 of 16, house house number 36 for Lucious Abraham age 28 and his wife Emily 23. Yet I could not let go of the idea and feeling that there was a connection. I even wondered if there had been some inappropriate contact between this Abraham male and the young teen Jennie Borgus. So strong was this sensation that there was a connection between Jennie Borgus and this Abraham surname. This I must note was a lasting resonating feeling for several years.
Well on January 3, 2014 shortly after joining the familysearch.org, I did find a connection to the Abraham/Abram surname. I found out that great great grandmother Jennie Borgus Winkfield had been married and widowed twice. Winkfield was her second marriage. I found a marriage certificate for her first marriage to one ISAAC ABRAHAM/ABRAMS. The name and its variation is noted on two different census. The marriage certificate noted January 3, 1884 as the date of marriage between a Isaac Abrams and one Jennie Borgus. I found this exactly 130 years to the day. This marriage certificate is posted on my previous blog of January 14, 2014. Now that piece of information had me flying for the past two weeks.If that was not enough, something else was revealed. I was coordinating the data for this blog. I retrieved and reviewed the censuses for 1870, 1880, 1900 in order to give factual data on the Caesar and Valentin Walker households and Sylvia Cummings and Gabe Williams the highly suspected “family of origin members” of Missouri Borgus.
In the course of reviewing those censuses, I noted an additional Abrams household number 290 on the 1870 census. In the household of Abram Abrams was noted one “Isaac Abrams” born 1861 he was 9 years old on the 1870 census page 9 of 139. The parents are Nepton and Catherine Abram in household number 290 that begins on the bottom of page 8 of 139 of the 1870 census. This household continues on page 9 of 139 of the 1870 census. Andrew and Missouri Borgus and their then 6 year old daughter Jennie Borgus lived at house number 272 on page 6 of 139 of the 1870 Putnam County Eatonton Georgia Census. Yes the Borgus and Abram families were neighbors when Isaac Abram age 9 and Jennie Borgus age 6 were children. I am laughing out loud. It was right in front of my nose the entire time. The connection is on the 1870 census for Borgus and Abrams. Yet it took until this month for me to find it. The marriage certificate find for (Isaac Abraham /Abrams married on January 3, 1884 to Jennie Borgus) caused me to retrace and track my records because the name Abrams rang the proverbial bell.
Considering that they married in 1884 when Jennie Borgus was 20 and Isaac 23 would it be too much of a jump to think that Isaac might be the father of Jennie’s daughter Corrine born three years prior to their marriage? The same resonating ancestor voice that pushed and pushed until I confirmed this Abram/Abraham connection continues to resonate that this is the father of Corrine Borgus. I will continue with this resonating ancestor antennae buzz. Until such time as it manifests the proof that my “in my head mode” will continue to want. Yet my “in the spirit self” knows, this to be “spirit ancestor in my bones truth.”
It is this same resonating ancestor antennae that keeps me centered in the idea of a Walker family and Missouri Borgus “blood” out of Africa connection. Point of information on the 1900 census next door to Missouri Borgus and Andrew lived her possible relative Gabe Williams. Guess who lives on the other side of (Gabe) Missouri’s possible blood connection out of Africa? None other than her granddaughter Corrine Borgus Lewis and hubby Tom Lewis and infant daughter “Jennie Lewis” Now ain’t this a peach of a story! It is Truly something to blog about.
Now as to the spirit vibes, I can not say why but I have always had a mind-thought that great-grand mother Corrine’s and my grandfather Orian’s lineage was somehow connected to Hebrew/Jewish lineage. I have no way to explain this mind thought that resonates in my spirit. I have no way of validating this feeling or this thought. Yet this connection to this name Abram/Abraham came with the same feeling and it has proven to have had merit. All the similarly situated Hebrew/Jewish first names; Abrams, Levy, Samuel/Saul, Rachael to name a few, (noted on the 1870 census) feels more than coincidental. I will continue to allow the ancestors to lead and guide me on this venture.
Now can you handle one more What’s In A Name? What Is the Meaning of It All?
I initially intended to look up the name Borgus for a literal and cultural translation. What I found made me laugh. I was trying to see how to fit it into the Blog in a contextual manner to provoke a thought or response from the ancestors. I will type the translation I found and I will let you ponder it as I go brew my peach tea. Lord knows I will need it since I have been up all night communicating this story.
I learned one lesson in the course of this. If you do not tell your journey step by step according to the ancestors, it will disappear literally. I had completed most of this dialogue and some tech issue wiped it off the Word Press page. I could not retrieve. I had to start anew. Yet this time I put it into a Word Document first and saved it to prevent it from disappearing again. It is worded a little differently but with the same factual data. I believe it was so I could find the piece on Isaac Abrams and Jennie Borgus living next to each other as children on the 1870 census. At the time of the initial typing I was not aware of that and may have not retrieved that data if the original blog had not disappeared off the page. I tell you the truth the ancestors are doing a ring shout that I have finally put these pieces together.
Now for the conclusion of BORGUS: What’s In A Name? What Is the Meaning of It All?
BORGUS web definition: Borgu is a region in Western Nigeria and in the northern Republic of Benin.
BORGUS urban dictionary: concept that a global human consciousness will form manifested as the nexus of all written knowledge on Earth and the inter-connectivity of that information through computer networks. (Luckie Daniels of AAGSAR are you hearing this did you plant this definition just to tease me and encourage me re online communication). This concept spawned the fictional Borg species on the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation which are a race of interconnected beings with a single mind.
Well that is it for now. I need some sleep and the ancestors are telling me to rest now. No peach cobbler today but I have a piping hot peach pie that is ready and the peach tea is brewed. Maybe the ancestors will treat me to the first name of Mr. Winkfield the second hubby of Jennie Borgus Abrams. I have some more searching to do also on Missouri. It says her marriage date to Andrew Borgus is 1870 maybe if I can track down that marriage certificate I just might locate her maiden name. While that story unravels I will peak around in the Lewis closet and see how that bond of Corrine Borgus and (John)Tom Lewis fairs. Also will have to tend to some of those Huff ancestors. I hear them Huffing and Puffing that their names are not being called.