Monday, February 23, 2009

Three Mulatto Slaves of James Lovil, Surry County, North Carolina

Cindy Eppich and Pauline Harward
July 2007

Finding the mulatto slaves children of James Lovil of Surry County North Carolina:  Sophie Lovil, James Lovil/Lovell, Letitia Lovil Crouse.

I first found Sophie Lovil/Lovell [Kellam], age 16 and Jesse Lovell, age 18 both Mulattos [a mix of Caucasian and Negro blood] on an 1870 U.S. Census for Stokes County working for my ancestor George Washington Barr in his household and on his farm. Sophie was listed as Soaffa Barr. This discovery had my mother and me a bit concerned. We wondered, “Could Sophie be the daughter of our ancestor George Washington Barr and one of his slaves?”

With this question in the back of my mind, I started to search out Sophie, Jesse and their families hoping to find out the truth. I found these two might be remotely related to our family but are not the children of George Washington Barr. With that said . . . if you are curious about them too, let me present some facts and some of my suppositions.

It took a little sleuthing to find out that Sophie and Jesse were half brother and sister. I supposed Sophie would marry someone of her race and probably someone who lived close by. I put the name Sophie with all of the black male surnames on the census four pages backwards and forwards close to her age and proximity. 
I had found seven. I searched on for a marriage record. 

As soon as I attached the name Lovell to her, I came up with a marriage license with Sophie (Lovil) Lovell marrying York Kellam. The license noted Sophie was a Stokes County resident, married in Surry County in 1879. Sophie's mother was Sopha Lovil and her father was unknown. This record seemed the only possibility. The 1880 census backed up my supposition as Sophie had a daughter born in 1873 which she had named Lizzie Barr.

The book Around Surry County by Evelyn Scales Thompson stated Jesse Lovell was the son of James Lovell and one of his slaves.

I looked up Jesse Lovell and found he had married and lived out his life in Pilot Mountain with his wife and children. His marriage license noted that his father was unknown, and his mother was Mary Lovil. With this information, I had to think that Sophie and Jesse' mothers were different, but they shared James Lovil as a father.
The facts are that James [Lovill] Lovell was the husband of Sarah [Sallie] Radford Poindexter, a great aunt of my ancestors George Washington Barr’s wife Charlotte Scott Barr. The 1860 slave census stated that James had many slaves including two Mulattos--a male age 5 and a female age 3.

According to my family records, Sallie Lovill died in 1862. The Surry County 1862 Tax List stated in that year the prosperous James Lovill had no land and only two slaves. Family records also stated that James Lovill had moved to Missouri where two of his sons were living. He died in Missouri. 

My suppositions: With Sallie Poindexter Lovill dead, James wanted or needed to live with his children, so he sold his slaves and property except for the two Mulatto children which more than likely were either his own children or that of his son James Jr., who died in 1861 in the Civil War. I can’t guess whether the children were given or sold to George Washington Barr, but they ended up with him.

Jesse was a farmer in Surry County, North Carolina. He donated land and built a chapel which still exists in a newer form today as Lovell Chapel United Methodist Church, a Black congregation in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. Many of Jesse’s children and grandchildren became ministers and missionaries.

As I continued to research Sophie, her children, and who they married, I was able to find Sophie's full sister Letitia Crouse Sawyer. 

Sophie’s daughter Lucy married a Dault Sawyer. Dault’s parents were Adam Sawyers and Letitia Crouse. Their marriage license noted Letitia’s father was unknown and her mother was Sopha Lovil. [That sounded familiar!] Interestingly enough, on Letitia’s death certificate, it stated her father was James Lovell and her mother was unknown. Since Sophie’s marriage license also stated that her mother was a Sopha Lovil, Letitia Crouse had to be a full sister to Sophie Lovel Kellam.

Of this I became more convinced after I looked again on the 1860 slave census and found right below James Lovel was a Henry Crouse listed with only one slave, a six-year-old mulatto female. This had to be Letitia. I assumed that as neighbors, James Lovil sold little Letiticia to Henry Crouse. The 1870 census for Henry Crouse shows that “Let” was still with the Crouse family even after Emancipation.

It has been so rewarding finding Sophie, Jesse, and Letitia. I hope this information helps someone connect to their family.


  1. Cindy, This is amazing! What a ton of work and searching!

  2. Wonderful research! I've added the link to the Slave Name Roll.