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Learning from the experiences of others

Groundwork, the place where research into Worthington Cemetery seems to be holding steady, is helped by reaping the benefits of those who have done similar research. Recently, I attended a virtual webinar presented by the Ohio Genealogical Society. Talk about a wealth of experience and information! I was amazed by the knowledge that can be obtained from the right sources.

We would like to gather more information on Archibald Worthington. We know that he was born in Virginia and may have been enslaved. Where did he get the surname of Worthington? I learned that it is a myth that all enslaved people took the name of their slave owner. They could take whichever surname they wanted. The 1870 Census was the first census in which all people of color were enumerated. Sometimes that is the first time that a person appears in a U.S. Census by first and last name. “The 1870 Wall” is sometimes what the missing information before 1870 is referred to as research is done into a person that may have been enslaved. Archibald does appear in that census…and also in the 1860 and 1850 Census.

More research into Ann Champ on has not led to any more information on her. There are records of enslaved people in Virginia on sites such as The Freedmen’s Bureau Project is a collaboration between FamilySearch International, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro-American History and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) and the California African American Museum to make as much information available as possible.

Virginia also has Virginia Untold: the African American Narrative as part of the Virginia Memory project through the Library of Virginia. There is exceptional information through the Virginia Memory project on slave records. Handwritten documents can be viewed from the early 1800s. The digital files can be searched by name, keyword, record type and county. I did not find any records by searching the name Archibald Worthington. Not knowing what county he lived in is a huge stumbling block. Sometimes there are church records or county court records that can give information, but we need more information on the township/county where he was born and lived.

Who was Isaac Thornton, and how did he come to live with Archibald by 1850? Bernie Heilshorn reached out to the Fayette County, Ohio Archives department and discovered a very interesting piece of information. There are two entries in the Deed Record Books from 1847 that state two young men were given Indentures of Apprenticeship to Archibald Worthington. He was to teach them “the rudiments of farming and occupation” and also provide them with “meat, lodging, medicine, clothing and other necessities suitable for an apprentice.” From the site, I found the definition of Indentures of Apprenticeship. It is “the binding out of free negroes, often children, to learn a particular trade or craft.” The two names of the apprentices are William Lucas and Isaac Thornton, age 14.

I couldn’t find further information on William Lucas after this mention as an apprentice and he is not included in the household of Archibald in 1850. Isaac Thornton, however is a different story. He lived with Archibald as is mentioned in the 1850 Census. The 1860 Census shows Isaac living at his own dwelling, still in Fayette County near the town of Washington Courthouse. He had a wife named Mary and a son, age 5, named Thomas Thornton. The next time he is found in a document is the U.S. Civil War Soldier Records 1861-1865. He served in the Civil War and was given a Civil War pension as well, as indicated below.

He had a second wife named Eliza, according to the pension records of 1861-1865. There is also no mention of Thomas, his son. He continued to live in Fayette County, Ohio through the 1870 Census.                              

In 1900 they are living in Union, Ohio, and he died on March 23, 1910 at the age of 75. He was buried in Delaware, Ohio in Oak Grove Cemetery in Soldier’s Circle and was given a military headstone.

Archibald lived in Ohio as early as 1847, had two indentured apprentices at the age of about 30. It continues to be a mystery how he helped others, owned land, farmed, designated a cemetery in his name and was buried in a charity section of a cemetery. The next step is to find out what happened between his birth in Virginia in 1818 and this record of Indentured Apprentices in 1847.

3 thoughts on “The Worthington Cemetery Project, Part III”

  1. Are you the one working on his WikiTree? There is also the tantalizing:
    CS71 .W889 1984 Suppl.
    Worthington family
    Woodson, Edgar Thomas. The Worthington-Morris Source Book.
    Marysville, Ohio; E.T. Woodson, [1990?] 24 leaves, [22] leaves of plates, ill.
    In the “African American Family Histories and Related Works in the Library of Congress” finding guide. ( The 1870 wall is a terrible thing. Finding any military connection can sometimes be a way around it.

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